Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Infrastructure renewal planning starts
(excerpts from article published by The Daily Gleaner, August 31/10)

Money to be put toward facility upgrades

Fredericton city councillors have struck a policy on how to start grappling with repair and regular replacement of capital infrastructure between now and 2030.

At their first budget planning session Monday night, councillors voted to continue with their 20-year plan to repair and upgrade 90 per cent of the city's facilities and services and spend 10 per cent on new projects based on an annual five per cent increase in the capital budget.

In 2010, the city decided to increase its capital spending by four per cent to start renewing existing services. Deputy mayor Dan Keenan and Coun. Jordan Graham voted against committing to a fixed annual increase and a fixed division of how the capital dollars will be spent.

Finance and administration committee chairman Coun. Mike O'Brien wasn't surprised at the early dissent on the policy statement, saying the topic is likely going to resurface between now and the final 2011 budget document in mid-December.
Across Canada, the nation's 4,000 municipal governments are realizing that they can't continue to spend only on new roads, streets and services, without setting aside adequate funds to do capital repairs to existing systems.

Acting city treasurer Tina Tapley showed councillors how the figures change based on a lower contribution. If the city sets aside four per cent in extra capital spending over and above increases in the consumer price index, instead of five per cent annually, the city will still have about $50 million in infrastructure upgrades to be done in 2030. At five per cent, the infrastructure deficit would be $12.5 million.

O'Brien is comfortable with the city striking a reasonably aggressive approach to ensuring that the investment of taxpayers in existing infrastructure is maintained. The finance committee chairman said rather than tax hikes, part of the budget process is going to look at efficiencies, reduced service levels in some areas, and trimming budgets in order to hold the tax levels.

"You just don't cut willy-nilly. If you're going to try to find savings, you have to reduce a service and an expenditure that's sustainable. A one-time cut of $1 million doesn't do you any good," he said. "When the mayor and I have talked about a tough budget process, this is what we're talking about.''

Twenty years ago, council opted to eliminate the city's long-term debt and incorporate capital spending into the general fund budget, which has been dubbed pay-as-you-go. But O'Brien said by focusing so much on eliminating debt, the trade-off was that councils over the past 10 years weren't as focused on renewing and repairing the inventory of pipes in the ground, streets, curbs and sidewalks.

"It's up to us to take a tough policy stand to complete the capital projects that we're in the midst of because we're of the unanimous opinion that it was essential to grow the city," O'Brien said. "We have to make that same tough policy decision that council did 20 year ago to make our infrastructure sustainable."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Building record may be smashed
Hot year $80.7 million in building so far this year

(excerpts from article posted in the Daily Gleaner on August 25/10)

Fredericton is having another scorching construction year with $80.7 million in building racked up to the midway point of the year. If the pace continues, the city could be looking at shattering its 2006 record when total building for the year hit $132.4 million.

Construction is balanced across all sectors - residential, commercial, government and institutional. Development is very much in accordance with the municipal plan and that reflects a high degree of certainty.

A mild winter that allowed developers a good jump on the 2010 construction season has helped to get a lot of the building permits into the hopper early. Projects on the books now will also keep the city humming through the end of the year and into 2011,.

The value of residential construction in the capital city between January and June is short of the $30-million mark by $200,000. That again outpaced the 2006 numbers.

Commercial construction in Fredericton was worth $25.8 million, again a peak figure when measured against the same time period for prior years.
Multiple-unit starts were down from 2009 when 171 units were built. So far this year, 141 multiple units have been built.
Seventy-five single family homes have been constructed during the first half of the year, on par with 2009. The average permit value of a new single detached home is hovering at $172,000.

Some of the major construction projects anticipated into the latter half of this year and into 2011 include:
* 46 single detached homes in Phase 5 of Brookside West.
* 43 residential units, eight townhouses and one apartment development in the second and third phase of North Brook Subdivision off Brookside Drive.
* A 40-unit apartment building, 30 townhouses and four semi-detached units in Rainsford Gardens off Sarah's Lane.
* 80 townhouse units at 850 Kimble Dr.
* 48 residential lots in the first phase of The Meadows at Neill Farm.

Major projects planned in the commercial sector include continued expansion of Corbett Centre retail development atop Regent Street and another building at Knowledge Park.

The construction of a downtown hotel has also been approved. Other major projects that are ongoing include the Currie Center at UNB, the Shannex Senior Living Complex, the second phase of the YMCA, continued expansion and renovation of York Manor and the Grant * Harvey sports centre.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Padres' Stairs sets record for most pinch-hit homers
(as posted by CBC News, August 22/10)

San Diego's Matt Stairs, of Fredericton, holds the most pinch-hit home runs in big league baseball history. Matt Stairs hit his 21st homer as a pinch-hitter Saturday, the most in the history of Major League Baseball.
The Fredericton native connected on a two-run shot in the eighth inning of the San Diego Padres' 6-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, passing Cliff Johnson for most career pinch-hit homers.

