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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Record Breaking Temps in Freddy Beach

If you didn't look at the calendar you would think it was Spring today with very mild temperatures.

In Fredericton, the mercury breaking a record from 1995 reaching 19 degrees downtown while at the Saint John Airport we reached 7.8 degrees.

Environment Canada's Tracey Talbot tells CHSJ News the warm air is being brought up from the southern states and while it will leave us tonight and the temperature will drop, on the weekend we should see warm temperatures.

Pension Board Trustee Says It Was Not His Job To Slash Benefits

Pension board trustee David Gould putting the onus on Common Council for any changes needed to be made to put relief on the city's battered pension plan.

He was being cross-examined by defense lawyer Rod Gillis in the John Ferguson defamation trial.

Gould testified that removing indexing or early retirement packages would need legislative changes and council should have pursued those.  He says it was not a pension trustees job to reduce the benefits of recipients or make changes to the act.

But Gillis countered whenever motions were made by Gould, it would be to increase benefits. 

He says Gould never made recommendations to council on ways to save the floundering pension, such as removing indexing or the rule of 85 as recommended in a financial report.

Gillis also asked Gould about a statement he made during a meeting, "If you can get a bigger bang for your buck when you're not working, then go for it.  It's human nature."

Gould says he meant the remark in the context of looking out for the best interest of an employee and their family.

He also denies being John Ferguson's source of alleged wrongdoing by the board.

City manager Pat Woods will be testifying Friday morning.

Last Potash Car Is Lifted Up

The last potash car tipped over in Tuesday's early morning derailment is back on the track.

Several cars loaded with potash heading from the terminal along the track behind the causeway derailed and some tipped over spilling about 50 tonnes on potash.

No one was hurt and there is no environmental damage.

Coupon Lady Hosts First Saint John Class Saturday

Moncton's Coupon Lady is offering her first class in how you can save 50 to 75 per cent off your weekly grocery bill.

She says it's easy with sales and coupons to buy items like shampoo and deodorant for under a dollar by shopping strategically.

Ruth Ann Swansburg tells CHSJ news it all started after she began sharing coupons on a Facebook page with her friends last August.

She says she invited 21 people to her page and its now grown to 8000.
The class is being held at Silver Falls United Church on Saturday from 1-4pm.
The cost is $10 per person.  

For more info, email

Income Tax Help Avaiable For Low Income Earners

Low-income earners with a straight-forward tax situation can get some free help from the Canada Revenue Agency.

The CRA is hosting free clinics in the port city to help you file your returns properly.

Spokesperson Nathalie Poirier tells CHSJ News not everybody can afford to have their taxes professionally done.  She says it's intended to level the playing field.

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She adds the service is a national program and 51-thousand returns were filled out last year in Atlantic Canada alone.

For clinic times, eligibility, and locations, click here.

Housing Starts Plummet Last Month

February is going down in the books as an extremely slow month for new home starts in the greater Saint John area.
Canada Mortgage and Housing reports only 4-new units were started in February -- down 77-percent from the same month a year ago.
However - when you add January's new starts - new home activity is just slightly ahead of the first two months of last year.
By comparison -- new home construction this year is also trailing last year's starts in Fredericton while Moncton's activity is running ahead of last year.

Lawyer Tells Judge City Officials Are Behind Defamation Lawsuit

The lawyer for former Councillor John Ferguson is suggesting city officials are behind the Pension Board's defamation lawsuit.

Rod Gillis is going over each of Ferguson's statements asking Pension Board trustee Fred Slipp which words were defamatory.

Slipp admitted Ferguson's criticism of the early retirement programme and the the workplace culture was not directed at the Pension Board.

Slipp also conceded it's permissible for members of Common Council to criticise city staff and agreed with Gillis there appeared to be a conflict between Ferguson and City Solicitor John Nugent, who's also a member of the pension board.

The defamation trial of former Common Councillor John Ferguson has been told if the city's pension plan were wrapped up, it would cost the city close to 400 million dollars.

Family Forced Out Of Home

A house fire on Route 111 yesterday afternoon forcing a family to find somewhere else to stay for the night. 

The Simonds Fire Department letting us know when fire crews arrived there was heavy smoke being emitted from the basement area.  

The fire started in the clothes dryer and caused extensive smoke and water damage to the home itself. 

Drivers Finally Getting A Price Break

For the first time in a long while drivers are getting some good news when it comes to gas prices

The price of self serve regular is down by more than 2 cents a litre at $1.31.4 in the city. 

Diesel has fallen by almost 3 cents to $1.38 a litre. 

Heating oil declining even more by over than 3 cents to $1.22.3 while propane is a bit more expensive at $1.02.1 a litre.

Resumption Of Bargaining In Bus Lockout

It looks like there will be a resumption of negotiations to end the Acadian Coach Lines lockout which began back on December 2nd. 

The company and Local 1229 of the Amalgamated Transit Union are expected to be back bargaining on April 29th. 

Union President Glen Carr is pleased there could be light at the end of the tunnel but adds he would have preferred to see the negotiations start earlier.

The lockout has shut down inter-city bus service in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

Local Real Estate Market More Stable

With spring just around the corner - a lot of people are thinking about buying or selling houses -- and -- a top real estate official is predicting a relatively stable market this year.
Greater Saint John Real Estate Board president Jason Stephen says after last year's roller coaster market -- things have settled down with interest rates remaining low and prices stabilizing - but - the inventory of homes on the market remains high.
So Stephen says that leaves the market tipped slightly in favour of buyers.
And he says the large inventory of homes for sale means it's taking longer to sell homes -- now an average of 120-days compared to between 60 to 90-days in the past.