Let Canada's "Loyalist City", Saint John, Take you Back to the Future for the Affordable Housing Solution
We’ve all seen federal, provincial and municipal politicians’ brows become furrowed as they spout empathetic statements about their shared frustration with the public when confronted in media interviews about what can be done to solve the affordable housing crisis. They all know the answer. It’s mixed use residential housing; a combination of single- family homes and townhouses along with low rise condominium and rental apartments in a walkable greenspace neighbourhood. However, affordable housing is one of those third rails in politics that politicians are afraid to tell the truth about because of the fear that they’ll be associated with and stigmatized by the NIMBY (not in my backyard) factor that will spell the end of their career.
NIMBYism is a fear of the unknown. A combination of post- World War II public policy, politics and private sector real estate development promotion in North America created a successful marketing mystique that convinced boomers and millennials that the ideal home life was encapsulated in single family residences ensconced in exclusive residential neighbourhoods. Zoning was utilized to promote and correspondingly restrict middle and upper- class residential neighbourhood development to single family homes. These became the preferred addresses that assured owners of an increase in value and a guaranteed tax-free investment when sold. Any attempt to alter or interfere with the status quo single family home owner mindset, which has been deeply ingrained in the middle and upper classes predominant among voters, is met with a resounding NIMBY.
Now let me take you back to the future on the street where I grew up. Saint John New Brunswick, incorporated in 1783 as Canada’s oldest city, was a boomtown of considerable wealth in the heyday of wooden shipbuilding and the lumber trade of the 19th century. One of its premiere residential streets of that golden era of commerce was Douglas Avenue. It was sprinkled with grand mansions replete with beautifully landscaped lawns maintained by gardeners along with maids an chauffeurs. But it was more than the grand mansions that made it a very desirable place to live. Intermingled with the majestic manses was a mixture of middle- class single family residences, two story townhouse configurations (“flats”) and two and three story working class tenement apartment buildings.
Yes, the mansions were there to stare at and wonder what it would be like to live like the 1%. However, all of the other homes didn’t stand out as aberrations but fitted in because of their quality design and construction. The single- family homes although similar in design were not all the same.
The contractors who built them were small enterprises who added their own signature to the residence such as customized windows and door frames. It was all very subtle and not expensive. It was craftmanship that made them compatible fits with nearby mansions. The two- story townhouse apartments adhered to the same principles. In fact, because the mansions tended to be multi story residences the two - story town house apartments were of a comparable size with comfortable living quarters. The three- story working class tenement apartment buildings consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen and living room.
But there was more to Douglas Avenue than residences. The New Brunswick Museum, Canada’s oldest continuing museum, an impressive grey stone building with an adjacent green space park gave the street a majestic edge. There was a stately mansion at the edge of the park. However, next door to the mansion was the local RCMP detachment and the residence for the local sergeant. The detachment didn’t have a police station look. It was designed to complement the residential look of the street.
Although our single family residence middle- class home certainly didn’t stand out it fitted in because it had a neat and tidy front lawn and an artistic stained glass window above the door with lilac bushes separating our home from an apartment building next door. In other words, an affordable home fitted in with mansions just several doors away because of quality design and construction. One of the pleasures of walking along Douglas Avenue was and still is just looking at so many of the ordinarily homes and seeing something special adorning the sidings, window and brick work.
And us kids all fitted in. I remember how several us who lived in close proximity to one of the mansions used to enjoy sitting on the manicured lawn watching their fully uniformed chauffeur who looked just like what you would see on Upstairs/Downstairs or Downton Abbey hand washing the limousine once a week. He would play a I’m going to catch you with the hose game as we dodged the spray. One of those boys lived just three doors away in a neat and tidy working- class home whose dad drove a bicycle back and forth to work at MRA every day because there was no way they could ever afford a car. It was just as much fun to keep an eye out for him on a sunny summer afternoon and see if he could keep up with the cars who were driving along Douglas Avenue on their way home from work.
