Friday, November 26, 2010

City Council in Brief

Council dealt with a number of business items at the regular Council meeting on November 22, 2010. Following are some highlights:

·The downtown Christmas tree lighting ceremonies were approved for December 3 – 7 pm at the Legislative Assembly and 8 pm at City Hall.

· A number of new street names were approved as part of the Northrup development off of Brookside Drive: Aiden Street, Benoit Street, Nason Street, Fearneley Street, and Shannon Street.

·The process was begun to restrict parking on Claremont Street and remove parking on the west side of Regent Street, between King and Queen, and on the north side of King Street, between St. John and Regent.(Note: It was incorrectly reported in e-Brief last week that parking would be removed on the south side of King.)

· Efforts also got underway to adjust parking rates in the City of Fredericton and establish new rates for the East End parking garage, which will be open 24/7 and feature a different rate structure than other city owned parking facilities.

·The collective agreement with CUPE Local 1783 (Transit) was approved.

·Two new police officers were appointed. Welcome to Cst. Jerri Beckwith and Cst. Zachery Coady.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

COUCILLORS BUTT HEADS OVER DEAL FOR TRANSIT UNION (excerpts from the article published in the Daily Gleaner, November 23/10)


City bus drivers have a new contract, but four Fredericton city councillors voted against the settlement with transit drivers, saying the city is going to have to start retrenching on salary hikes.

CUPE Local 1783, which represents 27 full-time drivers and 18 in an Operator II classification, will receive an average 2.8 per cent increase in their pay over the five-year life of their new agreement. The deal is retroactive to Jan. 1 and expires Dec. 31, 2014. That will put the salary of a full-time driver, which is at $57,426 now, up to $58,944 by 2014.
Even at the end of five years, Coun. Steven Hicks said, Fredericton transit drivers still won't be earning as much as Moncton or Saint John transit drivers.

Hicks said the city won't be negotiating again with any of its CUPE unions until 2012 when it will have to open talks with its professional technical workers.

Coun. Mike O'Brien voted against the contract, saying the city has to plan for its future. While O'Brien didn't name the union, he pointed to Fredericton firefighter settlements, which consistently end up with pay hikes around the four per cent mark because they consistently go to binding arbitration.

"Provincial arbitrators have been awarding contracts in the value of four to five per cent to one of our unions and that puts this council ... in a very difficult position," O'Brien said. Although the union has the right to bargain as it does, it sets the bar too high for negotiations with the rest of the city's unionized groups, O'Brien said.

"Eventually we get to the point where everybody is getting two and three per cent raises or greater. I just don't think we can sustain that going forward," he said.

O'Brien said he personally can't sanction settlements of that level in the future. "This is just too rich for the times," he said. "It's just too rich for me to be able to support."

"In the City of Saint John at the end of this particular contract, our bus drivers will still make 20 per cent less than what they do," said Coun. Scott McConaghy. They'll also earn less than Moncton drivers over the same time period, he said.

"So it's not like our employees are being overpaid in this particular sector within the province of New Brunswick," McConaghy said. He said the settlement for transit drivers is in line with settlements for other groups.

Deputy mayor Dan Keenan, Coun. Bruce Grandy and Coun. Stephen Kelly also voted against the contract.

Woodside said the city can't keep asking taxpayers for more property-tax revenue or there will be a tax revolt. "It could come down to a point where we have to look at the number of employees we have in each department," Woodside said. "There's a number of municipalities talking about and looking at freezing wages."

Budget times in the future are going to get tougher, Woodside said, and the only source of revenue for municipalities is through taxation. Cities have tough choices - either cut services or raise taxes, he said.

"The taxpayers have to be taken into consideration as well .... There's going to be a revolt. People are fed up with assessments and tax increases," the mayor said.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Latest newspaper article on the City of Fredericton's' 2011 budget planning

http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/cityregion/article/1316762

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A place to call home - Shelter Affordable Housing Day set for next week (as published int he daily Gleaner November 18/10)

In many communities, as soon as the phrase "affordable housing" is uttered, out come the "not-in-my-back-yard" (NIMBY) protestors. All the old myths and stereotypes are trotted out, tempers flare and sometimes legal action is threatened.

Although NIMBYism still surfaces from time to time in Fredericton, I think it's safe to say that we have come a long way as a community. Even if I think there is more the city should be doing in the area of social policy, full marks are deserved for the progress in supporting the development of affordable housing over the past few years.

The work that's been done through the City of Fredericton's Affordable Housing Committee under the leadership of Councillor Mike O'Brien is the envy of many other communities. The committee combines the efforts of the three levels of government, non-profit organizations, business groups, off-reserve Aboriginal representatives and private developers.

The accomplishments have been significant. Just take a look at the developments that are providing safe, clean affordable accommodations to seniors, non-elderly single men and women and families, many of whom just had no decent options in a city where the rental rates can be expensive relative to some incomes. There are many subsidized apartments located in mixed income developments, units by Avide Cooperative that are running smoothly or under construction, the Skigin-Elnoog rental and home ownership programs, the John Howard Society's supportive apartments and the list goes on.

Next Tuesday, Nov. 23, there will be an excellent opportunity to learn about what's being done elsewhere in the country to help many take the next big step into home ownership. It is the 4th annual Affordable Housing Day being organized by the Fredericton Affordable Housing Committee.

Michel Labbé, a Toronto-based leading Canadian social entrepreneur with 25 years experience in the production of affordable housing, will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Labbé is an Urban and Regional Planning graduate from the University of Waterloo. Since 1992, he has been president of Options For Homes Non-profit Corporation, which was instrumental in developing a model that provides mixed-income housing without any permanent government subsidy.

"We have chosen the theme "I work in Fredericton. Can I afford to live here, too?" for this year's forum," said Mike O'Brien in announcing the event. "We are delighted to have a speaker of Mr. Labbé's expertise and experience."

"To date, Options has provided home ownership opportunities to more than 3,700 households across Canada. There are also 10 active affiliated organizations using the Options model across Canada and abroad, including Access Condos in Montreal, Options for Homes Waterloo and Options for Homes Greater Sudbury in Ontario, and Options for Homes Romania."

The previous Affordable Housing Days have helped solidify the progress that has been made and provided a forum for open and frank discussion.

This one promises to continue that work with what is being billed as a community dialogue session moderated by Fredericton architect John Leroux. This interdisciplinary panel of community leaders will discuss affordable housing, inclusionary zoning, mixed-use planning, sprawl, density, sustainability and more. A question and answer session with the audience will follow.

Affordable Housing Day begins with registration at 11:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza. A complimentary lunch will be available with opening remarks set for 12 noon. It is expected to wrap up by 4 p.m.

Affordable Housing Day is a free event and is open to anyone with an interest in affordable housing. Advance registration is required by contacting Joanne Thomson at 506-460-2188 or via email at joanne.thomson@fredericton.ca

Brian Duplessis is the executive director of the United Way/Centraide of Central N.B. and can be reached at bduplessis@nb.aibn.com.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Himu Mukherjee Named Fredericton Business Ambassador of the Year
Fredericton
(November 16, 2010)



Himanshu Kumar Mukherjee was named 2010 Ambassador of the Year during the annual Fredericton Business Ambassador Awards ceremony held Tuesday evening at City Hall.

Mr. Mukherjee won the award based on his efforts working with a potential business lead for the City. He provided support and guidance to an immigrant, who is in the process of relocating his business and family to Fredericton. Mr. Mukherjee has also helped a number of people immigrate to Fredericton, assisting them in finding a place to live and work, and for teaching them about the City.

To help facilitate awareness about Fredericton, Mr. Mukherjee helped coordinate official visits of the High Commissioner of India and the Consulate General of India to Fredericton. He readily distributes the City's marketing tools, and also recruited two people into the Ambassador Program.

“Himu has been a tremendous resource for immigrant families looking to relocate to Fredericton,” said Mayor Woodside. “He has provided our marketing tools to new arrivals and ongoing support to potential immigrants overseas. He is a very deserving winner of this prestigious award.”

