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.