Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cenotaph To Get Facelift

A granite cross that was broken last fall by vandals has been repaired and will be installed as soon as weather permits. The cross is currently being stored at the Parks & Trees depot on Two Nations Crossing. Jones Masonry repaired the cross at no cost. A City Horticulturist is working with a local Landscape Architectural firm and the Legion executive to develop a plan and options to upgrade the site, which could include some permanent type paths and lighting improvements.
City seeks more power over zoning bylaws
The City of Fredericton is asking the province to give it more bark and some bite when it comes to zoning and enforcement bylaws. City councillors voted Monday to ask the provincial government to re-write legislation so cities can have more power to create and enforce bylaws under the Community Planning Act. The city wants the right to create offences under zoning and enforcement bylaws and fine violators.

The changes sought would also allow the city to add unpaid tickets and the costs of enforcement to the tax roll, which it could then enforce through a lien on the property.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Economic Development Work Plan Targets Growth, Prosperity

Cultivating economic growth and prosperity for Fredericton is the goal of an ambitious economic development work plan presented to the City’s Development Committee of Council on February 16. The plan is designed to complement the efforts of Enterprise Fredericton and in turn the Province’s Self Sufficiency agenda. The City also works in concert with all the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Fredericton, Business Fredericton North, and the Fredericton International Airport to advance our community.

For more visit http://www.fredericton.ca/en/ecodev/NR2010Feb16EconPlan.asp

Saturday, February 20, 2010

ADI Group Inc. Receives Platinum Award
Congratulations to ADI Group Inc., of Fredericton, and its subsidiaries ADI Systems Inc., and Geomembrane Technologies Inc. (GTI) who have been selected as a Platinum Winner in the Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies program. Established in 1993, Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies is a national program, recognizing Canadian companies that have met rigorous standards and implemented world-class business practices and created value through innovation. ADI is constructing Fredericton’s new convention centre.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Proposed Two Nations Crossing/Ring Road Overpass
The City of Fredericton has been lobbying the Province of New Brunswick for several years for this important overpass (I referenced this overpass in the previous blog posting).The overpass would permit southbound Ring Road traffic to enter onto Two Nations Crossing, as well as permitting Two Nations Crossing traffic to access the Ring Road to cross the Westmorland Street Bridge.

This north/south access is not only crucial for the effective movement of vehicles, but also will permit the City to consider implementing a much needed "east-west" transit bus route.

I am hopeful the provincial Department of Transportation will commence construction of this overpass in 2011.
Traffic Study Recommends Bold Initiatives (February 18, 2010)
A 3rd bridge for Fredericton, a Route #08 overpass to allow the extension of Smythe Street to Bishop Drive, and wider use of "roundabouts" are just some of the $150-million worth of recommendations contained in the Capital City Traffic Study presented on February 18th to the City's Transportation Committee.

The major expenditure recommended for the next two years involves a $1.6 million upgrade to Regent and Queen Street. Among other short-term priorities are the installtion of traffic signals at the intersection of Forest Hill Road and the ramp coming from the south end of the Princess Margaret Bridge, and at several other locations.

In the two-to-five-year term the report recommends a $12-million investment in the Marysville bypass within City's limits; a $3-million roundabout at the north end of the Princess Margaret Bridge and a $2.5 million Two Nations Crossing interchange (over the Ring Road) coupled with the elimination of the southbound left turn land off of Ring Road onto Maple Street.

In the longer term the report recommends the construction of a $110-million third bridge at the west end of the city, as well as three more northside roundabouts at Ring Road/Brookside Drive, Union Street/Gibson Street amd Riverside Drive/Watters Drive.

The vast majority of the forecasted funding is the responsibility of the Province of New Brunswick. The City's contributions can be achieved through its annual pay-as-you-go budget allocations.

For additional details, check the City of Fredericton's website at http://www.fredericton.ca/

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

York Arena gets stay of Execution (excerpts from Daily Gleaner article published February 16, 2010)

Fredericton city councillors are planning to rescind a motion to demolish the York Arena once the Grant * Harvey complex opens. City councillors lifted the resolution passed by a previous council at a weekend meeting.

"There will be a motion coming forward based on consensus that we will rescind our motion to take down the York Arena and the instruction will be given to staff to bring back a report that gives us, as a municipality, the true cost of fixing it up, maintaining it and running it," said Mayor Brad Woodside on Monday.

Setting aside the resolution will give council some breathing room to do a more detailed investigation of the costs associated with maintaining a sixth city-owned ice surface in the capital city.

