Marsh Creek waterway

To spur its economy and freshen its look, the City of Saint John made plans to overhaul its aging water system, reduce poverty in five struggling neighbourhoods, and clean up the unsightly and polluted downtown Marsh Creek waterway.

The community sustainability plan - four years in the making - seeks to improve the quality of life, environmental health and economic fortunes of a city with a shrinking, older population, as well as high poverty and unemployment rates, and a hollowed-out urban core.

The 20-year improvement plan would align city development projects with the long-term aspirations of residents, as set out in the city's 20-year community social goals.


Environmental Economic Social
  • Restoration of the polluted Marsh Creek urban wetland
  • Promotion of individual efforts to reduce energy, water and pesticide use
  • A municipal water system that safely balances needs of people, industry and the natural environment
  • Programs to reduce poverty and  improve workplace skills
  • Projects to boost culture and the creative economy
  • Capacity building in priority neighbourhoods: community safety, skills upgrading, literacy, and civic engagement
  • Projects to enhance cultural vibrancy and creative and cultural economy


  • Revitalizing an urban core hollowed out by commercial development along city-circling highways
  • Finding financing for costly drinking water infrastructure repairs
  • Aligning the interests and priorities of disparate planning participants

Lessons learned

  • Recognize the importance of collaboration in a process involving residents, agencies, various government levels.
  • Establish a dedicated community-led planning team to provide continuity when governments change.
  • Make sure plans include specific, measurable goals to keep ideas active and prevent them from gathering dust.


Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Kimberley Graham
Manager, Programs and Priorities Strategic Services
Saint John, NB
T. 506-658-2919


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