Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Budget Cut

High fives around the City Council table.  The jubilation came after council voted to reduce the budget by 80-thousand dollars.  Councillor Rebecca Johnson says she's thrilled even though it's a drop in a bucket. The money was cut from staff's request to hire a consultant to look into whether the City should implement new charges related to new developments in the City.

CEDC Budget Request Stays The Same

A review of the 2014 City budget continues.  Wednesday night Council reviewed the outside boards it helps fund including the Community Economic Development Commission.  CEO Doug Murray says they are asking for the same amount of money as they did last year.  The CEDC's budget sits at just over 1.1 million dollars.

T.Bay Makes Adult Toy Sale List

Thunder Bay is on a list of the top cities in Canada that purchase adult toys, novelties and lingerie.  The Lakehead ranks 19th out of 25 cities.
Toronto based PinkCherry Adult Toys ranked the communities based on which ones ordered the most amount of times per capita. Co-owner Daniel Freedman says he's not surprised Thunder Bay made the list since most people are staying indoors during the cold winter months and that's indicative of a top purchasing city. Victoria, B.C., Grande Prairie, Alberta and Fredricton, New Brunswick are the top three cities.

Candidate For Current River

There's a candidate in place for the Current River riding in the Municipal election. Andy Wolff registered to run in the upcoming October election.  There's been no word if incumbent councillor Andrew Foulds will run.

77 Cases Of Debit Card Fraud

So far 77 debit card fraud cases are being investigated by City Police. Where the cards were compromised is still not known.  Police believe that a rigged electronic banking machine was installed somewhere in the City sometime in the past year. The illegal withdrawals were made somewhere in New York.

Foundations Merge

A big merger of two charitable organizations in the city.   The Thunder Bay Community Foundation is taking in the Justice Ronald B. Lester Memorial Youth Foundation.   Bonnie Moore of the T-B-C-F says it will make the youth charity stronger.  She says both groups will combine their assets.   Moore says the Lester family felt it was time to give up direct control to the Community Foundation.

Provincial Review Of Local Health Authorities

Provincial hearings held in Thunder Bay reviewing the Local Health Integration Networks are now complete. Nearly a dozen presentations were made throughout the morning at the Valhalla Inn to the provincial government's Standing Committee on Social Policy. Some of the presentations included the LHIN itself, the Ontario Native Women's Association and the Thunder Bay Health Coalition.

LU Launches New Student Initiative

Students at Lakehead University will now get to have their extra curricular achievements at the school actually count for something.  The institution is joining a growing trend in the country by having those accomplishments officially included in the students  Academic Transcript.

Another City Mac's Robbery

Thunder Bay police are looking for a man who robbed the Mac's Convenience Store on Waterloo Street at around 6:30 this morning.  They say he was brandishing an axe, but that no one was hurt.   They say he ran away with a small amount of money.

Gardens Talk Not Over Yet

The future of the Fort William Gardens will soon be in the hands of city councillors.   After a set of public hearings on the facility, Consultant Conrad Boychuk says he is prepared to make his recommendations at the March 3rd council meeting.  Boychuk says one of this proposals
will be to keep the Gardens standing so it can be a multi use public facility.   He says the cost of tearing the facility down is about 3 million dollars and that could only go higher because of the expected pollution clean up of the grounds.

Bed Bugs To Be Sprayed Wednesday

The Social Services Board is going to start spraying for bed bugs at their Spence Court housing complex Wednesday.  CAO Bill Bradica says so far 5 units are confirmed to have the pests but adds it might be more as inspections continue. Bradica adds they've had meetings with the tenants association and received a positive response from them.

Public Comments On Budget

The head of Poverty Free Thunder Bay is just one of several community groups who spoke to City Council about the 2014 budget.  Chair Terri Carter says low income families are worried about the two percent increase in child care fees. Carter also expressed concern over the fate of the Royal Edward Arms and the lack of affordable housing in the City. Other organizations to speak at Tuesday night's meeting included Friends of the Thunder Bay Conservatory, the Urban Aboriginal Strategy and the Heath Park Pool supporters.

Budget Review Gets Underway

City Councillor Rebecca Johnson wants to cut the 2014 budget by almost a million dollars.  Johnson says she's combed through the fiscal document and there are a number of areas that could be trimmed including child care and the meals on wheels program.   Meanwhile, Councillor Andrew Foulds is commenting on the budget's increases to waste water and water rates.  The fiscal document lays out a six percent increase for those two rates that will come into effect on April 1st.  Foulds says he understands people are concerned about the increases but notes they have to be done to ensure water quality and safety.  Council will continue to review the budget at another public meeting Wednesday night.