Friday, April 16, 2010

Federal Government Invests in Modern Turf Field

The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue, Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway announced today a significant investment in the construction of a modern turf field that will benefit sporting enthusiasts from Fredericton and the surrounding area for years to come.

"The investment will support the construction of a modern turf field for city residents, help attract sporting events from around the region and generate new economic activity for the area" said Minister Ashfield

Under the Recreational Infrastructure Canada Program (RInC), a key economic stimulus initiative under Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the federal government is investing $502,000 towards the total project costs of over $1.8 million.This project will allow the City to replace three older fields and construct a first-class turf field next to the future Grant•Harvey Centre, a state-of-the-art sports and leisure centre in Fredericton. Work on the field is expected to begin within the next month and be completed by early fall.

This is really exciting news for sport user groups in Fredericton. The addition of an artificial turf field to the recreation mix at the Grant•Harvey Centre is most welcome and in fact, helps to make this a recreation hub as recommended in our Recreation Master Plan.

During the funding announcement, Mike Gagnon, president of the Fredericton District Soccer Association also announced that the new field would be used as part of the 2011 Under 18 National Club Soccer Championships to be held in Fredericton in October, 2011.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

City Announces Busy 2010 Infrastructure Construction and Sustainability Plan

Fredericton is about to begin its annual new construction and repairs to the roads, curbs, sidewalks, traffic signals, crosswalks, as well as water & sewer pipes throughout the municipality. This will be one of our busiest Capital Construction programs ever and comes during a time when the Princess Margaret Bridge will be closed for repairs. We are going to do whatever we can to minimize disruptions while we complete this necessary work.

The Princess Margaret Bridge will be closed from June 19-August 8 while the Province of New Brunswick undertakes a two-year, $73-million modernization of the 52-year-old structure. The City has scheduled its 2010 work on major municipal arterial routes to avoid, where possible, adding to the disruption of traffic expected during the bridge’s closure when excess traffic is routed across the Westmorland Street Bridge in the City’s downtown core. The Province will also continue to work on the Marysville bypass and plans to pave sections of the Westmorland Street Bridge in late May and early June.

Included in the list of municipal projects planned for 2010 are major upgrades to streets around the new Conference Centre (Queen, St. John and King) to accommodate changing traffic patterns expected when the new Conference Centre opens later this year. The project is one of the recommendations of the recently completed Capital City Traffic Study, which provides the City with a comprehensive plan for improving the City’s transportation infrastructure over the short, medium and long terms.

Other Capital City Traffic Study recommendations to be implemented this year include: the installation of traffic signal lights at the intersection of Forest Hill Road and the Princess Margaret Bridge ramp; the continued upgrading of Hanwell Road; the median closure on Regent Street at Albert Street; and new traffic signals on Union Street ,near the Devon Plaza.

Major City infrastructure rebuilding projects involving road closures include a six-week shutdown of Brookside Drive and a three-week closure of St. Mary’s Street. A water & sewer main replacement project will close Longwood Drive for six weeks from Fulton to Lilac. Victoria Street from Westmorland to Smythe will be closed for two months while the City reconstructs a trunk sewer line.

Beginning with the 2010 Budget, the City is beginning a 20-year strategy to sustain the City’s infrastructure to ensure its roads, streets and sidewalks as well as its water and sewer systems are replaced as they wear out. This strategy enables us to ensure sustainability of services by maintaining and replacing core capital infrastructure in a planned, financially responsible manner by tackling the core capital infrastructure deficit over time.

A Google Map showing the City’s 2010 Capital Construction projects will be posted on the City of Fredericton website at www.fredericton.ca in time for the construction season. The construction zones are colour-coded based on whether or not the work will involve street closures, minor delays or reduced speed.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

City,U-Pick reach deal on land use

The city reached an agreement for a 15 month lease extension with a local businessman for the continued operation of a U-Pick berry operation off of Sunset Drive. Following is the link to the Daily Gleaner report published on April 15/10:
http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/cityregion/article/1016778

What do you think of this agreement? Is it good for the city? Before deciding, here are some + and (-) points to consider:
+: A convenient and fun service within our community
+: Maintains some green space in our city
+: Has been in operation for 20+ years
(-): Rental income to city is minor; housing development as planned for that site would generate significant taxation income for city to assist in paying for other services (police, transit, snow removal, etc)
(-): No housing there means hundreds may build outside the city - many on 1 acre lots; more trees removed and more fuel consumed by those travelling into the city to work

I present this, and these issues, to show that as Councillors, we are always faced with making decisions that are supposed to be in the best interest of the entire city. What is the right decision is this case? Please one person but upset another. Keep some green space but lose trees elsewhere. Don't develope here which keeps local traffic calmed but put more cars on the road elsewhere travelling greater distances. Keep things as they are and don't develope but lose future revenue to fund city services.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lots of Summer Work in Ward 3

Following is the list of major roads & streets, and water/sewer work, that is scheduled to take place this construction season in Ward 3:

