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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Elimination of Tolls Closer To Reality

 A bill to clear the way for the removal of the Harbour Bridge tolls is slowly inching its way through the Legislature. 

The Bill which will abolish the Harbour Bridge Authority has cleared second reading and goes to committee of the whole today and Opposition leader Victor Boudreau is promising to continue pressing for answers about the federal commitment to things like the estimated 150-million dollar cost of ongoing upgrades and maintenance.

The Alward government is accusing the LIberals of playing politics with the Bill -- the government needs the Bill to clear third and final reading by Thursday to meet the promised March 31st deadline for removal of the tolls.

Harbour Bridge Debate Underway In Legislature

The Alward government is mounting an attack against the Opposition Liberals over what they say are efforts to stall the necessary legislation clearing the way to remove the Harbour Bridge tolls.

Saint John Harbour M-L-A Carl Killen fired the first shot in the Legislature this afternoon saying the Liberals are denying the people of Saint John the same rights as other New Brunswick residents who travel other bridges in the province without having to pay tolls.

Opposition leader Victor Boudreau is currently defending his party's quest for details of the agreement with Ottawa.

Protest Planned Tomorrow For Women's Group

A peaceful protest is being planned for tomorrow afternoon from 4:30pm to 5:30pm in front of Moncton City Hall in support of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women.  The protest is being organized by concerned New Brunswick women

The Alward government is eliminating the agency in an effort to cut costs.

Co-organizer Megan Russell tells CHSJ News she wants the government to reverse their decision as women in the province will be losing their voice on many issues.

The Advisory Council is slated to be disbanded on April 1st.

BCAPI Will Formalize Ideas From Today's Housing Discussion

"Taking Ownership of Our Priority Neighbourhoods" the theme of today's discussion featuring Michel Labbe of Options for Homes.
The Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative hosting the event at UNB Saint John's Grand Hall.
Monica Chaperlin says everything starts with a discussion.

She says BCAPI's housing working group and the other participants will take a look at any ideas coming from the event and she adds if they need to formalize any of the information to make it work they will do that.

Chaperlin adds the priority neighbourhoods are calling out for more home ownership because it serves as an anchor.

Business As Usual For Harbour Bridge Commissionaires

The Chair of the Harbour Bridge Authority Bob McDevitt says until the bill to abolish the Bridge Authority is passed in the Legislature, the commissionaires will keep working.

Bob McDevitt tells CHSJ News their final day of work is still up in the air. 

He believes if there is a delay in passing the bill by March 31st, it will only be for a few days.

Options For Homes CEO Speaks To Saint John Business Group

The founder of Option for Homes speaking to Saint John crowd on his model for building housing for low to moderate income famillies.
CEO Michel Labbe says he expects the scale of a project here would be scattered.

He says the opportunities are all over the place but they are not all in one place but he says in Saint John everything is small and scattered and that is what people are used to.

Labbe says the people who are buying condos or homes in the other centres tend to be first time homebuyers, single women and seniors.

To learn more on Options for Homes, click here

Debate Resumes This Afternoon On Harbour Bridge Bill

Debate is set to resume this afternoon in the Legislature on second reading of a bill needed for the removal of the tolls from the Harbour Bridge.
The bill will abolish the Harbour Bridge Authority clearing the way for elimination of the tolls by midnight Thursday.
But it's bogged down in debate with the opposition Liberals demanding proof that Ottawa is still onboard for it's share of the 40-million dollar deal.    Premier Alward says the federal election won't hinder the deal -- and -- he says the only thing holding up removal of the tolls at midnight Thursday is the Opposition.

While the squabbling continues over when the tolls will be removed from the Harbour Bridge, the provincial government will soon have ownership and that means being responsible for the upkeep. There's still alot of work to be done this summer and Premier David Alward says it will be full steam ahead.
Alward says he has no worries about the province being stuck with the Harbour Bridge debt should there be a change of government in Ottawa after the federal election.

Future Of Rockwood Park On Hold

Common Council's move to protect Rockwood Park from future development has taken a strange and technical turn.

With Councillors Gary Sullivan and Joe Mott absent from last night's meeting, Councillor Chris Titus' lone dissenting vote was enough to prevent Council from passing a recommendation that would essentially prevent non-park related development.

Titus says he would not support the process because there was no public hearing and the decision was made on the basis of emails that were received by members of Council.

The recommendation needed two-thirds of council's support in order to move forward. Council decided to table the recommendation and will vote when all councillors are present.