Friday, January 28, 2011
(excerpts from an article published in the Daily Gleaner, January 27/11)
Fredericton's finance committee chairman Coun. Mike O'Brien says it's time to consider ditching the city's two-tiered tax system. If the city abandoned its rate discount program for some 400 homeowners, it could take in another $670,000 in tax revenue annually, he said.
The capital city has maintained a tax rate of $1.4211 per $100 of assessment for residents who get full access to city services. But when amalgamation occurred in 1973, some parts of the newly incorporated City of Fredericton were still on septic tanks and domestic wells. Residents in unserviced areas of the city pay the outside rate, which is $1.0658 per $100 of assessed property value.
"The issue I wish to have discussed is simply the principle of the two rates. If you live in the city, you get all services, except possibly water and sewer hookups," O'Brien said.
A homeowner whose house is assessed at $190,000 would pay $2,025 per year with the outside rate. The same taxpayer with full services would pay $2,700 per year plus annual water and sewer costs of about $550 annually. That means those residents pay $675 per year in taxes plus the water and sewer costs.
"One could say that those on water and sewer are somewhat subsidizing those who are not as they receive all the other city services at lesser overall household cost," O'Brien said. "Council simply has to get all the information from staff and have the philosophical discussion on the history of, the basis for, and the need to continue, the two different rates."
To read the entire article, click on the following link: http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/cityregion/article/1374797
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
(from statistics provided by the Canadian Real Estate Association)
Residential sales in the Fredericton area served by the Real Estate Board of the Fredericton Area Inc. set a new record for activity in the month of December in 2010.
Home sales numbered 112 units in December, rising six per cent from a year earlier. In contrast, sales in all of New Brunswick declined 18 per cent from levels reported in December 2009. Annual home sales activity totalled 2,086 units in 2010. This was down four per cent from 2009, largely due to weak demand in April and May compared to the same two months one year earlier.
The residential average price was $142,642 in December 2010, rising four per cent from a year earlier. The annual average price figure also increased four per cent, coming in at $165,175 in 2010. Meanwhile, the average price for home sales in all of New Brunswick was $142,813 in December 2010. This was down four per cent from the same month in 2009.
New listings on the Board’s MLS® System numbered 212 units in December 2010, up 20 per cent from year-ago levels. There were 970 active residential listings on the Board’s MLS® System at the end of the year, up seven per cent from the end of 2009.
There were 7.1 months of inventory at the end of 2010 on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was down from 7.9 months in November, and marks the lowest level since March. The number of months of inventory is the number of months it would take to sell current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
Total sales activity numbered 132 units in December, rising nine per cent on a year-over-year basis. The combined value of all property sales totalled $17 million, an increase of 12 per cent from December 2009.
The Real Estate Board of the Fredericton Area Inc. represents 280 agents, salespeople and affiliate members throughout the provincial capital area.
(as published int he Daily Gleaner, January 25/11)
A donation from J.K. Irving and his wife Jean toward the cost of replacing the base for a statue of Robert Burns was received by city council Monday night. Mayor Brad Woodside handed over two personal cheques totalling $81,000, which the New Brunswick industrialist and his wife donated in order to see the historic, full-figured statue of Robert Burns back on The Green along the St. John riverfront.
The mayor gave the cheques to finance committee chairman Mike O'Brien, who presented a motion of acceptance. "I would move that council request you, on behalf of the council, the residents of Fredericton and all New Brunswickers of Scottish descent, to formally thank Mr. and Mrs. Irving for this generous donation and to formally invite them to the unveiling of the restored Robbie Burns statue when it is ready this summer," O'Brien said.
The city has paid to have a company clean and polish the bronze cladding of the sculpture of the Scottish poet, one of two statues designed by W.G. Stevenson of Scotland, but it has been languishing in a recreation division storage yard since 2008.
