David Suzuki to NB youth: stand up, demand change, vote Green

David Suzuki in Moncton beside the Petitcodiac River

The long-time host of the CBC science program Nature of Things received a big round of applause Friday as he walked into a meeting room at the Chateau Moncton hotel.

Nine Green Party candidates, party leader David Coon and a number of Green supporters greeted David Suzuki enthusiastically, but the well-known TV personality and environmental activist waved away the applause.

“I’m just here to raise some shit,” Suzuki said with an impish grin as he sat down to await his turn to speak.

Suzuki travelled to New Brunswick to donate his time in support of two Green candidates hoping to make breakthroughs in the provincial election on September 24.

Sackville Town Councillor Megan Mitton is contesting the riding of Memramcook-Tantramar, while Kevin Arseneau, a co-op farmer who is also active in local politics, is running in Kent North.

Arseneau and Mitton speak

Green leader David Coon (centre) with candidates Kevin Arseneau and Megan Mitton

In his brief remarks, Arseneau said that when his two-year-old son asked him what he’d been doing all day, he said he was knocking on doors trying to change the world.

“And he said, ‘me too Daddy, I want to change the world with you,'” Arseneau added.

For her part, Megan Mitton said she’d been asked to speak about a local environmental issue.

“That’s an easy one,” she added, “because for me, all environmental issues are local and are linked to everything around us whether it’s the economy or health or education.”

Suzuki responds

Suzuki began his speech by saying he was moved by Arseneau’s story about his son.

“I really think this is where the energy is going to come at a political level, our children are going to motivate us to become much more active politically,” he said.

“And Megan, you raised a really critical issue that separates Greens from all the other parties,” he added. “You recognized the most fundamental aspect of environmentalism, that is, everything on this planet is interconnected.”

Suzuki addressing an audience of about 500 at Mt. A.

Suzuki went on to develop a main theme that he also stressed during an evening speech to an audience of about 500 at the Mount Allison University library in Sackville.

He argued that since all life depends on clean air and water as well as uncontaminated soils, it makes no sense to pursue economic activities that routinely pollute air and water while depleting and poisoning the soils.

Suzuki added that Greens understand that natural laws make life on the planet possible.

“There shouldn’t be such a thing as a ‘green economy,'” he said. “There should only be an economy that is based on the foundation of protecting those elementary facts.”

Carbon tax and climate change

Suzuki criticized New Brunswick’s Liberal and Conservative parties for rejecting a carbon tax on the burning of fossil fuels that generate greenhouse gases linked to climate change.

“A tax is a tool to encourage people to do the right thing and to discourage them from doing the wrong thing,” he said, adding it’s only a tiny step in the right direction.

“The target is we’ve got to get off fossil fuels, period, and much faster than by 2050, and whatever tools we have to use, let’s get on with it.”

Suzuki accused federal Liberals of hypocrisy for signing the 2015 Paris climate accord that aimed at keeping temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius and then buying and promoting an expanded pipeline to carry Tar Sands oil to the west coast.

He received a round of applause when he said he’s been fighting against Tar Sands oil for years.

Suzuki signed books after his Mt. A. speech. (Photo courtesy Mount Allison Libraries & Archives)

“We’ve got to work toward keeping the temperature from rising above two degrees in this century; right now we’re on a trajectory towards three to five degrees, which is absolutely catastrophic,” Suzuki told his Mt. A. audience.

He said it’s time for young people to stand up and demand action to stop politicians from putting narrow economic interests ahead of protecting the environment.

“So, I’m asking every one of you here — not saying, you’ve got to vote Green although I hope you all do — but think about what’s going on and realize that your future now is at stake,” he said, adding, “We have a narrow window to really start doing some big things and we can’t continue with the same old, same old.”

Suzuki received a standing ovation after he called on the students to vote and to get their parents to vote too.

“We’ve got to tell people, ‘it’s my future you guys are diddling with because you’re not focussed the right way’ and the Greens allow you to express that alternative,” he concluded.

Posted in New Brunswick Election 2018 | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Bad day at Black Rock: Tidal turbine breaks down; FORCE monitoring gear washes ashore

Fisherman Darren Porter on his boat with yellow FORCE monitoring gear on the beach behind him

A day after Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. announced that its underwater turbine has broken down and its blades are no longer turning, fisherman Darren Porter spotted a yellow object at the water’s edge near the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), which oversees the Black Rock tidal test site in the Minas Passage.

