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  #41  
Old Posted Jun 2, 2018, 9:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Taeolas View Post
The Hotel you stayed at is one of the older ones in the city. It was a Howard Johnsons ages ago, and used to be a roadside in. I remember mom having a teachers conference back in the 80's and taking my sister and I down to stay there. We had a room overlooking the pool area, so I (maybe 12ish or so) and my sister (8ish) would climb over the railing and go hangout at the pool and pool tables.

A kind stranger actually taught me how to play pool there while mom was at her meetings.

That route used to be on the TCH until it was rerouted; the big bridge (Princess Margaret Bridge) was another TCH bridge.

That entire area is in the flood plain. You were literally within a week or two of that area being flooded. In fact the area around the hotel you were at had water over the roads during the flooding. Going northward (back towards the city) most of those roads were closed due to the flooding for 2 weeks or so.

Fredericton's northside (where you were) is generally considered the city's 'rougher' side, but that's been changing a lot in recent years. And our 'rough' side is still much better than the bad side of the tracks in most other cities.

The Carleton Street piers you took a picture of were almost completely covered during the flooding; I think just the top ridge was still visible at the peak. The city did release a report on building a new bridge across those piers, but the cost is prohibitive (45 million give or take a bit). Basically the piers have been unmaintained since the bridge was taken down in the early 80's, and while they look solid they aren't really structurally sound.

Fredericton is a city that's still working through the cusp of "Large town/Small city" to "Actual City" transition. Its dual nature, being split by the river and developing northside/southside has prolonged that transition too I think. It means the downtown skyline doesn't really have much big impact like other cities have, but that is starting to change. Those apartments you noted and the ones right next to them are brand new, just opening in the past few years. A block inward from them, the Home Hardware with the 3 floors of apartments is also brand new. And starting this summer, we have 2 new big (6-8 stories IIRC) that should be starting, and a proposal for a 3rd one that's starting to work through the system.

Also about the second condo building you pointed out, it is intended that the ground floor should be retail/office presence, with residential in the upper floors. I'm not sure how well that is coming out, but that particular building just opened last fall, so it is still being finished off.

The security barriers in front of the legislature are a recent addition; just put in in the last year or two. Before then it was wide open from the road.
Awesome story about the hotel pool, lol. Not as much fear of stranger danger back then! As a kid it would have been heaven I’m sure.

The north side wasn’t really rough, just a bit worn down and in need of renewal, and a better pedestrian environment - yet it still had a ton of nice homes - so much potential. Wouldn’t take much to turn it into a pretty cool neighbourhood. Your description of the transition the city is going through provides a good insight - I hope it’s a successful one that focuses on the city’s strengths and natural advantages. And thanks for sharing the AMAZING flood photos!! Wow, will share with my family who came with me, they’ll be amazed. Is there any plan to mitigate future flooding, or is there nothing that can really be done? Can you even get flood insurance?

Looking forward to a return visit one day when I can spend more time and see how the city has transitioned.
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  #42  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2018, 6:42 AM
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And at last.. Saint John.

What to say. Well, let's start with coming in to the city.

Ok, smaller cities without the taller buildings tend to look unimpressive from a distance, almost any distance, especially if midrise modern buildings from the 1960 to 80s dominate.



Still it was exciting to see it ahead, unfortunately I would only have less than half a day the way the schedule worked out.

This sign was cool, appears to be a lookout - next time.



First stop was Market Square (hey we have one of those in Victoria, kind of similar actually).





Wasn't busy that day, perhaps not that warm, no cruise ships in town. The buildings were gorgeous and yet their backside is now incorporated into that mall, which is unfortunate. Yet I know in Victoria we destroyed an entire block of heritage in the late 80's to build the downtown mall, in most cases they did fake replicas of the original, in a few they saved the bricks to rebuild. At least this is much better.

So here's the taller buildings, up close I rather like them, they have aged well and actually fit in. I'm not too crazy about the white modern add on with the three colours.. I get the idea behind it, but it seems a little on the cheap side and a temporary fix for something that doesn't need to be fixed. But who am I to critique.. this city has done so little wrong, Saint John should be teaching the rest of us some lessons.





Walking up the main street I started getting really excited about the great architecture that surrounded me.







