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Monday, August 15, 2011

October Key Date For Harbour Bridge Upgrades

Construction crews are making progress on upgrades to the Harbour Bridge.

The Transportation Department tells CHSJ News work that has closed the westbound lanes is scheduled to be completed in late October while the upgrade to the Chesley Drive off ramp is also scheduled for completion this year.

The Department says plans still call for work on the eastbound lanes to be carried out between April and September of next year.

Meanwhile - a tender call for the demolition of the former toll plaza closes Thursday -- that work is expected to be completed by late September.

New Grand Manan Ferry Gets Docked

The brand new Grand Manan ferry which had its maiden voyage on Thursday is currently docked at Blacks Harbour.

General Manager for Coastal Transport Murray Ryder tells CHSJ News one of the ship's thrusters went offline while the vessel was docking at around 9 this morning.

The other thruster eventually went out as well but he says passengers were not in any danger.

The back up ferry is currently running. 

Ryder says staff is looking into how serious the malfunction is and cannot estimate when the ship will be back up.

Don't Use Black Garbage Bags For Composting

The Fundy Region Solid Waste Commission getting some provincial dollars to help raise awareness on their composting guidelines.

General Manager Mark MacLeod tells CHSJ News the main message they want to get out is that once you have filled your green bins with leaves and twigs, do not put any more into black garbage bags -- leaves and yard waste need to go into clear or paper bags.

He says during compost pick up, black bags will be left at the curb.

The province contributing 17-thousand dollars towards an awareness campaign.

Traffic Concerns Catch Councillor's Attention

It appears at least one councilor is listening to concerns about the location of a new coffee shop.

A new Tim Horton's is going up at the corner of Bayside Drive and the Causeway - and - councilor Mel Norton is asking staff for a report on the anticipated impact on traffic.

A recent CHSJ News poll revealed 69-percent of those responding didn't think it was a good idea to have the coffee shop drive through located at the busy intersection.

Tourism Minister Not Ready To Throw In The Towel

A couple of big cruise ships in town today with between 5 and 6 thousand passengers on to boost local tourism.

There's a feeling the tourism season has been soft partly because of the weather. Tourism Minister Trevor Holder isn't ready to concede that just yet although the weather this summer has been an issue.

Holder says the weather you can't control but the province is marketing what he calls the four pillars that are unique to the province........the Bay of Fundy, the Acadian culture, great rivers and beaches with some of the warmest salt water north of Virginia.

As for the poor U.S. economy, Holder says it was struggling last year as well and the number of American visitors coming to the province rose by 10 per cent.

Airport Hopes New Municipal Plan Won't Limit Development

Some concern being expressed by Saint John Airport about the new municipal plan that will guide future urban development over the next generation. The plan is expected to be adopted by Common Council at the end of this year.

Airport President and C-E-O Bernie Leblanc is hoping it won't turn out to restrict future development of the airport. Plan SJ envisions aeronautical type development but Leblanc doesn't want to see it restricted to just that.

Leblanc says the airport right now is no longer supported by the federal government and depends largely on passengers for its revenue. He warns it will take alot of money in 2018 or 2019 to resurface the airport's runways.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Chase has said the airport could face closure a few years down the road but Leblanc characterises that warning as "too dire".

City Lambasted By Developer

Another developer coming forward to say he won't be doing business in the city anymore.

Mac Blair of Blair Construction tells CHSJ News developers come forward with proposals based on what the market tells them people want. He says these can take 2 to 5 years to put together and go through all the hoops only to see them turned down at Common Council.

Blair charges the city has no plan to grow the population and tax base. He has a message for people in the city who oppose development........You better be prepared to cosy up to higher taxes.
Blair goes on to say people aren't banging on their doors saying they want to live in the north or south ends.

Traffic Disruptions Begin Today

City Road between Haymarket Square and the Marco Polo Bridge will be down to one lane in each direction while final construction is completed as part of the Harbour Cleanup Project.

The traffic tieup will last until mid-September when the construction is expected to be complete. In the meantime, drivers are asked to use alternate routes.

Also, traffic will be reduced to one lane on Route 1 near Pocologan today and tomorrow. Crews will be working on the new Pocologan overpass.

City Being Asked To Buy Historic Courthouse

The biggest murder trials in the city have taken place in the Sydney Street Courthouse and Common Councillor Chris Titus wants the city to buy the building from the province when it becomes vacant after Peel Plaza with its brand new courthouse is finished.

 Architect Bob Boyce warns the courthouse on Sydney Street will be joining a long list of the most historic buildings in the city that are empty sooner rather later. Some of them are being converted but many like the synagogue on Carleton Street and the old St. Vincent's school on Cliff Street are vacant. He's hoping developers will turn their attention to these buildings after the upper floor renovations are done on King Street.

Kurt Peacock of One Change tells CHSJ News developers are showing more of an interest these days in the old North End with building permits up and investment at its highest level in 20 years.

Titus warns if the courthouse is left vacant for too very long, it will fall into a state of disrepair. When asked a couple of years ago whether the city might buy the synagogue, Mayor Ivan Court said, at the time, the city wasn't in the business of buying buildings.