The statue was unveiled to provincewide acclaim in 1906. The city removed the statue for cleaning and to repair its base, which has weathered many a flood over the course of its 100-plus year history. When city council balked at paying the full repair bill and suggested that New Brunswick Scots be conscripted into a public fundraising drive, it roused the ire of the cultural community. The statue was given to the city as a gift in the 1980s and Scottish groups took the position that the city accepted responsibility for its maintenance.
Woodside on Monday night proclaimed Robert Burns Day, which is marked today, Burns' birthday. The mayor said the Scottish associations want to have the statue unveiled during the New Brunswick Highland Games. "We're trying to do whatever we can, that as in 1906, when it happens it's going to be done with a bang," the mayor said. "We'll make it a big thing."
Fredericton (January 24, 2011) - Artist Craig Schneider has been selected to create an original site-specific work of public art for the new Fredericton Convention Centre. Mr. Schneider was selected from among a group of artists who responded to a Call for Expression of Interest issued in June 2010.
The $20,000 commission is being funded by the City of Fredericton, which received a $10,000 prize in November 2009 after being named Arts Municipality of the year by the NB Foundation for the Arts . City Council matched the $10,000 award and put it toward the commissioned art work for its new Convention Centre on Queen Street.
“Council was very honoured to be recognized with the Municipality of the Arts Award, and equally pleased to match the funds for this commission of public art,” said Mayor Brad Woodside. “Mr. Schneider’s proposal reflects the natural beauty we enjoy here in Fredericton and I think this will be a fitting and exciting work of art that will provide enjoyment for all who visit our new convention centre.”
Mr. Schneider’s winning proposal consists of a large scale, hand-made ceramic-tile wall mural, incorporating a variety of colors, brushwork and glaze effects. Using a low-fired clay-body, with a range of blues, greens, white and yellows this piece depicts the beauty of the St. John River Valley as an expression of the energy within nature and place. The mural is a functional smooth glazed tile including highlights throughout using a crystalline glaze effect.
Mr. Schneider holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design, and a Diploma in Fine Craft from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. He has received Creation grants from the Canada Council and the New Brunswick Arts Board for his ceramic and metal sculpture, which has been exhibited in group and solo shows throughout the Maritimes. His work is included in permanent collections, and has been featured in Ceramics Monthly and Arts Atlantic.
Short-listed preliminary proposals were reviewed by a five member Selection Committee composed of an architect, a representative from the City of Fredericton Cultural Affairs, two Directors of the NBFA and an art administrator.
Mr. Schneider's artwork will be installed on the second floor of the Conference Centre along a 30x9-foot curved wall outside the ballroom in the area called Pointe Ste. Anne Foyer. It is expected that the work will take up to five months to create and will be installed later this spring.
Monday, January 24, 2011
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, January 27/11)
Tourism officials are hoping a competition to find the best emerging blues artist in the United Kingdom will put New Brunswick on the radar of blues fans across the globe.
About 100 talented blues groups are participating in a series of battle-of-the-bands competitions in popular music venues in Nottingham, Southampton, Essex, Glasgow and Manchester this week. The winner will be given an all-expenses paid trip to Fredericton, complete with a prominent performance slot at this year's Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.
Cherry Lee Mewis, a young roots and blues powerhouse from North Wales, has been chosen as the winner of the first round of performances. The second round is slated to happen tonight.
New Brunswick's Tourism and Parks Minister Trevor Holder said he believes this is a tremendous opportunity to show off our province's beautiful scenery, friendly citizens, and to spread the word about exciting events such as the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.
"It's a coveted place for musicians," he said. "This is obviously an example of how we need to talk about ourselves more as a province. This is clearly an opportunity for us to showcase not only Fredericton but New Brunswick as a whole."
He said he was pleased to see the amount of interest in this competition in the United Kingdom. "Tourism is clearly a growth market and we need to be tapping into it."
