Before the age of air conditioning, those living in hot places like New York City with means would spend much of the summer in a cooler locations such as the Poconos or, yes, New Brunswick. Many of the lovely old homes in St. Andrews or Campobello Island and even the Algonquin Hotel were built by Americans escaping the heat. After air conditioning summer options dramatically expanded and New Brunswick’s role as a summer escape was reduced significantly.
When I was in government I asked for information on the amount of land owned by government (Crown land) along waterways, beaches, etc. I was shocked at just how much land GNB owns that is just sitting there with virtually no economic activity. Further there are thousands of kms of privately owned waterfront property with almost no economic activity.
Why wouldn’t we encourage non-residents to build houses, cottages or camps – as second homes here? Think about the vast cottage country north of Toronto. Even in Nova Scotia so much waterfront land was being purchased by foreigners that it started to upset the locals. We have virtually none of that here. We could encourage several thousand non-residents to build here – or take fractional ownership in properties – and hardly scratch the surface compared to many other ‘cottage country’ locations elsewhere in Canada.
I realize that the two words ‘cottage cluster’ make some in government break out in cold sweats as there was quite a bit of taxpayer money that went into these developments, many that went belly up.
But I’m not talking about temporary tourists. I’m talking about encouraging Americans, Germans, Upper Canadians to build permanent houses, cottages or camps in New Brunswick along waterways, the beach and even deep in the woods if they prefer – as getaway locations.
If you had 10,000 people coming here multiple times every year it would result in millions of dollars of economic activity and tax revenue for government.
I realize this type of initiative won’t in itself get us back to 2-3% economic growth but as I have said many times before we need a full court press. While analyzing this opportunity in government I came to the conclusion it could result in a significant construction boom – with a focus on rural areas at relatively limited cost to government (but there would be some costs).
Associated with this idea was taking prime land along the Bay of Fundy (as one example) and proactively pitching it to larger investors – resorts, etc.
Again, no real traction on either front mainly because there was no department mandated to even consider it let alone develop it.
There are many ideas out there – some good, some bad – almost all not being pursued.