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