The Save the York Arena citizens' group submitted a detailed brief on the ice-time needs of people in the Fredericton area and said the cost of bringing the arena up to modern building codes and running it would still be cheaper than trying to build a sixth ice rink from scratch.

"We had a good presentation (from the Save the York Arena group). It's important to maintain that goodwill with the community and we'll look at the facts," the mayor said.

The city will ask ADI Ltd., which did an assessment of city rinks and swimming pools in February 2004, to update its numbers from that report. The consulting firm estimated it would cost $1 million to bring the arena up to code and another $2.3 million to refurbish the building. The Save the York Arena group isn't looking for a lavish retrofit, but the basics to provide needed ice time.

Woodside said council wants to hear the updated financial information and review the numbers."Rescinding the decision doesn't necessarily mean we won't go through (with demolition). It means that we do not want to have the pressure of a motion that was made by a previous council to restrict us from looking further and investigating further into that issue," Woodside said.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Affordable Housing for Fredericton (February 15, 2010)
The provincial and federal governments announced an investment of more than $4 million for the construction and renovation of 252 housing units for low-income seniors, families and persons with disabilities in the Fredericton region. The announcement was made by the provincial Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock, and Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue

In Fredericton, a new housing development, Tannery Court II, will also create 40 units for low-income seniors including 4 accessible units for those with disabilities. The units, located on 543 Brookside Drive, are being developed by Tannery Court Co-operative Ltd., a non-profit organization. The project is receiving $1.6 million under federal stimulus funding in order to offset construction costs, as well as more than $2.6 million in rent supplements from the Province of New Brunswick.

The Evelyn Grove Manor seniors residence is receiving $660,000 for physical renovations and energy refits, as is the Doone Street residential area, at $1.3 million.

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 8/10 Council in Brief
Members of Fredericton City Council received the findings of the 2009 Citizen Attitude Survey (see blog posting below) at their regular Council meeting. Carolyn O’Keefe, general manager for MarketQuest Research, the company that conducted the survey, presented the findings and answered questions.

Mayor Woodside proclaimed Black History Month and Council approved the addition of two properties with deep roots to the city’s black founding community for inclusion on the City’s Local Historic Places Register (see blog posting below)were given approval.

Council approved the plan to update the City’s special event process, as well as a lease for the City-owned building next to the Boat Club for a dental lab, the sale of 214 Dunns Crossing, and the federal funding for the Wilmot Park tennis court rehabilitation.

The monthly parking rate for the York House parking lot was decreased from $90 to $80. The City will no longer offer commissioner of oaths and notary services to the public. The contract with Service New Brunswick to collect water and sewer payments as well as taxi fees and certain fines was approved, as was the City’s four-year capital investment plan under the Gas Tax.

Numerous tenders were approved. The membership of the Fredericton Affordable Housing Committee was ratified and a re-appointment was made to the Fredericton Public Library Board. The rezoning application for 746-792 McLeod Avenue, and a plan to revert to a commercial / retail use for the property, was denied in favour of the residential zoning adopted for the site a few years ago.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fredericton making plans to spend close to $16 million in federal gasoline tax revenues. (Daily Gleaner, February 11,2010)

City council has approved a tentative project list as part of a draft of a five-year capital investment plan. A provincial-federal oversight committee has to review the plan and a letter of agreement will be drawn up. Once that happens and the document comes back to city council for approval, then the city will release a list of proposed projects.

"The draft plan includes about $14.8 million for water and sewer-related projects," said Coun. Mike O'Brien, chairman of the city's finance and administration committee.

The city is proposing to include any associated street repair costs associated with digging up roadways to install new surfaces. Another $900,000 is proposed for trail projects. The city is completing the first four fiscal years of the federal government's gasoline tax revenue-sharing program with municipal governments across the country.

Since 2006, Fredericton has received $9.7 million in funding from Ottawa. The city used the money to build storm water attenuation ponds, Knowledge Park Drive roadway, the Cliffe Street off-ramp, and the St. John Street sanitary sewer upgrade. It will also use funds for heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems for both the new downtown conference centre and the Grant * Harvey complex.

Another $1.6 million out of the federal funding was applied toward the costs of the E.J. Bliss water treatment plant on Waterloo Row.

The city will receive its next round of funding - once its spending plan is approved - in four annual payments of close to $4 million each. The federal funding has to be spent on public transit, community energy systems, water or sewage treatment projects, storm sewer drainage systems, landfill projects, roads and bridges.

