Now that the New Brunswick provincial budget consultations are in full swing, one thing that keeps getting picked on is the NB Capital Commission. It doesn’t really have much respect in the public eye for a few reasons:

The most obvious is the small mandate that the commission has. New Brunswickers were expecting a scaled down version of the National Capital Commission. They are in charge of museums, parks, festivals and the official buildings and grounds. In New Brunswick, the NBCC is in charge of a groundhog and a few signs. They are technically in charge of the official grounds but haven’t really done anything to improve them.

Their “crowning achievement” was supposed to be “Oromocto Ollie”, New Brunswick’s own groundhog who predicts the weather on February 2nd. They clearly had their hearts, but not their brains in it as they failed miserably:

  • Instead of acquiring a groundhog from captivity, they found a natural groundhog den on CFB Gagetown. The problem is that wild groundhogs hibernate until March. The master of ceremonies tried to thump on the hole to get him to come out, but Ollie just wanted to sleep in. One major component of a Groundhog Day ceremony is to actually have a groundhog that you can show off to the cameras.
  • If you want your groundhog to get any media play, you need to do the prediction early in the morning, so the rest of Canada will see it in the morning news cycle. Our NBCC ran it at 10am, well after all the other North American groundhogs made their predictions. This meant that it was only seen on the evening news, which by then, was old news.

Anyone driving anywhere near Fredericton will have noticed all the “Provincial Capital Region” signs. In fact, the capital region is so large, it consists of 1/6th of the land mass of the province. Not only is it large, but they placed a sign on every single road that crosses into it. This includes the poorly maintained rural roads. Imagine driving down a rutted, potholed road and seeing a gleaming new “Capital Region” sign while still being a 45 minute drive away from Fredericton. That image alone will cause most people to think it is a waste of money.

Maybe they will improve over time, but many people will just look at their failures and conclude that their yearly budget of $400,000 is an unnecessary expense. If they were able to do their job properly and have something tangible to show for it at the end, it might not get picked on so much.