ROADS & STREETS PROJECTS:
-Brookside Drive (West Hills Crossing to Summerhill Row) -Roadway reconstruction, including new curbs, granular, asphalt and storm sewer
-St. Marys Street -Culvert Replacement & Full Depth Asphalt Recycling using Expanded Asphalt (Co-op Driveway to North)
-Cherry Avenue/Fulton Avenue -Intersection upgrades to improve pedestrian safety
-Douglas Avenue (Brookside to Tim Hortons) -Asphalt resurfacing
-St. Marys Street (Union to Dedham) -Asphalt resurfacing
-Dedham Street (St. Marys to Cliffe) -Asphalt resurfacing
-Union Street (Friel to St. Marys) -Asphalt resurfacing
-Hilltop Drive (Cedar to MacDonald) -Asphalt resurfacing
-Park Street (MacDonald to End) -Asphalt resurfacing
-Killarney Lake Lodge Parking Lot -Placement of new asphalt concrete
-Carrington Lane (Fulton to Douglas) -Microsurfacing
WATER AND SEWER PROJECTS:
-Cityview Ave. - Pump Station #5 -Reconstruction of existing sanitary pumping station
-Longwood Drive (Fulton to Lilac East) - Watermain, Sanitary Sewer, Curbs, Granulars, and
Asphalt Reconstruction 2 (This is a major project and will necessitate the street being closed to
through traffic)
-Friel Street - Watermain and Sanitary Sewer replacement
-Unidirectional Watermain Flushing -Flushing of a watermain in a progressive pattern using clean water from a previously flushed section
Quick Facts-Fredericton Leads Atlantic Canada in Employment

Unemployment rates for March 2010 (as published by Statistics Canada):
* Canada: 8.2 per cent
* New Brunswick: 9.0 per cent
— Moncton: 7.3 per cent
Fredericton: 4.9 per cent
— Saint John: 7.6 per cent
— Miramichi: 17.0 per cent
— Bathurst: 11.6 per cent
— Edmundston: 8.8 per cent
* Nova Scotia: 9.2 per cent
— Halifax: 6.4 per cent
— Cape Breton: 16.7 per cent
— New Glasgow: 14.2 per cent
* Prince Edward Island: 10.2 per cent
— Charlottetown: 8.4 per cent
— Summerside: 14.4 per cent
* Newfoundland and Labrador: 15.0 per cent
— St. John’s: 7.8 per cent
— Corner Brook: 20.2 per cent

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fredericton Housing Prices Remain Strong (as published in the Daily Gleaner on April 09/10)

The average price of detached bungalows and standard condominiums is up in Fredericton, according to a new housing study.
The Royal LePage house price survey found detached bungalows sold for an average of $182,000 in the first quarter of 2010, up nine per cent from the same period last year. Standard condominiums showed a 5.8 per cent increase, selling at an average of $145,000. Standard two-storey houses dropped in price by 2.8 per cent from 2009 to $205,000.

"While the first quarter is usually slow, we have seen an increase of about 40 per cent in unit sales," said Lincoln Thompson, broker and owner of Royal LePage Gardiner Realty. "This can be attributed to improved economic conditions in the region and the warmer weather.
"Fredericton's economy is much stronger than last year. We are a government, high-tech and university town and did not see the same economic drops as the rest of Canada."

The survey found the national average price of a detached bungalow in Canada rose 11 per cent to $329,209 in the first quarter year-over-year, while standard two-storey homes rose 10.3 per cent to $365,141 and standard condominiums increased 10.9 per cent to $228,963.

"National averages from our first quarter report are not particularly useful in painting a picture of the country's neighbourhood real estate stories," said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services. "House sale data from the past two year period shows tremendous variances in terms of how different cities reacted to the recession."
Fredericton Fire Fighters Answered the Bell 3,757 Times in 2009

Fredericton fire fighters answered 3,757 calls for service in 2009, during a year of change in the department that saw a new fire station and training complex commissioned, a new accelerant-sniffing dog acquired and the creation of a Pipes & Drums Band.

During a presentation of the Fire Department’s 2009 annual report to the City’s Public Safety & Environment Committee Fire Chief Philip Toole said 2,201 calls for service, or 54 per cent, were for medical assistance, 573 were for alarms (15 per cent) and 493 (13 per cent) were fire calls. Of those 493 fires, only 35 (seven per cent) were structure fires. For the full story click on the following link: http://www.fredericton.ca/en/publicsafety/NR2010Apr6FireAnnRpt.asp

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Fredericton's Hockey Pioneer joins Order of Canada (as posted by the Daily Gleaner on April 08/10)

Willie O'Ree, the Fredericton-born man who became the first black player in the NHL more than five decades ago, was invested into the Order of Canada on Wednesday at Rideau Hall.
Photo THE CANADIAN PRESS Former NHL hockey player Willie O'Ree receives the Order of Canada from Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

O’Ree, who’s from Fredericton, was the first black player in the NHL. O'Ree was one of 43 Canadians recognized by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean.

He was honoured for his pioneering contributions to the development of professional hockey and for his dedication to promoting the sport to minority youth in Canada and the United States.

"I was overwhelmed," O'Ree told NHL.com afterwards. "I'm honoured. I feel really good that they thought enough of me to honour me with this award.''

