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Monday, April 30, 2012

Bail Hearing Delayed In Charlotte Street Fire

A bail hearing in connection to the fire on Charlotte Street getting delayed due to some odd cicircumstances.

20 year old Roger Chiassson is charged with intentionally and recklessly causing fire and damage.

Chiasson told the court got a piece of plastic stuck in the lock to his jail cell and the lock broke when the guard tried to unlock his cell.

A locksmith had to be called in to get Chiasson out of his cell.

The bail hearing has been rescheduled for 1:30 tomorrow afternoon.

Gillis Offers Rebuttals as Ferguson Trial Winds Down

The judge, jury, and John Ferguson sat in court for all 53 days of the trial—but where was the pension board, if they were so concerned about their reputation?

That's the question defense lawyer Rod Gillis is asking giving his rebuttal to the pension board lawyer's closing remarks at the John Ferguson defamation trial. He said the pension board members have come and gone from court over the past 53 days, but if their reputations were really that important to them they would have wanted to be there and see what was happening.

Gillis further said any press about this lawsuit doesn't prove reputational loss, because  the pension board decided to pursue the lawsuit and therefore brought it upon themselves.

BOG Project Work Begins Next Month

Next month, Canaport LNG will begin work related to the upgrade of the Boil Off Gas compression system project announced earlier this year.

The work will take place during a temporary suspension of terminal operations.

Because of that suspension of operations, Canaport LNG will experience intermittent flaring which can be seen from some areas around the Terminal over the next month.

The company adds flaring is part of the standard procedure at LNG terminals to maintain normal operating pressure by burning off excess natural gas.

Royal Couple To Visit Saint John

Victoria Day in the city is going to get a whole lot busier as Prince Charles and Camilla will be paying a visit to Saint John.

The Royal Couple will be visiting four communities in three provinces -- their official welcome will be held at CFB Gagetown on May 21st, followed by Victoria Day celebrations in Saint John.

The couple then jets off to Toronto and Regina.

Prince Charles' last tour in Canada was in 2009. This will be the second tour to Canada for The Duchess of Cornwall.

Public Rail Safety Week Begins

Your ride to or from work may take a little longer this week – as police target “high risk” rail crossings.

 It’s Public Rail Safety Week, and railway police and safety officials are fanning out across the region, stopping cars at select rail crossings to hand out safety pamphlets, and if they catch you doing something illegal, it will cost you. 

CP Police Inspector Bill Law says that goes for both drivers and pedestrians.

Inspector Law says there’s been an alarming increase in the number of pedestrians being killed by trains – especially in Ontario. Several didn’t hear the train coming because they were wearing headphones.

There will be a crossing blitz at both the Ashburn Road Crossing and the Douglas Avenue Crossing on May 4th.

Morrison Portrays Ferguson As Callous And Reckless

In his closing arguments, Pension Board Lawyer Barry Morrison portrays former Common Council John Ferguson as being callous and reckless by misrepresenting reality in his campaign to discredit the pension board. Morrison contends in that campaign decency and respect played no role.

Morrison repeatedly pointed out to the jury Ferguson missed many opportunities to reveal his alleged conversation with a pension board trustee about disability pensions being illegally approved which would would be breach of trust to his fellow council members.

The pension board argues that the conversation never took place.

Morrison also telling the jury Ferguson never produced any documentation to back up his criticisms because it was all smoke and mirrors.

He contends that when Ferguson was on common council did not act in good faith and did not dispel the impression that criminal wrongdoing was taking place by pension board trustees.

Demolition May Take Another Week

The work on clearing the pile of bricks and debris from last week's fire at 127 Charlotte street may continue for another week.
One wall of what's left of the building next to the Lantern House on Princess street must be taken down by hand.

The Saint John Fire Department calling in the Department of the Environment to dispose of a 200 gallon tank of furnace oil.
It's believed the oil drained into the basement of the property.

The fire last Wednesday destroying the Korner Grocery and an accounting office when fire broke out just after 3am. Three young men between the ages of 15 and 20 arrested last week face charges relating to the fire.

20 year old Roger Chaisson is in court today for a bail hearing. 19 year old Samuel Nolan is under house arrest and will have a mental health evaluation before his next court appearance on May 10th. A 15 year old who can't be named is also under house arrest and due back in court in June.

Ferguson Deliberations Begin Tomorrow

The defamation trial of former Common Councillor John Ferguson moves into the next phase this week with the start of jury deliberations.  

Pension Board lawyer Barry Morrison will finish his closing arguments this morning and Ferguson's lawyer Rod Gillis will have the opportunity to offer a rebuttal. 

Tomorrow morning, Mr. Justice William Grant will deliver his instructions to the jury on defamation which could be lengthy.   

Grand Bay-Westfield Gets New Fire Truck

The Grand Bay-Westfield Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department getting some new hardware.

The town recently purchased a new pumper truck which features a compressed air foam system that will drastically reduce the amount of water needed to fight fires.

The fire department also buying a 28 foot specialized rescue trailer. The trailer will primarily be used for off road and ice rescue emergencies but can also be used other situations.

Warning About Waterless Fracking

The people who are opposed to shale gas development in the province aren't any more enthused about waterless fracking than they are with using hugh volumes of water to break up the rock underground.

Researchers from U-N-B made mention of liquified propane gas in an opinion paper they released on shale gas.

Chris Rendell is with Hampton Water First and he warns propane is volatile telling CHSJ News when it's used everything that happens on the well pad is operated by remote control so if the operators have to stay behind a bunker what does that say about safety.

Health Department Needs Better Information To Spend Wisely

The Alward Government will spend half a million dollars to make the healthcare system in the province more efficient. 

Inka Milewski of the Conservation Council says they could spend their money better if the information being used was better. She tells CHSJ News she knows from first hand experience how incomplete alot of the data was when she did a study on cancer rates around the province. 

Milewski says the information on which spending decisions are made should be coming from community level so taxpayers are getting the best value for their buck.

Healthcare spending takes up something like 40 per cent of the provincial budget and that is expected to rise.

Another Fire Appears To Have Been Deliberately Set

Another suspicious fire in the city.......This time an abandoned house at 462 Ashburn Road beside Alpine Motors. 

District Chief Peter Saab says the fire was well underway when fire crews got there and it took them 3 hours to put it out.
There were no injuries. 

The building was heavily damaged and Major Crime will be investigating as well as the fire department.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Local Director, Actor Mourned

A beloved local actor and theatre aficionado has died. Elizabeth Chase, known for her work with the Saint John Theater Company, passed away over the weekend after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Bernard Cormier, the city's cultural affairs officer, also served as Secretary  of the Saint John Shakespeare Company. He tells CHSJ News Chase was a visionary who brought the works of the Bard to many, and there's no one in Saint John who knew the works of Shakespeare better than her.

No word yet on funeral arrangements. Social media sites have been abuzz with tributes to the late Chase, who was the wife of former deputy mayor and broadcaster Derek Chase.

Joshua Group One Step Closer to New HQ

The Joshua Group is making progress with their fundraising efforts, but they still need your help. The Group is raising money for its new headquarters at the former Peacock's garden centre site. It will be headquarters will be a community center where children will get hot meals, receive clothing and personal care items when needed, develop leadership and social skills, work alongside volunteers to learn about gardening, woodworking, fishing, cooking and  more.

Bobby Hayes of the Joshua Group recently held a toonie day fundraiser that was very successful, raising over $10,000 in just one day. He says anyone who wants to help out should contact the group directly for more information.

For more information on the group's activities, and how to donate, click here

New Golf Course on East Side

Time to tee up, Saint Johners--Cedar Grove Executive Par 3 and Driving Range at  2000 Golden Grive Road is now open. It's a full driving range a little over 250 yards long and a 9 hole par 3 golf course.

The course had lengthy par 3s like any at a standard golf course. The 2 par fours are 270 and 275 but there are a couple. Allaby says the different levels of tees mean the course can appeal to everyone. in there that are shorter. They have  yellow tees for juniors that range from a hundred and 20 yeards to 46 yards.

Manager Tim Allaby tells CHSJ News it's been a while coming. The woner is a landscaper by trade so he's made sure the land on the East side looks its best for golfers

Quispamsis Mayor Not Happy With License Renewal

Quispamsis Mayor Murray Driscoll does not want to see shale gas exploration or fracking in his community -- even though his hands are essentially tied.

Windsor Energy did testing within town limits without the town's permission earlier this year and recently got its license renewed.

Driscoll tells CHSJ News he does not want testing done but concedes it will probably lead to the inevitable.

He says it's not about lacking confidence in the province to protect us. It's just that the entire shale gas industry is new territory and he does not want to see town wells contaminated believing more study needs to be done.

Driscoll says his views are his own and do not reflect town council's.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Realtors Organize Street Cleanup

Some streets on the east side and in the valley are going to look a lot cleaner today thanks to the work of some dedicated professionals. President of the Saint John Real Estate Board Jason Stephen tells CHSJ News it's a way for realtors to pay it forward in the communities they serve.

Over 4,000 acres of parks and green spaces across Southwest New Brunswick were cleaned up by realtors in 2011. This year the teams will be tackling the streets and sidewalks of local residential areas.

Workers Killed on the Job Honoured

It's year 2 for the annual Day of Mourning ceremony remembering those injured or killed on the job in the province at the Hatheway Pavillion at Lily Lake.

Pat Riley of the International Longshoreman Association tells CHSJ News the observance has spread internationally to dozens of countries, who will hold ceremonies similar to that here in Saint John.

There will be a ceremony today attended by 30 unions and family members in honour of people who lost their lives at work. Sharon Tucker from WorkSafe NB will say a few words.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Liberal MLA Upset Over Double Standard In Flood Study

There is alot of anxiety for residents in the St. George area.

Liberal MLA Rick Doucet says many people are worried they will lose their homes to flooding again.

Doucet says he was turned down by the government last year when he asked for a review into flooding and prevention for the Magaguadavic River.

However, he says the Alward government will be doing a flood review for Perth-Andover.

Doucet says Charlotte County residents are being treated as second-class citizens by not getting the same treatment.

Premier Alward was unable to be reached for comment.

Pension Board Lawyer Begins Closing Arguments

More closing arguments in the John Ferguson defamation trial, this time from Pension Board lawyer Barry Morrison.

Barry Morrison using an old adage in his characterization of John Ferguson when he compared the pension board to Martha Stewart and her legal woes -- if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's a duck.

Morrison says Ferguson had to be talking about the pension board when making that comparison -- and therefore was casting the pension board in a bad light.

Morrison says Ferguson acted like a coward towards the pension board -- he says it is cowardly to make insinuations when your target cannot respond in a timely manner.

He ads the arguments made by Ferguson's lawyer -- that there was negligence and a breach of fiduciary duty -- are nothing but a smoke screen.

Morrison says the lawsuit is about defamation and Ferguson defamed the pension board in an attempt to become mayor in 2008.

Students Celebrate Arbour Day With A Tree Planting

A couple of grade one students from Havelock school helping out future generations by planting a tree for Arbour Day.
It's the sixth year of a partnership of between J.D. Irving, District 8 and the City of Saint John. 
Outgoing common councillor Chris Titus tells CHSJ News trees are important and the small things really make a difference.

He says the trees provide beauty, a place to climb, heat and furniture.  The Grade one students at Havelock school were given spruce seedlings to take home.

Senior City Staff Battered At Defamation Trial

The lawyer for former Common Councillor John Ferguson is accusing senior city staff of having a secret agenda and of stifling discussion of the pension plan's rising deficit.

Rod Gillis was making his closing argument to the jury at Ferguson's trial for defamation and was scathing in his criticism of then City Manager Terry Totten, City Solicitor John Nugent, then Deputy City Manager Pat Woods and former City Finance Commissioner Andrew Beckett, all of whom served on the Pension Board.

Gillis accuses the Pension Board of launching the lawsuit to silence questions and told the court it's wrong to interfere in the democratic process, if not unsavoury.

He maintains senior city staff members on the pension board in 2003 knew benefits would have to be reduced but didn't want to get flak from the civic unions and points out they, themselves, were in line for city pensions each worth over a million dollars.

Gillis telling the jury senior city staff, who served on the Pension Board, are guilty of inaction because they knew in 2003 pension benefits would have to be reduced and had specific solutions in 2005 which were not presented to Common Council.

He argues Ferguson, as a member of Council, had a duty to pursue the matter and the Pension Board will have to prove malice but no evidence of that was ever presented at trial.

Gillis claims none of Ferguson's criticisms was directed at the Pension Board and none was defamatory because he was acting in good faith whereas senior city staff were trying to stifle discussion.

Funny Police Sign Goes Viral

A humourous sign about a serious topic has gone viral on social media. 

The Saint John Police Force putting up a sign at Kennebecasis Drive by the ferry landing which reads: "On Sale! As low as $172.50. Speeding Tickets." 

The image has been making the rounds on popular sites like Facebook and Imgur. 

Community Police Officer David Hartley-Brown tells CHSJ News he is not entirely surprised the message has gone viral but says the important thing is that the message is getting out to slow down.

John Ferguson Defamation Trial Resumes

Closing Arguments To Be Given At Defamation Trial

The long defamation trial of former Common Councillor John Ferguson in now in the home stretch with closing arguments to be delivered this morning to the jury. 

Lawyer Barry Morrision made clear in his opening statement the Pension Board views Ferguson's attacks as an orchestrated campaign for him to become Mayor in 2008 and the statements he made left the impression of illegality.

Lawyer Rod Gillis has suggested Ferguson, as a member of Common Council had every right to raise questions and concerns and none of his statements were defamatory. 

As well, Gillis argues the Pension Board was unresponsive, not very transparent and senior City Staff who were serving as Pension Board trustees were in a conflict of interest with divided loyalties between the beneficiaries and the taxpayer.

Water Shut Off At Most Schools In District 8

Lead and copper levels in the water at most schools in District 8 exceed Health Canada guidelines.

As such, all the water fountains and taps at the affected schools have been shut off for the time being and jugs of water brought in.

There are just 4 schools in the district unaffected......They are Brown's Flat Elementary, Inglewood. Loch Lomand and St. Martins. 

Both the school district and public health say most children would not suffer any health problems from drinking the water unless they have multiple exposures both inside the school and outside. 

Also, the lead levels dropped significantly after the water was left running for 30 seconds or more.

Premier Says Shale Gas Handled In Responsible Manner

It may be a controversial issue - but - Premier Alward isn't making any apologies for exploring the possibility of developing a shale gas industry.

In an exclusive interview with CHSJ News - Alward says his government has a responsibility to see what future opportunities may exist if the resource is developed and how any revenue will be shared.

And the Premier says New Brunswickers will have a say on new regulations being developed for shale gas exploration -- deflecting any comment on how that will happen by saying the process will be up to Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rothesay Woman Opposes New Fieldhouse

A Rothesay woman is upset that two apartment buildings on Scott Avenue will be taken down to make way for a new fieldhouse.
Joy Clowater lives in one of the neighbouring building and has asked the town administration for some answers with little satisfaction.
While Joy Clowater supports the idea of more recreation in the town, she tells CHSJ News people's homes shouldn't be torn down to for it.

She tells us she has sent letters to the editor which she copied to Mayor Bill Bishop adding local MLA Margaret Ann Blaney is also helping her out.

CHSJ News has put a call into the town of Rothesay for their perspective on the matter and we have yet to hear back.

Province Establishes New Health Agency

The province will spend $500,000 this year on a temporary agency that's mandated to find ways to cut costs in the Health Department.
Health Minister Madeleine Dubé says former health authority executives Rino Volpe and John McGarry will be in charge of the work over the next two years.
Dubé says her department demands about 40 per cent of the provincial budget and that's expected to rise.
She says the Office of Health System Renewal can look for efficiencies and health-care innovations, while her department can concentrate on the delivery of services.
But Opposition Liberal Leader Victor Boudreau says the government is just creating another level of bureaucracy.
He says with the increase in health-care spending being held to 1.6 per cent this year, the money for the new office would be better spent on the actual delivery of services.

Charges Laid In Uptown Fire

Charges being laid to 3 people in the Charlotte Street fire.

Judge Anne Jeffries dealing out charges of intentionally and recklessly causing fire and damage.

20-year old Roger Chiasson being remanded to jail until a bail hearing on April 30th.  He elected to be tried by a provincial court judge.

19-year old Samuel Nolan being put under house arrest and will be undergoing a mental health evaluation to determine if he is fit to stand trial.  He will be back in court for a follow-up on May 10th.

A 15-year old, who cannot be named under the Young Offenders act, was put under house arrest.  He is due back in court on June 4th.

Demolition Scene On Charlotte Street

Three Arrests In Charlotte Street Fire

A third person, a 15 year old, is facing charges in the Charlotte street fire that City police tell us was deliberately set.

Two young men, ages 19 and 20, were arrested earlier and all three are due in court this afternoon.

Fire crews got the call just after 3am yesterday to the blaze which destroyed an old appliance store and the Korner Grocery.  Fire officials insisted due to safety concerns the building had to come down.

New Brunswick Food Banks Need Help

A major campaign is underway to replenish the supplies of food banks around the province.

The President of the Provincial Association of Food Banks Glenn Rioux tells CHSJ News demand is up by 22 per cent but donations have not kept pace.

He says most of the people seeking help these days are the working poor with alot of young families and the elderly. That's why the request is out for such things as baby food and accessories, cereal, oatmeal, canned fish, meat and soup, beans, peanut butter, jam, fruit and vegetable juice along with personal hygiene products.

Rioux says you can drop off non-perishable food items or make a cash donation at any Superstore until May 5th.

Saint John Airport Looking For Friendly Ambassadors

The Saint John Airport is looking for volunteers to join its Meet and Greet team.

The program lets you greet incoming travelers and provide them with information such as directions and entertainment ideas.

Director of Marketing for the airport Colleen Kemp Mitchell tells CHSJ News it is a very flexible program for those who want to take part.

She says the volunteers really enjoy the socializing with visitor and becoming ambassadors for our city.

Michell says it is an important role as the greeters are the first impression a visitor gets of the city.

For more information or to sign up for the program, call 506 638 5584 or email

NB Power Going Mum On Lawsuit

NB Power downplaying allegations made by the group of insurers it is suing over delays in the refurbishment of Point Lepreau.

The utility launched the lawsuit back in February.

NB Power Spokesperson Kathleen Duguay says the company is ready to dispute allegations by the the defendants relating to damage incurred and delays associated with the calandria tube activities.

Duguay says no further comments will be made about the case since it is now before the courts.

Demolition Of Fire Ravaged Buildings Continues

A Significant Drop In Price Of Self Serve Regular

Drivers who use self serve regular are getting a big price break after the weekly setting. 

Self serve regular dropping in price by over 6 cents a litre in the city to $1.31.9. 

Diesel also dropping in price but not by as much to $1.34.3 a litre around town. 

Heating oil is listed by the Energy and Utilities Board at $1.18.4 and propane is at $1.04.3 a litre.

Man Jumps From Roof In Valley To Elude Police

Rothesay Regional Police had to deal with an unusual incident when a disgruntled former employee came to the McDonalds and began uttering threats. 

He had been drinking and made his way to the roof. After seeing police arrive, he tried to get away by jumping off the roof and taking off but was arrested. Police tell us he will be be appearing in court at a later date.

Police in the Valley also arresting a group of young people after a spate of vandalism along Vincent Road. 

Election signs were thrown into the middle of the street, town benches were overturned and there was also some lights damaged.

The young adults, as they have been described to us, had been drinking as well.

Arrest Made In Robbery

City Police telling us about a robbery in the Waterloo Street area just before 7 last night. 

An 84 year old man was taken to hospital to be treated. 

A 36 year old woman was arrested and will likely be facing a pair of changes when she appears in court.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Norton Speaks On Poverty Issues

At a recent forum on poverty, mayoral candidate Mel Norton saying it's the simple things that change the quality of life in priority neighbourhoods.

Mayoral candidate Mel Norton tells CHSJ News morale can be improved by appealing to the youth.

He says investing like the Teen Resource Centre for Youth and by actually providing opportunites for teens giving them a creative outlet to feel good about their community.

Norton says each neighbourhood is different so there are no pat answers--solutions will only come by consultation with members of each community.

Salvation Army Feeds & Comforts Firefighters and Victims

The Salvation Army lending a hand at the fire scene at Charlotte and Princess streets.

The group's Community Response Unit responding less than two hours after the fire began.
Darren Wiseman tells CHSJ News it provides a source of food, beverage and comfort.

He says they have been able to give them someone to talk to and point them in the direction they need to go.

Wiseman adds they have been providing to the emergency responders, the displaced and bystanders.

Arrests Made In Uptown Blaze

The Major Crime Unit of the City Police Force says the massive fire at 127 Charlotte street was set on purpose.

A 19 year old and a 20 year old are due in court tomorrow to faces charges and Police tell us a third arrest is expected.

Charlotte Street Fire Gallery

CHSJ News had a bird's eye vantage point on top of the Beatty, where reporter Tamara Steele shot these images.