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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Callahan Says Education Will Eradicate Poverty

He's one of two politicial newbies seeking to be the Mayor of Saint John.
Joe Callahan is also a newcomer to the Port City getting his citizenship 6 years ago.

Callahan tells CHSJ News fixing the pension problem will mean more money will be available to fight poverty.

He remembers when former premier Shawn Graham said you can build these trails but can't make people use them and Callahan adds older people don't want to be out there with bears and coyotes.

Callahan just become a Canadian citizen in the last decade and he believes education is the key to eradicating poverty adding schools should implement more of a challenge for graduation.
Our feature on the candidates for mayor in Saint John continues tomorrow with Mel Norton.

Province To Study Flood-Proofing Measures For Perth-Andover

The province is looking into into flood-proofing measures for the village of Perth-Andover in the wake of a ice-jam flood that devastated over 200 properties on March 23rd.

A working group consisting of the province, federal agencies, NB Power, and the village will be looking at things such as the known and anticipated risks of ice-jam flooding in the area and what structures could be built to recent such a disaster from happening again.

According to Environment and Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch, the group will have a report ready by August 30th.

You're also being reminded that if you have yet to apply for Disaster Financial Assistance, the deadline is May 15th.

Liberals Demand Moratorium On Shale Gas Exploration

The Alward government is turning aside calls for a moratorium on shale gas exploration.
The opposition Liberals have been pushing for the moratorium and full scale public consultations -- but -- during debate in the Legislature - Environment Minister Bruce Fitch says the government is moving slowly on the issue.
Fitch says work is underway on drafting regulations for the industry and a phased in Environmental Impact Assessment will require public consultations.
Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup says there will be seismic testing over the next two to three years with the possibility some exploratory wells will be drilled during that process to determine to find out if the natural gas exists in the rock beds.

Incumbent Mayor Goes On The Campaign Offensive

Incumbent Mayor Ivan Court opening up his re-election headquarters today as he tries to win a second term as mayor of the city.

Court told his crowd of supporters that economic growth is a chief priority and he will create an industry task force if re-elected.

But Court also taking the gloves off on the other councilor and mayoral candidates -- he says there are some in the running who want to sell the city out to special interest groups.

However, Court refused to name any specific candidates.

Court added that being a mayor is a full-time job and does not believe candidate Mel Norton, who plans to continuing working even if elected, will be able to honour both commitments.

SWN Resources GM Disputes Water Usage Fears

While the GM of SWN Resources Canada is pleased to see UNB researchers weighing in on the shale gas debate, he doesn't agree with all of the reaction.

Tom Alexander tells CHSJ News he doesn't buy the Conservation Council's theory that a thousand gas wells drilled in a year would use the same amount of water as two cities the size of Fredericton.

He says it's a stretch for them to start talking about a thousand wells when he says we are years from drilling a dozen wells.

Alexander says this province does not have the infrastructure to dispose of wastewater right now adding it is safe and in Arkansas they are recycling 99 per cent of the wastewater there.

Finance Minister Says Credible Reports Are Welcome On Shale Gas

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs says the Alward government is committed to protecting the environment -- this response in the wake of a critical report from a group of UNB professors on fracking.

The professors want the government to not use water for fracking unless the wastewater can be disposed of safely.  They are suggesting the use of liquefied propane gas or carbon dioxide.

Higgs tells CHSJ News he has no problems with critical reports and as long as they are credible, nothing is off the table.

He says Natural Resources Bruce Northrup is serious about protecting the environment.

Report on Shale Gas By UNB Researchers Gets Thumbs Up

Stephanie Merrill of the Conservation Council is calling the report on shale gas prepared by researchers at UNB positive, especially their concern with how much water would have to be used for fracking.

She claims a thousand gas wells a year would use as much water as two cities the size of Fredericton which raises the question what effect that would have on rivers, lakes and streams where it's taken from.

As for waterless fracking which uses carbon dioxide and liquified propane gas, Merrill says the big barrier to that would be economics and how much it would cost companies to use that technology.

She isn't holding out much hope that regulations to be unveiled soon by the Alward Government will safeguard the environment because they haven't anywhere else.

