Archive for March, 2012

Transit Sign Or Strike

There has been a bit of a discussion ongoing over the last few days regarding a potential upcoming Transit strike in Moncton.

To cover the general points:

  1. Some believe transit should not be able to strike
  2. Some believe Council should sign the contract that was previously negotiated
  3. Some are scared for their jobs
  4. Some do not believe in unions at all
  5. Some are unsure how they will be able to handle the basic necessities like shopping etc.

So what is the overall issue.

  1. Transit in Moncton has been without a contract for over 2 years.
  2. City staff negotiated a contract with the union and then told the council to vote against the contract.
  3. Riverview and Dieppe are both willing to sign the agreement already made.
  4. April 1 Codiac transit will be in a legal strike position.

Personally with all the various issues ongoing in this city at the moment, from the MHS moving to Royal Oaks issue to parking issues etc. the last thing the council should be doing is creating another situation where they can potentially look bad especially when you consider that there is an election campaign ongoing at the moment.

Realistically I do not understand why city staff would negotiate a contract and then recommend that the council reject that same contract and I understand even less why the council would just willingly follow along on something that is so likely to cause them grief come time to vote in the elections.

I also do not understand why council would allow the staffer ( s ) who negotiated and then recommended against approving the contract to stay on the job.

To me this form of bad faith negotiating on the part of city staff is a very bad position to be supporting and to continue to allow the people who actively participated in this trickery to keep their positions does again beg the question. “Who is running this city? The council? or the city staff?” any answer but the council puts this city in a really poor position and it will be something that will have to be cleaned up by the next elected council.

This transit strike should not happen. The contract was negotiated and approved by staff and then recommended to be refused by the same staff.

There is a realistic chance people will lose their jobs because of the inability to get to work and the responsibility for that falls completely on the hands of council and city staff because in this instance they are the ones who have chosen to negotiate in bad faith. The drivers came to the table and negotiated a deal. The membership approved it. If the council chose to refuse it on their own that is one thing but for the negotiators to recommend that the council refuse to sign the contract that those same negotiators came up with is extremely poor leadership.

Building Codes Do Need To Change.

Recently contractors have been whining about restrictive building codes that raise the cost of building homes. 

The complaints involves building codes that the City of Moncton as well as Riverview enacted to ensure that all property is built in such a manner as to ensure that it does not get flooded by neighbouring homes.

The issue as the head of the local building association refers to it was “using a hammer to kill a fly” over the issue of a well known home on Penrose avenue being built amongst the first in the neighbourhood and when the rest of the properties filled in, they were below grade and flooded on a regular basis.

Now regardless of the publicity of this issue, I am well aware because of travelling around that neighbourhood from time to time that this home still has not been fixed. This is my problem, if this issue was small enough to be considered a “fly” then it might have been in the home builder’s association’s best interest to get together and correct the problem.

The major reason why this regulation needs to stay, and that Dieppe should have adopted it instead of sloughing it off, is that homes in the Dieppe area that are not required to meet this specific building standard are still being built in a manner that fails this standard. There are still new homes being built without sufficient attention being paid to grade or drainage and causing new home owners to be repeatedly flooded during heavy rains or melts.

In all honesty I am personally perplexed that after all this time, a home that has gained such publicity and notoriety has not been fixed, it is bad for the image of the home builders and it is bad for the image of Moncton. You would think that after this many years someone would have decided that enough is enough and just fix the problem instead of leaving this family to constantly be recovering from flood damage.

A Few Words To Alward

David Alward our premier has decided from his self appointed throne as the great dictator that regardless what the people of this great city of Moncton have to say regarding his governments decision to put the Moncton High School in the middle of the Royal Oaks development he will put it there anyway.

Here are a few words of wisdom to you oh great dictator. City council in Moncton does have the tools to shut down your proposed location, regardless of any imagined exemptions that exist. There are tools within city bylaws that give us the necessary means to stop your action in your tracks. There are also tools there that let people understand that there are rules we could put in place to block you.

Moncton has a city plan and it high time that you and your minions read it and took it into account when they decide where to place government installations. This is the second time in recent history that the provincial government has decided to build a school inside Moncton but outside of the serviced areas. This comes at great expense to the city.

So Mr. Alward here is what i propose. Come back to the table with a plan that takes Moncton’s plans into account. We will block you and use every tool at our disposal to do so. This includes using every clause in our city’s laws and bylaws to block this development and any clause we can develop as well. We are not as bound by the permissive system as some people would like us to believe and if I am elected in this upcoming municipal election I will show you just how unlimited we are.

