What's in a Number? Growth

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Record years may be hard to come by especially amid the general economic woes of the past three years. But in Moncton, while we didn't set a record in 2010, that year was still exceptional in the value of building permits issued. At $148 million, 2010 was the third highest year of the past ten years and only slightly below the number two spot. Even more important is the number for the past decade. Over the course of the past ten years, Moncton had an average of $139 million in building permits each year far surpassing its numbers for the preceding decade.

The value of building permits is only one measure but it is a good indicator of the overall vibrancy of the community. It is a good indicator of economic activity and growth, the lifeblood of a sustainable and growing city. The lion's share of the activity was clearly the residential sector for both single family dwellings and for multi-unit dwellings, whether apartments or condominiums.

But there has also been substantial investment in commercial, industrial and institutional sectors. As we move along in the first year of the next decade amid continuing troubles around the world, our work is cut out to maintain this level of growth. Nevertheless, we have faced challenges before and rose to meet them.

So just what has been happening in Moncton? In the industrial parks, Moncton has had a decade of steady, solid growth. Large manufacturing facilities such as Irving Personal Care's 150,000 sq. ft diaper plant and Molson's first new brewery in over 50 years. At 110,000 sq. ft this new brewery has been meeting and exceeding targets since the day it opened.

Distribution remains a key component of our industrial parks. Most recently, Loblaw added to its Moncton presence with a new 126,000 sq. ft freezer plant. From this plant, it supplies all its frozen products to their many stores throughout the region.

What is distribution without transportation. Transportation is also a major element of Moncton's industrial parks with companies such as Armour Transport and Keltic Transport not only serving the distribution industry but each have their headquarters in one of Moncton's parks. Keltic opened their new facility just a couple years ago in Caledonia Industrial Estates. Meanwhile, across town, Armour built new offices at their Moncton Industrial Park location and also expanded their logistics facility in that park.

With all of the activity in the industrial parks, Moncton Industrial Development has expanded its infrastructure to open up more land in Caledonia, with some 285 acres currently available for new prospects. It is also in the midst of opening a new phase of the Moncton park, dubbed Moncton Industrial Park West. When complete this summer, it will open up 120 acres for new development. Even better, it has sold its first lot and the inaugural company, Action Car and Truck Accessories, will be building a new head office, distribution and service facility.

What are some of the other major projects around the community? A new stadium was built on the grounds of the Université de Moncton. It was officially inaugurated for use with the International Junior Summer Games last July. Over 2,500 athletes from around the world took part in an event considered to be a proving ground for future Olympics aspirants. This was the largest athletic event ever held in Atlantic Canada.

Following up, in late September, the Canadian Football League helds its first ever regular season game in Atlantic Canada at the new stadium. A sold out crowd not only made the game a success but it led to the league announcing a second game for 2011 with the Hamilton Ti-Cats taking on the Calgary Stampeders.

A new $35 million Casino and Entertainment/Convention complex opened in 2010 and has been success from its opening day. Several headliners have graced the stage such as Paul Anka, Bill Cosby, Burton Cummings and many more.

Retail has undergone a tough spell during these latest economic times. While new retail investments have been low the past couple of years, in our decade of growth, Moncton also saw considerable growth in this sector. The whole area around its Wheeler Park Power Centre saw new stores open up for Home Depot, WalMart, Future Shop and many others. There have also been new hotels built such as the Marriot Residences Inn in the downtown.

On the institutional front, Crandall University expanded, adding new teaching space for its growing student body. Université de Moncton has also added to their facilities. A new Justice Centre has opened in downtown Moncton and a new Peace Centre is currently under construction. This new Centre will be home to organizations such the Multi-Cultural Association of Greater Moncton.

2010 was a very good year for Moncton, a year that capped off a decade of steady and exceptional growth. We may be a small city but we enjoy that as an attribute. However, it also means we have to work for what comes our way. In the early stages of this new decade, you can be sure that work is continuing.

March, 2011