Padres manager Bud Black said the record is very special. He called the pinch-hitter role one of the most difficult in baseball.

Stairs has 262 home runs in a career that began with the Montreal Expos in 1992. His most famous homer as a pinch-hitter came with two outs in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 2008 National League championship series. His two-run drive lifted the Phillies to a 7-5 victory over the Dodgers.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Councillor Mike O'Brien Explains Open Budget Process on CBC Radio

This is the CBC Radio Fredericton Information Morning 99.5 podcast from August 16, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

N.S. man so impressed by trail, he says he wants to move to city
(excerpts from article published in The Daily Gleaner, August 17/10)

Roddy Wall of Dartmouth is so impressed with Fredericton's walking trail system, he and his wife Marilyn are prepared to put the for sale sign on their Nova Scotia home and move to the capital city.

"I've never seen anything like this. It's fantastic. We have nothing like this in Nova Scotia," Wall said after spending the past three weeks running the paths on a scooter. Even the trails in the city that aren't paved are in great shape, he said.

Wall and his wife are visiting relatives Scott and Wendy Clair in Marysville and what was supposed to be a short weekend reunion has turned into an extended stay. Wall had a massive heart attack in 1994 after undergoing a major bypass operation that was complicated by a stroke. That affected his equilibrium, walking and vision. "It just left me literally in bed; I was housebound," he said.

"The trail gives the disabled accessibility to the city. These trails got me up, got me out, got me going. If I want to go shopping by myself in my scooter anywhere in the city, that's far beyond my imagination back in Nova Scotia."

The trail isn't the only thing that impressed Wall. "The people I've met are just out of this world," he said. "I'm looking for a place up here in Fredericton. We are planning on moving up here ... I want to get up here and enjoy these trails while I can."

To read the entire article, click on http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/cityregion/article/1179032

Friday, August 13, 2010

NB Day Merit Award Presented to Louis & Roberta George

Photo of NB Day Merit AwardFredericton, NB (August 9, 2010) – Long time Downtown Fredericton merchants, Louis and Roberta George have been recognized with a 2010 NB Day Merit Award in the Business category for their years of service to the business community.

“The GE George store has been in Downtown Fredericton since 1916. Louis has run the store for almost 60 years and Roberta has helped since 1973,” said City of Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside. “That kind of commitment and dedication to business deserves recognition, especially as the Georges retire.”

“Quality service and support to others is exactly what the NB Day Merit Awards are intended to recognize,” said Hon. Rick Miles, Minister of Environment and MLA for Fredericton-Silverwood. “Over the years, Louis and Roberta have definitely contributed to the growth and development of Fredericton.”

Louis George was born on Oct. 17, 1930 in the apartment above his father’s dry goods store on Queen Street. He was the oldest son of George E. and Isabel George's seven children. His father, a Lebanese immigrant, opened the store in 1916 on the north side, moving it to its present location in 1926.

Louis learned how to run the store and buy inventory at his father’s side. He was 13 when he first sat down to negotiate a contract with a supplier. He took over the store in 1951 when he was 20 years old, after the death of his father.

Louis met Roberta Tims when he was 42. They married on September 1, 1973 and Roberta George started working at the store, helping with the books and other responsibilities. Louis credits her support with helping him keep the store running so long. Roberta is a long time supporter of the SPCA.

Louis often vouched for people hunting for jobs, lent a hand to local struggling merchants and helped less fortunate families. Donating food, clothing, footwear and even providing people with a place to live were things he did willingly without any expectations of something in return.

The George's Clothing and Footwear store closed for good on June 26, 2010. About $20,000 worth of unsold merchandise went to charity, with 1,800 pairs of shoes going to Haiti. Shoes also went to the Fredericton Anti-Poverty Organization and Salvation Army.

Pugh Appointed General Manager for Fredericton Convention Centre (August 13/10)

Photo of Cathy PughFredericton-native, Cathy Pugh has been appointed as the first General Manager of the new Fredericton Convention Centre. She comes to the position with over 20 years of experience in the Canadian hospitality industry. Pugh has been Director of Sales at the facility since May 2009 and has already assumed her new role.

“Cathy has a strong record of success with hotels, tourism marketing organizations and convention centres,” said Chris MacPherson, chair of the Fredericton Convention Centre board of directors. “The board believes her experience will be invaluable to the future success of the facility and is excited about her new role at the centre.”