O'Brien said the key criteria are that the projects make for cleaner water, air and lower greenhouse gases. "The funds cannot be used to offset any funds already budgeted by the city," O'Brien said.

Adjustments to the city's spending plan can be made with written consent of the provincial Department of Local Government, provided the changes continue to meet the program criteria. "I expect this will be reviewed at least annually during the budget process, or if any unexpected project or opportunity should arise," O'Brien said.

Upgrades To Wilmot Park Tennis Facility (January 28,2010)

The Government of Canada and the City of Fredericton recently announced that they will team up to rehabilitate the Wilmot Park tennis facility. Thanks to an investment of more than $68,000 from the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) fund, this facility will receive critical improvements to its infrastructure.

The announcement was made on January 28th by the Hon.Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue & Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency & Atlantic Gateway; and Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside.

This project will allow the City of Fredericton to repair and rehabilitate the Wilmot Park tennis facility. Specific upgrades and repairs to the facility include paving; plexi- paving; line painting; landscaping and the installation of posts and nets. The City of Fredericton is also contributing $159,334 toward the project.

“The City of Fredericton is very appreciative of the contribution from the Government of Canada towards the Wilmot Park tennis court rehabilitation,” said Mayor Woodside. “For a community to be healthy, it needs to be active, and this investment in one of our municipal recreation facilities helps in that regard.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Survey says Frederictonians very positive about their City and municipal services (February 8, 2010)

Fredericton is an excellent place to live and residents are very positive about the provision of municipal government services. That is the finding of the City of Fredericton’s 2009 Citizen Attitude Survey, which was presented to City Council for the first time on February 8, 2010.

The survey also indicates that citizens continue to feel Fredericton is a safe city and have a positive outlook when it comes to economic growth and development. They give all city departments high marks when it comes to the delivery of services and programs.

This includes strong support for police and fire, as well as for services like garbage and recycling, water and sewer services, and spring and fall clean-ups. Residents also feel the City is doing a good job preserving historic buildings, promoting the city as a tourism destination, and supporting the arts.

Areas of less satisfaction include traffic enforcement, snow removal on sidewalks and streets, road maintenance, as well as bylaw enforcement in the areas of animal control, noise control,and unsightly premises.

Fredericton’s walking trail network is by far the City’s most popular recreational facility. There is strong support for the City’s public transit system and the municipality’s green initiatives.

The telephone remains as the main method for contacting the City, while use of the City’s web site remains stable. City employees are most often reported as being “friendly and courteous.” Overall, the City is perceived as a quality organization that operates efficiently and provides services fairly to residents.

The primary objectives of the Citizen Attitude Survey were to access perceptions of the City, satisfaction with City services, determine ways to stay informed, and determine the main issues facing the City. The survey was conducted by MarketQuest Research with a random sample of 403 city residents, between November 10 and 18, 2009. The overall margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.86% at the 95% confidence level (19 times out of 20).

The City has conducted a bi-annual Citizen Attitude Survey since 1985.

Monday, February 08, 2010

1925, Patriarch John Howe at right

City Adds "Howe" Property & Cemetery To Local Historical Places Register (February 08, 2010)

Description
A substantial parcel of land, situated on 730-780 Howe Street on the North side of Fredericton, has not only provided a home but the final resting place for generations of the Howe family, a prominent local black family. This street was named in honour of the Howe family, who first settled in this portion of St. Mary’s Parish in the late 19th Century, and shortly thereafter established a family burial plot on the property.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Howe property is associated with the generational ownership and occupancy of the Howe family. It is also the site of the Howe Family Cemetery. The large Howe family, headed by John Howe, became the nucleus of a significant local black community situated at St. Mary’s Parish, York County. Born in Prince Edward Island, John Howe moved to Fredericton during the early 1850s. He remained in the city, working at Morrison’s Mills, for more than twenty years before settling at St. Mary’s Parish, in what was later known as North Devon. John Howe acquired the land from his second wife’s father, Joseph McIntyre, in 1877.

The Howe family became prominent members of the local black community and had strong ties to other black communities in the greater Fredericton area. The Howe family had familial and social connections to the black communities at Fredericton, Lincoln, and Springhill. The industrious Howe family also gained notoriety for their contributions to World War I. Three of John Howe’s sons served overseas, having joined combat units.

