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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christmas Card For The Troops Ready For Signatures

For the fourth year a Christmas card handpainted by Norm Jackson will be sent to Afghanistan to lift the spirits of our troops.
It's set up in Market Square for members of the public to sign.
Saint John MP Rodney Weston says it's a nice way to send sentiments from home.

He says it's a great way for us to send our appreciation to our troops at a time of year when we're back here at home.
He hopes it will put a smile on their faces.

The annual  "Salute to our Veterans" concert goes tonight at Harbour View High school at 7:30.

Police Release Description of Esso Robbers

City police releasing a description of the men who robbed the Esso gas station on Rothesay Avenue at knifepoint shortly after midnight.

They are being described as white and in their late teens or early twenties.  

The first suspect is described as white, wearing a light grey hoody, black balaclava, dark sunglasses, dark pants with white stripes down the sides, red gloves and dark sneakers.

The other suspect is described as being white, wearing a dark grey hoody with the hood up, dark sunglasses, dark pants with white stripes down the sides, red gloves with black stripes and possibly green laces in his sneakers.

If you have any information, call the Saint John Police Force at 648-3333 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477(TIPS).

Premier Says Pension Issue Is Between City and Employees

Meanwhile, Premier David Alward says the province will not get directly involved with the details of the reform package -- that is an issue between the city and its employees.

He says the province only provides the regulatory framework of the pension and the province's next step is to wait for a recommendation from the Superintendent of Pensions once the reforms are reviewed.

Union For Outside Workers Not Happy With Pension Reforms

Outside city workers with Local 18 are another group not pleased with the pension reforms that makes deeper cuts, including the suspension of indexing.

President Mike Meahan says the union doesn't understand why the province rejected the first reform package, which was agreed upon by all the working groups.

He says clawing back benefits from retirees is a tough pill to swallow and he says his union will not accept it.

He says the union will be trying to meet with the province and MLA's to continue to push the first option.

Optimism Over Coast Guard Site Being Developed Despite "Speed Bump"

The General Manager of the Saint John Development Corporation, Kent MacIntyre is optimistic a new partner will be found to develop the Coast Guard site next to Market Square.

He says they have been receiving expressions of interest over the last number of months.

The Hardman Group decided to pull out of the partnership. Executive Vice President Colin Whitcomb tells CHSJ News one factor was the decision by Irving Oil not to build a second oil refinery.

He adds economic conditions have changed alot and not for the better since the memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2006.

Whitcomb says there was also frustration over how long it's taking to actually get ownership of the property from the federal government.

MacIntyre says you won't see shovels in the ground next year but anytime after that......Look out.

Two Saint Johnners Sentenced For Armed Holdups

Two city men have been sentenced to prison terms for two armed robberies at the Somerset Pub on August 30th and the Colonial Inn on September 1st.
23 year old David John Harris of Iona Avenue was given 4 and a half years on five charges while 28 year old Joshua Peter Mcintyre of Elizabeth Court got 3 and a half years on three charges.
Harris was sentenced to more time behind bars because he had his face concealed while committing the two armed holdups. He was also charged with possessing stolen goods in Rothesay.
The two were armed with a 9 millimeter replica handgun and got away with 15 hundred dollars from the pub and 40 dollars from a worker at the hotel. That particular worker has now been robbed twice while at the hotel.
 Neither had a criminal record before what the judge called this crime spree.

No Rosy Prediction For NB's Finances

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council doesn't have a rosy prediction for this province's finances.
Senior Economist David Chaundy tells CHSJ News they expect a slight slowdown in economic growth.

He says overall he thinks the economic climate will be quite weak adding it will take a few years to address the fiscal situation and address the deficit.

Chaundy says the good news is growth in Mining and Potash.

No Hunting In Rockwood Park

The City reminding you today there is no hunting allowed within the boundaries of Rockwood Park.

Signs and discs warning hunters away from the boundaries of the park are being put up and it's also being registered with the Minister of Natural Resources under the Fish and Wildlife Act.
The City had some reports from park users that they saw hunters in the area near Foster Thurston Drive at Owen Lake. 

The area includes near Ashburn Lake, which is surrounded by Sandy Point Road, Foster Thurston and Ashburn Lake Road.  For more information, call 658-2908.

New Home Starts Down In October

 New home construction in the province's urban centres lower last month according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
The data indicates a total of 213 starts in October compared to 349 starts for the same period last year.

CMHC Senior Market Analyst Claude Gautreau says multiple starts in the urban centres were significantly lower in October contributing to the overall decline recorded for the month.  He says year-to date, multiple starts are down 20 per cent from last year's total to 1160 units.

Single starts in October were also down from last year's total, with a 21 per cent decrease to 104 units.
In urban centres across the country, total housing starts recorded in October were up 21 per cent.      For more information, click here

New Partner Will Be Needed To Develop Coast Guard Site

The Saint John Development Corporaton is looking for a new partner to develop the Coast Guard site down by Market Square.

The Hardman Group has decided to bow out in what is described by Charlie Swanton, who chairs the Saint John Development Corporation, as a mutual decision. 

The Hardman Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding back in March of 2006 to see the site developed with a hotel, condos, retail and commercial space. 

The first phase of the Coast Guard site was not acquired from the federal government until March of this year with the rest to be taken over next year.

According to the Hardman Group, a number of things have changed in the interim and you can't do much if you don't own the land.

Major Crime Investigates Armed Holdup

There was an early morning robbery at the 3 Mile Esso at the corner of Rothesay Avenue and McAllister Drive.

It happened just after midnight.

Two teens armed with knives made off with a quantity of cash but there were no injuries.

Retired Police Officers Not Happy With New Pension Plan

Retired police officers are among those affected by the new pension plan and they will be challenging the changes when it goes to the province for approval.

Kevin McDonald is the President of the Saint John City Police Retired Members Association and he says while the cuts could have been worse, no one wants to lose what they have been getting.

He says he is upset over the principal of the matter -- being promised something and then having it taken away.

He says a closer look should have been made on city spending before the cuts were proposed.

Council Passes Approves Revised Pension Plan In Front Of Packed House

In front of a packed council chamber filled with city employees, common council unanimously passing through a revised pension plan that makes further cuts.

The new plan will see cost-of-living increases suspended for both active and retired employees until the the plan brings in bigger returns as well as overtime pay no longer being pensionable.

Councillor Chris Titus says it's with a heavy heart that council needs to approve these kind of measures.  He says after months of negotiations, the plan seems to be the only option available.  However, he remains worried that the cuts will still not be enough to save the plan in the long run.

The city's tax rate could go up as high as 15 cents if reforms are not made.

The revised pension plan needs the approval of the provincial government.

More Construction Activity On The Bridge

Look for even more construction activity in the area of the Harbour Bridge beginning today.  
Galbraith Construction has been awarded the tender to build lanes - curbs - and - speed monitoring signs on the western approach to the bridge where the toll plaza once stood.  
Galbraith was the lowest of five tenders received coming in at just under 600-thousand dollars.  
The work is scheduled to be completed by year end -- meantime -- the west bound lanes of the bridge are still on schedule to open by the middle of this month while the Chesley Drive off ramp is scheduled to re-open at the end of the month.

Common Council Approves Civic Pension Reform