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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

City Could be Cooling Buildings with Ocean Water by 2012



So far it looks like building a Green Thermal Utility in Saint John to cool and heat uptown buildings with ocean water is feasible. The system of sucking up and storing water from the Bay of Fundy in a thermal unit would be the first of its kind in North America.  Managing Director, David Stewart says the payback period for a centralized system would be about 10 years.

Stewart says there may be significant funding available through both federal and provincial programs if the project moves forward. Saint John could be cooling and heating five of its uptown buildings with seawater by 2012. The feasibility study is expected to be complete by years end, along with a detailed technical concept and piping installation as well as heat exchangers.

Simms Corner Project to Cost a Little Extra



The city has had to come up with an extra 530 thousand dollars for the re-design and construction of Simms Corner. An Engineer’s cost projection for the project estimates the total for phase one will likely exceed the amount budgeted in the 2008 General Fund Capital Program.

Common Council has directed staff to use the 400 thousand dollars set aside for easement and land acquisition, along with surplus funding from the Red Head Road project to offset the additional costs. Meanwhile, city staff are going ahead with the tender process for reconfiguring Simms Corner, Fairville Boulevard and Catherwood Street to Lancaster Mall.

Big Changes For Canadian Blood Services Including Job Cuts



Some big changes are coming to the way Canadian Blood Services operates in Atlantic Canada. The organization is investing $38 million to replace the permanent blood donor clinics in Saint John and Halifax with more modern facilities. It will also build a new production and distribution facility in Dartmouth and open a new permanent blood donor clinic in Moncton.

In Saint John, Canadian Blood Services will move its current blood donor clinic to a new site in the city, but the consolidation of production and some support services at the new facility in Dartmouth will mean a reduction of approximately 17 full-time jobs in Saint John by 2012. Moving forward, all infectious disease testing for blood collected in Atlantic Canada will be performed out of Toronto.

Province Decides Against Special Drivers Licence's



The provincial government is warning residents to act now and get their passports. Premier Shawn Graham says the province will not develop a special driver's licence for border crossings into the United States.

As of June first, all Canadians will require a passport or another acceptable document for crossing the border. Graham says they researched various options for a secure document, but found the cost to residents would be almost as much as a passport, which will still be required.

Court Appearance in Hampton



No word on specific charges for a 37-year old man who will appear in Hampton Court today. Sussex RCMP were called to a home in Waterford yesterday and found a man with a knife threatening people in a home on Urney Road.

Nobody was hurt.

Deadline Day for North End Schools



A self-imposed deadline has arrived for Education Minister Kelly Lamrock. He has said over the past few months he would have a decision on the future of three North End Schools by the end of this month. There is a proposal on the table to consolidate Hazen White and Lorne schools and make Princess Elizabeth an elementary school. District Eight officials says the shrinking student population has forced this recommendation.

We have left a message with the Minister's office but still no word back.

Credit Union Closing on Campobello Island



Residents of Campobello will soon have to travel to the mainland to do their banking.The Charlotte County Credit Union has announced they are closing their branch on the Island.

The ATM machine, the only one on the island, will be removed on Friday with reduced days hours for tellers starting immediately.


Fair Taxes First Not Suprised



The group Fair Taxes First vow to continue their fight for an independent audit of the city pension plan. This after city council last night voted down a motion for a public inquiry of the plan, something they say they never wanted in the first place. Spokes-person Brian Stone tells CHSJ News, whether you are a tax-payer or collecting a pension from the city, there is plenty of cause for concern.

Stone points out his group has never accussed anyone of wrong doing but there is something not right as this problem doesn't seem to have any solution.

Save the Ferry Meeting in Gagetown



The first of what is sure to be several meetings in the coming weeks took place last night in Gagetown. Council called a special meeting to discuss what action can be taken to save their ferry. The province will permanetly dock this vessel along with the Bellisle and Hampstead ferries at the end of next month unless a viable solution can be found to keep them on the water. Councilor Bob McDowell tells CHSJ News, alot of idea's were put on the table but time is of the essence.

Transportation Minister Denis Landry has said what-ever idea's are presented, they can not include government funding. 

Earth Hour Numbers in From Saint John Energy



Saint John Energy saw no difference in the amount of energy consumption immediately before and during Earth Hour. Spokes-person Marta Kelly tells CHSJ News, the numbers didn't fluctuate because many people were taking the idea further and getting young minds thinking about energy conservation.

Kelly says they'll monitor a few extra hours before Earth Hour begins next year.

Two Fires for City Police



A pair of calls kept City Fire Crews busy last night. They arrived at 250 Waterloo Street just after Nine O'clock to find debris in the hallway burning. Crews quickly snuffed out the flames and there was minimal damage. One woman was treated for smoke inhalation but is going to be fine.

Crews earlier arrived at the former Sobeys store to find a chair and couch on fire in front of the building. The flames were smothered and there was no major damage. Both fires are suspicious and being investigated. 

Costco is Officially Coming to Saint John



It's official--- the final paperwork on the land transaction has been completed and Costco is coming. Construction is underway on the site to prepare a pad-ready surface. Costco Wholesale Corporation is the largest membership warehouse club chain in the world based on sales volume.

It's expected the site preparations will be completed by August.

Weather Not as Bad as First Predicted



The good news is we didn't get the volume of snow they were expecting but the bad news is, it continues to snow in Greater Saint John. Freezing rain and rain dominated most of the pattern in this part of the province yesterday but snow has been falling since late last night. Some roads are snow packed and slick so take it easy where-ever your travels take you today.

After spending most of yesterday trying to get thousands re-connected to the grid, NB Power has just over 300 of it's customers still with-out power as of 3:30am this morning. The full three day forecast is coming right up.

Peel Plaza Project Moves Forward



Work on Peel Plaza continues to move forward as common council approved two more pieces of the puzzle last night.  Council has authorized city staff to engage Deloitte & Touche to prepare the Police Headquarters facility management specifications. This will involve workshops with project and Police Commission staff to go through the detailed design of the Headquarters and begin to articulate the building's requirements.

Council has also given the go ahead to have Glenn Group prepare the conceptual landscape design and illustrations for the Public Plaza, as well as the potential impact to the Arts Centre. It's hoped that will be complete by April 9th. The total cost will be around 56 thousand dollars.

City to Advertise for Public Hearing on West Side Levy



The city is one step closer to placing a levy on West Side businesses--despite a recommendation to the Minister by the Department of Local Government to deny the request.  The West Side Business Association wants to levy a Business Improvement Area encompassing 250 businesses in three separate areas.  Provincial staff say the proposed area is too large--but-- Association President, Owen Boyle, says they are not prepared to alter the application.

Mayor Ivan Court says it doesn't make sense to spend five thousand dollars on an advertisement for a public hearing if in the end the province won't approve the levy. Regardless, council has narrowly approved councilor Bill Farren's motion to advertise for a public hearing on the matter.


City Council Cans Plans to Study Feasibility of Pension Inquiry



The city will not be going ahead with a public inquiry into the controversial pension plan. Common council voted against further external investigation or inquiry into the pension board's dealings. But Councilor Donnie Snook says action has and will continue to be taken to improve the plan.

Councilor Bill Farren has been pushing for a public inquiry and is clearly disappointed with council's decision. He and Gary Sullivan were the only two to oppose the motion.