I was humbled by the decision of the people in Fredericton South to return me to the Legislative Assembly as your representative. It is a privilege to serve you and I will continue to work hard on your behalf.
Collaborative work with the new government has been underway. Right out of the gate, our community tackled the pressing need to provide “Out of the Cold” shelters for the homeless. I met with a group of cabinet ministers to discuss the modest financial support that was required, and Dorothy Shephard, the Minister of Social Development acted quickly. Minister Shephard and I sat beside one another when she was a member of the Official Opposition, and developed a very positive rapport. These relationships built over the past four years are proving to be very helpful in working with the cabinet members of the new minority government.
Like you, I was disappointed that Premier Higgs decided to abandon the renovations of the Centennial Building to accommodate our courts, despite the $13 million already spent. Major renovations will now have to be undertaken at the Justice Building on Queen Street to address its multiple problems. I met with Bill Oliver, the Minister responsible for government buildings, to see if any hope existed to resume the project, but the decision seems to be firm.
As for the prospects for support for the aquatic centre and the new performing arts centre, I will be meeting Minister Mary Wilson, who represents the neighbouring riding of Oromocto-Lincoln-Fredericton, to discuss these needed developments for our city.
One of the concerns frequently mentioned to me when I was going door-to-door during the election campaign was the redesign of historic Officer’s Square; particularly the proposal to remove the mature trees. In response to public concern, the City reworked its proposal to keep eight big mature trees.
Officer’s Square has been protected under New Brunswick’s Heritage Conservation Act since 1965 as a “Provincial Heritage Place.” Any proposed changes that could undermine its heritage value must be accepted and approved by Robert Gauvin, the Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Culture. He is waiting to receive the City’s revised plan for Officer’s Square, so I met with him and his staff in a meeting organized by Beth Biggs from the Save Officer’s Square citizen group, to ensure he understands that the concern over losing the mature trees and other heritage features is widespread in Fredericton South. It is my hope that the City’s revised plans for Officer’s Square will maintain the heritage values that gained it Provincial Heritage Place designation. If not, the Minister will be responsible for deciding whether further revisions will be required.
The demand for better recycling services continues to rise in the riding, particularly from apartment dwellers. The same can be said about the need for action against plastic pollution. Environment Ministers across Canada recently agreed to cut the waste going to landfills by 30% over the next decade, and to keep plastics out of the environment. This has convinced new Minister of Environment Jeff Carr to put waste reduction back on his department’s agenda after successive governments have ignored it. You can be assured I will be fully engaged in upcoming discussions on how to improve recycling, eliminate throw-away plastics, and cut waste.
My bill to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to improve protections for tenants is before the Legislature. I will write more about this in the next newsletter.
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My winter community gatherings are underway. If I can be of help in any way, or you want to let me know your views on an issue important to you, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 455-0936, or drop by our new constituency office at 346 Queen St. Suite 102.
All the best,