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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Debate Drags On Over Harbour Bridge Deal

Debate is raging in the Legislature over details of the bill that will abolish the Harbour Bridge Authority and clear the way to remove the tolls.

The Opposition Liberals say the bill gave the province control of the bridge after first reading last week and that means the government can remove the tolls whether the bill passes by tomorrow or not.

Transportation Minister Claude Williams says "not so" -- he says the tolls can't be removed until the bill receives third and final reading -- and -- royal assent.

The debate drags on with the clock ticking down to tomorrow's promised deadline for eliminating the tolls.

Trump Coming To Saint John?

If you're a fan of The Apprentice or the catchphrase "You're fired", you'll want to catch a speaking event that is coming to the Port City in October.

There is speculation that Donald Trump will be one of the speakers at the event.

A media conference is being held tomorrow at Lexus of Saint John at 11am where the roster will be formally announced.

Mayor Ivan Court teasing an appearance by "The Donald" on his Twitter account, writing tomorrow's announcement will be "hard to Trump."

Qplex Tourney Could Net PRO-Kids Big Bucks

Quispamsis is a beehive of activity as the teams converge on the town for the Irving Oil Challenge cup.
The top Bantam triple-A teams from Atlantic Canada are vying for the right to hoist the Irving Oil Challenge Cup on Sunday and bring home the title of Atlantic Champions.
The City of Saint John's Leah Fitzgerald tells CHSJ News there is a contest included in the tourney where PRO Kids could win big money.  She says people "click" like on Irving Oil's facebook page and vote for their province's team. If you vote for the host team, the KV Rangers and they win the money goes to PRO Kids.  The 20th Annual Irving Oil Challenge Cup starts tomorrow at the qplex in Quispamsis.  To find the link to vote for the KV Rangers, click here

Battle For Toll Removal Continues

Debate is resuming this afternoon in the Legislature on a bill needed to remove the tolls from the Harbour Bridge.

The Alward government launched an attack on the Opposition this morning for stalling passage of the bill -- Saint John Lancaster Conservative M-L-A Dorothy Shephard was on her feet chastising the Liberals for setting up road-blocks on getting the tolls removed.

Meantime -- the Alward government has finally met a Liberal demand and has tabled the federal-provincial agreement to remove the tolls -- Government house leader Paul Robichaud says they're prepared to sit extended hours to get the necessary legislation passed in time to remove the tolls by tomorrow night.

Port Entering A New Era With Change In The Works

The Port of Saint John has to redefine itself. That word from Port Authority President and C-E-O Jim Quinn as it looks for new cargo after being told its under utilised. Quinn tells CHSJ News the port will have to reconnect with the international marketplace.

Quinn says most of the port is actually in pretty good shape but tens of millions of dollars will have to be spent on its wharves on the lower west side.

Quinn says its hoped a new land use plan for the port will be in place by June. The port also wants to shift cargo handling from Long Wharf to where the sugar refinery operated but land that's contaminated there will have to be cleaned up.

The port has also been told it's unlikely container traffic will reach previous levels. The Citizens Advisory Committee of Plan SJ has been toying with the idea of a pedestrian ferry that would go from the lower west side to the uptown.

A public meeting on the port's new land use plan is scheduled April 19th and will likely be held on the west side.

Prevent Car Break-Ins With Common Sense

Spring may bring warmer weather but with it comes an increase in car break-ins and theft.

Inspector Glen McCloskey of the Saint John Police Force tells CHSJ News use your common sense and never leave valuables in the car as a crook won't think twice about breaking the window to get to the goods.

He says leaving a hidden spare key in the car is also a bad idea -- 80 percent of car thefts are the result of a prowler finding the key during a break-in.

United Way Campaign Exceeds Fundraising Target

Another year, another huge success for the United Way.

The group surpassing the fundraising goal for the fourth consecutive year by raising over 1.32 million dollars.

Campaign Chair Pat Pelley tells CHSJ News even with the economic downturn, you can always count on the community.

The final numbers will be released tonight at an achievement and awards celebration in the Market Square Atrium from 5pm to 7pm.

She says it's the highest total raised in 15 years.

Anti-Bullying Advocate Calls For Federal and Provincial Legislation

Anti-bullying advocate Rob Frenette says the death of a Nova Scotia girl who was bullied is completely unacceptable.

Frenette tells CHSJ News the tragedy highlights the need for provincial and federal legislation against bullying.

He believes the death is the first ever case of bully-related suicide, or "bullycide" in Atlantic Canada.

The Alward Tories Launch Public Consultation On Health

The Alward Government launching another public consultation........This time on health care. The aim is to improve access to primary healthcare services. Provincial Health Minister Madelaine Dube says a stronger focus on keeping well is needed if the system is to be financially sustained. Premier David Alward knows where most of the money now goes.
He says this province is facing the reality that it spends most of its money on people who are sick and in the last years of life.  Alward, who is a diabetic himself, warns unless we change, literally you're going to see centres being set up around the province for dialysis.

Vacant Buildings Being Demolished Around Town

A vacant building at 287 Charlotte Street was demolished and another at 16 Elgin Street is in the process of being torn down as a result of a Fire Marshal’s Order issued by the Fire Department.

The Saint John Fire Department has started a program of weekly inspections of vacant buildings. With approximately 120 on the list, 25 are of serious safety concern to the Fire Department because they pose a danger to public safety.

The National Fire Protection Association reports six percent of reported fires were in vacant buildings while 13 percent of reported injuries to fire fighters occurred when they were responding to blazes in vacant buildings. The same report shows that flame damage is much more likely to extend beyond the structure in a vacant building.

If you are concerned about a building in your neighborhood you can call 658-2910.

Tolls Another Step Closer To Being Removed

A piece of legislation required for the removal of the Harbour Bridge tolls has cleared second reading.

The Alward government is trying to get final approval of the bill to meet a promised March 31st deadline to remove the tolls but Opposition leader Victor Boudreau maintains there are too many unanswered questions about the federal-provincial deal announced late last year. He wants answers about the federal commitment to things like the estimated 150-million dollar cost of ongoing upgrades and maintenance.

Boudreau says the government still hasn't tabled any documentation and he's promising to keep the questions flowing when the bill, which would abolish the Harbour Bridge Authority, goes before committee of the whole today.

Saint John area government M-L-A's went on the attack in the Legislature accusing the Liberals of playing politics with the issue.

Bullycide Rears Its Ugly Head In Atlantic Canada

The Co-Founder of Bullying Canada Rob Frenette says the recent bullying-related suicide of a Nova Scotia girl should be an eye opener on a serious problem in this province.

Frenette tells CHSJ News he has spoken to the victims family and says provincial and federal legislation is needed in order to protect victims.

He believes this is the first case in Atlantic Canada where someone killed themselves because of bullying. He says no charges have been laid in relation to the death.

Acts Of Kindness Ministry Aids Homeless

A young man is leading by example with his ministry for the City's homeless and vulnerable.
Jayme Hall describes Outflow as an "acts of kindness ministry" providing a hot meal and other assistancen, often finding them wherever they live.
He tells CHSJ News they believe the #1 thing missing in ministry today is someone willing to build a relationship.  For more information on the weekly meals offered by Outflow Ministries:  click here