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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Local Rivers Remain At Flood Stage



The flood watch continues in the greater Saint John area -- the latest readings show river levels at - or - near flood levels.
And provincial Emergency Measures Organization officials are predicting they will remain near the flood stage through Thursday.
The city's emergency management group is monitoring the situation and expects some flooding in low lying areas near the rivers.

Minister Pooh-Poohs Opposition Over Ferry Flap




(Transportation Minister Denis Landry - photo courtesy CNB)

Transportation Minister Denis Landry is lobbing a direct hit at the Conservatives over the hiring of former Liberal M-L-A Eric Allaby to broker a deal between residents and private contractors to keep the Belleisle and Gagetown ferries afloat.
The Opposition is crying political pork barrelling -- but -- Landry tells CHSJ News they set the precedent by hiring Allaby for a similar job while they were in office.
And he denies Conservative claims his government has a loose plan to eventually privatize all ferries in the province -- Landry tells us there are no plans like that "at this time."
He says the Tories are just sour because a solution was found to keep the Gagetown and Belleisle ferries operating on a seasonal basis.

City Considers Hiring Experts to Help with Website



The city manager has been tasked with finding a professional company to assess the city's website and help improve it. The move comes only days after the city held public meetings to get feedback from residents on ways they think the website can be improved. Councilor Patty Higgins says staff should be given an opportunity to wade through the public recommendations before paying for a company to offer suggestions. She calls it an unnecessary waste of money.

The city manager has been asked to return to council in one month with information on engaging a company.

Tories Cry Foul Over Ferry Consulting Fee



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(Hampton Kings M-L-A Bev Harrison - file photo)

The Graham government will pay former Liberal M-L-A Eric Allaby one dollars an hour to help Belleisle and Gagetown residents find operators for their river ferries.
And that has Hampton Kings M-L-A Bev Harrison seeing red -- he tells CHSJ News there are qualified people working within the Transpiration Department and it's nothing more than political pork barrelling.
Harrison is also convinced the Liberals would eventually privatize all river ferries  while the Conservatives are committed to maintaining the ferries as part of the provincial transportation system.


Back to the Drawing Board for Quispamsis Q-Plex



The town of Quispamsis is sending a tender to build the Q-Plex back to the architect to explore options for trimming costs. Mayor Murray Driscoll tells CHSJ news they had budgeted 18.5 million dollars for construction of the facility but their lowest tender from Marco Construction has come in about 2.5 million dollars over budget.

The overall budget for the entire project is 21.7 million dollars. Driscoll says they expect to hear back from the architect in a couple of weeks.


Peel Plaza Moves Forward Despite Opposition from Some City Councilors



The city is moving forward with plans for the Peel Plaza project. Council has approved hiring Deloitte & Touche to prepare a Request for proposals from three national companies interested in constructing the new police headquarters, parking garage and central plaza.  The city will pay Deloitte and Touch more than 80 thousand dollars for their services--and--this has Deputy mayor Stephen Chase sounding the alarms. He says the cost of the project is getting out of hand.

Chase says Peel Plaza will cost in excess of 5 million dollars a year beginning in 2011---equaling to an extra 10 cents on the tax rate. Both Chase and councilor Patty Higgins voted against the contract.

Organizers of a South End Housing Project Say They Did Not Shun Local Residents



A spokesperson for the Tannery Court housing project says they did not shun residents of the South End Sustainable Community group during a recent meeting with Vibrant Communities ad BCAPI. Romeo Cormier tells CHSJ News the meeting was put on by BCAPI and they had nothing to do with not inviting the residents who oppose the project.

Meanwhile, construction of the 50 low income apartments in the south end will begin mid-June.

More Patient Files Go Missing



The Regional Health Authority B has notified six patients that their private medical files had been misplaced.  Public Health discovered three missing files from the Fredericton/Upper River Valley area late last year. A Spokesperson says an extensive search was conducted over the past several months before they were located.  She says the files had personal but limited health information because detailed patient information is stored electronically.

In a separate incident, three more patient files went missing when a lap top was stolen from an employee at Cook Medical. Three patients’ names and birth dates were in the laptop but officials say the computer featured extensive security making it extremely unlikely the content could be accessed. The patients were notified of the incident yesterday.

City Hands Out Thousands in Grant Money



Common council has approved thousands of dollars in grants for community groups and projects. 150 thousand dollars is being handed out to nine projects including the Crescent Valley Resource Centre, ONE Change, the West side PACT and the South End group PULSE.

The grant funding comes through the Neighbourhood Development Stimulation Grant.


