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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hampton Mayor Says Shale Gas Company Is Co-Operative

The Mayor of Hampton isn't sure a contractor conducting seismic testing for Windsor Energy is even working within the town limits.
Ken Chorley tells CHSJ News the company sent a letter last month asking council for permission for the testing.

He says they tabled the matter which will come up at tonight's meeting adding they will be deciding whether or not to permit them to work in Hampton.

Shale Gas Protest Underway on Highway 1

A shale gas protest near Hampton may impact your drive home today.
Up to 60 people staging a demonstration against Windsor Energy and it's seismic testing along Highway 1.

Carl Wolpin of Hampton Water First tells CHSJ News they are upset with the provincial department of transportation for allowing permits and with the company who they believe went behind the back of Hampton Town Council by not getting permission for the testing.   Signs are up reading "No shale gas" and "Impeach Alward".

Construction Work Continues At City Hotel

Construction continues at the Delta Brunswick on King Street in Saint John.

New Housing Starts This Year In Saint John Remain Down

There was an increase in residential construction in the urban centres of this province in September with a total of 348 starts. This compares to 153 starts for the same period in 2010.

The increase is being attributed to significant gains in apartment starts in both Fredericton and Moncton but new housing activity in Saint John remains in the doldrums.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing, local housing starts so far this year are off by 50 per cent as compared to the same time frame in 2010.

New Millrats Guard Calls Himself A Leader

The Saint John Millrats signing a former Detroit Pistons guard.
Will Blalock is from Boston, attended Iowa State University and was signed in the 2nd round by Detroit in the 2006 NBA draft.
The 28-year-old Blalock tells CHSJ News says he's a natural point guard and a leader on and off the court.

He says he brings overall knowledge and experience from playing all over the world adding he has always played hard and had a will to win.

The Millrats will be taking on new teams in the National Basketball League and they expect an automatic rivalry with the Moncton Miracles.   For more on the new league, click here

Taxpayers Watchdog Group Reacts To Increase In Provincial Deficit

Disappointing...........That's the reaction of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to word the provincial government's deficit has risen by more than 65 million dollars to over 514 million.

The Federation's Atlantic Director Kevin Lacey tells CHSJ News it's time for a complete U-turn pointing out since 2006, provincial government spending has gone up by 1.7 billion dollars. He questions whether people in the province believe they're getting any better service for that extra outlay.

He says one area that could be cut is the administrative cost of government which rose substantially according to the fiscal update.

Small Business Organisation Calls Government Pension Plans "Unsustainable"

The Alward Government is being applauded by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for taking the bull by the horns by carrying out a review of public sector pensions which are running large deficits for the most part.

The Atlantic Director of the C-F-I-B Leanne Hachey tells CHSJ News defined benefit pension plans have to be restructured because they are unsustainable and a recipe for financial disaster.

Hachey says incentives for early retirement could be removed along with indexing and the benefits themselves could be made more affordable.

The retirees for the city vow they will not accept any clawbacks of their pension benefits.

Millrats sign former Piston

The Saint John Millrats announcing the signing of Wade Blalock of Boston.
Blalock played for Iowa State in college and was then drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the 2006 NBA draft.

Irving Oil Takes Wellness Seriously

Irving Oil is serious about having fit and healthy employees and are taking steps to make it happen.
Heather Purcell is the company's wellness co-ordinator who is now in the process of expanding a pilot project into a program for 2500 employees in Canada and the U.S.
She says the fall program in Saint John is called "Find Something You Love" which is a series of 10 sessions of wellness activities with a broad and holistic theme.

She says it includes everything from tai-chi, crossfit, zumba, hip-hop and photography.

The program is voluntary but does come with incentives to get the workers interested including gift certificates toward the purchase of workout gear and $150
a year towards a membership at a fitness centre.

Saint Johnner Finds Food Bank Experiment Unforgettable

A Saint Johner who spent three days eating meals solely from a food bank hamper says he can't stop thinking about it.

Randy Hatfield of the Human Development Council took part in the Experience Hunger event put on by the anti-poverty group, Common Front For Social Justice.

Hatfield tells CHSJ News from the moment you walk into a food bank as a recipient everything changes.
He says at a food bank you are on one side of the counter and you have no choice on what you are given.

Hatfield says a Salvation Army study conducted earlier this year found a majority of Canadians think people who use food banks or live on social assistance are morally less worthy than others, lazy and self-indulgent.

To see the Salvation Army study, click here

To see the Experience Hunger blog, click here

More People Should Be Getting Methadone Treatment

The cost of providing methadone in the city needs to re-evaluated so that more people can receive treatment -- so says the Julie Dingwell with AIDS Saint John. 

She tells CHSJ News the medicine itself is very cheap -- less than a dollar a day per person -- so something isn't adding up.

She says new approaches also need to be considered like a bare bones program -- where the patient receives a sustained low dose of methadone in order to manage their withdrawals.

Over 300 people are currently on the waiting list for methadone treatment.

Westbound Highway Traffic Will Be Slowed Down

The Westbound lanes on Route 1 near the Crown Street ramps will be narrowing to one lane beginning today for about four weeks, weather permitting.  

This traffic disruption is necessary to facilitate work on the One Mile House Interchange project.

Water Treatment Plant Won't Be As Expensive As First Believed

Despite the dire warnings about the growing deficit with the city's pension and the apparent inability of the employee groups to come together on a revised plan to deal with that which will meet the approval of the province, there is some good financial news.

The head of Municipal Operations Paul Groody says the estimated cost of the new water treatment plan on the east side will be 10 to 12 million dollars less than the original estimate of 172 million dollars.
Common Council will also be getting an update tonight on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the project.

Premier Gets Support For Electing Senators

Despite criticism from former Federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion, Premier David Alward is moving forward with his plan to have Senators from this province elected and he's getting support now from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The Taxpayers Federation maintains an elected Senate will give New Brunswick the power to have real influence in Ottawa and Alward argues having a stronger voice in the Senate is vitally important for this province's future. 

The Premier says there are three Senate positions that will be vacant in the next couple of years with the first in 2012 and the other 2 in 2014.

Two other provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, are also in favour of an elected Senate over the objections of Ontario and Quebec.

Meantime, The provincial deficit continues to rise by $65.5 million to a total of $514 million in 2011-12, according to the latest fiscal update which also reports overspending in health care by over 19 million dollars and 9.1 million in Social Development.