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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Harrison Says Ferry Solution May Be Found In Westfield



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(Hampton Kings M-L-A Bev Harrison - photo courtesy CNB)

Hampton Kings Conservative M-L-A Bev Harrison says Belleisle residents may have bought some valuable time to prepare a better case for alternatives to axing the ferry service. 
Harrison says one of the alternatives could center around moving a ferry from Westfield when a new unit arrives there -- he says the existing ferries appear to meet new federal standards.
And he  says the number of people upset by the decision to can the river ferry is growing -- he says there are now over four thousand facebook members while emails and calls continue to come in.

Health Critic Calls for Elimination of Ambulance Fees



Conservative Health critic Margaret Ann Blaney is calling out the Health Minister on placing the 130 dollar fee back on ambulance service. Mike Murphy say the number of people using ambulances rose dramatically when the fees were eliminated--and--attributes that to people abusing the service. Blaney tells CHSJ News the minister has no data on how many calls were for actually taxi service.

Blaney says the fees should be removed so that seniors and those on low incomes won't suffer--and--government should be focusing on weeding out those who are really abusing ambulance service.


Residents Cautiously Optimistic Over Ferry Service



A rally planned for tomorrow in support of the Belleisle Ferry will go ahead as scheduled.  One of the Organizers, Janice Bates, tells CHSJ News she is happy to hear the Transportation Minister will consider their recommendations for the ferry service--but--is not going to quit the fight just yet. Bates says the minister could still turn around and say he just doesn't have the money to keep the ferries.

 The rally is planned for 4:30 tomorrow afternoon on the Hampton Side of the Belleisle Bay Ferry Landing.

Some Wiggle Room In Ferry Struggle



They may have some breathing room! - that's the thrust of a meeting between Belleisle residents and Transportation Minister Denis Landry at the Legislature this afternoon.
Spokesperson Linda Watson tells CHSJ News the minister has given them the option of formally requesting an extension of next week's deadline to tie up the ferry - and - they will be sending an email right away.
Meanwhile -- Landry tells us he's not cutting the ferry service because he wants to -- he doesn't have the money in his budget to keep the service operating -- but -- he will give careful consideration to the request.
Landry says he would then consider proposals like having the community operate the ferry or turning it over to a private operator.
The Belleisle - Gagetown - and - Hampstead ferries are scheduled to be axed at the end of the month as part of the government's cost cutting measures.

City Water May Still Have Lead



Saint John's drinking water is meeting the Guidelines for lead content under the Canadian Drinking Water Quality standards--but--some residents may still be drinking elevated levels of lead.  Recent testing has confirmed levels of lead are well below the national limit when pipes have been flushed-- however-- traces of lead have been attributed to water sitting in fire hydrants or residential pipes.

Brent McGovern with Saint John Water says the problem is old lead pipes or pipes that have been soldered with lead. He says anyone with concerns about internal plumbing should run their water for about five minutes in the morning before drinking it. The running water will flush out any stagnant water containing leached lead.  He says the only way to completely remove the problem is by replacing lead pipes, brass plumbing or fittings and leaded soldering pastes.

Province Prepares for International Student Assessment



The province is participating in an international student assessment to determine how our achievements in reading, math and science compare to the rest of Canada--and about 30 other countries.  School District 6 spokesperson, Gary Hall says a random sample of 15 year old students will be selected over the next few weeks for the Program of International Student Achievement. The assessment is administered every three years and several New Brunswick teens will take part this April and May.

Hall says one teacher from each high school will be responsible to help students and teachers prepare for the PISA test.

RCMP Warn of Dangerous Driving Conditions



RCMP are warning drivers to slow down because of slippery roads and white out conditions throughout the greater Saint John area. There have been several accidents in the Barnesville and Loch Lomond areas, as well as a couple of highway crashes.

Emergency crews are on the scene of a head on collision on Route 820 by First Loch Lomand Lake--past the Saint John airport. Few other details are immediately available. Also, a woman in her 40's was taken to hospital after the truck she was driving rolled over on Highway One before 1pm. Emergency crews closed off the East Bound lane of the highway in that area for a time while they removed the truck from the road. No word on the extent of the woman's injuries.


Dogs Numbers Slip A Bit



The final attendance report for the 2008-2009 Q-League season is in and not much change for the Saint John Seadogs.
According to the league web-site, the team is down close to 50 fans per game averaging 3930.
President Wayne Long says they are comfortable but not satisfied with their numbers.
Halifax has almost 6700 fans per game, in Moncton they are averaging just over 4300 per game, Cape Breton is just shy of 3400, the Rocket are bringing in just over two thousand and Bathurst brings up the league rear averaging just over 1700 fans per game.

