Community Gatherings – Second Round
In November of 2015, David set out for the second round in his series of Community Gatherings, otherwise known as town halls or community meetings. These gatherings are intended to keep you informed about what your municipal and provincial government representatives are doing and to keep these representatives informed about what you’d like them to do on your behalf.
Four meetings were held, one for each city ward in the Fredericton South Riding: Skyline Acres (Ward 8), Downtown and College Hill (Ward 11), West Plat and Sunshine Gardens (Ward 10), and the Hill (Ward 9). City Councillors for each of these wards co-hosted with David.
Some of the recurring themes that came up at the meetings included transportation, waste management, health, housing and homelessness, and green energy. Public transportation and waste management were priority issues at almost every meeting.
The Community Gatherings are important tools for David to know what topics are most important to his constituents. He and his team use these meetings to develop actions and strategies to address these concerns at the provincial level. Follow-up actions emerged from several topics relating to:
1. Transportation and Infrastructure: Some very specific problems were identified in Skyline Acres: flooding around the Vanier Highway exit, and the need for a Route 8 pedestrian crossing. David has been advocating on these two issues since the first round of Community Gatherings, and has met with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Roger Melanson, about them. As a result, the government has built new infrastructure near the Liverpool exit to the Vanier Highway to reduce flooding. David also met with Minister Melanson to push for a pedestrian crossing for Route 8, presenting survey results compiled by Dawn Gordon that show high support for the project. In addition, he urged the universities to support this on behalf of their university community.
2. Public Transportation: The inadequacy of public transit was raised at every Community Gathering. David has met with Minister Melanson to advocate for provincial support for city transit. New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that does not help fund public transportation. David continues to raise questions about this in question period and will press for the new Climate Action Plan to focus on improved public transportation, both within and between cities.
3. Waste Management and Recycling: Waste management was last addressed at the provincial level in 1992 when a draft strategy for recycling went out for consultation. Unfortunately, it was never implemented. It is time for the province to create a coordinated and comprehensive recycling strategy for New Brunswick with clear goals and objectives. David will advocate for this in the Legislature, beginning with pointed questions to the Minister of Environment and Local government. David will also introduce a debatable motion to institute a province-wide recycling strategy.
4. Health: Community Health Centres were a major topic of interest. The permanent home for the Downtown Community Health Centre has been in question recently. David will pass on concerns and ideas raised at the meeting to provincial authorities. He has been pursuing the issue of funding for the expansion of the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital and has received reassurances that this project will be funded in this year’s capital budget.
5. Housing and Homelessness: There are ongoing concerns about poor service from the Provincial Rentalsman. David will investigate and review the relevant legislation to determine if amendments might improve the situation. If there is no action, he will look at introducing a private members bill.
6. Green Energy: There were many great ideas to help people improve the way we use and supply energy. Since the Community Gatherings, David has introduced a Green Jobs Act bill which, if adopted, would directly help people achieve these green energy goals by overcoming the upfront capital costs with innovative financing arrangements. You can support David’s job creation bill by emailing Premier Gallant at email@example.com or by writing him at Office of the Premier, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5