Many communities in New Brunswick have seen industry shutter and jobs lost. The community of Belledune is expected to feel the same pain in 2030.
Its coal-fired plant is expected to shut down as part of an initiative by the federal government to mitigate climate change. It will result in about 120 lost jobs.
It isn’t the first community to face that, though.
Chipman Mayor Keith West was serving his first term when the local coal mine closed. Efforts to bring business and industry to the community weren’t successful, says West.
He advises the people of Belledune “to start now, lobbying politicians to get something in there to replace it.”
A J.D. Irving Limited paper mill in Chipman brought a flow of 75 new families, but that took a long time, said West.
In Miramichi and it’s neighbouring Blackville, two pulp and paper mills shut down in the early 2000s. Those jobs were never replaced.
Nackawic’s pulp and paper mill closed also closed in the 2000s. Sussex lost its major employer with the closure of the potash mine. The shipyard in Saint John shut down after sitting idle for three years, costing 4,000 jobs.
Some progress has been made, particularly in Sussex, where the government secured a contract for road salt at the old potash facility.
Dan Murphy, the executive director for the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick, said West is right. Communities need help from the federal and provincial governments to transition.
“Going back to Mayor West’s point, time is of essence. The sooner you can identify opportunities and find partnerships to work on what’s going on [the better],” he said in an interview Monday.
He said Chipman’s work with the Irving mill and settlement agencies worked well.
Chipman is a potential example for other communities to lead, Murphy adds, while noting that requires funding and investment many municipalities don’t have at their fingertips.
Calls have been made in the legislature for the government to come up with a plan for Belledune, but Premier Blaine Higgs has said nine years is a long time.
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