One other thing to consider in all this mess. The province and council themselves seems to think that it is the city’s responsibility to pay for the infrastructure upgrades needed if the school is put way out there. We have no need to pay for this. If the province puts the school out there then the province can pay for the infrastructure upgrades required as well. As for his non-committal to that part in the Times Transcript article from this morning, he can get over himself because if I get in as mayor it is not my intention to be paying to fix the provinces screw ups.

If they want to involve themselves in our city then they had better start involving the council and voters in the city in their decision BEFORE they make the announcement that they have a deal in place. After the fact is way to late and is no longer going to be tolerated in this city.

Moncton’s Ongoing Parking Issues

Moncton has for as long as I am aware had one major problem affecting almost all downtown development.

The issue of available parking and the options found in other outlying areas that incorporated free parking.

Before the existence of the Trinity Power center, as poorly laid out as it is,  there was little shopping in the north end with both Moncton Mall (now the Northwest Center) and Kmart Plaza (now Mapleton Plaza) having very little traffic because both malls were to small to attract sufficient business on their own and there were not enough other businesses in the area. At that time Highfield square was actually fairly busy as was Champlain place and the Superstore Mall.

With the existence of additional shopping destinations in the north end of the city, the Northwest center and Mapleton Plaza have seen a serious revival which have had spin off effects on other businesses nearby. For the North End this has proven a very good thing.

For the Downtown however this basically spelled the end for the majority of the downtown. The downtown shopping and business activity was fuelled largely by the business of Highfield square, however changes to the site which have led to serious parking restrictions onsite as well as stores leaving due to reduced clientele. Stores leaving further reduced the draw until today’s version of Highfield square which is fuelled largely by the bus stop out front and is generally specialty stores which often attract a specific clientele interested in one store or two at most. This reduced clientele spins off and reduces residual traffic into the downtown area because there is less of a draw, and therefore has dramatically reduced traffic in the core.

So how do we shift interest back to the core? We make it an appealing place to shop. We do this by developing the downtown core into a destination people want to enjoy.

There are several things that need to be done to revitalize the core.

  1. Recognize the actual boundaries of Downtown as seen by the public. St. George to the River, Vaughan Harvey to King St. Including the area bounded by High St, and Mountain Rd as well.
  2. Recognize that this area is made up of a combination of business and private homes.
  3. Designate specific Areas within this as business areas. (Main St, St George, King, High(combination?)
  4. Remainder of this area is homes and should be designated residential. Work with owners of these residences needs to be done to return these homes to single family homes and improve the general appearance of some neighbourhoods
  5. Recognize that planning for new businesses in the downtown area must include ONSITE PARKING for customers and staff.
  6. Recognize that efforts must be taken to fix the problem of lack of onsite customer and staff parking in the downtown core.

One of my biggest issues with the way council and city staff has looked at downtown planning has been the focus on density without allowing for the fact that without free parking business traffic will be reduced. While the initial though was likely that the presence of paid city lots would give people a place to park and the belief that more businesses would force more people into these paid lots, what has instead happened is that many people who may have been interested in shopping downtown have instead looked to parking in private lots without paying, causing issues with booting vehicles and impounded cars, or they have instead moved to shopping at the larger shopping centers in the north end as well as Champlain place where they can take advantage of unrestricted free parking.

What now needs to be recognized is there needs to be investigation as to how we can fix this problem now that we are aware that people are not behaving the way we expected/intended and instead of compounding the problem by putting more and more dense business downtown we need to look at ways to make access to these businesses much more realistic for the mindset that the residents of this city have proven to have.

No matter how hard we try, if people are showing that they are fully willing to go to a different area to take advantage of free parking then we need to adjust our planning to accommodate this instead of consistently trying to force a vision on the downtown area that is proving to be incompatible with the habits and tendencies of the people who live in the city.

RCMP Funding Arrangement Forgot One Minor Detail.

Our federal Conservative MP has let us down, our provincial Conservative Government has let us down and our Mayor and Council have once again let us down.

Ever since Moncton was forced to give up it’s municipal police force and accept the RCMP by our provincial government we have been getting a raw deal.

We as a city have not been getting the 10% subsidy that almost everyone else in the country has been getting and yet the lot of them stood there in the Transport Canada hanger for a news conference all happy that Moncton is getting what it should have been getting for years.

The missing detail in all of this. Not once have we heard a peep about making this subsidy retroactive to when we first were FORCED to accept an RCMP deal that was not as good as the one signed by the rest of the country.

The federal government and/or the provincial government between them owe us for the period when we were forced to pay more for the same services then anyone else. And yet not once have we heard a single MLA nor the Mayor nor any of the council have stood up for our city and demanded that we be paid back the amount that we have overpaid for the RCMP service we have received.

Once again the people of this city have been let down by those who were elected to represent us. Not one of them have actually done the job and demanded that we be treated fairly.