Irving turnaround spurs Saint John economy

Nearly 2,000 extra workers will be in Saint John for the next six weeks for the Irving oil refinery turnaround.

Hundreds of workers going round-the-clock for six weeks

Joe Whitney treated himself to a Mustang. (CBC)

Nearly 2,000 extra workers will be in Saint John for the next six weeks for the Irving oil refinery turnaround.

The workers are expected to have a big impact on the city’s economy. Irving Oil claims it will spur $41 million in consumer spending in the next month and a half, although that would work out to about $24,000 per person. 

Joe Whitney is doing his part. The Sarnia, Ont., man bought a Mustang spontaneously.  

“Well, I was bored one day because we came down a week early [and] had five days off,” he explained. “Went out for a test drive and they gave me a good deal I couldn't refuse.”

Kevin Scott of Irving Oil said the extra 1,700 people are needed for round-the-clock work.

"It's a pretty intense period, so people are working 12-hour shifts and a lot of them are working seven days a week,” he said. “They're really looking for lots of meals, quick accommodations and convenient things."

Stephen Beatteay of the Saint John Construction Association said most of those people are from New Brunswick:

"They spend local. That creates a multiplier effect in the local economy and the local area,” said Beatteay. “Even the folks who come from outside the area, they still have to buy perishables — food, lodgings, gas — so there's money they leave behind."

Melanie Pitre is renting rooms in her East Saint John home.

“Busy to the point where for the past week and a half I've had four boarders. Just last night, maybe ten more calls. So people are coming in, pouring in, very fast into the city, without a place to stay,” she said.

The turnaround will last until late April.