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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Waterfront Development Lays out Future Plan

(One of Several Pictures on Display at Open House)
               (Photo by Jim Hennessy)

The dreams of Saint John Waterfront Development were on display at an open house last night. Home-owners were invited to give their feedback on some of the conceptual designs including a new look for Long Wharf, Fort laTour and Partridge Island. President Bill McMackin tells CHSJ News, re-shaping the water-front is a 25 year project so it's tough to put a price tag on what they have proposed.

McMackin adds some of these projects are in the design stage, a long way down the road and the dare to dream category. Regardless, of the feedback gathered will be put into a final report and some will be used in the design stage.

Irving Oil at Waterfront Open House

        (Irving Oil Conceptual Drawing of Waterfront)
                    (Photo by Jim Hennessy)

Along with Waterfront Development, Irving Oil rolled out some conceptual drawings at the open house. Spokes-person Leslie McLoud tells CHSJ News, there is a tremendous amount of potential for the waterfront area. Some of the proposals include an arts and culture park similar to the one in Quispamsis which includes an out-door theater, green space during the warm months and a skating surface in the winter.

As for the company's new headquarters plan for Long Wharf, McLoud tells us they are still going through the required processes.

Search Getting Smaller for YM-YWCA

With the search narrowed down to four sites, the YM-YWCA is getting closer to finding a new permanent home. After moving out of it's Hazen Avenue location three and a half years ago, officials are hopeful they might be able to find a spot along the water-front. CEO Pat Davis tells CHSJ News, to be in the vicinty of Long Wharf slip would be ideal.

Davis adds it is difficult to drive by their former home on Hazen Avenue and see no progress being made on Peel Plaza but points out it probuably would cost them more to stay there than it does now.

MLA Reacts to Losing Contact Center in His Riding

(Saint John Portland MLA
       Trevor Holder)

As 174 jobs will leave his riding in the spring, Saint John Portland Conservative MLA Trevor Holder is very concerned the Eddie Bauer Contact Center is closing. Holder tells CHSJ News, there might be a chance to get back some of the money invested to bring the contact center here in 2001.

Holder adds there is a message hidden in this dark cloud as well that Saint John is not immune to the global recession. The contact center will close at the end of May.

Cruise Ship Schedule for 2010 is Rolled Out

     (Cruise Ship in the Harbor)
              (File Photo)        

The Saint John Port Authority is geared up for another cruise ship season. It gets started on May 28th with a visit from the Hanseatic and stretches til October 29th when the Queen Mary 2 will continue her recent tradition of being the final cruise ship to call.

There will be 77 vessels in total to tie up at the port with a passenger count of over 210,000. Carnival Cruise Line will be the most frequent visitor with 26 calls. Saint John will also play host to the Canada-New England Cruise Symposium from June 8th to 10th.

Poley Mountain is Closing for the Night

If you were making plans for Poley Mountain tonight, forget it. The hill is closing (closed) at 4:30pm due to mechanical issues with the quad chair.

Officials at the hill tell us they will keep us posted on when they get things fixed.

City Police Officer Watching Haiti Closely

One City Police officer is watching with great interest as the clean-up continues in Haiti following a massive earthquake. Constable Mike Young was in the country last year working closely with the Haitian National Police Force and tells CHSJ News, he is very happy to hear the U.S, U.N. and Canadian Red Cross are sending help right away.

Constable Young says the medical services in the country, even before the destruction are third world and seeing some of the facilities himself, they are beyond anything you can imagine.

Saint John Hit Hard in Recent Survey

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Saint John is not doing a great job in attracting new bodies to the metro area. As cities across the country face the same problem of an aging work-force, the survey looks at which ones are doing the best job in bringing home new bodies. Calgary, Waterloo, Ottawa, Vancouver, St. John's and Richmond Hill, Ont all receive a grade of "A".

Our city has a grade of "D". The survey analyzed 50 cities based on 41 indicators including health, economy, environment, society and education.

Mayor Court Tired of Negative Talk

                 (Mayor Ivan Court)
                  (File Photo)

There is no other municipal council in the province that's more open and transparent when it comes to putting together a budget than Saint John. That claim is being made by Mayor Ivan Court who says he's getting sick and tired of hearing otherwise.

