Saint John council boasts support 1 year into term

Tuesday marks one year since voters in Saint John swept mayor Mel Norton and a new crop of councillors into office, and it appears their appeal has not diminished in the city.

Ex-deputy mayor says the council has tackled big issues and deserves an A grade

Saint John Mayor Mel Norton and a new crop of councillors swept into office a year ago and so far their appeal has not diminished in the city.

For the most part, the public appears to let Norton continue along the path he has chosen for Saint John, including the new shared-risk pension model for city employees.

"I'm impressed," said Cynthia Bishop, a city resident.

"I find he's articulate and smart and really cares about the city."

Norton and most of the members of council were relative newcomers to politics when they took office last May, at a time when the city was in deep financial trouble.

Since then, they have put the pension issue to rest by adopting a shared-risk model and are now pursuing a new water treatment system.

Steven Chase, the city's former deputy mayor, said he is impressed by the collaboration and respect shown for one another.

"They've tackled some big issues," said Chase.

"As a citizen I am very happy and I'd give this council a grade of A."

Norton said there is excellent co-operation among those sitting around the council table and that has helped solve the city's pension crisis.

Drinking water, pipeline among priorities

Drinking water is the next priority, said Norton, but there are several others.

"I'd like to see an announcement in relation to the Coast Guard site and have work begun on that site," Norton said.

"I'd like to see the beginning of construction of the fertilizer plant in the industrial park. I'd like to see confirmation of the pipeline coming to Saint John and construction underway of that pipeline."

Norton travelled to Calgary on Sunday to add his voice to those supporting the proposed west-east pipeline.

He plans to visit with oil producers, business leaders and Calgary officials to discuss his support for TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline that would ship oil from Alberta to Saint John.

The city is also now looking for a private partner to build and operate its new water treatment system, after council voted in March to go the route of a public-private partnership, beginning with an application to the federal government for funding.

A new water treatment plant and accompanying infrastructure for Saint John has been estimated at $220 million.

Norton said he also would like to see more money put into road and sidewalk improvements and greater regional cooperation with the city's neighbouring communities.