“My daughter dragged it up the beach so it wouldn’t float away,” Porter said. “God knows where it would have been tonight.”

Porter reported his discovery to FORCE, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and various news outlets including this one.

A few hours later, Lindsay Bennett, business operations manager at FORCE, confirmed Porter’s suspicion that the object was a sea pod which houses a cluster of environmental monitoring instruments.

“Darren Porter located and recovered a piece of marine mammal monitoring equipment that is used as part of FORCE’s regular site-level environmental effects monitoring program,” Bennett wrote in an e-mail, adding that it was one of five “instrument packages” that were recently deployed.

“All monitoring instruments on the recovered package appear to be in working order,” Bennett wrote, “however, we’ll assess for and perform any required maintenance and redeploy as soon as possible.”

Her e-mail ended on a reassuring note.

“This happens occasionally with this type of equipment, especially in a high flow environment like the Minas Passage.”

Porter’s scorn

During a telephone interview, Porter, a long-time critic of FORCE and spokesman for the fisherman’s group Fundy United Federation, reacted scornfully to Bennett’s message.

“Nothing to see here, it’s no big deal,” he said of her reassurances. “FORCE is literally a farce,” Porter added. “You can’t even make this up.”

He said that if the sea pod had floated away with the tides, FORCE wouldn’t have known it was gone until the time came for its retrieval weeks or months from now.

Turbine broken

Porter’s discovery of the monitoring gear came the day after Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. said a team of technical experts from OpenHydro headquarters in Ireland discovered the submerged turbine has broken down and its blades are no longer turning.

“The turbine operated as expected immediately after deployment in July,” the Cape Sharp statement said. “They (the team of experts) believe an internal component failure in the generator caused sufficient damage to prevent the rotor from turning.”

The company statement goes on to say the team will analyze information from sensors on the turbine to determine whether it “could be functional.”

In the meantime, Cape Sharp says environmental monitoring devices on the turbine are now working.

Government regulators require the company to monitor the turbine’s effects on fish and other sea creatures, but the sensors that are supposed to do that were disconnected shortly after deployment when turbine maker OpenHydro ran out of money and lost the financial support of its French parent company.

Since August, OpenHydro has been moving towards bankruptcy with another court hearing scheduled for next month in Dublin. To read earlier coverage of the financial aspects of the story, click here.

Lobster study

One of Porter’s lobster-filled traps from the Minas Passage

Meantime, Darren Porter noticed FORCE’s yellow sea pod when he was on his boat conducting a lobster survey that started last year in connection with Big Moon Canada’s plans to generate tidal power on the north side of the Blomidon Peninsula near Cape Split. To read earlier coverage of the Big Moon project, click here.

Porter says the study is aimed at understanding the presence, abundance and movements of lobster in parts of the Minas Basin that could be affected by Big Moon. It involves fitting some lobsters with tiny transmitters that help track their movements and others with tags containing information that can be reported when the lobsters are caught.

Porter also sets traps to catch lobsters in order to count them and record biological information such as their sex and whether their shells are hard or soft.

He says he’s noticed that traps set in the Minas Passage produce large numbers of lobsters, sometimes as many as 35 in a single trap.

“There’s no doubt why fishermen are upset about tidal turbines in the Minas Passage,” Porter says. “It’s the most lucrative piece of lobster fishing ground in the province,” he adds, pointing out that lobsters are Nova Scotia’s largest and most valuable export.

“Lobsters are our true renewable resource,” he says.

Posted in Tidal Power | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

NB election: Jennifer McKenzie says NDP platform is greener than the Green’s

New Brunswick NDP leader Jennifer McKenzie (L) with local candidate Hélène Boudreau at Goya’s Pizza

The competition for votes between local New Democrats and Greens was evident in Sackville on Sunday as New Brunswick’s NDP leader expressed pride in her party’s platform commitment to a Carbon Reduction Fund.

“Our environmental plank is greener than the Green’s by a mile,” Jennifer McKenzie declared generating applause and cheers from a small group of NDP supporters at Goya’s Pizza on Main Street.