“City Council is very pleased with the progress being made on the convention centre,” said Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside. “Cathy has done a great job booking business for the facility and we are pleased that she will now be taking on a greater role in its operation. This moves us one step closer to the official opening of the building.”

Pugh’s experience includes an extensive background in meetings and conventions sales as well as team management. She has a proven track record of success and is well known to both the industry and meeting professionals across the region, Canada and the U.S.

The Fredericton Convention Centre will feature a 12,500-square-foot ballroom that will accommodate up to 1,500 people. It will also have 7,400 square feet of flexible meeting space designed to accommodate breakout sessions, executive board meetings, and special events. The facility features state-of-the-art technology and complimentary wireless internet.

The convention centre will connect with the 700-seat Playhouse and is part of a major downtown development that includes a 150,000-square-foot office tower for Provincial Government offices and a parking garage. Planning is currently under way to construct a hotel next door. For information about booking an event at the Fredericton Convention Centre, contact Cathy Pugh, 506-999-0150 or visit www.frederictonconventions.ca.

Budget process to be open
(as published by the Daily Gleaner August 13/10)

No closed doors City says it's time for public to know what's behind decisions

Fredericton city council is planning to hold the majority of its budget preparation meetings in the public eye for the first time. "Our budget process is entirely open this year," said finance committee chairman Coun. Mike O'Brien. He said the only exceptions may be on legal issues.

"We just sat down collectively and said it's time to put it all out,'' he said.
"If the public sees all the debate and the issues that we have and the media has a chance to report on it and challenge us, I think people will come to the realization that there's a lot of consideration goes into the budget.''

The first council budget session will be Aug. 30. Acting city treasurer Tina Tapley will spend about an hour briefing council on the overview of the city's current financial status. "Then we'll discuss the upcoming budget schedule and set some dates and talk about the grant process and how we're going to go about it and then after that, we'll launch into the budget process a few weeks after that," O'Brien said.

Mayor Brad Woodside has already set the tone for this year's budget talks.
This week, when the city's public safety and environment committee recommended that consideration be given at budget time to expanding curbside recycling to apartment dwellers and condominium owners, Woodside endorsed the concept but with an important proviso - no extra spending. The mayor made it clear that if councillors want new programs or services, something will have to go or be reduced.

O'Brien is on the same page. "We've had a very aggressive capital campaign here in the past few years. We're going to complete those projects. "We have the means to do that and the ability to pay the deficit that's been incurred.''

He said costs have to be found within the funding structure. Everyone wants the streets swept clean in the spring, the snow removed promptly and other essential services maintained. "We want to be able to provide those as best we can, but it's all within the existing envelope," he said.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brookside Drive Condos get green light
(Excerpts from article published by the Daily Gleaner, August 10/10)

Brookside Drive-area residents lost out in their bid to block a 36-unit condominium development at 195 Brookside Dr. Despite a lengthy petition and 10 letters of concern to DRC Developments Ltd.'s application by the neighbourhood, the project was approved seven to two at Monday's night's regular city council meeting.

Coun. Bruce Grandy and Coun. Eric Megarity opposed developer Robert Colter's request to change R-2 single family residential to a higher density R-6 zone to permit the condominium development to be located in two three-storey buildings.

Grandy said Colter's plan was good because he was trying to offer a mix of housing types, but he added the transition between single-family homes on Rose Court and Brookside Drive is just too dramatic. "I think Mr. Colter's proposal is a sound and good one, but unfortunately because of where the R-6 units are, it doesn't transition well for me." Colter plans to develop 12 single-family housing lots on one corner of the vacant parcel of land he purchased at 195 Brookside Dr.

Megarity said when residents purchase property that's zoned for single family - and surrounded by other lands zoned for single family - council should respect that.

Coun. Mike O'Brien said the developer addressed concerns raised by residents. He's agreed to add more trees to the site and to consult a professional forester on protecting the tree buffer during construction.
O'Brien said Brookside Drive, which carries 8,000 cars daily, can easily handle another 340 cars from the condo units and 12 houses proposed by the builder.

"Our city is growing and we're running out of space for new development," O'Brien said. "We need this additional mix of housing type and affordable housing." O'Brien said if the city doesn't provide suitable housing for people, they'll move to outside the city. "The development meets the spirit and intent of the municipal plan," O'Brien said.

Coun. Tony Whalen said he has examples in his Skyline Acres ward of residential houses next door to apartment buildings with a smaller tree buffer than is being proposed for the Brookside Drive project. "With the buffer, it will fit very nicely in the neighbourhood," Whalen said.

