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Monday, July 13, 2009

More Pension Troubles For Council

Common council is staring down the barrel of a year end deadline.
Pension consultant Mel Bartlett of Morneau Sobecosays a valuation of the plan will be done to determine the size of the funding shortfall -- and -- provincial legislation says the city will be responsible for making up the deficit by contributing 35-percent of the total payroll beginning January 1st, 2010.
Bartlett says the size of the city's responsibility can be reduced if it can reach an agreement with its employees and retirees to help shoulder some of the burden -- but -- he says some of those changes may require legislative changes to the pension act.
The city's responsibility could mean as much as a 14-cent increase on the tax rate or a reduction in services.

Pension Meeting May Go Behind Closed Doors

(Mayor Ivan Court - file photo)

Common council is taking another step in a bid to deal with the ongoing civic pension plan funding woes -- but -- this one may end up behind closed doors.
Council has approved a motion by councilor Carl Killen to meet with all parties involved in the pension issue with the aid of a mediator to discuss how to share in the fund's projected shortfall -- a meeting Mayor Ivan Court thinks should be in a closed session so the kind of frank discussion needed will flow around the table.
That sentiment is shared by a majority of councilors -- but -- the Common Clerk suggested the meeting begin in open session and could move into a closed session shortly after.
No date has been set -- acting city manager Pat Woods has been tasked with finding an independent third party to chair the meeting.

The Community Remembers A Friend

[Fire Fighters March Down Sydney Street----Photo By Dave Briggs]

[The Bell Memorial---Photo by Dave Briggs]

Fallen firefighter Terry Graham is the tenth name to be added to the Bell Memorial in Kings Square.Members of the community and colleagues gathered to honour Graham last night who died in the line of duty a year ago.
Graham was honoured by speakers who told stories of his generous nature, and how he worked to make Saint John a better city by being extremely active in the community.Saint John District Labour Council President Ron Oldfield says he will always remember his friend Terry Graham as a political activist who would get a twinkle in his eye while talking about political action.

Mayor Says Closed Door Talks Needed On Pension Plan

Mayor Ivan Court says some closed door discussions with various parties involved in the civic pension plan will be needed to arrive at a solution to the plan's financial woes.
Court says it's the only way for the frank talk needed to get something in place for presentation to the taxpayers.
The mayor made the comment as a special committee of the whole meeting with pension consultants Morneau Sobeco which is underway in the council chambers at city hall.

More Shots Fired Over Injured Workers

Supporters of injured worker Tammy Gray are stepping up the pressure on Worksafe N-B.
Spokesman Bob Davidson has written a letter to Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock asking for an inquiry into what he calls an abuse of taxpayers dollars.
Davidson says Worksafe N-B is referring workers to the provincial welfare system for financial assistance when it has a responsibility to provide services and meet the needs of injured workers.
He says Tammy Gray is a prime example of an injured worker being told to "get in line for public housing" -- Davidson says it's a misuse of public funds.

Mayor Overcome With Emotion At Fire Fighters Conference

Mayor Ivan Court emotional this morning as he was welcoming delegates to the Atlantic Region convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters -- he became emotional as he remembered his friend fire fighter Terry Graham who passed away last year.
Court was close to tears as he told the gathering of Graham's help in erecting election signs.
Graham will be honoured this evening during the fire fighters' parade and bell ceremony in King's Square.

Public Participation Process for Coleson Cove Underway

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Coleson Cove thermal generating station now is the time to get them into the Department of Environment.The 180 day public participation process to renew the air quality operating approval is currently underway.The process covers all air quality related issues with the facility, and to submit comments check out the Environment Department website.Coleson Cove represents about 25 per cent of NB Power's total generating capacity, and it's current air quality operating approval expires in January 2010.

Province Now Able to Test For Swine Flu

The province now has the capability to test all stages of the so called swine flu.The Department of Health is confirming all testing can be done in the pandemic lab of the Dr. Georges L. Dumont Regional Hospital in Moncton.Previously all samples had to be sent to a lab in Winnipeg to confirm the H1N1 virus.Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Van Buynder says this means the province will be able to better monitor the trends in the spread of the virus.The number of cases confirmed in the province as of today is 33.

Fire Fighters President Urges Members To Become Political

The president of the International Association of Fire Fighters says fire fighters to have to become more involved in the political process.
Harold Schaitberger told the opening of the Atlantic Region meeting of the I-A-F-F at the Trade and Convention Center that fire fighters have to work with decision makers in places like Oromocto and Saint John where departments are under review to ensure departments maintain levels of staffing for the safety of both fire fighters and the communities they serve.

Youth Home in Quispamsis

The 11th set-up for at risk youths under the guidance of Moncton Youth Services is opening in Quispamsis. The group has purchased the property at 186 Vincent Road and will take it over on Thursday. Some of the neighbours are concerned as they haven't gotten an answer on the definition of at risk youth. Mel Kennah is Executive Director and tells CHSJ News, this doesn't mean the community is in danger but the young people are.

Kennah says he will be speaking with his neighbours before the end of the week to try and aleviate any of their concerns. There will be a maximum of three youths at the home at any time under 24/7 supervision.

Close Call for Kayaker

Reversing Falls the scene of some excitement this morning. It was just after nine o'clock when a kayaker was getting ready for a ride through the rapids when his boat started filling up with water. He took shelter on the island near Fallsview Park until the Water Rescue Unit picked him up and brought him to shore.

His kayak was found by the Coast Guard near Ocean Steel.

Missing Person in Musquash

The search continues for a missing person in Musquash. The call went out last night and River-Valley Ground Search and Rescue, the Musquash Fire Department and RCMP are working together. No word on how old or whether it is a boy or girl they are looking for.

We have placed a call to RCMP for more details and are still waiting to hear back.

Valley and City Police Report

Rothesay Regional Police had a successful weekend, getting four drunk drivers off the road. The biggest catch came last night as one person is locked up and due in court later today. He faces several charges including driving while prohibited Canada wide and possession of a fire-arm.

City Police tell us they received another call about a mother bear and her cubs spotted again last night. The three have been roaming around the West-Side since last week, tipping over compost bins and garbage cans. No one has been hurt and the Department of Natural Resources has traps set.

Two Meetings at City Hall Tonight

Money is the topic of conversation at two meetings tonight at city hall. Things get started at four o'clock with the Finance Committee meeting in the 11th floor boardroom to discuss how the city's over-all numbers look to this point this year.'

Then at 5 o'clock in the council chambers consultants from Moreneau Sobeco will make their 4th presentation on the pension plan. They will discuss the pension with council members and explain the next steps in trying to deal with the ongoing shortfall in the plan.

Bell Ceremony Uptown Tonight

The memory of firefighter Terry Graham will be honored with a parade and bell ceremony tonight. He died in the line on duty on July.10th of last year and his name will be added on the Bell Memorial in Kings Square.

Before the ceremony, there will be a parade of department officials leavign from King Street East at 6:45pm. They will travel along Sydney to Kings Square North and around the square to Kings Square South.

Fire-Fighters Conference Gets Started

Saint John is playing host to the Atlantic Provinces Professional Fire Fighters Association's biennial Convention and Seminar for the next three days. Fire fighters from across Atlantic Canada will meet for the next three days to debate and vote on a number of resolutions submitted by local affiliates.

They will also elect a new Executive Board and listen to presentations on important issues such as critical incident stress management. The Association represents a total of 1,200 professional fire fighters.