Community Gatherings 2022-2023

The following is a summary of the four community gatherings held in David Coon’s Fredericton South Riding between November 2022 and January 2023. City Councillors Ruth Breen, Jason LeJeune, Cassandra LeBlanc and Greg Ericson co-hosted with MLA David Coon.

Some common themes emerged from the meetings, including:

  • Questions about the need for a new jail
  • Recycling, especially glass recycling, curbside composting and apartment recycling
  • Local neighbourhood traffic safety
  • Infrastructure maintenance and construction
  • Affordable housing and homelessness
  • The new Aquatics Centre
  • Lack of family doctors
  • Community and neighbourhood safety and cleanliness
  • Transit, especially Sunday transit, and fair fares for low income people
  • Transparent government
  • Climate change

MLA Coon and the City Councillors started each community gathering with an update  on the Legislature and province, and City Hall and the city.

David’s reports included information on the Accessibility Committee’s work to improve disability supports; new rules to allow expert witnesses to be brought before bill amendment committees; update on the new Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital (DECH) ICU unit and the issue of a new Vascular Surgery Unit; updates on the Nurse Practitioners Clinic; recommendations to government to improve healthcare access; the new NB Healthlink which is replacing the Patient Connect waitlist; community clinics requirement to accept walk-ins; the Rent Cap Bill and efforts to amend it to be more supportive of tenants; government efforts to privatize some healthcare with private surgical clinics; local traffic and infrastructure issues; climate change expertise from province’s univerisities not being used by the province; the need for the NB Housing Act and the NB Housing Corporation to be re-enacted, which would create more affordable housing; changes to the riding boundaries.

A breakdown of each Community Gathering and the topics and issues brought up:

The Hill with Councillor Ruth Breen, November 2, 2022

Councillor Ruth Breen’s Update: Held a local stakeholders meeting on safety concerns; city has a new anti-racism task force; city’s new Environmental Strategist is working with all city departments on Community and Corporate Climate strategies; new website is being developed. 

Issues and topics brought up by residents:

  1. NB Power and Virtual Net Metering
    Resident identified obstacles to renewable energy. MLA Coon was hopeful that the “New NB Power” would make transition to renewable smoother.
  2. Glass Recycling
    New Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) recycling program will be rolled out in 2023 and will include glass recycling.
  3. Access to 1015 Regent from Dufferin and Mansfield
    These access points will be open soon
  4. Safety on Trails and Parks
    Resident garbage and graffiti around trails and parks. Keep city councillor and city informed of these.
  5. Property Tax Breaks
    Recent property tax breaks favour larger apartments over smaller ones.
  6. Pool Update
    New pool is now with the Regional Service Commission. Moving to design stage in 2023.
  7. Electric Buses
    Only hybrid or electric buses will be purchased by the city from now on. Regional transit may be possible now with the new Municipal boundaries.
  8. Tax Relief
    Resident expressed opposition to the recent tax relief which benefits the richest. Will create deficit and debt in a time of need for public spending on services.
  9. Healthcare
    Privatization is a concern, especially with private clinics potentially taking staff from staff short hospitals. Shortage of doctors and nurses a concern, no action plan yet for recruitment. Crystal meth also a problem, no action plan on that yet either. Need Urgent Care Centres for non-emergency care.
  10. Out of the Cold (OTC) Shelter
    Small Craft Aquatic Centre and Oak Centre will have OTC beds. 100+ sleeping rough now.
  11. Clinic 554
    Not sure what is happening, but focus seems to have shifted to Victoria Health Centre as a potential site for supportive housing.

East Plat and College Hill with Councillor Jason LeJeune, November 30, 2022

Councillor Jason LeJeune’s Update: Updates on the new Performance Arts Centre and Officer’s Square; new transit technology to gather data; affordable housing needs assessment led to affordable housing plan and housing coordinator.

Issues and topics brought up by residents:

  1. City Tax Rates
    Two tax rates, one for inside and one for outside city. Not fair, needs to change, urban subsidizing rural. Recently decreased inside rate, kept outside rate same, and increased newly annexed rate.
  2. Rent Cap and Affordable Housing
    Need rent cap, losing affordable housing, homelessness increasing. Existing NB Housing Act needs to be re-enacted, and NB Housing Corporation started up again. Inclusionary Zoning now available to city to require developers to include affordable units in new builds.
  3. New Prison
    No rationale was given at the time for new prison, but now saying because of overcrowding. But need is not for prison but for residential mental health and addictions treatment centre. No prison will be built without lots of public consultations.
  4. College Hill and Public Safety
    What can be done about college hill parties? Nuisance Party bylaw? City is working on it as a police issue, not a bylaw issue. Trying to work with university on it.
  5. Fair Transit Fares
    Need lower transit fares for low income people. Some on city council would like to see free transit. Service for seniors to get to medical appointments: Urban Rural Rides.
  6. Lack of Family Doctors
    Resident lost family doctor, 74,000 without doctor, hard to access healthcare, current options not good. Nurse Practitioners Clinic slowly onboarding patients, will onboard more; need urgent care centre; lots of ideas for how to improve healthcare but lack of urgency from Dept of Health or Horizon.