Eastern Bakeries, yes you guessed it, an industrial business was located on Douglas Avenue just across from what was then Saint John Vocational School (VOC). In those days you could sneak in and from a distance watch bread being baked in large scale commercial ovens. The building was tastefully designed with a spacious green space front lawn. It was directly across the street from a grand home that had it’s own greenhouse and a beautiful floral garden maintained by, you guessed it, a full time gardener.
I could go on and do go on about Douglas Avenue in one of the chapters of my book Meaningful Memories (www.johngkelly.ca) but you get the picture. The Loyalist City with an incredible heritage has the solution to the affordable housing crisis. We showed how it could be done 150 years ago but like so much of our heritage it has become lost in the petty politics of today with its appalling lack of leadership
It’s common knowledge that the post COVID 19 Pandemic era will require a new social contract. The social contract in society determines the balance between what is to be provided collectively in society and by whom. The governmental and regulatory structure of society along with the rules and norms that dictate how our society functions will undergo a major overhaul.
For example, the Canadian public of all political persuasions is demanding that the architecture and operational framework for Long Term Care be dramatically restructured with an orientation that places the primary focus on the quality of care of residents as an essential component of the social contract and not a burden on society.
COVID 19 has made us acknowledge what we all were intrinsically aware of but chose to conveniently ignore; the extent to which the “COVID 19 Heroes”, PSWs, RPNs, retail food clerks and front-line workers in factories have been grossly underpaid and overworked. In short, they’ve been exploited. One of the guiding principles of this new social contract that is gaining traction is that the “minimum wage” approach that is based on the premise that the unbridled competitive forces in the employment market should be the fundamental determinant of a wage is losing traction. The exploitation of minimum wage workers absent benefits who were forced to work in unsafe conditions, even if they tested COVID positive in order to make enough money to pay the rent and put food on the table, needs to be restructured in the context of a “basic fair wage” with government regulated health and workplace safety standards.
We need to rethink the nature and extent of the social safety net. Food banks and tent cities are two high profile illustrations of flaws in the status quo. This does not necessarily mean just pouring more money into welfare. It requires a resolve to undertake a fundamental rethinking of the myriad of welfare programs that COVID has demonstrated are part of the problem rather than the solution.
COVID has provided us with a stark insight into the health care dilemma we were already facing as an aging society that has ballooned into a crisis. Health is wealth in contemporary western society. But it’s an expensive proposition. The new generation of medical technology, drugs, devices and the expansion of health providers into 28 self-regulated health professions are going to require a fundamental rethinking of the nature and extent of health as a critical component of the social contract. This is a rethinking of the social contract that will cost money. Cost effectiveness and not cost containment will be the new healthcare mantra.
The combination of aging and advances in health care are already increasing longevity in Canadian society with reasonable expectations that Boomers will live into their 80’s. The boomer generation has benefited from being born into a society with a social contract that nurtured them as youths until 21, followed by a work life of stable employment for 40+ years with a guaranteed public pension at age 65 that they may well keep on collecting for 20 years until 85 years of age. That translates into an equal balance of 40 years of work and 40 years of non-work
This all worked well when the country had a growing population of healthy young workers to contribute to public pension plan in which a majority of workers were supporting a minority of retirees. An aging population means that within the short- term foreseeable future there will be a growing financial burden on a minority of workers to support a majority of retirees. A number of comparable western countries have already begun to raise the public retirement eligibility age from 65 to 67 with projections that it may be set at a peak of 70. Canada’s initial attempt was rolled back in response to a public outcry. Don’t be surprised to see its inevitable re-introduction into the public policy debate.
Then there’s the shift from an industrial to an information high-tech economy, with “gig” employment that will require the emergent “x”, y”, ”z” generations, yes our grandchildren, to re-educate and re-employ themselves several times over the course of their adulthood. They will also be required to pay down that massive multi-billion dollar public debt that was needed to fund the fundamental social contract obligation to combat COVID 19 while confronting a climate crisis.
