Multi-modal Transportation Strategy Key to New Brunswick’s Future

New Brunswick’s economy is grounded in trade and its future relies on a sustainable and strong multimodal transportation sector. 

Our economy has long relied on the production, distribution, and export of goods across our global community. Production of goods by New Brunswick’s world-class workforce, distribution of these goods within our region, and exporting of New Brunswick based products to consumers across the global has been the backbone of this Province’s economy.  

And just as important is the other side of the trade equation – imports. The goods that are imported to our Province are used every day by individuals, families, and businesses across New Brunswick.  When it comes to the marine sector, much of these imports are also transported beyond New Brunswick’s borders to points throughout Canada and the United States   If we did not realize or believe this before 2020, the pandemic has highlighted the critical role that imports play for us a nation, but this critical role was always present.    

Trade positions our Province not only as a gateway to the world for New Brunswick goods and goods from beyond our borders, but also as a gateway to North America for goods from around the globe. 

Our collective quality of life is strongly rooted in trade because of the thousands of direct, indirect, and induced jobs our trade activity creates across New Brunswick. These jobs provide income for individuals and families and are the foundation for businesses to succeed.  

Together, all of these are essential in providing revenues for governments, who, in turn, provide essential services in areas such as health, education, infrastructure and so many others. 

Efficient and effective trade is only possible with a resilient multi-modal transportation sector. Road, rail, air and sea provide the means through which trade flows. When these modes are interconnected, forming a sophisticated network, trade flows smoothly.  

Regions that recognize the value of strong and connected multi-modal transportation networks are typically regions with strong and growing economies and home to vibrant and growing communities. The existence of these four modes of transportation links in New Brunswick provide an opportunity to build a strong, resilient multimodal economic growth opportunity backed by strong multimodal transportation policies and focussed investment strategies.  

Now is the time to come together as a transportation sector, together with our Governments, to discuss how we synchronize these links, connecting them to develop a world class multimodal transportation hub, setting the foundation to accelerate our growth.  This is a matter not only of concern for leaders in transportation but also should be of interest to every New Brunswicker who relies on trade to sustain their livelihood and quality of life.  We are on the cusp of a tremendous opportunity.  As a Province, we need to collectively take the reins and have greater influence on our future prosperity! 

By embracing our regional strengths from across the Province, and by recognizing that together we can and will be stronger, we can and must build on our strong trade roots and bring them to new and stronger levels to grow our economy, attract new business and, indeed, grow our population, while also improving our quality of life today and into the future. 

And how do we do this? 

Collectively, we need to examine our numerous strengths in the transportation sector. We need to discuss how do we better link the modes of transportation to boost New Brunswick’s opportunity to compete on the global trade stage. 

Our imperative as an industry now is the development and implementation of a multimodal transportation strategy leveraging our assets and positioning our scarce financial resources.  This will bring focus to our existing network of transportation systems, both taking and making the greatest advantages of them for the sustainable future of our province. Given the relatively small geographic area that is New Brunswick, we must pivot and look beyond historical regional interest. We must identify a focused, accessible multimodal transportation hub approach that includes marine, road, rail, and air, that will create economic growth across all regions of New Brunswick. We need to stop arguing about what is in an individual area’s best interest and start talking about how we can take advantage of the billions of dollars in investments our Governments and private sector partners have made to strengthen our competitive position on the global stage because that is where our success – or lack of success – will be played out. We need to take actions that are New Brunswick centric! 

I believe the time has come for all of us to recognize and understand that we are on the doorstep of a generational opportunity.  The import-export function is the foundation of our transportation industry and every New Brunswicker relies on it. This industry must be rooted in a made in New Brunswick trade and transportation policy to engender, and enable, the integration of the resilient multi-modal transportation sector that our Province requires to seize the opportunity before us.