Mexican Fruits And Vegetables Safe




(Dr Eilish Cleary - file photo)

Provincial health officials continue to watch for any suspected cases of the swine flu -- so far -- there haven't been any confirmed cases.
Meantime -- the chief medical health officer -- Dr Eilish Cleary says it's highly unlikely the virus can be transmitted by fruits and vegetables from Mexico because it doesn't typically exist outside a mammal host.
Cleary is also stopping short of calling a Moncton microbiologist irresponsible for his comments about the province not being ready to deal with a full blown pandemic because of what he says a lack of planning and resources -- she says she's been trying to contact Dr Richard Garceau over the past couple of days without any luck.

Premier Not Closing Door On Some Privatization In Health Care




(Premier Shawn Graham - photo courtesty CNB)

The Saint John Labour Council is using today's "Day of Mourning" to get the message out about the possible privatization of the Worker's Rehab Center in Grand Bay-Westfield.
Meanwhile, Premier Shawn Graham tells CHSJ News, because of the growing costs of healthcare in the Province, its time for new ideas to be explored.
Graham says the provincial government is still committed to a publicly funded healthcare system but there are opportunities for the private healthcare system to deliver services paid for publicly.

Community Ogranizer Says Success In Numbers



The louder you yell, the more you get--- that from Linda Watson of the Save Our Ferries group which is celebrating a recent victory after staring down the provincial government to maintain ferry service in Gagetown and Belleisle.
Watson tells CHSJ News, it seems like in this province, everyone has to get into an uproar to keep the things they want.
Watson says the fortunate thing is the community seems to always pull together and people work together to accomplish their goals.

Building Bylaw Being Beefed Up



Some big changes to the way Saint John handles boarded up buildings could be on the way -- common council has given city staff the go ahead to begin discussions with the province for a new Derelict Buildings By-law.
Deputy Commissioner of Building Inspections Amy Poffenroth tells CHSJ News, it will help get rid of abandoned buildings, some which have been boarded up for two years.
Under the current by-law, city officials can't take action against several boarded up or shoddy buildings because they aren't considered dangerous or unsightly.
Poffenroth says the by-law will go before the legislature and will be in place by this fall at the earliest.

Tannery Court Opponents Say They Were Left Out In The Cold



The South End Sustainable Community Group is being shunned by the developer of Tannery Court. Avide held a meeting with Vibrant Communities Housing group and when residents asked to be a part of the meeting, they were denied.
Spokes-person Bob McVicor tells CHSJ News, his group has opposed the low income housing complex since the beginning and was rejected from voicing its concerns.
McVicor says by putting the 50 affordable apartments in an already poor neighbourhood will do nothing but consolidate the city's poorest residents into one area.

Special Meeting in Quispamsis



A special meeting of Quispamsis council is scheduled for this afternoon. Councilors will try and hash out the numbers as the search for a contractor to build the Q-Plex continues. It was the municipalities hope to award the contract for the tender to construct the Q-Plex facility last but Mayor Murray Driscoll says there is a reason for the delay.

Driscoll says this delay will not throw the construction schedule off with back-hoes ready to go in the ground next month with the plan to be finished by late next summer. The meeting is expected to go into closed session as officials try and figure out which bid is the best as they all have come in over their $21.7 million dollar budget.


NB Power Employees are Honoured



Bravery medals have been handed out to five employee's of NB Power. A ceremony with Lt. Governor Hermelle Chiasson and Governor General Michaelle Jean was held in Fredericton yesterday to hand out the hardware at government house. Luc Bujold, Daniel Doiron, Rene Doucette, Rod Trenholm and Glen Worrall were all on hand to receive the high Honor.

It was back on November 10th of last year the employee's were driving between Bathurst and Eel River when they came upon a two vehicle accident. A van had rolled onto it's roof and caught fire. The five men grabbed extinguishers to knock down the flames and freed the driver. 

Dope Found in Raid



A year long investigation has netted RCMP a huge haul of marijuana. 600 plants and 20 pounds of dried bud were seized from a home on the Salmon Creek Road over the weekend. The dope was on it's way to Montreal and a man from La Belle Province and his girlfriend have been arrested.

55-year old Milan Beneda will remain locked up until a bail hearing in Sussex on Thursday. 45-year old Barbara Meres has been released with conditions. Both are facing charges of cultivation of marijuana as well as possession for the purpose of trafficking marijuana. City Police and assisted in the raid.

Q-Plex Meeting in Quispamis This Afternoon



Years of planning will come full circle this afternoon at the Town Hall in Quispamsis. That's when councilors will award the tender for the contract to build the Q-Plex. Construction of the $21.7 million dollar facility is set to get started next month and if everything stays on schedule, should be open by late next summer. Mayor Murray Driscoll tells CHSJ News, they wanted to award the contract last week but a short delay is not a big deal.

The meeting is expected to go into closed session as officials try and figure out which bid is the best as they all have come in over their $21.7 million dollar budget. Today's meeting gets started at noon.