Resumption Of Work On Harbour Bridge Is A Go

The way is clear for work to resume soon on the Harbour Bridge upgrades and One Mile Interchange project.
Contractor ConCreate U-S-L was placed in receivership last month - but - an Ontario court ruling prevents receiver Grant Thornton from having anything to do with the jobs or seizing the performance bonds.
In an earlier interview with CHSJ News - Transportation Minister Claude Williams indicated those bonds are protecting taxpayers from additional costs.
The court ruling means the bonding company can o-k the hiring of replacement contractors to complete the jobs.
The Bank of Nova Scotia petitioned the Ontario based company into receivership  claiming the company owes almost 35-million dollars.

Four People Face Charges In Welsford Bust

Hampton RCMP using a police dog for a drug bust in Welsford.

Police entered a home and arrested four individuals last Friday.

A quantity of drugs was seized including marihuana and prescription medications.

All four people were released but a 59-year-old woman is scheduled to appear in Hampton Provincial Court in July to face drug related charges.

Province Remains Committed To Water Treatment

Even as the Alward government struggles to control the provincial deficit -- in an exclusive interview with CHSJ News - the Premier remains committed to the city's proposed multi-million dollar water treatment plant.
Premier says it's been a priority from square one and it remains a top priority for his local government M-L-A's.
Premier Alward says he's committed to working with both the city and the federal government to put a funding package in place for the project.

Many City Streets Are Under Water Today

A deluge of rain in Saint John leading to flooding in the regular trouble spots.

Brown Street and Simpson Drive are closed.  Retail Drive is closed at Rothesay Avenue.

Rothesay Avenue at the train bridge and Ashburn Lake Road are flooded but are open to traffic. 
Both outside lanes on Rothesay Ave by the fern hill cemetery are closed to traffic.

If you see flooding or overflowing catch basins, you are asked to let the City know by calling Municipal Operations at 648-4455.

More Information About The Discovery Of Bones

The bones that were found at Five Fathom Hole near Prince of Wales on Saturday have turned out to be human. 

City Police say they have also been there for a number of years and that will make an identification more difficult to determine.

Late Common Councillor Remembered Fondly

Plenty of tributes were paid by members of Common Council for their late colleague Joe Mott who died over the weekend at the age of 68. 

His colleague at Council, Donnie Snook became quite emotional when recalling Mott's quiet manner. 

Mott is being remembered as a man who loved Saint John as well as sports believing it gave young people self esteem, saw the good in everyone and would pay out of his own pocket to buy a young person a baseball glove. 

Mott served as a past President of the Saint John Horsemen's Association and coached three Little League Canadian championships. He also owned three harness racing horses, one of which "Stoney B" was named horse of the year in 2000.  

A funeral service will be held Thursday at noonhour in the Fundy Funeral Home Chapel.

Sports Fans Tussle Over Rec Facilities

Sports fans duking it out at Common Council. Amid debate over a pricey project to make the LBR an Olympic-sized ice surface, dozens of coaches and parents showed up to protest proposed user fee hikes for sports fields.

Councillor Patty Higgins expressed confusion about renovating the rink, then jacking up fees for sports fields. Her reasoning is that rinks are seasonal, expensive to maintain, and used by fewer people, whereas fields are cheap and popular.

Councillor Gary Sullivan and others disagreed, saying an Olympic-sized rink would help make Saint John a destination for tournaments and other major sports events.

Mayor and council widely agreed raising fees would make it harder for kids to play but revenue isn't going to come out of nowhere. The matter was tabled until council's next meeting on May 7th.

City Puts Brakes on Speed Demons

Leadfoots will soon find it trickier to bomb around the city's residential the latest common council meeting, manager of traffic and pedestrian services Tim O'Reilly putting forward policy to calm traffic around school zones in particular. 

O'Reilly says the goal is simple: to reduce speeds to below the speed limit, and get volumes of vehicles to where they should be on a residential street.

The proposed policy included 30-40km zones around schools and tougher penalties for speeding. He said it's a major issue, with over 90 requests to slow down traffic in neighbourhoods throughout the city, and you could be seeing more measures like speed humps and raised crosswalks as they identify where the priorities are.

Mayoral Candidate Says Direct Talk Is Key In Poverty Reduction

Mayoral candidate Matthew Thompson says reducing poverty in the city will not be easy but there are steps in the right direction.

He tells CHSJ News investing in people is one way to break the cycle of poverty.

He says it's also important to talk to people directly in the priority neighbourhoods to find out the best ways to improve them. 

Thompson says knocking down an abandoned building is not always the best answer.

As far as the hot button topic of city transit, he says we need to determine the most advantageous routes and come up with some creative ways to make bus service sustainable. 

He says he would invest money back into transit once the city got its financial cards in order.