Harvest music director Brent Staeben said taking part in international marketing opportunities will only help grow the festival's burgeoning reputation. "Anything that helps position us in the industry as an international festival is always positive because the good word travels around," he said.
"It's no different than Derek (Trucks and Susan Tedeschi) having a fantastic time here and telling everyone they know in the industry about us. "The industry is worldwide and there are lots of great blues acts in the United Kingdom and we want our reputation in the industry to grow."
He said it's also an opportunity to promote Fredericton as a special destination. "We really do have a unique product here. We can talk about other great festivals, some are bigger, some have great lineups, but what we've got going on here is really unique," he said.
As an added bonus, popular Harvest performer and Bairdsville native Matt Andersen has been tapped to assist with the competition's judging process. The successful bluesman will be listening to each of the acts and helping organizers pick the winning artist, before he's given an opportunity to perform at the final event in the competition.
Staeben said that's going to give him a chance to promote himself, and the festival, on a major stage. "He's going to be playing in front of, essentially, everybody in the British blues world in London in connection with this contest," he said. "So it's a wonderful opportunity ... We're looking forward to putting down some roots in the British blues industry and hopefully we'll see this (competition) keep going."
More information about the competition, and the artists performing, is available at www.tourismnewbrunswick.co.uk.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
But for those living in the greater Fredericton community, these days there are many reasons to see the glass half full.
There is so much that is right, beautiful, prosperous and good about this community, and that's not just a positive attitude talking. There are lots of facts and figures to back it up.
* Our unemployment rate has been dropping since last summer, from 5.9 per cent in August, to 5.7 per cent through the fall, to 5.5 per cent in December.
That's significantly below Saint John's December rate of 6.3 per cent, Moncton's at 7.3 per cent and the national rate of 7.6 per cent.
Our unemployment rate is often lower than the three mentioned above, which always positive news.
* Our building boom is continuing, with a record-breaking $168 million in construction and renovations last year. This is the fifth year in a row that we've topped the $100 million mark. This keeps the trades busy and shows investor faith in this city.
* We're a small city, but we are making impressive gains in the green department. The city has earned a designation called Milestone 5 for its commitment to reduce corporate greenhouse gas emissions.
Fredericton is only the fourth municipality in Canada and the first east of British Columbia to achieve the highest certification possible for its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas levels.
That shows a serious dedication to making this a healthier city for everyone.
* Speaking of healthy, we heard the announcement at the state of the city address on Thursday that Scotiabank will contribute $1.5 million to city recreation facilities. This donation will support the building of a new artificial turf sports field next the Willie O'Ree Place on the north side.
"There's no question that recreation is top of mind from a health perspective and from an enjoyment perspective," said Peter Bessey, senior vice-president, Atlantic Region Scotiabank. "It's great for children and it's great for families, and that's where we want to be."
With soccer becoming such a popular sport, and with its equipment costs relatively low, this new field will allow access to the sport for an increased number of players.
Beyond all the statistics, we know already what a great community this is. A massive team effort just brought a happy Christmas to hundreds of families through the donations of people and businesses, clubs and groups.
We have some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere, with the St. John River as the glorious centrepiece.
Our downtown architecture and ambiance are welcoming and beautiful, and our walking trails allow us to take everything in while keeping fit.
Finally, with the opening of the new convention centre this week, we can now boast that, like Saint John and Moncton, this city now has an escalator.
Progress, prosperity, beauty - and even an escalator.
The glass is more than half full.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Fredericton Mayor Delivers State of the City Address in New Convention Centre
Fredericton (January 13, 2010) – As promised at the 2009 State of the City Address, City of Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside has delivered his 2010 address at the new Fredericton Convention Centre.
During his speech, which marked the first official event in the City’s state of the art multi-use meeting and event facility, the Mayor touched on many of the successes enjoyed by Fredericton in 2010 and celebrated the partnerships that made these things possible. He also used the opportunity to make several good news announcements for the city.
