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Monday, August 10, 2009

"Open Or Closed" - Remains The Question

(Mayor Ivan Court prefers a closed door meeting - file photo)

The question remains unanswered if council will meet with its employee and retirees groups in open session to discuss ways of dealing with the pension deficit. Mayor Ivan Court remains on the record preferring a closed door session saying that's the only forum for the frank discussion required.Council passed a motion last month to begin the meeting in open session but leaving the option open to move to closed session if that's what is desired -- no date has been set for the meeting.

Pension Struggle Continues At City Hall

Council is inching ever so slowly to arriving at some decisions to deal with the 150-million dollar shortfall in the civic pension fund. And the actual financial impact could mean the city will contribute more than 20-percent of the payroll to fund that deficit -- something Councilor Bill Farren says means one of two things -- a tax increase or a cut in the level of services provided by the city in order to cover the shortfall over a fifteen year period.Council is asking for a report from the Finance Commissioner to see if those levels are feasible -- the pension board is also being asked to provide updated financial information to consultants Morneau Sobeco so they can update projections associated with a series of suggestions to deal with the deficit.

City Transit Changes Moving Along Smoothly

With the new Saint John transit routes and schedules going into effect yesterday, today was the big test for frequent passengers.General Manager Frank McCarey tells CHSJ News, there were a few concerns from passengers, but nothing major.
McCarey says it's always difficult with initial changes, and that is why they are done so infrequently.He says the main concern from passengers was not knowing about the changes, and since they service about 12 thousand people a day, it's hard to get the message out to everyone.

Funding Coming To Hampton

A funding announcement for the town of Hampton is taking place this evening.Fundy Royal M-P Rob Moore, and Tourism Minister Stuart Jamieson will be joining Mayor Ken Chorley for the presentation.Things gets underway at 7:30 at the Lighthouse River Centre in Hampton.

The Mayor Gets Involved With ParticipAction

[Mayor Court Nordic Walking At the Boardwalk----Photo By Dave Briggs]

Mayor Ivan Court is getting a lesson in active living at the boardwalk.Court is participating in a Nordic walk demonstration as a part of the ParticipAction campaign.Court tells CHSJ News, everyone should try and make it down to the event to share their stories by recording a video.
Court says ParticipAction was popular in the 80's in Saint John, and it's important to spread the message of active living and getting young people out to take advantage of places like Rockwood and Shamrock Park.

ParticipAction At the Boardwalk

[ParticipAction Display at the Boardwalk-----Photo by Dave Briggs]

A national campaign to get people more active is making a stop in the Port City today.

ParticipAction Spokesperson Steve Fransblow tells CHSJ News, the campaign's message is simple----trying to get more people to live an active and healthy life.
Until six o'clock people can head down to the boardwalk and record a video telling the ParticipAction people how they have incorporated more physical activity into their lives.Each video can be sent to family and friends, and will also be considered to be used in a national television ad campaign.

Anti-LNG Group To Hold Annual Meeting in St. Andrews

The Save Passamaquoddy Bay group is holding it's annual general meeting later this month to discuss what's next for the DownEast LNG projects.Spokesperson Jessie Davies tells CHSJ News, all three proposals involve building an LNG terminal on the Maine side of the bay and transporting product by tankers through the Passamquoddy Bay and Head Harbour.
Davies says the provincial government has been behind the group since the beginning, and has even intervened in the legal process with DownEast LNG.The meeting takes place on August 18th, at 7:30 at the Anglican Church on King Street in St. Andrews.

City Launches New Interactive Zoning Map

If you've ever wondered what the zoning is in your neighborhood and what land uses are permitted you can now find out on the city's website. A current interactive map is available with a variety of options--from aerial photos to the new Zoning Map of municipalities across North America. Commissioner of Planning and Development, Ken Forrest, tells CHSJ news the website is designed to help people learn about their neighbourhood.

The City previously released the maps as PDFs on CD-Rom but were out-of-date shortly after they left City Hall. For more information head to

New Methadone Clinic Officially Opens

A new methadone clinic has officially opened its doors today at the St. Joseph's Community Health Centre. It's hoped the new clinic for drug addicts will alleviate the wait list at the Ridgewood Addictions Services Centre, where 163 people are already participating in methadone treatment.

At last count, the Department of Health said 93 people were on the waiting list.

City's Troubled Pension Plan Up for Discussion Tonight

Advisors from Morneau Sobeco will be proposing a new plan of action for the city's Pension Plan at tonight's Committee of the Whole meeting. The current plan is facing $150 million of unfunded pension liability, and if not amended could be run dry in as little as 30 years. The council meeting will be held tonight at 6:00 o'clock.

Shedding Light on Mental Illness

Recent studies show one in five Canadians have a mental health concern and the Canadian Mental Health Association is hoping to shed more light on the issue. Assistant Executive Director, Anita Connolly tells CHSJ news there are many people who remain quiet about mental illness because the topic is often considered taboo.

There is often fear around things people don't understand. Connolly says those suffering mental illness should talk about it with friends and family to help bridge the educational gap.

Local Senator Named Patron of Addiction and Gambling Centre

Senator John Wallace is hoping to help youth in Saint John who are suffering from Substance Abuse and addiction. PASAGE, an education center located in the city, has recently appointed the senator to be the patron of their organization. Wallace tells CHSJ news he realizes the importance of the center and is honoured to help.

Senator Wallace says he looks forward to beginning work with the center sometime in the near future.

National Tour Hopes to Get Saint John Moving

The city's boardwalk will be busy today as the “Inspire the nation” tour encourages people to get up and get moving. The tour is visiting 31 communities in the country with ideas on how to make fitness part of everyday life. The not-for-profit organization ParticipACTION and Sun Life Financial are sponsoring the tour which wraps up August 27th.

They’re hoping to stem what they call a crisis caused by a lack of activity among millions of Canadians. They’ll be set up on the boardwalk from noon until six and will be joined by the Saint John YMCA, along with the City's Leisure Services and Rockwood Park's Daytripping.

Terry Fox Run Coming Up Fast

Runners better start hitting the pavement soon-----the annual Terry Fox Foundation Run is a month away.Spokesperson Onne De Boer tells CHSJ news, it's going to be hard to raise the kind of money the foundation has in the past because of the economy.He says the event couldn't happen without the help of the volunteers.

Saint John's run is on September 13th with registration beginning at noon at Rockwood Park.For further information on the Terry Fox Foundation Run check out