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Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton are the three urban centers of New Brunswick. They dictate the economic success of the province. New Brunswick has just over 750,000 people, yet these three cities have embraced similar strategies of economic growth, by fighting and attempting to out-do each other.
Fredericton has the benefits of a consistent, reliable economic structure with a key demographic that invests back into the city. Students play a key role in the vibe of any city and have a considerable presence in Fredericton.
As students, we can take pride in how we come together to create what people love about Fredericton. The liberating and creative environment that this city has can be accredited to us. Students are why Fredericton has the nightlife it has. The Capital Complex is fueled by student involvement, whether it be performing or simply attending shows. Fredericton has what Saint John and Moncton lack; an involved youthful community and a tight knit relationship between post secondary institutions and its downtown core.
The city is looking to build on what has already established Fredericton as a ‘Smart City’. At the same time, city council seems to want to diversify the local economy. Easier said than done, as this seems to be a problem with New Brunswick’s “Big Three”.
Fredericton needs to work harder to draw private investment to the city, without pouring provincial tax dollars into forgivable loans, for companies who don’t need them.
Since the mid 90’s a false economic strategy was promoted in the province. Call centres boomed due to government initiatives. This is not the way to conduct private growth within New Brunswick.
The Marriot call centre in Fredericton recently announced its closure, leaving over 200 people without work. Marriot is not going out of business. They are only taking their business out of New Brunswick, along with the $750,000 of provincial funds they acquired since 1998.
New Brunswick’s major disadvantage is the absence of one large urban centre, like Halifax. Three medium sized cities, with distinct and monopolized economies pose a problem for the success of New Brunswick
Saint John has the Irving Empire dominating their once strong, diversified economy and has seen the paralyzing effects of what can happen to a company town. Irving-owned Saint John Shipbuilding shut down in 2003 after building dozens of commercial and military vessels. They employed 3000 workers in its prime, and had one of the largest dry docks in the world, at 1,150 feet in length.
Moncton is a transportation hub, but with Acadian Lines shutting down in November, Industrial Rail Services facing receivership and Via Rail losing interest in the maritime rail system, it seems the city will soon feel the blow to their steady growth.
Fredericton is the seat of government and an education hub, Saint John is the industrial port and energy hub, while Moncton is the transportation and retail hub. These are their identities. But how long will this be the case? As economic conditions change, so do our cities.