West Plat and Sunshine Gardens with Councillor Cassandra LeBlanc, January 11, 2023

Councillor Cassandra LeBlanc’s Update: Listed positive things that have happened in the city since Councillor LeBlanc started: Playhouse being built; NBEX plan moving forward; Affordable Housing Strategy and Implementation Plan; Office of Social Inclusion; Anti-racism Task Force; Social Inclusion Committee; Out of the Cold Shelters open; Bike and Active Transportation Plan; Traffic Calming Process; Community Safety Unit; bylaw on e-vehicles on trails; new service standard for garbage cans, benches and water fountains; Heritage Lamont Building acquired by city; Heritage Preservation review; South Core Secondary Municipal Plan starting soon.

Issues and topics brought up by residents:

  1. Transparent Government
    All information from government should be publicly accessible with only a few exceptions. Councillor Cassandra will keep pushing for transparency. Accessibility Canada has standards that should apply across all of Canada and offers help to achieve these standards, province just need to sign on.
  2. City Declare Climate Emergency
    Meeting with environment groups to declare a climate emergency. City has Environment Stewardship Committee co-led by Margo Sheppard, long-time environmental activist.
  3. Cross Town Trail
    Resident requested Councillor LeBlanc get two public documents: 1. 1998 letter of consent by NB Power to move the power line, 2. Landscaping plan for townhouse development between Smythe and Northumberland. Councillor says she tried but was stymied, recommends a RTI be filed. Will try again.
  4. Graffiti
    Increase in graffiti, how to stop it? Hard to catch people, approach is to eradicate as quickly as possible.
  5. Sunday Bus Service
    Hope Sunday Bus Service will happen within a few years. New transit manager is from Toronto, brings lots of ideas and expertise. Collecting data on bus use for the first time, will allow optimizing routes. Sunday bus service is an equity issue.
  6. New Jail
    Is it needed? Rationale hasn’t been provided yet. We need a mental health court that diverts people to mental healthcare rather than jail. Successful pilot in St. John, hasn’t been rolled out elsewhere. Need 24/7 emergency mental health first responders. Need more rehab beds. Need faster justice system, 40% of inmates are on remand, just waiting for trial.
  7. Transparency
    Government transparency not a matter of opinion or perspective, clear national guidelines and policies. Public documents must be available to public. Shouldn’t have to fight or file RTI to get these.

Skyline Acres with Councillor Greg Ericson, January 25, 2023

Councillor Greg Ericson’s Update: Local Governance Reform, Regional Service Commission has a new and more active mandate; Heritage Review underway; Strategic Forestry Plan; Recreation Master Plan; New City Website; New Budget includes $50,000 for pedway study over Route 8; Transit Flex Bus or On-Demand Bus.

Issues and topics brought up by residents:

  1. Pathway connecting Bliss Carman and Gloucester/Ascot Ct
    Needs more gravel, needs plowing, curb cutout taken out years ago. Recommend to call Fredericton service number 460-2020. All calls are logged, which helps City Councillors know what people are concerned about, and helps Councillors apply pressure on the city.
  2. State of Reading Park, re: Post-Tropical Storm Arthur (deadfall)
    After Storm Arthur, deadfall mess left in Reading Park. Does city not clear up deadfall? Hazardous, some trees leaning; no longer able to use this part of the park. City’s policy is to let fallen trees decompose, unless it is a falling hazard.
  3. Pickle Ball Court at Leeds and Rochester
    Pickle Ball Court is too close to homes and too loud, keeping people up who are on night shift. Also parked cars prevent emergency vehicle access, and sometimes block fire hydrant. Councillor Greg will ask for these courts to be moved, but city wants to put in new pickle ball court before taking these out.
  4. Cross Walk Safety: Canterbury/Essex, Reading/Gloucester
    Dangerous crosswalks because signs were taken down from Canterbury and Essex; and Gloucester crosswalk is dark. Has been difficult for Councillors to get traffic calming and safety into their communities, so city has a new traffic calming process that is more transparent and user-friendly.
  5. Garbage Dump by Liverpool School
    People are dumping their garbage in this garbage dump, if it belongs to the school, it should be closer to the school than the sidewalk. Will contact school district to try to get it moved.
  6. New Jail
    Need mental healthcare and addictions treatment, not jail. Problem is Public Safety and Health are siloed, so public safety issues are treated with jail, not healthcare. As for location, if issue becomes big enough maybe they will move it, but if not, the jail will be built in that location. For city, there is also the issue of Frederictonians being taken far away from their families and supports, see it as a justice issue.
  7. Illegal Rentals
    Many rentals are avoiding paying proper tax by not properly declaring their units. Should report any illegal rentals to the city, bylaw and Fire Dept. take these seriously.