He made NHL history Jan. 18, 1958, when he took to the ice at the Montreal Forum while playing for the Boston Bruins.

When he was told in December 2008 that he would get the Order of Canada, O'Ree who lives near San Diego, Calif., told The Daily Gleaner he was lost for words. "I never thought anything like this would happen to me."

In recent years, O'Ree has made a career out of urging kids to dare to defy the odds. He serves as director of youth development for the NHL's diversity program, which has given children throughout North America access to the sport for more than a decade.

When he played his first NHL game in 1958, O'Ree defied the odds in more ways than one. He was also blind in one eye.

Longtime friend and Fredericton resident Josie Mazzuca said she followed the news Wednesday with keen interest to see how the man who still calls Fredericton home was honoured. "I think it's wonderful,'' she said. "I'm just sorry it was so far away and that we couldn't all be there. We're very pleased for him. He's done wonderfully."

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

2009 Daily Newspaper Paid Circulation Data
(as published by the Canadian Newspaper Association on April 07/10)

Canada’s daily paid circulation stood at 4.1 million copies on an average publishing day in 2009, and 26.9 million copies in an average week. There were 96 English and French paid-for dailies in Canada last year, two less than in 2008 and three less than in 2007.

The statistics for New Brunswick are:
Telegraph-Journal: Weekly Total = 197,667
The Daily Gleaner: Weekly Total = 127,783
Times & Transcript:Weekly Total = 221,712
L'Acadie Nouvelle: Weekly Total = 121,800

In comparison, the top three in Canada were:
Toronto Star: Weekly Total = 2,198,214
The Globe & Mail: Weekly Total = 1,891,629
La Presse: Weekly Total = 1,505,992

For the complete story, and the Canada wide statistics, visit http://www.cna-acj.ca/en/aboutnewspapers/circulation

Friday, April 02, 2010

Some Appalling Housing Conditions Still Exist in Fton

Yesterday, I was called by a lady who wanted to show me the condition of a small apartment she had lived in for years. Just two weeks ago, she was able to transition to a newly constructed affordable housing unit that opened in our city in early 2009. The condition of her former apartment was simply shocking.

Now, there are many questions that must be asked: Why was her Landlord so negligent? Was her Lanldord negligent? Why did she stay there so long? Did she even have a lease? Did she advise anyone of the terrible conditions? Are there unlying issues she didn't mention to me? Did anyone (friend, family, gov't officials, etc.) know about this before?

These are questions that must be asked and perhaps, there are no real answers. However, it does expose the deplorable conditions that some of our most vunerable residents live with. Some times it may be self-inflicted or self-imposed, but often it is becasue they have no one to turn to or to speak for them. As a city, and a society, we simply must do better.
Grant • Harvey Centre Construction Set to Start

The Grant • Harvey Centre, Fredericton’s new Southside Sports & Leisure Complex will honour two of the city's hockey heroes - Danny Grant and the late Buster Harvey - when it opens in September 2011. The $29.8-million facility will feature an Olympic-size ice surface and an NHL-size ice surface and will be home to the St. Thomas University men's and women's ice hockey teams. It will also accommodate other ice sports, including figure skating and speed skating, as well as offer an ideal location for trade shows and home shows.

The two-level complex will also offer a three-lane walking/running track on the upper level as well as a community event room, a multi-purpose meeting room and full kitchen facilities. The Olympic-size ice surface will have 500 seats for spectators while the NHL surface will feature seating for 1,500.

The 45-acre site is located on Knowledge Park Drive close to the intersection of the Vanier Highway and Kimble Drive. The grounds will include an artificial turf soccer pitch, a six-court indoor tennis facility, a two-acre, fenced dog-walking park and parking for more than 600 vehicles.

The City of Fredericton has approved a deal with Ice Kube Systems Technology that will see geothermal energy used to heat and cool the complex. The system will also have the capability to store extra thermal energy to serve other buildings on the site or in the vicinity.

Danny Grant and Buster Harvey grew up in Fredericton and went on to have successful careers in the National Hockey League. Both returned to Fredericton and gave back to their community by active involvement in coaching local teams. Both are members of the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame. Below:Buster(L)Danny(R)

March 29/10 Council-in-Committee in Brief

Three items were the agenda for City Council to consider at the Council-in-Committee meeting of March 29. A recommendation allowing Remi Aucoin to operate a rickshaw business in Fredericton will move to the next regular Council meeting for formal approval.

Wayne Tallon, director of the Community Services Department gave city councillors an update on the progress of the new Grant•Harvey Centre. He showed the new site map, floor plans and architectural rendering of the building. See my post (above) for all the details.

Finally an overview of the recommendations from the Business Process Improvement for the Office of the City Clerk was presented. The purpose of the BPI was to re-establish core functions for the office, streamline cumbersome processes, and make the best use of available technology.

Key solutions looked at the way council and committee packages are prepared, with the intent of relying more on technology and reducing paper, assigning advertising of bylaw info to the legal division, and letting the human resources division handle all aspects of employee long service awards.