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.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Meeting to Discuss Poverty-Reduction
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, November 5, 2011)

A public meeting will be held at Willie O'Ree Place in Scotiabank Park North on Monday at 9 a.m. and again at 6:30 p.m. to talk about strategies and solutions to improve the plight of chronic poverty in the capital city.

Fredericton Coun. Mike O'Brien will be the convenor of the sessions.

Susanne White is the community inclusion network co-ordinator with Greater Fredericton Social Innovation, which is a non-profit social-planning organization. She said the meetings in Fredericton will be one of two public discussions slated in the area in November.

In 2009, the provincial government gathered input from 2,500 New Brunswickers on poverty and possible fixes.

"That developed into a strategy and, to implement the strategy, the province developed the Economic and Social Inclusion Corp. And in order to drive it back down to the community level, the province set up 12 regions in the province," White said.

Fredericton's region stretches roughly around the capital area to take in Chipman, Oromocto, Fredericton Junction and Gagetown.

"The purpose of the sessions is to engage citizens who represent different sectors in the community, from business to non-profits to service groups and faith organizations and government. People with lived experience who bring that voice of reality are welcome," she said.

"The purpose of the meetings is to share strategies, solutions and perceptions about what the issues are, with the intent of starting the ball rolling on what can be done to effect change in the local community to impact people dealing with poverty on a day-to-day basis."

White said people coping with tough financial situations tend to disconnect from the community, and a lot of the solutions are about finding ways to give people a hand up, rather than just a handout.

"Helping people find that pathway for themselves out of poverty," White said.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

TAXES HAVE TO BE FAIR FOR ALL
(Editorial published int he Daily Gleaner, Oct 28, 2011)

If you own a home in Fredericton, you're either an insider or an outsider.

Insiders pay this property tax rate - $1.42 per $100 of assessed value.

Outsiders get a tax break - $1.07 per $100.

This inside-outside distinction is a throw-back to 38 years ago when the City of Fredericton grew through amalgamation to include Marysville and other communities.

Some properties that ended up within the city limits did not enjoy city amenities like water and sewer service, thus they paid the cheaper "outside" property tax rate.

But that was in the day when there was no separate water and sewer bill. The lack of this service made the lower tax rate fair for those who still had to maintain their own wells and septic tanks.

Now that we have a water and sewer bill separate from a property tax bill, there is no need for a lower outside tax rate.

That's the opinion of two city councillors -Stephen Kelly and Mike O'Brien.

As council spends the fall debating finances in preparation for the 2012 budget, these two have their eyes on close to $660,000 in lost taxes - what the 880 homeowners would generate in tax dollars if the outside rate were abolished.

"I think the level of services is pretty much equal across the city," said Coun. O'Brien. "I don't see a reason why we need to retain the outside rate."

But some councillors argue that property owners in the outside zone lack sidewalks and adequate bus service, which should be made up for with the lower tax rate.

We don't agree. Lots of communities don't have sidewalks on every street. Not every street is on a bus route.

But in this city, everyone does get the essentials - garbage pick-up, police and fire protection and recreation facilities.

We are in the unfortunate and seemingly unending era of shrinking municipal revenues. Finding dollars, and doing more with those dollars, is absolutely vital to proper stewardship of a municipality.

That's why we believe councillors O'Brien and Kelly deserve praise for finding more than half a million dollars in potential revenue.

We don't believe that revenue gain should come in one fell swoop. Seeing your tax bill climb so dramatically in one year is more than many could handle.

So we're suggesting a three or four year period of gradual increases until the tax rate for outsiders matches the insider rate. The pain is easier to bear over several years.

In the meantime, we think the city should do more to include these outside zones in its plans for upgrades. Are these growing neighbourhoods that will need sidewalks, for example? Is there a chance of installing water and sewer services in these areas?

This isn't exactly good news for the 880 homeowners who have been enjoying a lower tax rate and probably a more quiet, country-like existence on the city's fringes.

They have been getting at hefty tax break because the system has simply never been updated to reflect reality. But fairness is key here, and left unchanged, the tax rate is not fair.