Archive for February, 2012

How Does Council Stand Up To Scrutiny?

Everything that is done (or not done) by city council is watched closely over the next couple of months. This specifically is true in areas where controversy is playing a part like Doaktown council who recently put a ban in place on NG exploration near their water supply.

Also being watched are the council’s in Moncton and Dieppe. These two councils both who send students to the MHS are responsible for citizens who are directly affected by this decision.

So what do they have to say on the issue? Well Dieppe’s council says it is a provincial issue and not one involving the city. I have news for the Dieppe council. Every family who has children in the English school system and live in your city are affected by this decision. That means that yes it does affect you and if you continue to sit quietly on the sidelines the parents involved will take that into consideration when they cast their votes in May.

To the Moncton council, some who are saying it is a done deal many of us who live here expect better of you. There is going to be a great expense to us in this project, while the developer and the Province are promising to pay for at least part of the street and service upgrades that are required they are also operating under the assumption that this is going to be one lane each way with turning lanes at the school. They are right about needing turning lanes at the school entrance however the street already is close to requiring two lanes in each direction and the added traffic burden is likely to push us over the top. Are the developer and the province willing to pay for the full cost of bringing this street up to two lanes of traffic each way, are they willing to pay for the extra transportation costs for parents whose children are involved in extra curricular activities. Some how I doubt they are, but these are all costs that citizens of this city will incure because of this decision.

During lunch breaks at MHS presently students visit local establishments, like a local sub shop, corner stores etc. in the neighbourhood.  Is the province and the developer willing to reimburse these business lost profits, are they going to operate similar establishments near the school so that the students have a place to go on break.

About the only positive to this location is that the school’s environmental studies class (if such exists at this school) would not have to go far for a field trip to do tests. Otherwise we are isolating the students and making it more difficult for some of them to participate in after school activities, things that could lead to scholarships or other opportunities where extra curricular activities are looked at as a positive experience for the student.

The added danger of driving on this road is also coupled by the fact that students who walk along this road would also be at risk due to the high speed and high volume of traffic that comes and goes through this area on a normal day. There realistically are not that many plusses to this location and for the city to not stand up to the province and this developer is something that parents (and anyone else looking for an indication of the council’s backbone) are not likely to forget on election day.

Councils in this province and specifically in the Greater Moncton Area should be warned. People are watching and your actions are being judged. How do you stack up under the scrutiny?

The Myths of Moving MHS

There are myths arising about moving MHS to Royal Oaks. Things like “it is cheaper than building downtown” “it is unstoppable”etc.

I tend to believe that is not completely accurate. While acquiring the property for a school in Royal Oaks will be cheaper because of the fact the province is “trading” the old building for the new land my estimates suggest that it will be still far more expensive both in the short and long term. The City of Moncton of course is expected to eat at least part of the cost of the increase which is a major issue.

When Northrup Frye was completed and the city looked at the bill for the upgrades to Ryan rd. and the surrounding area required to accommodate the extra traffic, the city requested that in future the province discuss a project like this that would be outside of serviced areas.

Almost immediately after that came the idea that it would be good to build a new high school even farther away from a serviced area. Even more importantly it was on a road that was busy enough that, regardless what the Royal Oaks developer suggests is going to require being built as a four lane road to accommodate the extra traffic.

Part of what concerns me here is the motivation of the developer. My point is that to put a school in Royal Oaks will require that the City run water and Sewer as well as a four lane road that would likely require bike lanes and sidewalks for a lengthy distance past the present point of termination. This being done will actually increase the saleability of the homes being built in this area. Something that seems to be a bit of an issue since they have already have permits for far more homes then they have built and yet are asking for permission to build significantly more still. This implies to me that the developer expects that bringing service to Royal Oaks would improve his investment’s saleability and this particular project is a way to see it done.

There are other issues as well that bother me. For example with a school in the downtown core there are often teachers who travel by public transit, bike or even occasionally walk to work. How will they be affected when the school moves out of the main transit service area, how will it affect those among them who have never felt the need to get a driver’s licence or buy a car.

