Mayor touts a decade of growth at Rotary Club

Katie Starr
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St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe gives the annual New Year’s mayor’s address to the Rotary Club of St. John’s during its weekly luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland Thursday. O’Keefe highlighted the major economic developments ongoing, and those on the horizon, for the capital city.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram    

If the past is any indication, the future looks bright for St. John’s and the metro area.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe says a decade of economic growth has launched the City of

St. John’s on its way to becoming the “best city” in Canada by 2021.

Retail trade, employment rates, commercial growth and personal income have all seen steady increases since 2002, O’Keefe said.

In particular, the tourism industry has become a major generator for the city and province, said O’Keefe, and needs to be pursued.

“We have to realize its an industry that’s renewable, and if we cultivate it, we’ll have it for forever and a day,” O’Keefe said.

Unlike the oil industry, tourism is an infinite resource, said O’Keefe, who made his remarks in a speech to the Rotary Club of

St. John’s Thursday.

He pointed to a 66 per cent increase in air passenger traffic at St. John’s International Airport since 2002.

“This is reflective of our strong economy and tourism industry,” O’Keefe said.

In addition, hotel rooms sold have increased by 53.7 per cent in the past decade.

O’Keefe pointed to several other indicators of economic growth, and was particularly proud of growth in the commercial sector and residential downtown development.

“There’s zero vacancy in commercial space right now, but I can guarantee you there isn’t zero demand,” he said.

According to O’Keefe, the building at 351 Water Street, due to be completed in 2014, is almost entirely leased out.

“We’ve got more people living, working, playing, enjoying downtown,” he said.

“We’re a city with a downtown that doesn’t need to be revitalized. We have a lot of vitality, and we’re increasing it.”

kstarr@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Rotary Club, International Airport

Geographic location: Canada, 351 Water Street

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Recent comments

  • not looking good by's
    January 25, 2013 - 09:36

    i cannot see the city of st. john's becoming one of the best cities in Canada by 2021. The city is a complete mess in fall, winter and spring, the city refuses to acknowledge what the outer regions have to offer. too many of it's citizens think that they are far greater then "thou". st. john's thinks it's the centre of the universe. the council is too immature and operates too much on a "me" attitude.

    • Jon
      January 25, 2013 - 11:51

      And what do the outer regions have to offer? (Besides better snow-clearing). Seems to me that 90% of the outer regions have to come into st. John's for almost everything except maybe a grocery store and a wal-mart.

  • Christopher Chafe
    January 25, 2013 - 07:30

    Now it's my time to criticize DOC. Yesterday DOC said we would be the "BEST" city in Canada by 2021. DOC you needs to stop drinking the water from City Hall, it's clouded your judgement. In order for this city to become the "BEST" in Canada a multitude of things have to occur, some of them are: 1. Complete overhaul of the transit system. 2. Less frequent trips to the Port of Miami and MORE frequent trips to Bay Street. 3. Diversify our economy. 4. The mindset of the residents MUST change. 5. URBAN SPRAWL MUST STOP. 6. Height Restrictions MUST be changed ALL OVER the city. 7. Stop raping the citizens because council does not have the BALLS to make the tough decisions!

  • Jay
    January 25, 2013 - 07:12

    Did he mention the GROWTH in taxes that's accompanying all of this prosperity. If we're growing so big that we have to increase taxes to maintain our growth, maybe we should re-visit our priorities.