Later, during an interview, McKenzie acknowledged that her comment was “a little bit of rhetoric, I was speaking to a friendly crowd,” but she added that the NDP’s is “the only environmental plank from all the parties that is fully funded.”

The NDP Carbon Reduction Fund would tax pollution that contributes to climate change generating almost $400 million in revenues.

McKenzie said a third of the money would be returned to low and middle-income earners as a rebate, another third would be invested in job-creating, renewable energy projects, with the remaining funds dedicated to programs such as making homes more energy efficient.

“The environmental plank was one of the last ones that we put out and it was developed within the youth wing of the party,” the NDP leader said, adding that young New Democrats looked at various plans around the world before developing a made-in-New-Brunswick version.

Minimum wage

McKenzie also said that her party led the way when it promised a $15 per hour minimum wage in November of last year. (The Green election platform proposes to raise the current $11.25 minimum wage by $1 per year until it reaches $15.25.)

“We thought no other party would ever steal that plank,” McKenzie said, adding that the NDP were ahead of the Greens in proposing aid to post-secondary students including a 25 per cent reduction in tuition fees at publicly-funded universities. (To read what the Green platform says, click here.)

The NDP leader also expressed pride in her party’s promise of a universal pharmacare program that would cost the province $250 million per year. McKenzie says that ideally, the federal government would contribute another $250 million.

“We’re basically saying to the federal government, ‘look it’s time if you want to have some investment in seniors in this province, this would be the perfect way to do it,'” she said. “We would go ahead with it without the federal government, but the best-case scenario is the province is 50 per cent, the federal government is 50 per cent and we move forward as quickly as possible.”

Booze, fat and sugar

McKenzie also took aim at the Liberals and Conservatives for trying to woo voters with fewer restrictions on alcohol and junk food.

On Saturday, the Liberal leader Brian Gallant promised a number of measures to “modernize liquor laws” including allowing more convenience stores to sell beer, wine and liquor.

A few days earlier, Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs said a PC government would scrap the nutrition policy that, among other things, bans the sale of fatty or sugary foods in school cafeterias.

“I think it sounds a bit desperate,” McKenzie replied when asked about the Liberal and PC promises.

“They’re looking for a populist kind of dollar-a-beer policies and the NDP has been very careful to stay above that, to talk about the things that matter to people that will make a real difference in their lives and to talk about our platform as a whole and how it will transform our economy and transform our society to one that is greener and more progressive,” she said.

To read a 2015 report from New Brunswick’s chief medical officer on the health, social and economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption, click here.

To read a 2012 report from the chief medical officer on the costs of obesity in New Brunswick, click here.

To read an earlier Warktimes story about liquor stores vying for sales along the TransCanada Highway, click here.

Posted in New Brunswick Election 2018 | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

NB election: Provincial candidates quizzed about Irving influence

Local candidates in Memramcook-Tantramar. (L-R) Megan Mitton (Green), Hélène Boudreau (NDP), Bernard LeBlanc (Liberal), Etienne Gaudet (PC)

One of the normally invisible elephants in New Brunswick politics ambled out from behind the curtains Thursday night at Mount Allison University where the four provincial candidates in the Memramcook-Tantramar riding were debating a wide range of issues including access to abortion and support for post-secondary students.

The all-candidates’ debate, sponsored by the Mt. A students’ union, was nearing its end when Jonathan Wood, who is studying philosophy, politics and economics, asked this question from the floor:

“Just wondering, what do the candidates think about the role of the Irvings’ group of companies in both the New Brunswick economy as well as in politics?” Wood asked.

“I don’t know what would happen if we didn’t have the Irvings,” Liberal candidate Bernard LeBlanc, who has represented the riding for the last four years, replied.

He went on to describe the Irvings as “very, very, precious to New Brunswick,” pointing out that their companies employ “over 30 to 35-thousand people.”

“They give good salaries and they’re a company that keeps New Brunswick going,” LeBlanc added. “They’re located across the province and also, they have many stores such as the Big Stop that you see here in Aulac…and it creates a lot of work for people in those areas.”

As for their role in politics, LeBlanc said that the Irvings “decide for themselves what they want to do and how they apply their politics themselves.”

He suggested that as far as government grants go, the Irvings, like other big employers, apply for grants that usually enable them to get work done and that it makes sense for governments to help them “so that they can push further and do some type of work or initiative that they’re required to do.”

Green response

Green Party candidate Megan Mitton, who was the next to speak, paused for thought before giving an answer that generated applause.

“The Irvings, yes they’re a big employer, but I think they shouldn’t get such special treatment and that they do have too much power,” Mitton said.

She called for scrapping the forestry deal struck by the PC government and kept in place by the present Liberal one.

“We also need to stop paying them to spray glyphosate on our province,” Mitton said. “It’s really damaging our habitats and as I’ve been going door to door, especially in more rural areas, folks are talking about how the habitats have (been) wrecked, they don’t even hear songbirds.”

The Green candidate also said the province needs to stop clearcutting and look out for the interests of private woodlot owners.

Mitton was greeted with more applause when she mentioned the Green Party platform plank that calls for legislating a 40 per cent cap on the concentration of print media ownership.

“We need to make sure there’s not a monopoly on our media because this is a really major threat to our democracy,” Mitton said adding, “and while we’re at it, let’s increase the royalties on our natural resources like our forestry products.”

PC ‘echo’

“I’ll echo some of the comments Bernard (LeBlanc) made about the Irving group of companies and the people behind them, the Irving family,” said PC candidate Etienne Gaudet.

“They are a success story here in New Brunswick, admired throughout the world for what they have been able to accomplish,” he added.

“Again, as Bernard stated, they employ many, many thousands of people,” Gaudet said.

“These people pay taxes, it keeps our communities and our economy going, so they (the Irvings) need to be applauded for what they, over the last 70, 80 years, what they’ve accomplished,” Gaudet said, adding, however, that a PC government would review and update the Crown Lands and Forestry Act of 1982.

“That will address many of the concerns that have been raised here and other places about how our forests are managed,” the PC candidate said. “We’re very proud that we will have the courage to open that Act after 35 years,” he concluded.

 ‘Monopoly on everything’

“Of course New Brunswickers appreciate that they (the Irvings) have created jobs,” said NDP candidate Hélène Boudreau. “I don’t think [New Brunswickers] appreciate that they have a monopoly on everything,” she added.

Boudreau pointed out that K.C. Irving started out in oil, then diversified his holdings to create a business empire.

She suggested that governments in western Canada were willing to step in when Asians were buying up too much property, but doubted whether Liberal or Conservative governments here would have the audacity to rein in the Irving monopolies which, she said, are not good for New Brunswickers.

“It limits us in our innovation; it limits us (in) creation of new jobs and to diversify,” Boudreau added. “The only thing we’ve done in the past 10 years, that we can kind of say, is that we’ve been the hub of call centres.”

She promised that if she’s elected to the legislature, she would speak up to get a discussion going about the economic clout of the Irvings.

Dependence on big corporations

Mt. A politics student Jonathan Wood asked the candidates about the Irvings’ economic and political influence

After the debate, politics student Jonathan Woods said he wasn’t surprised by how the candidates answered his question about Irving economic and political influence.

“I kind of predicted it would happen that both the Conservatives and the Liberals would take a very similar line on ‘oh, you know, Irvings are great, it’s OK that they have a monopoly on everything.'”

He added it was interesting that both parties downplayed the Irvings’ political influence.

He also said it was good to see that the other parties, and especially the Greens, were willing to stand up to the Irvings.

Wood said big corporations have a lot of influence with governments which beg for corporate investments to make the economy run and to keep voters happy and in return, they give the corporations government subsidies and low taxes.

“That’s just the status quo for so many political situations in Canada and the United States, in Europe and a lot of countries right now, and we should be thinking of ways to get out of that rather than be dependent on a single, rich family for running the economy,” Wood added.

Note: In 2017, Bruce Livesay made history by becoming the first online-only journalist to win a National Newspaper Award. Livesay, who writes for the online National Observer, won in the business category for his 2016 series on Irving influence in New Brunswick.

Posted in New Brunswick Election 2018 | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Former deputy mayor seeks apology for town manager’s ‘rude’ behaviour

Former councillor and deputy mayor Merlin Estabrooks tells Mayor Higham he wants an apology. Estabrooks served on council from 1960-64

Mayor John Higham has defended a senior town manager who apparently told two Sackville residents they could not speak with an engineering consultant about the Lorne Street flood control project unless they were willing to pay for his time.

