“We’re expanding the Convention Centre, right across the street,” he explains, adding with a grin, “We need someone to put all the people interested in visiting are fabulous city!”

The Mayor points out a new $50 million office building behind the Convention Centre, and the location up the hill of a $150 million condo project. Beyond the immediate vista, the growth continues, with millions being invested at the airport, in recreation facilities, and in numerous large-scale housing developments.

Change and transformation is in the air in St. John’s. It’s palpable. “There is a sense of prosperity and a sense of pride and optimism like we’ve never seen before”, says O’Keefe. “It’s truly an exciting time to be mayor.”

As predicted by the Conference Board of Canada, St. John’s had one of the nation’s fastest growing economies in 2013. Unemployment rates have plummeted to historic lows and average earnings are on the rise, contributing to a sense that St. John’s is entering a new era of promise.

So, where is all the prosperity coming from?

For more than a decade, the St. John’s economy has been fuelled by offshore petroleum and the wealth natural resources. To develop the oil and gas industry in harsh Atlantic conditions, the City of St. John’s has developed internationally-recognized expertise in ocean technology and research, especially in relation to ice-infested and cold-ocean conditions.

“We are a people known for making the best of a bad situation,” intones Mayor O’Keefe. “No matter how harsh the climate or how rugged the terrain, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will not only survive – they will thrive.

“One of our goals is to develop St. John’s into a global leader in ocean technology and a global centre for offshore energy expertise.”

In September 2014 St. John’s will host Oceans, a major international conference that will showcase the province’s developing expertise as well as be a forum for scientists, engineers, and responsible ocean users to present the latest research results, ideas, developments, and applications in oceanic engineering and marine technology.

“St. John’s is one of the greatest places in Canada to live, work, visit and do business,” says the proud Mayor. “We relish the opportunity to bring the world to St. John’s.”