Bangor, Saint John links sought

Posted Oct. 30, 2009, at 12:17 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Civic leaders from Bangor met Thursday with their counterparts from Saint John, New Brunswick, for a series of sessions on tourism, economic development, transportation and energy in hopes of fostering collaboration.

Ivan Court, mayor of Saint John, said the two communities, which have shared a sister city relationship for 22 years, have been working together for a long time, but that the time is ripe to take the next step.

“The bottom line is: We see the potential of this area,” said Court, who was one of 20 members of the Saint John delegation, which will be in Bangor through today.

Court said he sees Irving Oil’s proposed energy corridor project through Maine as the perfect example of a mutually beneficial partnership.

Bangor City Council Chairman Gerry Palmer agreed.

“We depend on each other for so much. I’d like to see even more information exchanged,” he said.

The Saint John delegation was formally welcomed during a reception Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning, representatives from the two cities made presentations on a wide range of topics at Wellman Commons on the former Bangor Theological Seminary campus.

Tim Curry, president of Atlantica Centre for Energy, an industry association that promotes sustainable energy growth, talked about a number of ways in which energy can lead to economic development. Michael Aube, head of Eastern Maine Development Corp., briefed the audience about Mobilize Maine, a recent initiative that seeks to harness economic growth through asset-based development.

Other speakers on economic development included Steve Carson, representing Enterprise Saint John, and Nancy Thorne from Access Atlantica.

Further discussions Thursday touched on tourism efforts and transportation, including a potential east-west highway that would extend to Canada and recent efforts to amend truck weight limits on Maine highways. Many of those big trucks travel to and from Canada, which does not have the same weight restrictions.

Energy, though, seemed to generate the most excitement. Representatives from Fort Reliance, the parent company of Irving Oil, and from First Wind talked about the many ways the two cities, as well as Maine and New Brunswick, could work more closely together. Court said that six of every 10 cars in the Boston area use Irving fuels and Maine can be influential as a conduit for fuel to bigger markets.

The Saint John delegation is scheduled to tour the new Bangor police station and the new Penobscot Justice Center today before heading back to Canada. The two delegations will meet again next spring, this time in Saint John.

erussell@bangordailynews.net

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