Mr. Mukherjee received a crystal award and two nights at the Marriott Eastside hotel in New York City valued at $1,000 courtesy of Marriott Global Reservation Sales & Customer Care, and airfare valued at $750 courtesy of the Fredericton International Airport Authority and Enterprise Fredericton.

This is not the first honour bestowed on Mr. Mukherjee by the City of Fredericton. Earlier this year he was one of nine recipients of the City’s 2010 Unsung Hero Awards, which are presented annually to deserving individuals who have worked behind the scenes so that others may enjoy community-based recreational and leisure activities.

Joe Crummey was named First Runner-Up for helping 17 people (four families) immigrate to Fredericton, and contribute to our workforce.
Wendy Southworth was named Second Runner-Up based on her distribution of the City’s marketing tools during her travels to Portland, Maine, New York City and Boston.

Jutha Kruanop-phakhun was named Third Runner-Up, and was selected based on her immigration efforts and distribution of marketing tools. She helped an immigrant couple considering opening a bed and breakfast buy a home and find a lawyer. She also distributed the City’s marketing tools during her trips to China and Thailand to promote Fredericton.

The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Fredericton assisted with the selection of the Ambassador Award winners, and consideration was based on lead generation, population-growth initiatives, distribution of marketing tools and ambassador recruitment. The Ambassador Program was founded in 2003 by Laurie Guthrie, Economic Development Officer with the City, and has since grown to 402 members.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Woman thinks chicken idea won't ruffle feathers (as published in the Daily Gleaner, November 11/10)

The feathers could fly if a Fredericton woman pursues her dream of raising eggs in her own city backyard.

Hazel Richardson still has some homework to do, but she hopes to end up putting the case before city council to allow city dwellers to keep chickens in their backyards. The Fredericton resident said after she decided that she'd like to keep a few hens for fresh eggs, she checked out the city's bylaws, but found they were verboten.

"There's a lot of talk about Fredericton being a sustainable city. It's wonderful in so many ways, but I looked into it and I found that you weren't allowed to keep chickens within city limits," Richardson said.

About 100 cities across North America, from big cities such as Vancouver to smaller centres, have amended their bylaws to permit limited hen pens within city boundaries. Richardson said Moncton has allowed a pilot project to test out the idea and that went well.

Richardson said she wanted to see if other city residents shared her desire, so she placed an advertisement on Kijiji Fredericton's online classifieds site and got about 50 responses. "I thought if it was just me, why would I inflict the idea on other people?" she said.

But the responses she received, ranging from supportive to curious, to others who don't want to keep chickens, but liked the idea of building connections to a local food supply, encouraged her to press on.

New Brunswick's Conservation Council recently showed a film about keeping chickens in urban settings and Richardson invited people to attend the showing. The conservation council is also interested in the idea because of its initiative to encourage people to purchase food locally.

Deputy mayor Dan Keenan said he can't recall anyone raising such an agricultural issue with the city for awhile. "We'd have to do some research to see what the ramifications are," Keenan said. "Clearly, there are also some potential health issues that we would have to ensure that we looked at before we would consider anything like that." Keenan said he'll wait until the issue darkens city hall's door before tackling the potentially plucky problem.

Richardson said there could be public and political hesitation about the concept. "I think it would have to be done very carefully," she said. Roosters aren't part of her plan. The noisy crowers aren't needed for egg production and laying hens aren't noisy.

"The way the Moncton group approached it is they put a report together to address all the concerns that people have," she said. The concerns range from what happens to chicken waste, smell, noise and keeping vermin away, she said.

"Obviously, we're talking maybe two or three chickens. Personally, chicken manure I would use in the garden or compost and they generate less waste than a dog ... It's all about people taking care of the chickens properly," she said. "If food is stored properly, then (attracting vermin) doesn't become an issue," she said. Five chickens generate less manure than one medium-sized dog, she said.

Richardson hopes to pull a report together over the next month and said she would ask city council to consider a limited pilot project as was done in Moncton. Richardson said if anyone is interested in her concept, they can visit Fredericton City Chickens on Facebook to post a comment.

