Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fredericton needs more affordable housing

Coun. Mike O'Brien says the city must follow Saint John's lead in building more affordable housing units

Click the following link to review a summary of a radio interview I had today with CBC Fredericton Information Morning Radio 99.5

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/12/29/nb-fredericton-affordable-housing-1012.html

Monday, December 19, 2011

CREATING A FRIENDLIER ENVIRONMENT
(Daily Gleaner Editorial, december 15, 2011)

It's another feather in the hat of the Greater Fredericton area.

Earlier this week, the Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission announced it had reached a 20-year deal with NB Power to use its methane gas collection system to generate electricity to the utility's power grid.

Powered by the landfill's methane gas, two large generators will run simultaneously with the energy produced being turned into electricity.

The deal is expected to net the commission more than $20 million in profit.

"For our organization, that's a good deal," said Fredericton Solid Waste Commission general manager and CEO Gordon Wilson.

It's a good deal for the commission and its a good one for this area.

Methane, a flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon - formed in this case by rotting garbage - is being utilized by a growing number of landfills around the world. Instead of simply venting the gas, many locations are developing it and turning it into a source of income.

The local effort is a prime example of what can be done when citizens and organizations, such as the Solid Waste Commission, join forces and use their collective energy for the betterment of mankind.

In this case, the commission has shown outsiders that the capital region is in control of its destiny and very much in tune with an ever-increasing green world.

The Solid Waste Commission has long been a leader in the environmental field.

According to the organization's 2010 annual report, its landfill gas management system, the first of its kind in New Brunswick, removed approximately 45,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent from the atmosphere last year.

That's a significant figure and one that should increase when the new generation system comes online.

Once the generators are in place in about a year's time, the landfill's methane will have the ability to produce 2.1 megawatts of electricity - the equivalent of lighting and heating more than 2,000 homes or, as Mr. Wilson said during the announcement, "a portion of Oromocto."

"The energy we are now creating through our system is an awful lot more than we need here to power our own buildings," Mr. Wilson said. "That energy was there for us, but was being flared. There is so much more we can do with it and we're entering that phase now. This is a positive environmental story."

We agree.

Energy Minister Craig Leonard said such projects not only contribute to the reliability of the province's electric system, but reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping to keep New Brunswick a leader in green and renewable generation.

Blair Kennedy, vice-president of generation for NB Power, said the electricity produced by the Solid Waste Commission will help the utility meet a goal of having 40 per cent of its power generation from renewable resources.

This speaks well for the future of this province's energy system.

Solid Waste Commission's methane project will cost $6.5 million once all the bills are tallied up. The amazing part of all this is that it was accomplished without receiving a dime of funding from government. It's a success story of which we can all be proud.
Fredericton residents can breathe a sigh of relief.
(Excerpts from the Editorial, Daily Gleaner, December 16/11)

The city will be holding the line on taxes for another year.

The news was made official with the release of the municipality's budget for 2012. In a nutshell, it keeps the tax rate at $1.42 per $100 of assessed property value on the inside rate and $1.06 per $100 on the outside rate. The reduced rate applies to properties that aren't in fully serviced parts of Fredericton.

The city successfully held increases in spending to two per cent even while the cost of inflation rose beyond that and at a time when the province once again trimmed the city's unconditional grant to $5.6 million.

With money restraints and demands being what they are these days, the tax rate could have easily gone in the other direction.

We believe this to be particularly true with the city coping to meet its infrastructure costs and when seemingly ever-increasing requests for funding are taken into consideration.

Much credit for this week's budget has to go to finance committee chairman Coun. Jordan Graham.

The 25-year-old University of New Brunswick student, the youngest city councillor in Fredericton's history, was elected four years ago at age 21.

The bottom line is that he did what Mayor Brad Woodside tasked him to do and delivered a budget that holds the tax rate.

"We squeezed as much value as we could from the resources that we were given," Coun. Graham said. "I think it's a budget that reflects something that council envisions as the way forward for the next year and embodies what we want to work towards and what we want to achieve."

Coun. Graham credits city hall department heads for bending the numbers to deliver the $101.9-million general fund operating budget and a $15.9-million water and sewer budget for 2012. Included in the operating budget is a $14.7-million capital budget for infrastructure renewal.

