Dare to Compare


Firmly planted in my seat at the big M this morning I began to read the paper. The folks in Fredericton population (56,224) believe that withing the next 10 to 12 years their population will be greater that Saint John’s population (70,063).

Since i’m not the sharpest tool in the shed I decided to do a little research as to why folks would be attracted to one city over another and this is what i found.

 “These days, those people most likely to drive the growth of a city, namely young people between the ages of 25 and 34, have reprioritized,” says Marlys Harris. “Quality of life registers high on their list of necessities. Corporations are finding that increasingly they have to sell talented recruits on the place where they would be relocating as well as the job.”

“The young-people-seeking-quality-of-life notion has become the conventional wisdom of chambers of commerce around the country, which are scrambling to figure out what will sell their towns to those hoity-toity Gen X- and Y-ers, not to mention the so-called Millennials,” she continues.

Humm….is that to suggest Fredericton and Moncton two cities that have enjoyed significant population growth over the past decade have done a better job than Saint John when it comes to investing in the “quality if life” arena ? I don’t mean to be factious but does that mean the bus garage, parking garage and police headquarters are not causing people to flock to Saint John? Could it be that we have been spending or investing in too many of  the wrong places? Ask the folks in the Saint John Parks and Recreation Department and see what they have to say.

For anyone that has been following the news you will know that  according to Councilor Merrithew, 77% of the City operating budget goes towards City staff salaries and benefits. To make matters worse both the Fire and Police chiefs have a advised Council that they will need still more of the City’s 2017 operating budget for salaries and benefits.

Can we expect the City inside and outside workers to be happy with their pay package while the fire fighters and police receive more and more each year? I think not.

With limited property tax revenue will Common Council be forced to nibble away at the “quality of life” basket to satisfy the City’s wage and benefits monster…… and where will it end?

I heard via the grape vine that City management is really trying to put in place “bench marking”.

Bench marking based on what?

To make municipal bench marking meaningful it is important to compare the range, quality and cost of services against other competing communities.

If Saint John is to attract it’s fair share of businesses and families we must dare to compare  against Moncton and Fredericton the cost and quality of all services: Police, Fire, Municipal, Recreation, etc.  And improve in those areas where quality and cost don’t measure up against cities like Moncton and Fredericton otherwise they will continue to grow while Saint John will continue to struggle.

Think about it.