Thursday, February 17, 2011

City history comes alive on Facebook
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, February 17/11)

Want Facebook friends? Talk history. That's what Juan Estepa, manager of heritage and cultural affairs for the city, has learned.

Estepa has gone to the social-media site in partnership with York Sunbury Historical Society to start unrolling information about Fredericton's Local Historic Places Register and to upload some of the society and city's collections of historic postcards.

"We've had 5,000 views just on the historic postcards, and that's just a fraction of the information. We've hit a very positive nerve with the public," Estepa told the city's development committee Tuesday. "Because of this partnership, it's driving visitors to the Fredericton Region Museum, formerly known as the York Sunbury Museum (in Officers Square). They've experienced a substantial increase to their blog and increasing visits to the museum."

Given the successful dabbling with Facebook, Estepa said he's hoping to post more data, including information about studies underway on historic neighbourhoods in the city.
Estepa is working on a heritage preservation area study of the St. Mary's neighbourhood and on the former downtown industrial area surrounding the former railway lands.
That section of the city was historically known as Rabbit Town for the large working-class families who eked out a living working in what was once the city's industrial centre.

"We've got years' worth of content, but if we release it all at once, it's too much for people to absorb," Estepa said. Releasing information bit by bit keeps friends and fans coming back for more, he said.

The Facebook page is called Fredericton Local Historic Places Register.
Green Shops Gold Medals Presented To Five City Businesses

(February 14, 2011) – Five city businesses were honoured by Mayor Brad Woodside today for achieving the highest level of certification in Fredericton’s Green Shops program.

“I am very pleased to see businesses in our city are continuing to embrace environmental sustainability,” said Mayor Woodside as he presented the gold medals. “Not only can businesses realize financial benefits by going green but they are also motivated by moral and ethical reasons.”

Avalon Spa is owned and operated by Peggy and Terry Jewett. The company has drastically reduced its environmental impact by converting to natural gas and by using high-efficiency washers and water heaters to conserve both energy and water. The company also implemented waste reduction and recycling initiatives for the staff and uses environmentally friendly products in all of its salons.

Computers for Schools collects, repairs and refurbishes donated and surplus computers from government and private sector sources and distributes them to schools, public libraries and not-for-profit learning organizations. It currently diverts in excess of 113,000 computers from landfills each year. Sandra Abbott and Roy Crawford accepted the award from Mayor Woodside.

Maritime Carpet One sells products made from recycled materials and sustainable resources, including leather flooring made from scraps that would normally end up in the trash can. The company also sells flooring made from bamboo, cork, and hardwood as well as carpets that are made from corn sugar instead of petroleum. The company has also greened its fleet by using Fuzo, a low emission cube van.

KPMG is one of the largest audit, tax and advisory services throughout the province. KPMG staff are very environmentally conscious and every effort is made to not waste paper. The employees recycle old office furniture and the company has installed a more efficient lighting system in its building. Linda Hutchins accepted the award for KPMG.

Located in downtown Fredericton, Norah Davidson Wright’s law office has lots of unique characteristics and natural light. Both Ms. Davidson Wright and her assistant, Heather Cleveland, are very conscious of being green. There is evidence of this everywhere in her office - china mugs by the coffee maker, the office interiors are decorated with antiques, note pads of recycled paper, and post it notes that they reuse.

Green Shops was created by the City of Fredericton three years ago as a way to encourage the business community to embrace environmental sustainability. It has evolved into a Community Partnership between the City, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Fredericton Inc., and Business Fredericton North. Coordinated by Suzie Lowthers, the program has more than 70 member businesses.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fredericton on the road to reducing GHG emissions
(as posted in The New Brunswick Beacon (St. Thomas University Journalism) on February 10/11)

Cities across the country are calling Fredericton a national leader. The city is the fourth out of over 200 to take the final step to reducing the type of pollution that traps heat in our atmosphere. To view Alyssa Mosher's vidoe, please click on the following link:

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Golf course the priority - Hill Bros.
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, February 09/11)

A meeting is being held for West Hills residents to talk about the completion of Rebel Ridge Golf Course. The session has been set for 7 p.m. at Killarney Lake Lodge on Feb. 23. Homeowners will be able to ask questions about the plan to develop the course this spring and about additional plans for a condominium-style building on property between the golf course and Brookside Drive.