"We saw examples of tremendous co-operation within departments. People transferring vehicles where they didn't need them, eliminating positions to create new positions in other departments. Staff worked tremendously hard to get to where we are today. I'm very proud to be part of the team we have here," Coun. Graham said.

Credit should also be given to all councillors and the mayor.

They held small group discussions to plot a unified course and then handed most of the budget preparation work to city hall staff. The process ran quickly and there were no clashes.

"We worked together collectively, shooting for the same star. We got the same goals, the same objectives, the same dreams and we worked together quite well," Mayor Woodside said. "Coun. Graham, you did an extraordinary job ... We performed as the public would expect us to with this council."

While there will be fee hikes in areas such as transit fares, monthly parking pass rates, and ice rentals, we believe the budget is a good one for the city and its residents.

Furthermore, we are pleased it was accomplished in a non-confrontational manner.

We urge mayor and council to continue to work together in 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

City launches pedestrian crossing study survey

Photo of pedestrian crossing signFredericton (December 15, 2011) – The City of Fredericton is inviting the public to voice their views and opinions as part of the Capital City Pedestrian Crossing Study. An online survey is now available on the city’s internet at www.fredericton.ca/pedestrianstudy.

The purpose of the study is to identify what residents believe to be the safest crosswalks, what crosswalks make pedestrians feel unsafe, and what crosswalk types residents have seen in other areas that they believe may improve safety in Fredericton.

City crosswalk facilities are already designed according to Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) guidelines,but the City of Fredericton feels the need to raise the bar and make Fredericton a safer and more pedestrian-friendly city.

The study is being coordinated by Opus International Consultants (Canada) Limited, a professional consulting firm with expertise in traffic engineering and safety. The process is being guided at the municipal level by a steering committee including staff from Engineering & Public Works, Police, Parks & Trees, and Development Services.

The process also includes a safety review of existing crosswalks and trail crossings, an analysis of local issues, a review of best practices, and the development of installation guidelines. The study will provide the foundation for improved pedestrian safety in Fredericton as part of the 3E Strategy (Engineering, Education and Enforcement). The public consultation (survey) is a critical phase of this project.

The survey questions will include;

  • Indicate up to five locations (crosswalk or trail crossing) in the City where pedestrians feel safest crossing the road.
  • Indicate up to five locations (crosswalk or trail crossing) in the City where pedestrians do not feel safe crossing the road and describe why pedestrians do not feel safe, and how the crossing could be improved.
  • Describe crosswalk types that residents have seen in other areas that they believe may improve safety at pedestrian crossings in Fredericton (pictures or links to web pages are welcomed).
  • And, how safe are the City of Fredericton’s pedestrian crossings overall.

The city of Fredericton encourages its residents to take part in this important pedestrian safety survey and welcomes the general public’s input into making Fredericton a better and safer city for all.

For those unable to participate in the online survey or for anyone looking for more information, please contact the City’s Engineering &Public Works Department at 506-460-2038 orpublicworks@fredericton.ca.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

City Presents Development Awards to 11 Exemplary Projects

Fredericton (December 13, 2011) – The City of Fredericton has recognized 11 local development projects at its annual Development Committee Awards. The 2011 awards ceremonies were presented in the Council Chamber of Fredericton City Hall on December 13 at noon.

Awards went to projects which included residential and affordable housing developments, Historic Preservation, energy efficient housing units, adaptive reuse development and commercial site design, as well as a recently completed restoration project at City Hall. This is the 12th year the awards have been presented.

Photo of 2011 Development AwardsMAYOR’S AWARD

Jones Masonry & PJ Materials Consultants Ltd. were recognized for their restoration project recently completed at City Hall. Jones Masonry was responsible for the extensive repair and restoration while PJ Materials Consultants Ltd. provided technical and administrative expertise from start to finish. The restoration project will increase the overall longevity of the City’s historically significant landmark.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING & ENERGY EFFICIENT DESIGN

Avide Developments and Tannery Court Cooperative Ltd. were acknowledged for the creation of 35 affordable and energy efficient housing units at Tannery Court III located at 287 Brookside Drive. This project represents another successful collaboration between Avide Developments and Tannery Court Cooperative toward the creation and addition of affordable dwelling units to the City’s housing stock.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

