Transportation, infrastructure key issues for rural areas of southern N.B.
COVID pandemic underscored poor internet service in many places
As leaders of the five political parties campaign to be elected Sept. 14, two rural voters in southern New Brunswick are hoping some of their concerns are addressed by the winner.
Denise Miller of the Kingston Peninsula said she can't speak for everyone in her area, but she believes most are concerned about roads and infrastructure, including bridges and ferries, and the lack of internet and cellphone service.
"The pandemic has really heightened the lack of internet service in that area, when children had to work from home or go to school from home, we had to work from home," Miller told Information Morning Saint John on Wednesday.
"A lot of us don't have access to it. This has really highlighted the needs for it in our region."
Miller, who served as a member of the local service district advisory committee, said she hopes to see changes to the local governance system and how that serves the people living in rural New Brunswick.
"I wasn't impressed with the whole layout of it. You're not even a conduit. I was hoping to help and shed some light on the issues."
Local governance change needed
Miller said residents have to depend on their local MLA to get things done rather than being able to do it through more local representation.
No one in her area seems to be talking about ambulance wait times this election, but they still need addressing, she said.
"I just hope those things don't get forgotten based on the hot topic of the day being the internet and infrastructure and modular reactors."
John Castell a longtime longtime volunteer in Charlotte County and a former deputy mayor of Saint Andrews, said along with lack of internet access, transportation is a key issue, particularly for Campobello Island.
"A lot of the residents there have to drive through United States to get here to Canada, which means they've got this potential two weeks of isolation going and coming. So we're worried about that."
But having the first Dial A Ride program helped alleviate the loss of the bus service in the county.
"There are a lot of seniors, disabled people and needy families in Charlotte County that don't have a vehicle in order to get to Saint John for a lot of essential medical appointments, even to get out and get the groceries. It's a hardship for some people."
Lack of service
Miller said the reason transportation and infrastructure are key issues for voters in rural communities is that those areas don't get a lot of services.
"That is considered a service to us. Safe roads, our bridges, our ferry access, a lot of us require that to get home."
Miller said the concept of municipal reform is not lost on people living in rural areas, but when the largest demographic of the population, seniors, hear their taxes might go up for services they don't use they get upset.
"They'd like to see their tax dollars fixing the roads that they have to drive on. They want to make sure their ferry services are stable."
Castell said he's hopeful there will be more co-operation among all elected officials, as was shown with the all-;arty committee during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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With files from Information Morning Saint John