Council Hands Over More Cash To Symphony N-B



Symphony New Brunswick is first out the gate and has come away a winner after making a request to common council for more funding.
The organization is requesting their annual grant be doubled from five thousand to ten thousand dollars.
Council narrowly approved the vote 5 to 4 -- and -- councilor Gary Sullivan says this sets a dangerous precedent and is worried everyone who received a grant in the 2009 budget will now come back looking for more.
The five grand will come out of the city's unspecified grant budget.

Rockwood Golf Course Freezes Green Fees



The Rockwood Park Golf Course is placing a freeze on its green fees for this year--with the exception of a three dollar hike for seniors. President of Total Golf Management Gerry Connolly says the price freeze is in response to the current economic situation. As for the raise in seniors fees, he says it will allow for fewer restrictions on when seniors can play at the discounted rate of $25. Now they can play during prime time hours earlier in the day. The regular adult green fee ranges from $25 to $37.

The golf course has 300 thousand dollars in specialized golf maintenance equipment this year with a 16 thousand dollar state of the art aerator to maintain tees and greens, along with 35 new power carts.

Rally Planned to Save Ferry



A group of residents fighting the loss of ferry service in Belleisle are planning a rally tomorrow on the Hampton Side of the Belleisle Bay Ferry Landing. 

The Belleisle Ferry is the longest Cable Ferry in Eastern Canada and residents that it attracts tourists and visitors to the area. The rally is to be held at 4:30pm.

White Out Conditions Cause Highway Crash



Police are blaming high winds and whiteout conditions for a crash on Highway One near the Spruce Lake exit around 12:30pm. A woman in her 40's was taken to hospital after the truck she was driving flipped over. Emergency crews are closing off the East Bound lanes of the highway in that area until they can remove her truck from the road. No word on the extent of the woman's injuries.

Keir Drops Hint Of Significant Energy Announcement



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(Energy Minister Jack Keir - photo courtesy CNB)

There's another major energy related announcement coming for the city tomorrow -- Energy Minister Jack Keir let the cat out of the bag during a speech to a Board of Trade breakfast this morning.
But Keir is refusing to give any more details despite being pressed by reporters - saying he doesn't want to steal the Premier's thunder.
The premier's office confirms to CHSJ News there is an announcement tomorrow but so far isn't offering any details on location or time.

You can listen to the reporters scrum with Keir - click on Wild Audio.

Uptown Fire This Morning



Nobody hurt after fire broke out at an uptown business early this morning. City Crews were called to Mahogany Manor on German Street just after four o'clock to find the building full of smoke. Crews made their way inside and quickly extinguished what was smoldering.

No word yet on how the fire started.

City Solicitor will Play Lead in Pension Inquiry



Council has decided to keep the city solicitor through the process of amending the pension plan--despite his advice to seek outside legal help. John Nugent says the proposed changes to save the city money may put him in conflict of interest. Councilor Bill Farren says it would be a waste of tax payers money to hire outside legal advice when they already pay Nugent's salary.

Council will hire consultant Morneau Sobeco for 50 thousand dollars to review how the possible pension plan changes will affect liabilities, costs and plan members.

More Discussion at City Hall About Pension Plan



Council is still considering a public inquiry into the city's troubled pension plan. This despite an odd recommendation from the Nominating Committee to forget setting up a committee to consider the feasibility of an inquiry and just vote on whether they want to hold one. Councilor Gary Sullivan says this is another example of a council motion not being followed through.

Council has referred the issue back to Nominating Committee to have them nominate a group to examine the feasibility of a public inquiry into the troubled pension plan.

More Snow Arrives in Greater Saint John



No major damage in the metro from the latest calling of winter. Most area's are waking up to five centimeters with another two or four that could fall through-out the morning. The hardest hit area's of the province are Moncton and Fundy National Park which have ten centimeters on the ground. Meteorologist Guy RuSelle with Environment Canada tells CHSJ News, most of mainland Nova Scotia is waking up to 20cm's on the ground.

Roads around the metro are slick and the bad news is, most of the pot-holes are now covered up with snow so ease that foot off the gas.


Belleisle Residents Get Meeting With Transportation Minister




(Belleisle Bay ferry service to end Friday - photo courtesy DOT)

Belleisle area residents are getting their chance to make their plea to Transportation Minister Denis Landry in a bid to save their ferry service.
Spokesperson Linda Watson says Landry has agreed to join Tourism Minister Stuart Jamieson when he meets with them this afternoon in Fredericton.
Watson says they will ask Landry to delay cancellation of the service until an economic impact assessment is completed along with making some other suggestions.
The Graham government announced in last week's budget -- the Belleisle - Gagetown - and - Hampstead ferries will be tied up permanently Friday as a cost cutting measure.