A social media post by Saint John Mayor Don Darling asking people from Toronto and Vancouver to move east has picked up serious social media traction.
“I did that because people living in Toronto or Vancouver, those big cities, it’s becoming so expensive that they can't even afford to live there or thrive there,” says Darling. “I think there's an opportunity for Saint John to sell itself, to sell its quality of life.”
Data released by Stats Canada shows New Brunswick has some of the lowest commute times in the country. The average commute times in Toronto and Vancouver are around 30 minutes.
That information prompted darling to reach out nationwide.
“The post went onto the front page of Reddit and it had received 73,000 views," Darling says.
Darling says he has received calls from numerous media organizations across the country, even landing him a spot on the Toronto Star's front page.
He says the response has been overwhelming.
"We've received dozens, many, many, many emails and personal messages about how can I take advantage of your offer? Who do I talk to?” Darling says.
Darling says the job market is diversifying quickly, with the IT and health sectors struggling to find talent.
“I’ve received personal messages from other small, medium enterprises saying ‘we can't find people. We need people.’"
Realtor Gina Fudge says affordable real estate in the city she sells is an attractive draw to come east.
"I don't think many people can afford what they want in Toronto, yet here in Saint John you can be this close to water and uptown, and just minutes away from the country. People are seeing that now and are enjoying that," says Fudge.
Elected last year on a growth platform, Don Darling says he'll continue to take action to reverse the city's stubborn population decline. He says it’s a message that’s always been there, and it’s time for Canada to hear it.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston.