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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Council Passes Budget "B" & Tax Rate

Saint John Common Council passes version "b" of the 2012 budget and the tax rate.

Mayor Ivan Court and Councillor Patti Higgins are the only nay votes.

Common Council May Pass Budget "B" Tonight

At long last, a vote is possible tonight on the 2012 municipal budget and it's tax rate.

City manager Pat Woods is recommending that council adopts the plan "b" budget which features cuts to city services, jobs, and grants.

He also says the pension deficit has now grown to 190 million according to the latest actuary numbers.

He adds the city cannot assume pension reforms are coming and needs to adopt a more conservative budget.

Tenants Displaced After North End Fire

The residents who live in two units of a North End apartment building will be sleeping somewhere else tonight after a fire.

City fire crews got the call just before 4pm about the blaze in a 2nd floor apartment at 6 Anglin Crescent.

District Chief Joe Armstrong tells CHSJ News the 12-unit building was in the process of being evacuated when crews arrived on scene.

Crews quickly knocked down the blaze and the apartment with the fire did suffer smoke, water and fire damage while the unit directly below did suffer some water damage.

Armstrong tells us the cause is being looked into but, it's not believed to be suspicious.

Province To Hike User Fees

The Finance Minister says an increase in user fees as a fair way of raising revenue.

Blaine Higgs says the hikes are expected to raise an extra six million dollars for the province.

The fee increases begin to take effect in April and include a range of services from vehicle registrations to campsite reservations.

Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault says fee increases are a form of tax increase and are contrary to a Conservative election promise not to raise taxes.

He says many of the fee increases will hurt those residents in rural parts of the province.
For more info, click here

We Fare OK, Dairytown Gets Slammed With Snow

Between 4 and 8 centimetres of snow for Greater Saint John but, Sussex and Moncton may get more than 20 centimetres by tomorrow.

Greater Saint John received between 4 and 8 cm's of snow.

Claude Cote of Environment Canada tells CHSJ News chances are the temperature will stay just shy of the freezing mark.

He says with temps around the minus 2 mark we are looking at freezing precipitation until it ends early this evening.

The skiers will be thrilled, Cote expects Poley Mountain will have at least 20 centimetres of snow by tomorrow morning.

February Fork Off Is Underway

February doesn't bring too many reasons to celebrate...shoveling isn't one but, eating great food could be.
Today marks the beginning of "February Fork Off" which is Uptown Saint John's Winter Restaurant Week.
Event Coordinator Tracy Hanson tells CHSJ News it's basically the February version of the Chop Chop Festival.

She says it's the first winter restaurant week and it's a chance to get a break from the winter chill and enjoy the many food choices uptown.

Some of the participating restaurants will be offering a three-course dinner for $30, a two-course lunch for $12 or a Fork plate for $10.

For more info on which restaurants are taking part, click here

New Understanding Needed In Province On Resource Development

The Atlantica Centre for Energy says governments, industry and the people who live in the province will have to reach a social contract to advance the economy.

Atlantica President John Herron maintains developing our natural resources is the answer to the province's economic problems but the controversy over shale gas development is not helping. That's why he argues rigorous regulations are required that are not onerous but ease public skepticism that the bottom line is the only thing that counts.

Herron says the three goals of this social contract would be economic progress, social development and ecological integrity.

Herron warns the provincial tax base can't support our basic health, education and social programmes without federal transfers so new sources of economic activity will have to be found and natural resoources are it.

Police Association Questions Whether Common Council Is Exceeding Its Authority

Whether anything will be accomplished at Common Council's special budget meeting this afternoon remains to be seen. Three versions of the budget are being considered.

The police department could see it's budget reduced by over 134 thousand dollars depending on which version of the budget is passed eventually. The President of the Police Union, Jamie Hachey is taking a wait and see approach although he says the goings on of late remind him more of kindergarten.

Hachey argues it should be up to the Police Commission to determine how much money is needed to provide adequate policing in the city, not Common Council.
He goes so far as to suggest Council might be violating provincial legislation by arbitrarily cutting the police budget regardless of what the Police Commission says.

Premier Unveils Senior Panel

The Premier announcing the establishment of a panel designed to help prepare for the challenges with our aging senior population.

David Alward says the panel's role is to guide government investments in community development and services that help seniors live active, healthy lives.

The five-member panel will be chaired by John McLaughlin of UNB.

He says an aging population offers benefits and opportunities adding the skills and knowledge of seniors can provide opportunities for young people to learn new ideas and preserving the lessons of the past.

Project support and administration will be provided by the Atlantic Institute on Aging. The panel's blueprint will be delivered to the premier by this summer.

For more info, click here

Winter Storm Cancels School

February is being ushered in with some snow coming our way. 

Gilles Duguay of Environment Canada tells CHSJ News it's because of a low pressure system that's tracking south of Nova Scotia. 

It's going to be a messy morning commute with most of the snow falling this morning into the early part of the afternoon when it goes above freezing and turns into rain. 10 to 15 centimeters of snow is in the forecast.

Duguay says there will be more snow if you're travelling east to Moncton where there's a snowfall warning in place and more rain than snow west of Saint John along the coast.

All schools are closed today in districts 6, 8, 10, 17 and Samuel de Champlain.

Call Center Industry Not Dying In The Province

The executive director of ContactNB, which represents call centre employees, says the closure of Atelka does not mean the industry is dying in the province.

Mike Bacon tells CHSJ News even though there have been recent closures or cuts at other centers in Saint John, job opportunities have been plentiful.

He says there are constantly 4 or 5 companies hiring in Southern New Brunswick and the industry has been growing for the past 3 to 4 years.
ContactNB will be working with the Atelka employees on finding new jobs.