Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bridgewater's, Nova Scotia, sinking Cormorant subject of $1M legal battle

Ex-navy diving vessel centre of court case over cost of refloating it

By Richard Cuthbertson, CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2015 3:57 PM AT Last Updated: Apr 29, 2015 8:17 PM AT
A plan is being crafted to salvage a flooded and badly listing former navy diving vessel in Bridgewater, N.S., but a legal battle is brewing over who will pay for it all.

The Cormorant began tipping severely in March after being overloaded with snow. The starboard side is leaning against a jetty owned by the Port of Bridgewater, the hull is resting on the bottom of the LaHave River, and tidal waters are flowing through the ship.

The salvage effort could cost more than $1 million, according to Joe Spears, who heads Horseshoe Bay Marine Group, the Vancouver-based company coordinating the work.
"At the moment she's not a disaster and we don't want to make her a disaster," said Mark Sloan, the salvage coordinator for Horseshoe Bay Marine Group.

"It's a slow deliberate process. If we rush it, there is the danger of a capsize. We don't want that."

The Canadian Coast Guard issued a notice last month that the vessel owner needed to respond to the situation to make sure pollutants on board don't contaminate the river. It says an order it issued has been obeyed.

Canadian law dictates that the polluter pays for the response.

The problem in the case of the Cormorant is it's not clear who owns the vessel and that dispute has landed in the Federal Court of Canada.

The Coast Guard says it considers Rick Welsford, president of the Port of Bridgewater, the "authorized representative" of the vessel owners.

The port, however, has now filed a statement of claim against a Texas company that allegedly bought the vessel in 2009, but owes $60,000 in back fees.

Mayor David Walker just wants it gone.

"My real frustration is I've seen the plans that the Port of Bridgewater have to the future of the port. I think they're excellent, I think it's wonderful if they come to fruition. The frustrating part is this is taking a long time," he said.

Moored at marina since 2000

The port is suing Neil Hjelle and his company Cormorant Marine Services, claiming it is responsible for paying the salvage costs.

The Cormorant has been moored at the marina since 2000 and has changed hands several times after it was decommissioned by the Canadian Navy in 1997.

Naval architect are devising a plan to safely pump out water and refloat the vessel, without risking it capsizing the other direction and sinking in the middle of the LaHave.

Horseshoe Bay Marine has been hired to oversee the work and the Canadian Coast Guard is monitoring the effort as there are concerns the diesel fuel and other light oil that remains on board could contaminate the river if released.

Fredericton begins replacing 1,000 trees lost in Storm Arthur

Hardest hit areas will get attention first with an additional 350 trees planted this year

CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2015 12:52 PM AT Last Updated: Apr 29, 2015 12:52 PM AT
The City of Fredericton plans to plant 450 trees this spring and another 350 in the fall to replace some of the ones lost during post-tropical storm Arthur last July.

At least 1,000 city trees were lost in the storm that brought heavy rain and high winds. Murray puts the value of the trees at $1.2 million.

Don Murray, the city's manager of parks and trees, says the city will concentrate on planting trees in the areas that suffered the most damage from Arthur, including Douglas, Nashwaaksis, Skyline Acres and Lincoln Heights.

Of the trees lost in Arthur, 70 per cent of them were linden, tiia and ash trees.

Different species will be planted and not every location that lost a tree will get a new one.

"There's trees in certain locations that were planted 100 years ago that in today's modern city just can't survive there — the trees that were right on the corners and probably were obstructing traffic a bit," said Murray. "Those trees we won't be able to plant those again."

Fredericton typically plants 450 trees every spring, but Murray says an additional 350 trees will likely be planted in the fall, with that pattern continuing for the next three or four years.

New Brunswick winter maintenance gets extra $8.3M in transportation budget

Minister Roger Melanson announces $69.1M to help deal with harsher winters while tabling department estimates

CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2015 12:27 PM AT Last Updated: Apr 29, 2015 1:27 PM AT
The Department and Transportation and Infrastructure is setting aside an additional $8.3 million for winter maintenance this year to help deal with the harsher winters New Brunswick has been experiencing.

Transportation Minister Roger Melanson made the announcement on Wednesday, while tabling the department's budget estimates.

The operational budget for 2015-16 totals $296.9 million — a $23.5 million increase over the last fiscal year, he said.

