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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Support For Sex Workers' Rights At All Time High, Thanks To Councillor

The director of AIDS Saint John is thanking Common Councillor Susan Fullerton, saying the outrage to her motion to Council has sparked incredible support and sympathy for sex trade workers.

Julie Dingwell tells CHSJ news in 13 years they've never received so many phone calls and e-mails of people supporting and interested in their cause. She also says kudos to police for taking a common sense approach to the motion, saying you can't use by-laws against people you "just don't like."

Suggestions by Common Councillor Susan Fullerton to use city sidewalk and traffic bylaws to remove prostitutes from uptown streets have been shot down by the Police Commission. In a report for Common Council, the Police Commission describes them as not feasible, lawful or ethical. 

Dingwell believes this dialogue has made Saint John a more compassionate community. She says the issue struck a nerve with many people, and now more people understand we need to find solutions like better access to mental health and addiction services, rather than treating sex workers like criminals. 

The Sex Trade Action Committee will still make a presentation to Common Council.

VIDEO: Mix The Human Heart & Torso, Get A Sculpture

New heart equipment isn't the only new thing to the Saint John Regional Hospital.

A new sculpture is what you'll see when you step into the main lobby. Made my local sculptor Richard Arseneau, the 140-pound piece is a human torso that also resembles a human heart.

Called "The Heart Prevails", it's made of sandstone from the old Saint John Jail. Arseneau says it took him 300 hours and over 6 weeks to create it. He tells CHSJ news he donated the piece to the hospital because with it's heart/torso qualities, it just seemed to fit.

Arseneau says the piece shows how the heart or soul can prevail over adversity, with the right arm up in a victory pose. 

What's To Become Of Donnie Snook's Seat At Common Council?

It's the question on a lot of people's minds: what is to become of councillor Donnie Snook's seat around the council horseshoe, now that he's facing 8 charges related to child exploitation?

Mayor Mel Norton isn't saying much beyond what was released in a statement last week, in which the media and members of the public were referred to provisions under the municipalities act.

The section to which Norton referred  describes how a council seat is considered vacant if---among other reasons--a councillor is absent from four or more consecutive regular meetings, they've been disqualified or declared incapable, or are convicted of a crime punishable by five years or longer.

Saint John Boasts Top Notch Heart Centre

The Saint John Regional Hospital now has the top heart equipment in North America, thanks to the $775,000 raised from The Give 2012.

Between selling anything from pizzas to t-shirts, to private and company donations, the foundation exceeded it's original goal by $25,000.

Dr. Marc Pelletier, department head of cardiac surgery, says he wouldn't be surprised if the equipment runs longer than 15 years, since there's less moving parts in the machine and more magnets. Pelletier says this equipment will make a world of difference for more complex surgeries and for more vulnerable patients like seniors.

Thanks to the donations, the heart centre now has 13 pieces of new equipment that will make operations safer and better. The top-notch equipment consists of new heart-lung machines, machines that monitor blood levels better, machines that keep the heart strong during operations, and keep watch of oxygen levels.

The New Brunswick Heart Centre performs over 750 open-heart surgeries, sees 13,000 patients annually, and only 20% of those patients are from Saint John.

Scammers Defraud New Brunswickers Out Of $2.5 Million

New Brunswickers lost $2.5 million to investment schemes in 2012, according to the provincial securities commission.

According to the commission, most of those losses were the result of abusive and downright fraudulent activity.

Several of the schemes involved investors lending money to someone at rates of interest between 12 and 18 per cent per year, usually by way of a promissory note or written loan agreement.

There were 10 matters that were either brought before the commission or concluded in New Brunswick provincial court in 2012. The commission warns being informed is the best defence against investment fraud.

Conflicting Testimony on Lepreau Refurbishment

There has been some conflicting testimony at the Energy and Utilities Board Hearing on the accuracy of NB Power's accounting practices. It will be up to the Board members to sort through it. 

The hearing is looking at the deferral account for the Point Lepreau nuclear plant refurbishment which was plagued by cost overruns amounting to a billion dollars. 

An economist who specialises in energy, Kurt Strunk charges there are a number of violations with NB Power ignoring its own guidelines in the number crunching.

On the other hand, Deloitte and Touche, testified that, based on the samples reviewed, NB Power's costs in reference to the deferral account are accurately recorded. 

NB Power raised questions about Strunk's expertise and denied his charges.

Rothesay Will Compare Water Hook Up Fees To Other Cities

The Town of Rothesay will be doing a study comparing their water hook up fees to 6 other maritime cities, after one Councillor feels the town's fees are too steep.

Rothesay Councillor Peter Lewis tells CHSJ news people in the area pay a water hook up fee of $2,500 a year, while in Quispamsis it costs $750. Lewis says Rothesay could possibly be paying more since more service is provided and they're on town water.

The study will look at what other cities on town water are paying, with similar service and a comparable population size.

Province and Nurses Reach Deal

A tentative collective agreement has been hammered out between the province and the New Brunswick Nurses Union representing 6 thousand registered nurses in hospitals, public health, community health nurses and the extra-mural program.

There will be no details released, however, until a ratification vote is held by the nurses.


Street Closure Causes Debate In Rothesay

Rothesay Council will re-look at by-law to close Pine Street, after a lawyer says the process to close the street was flawed and it's closure would affect a business.

Lawyer John MacGillivray telling Council the original notice to close the street, which is just off Salmon Crescent,  only referred to a third of the whole area. He says many trucks and employees of a warehouse for King Lawn Service use the street, and closing it would interfere with business. Two out of three homeowners surrounding the street also oppose it's closure.

Mayor Bill Bishop admits there was a mistake when the public notice was sent out, saying it only referred to half of the street being closed. Bishop says since people are concerned, they'll go back and re-visit it.

The reason why the street is facing closure is because Robert Bourque owns a small home adjacent to it. Bourque tells CHSJ news when he bought the property the previous owner says the driveway they were using was actually a road owned by the city. Bourque says if the small street was closed, he could buy the city land and build a permanent driveway and garage for his home.

Less than half of the street is developed.