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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cheap, Fun And Uncensored: Fringe Fest Hits Port City

It's official: Saint Johners will be joining the lunatic fringe this summer.

Festival co-chairs Dr.Sandra Bell and Pauline Cronin announced today that the first-ever Fundy Fringe Festival is scheduled for August 21-25. The independent theatre festival is one of 23 of its kind in North America, promising cheap, fun, and experimental acts with no censorship or jury process.

Dr. Bell tells CHSJ News Fundy Fringe will be a laid back event with the express mandate of keeping theater fun and accessible to all. The shows will be happening at various locations and time slots around the city, allowing fringe-goers to easily take in multiple performances in a single day.

Local businesses and community partners on board with the festival include the Imperial, Interaction Children's Theatre, Market Square, the NB Museum, and the SJTC. Check out the Fundy Fringe Festival on Facebook here

Finance Minister Wants To Reduce Sick Time

Provincial Finance Minister Blaine Higgs is looking for ways to increase government revenue and cut spending in a two pronged approached to attacking the deficit. He also wants to deal with what he sees as too much absenteeism among provincial employees.

Higgs standing firm on the three day waiting period before worker's compensation kicks in despite getting some flak at his pre-budget consultations.

He says an analysis of the absenteeism which occurs just before retirement or vacations indicates there is a real problem with the system being milked.

Higgs points out those people who have legitimate reasons to be off work suffer because of the abusers.

Saint John Documentary Film Made On Poverty And Homelessness

Against all odds is what reducing poverty and getting the homeless off the streets can feel at times.

The Saint John Human Development Council is releasing a documentary film on the efforts being made to do just that. The film is entitled "From the Front Lines".

The Human Development Council's Randy Hatfield tells CHSJ News a rising tide isn't lifting all boats with the number of people using the North End food bank, for instanc, on the rise. He calls it a story of resilience, determination, sacrifice and strength.
  If you want to see the film, it will be shown tomorrow at noonhour in the theatre at the museum in Market Square.

Alzheimer's Cafe Providing Support & Care For A Year

People struggling with Alzheimer's disease and their loved ones have been finding comfort in a monthly cafe for over a year now. The event offers a guest speaker including doctors, snacks, music and fellowship and is held on the last Sunday of the month at St. Mark's church on Dexter Drive in West Saint John.

Jamie Matthews, Regional Co-ordinator for the Saint John chapter, tells CHSJ News those with Alzheimer's disease benefit along with their loved ones.

He says the goal is to get people talking and to clarify the misconceptions about dementia adding it's not something people should be ashamed of.

It's Alzheimer's Awareness Month and the theme is "See Me Not My Disease, Let's Talk about Dementia".

For more info, click  here  and here

No Squatters In Empty Building, According To Fire

Fire officials don't believe there were any squatters living in the vacant building on Mecklenburg the morning it caught on fire.

Divisional Chief for Fire Prevention Mark Wilson says fire crews had to force their way into the building when they arrived on scene, meaning the building was locked and secured at the start of the blaze. Wilson says he can't speak for whether or not squatters had been there before.

Wilson adds fire crews regularly check vacant buildings to make check they're secure. If they're not, it's up to the owner to make sure the building is safe.

Investigators are still trying to determine a cause, which Wilson describes as "putting together a large puzzle."

Shooting Suspect Surrounded By Police In Home

There was an early morning shooting in Fredericton and a home in New Maryland is surrounded.

Police were called to the Lincoln Heights neighbourhood around 2 this morning and there, they found a woman suffering from a gunshot wound. She was rushed to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital to undergo surgery.

The RCMP have had the home surrounded now for several hours with a suspect inside.

Sex Workers 2-3 Times More Likely To Die On The Job Than Police

Police Chief Bill Reid and AIDS Saint John are urging a progressive, compassionate approach to the city's sex workers.

In a presentation to common council the police chief spoke to the potential benefits of mobile methadone and better access to affordable housing. Dr Leslie Jeffery says Saint John's sex workers are in dire straits, accepting risk to life and limb and hazardous working conditions because they have no better options.

Outreach worker Catherine Belliveau says anyone who believes sex workers are being coddled by the system should come down to their office and look at the reality for themselves. She and AIDS SJ Chair Dr Leslie Jeffery pointed out sex workers are 2 to 3 times more likely to be killed on the job as police or taxi drivers--and Saint John isn't exempt with 12 reported assaults in the past year.

 A report by the city's police commission determined it would be both unlawful and unethical to penalize sex workers for jaywalking, as suggested in a motion several months ago by Common Councillor Susan Fullerton.

Fire Chief Says Mecklenburg Building Was On Their Radar

Lots of questions are being raised about who's responsible for the city's vacant buildings after a major weekend fire at an empty residence on Mecklenburg Street.

Fire Chief Kevin Clifford tells CHSJ News fire officials were long aware of the building and were in talks with the owner to get it renovated. 

Further, the fire chief says owner had taken steps to board up and secure the building, so if anyone had managed to sneak in there they would have had to work hard to do it. 

The fire in the wee hours of Sunday leveled two large buildings and endangered a number of others. A total of 23 people were displaced from their homes. 

Photo credit: Peter Jossleyn

Marijuana Grow Op Discovered In Saint John

City Police arresting two women and two men after discovering a marijuana grow op on Wright Street.

A joint search between City Police, Rothesay Regional Police and the RCMP dismantled the drug operation yesterday afternoon. Three people in their twenties and a man in his late fifty's are facing charges for producing marijuana.

One of the men is also facing a charge of production of hashish. All four have been released and are scheduled to appear in Provincial court on April 9th.

23, Not 16 People Effected By Fire

More people than previously thought being affected by the Mecklenburg fire.

The Canadian Red Cross says instead of 16 people, 23 have been displaced from buildings either destroyed or damaged from Sunday's fire.

The additional 7 people includes a family of 5 from one of the destroyed buildings and a couple from one that was damaged by smoke and water. The Red Cross says the 7 stayed with relatives without registering with other evacuees with the Red Cross.

The major fire Sunday morning destroyed buildings at 72 and 74 Mecklenburg street, and badly damaged another. The dilapidated buildings are in the process of being torn down. No word yet on a cause.

Town Hall Meeting Held To Oppose The Harper Government

Those people unhappy with what they call the Harper Conservative agenda turning out last night for a town hall meeting in the Arts Centre at Peel Plaza that was held, in part, by the Idle No More protests that have been happening. 

The President of the Saint John and District Labour Council Ron Oldfield tells CHSJ News he's unhappy with the changes made to Employment Insurance which neither employers nor workers, who fund the programme, were pressing for.

Stephanie Merrill of C-C-N-B Action accuses the Harper Government of tearing apart laws that protect the fisheries and water in a matter of months.    

Rob Moir, who came in second for the NDP in Saint John during the last federal election, says we're seeing the gap widening between the Uber rich and the rest of us along with the dismantling of environmental laws.

North End Raid

A raid carried out on Jack Street

City Police telling CHSJ news they seized stolen property including lots of electronics along with a gun. 

Five people have been arrested.

Common Council Approves Funding For Big Projects

Saint John will benefit from investments in roads, a new fire truck and the North End Community Center this year.

Common Council has passed the 2013 capital budget which it says was drafted with the expressed mandate of giving the taxpayers what they wanted as priorities.

Mayor Mel Norton says council has worked hard to keep its eye on the big prize which is clean drinking water.

Only $8.5 million dollars of the $20.1 million in the budget are from outside contributions and they're looking to keep new debt in the range of $11 million.

City Manager Pat Woods blames the allotment of less money to some areas to global and local economic conditions which had a major effect on how much there was to go around.