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New Brunswick government announces $25M in spending Friday

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick makes 3 funding announcements' New Brunswick makes 3 funding announcements
WATCH: An economic development agency in Saint John received multi-million dollar commitment from the government. As Silas Brown reports, it’s one of three funding announcement, which is only intensifying speculation New Brunswick is headed for a Fall election – Aug 7, 2020

With a trio of funding announcements across the province, the New Brunswick government has committed $25 million in new spending.

The announcements began with a 10 year, $10 million investment in the newly created Economic Development Greater Saint John for labour market and population growth programs.

The new agency is a mashup of a number of old economic development organizations in the Saint John area that include the councils of Saint John, Rothesay, Quispamsis, Grand Bay-Westfield and Hampton.

Another $10.7 million was committed by the province to help upgrade the Greater Shediac wastewater treatment facility. The federal government is kicking in $16.1 million for the project and the Greater Shediac Sewerage Commission will contribute $5.3 million.

Read more: Saint John city council approves regional economic development model

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Finally, in Caraquet, the province is putting up $4 million to help build a new rink and community centre.

The spending spree comes as premier Blaine Higgs continues to rule out a snap fall election. But minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Trevor Holder downplayed any election talk when speaking with reporters after the Saint John event.

“What you can conclude out of this is that we have been in a COVID era for the last three or four months and we have been working hard on how we can re-energize the economy coming out of COVID, that’s what today is about,” he said.

Saint John figures to be a crucial battleground should the province head to the polls. The PCs currently hold every seat in the region, with the exception of Saint John Harbour, which was won by former city councillor Gerry Lowe by just ten votes in 2018. Barry Ogden, the PC candidate for the riding, launched a challenge of the result, which spawned a lengthy court battle which eventually upheld Lowe’s win.

Read more: New Saint John regional economic development agency closer to reality

Lowe acknowledged the funding announcement had a pre-election type of feel to it and is still deciding whether he’ll run should a general election be called.

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“As you’re well aware, this riding has always been a tight riding. So if I run again, and if I lose, well if I lose I lose, but if I win by ten votes do we go back to court again? That’s on my mind big time,” Lowe said.

As the only Liberal MLA in the southern part of the province Lowe said there is some pressure coming from the party to run again.

“I’m the only Liberal from Sussex to Calais, Maine. I’m the only guy. If I run, can I win? Who runs against me? There’s all kinds of things [to consider],” he said.

“When the election call comes I gotta either s— or get off the pot.”

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