Mayor Woodside, along with Mr. Peter Bessey, Senior Vice-President, Atlantic Region for Scotiabank, announced that the bank will be providing significant support to Fredericton’s recreation infrastructure. As part of the agreement, the bank has acquired the naming rights for the recreation hubs around Willie O’Ree Place and the new Grant•Harvey Centre, which will now be known as Scotiabank Park North and Scotiabank Park South.
The support will help enhance the City’s two recreation hubs, and will also allow for the construction of a new artificial multi-use sports field next to Willie O’Ree Place.
Fredericton’s award winning “green” efforts are no secret, and Mayor Woodside announced that Fredericton had reached the fifth and final milestone of its Partners for Climate Protection Program for reducing community greenhouse gas emissions. The City received official word this week from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).
The municipality achieved Milestone 5 for the reduction of corporate emissions in September 2009. Fredericton has become only the fourth municipality in Canada, and the first east of British Columbia, to achieve the highest certification possible for its efforts to reduce both municipal and community emissions.
Development is occurring in all areas of the city and in all sectors. In fact, the Mayor celebrated the fact that 2010 marked a record-breaking development year in Fredericton. Development figures for the city totalled $168,130,173 – breaking the previous record from 2008 by $11 million. This is the fifth straight year with over $100 million in development in the city, with the previous two years coming in at over $90 million each year.
Fredericton is in an enviable position, said the Mayor. While “green” efforts are important, residents are also fully aware of all the aspects that make Fredericton a great city, and the municipality continues to be focused on delivering services in a fiscally responsible manner. In fact, the City of Fredericton has a long history of applying sustainability-based principles to community planning and master planning processes.
The municipality intends to remain a leader in this area. To achieve this, the City of Fredericton is developing a guiding framework called “Sustainability. By Design.” The effort is intended to guide the municipality and engage the community over the coming months. The Mayor encouraged those in the room to watch for more details as Fredericton continues to look toward its ongoing sustainability.
The 2010 State of the City address, sponsored by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, attracted almost 500 people and was part of the events associated with the opening of the Fredericton Convention Centre. The facility officially opened on January 12. Public open houses and self-guided tours will be held later this winter.
Scotiabank Acquires Naming Rights to Recreational Facilities in Fredericton
SCOTIABANK PARK NORTH AND SCOTIABANK PARK SOUTH TO EXPAND IN 2011
Fredericton (January 13, 2011) – The City of Fredericton today announced that Scotiabank has acquired the naming rights to two prominent recreational facilities, Scotiabank Park North and Scotiabank Park South. The Bank’s support for Fredericton’s recreational infrastructure will not only help to enhance the two major sporting and recreational hubs, but will also support a new multi-use recreational field next to Willie O’Ree Place on Fredericton’s north side.
“I want to thank Scotiabank for the vote of confidence they are giving to our city by supporting our recreation infrastructure,” said Mayor Brad Woodside. “The Scotiabank Park North and South recreation hubs are key components of the city’s well being. This contribution will allow for the construction of a second artificial turf field much faster than we had planned.”
“We are proud to announce our partnership with the City of Fredericton and the naming rights of Scotiabank Park North and Scotiabank Park South,” said Peter Bessey, Senior Vice-President, Atlantic Region, Scotiabank. “Scotiabank has been a part of the Fredericton community for 128 years and we are looking forward to the establishment of new public facilities to enhance the city and the region’s recreational infrastructure.”
Scotiabank Park North is currently equipped with a twin-pad arena complex and four outdoor volleyball courts. The Bank’s sponsorship will support the creation of a new multi-use, artificial turf field at Scotiabank Park North as well as a twin-pad arena that will be located at Scotiabank Park South, which is currently equipped with an artificial turf field. Currently there is a dog park and six indoor tennis courts under development at Scotiabank Park South. The dog park will open in the fall of 2011 and the tennis facility will open in February of 2012. Over the past year there have been in excess of a million visitors to Scotiabank Park North and similar attendance is expected at Scotiabank Park South.
