Fredericton — Fredericton city councillors will debate whether to amalgamate the nearby town of Nackawic during their next regular meeting on May 8.
Nackawic, only 50 kilometres from the outskirts of the capital city, narrowly beat out Minto as the next municipality for Fredericton to absorb. Minto originally had high marks in the city’s ranking system because of its prime Tim Hortons location at the flashing yellow light, but Nackawic scored slightly more points because its busy Robins Donuts location enjoys traffic unimpeded by a flashing yellow light.
“It only makes sense. Anyone in Nackawic who doesn’t work at the local mill is already working in Fredericton,” said Fredericton Ward 3 councillor Brad Anderson. “And the majority of AV Nackawic’s senior mill management have already chosen to reside here. Besides, they have the Big Axe Brewery that would be a great complement to the array of craft breweries springing up in our city. Heck, it’s already on the brew bus route.”
If amalgamated, Nackawic will be renamed “Fredericton Northwest” as it is located on the same side of the river as Nashwaaksis, but “just up the river a little, past the dam.” The town’s 2016 development plan already includes new residential lot development to accommodate an influx in new home construction, which is attractive to Fredericton as homes in Nackawic cost on average about 40 percent less and commuting time is about 35 minutes from Fredericton’s new traffic circle.
Former 2012 Ward 5 candidate Reese Jacobs grew up in Nackawic.
“Frederictonians are familiar and comfortable with ‘Wickers. Just look around; if you see someone happy at work, excelling at volleyball, or able to fix a snow machine’s liquid cooling system with a piece of aluminum beer can, they’re most likely from Nackawic.”
Jacobs credits this to an innovative “Coolness Incubator” program funded by the mill’s former American owners back in the mid-1970s. The program involved parents, teachers, coaches and children.
“We were taught from an early age to work hard in school and get good grades, to respect our parents, teachers and coaches, to be helpful to others, and to be home before the mill’s 10 p.m. town curfew bell. Everybody bought in, and the town produced some exceptional individuals who have gone on to do great things.”
Residents of Nackawic, however, are generally wary of the move to amalgamate.
“Apparently in Fredericton kids aren’t allowed to drive their unlicensed ATVs and dirt bikes on the streets. That’s just not acceptable,” said longtime resident Sandra Corey-Christie. “Parents here appreciate being able to send their kids down to the Save-Easy for milk, scratch tickets and tube bologna, if it’s on sale.” (Editor’s note: the Nackawic Save-Easy was rebranded to “Cal’s Independent Grocer” in 2015, but residents haven’t embraced the change.)
“We’re not easily fooled,” said high school parent Doug Cronkhite. “Fredericton just wants to pad their schools with our volleyball players.”
When reached for comment about his council’s view on the proposed amalgamation, Nackawic Mayor Jan Knutson was indifferent. “Meh… Nackawic is equidistant to Woodstock as well. The hospital up there is newer, smells better and has quicker wait times, and everybody knows that Woodstock’s Dixie Lee has better-tasting chicken than the one in Fredericton.”