Hill Bros. has sent a written notice to all residents of West Hills that title to the golf course lands has been reclaimed from the Business Development Bank of Canada which foreclosed on the property and purchased it for $1 million in April.

Hill Bros. is a local real estate development, apartment rental, home building and commercial leasing firm. It developed the West Hills housing project off Brookside Drive with the intention of having a signature 18-hole golf course available to residents.

As the subdivision progressed, the golf course design and construction ran into roadblocks. The course was supposed to be finished in 2007, but only part of the greens were completed and a clubhouse was never built. Fairways Design and Holdings Inc. and Rebel Ridge Golf Club Ltd., and its principal David Loten, ran into financial difficulty with the project prompting the foreclosure.

Darren Hill, vice-president of Hill Bros., said a group of investors led by Chippins Ltd., Heron Heights Ltd. and Hill Bros. has now been formed with the intention of completing the golf course. A couple of additional investors may be folded into the group. West Hills Development will own the shares of West Hills Golf in order to complete the 18-hole course.

Hill said in order to raise the capital needed to finish the public golf course, it will be necessary to develop condominiums. "We identified some surplus land which is adjacent to our existing Hill Bros. land on Brookside, so we combined it and that's what we're proposing. So we want the residents' input because some of it is going to be high density and we don't want to surprise people. We want to get their input."

Residents of single-family housing will be buffered from the proposed apartment-style condos. Between their homes and Brookside Drive, the developer will introduce low-density, garden-style homes with medium-density development bordering Brookside Drive. Hill said current and future residents of West Hills are welcome. Golfers are also invited to attend the building as the company gathers opinion through informal and open discussions.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

City Hall Restoration Project Will Continue This Summer
Fredericton (February 7, 2011) – Work on a $1.5-million project to conserve and restore Fredericton’s 135-year-old City Hall building is expected to resume later this year.

The City received a report in June 2009 that outlined the scope and cost for the work needed to repair the Maritime’s oldest City Hall still in continuous use. The work will include joint reinforcing, masonry repair, below grade excavations and waterproofing as well as foundation wall stabilization, restoration of the exterior windows millwork and repairs to roof drainage.

In September 2010, City Council began the process by awarding an $86,252 contract to Jones Masonry Ltd. The company worked throughout the fall of 2010 to address the deterioration of the building’s brick and sandstone masonry, primarily on the river side of the building.

Council has applied for matching federal government funding through Parks Canada’s National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program and, if its application is accepted, the City will be able to complete the restoration in three years instead of four. A decision on the City’s application is expected in April.

The City is currently preparing a scope-of-work document that will allow interested contractors who specialize in historic masonry work to bid on the large project to be completed in 2011. The City is also considering a restoration and renovation of Phoenix Square, the fountain and the concourse area around City Hall once the building is repaired

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Finance | Fredericton councillor has proposed same idea for capital

Fredericton's finance committee chairman isn't the only New Brunswick elected official saying it's time to consider scrapping two-tiered municipal tax systems.
Click to Enlarge
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Miramichi city councillors are planning to phase in a citywide rate over two years.

The City of Miramichi, created in a 1995 amalgamation of two towns - Newcastle and Chatham - and the surrounding communities of Douglastown, Loggieville and Nelson, has had two different tax rates for 15 years.

For 2011, councillors have voted to tighten up the rate differential. Instead of paying five cents less on their taxes on the outside rate, residents of Miramichi will see that reduced to a 2.5 cent differential this year.

That means some residents will pay a tax rate of $1.71 per $100 of assessed property value, while others on the so-called outside rate will pay $1.69 per $100.

City treasurer Darlene O'Shea said there are all kinds of arguments that support eliminating the split tax rate.

All residents of Miramichi get access to services such as fire protection, policing, plowing and garbage collection whether they live in a part of the city that has water and sewer access or not.

Traditionally, the split rates in communities came into existence to recognize that some residents can connect to city water and sewer while others can't.

That was the rationale for a split tax rate when Fredericton amalgamated in 1973.