Friday, February 05, 2010

City Looking for Developer of Queen Street Property (February 5, 2010)

The City of Fredericton is now accepting expressions of interest from anyone interested in buying and developing a 2.3 acre, or approximately 9,500-square-meter piece of prime real estate in the downtown core, overlooking the St. John River.The City-owned property has 80 meters of frontage on the north side of Queen Street between Westmorland and Northumberland streets. It is located between the Royal Canadian Legion building and the vacant former TRA building. The property is currently being used as a parking lot operated by the City of Fredericton and known as the Upper Queen lot.

The City is looking for a buyer interested in developing a project for retail, office or residential use, or a compatible mix of uses, with adequate parking for its own needs as well as surplus parking for lease to the public, if space is available. The property is located directly across the street from the Frederick Square Parking Garage, a multi-level parking facility operated by the City of Fredericton. A number of large office developments and a high-density residential development are located in close proximity.

The 2009 assessed property value for taxation purposes is $1,007,900. An appraisal of the property undertaken for the City in 2003 placed the market value of the property at $1,300,000 assuming the site is environmentally clean, is level with Queen Street, and that soil conditions are adequate to accommodate a low-rise residential/commercial development. The property is located in the flood risk area of the St. John River and existing soil conditions on the property may impact its future development.

Developers interested in submitting a proposal have until April 6, 2010 at 3 p.m. to submit their sealed bid to the Asset Management Division, City Hall, 397 Queen Street, Fredericton, E3B 1B5. The lowest or any bid will not necessarily be accepted.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

City Treasurer & Coun O'Brien
Fredericton Approves 2010 Operating and Capital Budgets

The City of Fredericton has approved a $93.2 million general fund budget and a $12.1 million water and sewer budget for 2010. The budgets include both operating and capital amounts. During the budget process, the municipality identified several ways to reduce its operating budget that were reflective of current economic realities. Despite these efforts, a slight increase in the City’s tax rate for 2010 is necessary to maintain core infrastructure and position Fredericton for future growth and prosperity. There will also be some minor fee increases.

The inside rate will increase by 0.85 cents, rising from $1.4176 to $1.4261 per $100 of assessment. For a home valued at $150,000, the tax increase will mean $5.85 monthly or $70.18 per year. The outside rate will increase by the same amount, rising from $1.0632 to $1.0696. This is the first tax rate increase in seven years.

Coun. Mike O'Brien, Chair of the City of Fredericton’s Finance and Administration Committee presented the City’s 2010 Budget at a special Council meeting held on December 16, 2009.“This was a tough budget process for the City of Fredericton,” said Coun. O’Brien. “Our challenge was to find a sustainable way to balance economic growth and new capital projects while maintaining existing infrastructure and programs. The tax increase equals 0.6 of one per cent inflation as suggested by the Province of New Brunswick for municipal budgets this year.”

During the budget presentation, it was announced that the Two Nations Crossing transit route pilot would be postponed as of January 2, 2010 and not be renewed until population and business density in the area increased and provincial Department of Transportation infrastructure was in place on the Ring Road.

The resulting salary savings, as well as changes in Engineering and Public Works and Police departments have resulted in savings equal to five full time employees. Despite a human resources strategy to deal with the demands of a growing city, the municipality will not be hiring any new positions in 2010. Training, conference and travel budgets have been cut by almost $130,000.

These salary savings are contrasted against incremental salary and benefit costs from union contracts, as well as provincial legislation requiring firefighter compensation related to cancer and cardiac arrest. Inflationary factors are also at play in both operating and borrowing line items. A progressive 20-year capital deficit replacement program has been approved to maintain core infrastructure.

Parking fines will increase by $5 on January 1, 2010, rising from $10 to $15. The one hour rate will be the same as Saint John, Moncton and Halifax. Parking meter times will also be lengthened one hour starting on May 1, 2010, running from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.Monthly student transit fees will increase from $40 to $42 starting January 1, 2010. Fredericton’s transit fees continue to be the same or lower than Saint John and Moncton.Certain adult and minor ice rental fees will be adjusted by $12.50 per hour effective April 1, 2010.

Existing municipal grants have been reduced overall by $3,500 from $615,517 to $612,017. As announced, City Council approved $50,000 per year for the next five year’s as the City’s contribution to the new YMCA building. An increase of $40,000 in funding was also approved to the Enterprise Fredericton for strategic initiatives for related to population growth and investment attraction.

A variety of capital projects were increased for Engineering and Public Works, Community Services, Corporate Services and Development Services, as well as Police and Fire. The projects included road work, upgrades trails, tennis courts, and sporting fields, as well as outdoor, indoor and wading pools.Police and Fire will be able to buy new safety equipment and materials needed to do their job. A general focus will continue on smart, green, affordable housing, and wellness efforts at the City of Fredericton.

