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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Once It's Gone, It's Gone

[Former Conservative Energy Minister Jeannott Volpe]

Former Conservative Energy Minister Jeannott Volpe says he doesn't think the Graham government understands the impact of the propsed NB Power sale.
Volpe says once this the utilitys assets are sold, there is no getting them back, and before the sale is completed more discussion needs to happen.
He says at a recent Edmunston Chamber of Commerce meeting, a liberal M-L-A didn't seem to have many answers.
Volpe says this is a long term deal removing the options from New Brunswickers in the future. He says Hydro Quebec will be able to set the market price for energy, and residents will have no other option.

What's the Hurry in Selling NB Power Assets?

[Former Conservative Interim Leader Jeannott Volpe and Rothesay Conservative M-L-A Margaret Ann Blaney]
A Rothesay Conservative M-L-A wants to know what the Graham Governments hurry is to sell the assets of NB Power.

Margaret Ann Blaney tells CHSJ News, the opposition is doing everything it can to prevent the sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec, and says she doesn't understand why it needs to be sold quickly.
Blaney says she continues to receive emails and phone calls about the sale, and people are full of questions. She says the Liberals need to take the time to answer those questions before selling off a Crown Corporation.

It's Going To Be Lights Out For Some

N-B Power crews are going to be working to make some emergency repairs to the transmission lines tonight -- and -- it means some people are going to lose their electrical service for awhile.
Crews expect to begin work between 10:30 and 11:00 this evening knocking out power to customers in the Rothesay - Quispamsis - Hampton - St Martin's - and - Baxters Corner areas -- but -- may also affect other nearby areas.
The utility says the outage is expected to last between two and three hours -- that's barring any unforseen circumstances.

Family's Home gutted by fire in Minto

A Minto family escaped injury after fire gutted their home early Tuesday morning.
Two people were treated in hospital and released.
The family which includes a 6-year-old child lost their belongings in the fire.
Red Cross volunteers from Chipman met with the family and arranged for them to get emergency clothes, groceries and personal care items.
They are staying with family for now.
The cause of the fire on Chestnut Street is under investigation.

Saint John fares poorly in National Survey

A national survey on the performance of local government puts Saint John in the bottom 10.
Fredericton and Halifax are also at the poor end of the ratings.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy released the findings in its third annual Local Government Performance Index.
The index compares the revenues, expenditures, capital and financial assets with regional averages for 88 municipalities.
Coquitlam and Surrey, BC are in the top 3 with Lethbridge, Alberta getting the number one spot.
Survey results are based on the financial years of 2007 and 2008.

Six New City Police Officers Sworn In

(Hats and Badges of Six New Constables on Display)
                  (Photo by Jim Hennessy)

Fellow officers and family packed the council chamber at City Hall today as six new police officers, all Constables took the oath of office. Don Shannon, Shawn Coughlan, Shawna Doiron, Owen Hatt, Robert King, Rheal Levesque and Donald Shannon are the newest members of the City Police Force. Chief Bill Reid tells CHSJ News, this is his first recruiting class and a great honor.

With these six new officers......the total compliment for the City Police Force is now 166.

More Talk About the Future of Point Lepreau

Hydro Quebec and NB Power are collaborating on the reburbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant. So says Thierry Vandal, the President and C-E-O of NB Power. Vandal sees it as a learning experience to prepare Hydro Quebec when it has to refurbish a nuclear plant of its own in a few years time. Vandal also warns about another shutdown down the road.

Vandal says he has no doubt Point Lepreau will be up and running soon.

Bad Crash Near Bathurst

A close call for two men on Highway 11 near Bathurst yesterday. RCMP tell us there was a head on collision when the front wheel of a passenger vehicle came off and rolled into the path of a pickup. The pickup then crossed the centre line and collided head on with another vehicle.

Two men had to be cut free from each vehicle and both are resting in hospital with serious injuries. No word yet on whether any charges will be laid.

Feud Between City Hall and the Paper Continues

The mayor is once again firing off against the editorial board of the local newspaper. Ivan Court says he was shocked to see a story recently published demanding the resignation of Commissioner of Municipal Operations Paul Groody. Court says the newspaper continues to show a great degree of bias, and the city doesn't need resignations, they do.

Court says when Neil Reynolds became the editor he promised a change in direction but now it appears the newspaper has fallen back into it's old habits of bias and Court wants a public apology printed.

Winter Parking Debate Continues

Common Council is considering putting into place a parking program allowing on street parking during the winter after the roads have been cleared, or when it is not snowing. Councillor Gary Sullivan says the idea is to let those who have no where else to put their vehicles to park on street after the necessary work has been done.

Sullivan says the only way this will work is if there is a notification system by email or voicemail telling people when they have to move their cars. City staff are going to look at the option and report back to council.

Cry is Being Heard for City to Host CFL Game

The Chair of the City's Recreation and Leisure Committee wants to bring a CFL game to Saint John. Barry Ogden has sent a letter to council asking that they contact the league's commissioner to play an exhibition game when refurbishment work at the Canada Games Stadium is finished. The stadium has played host to a pair of CFL games since it was built back in 1985 and the CFL will play a regular season game next year in Moncton.

Ogden says if we ask now, the city might be able to get a game booked for 2011. Ogden is also encouraging Mayor and Councilors to take the lead on finding a venue suitable for the city to start hosting an outdoor concert.

Are There Any New Jobs on the Horizon

There has been a gradual rise in the Saint John unemployment rate over the past few months but the latest hiring outlook from Manpower is painting a brighter picture for the new year. Its survey of local employers is suggesting 22 per cent plan to hire from January to March with 69 per cent staying with the status quo and 3 per cent uncertain of their future hiring intentions.

That outlook is not as good as it was for the same time last year but it is better than it has been of late.

GageTown Ferry Shutting Down For The Winter

If you use the Gagetown Ferry on a regular basis, keep this in mind. The vessel is being taken off the river for the winter as of midnight Thursday before heavy ice builds up. It will rest for the winter in Evandale and will be given a full inspection by a naval architect as per recommendations of the community working group.

This is to see if it meets federal standards and outline and necessary upgrades and what it will cost. The vessel was saved from permanent drydock earlier this year after protestors were able to reverse a budget decision by the Graham Government.

Tax Revenue for the City

The Commissioner of Finance says the province suggesting the city lower it's tax base rate by 5 cents will not provide the municipality with enough cash to efficiently operate. Greg Yeomans says the tax rate now doesn't provide the city with enough money, and it needs to find ways to generate more revenue.
He says his department is looking at solutions, such as increasing fees such as arena rentals, as well as more money from federal and provincial grants. The final decision on what the tax base rate will be is completely in the hands of common council.
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase says municipalities should be getting revenue from the sales tax. He maintains Saint John could generate a lot of dollars due to it's investment in shopping centres on the East side. Chase says as it stands right now, the provincial government is enjoying increased revenue on the backs of the city.