Tuesday, February 11, 2014

More Cuts Denied

The City's 9 million dollar Emergency Services budget is staying in tact.  Councillor Rebecca Johnson tried last night to get 200 thousand dollars in reductions from that sector cut but was shot down by her fellow members.  Johnson then tried to make cuts to the 28 million dollar Fire and Rescue budget but was unsuccessful again.

Meals On Wheels Stays In Budget

Not a lot of money is being chopped from the 2014 City budget.  City Councillor Rebecca Johnson tried to save 105-thousand dollars last night by getting the Red Cross to take over responsibility for the program. Johnson came under attack from several members of Council and clarified that she's not against the program she just thinks someone else should offer it.  City Councillor Iain Angus suggested to Johnson she bring the idea up at a non budget meeting and have staff come back with a report.

Police Budget Gets Green Light

The City is giving a thumbs up to the Police Services 2014 budget. The 36.5 million dollar fiscal document was approved in principal during budget deliberations Tuesday night.  Councillor Rebecca Johnson wanted to cut 200-thousand dollars from the police budget but didn't get support from her fellow members.

50K For UAS Stays In 2014 Budget

The Urban Aboriginal Strategy is keeping its 50 thousand dollars in the 2014 City budget.  It was on the chopping block during budget deliberations Tuesday.  Councillor Iain Angus made a plea to his fellow members to keep the funding saying they provide an important service.  Six members voted to keep the funds, while five voted to axe it.

Federal Budget 2014

The Federal Government's budget contains some goodies for people looking to fine tune their trade.  Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced Tuesday a new loan for apprenticeships.  Other highlights include 300 million dollars for the disadvantaged to find jobs, one and a half billion dollars over 10 years for university research.  There will also be 300 million set aside for clean water on First Nations reserves and 250 million dollars for municipalities to prepare for natural disasters.  The government is also raising taxes on cigarettes by as much as 6 dollars a carton.

Drug Bust

OPP are charging two people after searching an Algonquin Street home and seizing drugs. 66 year old Wayne Alenko and 34 year old Beverly Meekis are charged with possession of Oxycodone and Marijuana with the purpose of trafficking.  Police seized a total of 391 Oxycodone 5 mgs pills with a street value of almost 5-thousand dollars and 2.5 pounds of Marihuana with a street value of 23-thousand dollars.

Airline Delivers Food

The owner of Thunder Bay based Niigani Air  wants to help deliver food to area First Nations.  Arthur Esquega says they've been using their empty flights up to remote communities to bring food from the Regional Food Distribution Association. So far food has been delivered to Webeque and Fort Hope First Nations.

Bridge Report Will Take Another Month

There's still no firm date for the James Street bridge to open to vehicle traffic.   CN Rail spokesperson Lindsay Fedchyshyn says engineers are still examining how safe the structure is following last years fire.   She says that it'll be another month before their report is completed.   Fedchyshyn says CN officials are keeping the First Nation and the city up to date on exactly what is happening.  Her comments are on the heels of last night's public meeting on the bridge on the Fort William First Nation.

Average Year For Watermain Breaks

The colder weather this winter doesn't appear to be causing too many watermain headaches for city.   Spokesperson David Warwick says so far crews haven't been run off their feet and calls it an average year for breaks.  However,  Warwick says with the frost getting deeper into the ground he expects more at the end of the month and the beginning of March.  Today the city dealt with at least two watermain breaks, one on the north side the other on the south.

Global Sticks Assets For Sale

All assets inside the Global Sticks facility are on the auction block today. Items include a biomass wood burning boiler system and many other large industrial machines. The manufacturing facility opened in Oliver Paipoonge in 2011 and closed in 2012.

Hotel Not Sinking

Questions are swirling over the new Marriott Towne Suites hotel on the Harbour Expressway.    Des Stoltz, with the city, says there's been some structural problems that have delayed the company from receiving permission from the city to open. He says that the sub-floor needs repairs but flatly denied rumours that the building is sinking.  Stolz expects the company to get it's occupancy permit in the next 3 to 4 weeks.

Child Care Issues Crop Up At Council

The City is looking into ways they can reduce the cost of running child care centres and programs.  Staff will come back to Council at a later date with options on how they can save money.  Councillor Rebecca Johnson wants to see the City pull out of the child care business altogether.  Meanwhile, Council put off making a decision on whether or not to end their pilot project involving night day care at Grace Remus since they require more information.

Local PGA Event Gets Cash

The City is going to give the local PGA Golf Classic event 20-thousand dollars.  Council quickly passed the funding for the upcoming tournament at their meeting Monday night.  They also approved another 20-thousand dollars of in-kind support including ads and marketing from the Tourism division.

Old Ambulance Donated

The City is giving one of its decommissioned ambulances to a charity organization.  Council approved the deal that will see the old vehicle provided to Medical Equipment Opportunity Cuba. 

Funding Agreements Approved

Council is giving the go ahead to staff to sign funding agreements with the Federal and Provincial Governments for the event centre. The agreements with FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation are part of the third phase of the project. CEO Tim Commisso says it's good to clear up the paperwork since if funding comes through they'll be ready to act.  Mayor Keith Hobbs rebuffed a concerned citizen's request for a vote on the event centre saying it was premature at this point.