2009 Jan 2
Want to know what kind of year 2008 was? If we were smart, we could have seen it coming almost a full year ago, back in January, when CEOs from New Brunswick’s own forestry industry toured the province lobbying for help.
Kelly Shotbolt, from Flakeboard, joined Fraser Papers’ Peter Gordon and James Irving from JDI to meet with community leaders all over the province to explain their plight.
The three CEOs represent three-quarters of what’s left of the province’s forest products industry and they said they needed help. Who knew then that "bailout" would become the buzz word of 2008. But they weren’t asking for the type of help that has become so popular in the last quarter of 2008. They weren’t asking for cash to keep them afloat like the auto makers and the housing markets have asked for – and received. They asked for fair energy rates and a steady supply of raw materials. They wanted government and the public to realize they were under pressure.
We certainly know now. And that’s why our choice for news story of the year in 2008 is The Economy.
The collapse in American markets has had a huge impact here in Charlotte County. Manufacturers of wood products, such as Flakeboard and SWP Industries have felt the sting as new home starts have withered and foreclosures have boomed. With no one building new homes, the orders for melamine furniture aren’t piling up. There have been layoffs and shutdowns but so far Flakeboard has managed to keep the St.Stephen mill open.
The economy is also affecting another major industry in Charlotte County – the lobster fishery. Prices have hit a 30-year low and lobster fishermen have to seriously think about whether it’s even worth their while to head out on the water. As 2009 dawns, Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet is on a mission to find new markets, reducing our dependence on American seafood lovers who currently account for 85 per cent of New Brunswick seafood sales.
The Economy could well be our story of the year in 2009 as well, as economists predict we have not yet seen the worst. Here, in no particular order, are some of 2008’s other headline grabbers – some of which will continue to play out across the front pages over the next year and beyond…
While Passamaquoddy Bay has not been abandoned by American liquefied natural gas developers, a handful of proposed projects have had the legs kicked out from under them. The American Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has dismissed Quoddy Bay LNG’s permit applications to import LNG into a proposed terminal on the Maine shore of Passamaquoddy Bay while Downeast LNG remains active but has withdrawn its state permit application.Calais LNG continues to work through the process to win approval to bring the LNG industry to Washington County.
Across the bay in Canada, opposition to the developments remains firm. That opposition extends from seaside communities such as St. Andrews all the way to Sussex Drive in Ottawa.The developments of the past year are encouraging to LNG’s opponents – and there are many – but this story is far from over.
Late in 2008 the granite quarrying company Jamer Materials dropped a bomb. It has applied to expand from the Bayside Port area across Highway 127.
The announcement wasn’t a complete surprise. People who live in the area and in the nearby town of St. Andrews knew full well that the company owns the land and that there are indeed rocks in them there hills. Still, when word came down that the application process was officially in motion, quarry opponents were dismayed.
The quarry’s operators insist they can excavate granite from the area without destroying it for other uses.Those uses include drinking water as the Town of St.Andrews gets its water from Chamcook Lake. Mayor John Craig insists quarry expansion will destroy the water supply and harm the town irrevocably.
Opponents lined up against the quarry expansion also include Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson, who lives on Chamcook Lake, and a group of residents and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking the hills.
This is another big newsmaker of 2008 that will continue to be a major story in 2009.
The vicious beating of war veteran Herbert Matthews shocked and saddened us. This story captured widespread attention for its senselessness and its impact. A young man was sent to prison for kicking and punching Matthews to the ground, causing injuries that have changed his life.
Matthews, who was waiting at the L’Etete ferry dock as he so often did, was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he encountered a drunk young man who harassed him then beat him down.
Just this month the St. Stephen community felt first-hand what so many other Canadian communities and families have felt as the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq continue.
Regardless of where you stand on the war, you had to feel for the Deering family when they learned their boy, Pte. Chris Deering, had been involved in a bombing while patrolling outside Kandahar.
It was a tense few days as Deering was being treated in Germany. The other three soldiers in the vehicle he was riding in died in the blast and his survival was uncertain. He has since rebounded and is recovering at home.
It’s been good news all around in terms of transportation infrastructure in Charlotte County.
Islanders are happy over the prospect of a new ferry coming online for Grand Manan, likely by 2010.
A new section of four-lane highway has opened between St. Stephen and Waweig, giving motorists a taste of what’s to come as the highway twinning continues on through places like Pennfield all the way to Saint John.
Highway twinning and the opening of the new international border crossing will continue to be a newsmaker in 2009 as life in the St. Stephen area is about to change forever.
© 2009 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB