Thursday, March 3, 2011

Students protest increased tuition

The student union at Lakehead University is livid over a decision by the University Board of Governors to jack up tuition  fees by 5 per cent. President Mike Snodden says about 120 chanting protesters were on hand as the governors entered Thursday's meeting where the increase was approved. He says the increase will mean students will pay an average of 280 dollars more for next years classes, engineering students will pay and extra 460 dollars. He says a protest rally is planned for next week as well as an e-mail blitz.

Ring of Fire blockade underway

Marten Falls First Nation has commenced its blockade of an airstrip used by companies for Ring of Fire mining exploration. The community is protesting what they see as a lack of involvement in decisions about their future.

The catalyst for the blockade is a mining camp on Koper Lake that Marten Falls leaders say was constructed without permission.

The  leaders see the camp as part of a larger trend where the community is shut out of the decision making process and are concerned they might lose out on benefits in the long term by not being able to help guide development.

Besides having more say in plans for the area, Chief Eli Moonias says Marten Falls would like to see new infrastructure put in place like winter roads that could lead to transport jobs. Other items such as funding to hire experts to help with negotiations and reimbursement for last years blockade are also on his wish list. Moonias feels the First Nation was forced into last years blockade by the decisions of others and shouldn't be on the hook for the cost.

NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy visited the protest camp on Koper lake today and participated in a ceremony to mark the beginning of the blockade. Beardy says First Nation communities in the region aren't against development; they just want to make sure they share in the Ring of Fire's success and are treated fairly.

Municipal League meets

You can bet the Northern Growth Plan will be a hot topic at this weekend's annual Thunder Bay District Municipal League meeting. Past president Gwen Garbutt says the league members had a say in the plan, which is being released Friday morning by Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle. Garbutt says if there's something in the plan they don't like, Gravelle will hear from them. The meeting gets under way Friday as well.

Developer's expansion plans halted

The city isn't too keen on making changes to some of the projects at Prince Arthur's Landing.   The Committee of Adjustment has nixed plans by the developers of the hotel to add a storey to the building and move some parking from the waterfront to the downtown north core.   However city administration was a bit skittish about the plan because there hasn't been a parking study done.

Hospital working on new strategic plan

All aspects of health care are being encourage to take part in the creation of a new strategic plan for the Regional Health Sciences Centre. CEO Andree Robichaud says they hope to have representatives from all health care stake holders take part in the planning.  Robichaud says they will focus on patient needs and hope to have a draft plan in place by June.

City firefighters make sunshine list

A total of 115 people on the City of Thunder Bay payroll are on the province's Sunshine List. It gives the names of civil servants and other government officials who made more than 100 thousand dollars last year. City Manager Tim Commisso says a recent arbitration decision for city firefighters put 32 of them on that list. 50 people in the Police Service are also made more than a 100K in 2010

Herman takes issue with proposed booze law

Police Chief Bob Herman has joined the chorus of concerns over proposed new liquor laws in Ontario. Herman says while the laws may need updating he is wondering if allowing people to wander with booze at outdoor events is a wise move. He says they've seen from events in Thunder Bay that when that happens there is a tendancy for minors to be given alcohol and for people to sneak it in.  Herman says the Police Chiefs Association will bring their concerns to the McGuinty government

Donation for library

The Northern Credit Union has donated 5 thousand dollars to the new Mary J.L. Black Branch Library. The money will support the Children’s Reading Garden at the new facility. Fundraising Chairman, Patrick Morash and Thunder Bay Public Library Acting Chief Librarian, Barb Philp, were at the Northern Credit Union Westfort Branch on Frederica Street to accept the gift.

Buddy Guy and GFR highlight bluesfest lineup

They're coming to our town to party it down.  Grand Funk Railroad is one of the acts that will be part of this years Blues Festival.  Also on the list are Chicago Blues man Buddy Guy, Blue Rodeo and Wild T and the Spirit.  the Bluesfest takes place at Marina Park July 8th to the 10th.

City Transit is developing a master plan

The city wants to know what residents think about transit services. Transit Manager Brad Loroff says they are looking for public input to help in the development of a Master Plan. Loroff says the plan should point out what needs Thunder Bay residents have.  Loroff says there will be a survey available from March 7 to April 17th and a public meeting March 31st.

No one hurt in apartment fire

No injuries in a North side fire. The Blaze happened just after 9 o'clock last night in the 500 block of North Cumberland.  When crews arrived they found one unit completely engulfed in flames.  The cause is under investigation.