A Historic Preservation Award was handed out to Christ Church Parish Church and Fellows & Company for their contributions to the preservation of St. Anne’s Chapel of Ease. Several studies were conducted by Fellows and Company to ensure the restoration would be accurate both historically and architecturally. Half of the funding for this project was provided by the Federal Govement’s Heritage Campaign while the other half was raised by the Church.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND ADAPTIVE REUSE

The NB Liquor Corporation and J.D. Irving Limited received a historic preservation and adaptive reuse award for their contributions to the York Street Train Station. The project preserved much of the original structure while allowing for the conversion of the property to a commercial use that is more compatible in a modern-day context. The York Street Train Station and is regulated under the Federal Heritage Railways Station Protection Act

UNIQUE TOWNHOUSE DESIGN

This award is presented to Ross Anderson Developments Ltd. for the unique design of a new townhouse development located off of Sunny Brae Drive. The townhouses are designed to resemble the traditional brownstone style housing often found in older cities such as Boston and New York. While these units look and feel expensive the developer has given particular attention to ensuring that these units will be affordable for first time home buyers, families and active seniors.

NEIGHBOURHOOD DESIGN

Colpitts Development was recognized for a Neighbourhood Design Award their strategic design of Siverwood Meadows located at the Mooers Drive extension. Their close work with City staff to redesign this subdivision will allow for the creation of new lots, have a more logical street configuration as well as having a minimum impact of the existent infrastructure.
Comprehensive Planning & Environmental Stewardship

Chippins Limited was awarded the Comprehensive Planning and Environmental Stewardship Award for a proposed subdivision including both commercial and residential components of land on Doak Road and Alison Boulevard. The portion of the property fronting on Alison Boulevard will maintain its commercial distinction as envisioned in the Municipal Plan while the residential component will provide for a range of housing types.

ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN

University of New Brunswick, B+H Architects and Sasaki Associates were awarded the Architectural Design Award for their collaboration of work on the Richard J. Currie Center. University Chancellor Richard J. Currie donated more than $20 million dollars to the project as well as the donations of many others including the City of Fredericton. UNB Fredericton’s athletic facilities now rival the best across North America and have made UNB a leader in health and fitness.

COMMERCIAL SITE DESIGN

A Commercial Site Design was awarded to Jim Gilbert’s Wheels & Deals for design of their new car sales and service centre located at 402 St. Mary’s Street. The design included the consolidation of the car sale and services operations onto one property and aesthetically succeeded in setting the stage for future development and redevelopment of this portion of St. Mary’s Street.

COMMERCIAL SITE DESIGN

Costco Wholesale Canada Ltd. & Campanella Associates Architects were awarded a Commercial Site Design Award for their contribution to the Corbett Centre area. The Costco building was design to integrate with the existing development of the area while working within the parameters established for this site by the University of New Brunswick as well as the Department of Environment.

RECREATION FACILITY DESIGN

The Bank of Nova Scotia and CBCL Limited were awarded a Recreation Facility Award for their contributions to the new multi-use athletic fields located at 605 Cliffe Street and 590 Knowledge Park Drive. Each projects included the design and construction of a new multiuse artificial turf athletic field which is manufactured from recycled car tires, a state of the art field lighting system, as well as a subsurface drainage system under the field consisting of over 3 kilometres of drainage pipe.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Council Approves Terms of Reference for York House Repurposing

Next step is to seek public feedback on alternate uses for the building


Fredericton (November 14) Fredericton City Council has approved the terms of reference for the municipal working group charged with finding alternate uses for historic York House in Downtown Fredericton.

As a result of public concern about the proposed demolition of York House in 2006, a deal was worked out that resulted in the City of Fredericton acquiring the building late in 2007, said Coun. Stephen Chase, chair of the York House Working Group. The intent at the time was to save the late-19th Century historic building from demolition and convert it into municipal offices. It has become apparent that such a plan is not financially viable for the municipality, so let's figure out what else the building can be used for.

The working groups mandate will be to determine possible strategies for repurposing York House, as well as the optimal strategy for the historic building, either in a public or private context. Regardless of the future use, any repurposing effort must ensure that the exterior of the building maintain its historic look and is self-sustaining, requiring no ongoing funding from the City of Fredericton.

