Campaign pitches people on ditching big cities, moving to N.B.
Economic development agencies aim to lure at least 150 remote workers to the province over 6 months
Working from home and no longer tied to the big city? New Brunswick wants to pitch you on its cheaper real estate and closeness to nature.
The economic development agencies for the cities of Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton, and the province have jointly launched a marketing campaign aimed at capitalizing on the wave of Canadians working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to boost the province's population.
The campaign, called Live for the Moment NB, debuted this week with a website targeting residents of large urban centres such as Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, looking for an escape.
"Now that you can work from anywhere … your best life is right here in New Brunswick," reads a line of text on the website underneath a scrolling media gallery featuring videos of people cooking on a campfire, paddle boarding on a river and biking across Fredericton's Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge.
Susy Campos, CEO of 3+, the City of Moncton's economic development agency, and a partner in the campaign, said people will be able to call a 1-800 number that connects them to someone they can ask questions they have about the area they're interested in moving to.
She said campaign is set to run for eight weeks, with a goal of attracting at least 150 people over the next six months.
"The great affordability, short commute times, closeness to nature," Campos said. "Those are all selling points for individuals that live in big urban centres."
Autumn Lawrence, spokesperson for Opportunities New Brunswick, said in an email that the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour is providing $442,800 to help support the campaign and associated costs.
The campaign comes as some people from central and western Canada have moved to the Maritimes in recent months now that all they need is a reliable internet connection to do their jobs.
However, with slow and unreliable internet in many rural parts of the province, one New Brunswick resident is warning prospective newcomers to do their homework.
Markoshi Baladad and his wife, Jas Shukla, moved from Toronto in October 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic reached New Brunswick.
They'd fallen in love with the rural Albert County community of Hopewell Cape after visiting the Maritimes in the summer, and moved into a Victorian home built in 1848.
However, Baladad and his wife said the difference between their rural internet service in New Brunswick and the fibre optic internet they were used to in Toronto became apparent.
"With the internet, if we were both working from home ... we were able to work online and stuff, but if she were to have a Zoom meeting, I had to make sure that I wasn't in a Zoom meeting as well, or vice versa," he said.
Last November, New Brunswick's Regional Development Corporation announced it was bringing high speed internet to 73,000 rural households, with the aim of having 97 per cent of customers connected via broadband and the rest through satellite.
Baladad said he later opted to get an office job in nearby Moncton because he didn't enjoy being "stuck at home every day."
New Brunswick isn't the first Maritime province to think of capitalizing on the trend of working from home.
Last December, Nova Scotia embarked on a $1.1-million marketing campaign similar to the New Brunswick one. Nova Scotia's campaign highlighted its low COVID-19 case numbers, efforts to make access to high-speed internet universal and low housing costs.
- Markoshi Baladad is the correct spelling for a person referenced in this story. An earlier version had a different spelling for the first name.Mar 14, 2021 1:37 PM AT