New Brunswick

Moncton eyes new retail development near airport

Moncton has designs on a shopping complex near the Greater Moncton International Airport that could be a magnet for more big box stores.

Proposed development will capitalize on commuters using Highway 15

Moncton has designs on a new shopping complex near the Greater Moncton International Airport that could be a magnet for more big box stores.

Moncton and Dieppe have been luring major retail stores for several years which has turned the cities into shopping destinations.

Bill Budd, the executive director of the Greater Moncton Planning Commission, said a Marriott hotel and a Kent Building Supplies store will be constructed across from the airport this spring.

Budd said a grocery store is also expected to open next year.

"It's the beginning of what we think will be a commercial corridor, big box development area," he said.

Budd said developers are hoping to cash in on all the commuters using Highway 15 to come to Moncton and Dieppe from the Shediac and Sackville areas.

Those two towns are among several communities in southeastern New Brunswick that saw a population increase between 2006 and 2011, according to the latest census.

Sackville saw a modest population increase of 2.7. However, Shediac is one of the province’s fastest growing towns and had a 13.8 per cent spike in population, according to the 2011 census.

David Campbell, an economist in Moncton, said the area where the development is slated to take place can support more retail growth.

"If you look at the statistics, we do have a lot more retail infrastructure than a city should have of the one we have here in greater Moncton and that's because we pull from a wider catchment area in terms of our retail base," Campbell said.

The development will eventually slow down, but as long as the population continues to increase, retail growth will continue, he said.

Development plans

The regional planning commission will be making changes to ease some of the traffic congestion that already exists in the area.

Budd said major upgrades to the on and off-ramps are also planned to end the traffic problems around the proposed development.

Jacques Dubé, the city manager in Moncton, said the property next to the airport is also the last section of land that is still serviced by city water and sewer lines.

"So what's left over, what's the next beacon of hope in terms of the current serviceable boundary well it's certainly that whole Harrisville area," Dubé said.

Dubé said as the north end of the city fills up, developers are looking to the east for additional opportunities to build retail stores.

The city manager said the planned hotel, grocery and hardware stores are expected to attract more big box type stores near the airport.

"I have to say it's difficult to juggle all the balls here in terms of development," Dubé said.

The area that Moncton is now developing was once a part of Dieppe.

Dieppe Mayor Yvon LaPierre said the border between Moncton and Dieppe changed more than 20 years ago to accommodate Highway 15.

"The frontage on Highway 15 was something that we had to part with, but we gained the tax base of Crystal Palace," LaPierre said.