The mayor was responding on Monday night to former town councillor and deputy mayor Merlin Estabrooks who was asking for an apology because of  the “rude” behaviour of Jamie Burke, the town’s senior manager of corporate projects.

“We’ll look into what the circumstances were,” Higham said. “I believe Mr. Burke was doing what he understood was his job,” he added. “The contractor was not supposed to be providing information about the specific contract except to council.”

Higham referred to a public briefing on Phase Two of the Lorne Street project that town council received at its “discussion meeting” on September 4 from Pierre Plourde of Crandall Engineering.

Members of the public are not allowed to ask questions during council’s discussion meetings, so after Plourde’s presentation, Estabrooks and Sackville resident Percy Best followed him out of the council chamber to ask for more information.

“[It was] a friendly conversation clarifying some of the things he had said,” Estabrooks explained. “Mr. Burke goes out and tells us we can’t talk to him unless we pay for it,” he added.

“We deserve an apology,” Estabrooks said. “That was a private conversation. He (Burke) had no business coming out and getting into it. He was very rude and ignorant…Why didn’t he want us to talk to this man?”

Mayor’s response

Mayor Higham responds to Merlin Estabrooks

Mayor Higham responded by pointing out that contractors like Plourde bill for their time.

“We have 55-hundred people in this town,” the mayor added, “if they all said ‘I have the right to talk to that contractor,’ and they have the right to bill you, well, we’d have to double or triple the contract costs.”

Higham said people in town do get to ask consultants questions during public sessions that are held on projects like the   Lorne Street one, but at other times, councillors ask the questions in their role as municipal representatives.

“We have a lot of people that want to talk to contractors that are under contract with us, but that would throw off each of those budgets if everybody got the opportunity to talk to them whenever they wanted and have clarity whenever they wanted; that’s council’s job,” Higham added.

To listen to the entire seven minute exchange, click on the audio player below:

Estabrooks not satisfied

“I guess I still didn’t get my apology,” Estabrooks said after the council meeting.

He said he served on council from 1960 to 1964. The historic April 1962 Sackville flood occurred in the middle of his term.

In his earlier exchange with the mayor, Estabrooks said he was giving the Crandall consultant information he should have before Burke interrupted their conversation.

He suggested during an interview that constructing two water retention ponds as part of the Lorne Street project is not what the town should be doing.

“Clear the ditches out to the river,” he said. “Why are they putting a holding pond in the quarry, the highest place in the town?” Estabrooks asked.

New playground equipment

Some of the existing metal and plastic playground equipment in Lillas Fawcett Park

At its meeting Monday night, town council approved a $22,500 funding agreement with the New Brunswick Regional Development Corporation (RDC).

The provincial money will go toward replacing the metal and plastic playground equipment in Lillas Fawcett Park at Silver Lake — a project that will cost a total of $97,500.

During the question period at the beginning of the council meeting, Sackville resident Brian Lane noted that the town had budgeted about $7,000 this year for replacing playground equipment in the park, but no work was done and he wondered how the project had now “morphed into” one worth $97,500.

Matt Pryde, the manager of recreation, explained that the town had planned to replace the playground equipment gradually over the next five years, but after he and parks manager Todd Cole attended a workshop in Fredericton on natural playgrounds, they decided to apply for grants to build one here much sooner.

“Natural playgrounds are a lot like traditional plastic and metal playgrounds in that there’s still climbing structures, there’s still slides, there’s still opportunities for kids to be active,” Pryde said. “But rather than be built out of the metal and plastic, they’re built out of more natural products like wood, boulders, rope, berms in the ground itself and that sort of thing.”

Pryde added that he and Cole have been able to raise a lot of money for the playground project.

“We’ve been very successful,” he said. “Up to this point we have approximately $61,000 in cash and in-kind.” The money includes the $22,500 RDC grant, $7,000 from the town, $8,000 from TD Bank and $3,500 from the Sackville Rotary Club. The town will also supply $20,000 worth of in in-kind contributions such as installation of the new equipment.

