City Released Good Budget-related News

“Residential and commercial property owners will see no increase to their property tax rates in 2015, water rates will remain unchanged, and the senior citizen rebate of 25 per cent will continue,” declared Councillor Danny Breen. Mayor Dennis O’Keefe added that, “As the City grows, moving into a new economic realm, we are on target with projects and objectives identified in our three year budget plan.”

City Council is proudly stating they have made substantial progress on a number of items they set out to ensure with the 2013-2015 budget plan, such as investment in infrastructure. The 2013-15 capital plan outlined spending in the vicinity of $300 million. “These monies cover a wide range of capital projects from new recreational facilities to street improvements and maintenance, basic water sewer and road infrastructure projects.” There was also mention in the press release of the expansion of the Convention Centre, totalling $63 million, which will promote economic activity. The Southlands Community Centre was completed in 2014 at a cost of $3.3 million; construction is well underway on the new $35 million Paul Reynolds Community Centre (replacing the Wedgewood Park Recreation Centre); and planning has begun for a new community centre for the west end. The opening of The Loop in Bannerman Park (cost-shared at $1.8 million with the Bannerman Park Foundation) in 2014 has been extremely well received by residents; Bowring Park revitalization continues with plans for pool house upgrades; and revitalization in Victoria Park will include further public consultations in 2015. The City has also secured funding towards development of a new Kenmount Terrace park ($10
million). A new Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan, with significant input from the community, will guide further developments in this area. The City also reports having managed to limit future risk to taxpayers from unfunded pension liabilities.

How the Food Drive Went

Last week’s door-to-door food bank collection initiative, launched by the City, exceeded its own goal and collected just over 110,000 pounds of food. Relative population sizes not considered, Ward 5 have the biggest hearts, contributing 31,750 pounds of food, or 29% of the total haul. The people of the city collectively donated the equivalent of $277,500 in food to a desperately understocked food bank. Nice work.

Province Helps Marble Mountain Recover from Lightning Damage

Last summer, a sky lift at Marble Mountain was fried by lightning, causing about five million in damage; enough to cripple the famed ski resort. Insurance would only cover a fraction of the repair (1.2 million), so the province will take care of it through loans and grants. It should be back in service by mid-January, while the ski resort itself will open over the holidays. Clearly, this crown corporation bought the wrong insurance package, something the Liberals pointed out, suggesting the government look at their insurance on all of their holdings.

Young Female Photographer Rescued after Pushing Her Pics to the Edge of Signal Hill

Photography is all about composition, and getting the right angle. One 26 year old on the North Head hiking trail went too far for the perfect shot Sunday evening, and wound up slipping into a precarious position down in the Queen’s Battery, and needed to be rescued by the fire department’s “High-angle Rescue Team.” It was a large gust of wind that sent her over the edge, and the rescue was not easy. She suffered only minor injuries; no word on whether she got the shot she was after.

Local Scotsburn Operation Milked Dry

Scotsburn’s largest ice cream and novelty production facility is in Truro, not Newfoundland, and so the local operation will now be “centralized” there, off the island. It’s part of Scotsburn phasing itself out here – not too long ago, they sold their milk division to Saputo. Now that they’re only doing ice cream and novelty products, they’ve decided, in the name of sound and solid business efficiency, to centralize their operation in Truro.

New Operating Grant Program Will Lower Childcare Costs

To help make child care more affordable for parents, the Provincial Government is launching a voluntary Operating Grant Program. The annual operating grant will be given to eligible licensed child care centres to help offset some of the costs associated with providing child care, so they needn’t charge parents as much to do what they do. It will effectively allow these child care centres to lower their rates by compensating for the lowered rates. Parents of children at participating licensed child care centres will see their fees reduced to $44 per day for infants, $33 per day for toddlers, $30 per day for 3 to 12 years in full day care, and $14 per day for afterschool programs (up to 12 years of age).

And the Leo Crockwell Chronicles Continue …

Reminder: Leo Crockwell is the man who barricaded himself in his Bay Bulls’ home back in 2010, and refused to come out, as police … tried hosing him out of there with water. On day four, Crockwell fired two warning shots. It all started when Leo snapped and started questioning his sister at gunpoint about a man he delusionally thought she was with in his home. To her surprise, her brother turned on her and assaulted her. When the police came to confront him, the eight-day stand-off began. Little did RCMP know, Crockwell had slipped out the back door and successfully evaded them. He was eventually apprehended and given firearms charges for the stand-off, and sentenced to 4 years in jail with three years of probation upon his release. The story made national news, including the Globe and Mail, largely for its weird factor – like the RCMP hosing a house for 8 days, or the fact Crockwell defended himself.

He got himself out of jail early though, after filing an application wherein he claimed corrections authorities and prison administrators had miscalculated his sentence. A judge agreed and freed him, and back to Bay Bulls he went.

But he’s back in the news this week for failing to comply with his 3-year, post-release probation. Crockwell was arrested last week, and charged with two counts of breaching probation. However, Crockwell is calling his probation an illegal order: the Criminal Code of Canada states that a probation order can only be placed on jail terms of two years or less. As it turns out, however, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled a probation order can be placed on a sentence if the time left to serve after pre-trial custody credit totals less than two years. His case will be in court on January 22nd.