I'll warn you now some of these photos will be out of order, easy to get confused looking back now.





I like that in most pictures there are interesting/attractive/curious people.

The public market (they say the longest continuously running market in North America) was just ok, a bit stale.. but the slanted floor was interesting. And hey, I have to keep reminding myself that the population of is only around 130,000!! I found it so awesome, that I was comparing to cities as large as Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. Heck, even Victoria doesn't really have a public market, well the one it does is mainly restaurants and prepared food and it's awesome, but not a true public market.

Across from the Market was a nice little park.. now this is how I know Saint John is my type of town.. a public memorial to a young boy who died trying to save a drowning baby. Such a graphic depiction too! I love this.







Irving Oil's new HQ. Curious to see how it turns out - the renderings look ok, I just hope the finishing materials are of high quality.



I took a picture of what I thought were heritage stairs being repaired on Sydney street. Nope, original build apparently. You can see the gentleman looking at me taking the picture. He was working on the building, super friendly and stopped work to come talk to me. I told him I was from Victoria, he said he was from out West too, First Nations from Winnipeg. He said he found Saint John to be more friendly and people really care about heritage.



He said the owner was building a house for himself out back, and in fact this whole thing was going to be his house.. if I got that right. What a stunning building.



Across the street he said the owner also owned the holiday rental suite building as well:



I stumbled across this amazing church at the top of a hill - one of my favourite churches ever now. Stunning to look up at it on it's little hill, I was totally drawn inside as was this other random guy who followed me in, from Calgary.











Next I started working my way back to the water street by street:









What an iconic building!







Prince William Street:











Now driving out of downtown..













The End.
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  #43  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2018, 7:07 AM
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And now for some comments.. uninformed, based on a quick walk through, first impressions - yet they say those count. And they do.. I'll be back one day. at 130,000 I haven't been to, nor can I imagine any city of that size coming close to Saint John. In fact, per capita, is there a more complete, beautiful downtown, pedestrian urban experience in Canada?! i don't think so!!

I knew I would like Saint John to some degree based on some pre-scouting, but I was apprehensive based on less than positive comments on SSP over the years. I haven't been to four major Canadian cities - Toronto (other than the airport and above, lol), Montreal, Quebec and Halifax..but I've been to most others and all over the West. I'll put Saint John up with Vancouver, Victoria, and Ottawa as my favourites I've been too - although I have no doubt that Quebec, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax will join that list and are my travel list.

I read somewhere that Saint John won the best Canadian pedestrian downtown a few years back - again, maybe it is the best in Canada? All the bigger cities have large office and parking complexes in some cases that really destroy the pedestrian vibe, especially Edmonton and Calgary. While there is still a lot to like about those cities, much of the downtown is not that pleasant to walk around - not a lot greenery, or attention paid to the pedestrian realm, tons of traffic, etc. Get this - downtown Saint John feels more urban than the vast majority of Canadian cities!! Other cities have a vertical strip mall feel in many places.

Is there room for improvement..? Sure, but that's the exciting part! It'll only get better! The restaurant/food scene appeared to be underwhelming, but I keep forgetting this city is only 130,000, not 400,000!! I'm sure there are enough good restaurants. The waterfront experience is seriously lacking, yet i was so mesmerized by the rest it didn't bother me. I know there are works in the plan, I hope the city connects with the waterfront in an non-industrial way in some parts around downtown. The downtown feels so complete, it has a sense of grandeur, reminds me of a mix of Victoria and Dublin.

Going back to Victoria I appreciated the amazing richness of the flora that we have here, it feels 'Mediterranean' in comparison, the city is so connected to the ocean. However, Saint John overall can easily compete with downtown Victoria. Sure it doesn't have the inner harbour with the Empress Hotel, the Parliament Buildings (yep, that's what we call them in BC), etc. but the quality of building in Saint John is so high. Victoria has a good collection of heritage buildings, but mainly in old town and scattered throughout. Most of them are western frontier town gold rush buildings, one or two storey.. some amazing, some just ok, and others covered up with stucco in the mid-century in a sad effort to modernize their look. Saint John in comparison has more of a European feel than a gold rush town feel. I didn't see any older buildings compromised by stucco.