"We are providing more funding for highways and bridges as well as winter maintenance, and we are meeting our commitment to carry out brush-cutting to make our roads and highways safer," Melanson said in a statement.

The investments in infrastructure renewal will also help boost the economy and create jobs, he said.

About $69 million of the budget has been allocated for winter maintenance.

Some parts of New Brunswick broke normal winter snowfall totals this winter.

Saint John, for example, broke a 52-year-old record and declared a local state of emergency. More than 470 centimetres of snow fell in the city as of mid-March, up from 424 centimetres in 1962-63.

Grand Manan ferry fee increase

There is also a $75,000 increase in funding for the department's vehicle retrofit program, bringing it up to $275,000 "to better meet the needs of New Brunswickers living with disabilities," said Melanson.

He repeated a pledge to produce savings by eliminating free parking for elected officials and government employees working in urban centres, and announced the department will be charging more for the Grand Manan ferry service — the first increase in six years.

The fare for regular passengers will increase to $12 per person, up from $10.90. Fares for tractor-trailers, trucks and commercial vehicles will also "increase slightly." Grand Manan residents, however, will continue to pay half the fare, Melanson said.

The department's capital budget, announced in December, includes improvements to Route 11 and maintaining the province's existing highways and bridges by fully implementing asset management principles.

Funding for provincially designated highways in municipalities as well as the Vehicle Management Agency has also increased under the capital program.

Charlottetown breaks all time seasonal snowfall record

Total since November reaches 549.6 cm, beating 539 cm in winter 1971-72

CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2015 9:29 AM AT Last Updated: Apr 29, 2015 11:25 AM AT
It looks as if a new record for snowfall in one season has been set at the Charlottetown Airport.

Environment Canada is reporting 17 centimetres fell on Tuesday, bringing the total since snow started falling in November to 549.6 cm, well over the 539 cm recorded in the winter of 1971-72
The record is still unofficial.

The amount of snow that fell during the season is particularly remarkable considering it was a green Christmas in Charlottetown. Only 13.4 cm fell in December.

Snowfall was also below average in January until a storm hit on the 27th. In the last five days of January, 45.2 cm fell, more than in the first 26 days in total.
A little more snow is forecast for Wednesday.

Charlottetown snowfall by month
November19 cm57.6 cm
December66 cm13.4 cm
January73 cm90.2 cm
February58 cm222.8 cm
March44 cm144 cm
April24 cm23 cm

Spring snowstorm claims life of Riverside-Albert man

RCMP advise motorists to drive safely, with up to 10 cm of snow expected in southern N.B., 5 cm in north

CBC News Posted: Apr 28, 2015 6:07 AM AT Last Updated: Apr 28, 2015 3:44 PM AT
A spring snowstorm has claimed the life of a Riverside-Albert man.
RCMP say the 50-year-old man was killed in a crash on Route 114 in Stoney Creek on Tuesday, shortly after 1 p.m.
The man lost control of his vehicle, crossed the centre line and struck a snow plow head-on, Cpl. Chantal Ouellette said in a statement.

"The investigation has shown that the road conditions were a factor at the time of the crash," she said.

The victim, who died at the scene, has not been identified, pending notification of his family, said Ouellette. He was the lone occupant, she said.

"Slow down drive safely," they posted on Twitter.

Road conditions along Route 114 near Stoney Creek had started to deteriorate around 2 p.m., due to the weather, RCMP had tweeted.

The southern part of the province is expected to get up to 10 centimetres of snow on Tuesday, while up to five centimetres is forecast in the north, according to CBC meteorologist Peter Coade.

Slippery conditions were being reported on Route 115 near Notre Dame, RCMP said.
In Moncton, Killam Drive was reduced to one lane mid-afternoon after a car went off the road at Wheeler Boulevard.

Highway 2 heading into the city was also snow-covered and slippery, reported CBC's Tori Weldon.
The snow is expected to spread from east to west and be mixed with periods of rain giving about 10 mm, said Coade.

The wind will be from the north, gusting between 50 and 70 kilometres per hour. The strongest wind will be in the southeast, he said.
The high temperature will be about 5 C.

Periods of rain or showers mixed with wet snow will continue overnight and on Wednesday. But no further accumulation of snow is expected, Coade said.