Recent news suggested that Fredericton would soon be have a greater population than Saint John. It was enough to bring Saint John’s very own Barry Ogden out of the shadows.
For decades Barry has done the heavy lifting in Saint John, everything from the Marigolds on Main Street to the Marco Polo, to the historic Loyalist House. For decades he has been one of Saint John’s greatest supporters and cheerleaders. But enough is enough, be that as it may he was compelled to call into CBC with his comments this morning. Even upbeat Barry sounded down right depressed as he talked about the rat infested slums, the empty lots and the list when on.
After a bit of refection I asked myself how did Saint John get to the state we are in today? A city with empty lots, decaying buildings, a declining in population and businesses while most other cities in Canada have been growing?
Then i asked myself: “If a gardener has a poor crop and a garden full of weeds does he blame mother nature? Perhaps he blames the gardener next door?
No the sad truth he probably didn’t do a great job as a gardener, cultivating and keeping the weeds out of the garden. In short you reap what you sow.
Is there any reason to believe the same isn’t true for cities? Is there any reason to believe if previous Common Councils had developed a better vision and executed, had “found the courage to make the difficult decisions” that Saint John might be a more vibrant community? With the second highest property tax rate of all Atlantic Canadian cities, a decaying old north end. a city with a 30% childhood poverty and 19.5% of the families living in poverty I would suggest we have some cultivating to do.
Am I writing the city off? No, but Saint John will improve when we have a Common Council and leadership that demands greater accountability and greater value for Saint John’s citizens.
Is this the Council that will weed and cultivate Saint John? We have 3 1/2 years left to find out.
Think about it.