With the terms of reference approved for the working committee, the next step will be to develop a feedback mechanism to seek input from the community. The first phase of that input will be done online and it is hoped that the web page for feedback will be ready early next week. Recommendations on the repurposing of the building will eventually be reported back to City Council.

About York House

York House, located at 193 York Street, was constructed in 1893. It was designed by James C. Dumaresq, architect of the New Brunswick Legislative Building, as well as St. Paul's United Church and the Charlotte Street School.

The building was originally constructed to house the Fredericton High School and an elementary school. Through the years, York House has also been used for Teachers College classrooms, the City's public library, a Student Employment Centre and a Youth Hostel.

The Brunswick Street Baptist Church purchased the property in 1965. The building was used for various church purposes and was renamed York House. Due to the growing needs of the church, plans were developed for a new church building. To allow for the new building, York House was to be demolished.

Due to public concern regarding the demolition of the building, Fredericton City Council directed City Staff to negotiate with the church and congregation to buy the building for use as municipal office space. A deal to purchase York House and allow the church to expand was approved in December 2007.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Four more Fredericton buildings added to Local Historic Places Register

Fredericton (November 28) – Fredericton City Council approved the recommendation of the Preservation Review Board to include four historic places onto the Local Historic Places Register. The historic places include:

• 36 - 38 Waterloo Row;
• 335 Queen Street;
• 342 University Avenue; and,
• 350 Saunders Street.

Photo of 36-38 Waterloo Row36- 38 Waterloo Row is a significant structure of Loyalist origin, originally known at the Royal Oak Inn. The heritage value of the building resides not only in the early development of Waterloo Row but in its reflection of the commercial identity of the eastern end of Fredericton’s town plat during the Loyalist settlement phase.

Photo of 335 Queen Street335 Queen Street is a late 19th century brick building associated with successful business man, James Hodge, and the commercial development of the west end of the Fredericton town plat. It is currently used as a municipal office building and is known by the name of Sutton House, one of the last retail operations in the building.

Photo of 342 University Ave342 University Avenue is associated with the life and career of Dr. Loring W. Bailey, and with its builder, Thomas Allen. Loring W. Bailey was recommended in 1861, at the age of 21, as professor of Natural Science at UNB. He shared his scientific knowledge with the community, even collaborating with local inventor, John Babbitt. Together Bailey and Babbitt constructed the first telephone in Fredericton and illuminated the first electric light. Bailey hired Thomas Allen, a building contractor and one-time member of Fredericton City Council, in 1904 to build him new house on University Avenue.

Photo of 350 Saunders Street350 Saunders Street is associated with the significance of the builder, William J. Scarr, and the imprint he left on the Fredericton housing stock. Labouring under the competitive tender system, Scarr won his building contracts by underbidding the competition. Scarr created his own housing template, building ten similarly styled cottages on Westmorland and Saunders Streets between 1896 and 1901.

“The placement of these significant properties on the Register presents an opportunity for us to learn more about the Frederictonians who faced challenges and opportunities while making a mark on this city,” said Councillor Stephen Chase, City Council member on the Preservation Review Board.

About the Register

Council approved the establishment of the Local Historic Places Register on July 21, 2003. The Local Historic Places Register is a list of places (buildings, archaeological sites, and areas or spaces) deemed to be of local historical significance and placed on a list with the permission of the property owner. The Local Historic Places Register was established as a result of a Federal Government Program called the “Historic Places Initiative” and designed to raise awareness of historic places and encourage conservation. For more information of the Local Historic Places Register visit www.fredericton.ca.

MacPherson named as Fredericton’s new Chief Administrative Officer

Photo of MacPherson and MayorFredericton (November 28) – Fredericton City Council has named Chris MacPherson as the City of Fredericton’s new Chief Administrative Officer, effective November 28, 2011.

MacPherson has served as acting City Administrator for the last five months. He succeeds former City Administrator, Paul Stapleton, who retired on July 1 after 18-years of service. Prior to this, MacPherson served as Assistant City Administrator since 2002.

“City Council is very confident in Mr. MacPherson’s ability to manage the affairs of the City of Fredericton,” said Mayor Brad Woodside. “He has handled himself well throughout his career at the municipality and during his role as acting City Administrator. We are pleased that he has agreed to take on the role permanently.”

“This is a tremendous responsibility and I am indebted to Council for the confidence they have shown in me,” said Chris MacPherson. “I have grown up in this community and look forward to continuing to work with our partners to make Fredericton the best it can be. We have a great working relationship with our Council, and a great staff team who are committed to serving the citizens of Fredericton.”

MacPherson began his municipal career in 1976 working for the City of Fredericton Recreation Department as a labourer. By the mid 1980’s, he had been appointed to the position of Assistant Director of the Community Services Department. He held this position for over a decade.

In 1998, he was appointed the Director of Corporate Services Department, which provides internal services to the other city departments. In 2002, he became Assistant City Administrator for the City.

He completed his education at the University of New Brunswick with undergraduate degrees in Physical Education and Business Administration. He later completed a Master of Arts degree. He also has a certificate for Senior Executives in State and Local Government from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government.

MacPherson has been active in community and professional associations during his career. He was President of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators from 2009-2010, having served seven years on the national board. He is a Past President of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, Fredericton Regional Group. He currently sits on the board for Service New Brunswick.

From a municipal perspective, he is Chairman of the Fredericton Convention Centre, the Fredericton Lands Commission, and eNovations, Inc., Fredericton’s municipally-owned telecommunications company. He is also president of Newmarket Properties (Boyce Farmers Market). MacPherson is married with three children.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

goFred X event highlights world class innovation in Fredericton

goFred X LogoFredericton (November 23, 2011) – Join local and international speakers to explore the future of technology at goFred X, an educational event happening at the new Fredericton Convention Centre on December 8. The event will host inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil as a special guest and keynote speaker.

Kurzweil is a leading inventor; he’s created devices including the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind and the first text-to-speech synthesizer. He’s also known internationally for technology forecasting.

Other speakers include home grown technology experts who make headlines in the exciting and growing Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. They include:

  • Ali Ghorbani, Dean, Faculty of Computer Science UNB
  • Cosmin Munteanu, Research Officer, National Research Council
  • Kevin Englehart, Associate Director, Institute of Biomedical Engineering
  • Mark Masry, Manager R&D, CARIS
  • Maurice Gallant, CEO GoFred Networks, Comnet Inc
  • Sandy Bird, Co-Founder & CTO, Q1 Labs
  • Scott Buffett, Research Officer, National Research Council
  • William McIver, Senior Research Officer, National Research Council

“The innovative progress happening here in Fredericton is worth sharing with the public, especially with students” says e-Novations COF of IT Operations, Mike Richard. “It’s important to celebrate our successes and provide access to the ideas and people changing the future of technology.”

The goFred X event will be the first educational event with general public admission at Fredericton’s new convention centre. Presentations and Q&A with speakers will be streamed live during the event; in addition, some event footage will be edited and posted to the web as a documentary. The event was inspired by the popular TED x movement of presenting ideas through community forums.

Tickets are on sale now for $35. This full day event includes a meal, snacks, and a chance to win prizes. For more information or to register, visit www.gofredx.ca.

Background on goFred:

goFred, is the new brand of Fredericton’s e-Novations, a National and International award winning municipally owned telecommunications company. e-Novations provides leading edge low cost inter-city and Internet connectivity to organizations in the City of Fredericton

John van Trijp Named 2011 Fredericton Business Ambassador of the Year

Fredericton (November 24, 2011) – John van Trijp was named the 2011 Ambassador of the Year during the annual Fredericton Business Ambassador Awards reception held Wednesday evening at City Hall.

Mr. van Trijp won the award based on numerous efforts. He delivered a lead, which resulted in Fredericton’s participation in the national i-Canada movement, geared towards raising Canada’s profile globally as an ‘intelligent nation’. Under the Chairmanship of Premier David Alward, Mayor Woodside has been asked to serve on the i-Canada Governing Council. This lead will generate increased Fredericton awareness as the City mentors other communities about its ‘smart’ initiatives. Mr. van Trijp has also helped people immigrate to Canada, promoted Fredericton for potential editorial coverage, pitched the city as a location for a large retailer, and recommended Fredericton as a host location for an international conference, SEUS-CP.

“Mr. van Trijp epitomizes the word ‘ambassador’, and we are very grateful for his ongoing work, promoting Fredericton from his home in the Netherlands,” said Mayor Woodside. “He is a very deserving winner of this prestigious award.”

Mr. van Trijp received a crystal award and two nights/breakfasts at the New York Marriott Downtown, valued at $1,500, courtesy of Marriott Global Reservation Sales & Customer Care, and airfare, valued at $1000, courtesy of the Fredericton International Airport Authority and Enterprise Fredericton.

Chris Pitman was named First Runner-Up based on his efforts for 'lead generation & promotion'. The recipient uses Fredericton’s marketing tools, and has posted a link on his website pointing to the City’s digital relocation kit. He deals with investors from around the world sourcing leads, and promoting Fredericton to attract investment. Mr. Pitman received two nights/breakfasts at the Renaissance Toronto Hotel, valued at $1,000, sponsored by Marriott Global Reservation Sales & Customer Care.

The Fredericton Business Ambassador Program was founded in 2003 by Laurie Guthrie, Economic Development Officer with the City of Fredericton, to encourage residents to promote Fredericton as a smart, sustainable city offering a cost-competitive business environment and balanced lifestyle. The primary goal is to attract new businesses, residents, conferences and opportunities to the City. Members of the program participate in a one hour training session, and then are provided with promotional tools to distribute during their meetings, conferences and travels. The program currently boasts 525 members and continues to grow each year. To learn more, please visit ‘Ambassadors’ at: www.fredericton.ca/economicdevelopment.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fifth Annual City of Fredericton Affordable Housing Day

Yvon Thibodeau, a highly regarded affordable housing developer, will be the keynote speaker during the fifth annual City of Fredericton Affordable Housing Day on Tuesday November 22 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Thibodeau is known for his innovative and practical approaches to development throughout Atlantic Canada.

The theme of this year’s event is solutions beyond subsidies. It will include Thibodeau’s presentation on affordable housing development strategies which do not rely solely on federal and provincial subsidies. In addition, there will be an update on the NB Housing Strategy and a Fredericton Housing Market Snapshot by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

“Through our partnerships with the Province, CMHC, the Community Action Group on Homelessness, and the New Brunswick Non-profit Housing Association we have reached the five year milestone for Affordable Housing Day,” said Councillor Mike O’Brien, Chair of the City’s Committee on Affordable Housing. “We need to continue to work together to educate the public, increase awareness and solve the financial challenges related to providing a good supply of affordable housing for our communities.”

The Affordable Housing Day initiative began in 2007 to raise awareness of the important role affordable housing plays in making Fredericton a strong and viable community. It continues to do so by inviting speakers, stakeholders and the public to discuss the subject and consider best practice approaches to creating affordable housing.

“The public is welcome to join us on Affordable Housing Day because increasing public interest and education is central to the purpose of this event” said Councillor O’Brien. “To take part we ask participants to RSVP.”

To RSVP, please contact Joanne Thomson at 506-460-2188 or joanne.thomson@fredericton.ca.

Affordable Housing Day begins with registration at 11:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza. A complimentary lunch will be available before the opening remarks scheduled for noon. The day’s activities will end by 1:30 pm.
Council Approves Terms of Reference for York House Repurposing

Fredericton City Council has approved the terms of reference for the municipal working group charged with finding alternate uses for historic York House in Downtown Fredericton.

As a result of public concern about the proposed demolition of York House in 2006, a deal was worked out that resulted in the City of Fredericton acquiring the building late in 2007, said Coun. Stephen Chase, chair of the York House Working Group. The intent at the time was to save the late-19th Century historic building from demolition and convert it into municipal offices. It has become apparent that such a plan is not financially viable for the municipality, so let's figure out what else the building can be used for.

The working groups mandate will be to determine possible strategies for repurposing York House, as well as the optimal strategy for the historic building, either in a public or private context. Regardless of the future use, any repurposing effort must ensure that the exterior of the building maintain its historic look and is self-sustaining, requiring no ongoing funding from the City of Fredericton.

With the terms of reference approved for the working committee, the next step will be to develop a feedback mechanism to seek input from the community. The first phase of that input will be done online and it is hoped that the web page for feedback will be ready early next week. Recommendations on the repurposing of the building will eventually be reported back to City Council.

