Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Water rates going up

City administration is calling for a 14.3 percent increase to water rates for 2011. Environment Manager Kerri Marshall says water and sewer rates are still affordable. Based on the consumption of 200 cubic meters; the average customer will see an extra $8.07 on their monthly bill. The annual cost would be $774.10.  Councillor Mark Bentz raised the point that the Province is no longer allowing municipalities to put of maintenance upgrades due to health and safety concerns over drinking water.

City behind on infrastructure spending

The City of Thunder Bay is behind on investing in its infrastructure.  Administration told councillors Tuesday night they have a 15 million dollar infrastructure shortfall.  Pavement rehabilitation is behind four million; road network improvements are down 3 million and storm sewers are in need of 1.8 million dollars in upgrades.  City Councillor Mark Bentz says they need to start spending more on these types of projects noting its a safety concern.  The 2011 budget proposes putting an extra million dollars towards roads bringing the total amount of infrastructure spending this year to 10.1 million.

Future Property Taxes Projected

The City of Thunder Bay is looking into the future.  Administration is forecasting the 2012 property tax increase to be between 2.8 percent and 4.1 percent for the average residential property.  Treasurer Carol Busch says the city needs to decrease costs, increase revenues and grow the assessment base through economic development in order to bring the 2012 tax rate down.

City releases debt figures

The City of Thunder Bay is 179 million dollars in debt. That's one of the figures found in the 2011 budget overview. Borrowing money for capital projects accounts for 68 million dollars of the city's total debt. Water and Wastewater loans for the treatment plants is 96.9 million; and the remainder of the debt is from debentures made for TBayTel. For every dollar the City has in its reserve funds it has a dollar ninety in debt. Municipal credit rating agencies recommend having a debt to reserve ratio of a dollar for dollar.

First budget meeting held

City Councillor's are getting an earful on the 2011 budget.  Administration provided a budget overview Tuesday night.  The Health Unit, H.A.G.I. Transit, Parking Authority, Library and Victoriaville Centre are just some of the boards and agencies that are asking for more money from the city. City staff also found 7.8 million dollars in cost savings in department budgets, and the District Social Services Board levy.  Budget meetings are being held throughout this month.

Law School gets boost

A Law School for Lakehead University got a huge boost. The Ad Hoc Committee on the Approval of New Canadian Law Degree Programs recently made a recommendation to the Council of the Federation of the Law Societies of Canada to approve Lakehead University's proposal for a new law degree program.

Rafferty urges rejection of CRTC decision

Thunder Bay MP John Rafferty says the government must reject a CRTC decision allowing Internet Service Providers to charge more money. The broadcast regulator says it's okay for ISP's to put a cap on data downloads. Rafferty says the move is on to get the government to reverse the policy. Rafferty says such a policy will be disastrous for people in northern Ontario who rely on the Internet for business and entertainment

Hyer ready if budget triggers vote

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the federal budget will be brought down next month. It's a budget that is expected by many to trigger an election this year. Thunder Bay MP Bruce Hyer says...bring it on.   He says while not "dying for an election" he's ready for one.  Hyer won't make any prediction's on how he feels the whole scene might play out.

NWO still not heart smart

Northwestern Ontario is getting a poor grade when it comes to our opionion of our heart health. If you think you are healthy, eat enough vegetables and are active enough, chances are your sadly mistaken. A new survey done by the Heart and Stroke foundation shows 90 percent of Canadians think they are healthy but the same number live with at least one heart disease risk factor. Northern Hearts President Doctor Christopher Lai says Thunder Bay is one of the least active communities in the province.

Unrest in Africa and the Middle East is spreading

With over a quarter million protesters flooding the streets in Cairo today a Lakehead University Professor is predicting the unrest to spread. Laure Paquette says with Jordon announcing today that its government has been fired, things could spread even further. Paquette says Syria is the next country to keep an eye on. She says with the potential of democratic reforms leading to extremists being elected, tensions in Israel are on the rise as well.

Suspended officer makes court appearance

A city police officer, charged with breach of trust, dreturns to court next month.   43 year old Constable Toni Grann appeared in court Tuesday on the 12 charges which police say involved falisfied local records in the Ontario Sex Offender Registry.  The 11 year veteran of the Thunder Bay Police Service is suspended with pay.  Marc Huneault is a prosector from Sudbury who is handling the case which is due back in court March 28th

Thundewolves team up with Cancer Centre

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The Lakehead Thunderwolves men's hockey team are standing up for the fight against Prostate Cancer. Executive Director Jason Mallon says players will be wearing special Jerseys Saturday that include the Prostate Man emblem.  Fans will get to take part in a silent auction and the winning bidders will have the Jerseys presented to them at the end of the game.  All proceeds are going to the Northern Cancer Fund.

No injuries in early morning fire

Thunder Bay Fire and Rescue dealt with a small fire this morning. Three pumpers were called to a house at Fox Court on the Thunder Bay First Nations. No one was hurt and the damage was confined to a storage shed.