Social contracts enable us to solve the problems that confront societies. Crises create opportunities for society to develop architectures and operational frameworks for innovative social contracts. Post COVID 19 can and must open the door for creation of a new social contract
The Bay of Fundy- Anchor for Innovation A High- Tech Opportunity for Saint Andrews by the SeaByJohn G. Kelly
The Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Global Centre for Ocean Tidal Management
Environmentally Sustainable Ocean aquaculture
An “Anchor” Opportunity
The Bay of Fundy
The formation of the Bay of Fundy is attributed to a geological formation approximately two million years ago. It has a unique geological footprint and is one of only three designated UNESGO Global Geoparks in North America. The formation has created an oceanic gorge that separates the Province of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The Bay of Fundy is an Atlantic Ocean phenomenon. It’s surges from low to high tide of 52 feet (16 metres) are the highest in the world. Moreover, because of the narrow funnel shape of Fundy, the surges create powerful rushes of 100 billion tons of sea water from the Atlantic on a daily basis. This is twice as much as the combined flow of all rivers of the world over the same period.
Ecological & Environmental Infrastructure Attributes
The Bay of Fundy is a renowned oceanic estuary. The combination of location as a mid-point between the south and north Atlantic Ocean and the tidal draw of the surges have made it a desirable seasonal location for an eclectic array fish, sea mammals and birds as well as fertile sea plants; a number of which, notably dulse, have nutrients with health benefits for humans. Sustainable aqua culture management and sea food harvesting is a core component of eco-friendly food management.
The tidal surges of the Bay of Fundy extend into the mouths of a number of fresh water rivers and impact fresh water flows.
Global warming is having a major impact on ocean frontage around the world as sea levels rise. COP 26 has prioritized the need to understand how ocean tides function and what can be done to manage tidal flows of both salt water ocean fronts and fresh water river bank floods in a manner that contributes to a sustainable environment. This is a major concern and priority for global coastal communities.
“Anchor” & Innovation Linkage
“As we shall see, the greatest opportunities for growth lie in communities recognizing their own advantages, then fostering forms of specialized innovation that rely on those advantages.
At the same time, communities must encourage the development of public institutions (NGO’s, think tanks, research centres, post-secondary institutions, etc.) to provide critical support. 
Hiding in plain sight within the world’s rapidly changing production terrain are numerous innovation-based growth opportunities that have nothing to do with – and are much better than trying to create Internet, biotech – or lure science- based manufacturing industries
Dan Breznitz, from whose New York Times best-selling text, Innovation in Real Places, the above quotes are excerpted is lauded as the global guru on explaining to a public and private sector obsessed with promoting technology as the source of innovation to generate wealth how in our “new age” economy actual innovation is invariably linked to “anchors”, notably locations that have an infrastructure and natural attributes that facilitate innovation.
There are permanent locations that are “anchors” and provide the natural infrastructure for specific innovations that have natural linkage or affinity with them. For example, Palo Alto California (Silicon Valley) is a WHO ranked age friendly community with an aging population in close proximity to the major urban centre of San Francisco. Silicon Valley is also is the locus of a leading -edge technology university (Stanford), with an internationally acclaimed science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching faculty and research facilities. In the lexicon of innovation this is labelled as an “Anchor”. Innovations, in this instance a “high tech” cluster are linked to that anchor and thrive.
The Bay of Fundy, Historic St. Andrews by the Sea and the Huntsman Marine Science Centre and historic St. Andrews by the Sea are a composite “Anchor” for innovation in environmentally sustainable coastal tidal management.
Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy
To date, the various public and private sector stakeholders in the Bay of Fundy have focused their efforts on developing technology to harness the power of the tides to generate electricity. The Bay of Fundy has a long history as a source of tidal power that can be traced back to 1607. Over the past 20 years there have been a number of attempts to use modern day technology to develop turbines that can harness the power of the tides to generate “clean/green” energy as a source of electrical power. FORCE is a non- profit non-governmental organization (NGO).
Ironically, the emphasis on utilizing technology to harness the energy from the tidal flows to generate “clean/green” energy has demonstrated the negative impact on the ecosystem of narrowly focusing the scope of tidal management on technology applications. The extensive damage to the aquaculture from the churning of the turbines in the massive tide waters has resulted in putting the project on hold for the foreseeable future.