So Saint John, enjoy what you have - I have no clue why this city isn't on everyone's radar as a true Canadian gem. Growth will come - for a fraction of the cost of living on the west coast or other cities, I can see the city and much of Atlantic Canada experiencing a boom if high home prices continue and the younger generation and new immigrants discover what the region has to offer.

Personally I'm a wuss, I can't handle cold weather, late spring or any snow - but I'll come back to visit any time in the summer. There is so much more to see I'm sure and I missed a ton. Maybe I missed some bad stuff too, it's always different when you live somewhere versus living there, but I doubt it.

I had a great time in New Brunswick, an underrated province if there ever was one! Cheers!
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  #44  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2018, 6:10 PM
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Thank you for you your photos and comments on Saint John - it's always nice to hear what others think of one's home. It sounds like your visit was quick but I'm glad you had the chance to wander around the Uptown for a bit and soak in the architecture, as that's where our city really shines. We certainly haven't been free of urban design mistakes over the years, but overall our core is intact and walkable, which is a blessing for a city our size.

The Market Square Boardwalk doesn't really wake up until June, but once the summer hits there's lots of programming to keep the place busy. Its numerous patios are a great hangout spot at the end of the workday.

That white protrudy box at the base of one of our towers is actually our city's Council chamber - the building itself is City Hall. Interestingly enough, it used to be painted black as per below:


Canada Day, Market Square by Seeing Is, on Flickr

Our City Market, though we're quite proud of it, does have a bit of an identity crisis as it plays triple duty as a local farmers' market, downtown lunch spot, and a tourist market. A strategic plan is in the works that will hopefully lead to further improvements inside and out.

It's too bad you didn't have time to stick around for a meal as the Uptown restaurant scene is actually pretty good, indeed at the risk of making an SSP cliché, I'd even say it "punches above its weight!" Send a message if you do indeed visit again and I'd be happy to give some recommendations.

The development of our waterfront has definitely been lagging - part of the issue is that so much of it is tied up under Port ownership, making those sites difficult or impossible to transition to urban development. Right now, all eyes are on the former Coast Guard Site as we're finally starting to see some movement there with the proposed new home for the New Brunswick Museum. The rest of the site is slated for mixed-use development (they're currently seeking a private sector partner) and the all-important waterfront promenade extending around the perimeter. I'm praying things are executed well and it turns into a district we can be proud of.

Most of us are excited about the direction the city, and especially the Uptown, is heading. The last decade or so has seen many upper floor residential conversions and more and more interesting businesses opening up. The central Uptown census tract grew by 15% in the last Census, the fastest growing CT in the entire CMA. Several exciting and ambitious mixed-use developments are currently in the works, and those loft conversions are continuing apace. Are there issues? Of course. Most other inner-city neighbourhoods have not shared in the growth of the central Uptown yet and are quite run down - you may have seen some of this on your drive out of town along Waterloo Street - and generational poverty is a persisting issue. However, a neighbourhood planning process is currently underway for the entire Central Peninsula (with more plans to come for the North End and Lower West Side) that is looking to tackle local issues and best navigate the change that's underway. In spite of the challenges of a small, slow-growth and very unequal city, I remain optimistic about the future of Saint John.

Thanks again for your comments and I hope you enjoy your next - hopefully longer - visit!
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  #45  
Old Posted Jun 3, 2018, 7:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Fischbob View Post
Thank you for you your photos and comments on Saint John - it's always nice to hear what others think of one's home. It sounds like your visit was quick but I'm glad you had the chance to wander around the Uptown for a bit and soak in the architecture, as that's where our city really shines. We certainly haven't been free of urban design mistakes over the years, but overall our core is intact and walkable, which is a blessing for a city our size.

The Market Square Boardwalk doesn't really wake up until June, but once the summer hits there's lots of programming to keep the place busy. Its numerous patios are a great hangout spot at the end of the workday.

That white protrudy box at the base of one of our towers is actually our city's Council chamber - the building itself is City Hall. Interestingly enough, it used to be painted black as per below:


Canada Day, Market Square by Seeing Is, on Flickr

Our City Market, though we're quite proud of it, does have a bit of an identity crisis as it plays triple duty as a local farmers' market, downtown lunch spot, and a tourist market. A strategic plan is in the works that will hopefully lead to further improvements inside and out.