Pryde said he has also applied for a $35,000 federal grant to complete the project, but will not know until next spring whether the town will get that money. In the meantime, he said the town can go ahead installing a new slide, a berm with a rock scramble and a climbing wall. He explained that if the federal grant doesn’t come through, the town can still complete the project in phases.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Gallant promises millions for energy efficiency, helping NB Power cope with 4-year rate freeze

Brian Gallant’s big campaign bus rolled up to Léo-Paul Gaudet’s home on Rue Centrale in Memramcook on Saturday where the Liberal leader announced that if his government is re-elected on September 24th, it will increase its investments in two energy efficiency programs administered by NB Power.

“We will double the province’s investment in the Low Income Energy Savings Program going from $2 million to $4 million per year. We will also double our investment in the Energy Retrofit Program going from approximately $20 million to approximately $40 million per year to make hospitals, schools and other government buildings more energy efficient,” Gallant promised as he stood at a lectern in Gaudet’s yard beside an LG heat pump.

The premier also took the opportunity to slam PC leader Blaine Higgs and his Conservatives for slashing funding to Efficiency New Brunswick when they were in office and appointing former Conservative cabinet minister Margaret-Ann Blaney to head it.

Liberal leader Brian Gallant in Memramcook with federal MP Dominic LeBlance (L) and local candidate Bernard LeBlanc

“Investments in energy efficiency programs have grown over our first mandate,” Gallant added without mentioning the Liberals’ own controversial decision to scrap Efficiency New Brunswick and fold the Crown corporation’s energy-saving mandate into NB Power.

When a reporter asked whether he was sending conflicting messages about energy efficiency, Gallant suggested that giving NB Power responsibility for it was the right thing to do.

He explained that it is in NB Power’s interest to be as energy efficient as possible in order to reduce its generating costs during times of peak demand.

“What happens is they have to generate electricity, more electricity, in a way that is not as economically sound,” the premier said, “so making sure that we’re more energy efficient is actually very much in line with NB Power’s plans, with our plans, to have NB Power freeze their rates.”

Gallant was referring to his controversial promise earlier in the campaign to legislate a four-year freeze on residential and small business power rates. He added that such a rate freeze would force NB Power “to keep costs as low as possible” and that encouraging more efficient use of electricity, especially during times of peak demand, is one way the utility could do it.

NB Power’s record questioned

In spite of the premier’s contention that NB Power is best suited to promote energy efficiency programs, the utility’s record for implementing them was criticized earlier this year during rate hearings before New Brunswick’s Energy and Utilities Board.

For one thing, Angela Vitulli an energy consultant from Massachusetts who had been hired by the public intervener, questioned the effectiveness of the utility’s program for low-income homeowners.

Her report showed that NB Power helps 328 such homeowners per year — only 0.61 per cent of its low-income customer base while Nova Scotia Power’s low-income participation rate was over one per cent (660 homeowners) and Manitoba Hydro’s was more than five per cent (3,785 homeowners).

“NB Power appears to be too focused on a small number of participants, and we recommend that they expand their programming to serve more of the population,” her report said. (For a CBC summary of Vitulli’s other criticisms, click here. To read her entire 40-page report, click here.)

Gallant defends jobs record

Liberal candidate Bernard LeBlanc (L) was on hand to greet Premier Gallant (R) and MP Dominic LeBlanc as the bus arrived. Bernard LeBlanc has represented Memramcook-Tantramar for the last 4 years

Meantime, at his Memramcook campaign stop on Saturday, Gallant defended his government’s record on job creation in light of a report from Statistics Canada that New Brunswick lost 3,900 jobs over the last three months.

And, an online CBC report says the province gained only 1,500 jobs over the last four years in spite of the Liberals’ promise to create at least 10,000 jobs during their first term in office.

When asked about the figures, Gallant said the investments his government made in building infrastructure and on programs like the youth employment fund and supporting business start-ups actually created 15,000 jobs.

“We’ve had a net gain of jobs, there’s more jobs today that there were when we became the government, the unemployment rate has gone down from 10.1 per cent to 8.3 per cent, we’ve seen the population be at its largest level during our mandate, exports have gone up every single year (and) wages have gone up significantly over the last four years,” Gallant said.

Student loan relief

The premier was also asked why his government has delayed implementing a program to eliminate interest payments on provincial post-secondary student loans for graduates who stay in New Brunswick.

