‘Screw water, buy our beer’: New Brunswick municipalities

‘Screw water, buy our beer’: New Brunswick municipalities

Fredericton — The municipalities of Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton have taken notice of ANBL’s record-setting revenue in 2015 and soaring first-quarter profits in 2016 — in addition to the unsustainable proliferation of craft breweries in the province — and want to jump off the bridge as well.

Water no longer has the appeal it once did in the general taxpaying population. Consider the net revenue generated by each of the Big Three’s water utilities: Fredericton (2015): $16.7 million, Saint John (2015): $42.4 million, and Moncton (2014): $35.9 million. Compare those numbers with ANBL’s net earnings in 2015 of $171.6 million. New Brunswick spends almost twice as much annually on beer, wine and spirits, than on water.

“We really admire how NB Liquor just nails it every quarter. That’s why we’re going to follow their model and go all in on our craft distillery,” said Larry Mazerolle, CEO of Ignite Fredericton, the city’s economic development group. “Even though clean water is required to sustain life, and about 60 percent of the human body is composed of it, we’ve given up hope that our residents will highly value their municipal water services.

“Water versus alcohol is an obvious popularity contest in New Brunswick. What the numbers tell us is that we would prefer to use our water as the primary ingredient in alcohol production, and will gladly pay more for a product we can use to dull the stark reality of our dismal economic outlook.”

The ability to see a trend and capitalize on it is a major part of what municipal economic development is about. With their cookie-cutter craft-brewery scheme, Saint John economic development officers may well turn out to be the ones who save their city from insolvency, and subsequent sale to the Irving family.

All three municipalities are currently working their respective rum-running expenditures into capital budgets for 2017; the plan is to clear out and upgrade space in their public works sheds, bringing them up to code for food production by the third quarter of 2018.

Revenue projections for Fredericton Firewater (rye whisky), Saint John Suds (lager) and Ol’ Muddy (Moncton’s malt liquor) gleaned from Manatee sources inside the city halls are too ridiculous for even us to print at this time. Everything else about these operations is being held close the chest.

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