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Monday, December 3, 2012

Weston Lukewarm On Maritime Union Idea

The MP for Saint John is not psyched about the idea of a Maritime Union.    Three Conservative senators are floating the idea.

Rodney Weston tells CHSJ News he wants to make sure people know where this concept is coming from.

He says it's not an idea being put forward by the Harper government, the Atlantic caucus or the New Brunswick caucus.

Weston says this idea should come from the Maritime provinces not from Ottawa.   He adds each province has representation in Ottawa and under a merger of the three, they would only be one voice.

Fire Chief Dismissing Suggestion Of Volunteer Firefighters

Common Council is searching for ways the fire department could save money next year and Councillor Donnie Snook wonders if it would be a good idea to start utilising volunteers to supplement the 145 regular firefighters, especially in the rural parts of the city. 

Fire Chief Kevin Clifford says volunteer firefighters can only be used in defensive operations and argues they would not make up for the loss of more than 50 regular firefighters since 1999.

Clifford says if he gets less money than what has been requested in next year's budget, the use of volunteer firefighters is not a viable option.

Police Chief Worries Fight For Safer Neighbourhoods Will Take A Hit

Police Chief Bill Reid is worried the provincial SCAN programme designed to rid neighbourhoods of illegal activity, including drug dealing, is on the chopping block next year. 

Reid says SCAN members can take action far quicker than City Police to rid neighbourhoods of wrongdoers by putting the onus on property owners to take action and has proven to be beneficial for the city.

The Chief is urging Common Council to lobby the provincial government to maintain the programme.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Are Expecting

Palace officials say Prince William and his wife are expecting their first child.

 St. James Palace said Monday that the Duchess of Cambridge has a severe form of morning sickness and is currently in a London hospital.

 As the first born to William, who is second in line to the throne after his father Prince Charles, the couple's first child stands an excellent chance of one day becoming monarch.

Whether boy or girl, the child will be behind Prince William in the line of succession to the throne, Cabinet Office officials said.

 Courtesy of the Associated Press.

Williams Says New Road Will Improve Port Business

The Province investing about $240-thousand dollars to create a new road on the west side of the Port to allow access for bigger loads.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams says increasing access will increase business.

Williams says it's been a challenge getting the oversized loads in and this access will help the Port.

Williams says the Port of Saint John has seen expansion so this is a good opportunity to partner with them to improve their infrastructure.

Police Union Will Be Looking For Raises

City Police are looking for a budget next year of over 22 million dollars. 

Police Chief Bill Reid says there is a no layoff clause in the contract agreement with the Saint John Police Association and, after a fair number of retirements, the attrition rate is now low. 

The Chief says one intangible to look at is the financial benefit of reducing the number of break and enters in the city which he estimates resulted in a savings to Saint Johnners of half a million dollars for 2011 and 2012.

Chief Reid concedes the police union will not agree to another wage freeze after the current contract expires at the end of this month and he doubts whether their expectations for increases can be met.

Saint John Transit Needs Big Bucks Just To Keep The Status Quo

Saint John Transit will need half a million dollars more in its budget next year just to maintain the level of service it's providing now. 

Common Council appears to be at least considering giving more than that. 

Transit General Manager Frank McCarey says there are a few changes he would like to make with a bit more money. These would be an earlier start to morning service, the reinstatement of evening service to 10:00 in a number of neighbourhoods and improving the frequency of service to the Regional Hospital and U-N-B Saint John. 

As for restoring holiday service, McCarey says that's not as much of a priority.

Common Councillor Wants Review Of Shared Risk

Calling it the most serious challenge facing the city since the Great Fire left Saint John in ruins, Common Councillor Susan Fullerton wants to get professional advice to assess the recommendation coming from the Pension Task Force. 

It's recommending the city move to a shared risk model which would reduce the deficit from 345.5 million dollars to 161 million.

Fullerton is also asking a vote on which way to go not take place until two weeks after getting this independent assessment. 

The pension options will be presented tonight.

Councillors will also have to vote on whether to raise water rates next year by 7.4 per cent.

Winter Parking Ban In Effect

'Tis the season for winter parking.

From now until the end of March on-street parking is not allowed in most of the city from midnight until 7 a.m. There are signs on some of the streets that are exempt from the rule.

If your car is found on the street you risk it being ticketed and/or towed at your expense. If you don't have parking, there's a reduced overnight rate of $4 to park at Brunswick Square overnight. There's also no overnight parking in metered areas.

For more information, click here.