There is a need for a dedicated “holistic” centre for comprehensive ocean tidal research and management that adheres to a sustainable environmental mandate that fits with the Government of Canada’s commitment to support development of the Bay of Fundy as an “Anchor” for a global centre for research expertise on ocean tidal management
The Ocean Tidal Research and Management Challenge
An “Anchor” Strategy
Turning the tide:
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
COP 26: Tide could still be turned on ‘disproportionate’ climate hazards faced by coastal communities, IFRC report finds
The people living on the world’s coastlines are already facing growing risks due to climate change. The warming climate both creates new threats and exacerbates pre-existing dangers. Sea levels are rising, coastal floods are becoming more severe, storms and cyclones are intensifying, and storm surge is reaching higher levels, further inland. Lives are being lost, homes and property damaged, and essential farmland ruined by saltwater. Vulnerable coastal communities face hard limits to adaptation that cannot be overcome, but also soft limits that can be shifted – with financing, governance and innovation.
A North American Perspective
“With sea-level rise punishing the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards, America’s four most populous states – California, Texas, Florida and New York- all face climate reckoning. Among all global coastal cities ranked by asset value at risk, New York and Miami rank first and second.”
Parag Khanna’s recently published book, Move, the source for the above quote was frequently cited at the COP 26 summit as articulating the architecture for the threat that coastal community landscapes and communities will encounter for the foreseeable future. In the absence of a comprehensive ocean tidal management architecture and operational framework to “stem the tide” the world will be faced with a global climate refugee crisis.
Ocean Tidal Management Opportunity
Town of St. Andrews
The Huntsman Marine Science Centre
Historic St. Andrews by the Sea is strategically located in the ocean tidal management anchor at the head waters of the Bay of Fundy. It’s a WHO rated age friendly community. It’s an idyllic historic heritage community with a vibrant summer tourist economy. The Algonquin Inn, an anchor within the tourist infrastructure, can host international conferences, a considerable value add for a global centre. It has a small town walkable main street with local merchant owned businesses, a core component of age friendly communities that are attracting influxes of new residents. Its proximity to two regional urban centres, Saint John and Fredericton, provides residents with access to a wide selection of goods and services.
As is the case with many historic small towns, it has an aging population as post war boomers and subsequently millennials gravitated to urban centres to pursue professional/paraprofessional careers in a service economy. St. Andrews has the potential to leverage underutilized lands into senior active retirement environments (S.A.F.E), the foundation for multi-generational senior active communities attracting seniors open to transition from family homes. Residential homes at affordable prices will come on the market. A multi-talent mix of millennials and generations x, y, z is looking for affordable age friendly communities to live in. “The ideals of small -town America hold growing appeal as they become alienated from big-city life”. The “new age” service economy is enabling them to work remotely and there is a growing influx of Canadian professionals and para-professionals exiting urban centres for “age friendly” active communities in the east coast.
Health is wealth in an emergent post pandemic society. The town is lacking in comprehensive health care. This can be remedied through adaptation of a contemporary holistic health care system that isn’t traditional medical doctor dominated.
It does have an up to date public education system and a post-secondary college. The college is a prime candidate for development as a centre for skills level coastal tidal administration and sustainable acquaculture management to an international student body along with pro-active partnering with universities and research facilities. These are very attractive age friendly community attributes for families wanting affordable access to quality education for their children.
The Huntsman Marine Science Centre (Huntsman) is a non- profit organization that functions as the research and education centre for a consortium of universities, the critical knowledge prong in the anchor. It’s located on 70 acres of land that includes research and teaching centres along with a residence. It is an acknowledged centre of excellence for marine biology and oceanography. The Huntsman has two primary divisions, education & outreach and aquatic biosciences. Tidal research and management are integrated into both divisions. The Huntsman has an opportunity to leverage its expertise into the leading global Centre for Ocean Tidal Management.
To leverage the of the Bay of Fundy “Anchor”, with age friendly community infrastructure of the town of and the internationally acknowledge expertise of the Huntsman Marine Science Centre into the global centre for ocean tidal research and management
The Huntsman Marine Science Centre for Global Ocean Tidal management
 Dan Breznitz. Innovation in Real Places. New York. Oxford University Press. (2021) at P.5
 Ibid at P 55.