Some sections of Silverwood and Douglas and Lincoln still can't connect to water and sewer lines because the service extensions haven't been finished.

But O'Shea said the water and sewer utility is run and paid for separately by citizens outside of the services provided under Miramichi's general operating fund budget.

So the citizens that have water and sewer pay for that on top of their property tax rate. It could be argued that citizens receiving services at the outside rate are saving.

"The debate is on. It costs us more to provide those services to the outside areas for the fire trucks to run out there, for the gas for the policing instead of being in the core area. There's different ways of looking at it, but those living on the outside aren't going to see it that way," she said.

"Any service the inside core is receiving, they (outside ratepayers) do have that service ... All that is the same as anyone paying the inside rate."

Miramichi figures it would reap an extra $78,000 annually it the two rates were equalized.

In Fredericton, Coun. Mike O'Brien, chairman of the city's finance committee, has used the same argument that barring water and sewer services, which are run under the city's water utility, taxpayers on the City of Fredericton's outside rate have the same access to services as those on the inside rate.

O'Brien said taxpayers who don't pay the water and sewer costs on top of their property tax bill are saving about $550 annually.

The councillor said he wants to see city staff round up information about the history and basis for the split rate structure in Fredericton so that council can have a discussion on whether to change the tax rate policy.

If Fredericton abandoned its rate discount program for an estimated 400 homeowners, it could take in another $670,000 in tax revenue annually.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fredericton Welcomes Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay Next October

Fredericton (February 1, 2011) – Twenty-five years after Rick Hansen travelled across the country as part of his Man In Motion World Tour, his message of hope and inspiration returns to Fredericton in October 2011 with the Rick Hansen Twenty-fifth Anniversary Relay. Fredericton will be among 600 communities across the country that will welcome the Relay, a nine-month journey that will move east to west, beginning in Cape Spear, NL, August 24, 2011 and concluding in Vancouver BC on May 22, 2012.

“We are honoured to have Fredericton a part of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Relay” said Rick Hansen, President and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation. “I received so much encouragement and support when I wheeled through Fredericton 25 years ago, it’s truly inspiring to encourage a new generation to pursue their dreams.”

In 1985, Rick Hansen pushed his wheelchair out of Vancouver, BC and set out on a journey that would make history. His legendary Man In Motion World Tour spanned more than 40,000 km through 34 countries; took more than two years to complete; and raised more than $26 million for spinal cord injury. Rick’s incredible achievement became a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of teamwork. His courage and determination inspired us to believe in the possibility of a fully accessible and inclusive society, and a cure for spinal cord injury.

The Relay will re-trace the Canadian segment of the original Man in Motion journey, visiting every province and territory and traveling 12,000 kilometres. The Relay will be made up of 7,000 participants, Canadians who have made a difference, no matter how large or small, in the lives of others and who motivate us all to help make our communities and the world a better place. While Rick will be present at a number of cities and stops along the Relay, it will be these 7,000 participants who will complete this cross-Canada tour and represent his spirit and drive.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Plan for Fredericton North school a hit
(excerpts from article published in the Daily Gleaner, February 01/11)

Members of the public and government officials say they're impressed with the plans for a new northside elementary school that were unveiled Monday night.

Parents, students and other members of the community attended an open house at Alexander Gibson Memorial Elementary School. District 18 Supt. Alex Dingwall said that while plans for the school have been in the works for some time, it was the public's first opportunity to see what the building will look like.

The school will replace South Devon Elementary and Alexander Gibson Memorial Elementary in Marysville. It will be located just off Cliffe Street. "This school will house over 500 students. Some of the highlights of the facility, in addition to the classroom space we'll have, will include a First Nations facility room, two gymnasiums, a black box theatre, and we have community rooms for groups that want to come in and use the facility."

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr said the government will spend more than $15 million on the school this year. "It's been a large commitment by the government," he said. "It's going to allow to have a much better school ... and replace two existing, aging schools. I think people are quite excited."

He said he's pleased with the design, which is energy efficient and includes spacious grounds.
Carr said he's confident the school will be finished by September 2012. "It's very doable," he said. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done, but we specifically put the dollars that were needed - over $15 million - to have it completed over this year and next year.

To read the full article, click on the following link: