Friday, March 30, 2012

Willie O’Ree Place is a busy facility


29 Mar 2012 01:11PM
The City of Fredericton’s Willie O’Ree Place marked its fifth anniversary this month and the facility is being well-used, said a city spokesman.
“Our estimates right now are that between two and 2.5 million people have gone through those doors through the last five years,” said community services director Wayne Tallon. “It is busy. It continues to be busy and people are enjoying the facility.”
Willie O’Ree Place is a dual-pad indoor hockey arena that was also built with an indoor walking track and Tallon said the city calculates that on a daily basis 250 to 400 people walk the track.
“It’s one of the most popular facilities that we have now and it’s also become a social place for people to gather, to do some exercise and have a chat.”
The facility in Scotiabank Park North on Cliffe Street also has a satellite YMCA fitness centre and that Y outlet is also popular, Tallon said. The ice hockey facility has also hosted competitive play in a variety of ice sports, he said.
Willie O’Ree Place weathered a few construction-related problems post-opening, but Tallon said the city’s contractor honoured its deal with the city and repaired siding that was causing some leaks in the building.
Willie O’Ree Place cost the city $16.7 million, but it recovered $2 million in non-repayable contributions from the federal and provincial governments.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

City’s pension deficit slashed by $5.9M

(Excerpts of article written By HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN

26 Mar 2012 11:24PM
(Note: I was the Chair of the City's Pension Board 2009/10/11 during the staff/union negotiations process that led to the modified pension plan)
The City of Fredericton’s pension plan has managed to make a $5.9 million financial recovery on what had been a $37.5-million pension deficit as of June 30, 2010.
City councillors were given a pension briefing Monday night at their council-in-committee session.
City treasurer and director of finance Tina Tapley said the city’s pension deficit now stands as of June 30, 2011, at $31.6 million. The plan was audited by Mercers, a third party hired by the city.
In May, after a heated debate with workers who protested cutting back their pensions and urged the city to up its contributions on a matched, co-funded plan with employees, they reached a compromise plan over the next 15 years.
Under the plan approved by council, employees will get increases equal to two-thirds of the consumer price index to a maximum of 1.5 per cent effective Jan. 1. The city had introduced a full indexation of post-retirement pension cheques several years ago when the pension account was flush with cash and by law, the fund couldn’t hold large surpluses.
With the plummet in financial markets, the city’s pension account took a hit. Part of the compromise deal to rebuild the pension account was to increase contributions by 0. 9 per cent each for plan members and the city effective June 12, 2011.
“The changes that council made to the pension plan in 2011 to increase contributions and decrease some benefits ... along with better-than-expected investment performance, helped to reduce the pension deficit in 2011,” Tapley said.
“We do have some challenges ahead, though. With the low interest rates, that could impact ... our liabilities because basically our liabilities are going up faster than the investment returns than we’re expecting.”
The city’s pension fund was valued at $160 million in 2010 and $176 million in 2011, but the liabilities — the demands on the fund to pay benefits to retirees — was $197 million in 2010 and nearly $208 million in 2011.
As the city’s workforce ages, there will be fewer employees paying into the plan than those receiving pension payments. “With people living longer, our pension plan retirees will be receiving payments for a longer period of time,” Tapley said.
“We’re not at a critical point there yet, but we do have our eyes on these things and we will need to address these. Good news is that the deficit is reducing, but we need to be cautious in the future.”

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mike O’Brien To Re-Offer for Fredericton City Council

Mike O’Brien, councillor for Ward 3 (Fulton Heights/North Devon) is pleased to announce he is reoffering in the May 14th municipal election. First elected in 2001, O’Brien has served two terms as Deputy Mayor, two years as Development Services Chair, three years as Chair of the Finance Committee and five years (and currently) as Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee.

During his tenure as Finance Chair, Council approved the first municipal tax rate reduction in more than 25 years, and instituted a new long term financial plan that ensures sufficient funding to maintain roads, sidewalks and other crucial infrastructure.

“The past term has been exciting for Fredericton”, states O’Brien. “New recreational and convention facilities were opened, and developers are showing unprecedented levels of confidence in our City. Everyone has embraced the “Green Matters” program confirming Fredericton’s place as a national leader in environmental initiatives. The City is showing that world-class development can be attained in an environmentally responsible and fiscally sustainable manner.”

“The new facilities are extremely important to the city’s future, however, now that they are completed, it is time to refocus. We must keep our property tax rate as the lowest of all NB cities, while maintaining the high level of essential services”, says O’Brien. “Fredericton’s 7.8% debt ratio is also by far the lowest of the other cities, and we must be diligent that it stays so.”

O’Brien supports a four year freeze on new major city capital spending. He says that will provide for secure funding of Fredericton’s vibrant arts, culture and heritage sectors; to enhance Transit; and allow for Council to foster even more city wide green initiatives. He says it will also provide time to plan for a future center to support the social and activity needs of the City’s active senior community.

“On a personal note, I also wish to be a stronger voice for those needing shelter and assistance”, say O’Brien. “The need is great”.

O’Brien is a UNB graduate Mechanical Engineer. He worked several years in the private sector and is presently the Vice President of a provincial Crown Corporation. He is a charter inductee of the Fredericton Sports Wall of Fame, and was also inducted into the Baseball NB Hall of Fame. He has served on the River Valley Health Board of Directors, and was the initial Chair of the Park Street School PSSC.

He and wife Anne have four adult daughters.

Friday, March 23, 2012




23 MAR 2012 12:20AM

The owners of the Crowne Plaza Hotel property on Queen Street were the high bidders on a public tender call by the provincial Supply and Services Department to acquire the former York County courthouse.

Aquilini Properties LP submitted a bid of $800,000 to purchase the building. The provincial government had set a valuation of $800,000 on the property, which was built in 1858 and designated a national historic site in 1980. The building is located next door to the Beaverbrook hotel property.

The Lord Beaverbrook Hotel is owned by the Aquilini Investment Group of Vancouver, B.C.

Founded almost 50 years ago by Luigi Aquilini, the company has a significant commercial, residential, hotel and golf course portfolio. Acquilini Investments also owns 50 per cent of the Vancouver Canucks and GM Place.

There was only one other bidder for the York County courthouse property. Plaza Atlantic Ltd. bid $500,000 to purchase the building.

The province isn’t bound to accept any of the tenders under the public tendering process.

Aquilini has solidified its position by writing a deposit check for the valuation that the province set on the building.

It will be two to three weeks before the company can expect to hear back from the provincial government on the deal.

Crowne Plaza Hotel general manager Walther Lauffer said it would be premature to comment on the potential uses for the property until the province decides on the tender bids.

Fredericton named to Canada’s Top Ten List of Best Places to Live

Fredericton Received Top Marks on KPMG Lowest Cost Places for Business List