Fredericton First Community East of B.C. to Achieve Climate Change Goals
Fredericton (January 13, 2011) – The City of Fredericton is the fourth municipality in Canada and the first east of British Columbia to achieve the highest certification possible for its efforts to reduce both municipal and community greenhouse gas emissions.
Fredericton’s efforts in reducing community emissions were officially certified this week by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) as having reached the fifth and final milestone of its Partners for Climate Protection Program. Fredericton achieved Milestone 5 for reduction of corporate emissions in September 2009.
“I congratulate the City of Fredericton for achieving the fifth and final milestone of the Partners for Climate Protection program for community emissions, complementing the excellent work done by the City in 2009 on their corporate emissions,” said Federation of Canadian Municipalities President Hans Cunningham. “The City of Fredericton is in a leadership position to help mentor and encourage other municipalities to achieve similar success.”
Fredericton is one of 211 municipal governments participating in the Partners for Climate Protection Program. Only three other municipalities in Canada - all of them in British Columbia - Vancouver, North Vancouver and Whistler, have achieved all five milestones in both categories to date.
“This is the fantastic news we have been waiting for since we joined the program in 2001,” said Mayor Brad Woodside, who announced the news during his 2010 State of the City Address at the new Fredericton Convention Centre, a facility built by the City of Fredericton to achieve LEED Silver Certification for energy and environmental building design. “We have made incredible progress reducing our corporate emissions by 16 per cent and, as a community, our emissions are down 12 per cent on a per citizen basis. It says to Canada and the world that Fredericton is a leader in recognizing that local governments have a significant role to play in addressing climate change.”
The City has been invited to tell other municipalities about its successful journey during FCM’s Sustainable Community Conference next month in Victoria, B.C.
In completing the five-milestone program, Fredericton was first required to create a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and forecast. The last four milestones were achieved by setting an emissions reductions target; developing a local action plan; implementing the local action plan or a set of activities; and finally, monitoring progress and reporting results.
“We will continue our efforts to reduce our own environmental footprint and will continue to work with our partners to develop a more sustainable community for future generations,” said Mayor Woodside. “I want to thank everyone who has been a part of this effort and to I encourage everyone to carry on this important work.”
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901 and represents a membership of more than 1,000 municipalities. It is dedicated to improving the quality of life in communities by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal government.
Once home to Maliseet and Mic Mac Indians and European settlers and later revived by loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, Fredericton became an important British military base. Fredericton, New Brunswick has since evolved into a moderately affluent, sophisticated small city and the administrative, educational and cultural capital of New Brunswick, making it one of the best places to retire in Canada.
Landscape: Fredericton is located at a lovely site astride the St. John River about 60 miles (100 kilometers) inland from the Bay of Fundy.
Climate: Fredericton has four distinct seasons with ample precipitation. Summers are sunny and warm; winters are cold with alternating humid and dry periods.
Quality of Life: Excellent. The air is clean, public transit is good around town, downtown is thriving and residents seem genuinely friendly and welcoming.
Housing: Fredericton has a good supply of housing and prices are incredibly low by Canadian and American standards.
Goods and Services: Goods and services are priced a little above Canadian norms but are 10% to 20% below U.S. averages. Medical care is inexpensive by U.S. standards.
Taxes: Federal and provincial income tax rates are modestly higher than in the U.S., but the combined federal and provincial sales tax on goods and services is twice the U.S. average. Property taxes and medical care costs are low.
Transportation: Fredericton offers good intra-city and intercity transportation via dial-a-ride and local bus service, Greater Fredericton Airport’s jet service and Acadian Lines’ intercity bus service.
Retail Services: Downtown Fredericton is a vital retailing center. Regent Mall and Brookside Mall provide traditional mall shopping.
Health Care: River Valley Health provides excellent medical care to west central New Brunswick from its base in Fredericton.