Monday, August 09, 2010

People from as far away as Toronto came to Fredericton on Sunday to participate in the city's first pride parade.
(excerpt's from article published by the Daily Gleaner, August 09/10)

Maurine Doherty, who was celebrating her birthday, flew in just to march alongside the hundreds of other rainbow-clad participants from across the Maritimes. "I had to come when I heard Fredericton was finally getting to have their first march," she said. Doherty, who teaches human rights and diversity classes at Centennial College in Toronto, said the parade is a great way to celebrate politics and pride. "It's what I believe in," she said. "It's about being accepted as full participants in society, having acceptance, having rights and marching for those people who do not feel safe in their communities, whether it be in Canada or other parts of the world where you can still be put to death for being gay."

Leading the pack with a rainbow umbrella and sash was Allison Brewer, a founding member of Fredericton Lesbians and Gays, and a former leader of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party. "It's been a long time coming," she said as her wide-brimmed pink feather hat flapped in the wind. "Pride is finally here in a very open and public way."

About 250 people walked in the parade that followed the river from the Victoria Health Centre to Officers Square, and about another 100 were waiting to meet the proud marchers. As the group approached the square, people lining the pedway showed their support with cheers.

Debi Stidmore, an organizer with the Fredericton Pride Committee, said that was the moment that brought tears to her eyes. "I had no idea how good it was going to feel to see all those people standing there cheering us on," she said. "It means there are so many more people willing to stand out and say yes to love and diversity. It's beautiful."

She said the parade is about visibility. "There's a lot of diversity in Fredericton, but sometimes you don't see it and we assume that everybody is just like we are. This is a moment to come out and say we're all people, we're all valuable, we're all different and different is beautiful," Stidmore said.

Sarah McAdam, the pride liaison for the Fredericton Pride Committee, said she was in tears the entire march. "Having so many people coming out to support us, having so many contingencies in the parade, means the community is finally coming together and recognizing that people are people. "We weren't pushing for a parade as hard in previous years because the city wasn't ready, but this year the city was ready.

The parade and festival kicked off Pride Week events, which will resume today with the reading of the Proclamation of Pride at city hall.
Traffic roundabouts proposed for Fredericton
(as posted by CBC News, August 07/10)

Motorists in the capital city have already had some practice in circular driving because the city has three traffic circles. But the circles are meant to slow vehicles down rather than control their flow. To do that, the city should install the circles' larger cousins, roundabouts, Coun. Mike O'Brien said Friday.

He gained some experience with them during a recent vacation in Europe.
"I was a little timid the first time going through them, but after a couple of days they worked great," O'Brien said. "Traffic flowed smoothly."

Darren Charters, Fredericton's traffic engineer, is also a fan of roundabouts. He said they would improve the flow of traffic at major intersections in the city.

But, as O'Brien learned in Europe, drivers do need to be educated about how they work. Charters said educating drivers about how to properly use roundabouts would be part of the project.

"I've seen other cities, they have massive campaigns. They have information on their websites," he said. "It's just that people — especially in New Brunswick — aren't used to them." But Charters said roundabouts are fairly easy to use: "Yield on entry, and then proceed to the right around the intersection."

Charters said he will present some roundabout proposals to city council later this month.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Wayne Brown Named to Order of New Brunswick
(Posted August 2é10 by Communication NB)

Wayne Brown is a well known and widely respected leader who has worked diligently to improve the social and economic condition of his community, St. Mary’s First Nation.

In his role as the City of Fredericton’s Director of Sports, Recreation and Cultural Resources for St. Mary’s, Brown spearheaded efforts to develop the first-class sports facilities that assisted the community in securing the role as host of the 1994 Canadian Senior Women’s Softball Championships. It was the first time that a national softball tournament had ever been hosted in a Canadian First Nations community. He also chaired the 1983 and 1987 New Brunswick Indian Summer Games.

Brown shares his passion for sport with the youth of his community. With the benefit of his coaching many of those young people competed successfully on local, national and international levels.

As economic development officer for the St. Mary’s band, Brown’s efforts have supported his vision for a self-sufficient community. He successfully negotiated a tripartite tax agreement with the Province of New Brunswick that paved the way for the community to develop the St. Mary’s Entertainment Centre. Brown went on to manage the planning and construction of the facility and it now employs 134 people.

Brown is a member of the International Softball Federation Hall of Fame, the Softball Canada Hall of Fame, the Softball New Brunswick Hall of Fame, and the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame.

Wayne Brown is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his efforts to strengthen the social fabric and economic position of his community through sport, infrastructure development and the mentorship of up and coming leaders