The mayor of Saint John says growing the city remains a matter of urgency, especially after the latest census figures showed a decline in population, and the city is looking to using Halifax as an example for growth.READ MORE: Census 2016: New Brunswick 1st province since 2006 to see population decline Story continues below
Don Darling reacted with strong emotion recently after the latest census figures showed Saint John’s population had declined by 3.6 per cent.The mayor said it’s why the city needs to move through the planning stage of its growth plan “as soon as possible.”A growth committee has been in place since last fall and has already logged upwards of 70 hours working on the plan targeted at growing the city’s tax base and population while also adding jobs.The committee met again today and heard a presentation from Halifax Partnership – an organization whose mandate is to market and sell Halifax. Nova Scotia’s capital has seen growth over the past few years, with the latest census showing a growth of 3.3 per cent. With a current population near 420,000 Halifax Partnership is working to grow the city’s population by 1.7 per cent per year to 550,000 by 2031.C.E.O. Ron Hanlon said Saint John is asking itself the right questions. He said what’s needed is a plan with all stakeholders working together.“But I think the important thing is to agree on the long term as to where you want to be and then have measurable goals that you’re seeing how you’re doing relative to that,” Hanlon said. “You can adjust along the way but the most important thing is that everybody’s pulling together”.READ MORE: Census 2016: Halifax sees uptick in population, still lower than national growth rateMayor Darling said the city isn’t there yet, but it’s on its way.“I’m absolutely convinced we can get there but you don’t get there by by chance,” he explained. “You get there with a purpose, you get there with a plan and then you work that plan.”Some, like deputy mayor Shirley McAlary, feel attracting more jobs to the region is step one in growing the city.“People are not going to just move to your city because you want them to,” McAlary said. “They need to move here if they have jobs. We need more jobs in this city. We need new investment in the city.”Up next will be the unveiling of the major plan or “road map” of the city’s future, which is expected to be ready by the end of March
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