PEI

20 years after the bridge, Borden-Carleton aims to rebuild

The opening of Confederation Bridge 20 years ago was not kind to Borden-Carleton, but the mayor has a plan he believes can turn the P.E.I. town back around again.

'We have water and beaches all around us'

Borden-Carleton Mayor Dean Sexton is working on a plan to revitalize the town. (CBC)

The opening of Confederation Bridge 20 years ago was not kind to Borden-Carleton, but the mayor has a plan he believes can turn the P.E.I. town back around again.

Before the bridge, Borden-Carleton was home to hundreds of ferry workers. Those jobs disappeared with the ferries, and many of the town's residents moved on. The population was 829 in 1997, and has since fallen to 724.

The doctor, the pharmacy, and the Credit Union are also gone.

"Borden was quite a bustling place. The people that lived here, they all had good, permanent jobs," said Mayor Dean Sexton.

"We're going to try to rebuild these things, and get some services back in the town."

A tourism destination

Borden-Carleton sees hundreds of thousands of tourists drive by, but few of them stop. Sexton's goal is to give them reason to.

"We have water and beaches all around us," he said.

Sexton would like to see the town better connected to some of those beaches, and create a natural flow of people visiting the beaches and using services in the town. Part of that would be seeing a good restaurant established in the town.

Growing the population

The town is also looking to get its population back up to its pre-Confederation Bridge levels.

There are some major employers in the area — MacDougall Steel, Master Packaging, Atlantic Beef Products — but many of the employees are choosing to live outside of Borden-Carleton.

"The main reason people for that is we don't have good affordable housing here," he said.

Borden-Carleton needs newer, more affordable, housing, says Mayor Dean Sexton. (CBC)

"We have to start looking at doing a suburb, trying to attract some of those workers to live in Borden-Carleton and get our population up."

While the town has lost services, Sexton said it still has a lot going for it: an arena, a new refurbished library, and a school.

For all the problems the loss of the ferries has caused for Borden-Carleton, Sexton said Confederation Bridge has been good for P.E.I., and he is hopeful the town can still turn itself around.

With files from Compass