As John Gushue points out in a recent article on the CBC website, the transformation St. John’s has undergone in the past few years has not quite matched the revolution we were led to expect after Hebron came through.
I propose, however, that the presence or absence of money was never going to be the sole source of change; rather, once the population of this city swells with young workers from outside Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada, combined with the children of families now able to stay to work, this city could become unrecognizable, in a good way.
A look at other cities of comparable size in Canada gives us a taste of what we might look forward to.
There could be more science museums (Regina has two), more art museums and galleries (Kelowna has four), and small cinemas (Barrie has two).
Canadian music rivals the world’s best, but St. John’s has not yet had a glimpse of Japandroids, Purity Ring (both have played Saskatoon), or Crystal Castles (who have played Halifax).
Kingston’s FM dial enjoys a healthy variety.
Kelowna’s public transit is admirably adaptive.
Regina and Kingston have both ranked highly on “quality of life” lists, due to characteristics (such as vitality and after hours activities) we can and should emulate.
Most galling, given that St. John’s is partly a college town and should want to capitalize on it, are the seven universities residing in a city merely twice our size: Halifax.
If that seems like a high bar, we can settle for a mere two (like Sherbrooke and Kingston).
Beyond that, more beautiful architecture (such as Sherbrooke’s Vieux-Nord), carefully sculpted green spaces (like Regina’s), and an innovative and competitive economy (such as Kelowna’s) should be on our wish lists.
These are the privileges enjoyed by Canadian cities that match our current size.
Soon we may outgrow them and set our sights even higher. But first, time to catch up.