There are no plans to sell Tucker Park.

Photo Credit: Tin Can Beach, another valuable Saint John asset.

Since Saint John Common Council adopted the Roadmap for Smart Growth, one thing has become very clear: the community is discussing and debating the growth of Saint John.

I am glad we’ve started the community dialogue as to why and how we must grow this City. However, there have been a number of distorted opinions and misnomers as to the initiatives outlined in the Roadmap for Smart Growth.

The biggest and most controversial one recently is the potential development of Tucker Park.

So let me go on record to state: “Tucker Park is not for sale”. There are no plans to develop it and to my knowledge, there never has been.

However, as your Mayor I must listen to all voices in the community and provide all the necessary information to make the best decisions possible for Saint Johners.

That is why it is essential for me to make a final attempt to explain the controversial dialogue regarding Tucker Park.

First let me say, I’m not against protecting parks, I’m against making big decisions with limited information and insight.

Saint John Council has asked for a report on the City’s options for development at the Tucker Park site. The report was requested to look at potential options to help with our fiscal situation. I believe that council is on the verge of saying “no” to even receiving that report because it might contain options that are unpopular.

Personally, I believe that there are many potential options that could result in significant enhancements to the park.

This is not about politics; that’s what got us into and is perpetuating this mess. This is about governance and changing the way we do business. It’s about making evidence based decisions and having a solid business case. It’s about being prudent, listening, rationalizing and making difficult decisions for the greater good of the community.

If we continue taking “UNTOUCHABLES” off the table, we limit our options and our likelihood of survival and we close our minds to the creative options that usually end up saving communities in times of crisis. Saint John becomes the city where everyone wants change but no one wants to change.

The only practical way for Saint John to generate more tax revenue, without increasing budget shortfalls, is by growing (or expanding) our tax base. This means increasing the number of new or improved residential, commercial, industrial and institutional properties within the City

Saint John is facing a fiscal wall and I firmly believe that raising taxes would surely only guarantee to sink our city, making us susceptible to service and infrastructure downgrades.. For me, I would call that my “UNTOUCHABLE” — NO NEW TAX INCREASES.

There is another side of the ledger; one that would generate more tax revenues from looking at all growth options. This would allow us to minimize service reductions, assist in overcoming our deficit, improve infrastructure and grow our tax base.

Once again, I have never had any intentions of selling Tucker Park. My intention has always been to put everything on the table and approach our current situation with eyes wide open. This enables us to decide as a community what we value most and where we should and should not invest.

It is why I firmly believe Saint John Council should at least receive this report and Saint John should start making decisions with all the facts.