Water and Sewer Budget

Water and sewer rates will see the second year of a gradual five-year increase to fund the deficit in the utility experienced by a growing city and keep Fredericton’s water safe. The 2010 water and sewer rate will rise by five cents, increasing from 61 cents per cubic metre to 66 cents. The rate is the lowest among New Brunswick three large cities.

Coun. O’Brien concluded his remarks by reminding the public they can get budget details on the city’s web site at www.fredericton.ca. He also thanked the residents of the city, his Council colleagues and municipal staff, as well as government and business partners for their team work in making Fredericton a great place. “The last year has been about community partnerships, asphalt, concrete and cranes for Fredericton,” said Coun. O’Brien. “We have been recognized for our efforts, but we cannot rest on our laurels as we work to position Fredericton for the future.”
Water & Sewer Infrastructure Funding for Fredericton

The water and sewer system in Fredericton will receive $1.4 million for upgrades through a federal-provincial-municipal funding program. New lines will be installed on Victoria Street between Westmorland and Smythe Streets. The announcement was made by Hon. Keith Ashfield, Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and New Brunswick Environment Minister Rick Miles. The federal and provincial governments are contributing $700,000 each, as is the City of Fredericton.
Two Nations Crossing Transit Route Ends January 2, 2010

Fredericton, NB – The Two Nations Crossing transit route (Route #9) will come to an end on January 2, 2010. The decision to discontinue the route was made as part of City’s 2010 budget process.

The public is also reminded that effective January 1, 2010, the cost of a student transit pass will increase from $40 per month to $42 per month. This decision was also part of Budget 2010.

The Two Nations Crossing transit route was first introduced as a pilot in October 2008 and extended until the end of 2009. It never gained the ridership needed to meet the guidelines set for city transit routes.

The ridership objective set by City Council was 20 passengers per revenue hour, which is approximately a 40 per cent cost recovery. Recent average ridership figures ranged between 7 and 10 passengers per revenue hour. When residential and commercial density increases in the area, and a new Department of Transportation overpass is built at Ring Road and Two Nations Crossing, the route will be reconsidered.

Fredericton’s transit system, like others in the country, is designed to transport people from area to area, not door to door. The goal is to have buses travel along interconnected routes, moving passengers between residential and commercial areas of the city.

In an effort to maintain a balance between municipal subsidy and transit fees, the goal is a 35-45 per cent cost recovery from users of the service. Cutting the Two Nations Crossing transit route will result in a net savings of $252,000 in both staffing and operational costs for the taxpayers of Fredericton.
Groups Benefiting from 2010 City Transit Fare Assistance Program Announced (January 21, 2010)

Fredericton, NB – Twenty-two community social groups have been accepted for participation in the City of Fredericton’s Transit Fare Assistance Program for 2010.

City Council is very pleased to continue this successful program for another year. It recognizes there is a need to do what we can to ensure everyone in our community has the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and the Transit Fare Assistance Plan supports their efforts.

The program is designed to provide additional support to community groups by giving them City Transit and Dial-A- Bus tickets to distribute to their clients so they can get to medical appointments, access education and training, seek employment or visit service providers.

All participating groups must demonstrate sound management and accountability for all tickets they receive by submitting Ticket Usage Records to the City each month.

Five new agencies have joined the popular program for 2010. They are: Bridges of Canada Inc; the New Brunswick Association of Community Living; CHIMO Helpline Inc; the Doone St-Wilson Row Tenants Association; and AIDS New Brunswick Inc. Two other agencies who participated in 2009 are not participating in 2010. All 22 particpants will receive a share of the 5,350 regular, single-ride tickets and 250 Dial-A-Bus tickets donated annually to the program by the City.

Following is a list of successful applicants:

· Bridges of Canada Inc.
· The NB Association of Community Living
· CHIMO Helpline Inc.
· Doone St-Wilson Row Tenants Association
· AIDS New Brunswick Inc.
· Fredericton Native Friendship Centre (Back from 2007)
· The Salvation Army
· Christ Church Cathedral Outreach Committee
· The John Howard Society
· Multicultural Association
· Women in Transition House Inc.
· Jobs Unlimited
· Canadian Deafblind Association
· Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc.
· The Meeting Place Church – Street Level Ministry
· Canadian Paraplegic Association
· Youth in Transition
· Fredericton Community Services (Food Bank)
· Community Health Clinic
· Fredericton Boys & Girls Club Inc.
· Canadian Mental Health Association
· The New Brunswick Community Residences Inc.