Saint John-area politicians hopeful incoming premier Higgs will spell good news for region

Local politicians in the greater Saint John area are expressing optimism a Conservative government, even in a minority position, will spell good news in southern New Brunswick.

Premier-elect Blaine Higgs is the MLA for Quispamsis. Much of the greater Saint John area went Tory blue in the Sept. 24 election.

“I know Mr. Higgs is a team player and I’m sure he will work with all of his team throughout the province, and certainly this part of the province I do believe will certainly get some attention,” Gary Clark, the mayor of Quispamsis.

Municipalities have been lobbying government on a number of issues, including a desire for more control over their own affairs.

“For roads … some are provincially-designated roads right here in the town of Quispamsis,” said Clark. “We have water, we have infrastructure issues. There are many different things and we’re the ones, we get the first call.”

There’s also optimism a few kilometres away in Saint John. It’s the economic engine of the region, but it has been plagued with a sputtering financial motor. It’s calling for fairer taxation legislation especially when it comes to heavy industry, a major presence in the port city.

“When you’ve got a Tim Hortons that pays more taxes than a rail yard offloading rail cars … there’s no fairness there,” said Coun. John MacKenzie, who ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in the election.

MacKenzie says getting more tax dollars from industry would be a “game-changer” in cash-strapped Saint John.

“That would be so huge,” MacKenzie added.

“Our tax rate could be reduced by so much if we had equipment and container taxation.”

The taxation issue was one of several listed by the Cities of New Brunswick Association during the election campaign.

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