Community Economic Development Award
Beaubear Credit Union, Miramichi, NB
The idea for a
city-wide transit system was born in Spring, 2007 when a Beaubear employee
commented on the challenges faced when attempting to transport her teenagers
around town. Her simple comment kicked off a project that impacted the lives of
thousands of people in the Miramichi. Over the next two years, staff worked
diligently on researching a reliable, affordable and accessible transit system.
Union knew that the lack of an affordable public transit system impeded
economic growth and limited mobility for thousands of low-income earners,
job-seekers, seniors and others for whom the cost of car travel was
prohibitive. CEO George Greenwood worked with his staff and a member of the
local Department of Economic Development in researching and developing a
business model that worked for their community.
Soon, an advisory
board was struck that involved stakeholders from across the community: New
Brunswick Community College, District 16 School Board, Regional Hiospital
Authority, Retirement Miramichi, the Miramichi Physically Disable, FatKat
Animation Studios, local Police, New Brunswick Tourismand the City of
leadership, Beaubear Credit Union attracted the Northumberland Dairy Co-op to
the initiative. This added strength and credibility prompted the Provincial and
Federal governments to invest $875,000 in the project. At the same time,
Beaubear and Northumberland committed to provide ten years of financial support
to the system in the form of advertising.
On August 4, 2009,
Miramichi City Transit was officially launched. Since then, over 25,000 people
have used the system. Ridership numbers increase daily. Reportedly, over 4000
people take the bus each month.
It was Beaubear’s
hope that this project could serve as a shining example of community economic development
to other small, rural credit unions in Canada. The credit union message travels
the city streets each day, reminding the people of Miramichi that “it’s
banking, only better.”