It's too bad you didn't have time to stick around for a meal as the Uptown restaurant scene is actually pretty good, indeed at the risk of making an SSP cliché, I'd even say it "punches above its weight!" Send a message if you do indeed visit again and I'd be happy to give some recommendations.

The development of our waterfront has definitely been lagging - part of the issue is that so much of it is tied up under Port ownership, making those sites difficult or impossible to transition to urban development. Right now, all eyes are on the former Coast Guard Site as we're finally starting to see some movement there with the proposed new home for the New Brunswick Museum. The rest of the site is slated for mixed-use development (they're currently seeking a private sector partner) and the all-important waterfront promenade extending around the perimeter. I'm praying things are executed well and it turns into a district we can be proud of.

Most of us are excited about the direction the city, and especially the Uptown, is heading. The last decade or so has seen many upper floor residential conversions and more and more interesting businesses opening up. The central Uptown census tract grew by 15% in the last Census, the fastest growing CT in the entire CMA. Several exciting and ambitious mixed-use developments are currently in the works, and those loft conversions are continuing apace. Are there issues? Of course. Most other inner-city neighbourhoods have not shared in the growth of the central Uptown yet and are quite run down - you may have seen some of this on your drive out of town along Waterloo Street - and generational poverty is a persisting issue. However, a neighbourhood planning process is currently underway for the entire Central Peninsula (with more plans to come for the North End and Lower West Side) that is looking to tackle local issues and best navigate the change that's underway. In spite of the challenges of a small, slow-growth and very unequal city, I remain optimistic about the future of Saint John.

Thanks again for your comments and I hope you enjoy your next - hopefully longer - visit!
Awesome, thanks for the info Fischbob! I see downtown is actually called Uptown. Interesting about the city hall, I really needed more time to poke around all the nooks and crannies. I'm a bit gutted that I wasn't able to spend more time there. Same with having a proper meal - the plan was to stay overnight, but delays meant we ended up staying in Fredericton the night before. Next time I'd like to devote at least three days to Saint John alone - hmm.. think I'll have to look for a conference or training course there coming up!

Punches above it's weight, lol.. we need a better term, that one does feel overdone!

In the summer Market Square would be an exceptional place to have a drink after work with dozens and dozens of others on a nice summers evening. Thirsty for a cold one just thinking about it.

I've been reading up a bit on SJ after getting back, I'll be following the museum and waterfront development to see how it goes. I hope the museum does not block of access and views to the water though, opening up those vistas is key.

I'm hoping the plan to add 3,000 new residents doesn't take 30 years though, maybe over 20 - but I get downtown (uptown) living can be a hard sell when you can still get a spacious house for an affordable price.

Thanks for you sharing your perspective on the challenges too. It feels like and up and coming place, and sooner or later people will realize the lifestyle advantages the area has over much of Canada.
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  #46  
Old Posted Jun 8, 2018, 12:11 PM
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Glad you enjoyed SJ Zoomer! I certainly have in the 2 years I have been here so far. Too bad you didn't have more of an opportunity to explore (just a great excuse to come back )

As others have mentioned, flooding was pretty significant in Fredericton and Saint John. Here is a pretty intense photo of downtown Fredericton to give some perspective on the amount of flooding they had.

My inline isn't working with Imgur... here is the link: https://imgur.com/a/jBTvQaV

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  #47  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2018, 6:07 PM
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Glad you enjoyed SJ Zoomer! I certainly have in the 2 years I have been here so far. Too bad you didn't have more of an opportunity to explore (just a great excuse to come back )

As others have mentioned, flooding was pretty significant in Fredericton and Saint John. Here is a pretty intense photo of downtown Fredericton to give some perspective on the amount of flooding they had.

My inline isn't working with Imgur... here is the link: https://imgur.com/a/jBTvQaV

Thanks for sharing that photo! Hard to believe how quickly the water then receded - thank goodness!

I loved the province and especially Saint John - I can’t wait to have a proper visit one day and get a proper feel for the city. I’ll be watching from afar and I can’t wait to see how this city continues to evolve - sure there are challenges, but the potential too is fantastic. And currently it’s already pretty awesome in my books!

If there was a bigger French population like Moncton you’d think it could also attract call centre and support function work.
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