In my previous article I wrote about the new book “Maximum Canada”, by Doug Saunders, a writer for the Globe and Mail, who advocated a tripling of Canada’s population from its current 34 million to 100 million by the end of this century, to avert a “crisis of underpopulation” that some say threatens our economic health and well-being.
I had planned to write a follow-up article on the likelihood of our province being able to achieve a tripling its population by 2100, through more aggressive immigration plans, and how it might benefit us.
However, I concluded that there was scant justification to attempt such aggressive population growth in our province; and that a modest growth, capitalizing on trends and opportunities as they arose, could be a wiser path to follow.
Ironically, in taking the next step to identify some such opportunities, I found that “climate change” and “global security”, two seemingly negative world trends, appeared at the top of my list as potentially positive influences on our future growth.
For example, consider the global warming trends that are becoming more apparent as each year goes by, and their impact on the North American continent. According to climate models developed by Environment Canada, Nova Scotia’s average summer temperatures in this century are likely to increase by several degrees, with a growing season longer by forty days, and almost twenty more days of rain, in place of snow.
With such changes in our climate, the agricultural sector in the province would likely become an increasingly important contributor to our economy, producing a wider range of produce for local and out of province consumption.
Such a trend could also significantly reduce the importation of produce, that eats up our hard-earned wealth, when we should be aiming to import more cash than we export.
As for the topic of global security, forty per cent of Canada’s military assets are currently located in Nova Scotia. The defence and aerospace manufacturing sectors also contribute over $1.5 billion to our provincial economy annually, and there is every sign that we will need to invest more in national security, especially with the U.S. no longer having our back.
Canada will also need to step up protection of its Arctic territories and have a much stronger naval presence in the Northwest Passage, as that region becomes more open to resource exploitation and disputes over who owns what.
The east coast of Canada will be the main focus of much of this activity, and Halifax, as home base, will see considerably more investment in its port facilities providing ship maintenance and other services. And there will be growing employment opportunities throughout the province in technology-based businesses specialising in marine and military applications where we already have considerable expertise.
Perhaps the most significant opportunity area for economic growth in Nova Scotia will come from our relatively sheltered and untroubled setting in the world, and its appeal to travellers who are finding increasingly exasperating journeys to risky overseas tourist spots less appealing.
Thankfully, many travellers will continue to be attracted to “Canada’s Ocean Playground”, a place for fun-filled recreational pursuits by the sea. And we do live in a province rich in culture and history, not to mention stunningly beautiful and unspoiled natural settings.
But there is also class of visitors that will increasingly see our province as a calming retreat, or a sanctuary, or getaway, or a place for renewal, spiritual or otherwise, in our increasing troubled world; or an opportunity to enjoy some of our unique epicurean delights, including our excellent vintages, at our world-class restaurants; or a place to acquire some basic craft skills they can take back home with them; or benefit from excellent adult-education opportunities at our many seats of learning.….and the list goes on.
To bring this topic to our doorstep, the town of Amherst has to its credit identified economic growth as its top priority. However, sustainable economic growth cannot just be willed to happen, but must be based on an informed selection by the town of the needs of potential markets that it believes it can satisfy profitably, and then creating strategies to do so.
Alan Walter is a retired professional engineer living in Oxford. He was born in Wales and
worked in Halifax. He spends much of his time in Oxford, where he operates a small farm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.