"I'm happy to hear comments on both sides," she said. She's also planning on launching a website, www.frederictoncitychickens.com.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fredericton Gets Gold for Green Matters, Green Shops at International LivCom Awards

Fredericton (NB) – Green Matters and Green Shops, two cutting-edge greenhouse gas reduction initiatives created by the City of Fredericton, received international recognition during the annual International Awards for Liveable Communities (LivCom) which wound up in Chicago this week.

Green Matters, launched by the City in 2007 to encourage residents to make small but important changes to combat climate change, finished second to Porirua, New Zealand in the Socio-Economic Category with both cities earning gold awards for excellence.

Green Shops, launched in 2008 to encourage Fredericton businesses to reduce their environmental footprint, also received a gold award in the same category finishing fourth, just behind third-place winner Schwalm Eder-Kreis, Germany and ahead of Montreal, winner of a silver medal in fifth. There were 13 cities from around the world represented in the category.

The City of Fredericton was also a bronze medal winner in the Whole City Award category for its community and corporate commitment to sustainability, and a finalist in the Bursary Award category for its new Green Matters Certified program.

This international recognition speaks well of what the City is doing and that Fredericton is on the right track. We went head-to-head with some incredibly worthy and progressive cities of every size and were up against some cutting-edge environmental projects. To be recognized internationally for our efforts and to earn this kind of praise is quite an accomplishment.

The award winning “natural” project from Johannesburg, South Africa had highlighted efforts to green the city to contribute to global climate protection. The winner of the “built” project category was the scheme to turn an industrial wasteland in the city of Vancouver, the Southeast False Creek into a vibrant, model sustainable community. The test of its success came with the housing of 2800 athletes competing at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine won the $16,000 Bursary Award for the most inspiring and innovative project.

The LivCom Awards were launched internationally in 1997 and are endorsed by the United Nations Environment Program. The program is run as a UK Registered Charity. More than 50 countries are regularly represented.

To find out more about the awards and for a full list of finalists, results and summaries of submissions, go to www.livcomawards.com.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Fourth Annual Affordable Housing Day Forum at Crowne Plaza November 23

Fredericton (NB) – Michel Labbé, a Toronto-based leading Canadian social entrepreneur with 25 years experience in the production of affordable housing, will be the keynote speaker during the fourth annual City of Fredericton Affordable Housing Day on Tuesday, November 23 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

“We have chosen the theme “I work in Fredericton. Can I afford to live here too?” for this year’s forum,” said Councillor Mike O’Brien, Chair of the City’s Committee on Affordable Housing. “We are delighted to have a speaker of Mr. Labbé’s expertise and experience and I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts on smart development in the context of affordability.”

Mr. Labbé is an Urban and Regional Planning Graduate from the University of Waterloo. Since 1992, he has been president of Options For Homes Non-profit Corporation, which was instrumental in developing a model that provides mixed-income housing without any permanent government subsidy.

To date, Options has provided home ownership opportunities to more than 3,700 households across Canada. There are also 10 active affiliated organizations using the Options model across Canada and abroad including Acces Condos in Montreal, Options for Homes Waterloo and Options for Homes Greater Sudbury in Ontario, and Options for Homes Romania.

Mr. Labbé and Options for Homes have been recognized with several prestigious awards over the years including: the 2010 Affordable Housing Champion by the City of Toronto. Following his presentation there will be a Community Dialogue session moderated by award-winning Fredericton architect John Leroux. This interdisciplinary panel of community leaders will discuss affordable housing, inclusionary zoning, mixed-use planning, sprawl, density, sustainability and more. A question and answer session with the audience will follow.

“This is an opportunity to network with leaders in business and government and share your vision for smart development in the context of affordability,” said Coun.O’Brien.

Affordable Housing Day begins with registration at 11:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza. A complimentary lunch will be available with opening remarks set for 12 noon. It is expected to wrap up by 4 p.m.

Affordable Housing Day is a free event and is open to anyone with an interest in affordable housing. Advance registration is required by contacting Joanne Thomson at 506-460-2188 or via email at joanne.thomson@fredericton.ca