Gallant himself first mentioned the program during a speech last January and money was allocated for it in the provincial budget, but the premier now says it won’t go into effect until January 1, 2019.

“The fiscal year that we currently find ourselves in started on April 1st,” Gallant said, adding that the fiscal year runs until the end of March, 2019.

“We…have prioritized over the last four years investments in education, investments to improve the accessibility and affordability of post-secondary education and allowing that the interest on provincial loans be forgiven is something that we have planned in this fiscal year and it’s something that a re-elected Liberal government will be very pleased to do,” he said.

Posted in New Brunswick Election 2018 | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Consultant outlines short-term flood control plan, but says Sackville will need to do more

Crandall consultant Pierre Plourde during a meeting last year

A consultant with Crandall Engineering of Moncton suggests the construction of two large stormwater retention ponds east of Lorne Street will be crucial for long-term flood prevention in downtown Sackville.

During a presentation to town council on Tuesday evening, Pierre Plourde said the large ponds will be needed to store water when there are heavy rains, especially during the high Fundy tides.

“As a storm hits and the tides are in, then the water needs to go somewhere,” Plourde said, adding that now it ends up flooding downtown streets during bad storms.

“What we want to do is control that water between the tide cycles, so when the tide starts to go out, the ponds can drain,” he said, “but in between, you need to be able to store it.”

Plourde acknowledged that the town does not have the money for the two large retention ponds that were included in an earlier plan drafted by Crandall as part of Phase Two of the Lorne Street flood control project. (For my report on the initial plan that included two large ponds and a third, smaller one, click here.)

Plan B

In Phase One, of the project that was completed last year, construction companies reconstructed Lorne and St. James Streets installing bigger storm sewers and digging a large drainage ditch that was intended to tie into Phase Two which was supposed to cost $2.9 million.

However, the lowest bid for Phase Two came in at $5.9 million sending the town and its consultants back to the drawing boards.

On Tuesday, Plourde repeated what Town Engineer Dwayne Acton had reported to council last month.

He said that for now, Crandall and the town have been forced to scrap the original plan for the construction of the two large retention ponds along with pipes and ditches to drain water on a direct route through the Sackville Industrial Park to a double-gated aboiteau near one of the town’s sewage lagoons. Under that plan, the aboiteau would discharge stormwater into the Tantramar River as the tides recede.

Instead, Plourde said the new short-term plan includes the construction of just one large retention pond east of Lorne and south of St. James Streets.

Ditch meanders toward Tantramar River on the far side of Crescent St. near Armtec plant

That pond will store stormwater until it can be directed along a circular route through existing ditches to culverts under the CN tracks at Crescent Street and then, out to the river past the Armtec plant using provincially owned ditches and aboiteaux in the marshy areas along the way.

The new plan also includes a retention pond in the old Sackville Quarry to prevent stormwater from flooding into the downtown area.

“There’s way too much water that comes down from Quarry Lane and up above,” Plourde said. “You need to be able to store it.”

More money needed

Last month, a majority of councillors approved paying Crandall an additional $105,000 to design the new plan.

In the meantime, the town will apply for more money from the federal and provincial governments to carry out its original plan.

On Tuesday, Councillor Bill Evans said it might be hard getting more money because the storm sewers and ditches constructed during Phase One combined with the retention ponds that are part of the new plan will be able to handle rainwater during all but the most severe storms.

“It’s going to be harder to convince funders that we need this because we’re going to deal with all the regular flooding that we had before,” Evans added. “What we really are trying to do is prepare for the worst-case…scenario.”

Delay at Carters Brook

Meantime, Town Engineer Dwayne Action explained to councillors on Tuesday why work has stopped on the flood control project on Route 935 in the Carters Brook area of West Sackville.

The New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI) had hired a construction company to install three, six-foot, concrete aboiteaux spaced 10 feet apart.

Acton said, however, that water was getting into the work site through the temporary service road that had been built to divert traffic. He said DTI will be meeting with the contractor who built the service road next week to discuss how to resolve the problem so that work can continue on installing the new aboiteaux.

“Our assurance from DTI is that it is getting rectified and they should be back on site to proceed with the project very soon,” Acton reported.

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