The Mayor maintains municipalities haven't had the money they need to meet the expectations of their residents.

Finance Commissioner Defends Property Values

The City's Finance Commissioner says property values in Saint John are 30 per cent lower than than they are in Fredericton and Moncton. Greg Yeomans says that explains why the tax rate in Saint John is higher.

Yeomans says the city is trying to understand why property values are so much higher in the other two major cities of the province.

Green Party Leader Speaks Out

(Green Party Leader Jack McDougall Far Left)
              (Photo by Jim Hennessy)

""Survival"" that is how Provincial Green Party Leader Jack McDougall describes the on-going debate over the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec. McDougall says it's time to lay out the hard facts that this deal is for-ever.

McDougall adds the Green Party will lay out it's comprehensive energy plan for the province's future with-in the next week.

Is Margaret Ann Blaney Making a Move

       (Margaret Ann Blaney)
            (File Photo)

Ottawa appears to be pleased with the work coming out of the riding of Rothesay. Conservative MLA Margaret Ann Blaney's name is again being tossed around as a possible candidate for the senate. Blaney tells CHSJ News, at this point, it is nothing but speculation.

Blaney is a former candidate for the leadership of the Provincial Conservatives and has held several Provincial cabinet posts over her career.

Dead Ducks in Rockwood Park

It could be at least two weeks before we know if any charges will be laid after two ducks were killed in Rockwood Park on Monday. A 45-year old man was taken into custody but has since been released. City Police and the Department of Natural Resources are looking into the matter and DNR spokes-person Matt Jones tells CHSJ News, this is something they take very seriously.

Jones adds under different acts and statutes in the Province, you need a license to kill any wildlife in the proper season but it doesn't matter how you kill it whether it be with a vehicle or a rock.

Homes in Sussex Hit by Shots

It appears someone in Sussex is taking target practise at homes with a pellet or BB gun. RCMP were called after a window pane in the door of a home on Elmwood Avenue was broken. There were two holes caused by either a BB or Pellet gun.

Also, an outdoor light had been broken at another home and holes were also found in the siding of another home on the same street.

Changes to Disability Act

If you suffer with a disability, some good news from Fredericton today. As of January.1st, the disability supplement will be added to the social assistance benefits extended to anyone with disabilities and these benefits will be provided monthly.

Anyone with disabilities who were not previously eligible for the benefit may now qualify depending on their income. Clients who received their annual benefit in October of last year prior to this change will start receiving the benefit monthly beginning in October.

Saint John Company is Closing this Spring

Company officials now confirm the Eddie Bauer Contact Center in Saint John, New Brunswick is closing it's doors at the end of May. Director of Communications Sarah Redgrave tells CHSJ News, this was not an easy decision and employees will not be left with-out options. All will be aable to apply, if they wish, to one of their two new out-sourcing companies and a job fair with other companies in Saint John looking to hire will be set up.

174 people are currently working at the center which first opened it's doors back in 2001. Redgrave adds the decision to close was made because the two new outsourcing facilities can offer it's customers with faster turn time and better technology not available here in Saint John.

Board of Trade on NB Power Proposal

       (Chair of the SJ Board of Trade Cathy Craig)
                 (Photo by Jim Hennessy)

The Saint John Board of Trade has identified six areas in the proposed deal to sell NB Power's major assets to Hydro Quebec that have to be improved. Chair Cathy Craig tells CHSJ News, they would like both parties to address these areas before the deal is done.

The areas for improvement according to the Board of Trade include current service levels being maintained or increased and they want to ensure Saint John Energy will not be negatively affected.

No Apology From NDP Leader

Provincial New Democratic party leader Roger Dugay isn't saying sorry after turning a news conference by opponents to the sale of N-B Power into a shambles.
Dugay launched into a verbal attack on Conservative leader David Alward and his party for its handling of N-B Power while in government -- and -- he tells CHSJ News he's unrepentant.
Dugay is promising to tear up the sale agreement if his party forms the government after this fall's vote and vows to work with any party willing to take that action if his party holds the balance of power after the election.
Premier Graham says the controversial of N-B Power to Hydro Quebec will be approved by the Legislature before a March 31st deadline.