The York House Working Group includes Coun. Stephen Chase, Chair, and City staff members: Chris MacPherson, acting City Administrator; Greg Cook, Executive Director for Capital Projects; Don Fitzgerald, Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives; and, Calvin Thompson, Real Estate Manager. The request to form a working group came from the Development Committee meeting of October 18, 2011.

About York House

York House, located at 193 York Street, was constructed in 1893. It was designed by James C. Dumaresq, architect of the New Brunswick Legislative Building, as well as St. Paul's United Church and the Charlotte Street School.

The building was originally constructed to house the Fredericton High School and an elementary school. Through the years, York House has also been used for Teachers College classrooms, the City's public library, a Student Employment Centre and a Youth Hostel.

The Brunswick Street Baptist Church purchased the property in 1965. The building was used for various church purposes and was renamed York House. Due to the growing needs of the church, plans were developed for a new church building. To allow for the new building, York House was to be demolished.

Due to public concern regarding the demolition of the building, Fredericton City Council directed City Staff to negotiate with the church and congregation to buy the building for use as municipal office space. A deal to purchase York House and allow the church to expand was approved in December 2007.

The building was added to the City of Fredericton's Local Historic Places Register in July of 2009

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two-Tier Property Rates in the City

Council 2012 budget deliberations resume Monday night - open to media and public. Major item for discussion is to continue or phase out the two tier property tax rate in the city. There are still ~400 residences not on city water/sewer (would have their own well/septic). These are residences on the extremity of the city (for example: River Rd in Marysville, McLeod Hill, some in Silverwood & Lincoln, out by Killarney Lake, etc)

Those homes pay a tax rate (and therefore property taxes) 32% lower than the homes on city water/sewer. They do have well/septic costs, but if you are on city water, you also get invoiced quarterly (on top of property taxes) for w/s. It is estimated a typical home with 4 residents pays about $640/year for this.

The difference is a hold over from when the city amalgamated back in 1973, and many of the newer areas had no services at all. Now, everyone has access to all services, such as fire/police, recreation, snow & garbage removal, planning, transit (although some are a bit remote from the nearest route) - and you would have to drive further to access some of those other services.

The remote areas do not have sidewalks, but at least count there are also ~27+ streets in our/my Ward 3 that do not have sidewalks, but pay the higher rate.

The total of the higher taxes taxes paid by those on the higher rate, compared to those on the lower rate, is about $600,000/year. At the present time, I support one rate for all - or if two tier remains because of a slight difference in services, then at a much closer gap than the present 32% gap. I look forward to hearing what the other Councillor's positions are, and what the arguments may be for retaining the two rates.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MEMBER OF CURLING 'ROYALTY' DIES
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, November 15/11)

Mourned Jim Sullivan's death shocks and devastates friends and sports community


Champion: Jim Sullivan is seen in this October 1998 file photo. The winner of the 1988 world junior curling title died over the weekend. (photo by Steve McGillvary)

The curling world is mourning the death of Jim Sullivan, who led New Brunswick teams to the junior men's title in 1988 and a second-place finish in 1990 at the Brier men's national championships.

The skip of the first team from New Brunswick to win a world championship in any sport in more than 60 years, Sullivan was elected in 1994 to the province's Sports Hall of Fame.

A married father of two daughters, he died unexpectedly Saturday in Fredericton at age 43.

"I am just devastated and shocked," said Russ Howard of Moncton, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time world curling champion. "Jim was a wonderful guy with a great sense of humour, but a lot of people have forgotten how exceptional a curler he was.

"I bet I faced him 50 times over the years and can't remember ever beating him by more than one point. We had incredible matches.

"I am going to miss him."

Born into a family of top curlers, his father, David, competed in six Briers, his uncle, Charles, competed in five, and his cousin, Charlie Jr,, competed in four.

"In the province of New Brunswick, when you say 'Sullivan' and 'curling,' you are talking about royalty," said Jeff Lacey of Saint John, who curled with Jim Sullivan for three seasons. "This is a big loss to the curling community as a whole and to the world in general ... He was the nicest person you could ever imagine."

Sullivan was employed as a technical support analyst with Genesys Canada. The cause of his death hasn't been released.

"He was a guy everybody liked within curling circles," said Mike Flannery of Fredericton, who curled with Jim and his father, accompanying David to the 1976 Brier. "Jim was just a joy to be around.

"You didn't mind losing to him because he was such a nice guy. You couldn't dislike a bone in his body."

The skip of the Jim Sullivan Rink, his team captured the provincial and national men's junior titles in 1987 before going on to win the world junior title in Germany with his cousin, Charlie, Craig Burgess and Dan Alderman. He lost to Ed Werenich in a closely contested final at the Brier.
Sullivan is survived by his wife Sonya; his daughters, Jordan Lyn and Jamie Brynn; his parents David and Carol Sullivan of Fredericton; and his siblings, Evan Sullivan of Belleville, Ont,, Brian Sullivan of New Maryland and Karen Duxbury (Neil) of Toronto.

Arrangements are being handled by Brenan's Funeral Home in Saint John, with visitations Wednesday and Thursday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A funeral service will be held Friday at noon at the Church of St. Andrew and St. David in Saint John.

The family has asked that any donations be directed to the Sotos Syndrome Support Association of Canada or the Canadian Mental Health Association.
CITY SEEKS PARTNERS for YORK HOUSE PROJECT
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, Novemeber 15/11)

The city owns it, but now it's got to figure out what to do with it.

To that end, city councillors agreed Monday night to terms of reference for a public proposal call on how to rehabilitate historic York House in the downtown core.

The property poses challenges: it contains asbestos, PCBs and lead.

The city has estimated it could cost as much as $4 million to refurbish the building, said Coun. Stephen Chase, chairman of the city's York House working group.

That's too pricey for converting the structure into additional municipal offices, he said, so the city will ask the public for help.

"It's an open call to the public, which, of course, includes the development community and other people interested in the potential uses of that structure to come forward with viable proposals that can work between the two parameters I outlined," Chase said.

"We want to preserve the structure and restore it to its architectural splendor as a historic building in Fredericton, and the other parameter being that it be at zero cost to the taxpayers of Fredericton. Between those two parameters, we'll entertain proposals."

Chase isn't opposed to partnerships being formed to execute a viable redesign and reuse for the city-owned property.

The $3 million-$4 million rehabilitation estimate would include removal of asbestos, PCBs and lead, along with the estimated cost of bringing the building up to building codes.

The city acquired York House in late 2007 as part of a deal it worked out with Brunswick Street Baptist Church.

The church wanted to expand but couldn't pay the cost of renovating York House, so it was going to demolish the building for its new addition.

Through land purchases and trades, the city found land for the church to build its addition and got York House in return.

Part of the committee's plan is to develop a feedback mechanism to seek input from the community.

The first phase of the input will be done online, and it's hoped the web page for feedback will be ready early next week.

Recommendations on how to rehabilitate the structure will have to come back to city council for approval.

Located at 193 York St., York House was constructed in 1893. It was designed by James Dumaresq, architect of the New Brunswick legislative building, as well as St. Paul's United Church and the Charlotte Street School.

The building was originally constructed to house the Fredericton High School and an elementary school. Through the years, York House has also been used for Teachers' College classrooms, the city's public library, a student employment centre and a youth hostel.

The Brunswick Street Baptist Church purchased the property in 1965. The building was used for various church purposes and was renamed York House.

Monday, November 14, 2011




The Princess Margaret Bridge in Fredericton Opens

(as posted by Communicaitons NB, Nov 10/11)

The Princess Margaret Bridge in Fredericton is now open to traffic.

The bridge, which has been undergoing a $77.4 million-rehabilitation for the past two years, was closed to traffic last May. This allowed extensive work to be done that included replacement of the deck, refurbishment of the piers, steel repairs, completion of bearing replacement and painting.

"I greatly appreciate the patience of the travelling public and the co-operation that we have had from the City of Fredericton," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams. "Now that the water proofing and paving has been completed, we can safely re-open the bridge to traffic, while SNC Lavalin continues working on other areas of the bridge that will not disrupt the traffic flow."

Williams added that the bridge is an important part of infrastructure in the area.

“The refurbishment of this bridge will allow the people of Fredericton and the surrounding area to enjoy a safe structure for the next 50 years,” he said.

The Princess Margaret Bridge originally opened in 1959. The bridge was restricted to a maximum vehicle weight of 43,500 kg in November 2008. With the rehabilitation, the maximum vehicle weight is re-established as 62,500 kg.