There seems to be a prevalent trend in media and political commentary about New Brunswick; that our province is falling behind, in decline. There are no doubt serious challenges facing New Brunswick, including recent unemployment numbers that are the highest in the country, and a recent increase in outmigration rates.However, it is not all bad news.
Nonetheless, despite the many good examples of Canadian mayors, some of the bad examples -- especially those like Rob Ford who cast a bad reputation on their city -- raises the question, are we paying enough attention to municipal politics? And, especially, are we paying enough attention to who gets elected to municipal office?
Toronto's downtown has become an increasingly desirable place to live with a recent RBC-Pembina poll showing that 81 per cent would choose a smaller house if amenities such as shopping and mass transit were accessible by walking and if commutes to work were short. Are there any lessons here for New Brunswick?
With some time having passed since the municipal elections, there is some space from the euphoria (or disappointment depending on the candidate) of election time to assess what the results mean. Saint John is a city beset by significant challenges -- including a costly pension plan, the need for social housing, cuts to mass transit that hurt the poor and the costs of maintaining city infrastructure.
While the growth of New Brunswick's urban and suburban areas is not on the scale of larger cities in Canada, there are lessons to be learned from these larger centres where, after periods of rapid growth which led to vast landscapes of generic car-oriented sprawl, there has been a backlash and a desire to return to more walkable downtown-like neighbourhoods.