Governments’ Depopulation of Rural NB Strategy Inhibiting Local Economic Growth in Rural NB.
Originally Posted in the Spring of 2014
The first areas we are addressing are the Weaknesses and Threats to moving forward toward Social and Economic prosperity in Charlotte County. This exercise must deal with the reality of the environment and not the perceptions that are spun continually regarding our location and our people. This blog posting highlight a foundational challenge that has plagued Charlotte County for decades and if not recognized and managed will hurt or stop growth. This challenge is not caused by rural NB but we must overcome the business risk it creates and move forward.
Joey Smallwood’s (Ex-Premier of Newfoundland) legacy of moving Out Port (Rural) Newfoundlanders to St. John’s (Urban Centre) is being emulated in New Brunswick for over the last 2 decades. Under the guise (spin) of benefiting rural Newfoundlanders the relocation’s true motivation was to reduce the government’s cost of providing services to its rural citizens.
Policy after policy and action after action the governments’ way of addressing its responsibilities to its people outside of the major urban centers is to creating disincentives to stay in rural NB.
In Charlotte County the different levels of government express their desire for economic growth all the while through their actions and policies remove critical support services for its citizens and thus create disincentives for new businesses to relocate and local entrepreneurs to set up local businesses.
Historically and currently the government’s economic growth strategy for Charlotte County is to ensure through all means to maintain existing businesses at the expense of growth. You never win the game if you only play defense you only tie. Every business person knows that this strategy only leads to failure.
- - Enbridge’s apparent desire to price itself out of the rural market place in order to justify its removal from providing energy to rural NB to obtain a higher return from the sale of energy to urban centres and New England. The Government will comprise to Enbridge’s demands (non dependable or completive energy costs both globally and within the Province inhibits Charlotte County from being considered for relocation or start up)
- - NBPowers, which is not synonymous with hardworking linesmen as they have tried to spin it, has decided that short term return is paramount and it is reflected in its low priority in maintenance and disaster strategy which we have seen in the ice storm of 2013 and the floods earlier.(Significantly higher risk to business start up and relocation as show from past examples due to down time and undependable energy sources)
- - Grand Manan ferry service and transportation cost to individuals and business on the Island. (Value Added light industry risk is high due to partial off Island processing requirements and a disincentive to business relocation and start up)
- - Grand Manan air ambulance service motivation based on cost, higher priority constituents and impersonal mandate. (Hiring quality staff or relocation of business is challenging due to health care risk to owner, employees and their family members)
There are many more examples of different levels of governments that support the motivation of depopulation of rural Charlotte County for the betterment of the whole (urban centres).
The big difference between the policy of Joey Smallwood and NB governments is that Joey eliminated the out port communities in one sweep while we in Charlotte County are being removed by a thousand cuts which each hurting but not killing but a some point no one may be around to be cut again.
Historically Charlotte County has been economically devastated by Federal and Provincial governments’ policies and actions. Charlotte County and all the NB counties along the US border previous to 1867 were the most economical prosperous in North America due to their seamless trade south into the US. With confederation these same counties no longer were economic leaders and their natural resources were use to benefit Upper Canada. To add more hardship to the region at the beginning of the great depression when jobs were scares in the urban centers in Canada and the US both countries put in place significant protectionist policies to prevent jobs going to foreigners. The was the nail in the coffin for both Charlotte County NB and Washington County Maine as many skilled workers employed by business on each side of the border lost their jobs due to these policies and eventual moved away and the Counties turned into a “have not” wards of the state. Sadly this attitude and contentment with it prevails inside of Charlotte County as well as outside.
As in Newfoundland out ports, rural New Brunswick and Charlotte County residents are an independent lot and will survive and prosper. Depopulation of rural NB will not deter them from overcoming the challenges required for social and economic prosperity it just requires more work and the realization that support resources available in urban centres will not be made available in rural NB. This independence and rural character of the residents will be an advantage for businesses to relocate and start up.
We can recreate pre-confederation prosperity and this is the objective of this Charlotte County and Grand Manan NB 2020 Initiative.
The next post will focus on turning these weaknesses and threats into strengths, nullifying the risk and moving forward. Government is not responsible for creating jobs, business and entrepreneurs are. Government policies that inhibit economic and social growth anywhere within the province must be reassessed and customized to each region’s environment. The new Regional Service Commissions if set up and managed correctly may be a move forward in customizing support for social and economic growth but currently this is not within their mandate.
In summary this post was in 2014 and the policies of government to day are more so focus on rural genocide for whose benefit, not the majority of New Brunswickers that reside in rural NB or depend on the resources of rural NB to survive. Perhaps someone should tell politicians where milk comes from. I have not seen a dairy farm in downtown Fredericton.