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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tough Calls At City Hall

It's not going to be easy, but it has to be done. 

Common council is giving all city departments a year's notice they should be looking at one of two scenarios: budgets frozen at a 2014 level, or only a 2% increase.

City Manager Pat Woods explains it's a review of both internal and external operations, and it's going to be a strenuous but much-needed process.

Mayor Mel Norton says he's seen in the past what kind of damage hasty cuts can do--which is why they're starting this now.

Wooods says of course reality is going to get in the way in some cases, but the city has a limited capacity and all the agencies have to work to make services sustainable.

Resident Furious Over Mail Delays

An East Saint John resident claims his mail service seemed to have simply stopped last Friday.

Walter Peterson lives on a rural road out by the Community College, and he says he's filed a number of complaints with the federal government and his local MP but hasn't yet gotten a response.

Peterson says he's had to drive to the Post Office to get his mail--but he only knew to do that because a neighbour told him.

Meantime, a representative for MP Rodney Weston's office tells CHSJ News it's their policy to forward complaints like this to the proper branch of Canada Post, with the person's consent, and then it's up to Canada Post to deal with it.

Muncipalities And Local Service Districts Don't Trust Each Other

As the city looks at budget cuts next year, Quispamsis Councillor Emil Olsen believes more communities outside Saint John should help pay for regional facilities in the city such as Harbour Station, the Aquatic Centre and Imperial Theatre. 

The Executive Director of the Fundy Regional Service Commission Jack Keir tells CHSJ News there's a lack of trust between the local service districts and the municipalities. He's hoping that will dissipate over time.

Keir goes on to say the local service districts believe municipalities spend money like drunken sailors. On the other hand, the municipalities think the local service districts don't pay their fair share.

Road To Partridge Island Seen As Financial Folly

Doubt has been raised whether you would be able to maintain a road from the mainland to Partridge Island for any length of time before it washes away after being battered by storms. 

Former Fundy Baykeeper David Thompson warns having a road could be an expensive proposition because of the waves which can be ferocious during storms and that would necessitate a lot of maintenance on a regular basis to keep a road intact.

Thompson tells CHSJ News a better and less expensive idea would be a floating wharf that could be stored away during the winter.

McGuire Seeks Liberal Nom As Well

The race is represent the Liberals in Saint John Lancaster is heating up.

You can add Peter McGuire's name to the list of candidates seeking the nomination.

The former councillor has called the West side home for over 30 years.

Campaign chair Al Bodechon says the riding needs an MLA with experience for the community to grow adding McGuire's track record will drive the community forward.

Two other people are running for the nomination along with McGuire...former Mayor Ivan Court and realtor Don Ketchum.

A date has not been set for the Saint John Lancaster Liberal nomination meeting.

Program Builds Strong Women Of Tomorrow

If you know a girl age 11 to 14 who needs an extra hand building her self-esteem, getting active, or healthy eating, there's a program that could be perfect for her.

Go Girls! is hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters, and aims to help young girls face the tough issues by matching them with mentors and peers in a supportive environment. The program has been awarded an extra $5000 from the Goodlife Spin 4 Kids Contest.

Go Girls Co-ordinator Bliss Roberts tells CHSJ News they're going to put that to good use by starting a day camp this summer, where girls will get out both into nature and in the community.

 The program is currently running at schools and community centers throughout the city. Girls can sign up for the next Go Girls group which starts in September. For a link to more info click here

Homeless Vets In Province Getting Help

A new programme officially launched by the Royal Canadian Legion's New Brunswick Command to help get homeless vets off the streets called "Operation Leave the Streets Behind".

Provincial president Rick Love says the program has already helped six veterans in the province. They range in age from 76 to 27 and three other cases are being worked on.

The veterans get help with rent, food vouchers and medical assistance paid for by the Legion's poppy programme.

Drivers Getting A Price Break

For the first time in a long while, gas prices have gone down after the weekly setting. 

The maximum price of self serve regular decreasing by a cent and a half a litre. It's selling in the city this morning for $1.35.3 a litre. 

The maximum price for diesel is 2.4 cents a litre lower and it's now going for $1.52.4 a litre around town.

Heating oil is lower as well with a maximum price of $1.33.3 and there's been a big drop in the price of propane by more than 9 cents a litre to a maximum of $1.40.1.

Dramatic Testimony On First Day Of Obstruction Trial

The first day of the trial of Peter Andrews, a senior official in the Provincial Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries, for obstruction of justice getting off to a bang. 

Former Mountie and Fisheries Officer Gaetan Germain testified he was told to go ahead with a charge under the Aquaculture Act against the brother of Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud. But then later, he was told, in an email from his supervisor, not to proceed with the charge after a high level meeting involving the Minister and Deputy Minister. 

Robichaud has denied accusations by the opposition Liberals of interfering with the investigation after they received an anonymous letter which was given to the RCMP. A charge was eventually laid with Robichaud's brother pleading guilty and paying a fine.