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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Residents To Hold Meeting On Potash Mining

A grassroots meeting is being organized for tomorrow night in order to discuss the possible impact and risks of a new potash mine in Millstream by Atlantic Potash Corp.

Co-organizer Marjorie Goodard lives in the Millstream area and she tells CHSJ News residents need to talk to each other about the potential risks of such a project.

She believes residents should be proactive instead of reactive, especially in light of the residents of Penobsquis blaming water problems on Potash Corp and its mining operation.

She says residents are not opposed to the mine but wants to ensure the protection of their water and the environment. She says a contract will drawn up and will be presented to Atlantic Potash Corp.

The meeting will take place at 7pm at Berwick Hall.

Conservation Council Appealing The Renewal Of Point Lepreau's Operating License

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is appealing the Canadian Safety Commission's decision to renew Point Lepreau's operating license.

CCNB Spokesperson Sharon Murphy tells CHSJ News a seismic risk assessment by NB Power was not properly calculated.

She says according to CCNB's own study, Point Lepreau is not close to being seismically safe.

She says the CCNB even consulted with the scientist who developed the risk assessment methodology used by NB Power.

They want external review of NB Power's seismic risk assessment and is hoping for a response from the safety commission by next week.

McAdam Shakes Again

Residents of McAdam are feeling the earth move again. More quakes were felt in the village this morning.

Earthquakes Canada reports another quake two kilometres southwest of McAdam and aftershocks between 3:28am and 3:44am.

On Saturday, a 2.4 magnitude quake rolled through the village causing things to shake but, no significant damage and no one was hurt.

Freshness Is The Focus At Boston's Seafood Show

True North Salmon looking for new fans of fish at the Boston Seafood show.

Nell Hulse tells CHSJ News the company has to keep their booth and product exciting and fresh year after year.

She says the advantage of New Brunswick is that fish can get from the water to the table or the store shelf within 24 to 48 hours and their competitors in Europe just can't do that.

Hulse says their entire sales team represented at their booth and they are using daisies this year to highlight the importance of freshness.

Defamation Trial Told Ferguson Was Right In Not Trusting Pension Board

Lawyer Rod Gillis asked City Manager Pat Woods whether former Common Councillor John Ferguson was right not to trust the Pension Board.

Woods told Gillis at Ferguson's defamation trial he disagrees but then was asked about why the Pension Board ignored warnings from actuary Fred Lewis to fix the pension plan until recently. Gillis pointedly asked Woods why the changes weren't made 100 million dollars earlier.
The City Manager testified the obligation of the Pension Board is to the beneficiaries. Gillis suggested Woods, himself, being a beneficiary, didn't want to change the plan calling that an untenable conflict of interest.
He points out then City Manager Terry Totten's recommendation in 2004 with a rising pension plan deficit was to let the taxpayer pay with a rise in the tax rate. Woods conceded he didn't disagree with Totten saying it sounded reasonable at the time. Both Totten and Woods are beneficiaries themselves.
Gillis used the city's own figures showing 70 thousand dollars was spent in 2000 and 87 thousand in 2001 to send Pension Board trustees to conferences including one in Maui and questioned whether the money was well spent considering the letter from then Pension Board member Glen Tait in 2006 admitting they didn't fully comprehend what was happening.

Students Frustrated With Lack Of Animal Control

The City of Saint John's by-law enforcement office handling 11 animal control calls since March 1st when the contract with SPCA Animal Rescue League ended.

Two students who found a cat left in the hallway of their building with a broken leg tell CHSJ News they tried everyone they could think and could find no help for the injured animal.

Sabrina Hawkey-Noble and Meaghan Bullock say they can't afford the vet bills to look after the cat and consider it a public health hazard to have a sick and possibly diseased cat with open infected wounds in a common area where children can hear it cry in pain.

In an email, the City tells us they looking for a solution to provide animal control services that are affordable and address public safety concerns.

Woods Says Ferguson Should Have Clarified Sooner

Lawyer Rod Gillis questioning City Manager Pat Woods in minute detail about how John Ferguson's statements allegedly defamed the pension board.  As Gillis went through Ferguson's statements with a fine-toothed legal comb, Woods fired back that Ferguson didn't have a solicitor standing over his shoulder clarifying every sentence and every word.

Woods said any reasonable person who heard phrases like “desperate gamblers”, “sweeping under the rug”, and “severely underfunded” would have figured there's something wrong with the pension board. He also said that if Ferguson Wasn't referring to the board (as Gillis suggested) Ferguson should have just said that from the get-go when first asked for an apology.

Gillis replied “You already agreed with me that there's something wrong with the pension plan.” and said Woods was reluctant to to make changes even when he knew there were benefits to be had.

Farren and Court Spar Over Pension Board Issues

Councillor Court and Bill Farren butting heads once again over the mix of representatives on the pension board. Farren motioned in Common Council Monday that the board include more professionals to carry out its mandate going forward.

Councillor Farren told council he's only asking for what premier Alward himself told council to do. Councillor Court saying the motion is just one more public disrespect of the people on the board, saying that he already has been coming up to him and yelling at him at the mall and at hockey games over the pension board's activities and he doesn't need any more flack. 

He further said that the problem isn't the composition of the board, but rather the negative thinking on the part of some so called "Monday night councilors" who only show up at meetings but--as he sees it--don't do much more than that.

Despite objections from the Mayor and Councillor Bill MacGuire that Farren's motion was based more on subjective opinion that fact, council voted 5-4 in favour of bringing more professionals on the board.

Overseas Training Nixed for Pension Board Trustees

As we told you earlier this week, Councillor Bill Farren taking a strong stand against pension trustees being sent for training in far-flung locations like Las Vegas and Hawaii. Farren motioning to council Monday night that spending be reigned in by limiting trips within Canada.

Councillor Gary Sullivan weighing in on his hopes on the issue in light of the massive pension deficit, saying if it's a choice between Hawaii and PEI, he hopes trustees will choose Anne of Green Gables.

In the end, all members of council except Councillor Court voted in favour of keeping the trustees closer to home going forward.

Saint John Breaks A Temperature Record

Saint John was not unlike the rest of the country enjoying an early Spring.
The mercury hitting 12.5 degrees yesterday breaking the temperature record set six years ago of 11.2 degrees.

Environment Canada's Darren Borgel tells CHSJ News unfortuneately Mother Nature has an ugly follow-up in mind.

He says Saint John area is on the line between rain, snow and ice pellets and the rain will start this afternoon adding you don't have to go to far inland before you hit snow and ice pellets.

Borgel says Grand Manan and St. Stephen will see more rain.