 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
 Parag Khanna, Move. New York. Scribner (2021) at P. 97
 Supra 3 at P106
Making the Move Happen to Attract Immigrants to New Brunswick
New Brunswick has an ageing population. That’s creating a situation in which there are more jobs than people. We need workers. “Some of the fastest growing job categories, such as home health assistance, food preparation, sanitation services, and so forth, require little or no education but make life more convenient for the rest of society, especially the elderly and the middle class”.
So, where do we find these workers? Canada is multi-cultural country with a reputation of tolerance and respect for all newcomers. The federal government has embraced an aggressive public policy to recruit 425,000 primarily high skilled immigrants per year to Canada over the next five years help fill the gap in the high tech, professional and skill trades sectors. Universities and colleges are partnering with the government to recruit immigrants for education programs that are linked with fast track work permits that lead to permanent residency and citizenship.
This is all well and good. It will position Canada as a desirable location for immigrants looking for professional careers and new economy employers interested in setting up shop in a country with a highly skilled workforce. “But some of the most crucial areas facing labor shortages, such as construction and healthcare, from building and installing modular homes to providing physical therapy for the elderly, don’t even require a high school degree”
So, where do we find workers who are prepared to come to Canada to take on these fast- growing jobs? The world is at the beginning stages of a global migration. A combination of political upheaval that includes war even in places like the Ukraine in Europe and global warming are displacing populations. For those not displaced many of the new generation in good health just want out. Nightly news casts now contain harrowing tales of desperate political and climate refugees risking their lives to escape the carnage in their homeland and seek a new life in a better world.
Canada is well-known constituent of the better world. But unlike Europe which Asians and Africans can be access by land or boat, or the U.S. which is connected by a land bridge to Central and South America via Mexico, you need a plane ticket, passport and, if you’re from an unstable country a visa to get into Canada. The Afghan backlog in processing what are supposedly preferred status refugees illustrates the difficulties in administering this process through what is touted as an antiquated system.
New Brunswick needs to follow Quebec’s lead. That province has negotiated a designated status relationship with the federal government which allows it to grant preferred immigrant status to classes of persons it deems will add value to the provincial economy. I know from having taught hundreds of immigrant students in my tenure as a college law professor that when they or their parents visit immigration offices abroad to inquire about immigration all the counselling from immigration officials is focused on opportunities in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) of Vancouver. There’s nary a mention of New Brunswick. This province has got to get itself on the Canadian immigration map if it wants to become a serious contender.
Quebec also has a designated temporary worker immigration niche that enables it to cherry pick unskilled immigrants to work in the service sectors. It retains the option to grant them permanent residency status if they demonstrate the ability to assimilate and contribute to Quebec culture. New Brunswick needs to look to what Quebec is doing in the temporary worker recruitment market and get on the move with a comparable program.
Now let’s talk a bit about applicants with foreign professional qualifications; specifically doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses of which there is a critical shortage in New Brunswick. Why not bring foreign trained health professionals into the province to fill this gap? There are hundreds of EU qualified health care providers with equivalent qualifications to Canadians interested in coming to Canada. I know because I founded and ran Canada Law from Abroad (www.canadalawfromabroad.com) that sent more than a thousand Canadians to world class UK law schools. I was frequently in the UK and became conversant with the accreditation system for foreign trained doctors. Canada has a notorious reputation for making it extremely difficult for foreign trained health professionals to become accredited in Canada. The domestic cadre of regulated health professionals run a closed shop. At professional recruitment fairs I would routinely encounter Australians counselling doctors against the Canadian barriers in place requiring highly skilled doctors to work in hospitals for low wages for three to five years to get accredited while if they came to Australia they could be accredited in one to two years. Guess where they chose to emigrate? Until provinces are prepared to take a stand on foreign degree professional accreditation for health care professionals the doctor shortage will continue as provinces restrict placement numbers at Canadian medical schools.
 Parag Khanna, Move – The Forces Uprooting Us. New York. Scribner (2021) at P.39
 Supra P.87
A New Brunswick Primer in Partnering preservation and conservation of a heritage legacy with community development A John G. Kelly Thought Leader
John G. Kelly
Mentoring & Counselling