This Wheel keeps on Rolling!

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We look around and wonder where the global economy is going. Each day brings another story of economic mayhem but amidst a swirl of such unsettling news, we need to keep focused on our own task and keep moving forward. We need to be cognizant of the issues not consumed by them. That is what Moncton has been doing, it has been moving forward and it has just kept on rolling. The year 2011 was another year for the highlight reel clearly showing that this city continues to grow and evolve.

A good part of the story can be told in just looking at the basics. Building permits for 2011 were second only to the record smashing year of 2009. In that year, the smashing sound involved a couple of major projects that just don't happen every day such as the Casino NB Entertainment complex and the new Justice Centre. But 2011 reached its lofty heights without any singularly large projects inflating the numbers, rather, the year was more a collection of good solid projects combined with continued residential development.

Just what are those numbers? Total permits issued in 2011 were valued at $184.7 million which was $37 million higher that the preceding year and $34 million shy of the smashing 2009 year. But it's not all about records, more important and more impressive is the year after year performance over the past decade, some years very good, some years just really good with an overall yearly average of $150 million.

So the real story about building permits is a story of Moncton's solid steady growth, isn't that how you win the race. Over the past 10 years, $1.5 billion of new development has been added to this community. That may seem small in comparison to large cities like Toronto, but can a place like Toronto claim a similar high level of consistency in its growth over these past ten years.

Building permits tell one story, they don't tell the whole story. For example, take a look behind the permits and see the action in the industrial sector. In 2011, the value of permits for industrial construction reached $51 million. That represents another very good year for Moncton's industrial parks. New distribution centres are popping up such as McKesson Canada's new 150,000 sq. ft DC in Caledonia Industrial Estates. In the same park, across the street is a new 65,000 sq. ft centre for CHEP Canada.

In the city's newest industrial park, Moncton Industrial Park West, the first phase of development was completed in early November opening up a wholly new park with 120 acres in its initial phase. Showing foresight and confidence in this new park, Action Car and Truck Accessories got the jump on everyone and became the first to buy and build in the park. With a new 75,000 sq. ft facility, "first adopter" Action acquired the prime site of the park thus giving the company a high profile location in full view of the daily traffic. This operation includes the company's head office, a distribution centre and a retail and installation centre. Locally owned, Action is no small potato with operations that span from St. John's, Nfld. to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Another sign of the economic vitality of this community is the continued high level of residential real estate sales. In 2011, a total of $414 million dollars in residential sales took place, second only to the record year of 2007 at $422 million. To give a broader picture, over the past 10 years, sales have averaged $330 million per year but over the past 5 years the average has been $402 million. Record sales over a period of time where housing sales in many other areas have been plain dismal.

Enough of numbers, some of the fun things last year included the world tour finale of super group U2 blasting the night away at Moncton's Magnetic Hill concert site. No less than Bono and the Edge came to Moncton and put their stamp on this community's growing recognition for entertainment delight. The Canadian Football League also showed up for the second year running and held one of its regular season games in the new stadium at the Univeristé de Moncton. For only the second time, the CFL held a regular season game in Atlantic Canada and both times the games were in Moncton. A full stadium watched the Hamilton TiCats stomp on the Calgary Stampeders in a wild scoring day with the final tally 55 to 36.

Even the fun carried right on into the winter with the Canadian Figure Skating Championships. Okay, these were in 2012 but that's how things just carry on. A new year with more great things. Canadian skating star Patrick Chan wowed the crowd and won his fifth Canadian championship with his record breaking score achieving an "unheard of 302.14 total points". No men's skater anywhere has ever scored that high.

What a fitting end to Moncton's 2011 and beginning of 2012. Perhaps a little of our success rubbed off on Patrick. Certainly Moncton is a winner and associates with winners. The city is growing, we are succeeding and with a little sprinkling of Patrick's magic dust, we're looking to keep things just rolling along.

February, 2012