How will it affect the safety of students considering that this road is dicey in the winter months at the best of times because of poor weather, poor road conditions and the winding nature of the road. Once we add a significant number of young drivers to the road is this road going to become even more hazardous. How will the added volume of traffic in general affect the safety of the road considering that we are likely talking adding an additional 200+ vehicles plus school buses to a road that is this hazardous in the first place.

Personally I feel this decision is poorly thought out and I seriously wonder why the myth that this is the best possible option is being constantly perpetuated. We the people of this city do have options. The city council that exists presently may choose to sit on their hands but they must remember that with a municipal election this close people will be watching to see exactly how they handle the bullying and strong arm tactics of this developer and the provincial government.

Developer and Province Try to Strong Arm Moncton

The Developer of the "New Moncton High" would like us to think we have no options I however tend to disagree. While the province may be threatening council with reduced or removed funding and the developer may say the province has made the decision they both need to understand a few minor details.

  1. The City of Moncton must first issue a permit for the new building
  2. The City of Moncton must also approve any development of the old building
  3. The province withholds a serious portion of our property tax, there is no reason that this property tax rate can not be made 0% there are other ways the city can make money
  4. We can also ban double taxation within the city limits.

The message I am sending here is that the province and the developer need to be extremely careful when it comes to making threats of this form. We as a city do have a say in this process and the consistent attempt to ignore us and override us does not do a lot towards making us eager to help you achieve your present goals.

Threats are not the way to make a local council work in your favour what it does is pit you against the city and can lead to extremely hard feelings and incredible difficulty trying to get anything accomplished within the city limits.

The developer should also realize that a new council is due to take office in early June and if the people in this city feel that the present council is not sticking up for the interests of the city and the people within it then the people could present an entirely different council for the developer and the province to try to push around and there is no guarantee that the new council will be at all willing to let a developer and a provincial government call the shots within the city.

Firing Casino Worker’s Sets Poor Precedence.

CBC is reporting that seven waitresses were fired from the CasinoNB in Moncton simply because they did not meet the “environment envisioned” with the Casino calling it a reorganization.

While some commenters on the CBC website are saying we do not have a right to work, I feel that is actually an inaccurate assessment of our rights. We do have a right to continue to work in a job at which we were hired, regardless of management changes, unless we are not meeting realistic performance criteria. The one possible exception to this might be if the company were undergoing a drastic reorganization that would perhaps include changing from say a restaurant to a beauty salon or perhaps from a nunnery to a strip bar, however with no drastic changes in the type of work that is being performed their is no realistic reason to change staff unless the staff are unable to meet “realistic” performance goals.

If the wait staff in the restaurant are being let go because it is felt that the restaurant is not profitable enough. Then realistically the fact is they should be looking at the marketing of the restaurant and the menu choices as well as prices all of which can affect the attendance at these types of facilities. To high a price point, regardless of the quality of food being served, will not attract a strong steady crowd. Instead it will attract a small crowd of well to do people who may or may not be inclined to visit on a regular enough basis to support the restaurant. In Moncton while we do have a decent number of fairly well to do families there is a significant  portion who would be classed as middle class and as such often find themselves on the receiving end of the brunt of many service cuts and increased taxation and fees. This makes aiming at this crowd a high risk manoeuver. It is instead better to aim at the upper end of the poor scale, slightly above the McDonald’s and Tim’s crowds and in the process attract the middle and upper class individuals as well.

The waitresses in filing a human rights complaint against the casino may or may not win but the publicity from the complaint alone as well as the fight involved is likely to garner them serious negative attention and even loss of business and potentially even new more rigid employment rules from either the province and/or the city.

What will be interesting over the next few days and weeks will be to see how the province as well as the city council reacts to this and how the casino decides to handle itself going forward.

The city itself is going to get a black eye because of the behaviour of the casino and it is imperative that it takes some form of action to mitigate the potential fallout.

A safe comparison can be made simply by taking a quick comparative look at the new wait staff in the Casino and see what immediate differences stick out between those who were let go and those who were hired.