Community Services: In addition to excellent basic public services, Fredericton has two senior centers that operate as meeting places for special interest groups and offer activities.
Cultural and Educational Activities: Fredericton‘s vibrant performing and visual arts scene includes activities such as festivals, art displays and musical, dance and theatrical performances. The University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University enrich the community culturally and educationally.
Recreational Activities: Outdoor activities are popular in all seasons in the beautiful St. John River Valley in and around Fredericton. Intercollegiate sports, movie theaters, restaurants, nightspots and festivals provide additional diversions.
Work and Volunteer Activities: Part-time work is generally available. The hospital, cultural venues, festivals and senior centers depend heavily on volunteers.
Crime Rates and Public Safety: Fredericton’s property crime rate is slightly above the national average whereas the violent crime rate is below the national norm. The community feels safe day and night.
Conclusion: Fredericton is an undiscovered gem among Canadian retirement places. This beautiful city offers an excellent quality of life with small-town ambiance and big-city services, making it one of the best places to retire in Canada.
Ratings courtesy of “Retire in Style, 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada” by Warren R. Bland, PhD (www.nextdecade.com)
Thursday, January 13, 2011
(as posted on CBC NB website, January 13/11)
Acclaimed New Brunswick author David Adams Richards has been named the first artist in residence at St. Thomas University in Fredericton. During his two-year appointment, Richards will write, give readings and lectures, organize visits to campus by other authors and work closely with students.
"I am extremely honoured to be named as inaugural artist in residence at St.Thomas, a university I have in some way been connected with my entire writing life," Richards said in a news release.
His new novel, Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul, will be published this spring. In March, Theatre New Brunswick is premiering a play based on Hockey Dreams, a book that explores the place hockey has in the hearts of Canadians.
"We are extremely pleased to have an author of David Adams Richards's calibre inaugurate our new artist in residence program," said Andrea Seymour, chairwoman of the university's board of governors. "Given his artistic achievements and strong connection to St. Thomas, we could not think of a better person to launch this initiative."
Richards is one of only three writers to win the Governor General's Literary Awards for both fiction (Nights Below Station Street) and non-fiction (Lines on the Water ). He was nominated for Governor General's awards for his novels Road to the Stilt House, For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down, Mercy Among the Children and The Lost Highway.
Richards holds four honorary degrees, including one from St. Thomas University, and was named to the Order of New Brunswick and Order of Canada for his contribution to literature.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Fredericton (January 12, 2011) - Government officials and community members gathered today to mark the official opening of the new Fredericton Convention Centre. The construction of the centre was made possible thanks to an investment by the governments of Canada and New Brunswick as well as the City of Fredericton.
The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (far left above), along with His Worship Brad Woodside, Mayor of the City of Fredericton (second from left), Hollis Cole, President of ADI Ltd -Architects (third from left), and the Honourable David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick (far right above), and , were on hand today to celebrate the completion of Fredericton’s new convention centre.
“The Fredericton Convention Centre is part of a transformative project for the east end of our downtown,” said Mayor Woodside. “Not only will it result in new tourism and event business, but it is sure to serve as a catalyst for additional development. This is a great day for Fredericton, and I want to thank the federal and provincial governments for their investment in our future.”
As part of the City of Fredericton’s East End Development project, the 66,000 square foot convention centre, which has been built to obtain silver-LEED certification, will be capable of accommodating 1,000 seated persons, and 1,500 persons in a stand-up concert style setting. It includes additional features such as meeting rooms, a ballroom, a business centre, a commercial kitchen, teleconferencing and multi-media facilities. The East End Development project incorporates the flexible multi-purpose event and conference centre, which is connected and integrated with a new office building and parking structure.
The total cost of the initiative is estimated at $27.9 million. The governments of Canada and New Brunswick have jointly committed $8 million with the City of Fredericton providing $19.9 million for the balance of funding.