Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saint John Board of Trade supports the need for Peel Plaza

The Saint John Board of Trade is supportive of the creation of a new Police Headquarters and the development of Peel Plaza as a justice complex. “The creation of a long-term, sustainable building that enables our Police force to work in a more efficient and effective manner while meeting national standards and regulations is important to us” said Kathryn Craig, Chair of the Saint John Board of Trade. “Presently they are having a hard time meeting national standards as the location in City Hall was only meant to be a temporary site”.

The new facility will enable the Saint John police force to better serve the public, victims, staff and prisoners. From a modern, properly equipped forensics unit, to the Major Crimes Project Room, to a LEED design which will eliminate harmful odours and chemicals Peel Plaza will be a proper building for our police force.

“These improvements over their current location are necessary, standard requirements that the force currently does not have. We can’t expect them to do their best without the proper equipment. Simple things, like ensuring that victims and prisoners are separate are capabilities our force does not have in its current location” Ms. Craig highlighted. “Ensuring that our force is well equipped to provide the best protection to our residents and businesses is key to growing our community.”

In examining the issue of Peel Plaza, the Board of Trade has met with the Police Chief, Police Commission Chairman, and the City’s Commissioner of Finance to determine the need and costs of the project. Presently, the breakdown of costs for the development of Peel Plaza is approximately: $25 million for the police station; $15-17 million for the parking garage; and $2 million for the Plaza itself. The Commissioner of Finance has assured the Board of Trade that the development of Peel Plaza will not impact the tax rate in Saint John.

The City is presently waiting for 3 proposals for public-private partnerships. “We look forward to seeing the quotes for the development of Peel Plaza as a public-private partnership to see if there will be substantial difference in the cost. We trust the City will choose the most effective, efficient and sustainable route in creating Peel Plaza”.

While the Board of Trade realizes the development of Peel Plaza will cost about one-third of the City’s Capital spending budget over the next 4 years, we would like to see the City develop a long-term list of priorities that balances new development with on-going maintenance and up-keep of current infrastructure. “This would indicate to current and potential investors, residents and businesses where our City plans to be in the next 10 years. A balanced, planned road map for our municipal infrastructure development should be designed in conjunction with the new municipal plan to ensure proper location and allocation of resources” Ms. Craig suggested.

The Saint John Board of Trade is a nationally accredited business organization dedicated to fostering an economic climate that enhances growth, prosperity, and an improved quality of life in the community. With more than 1,000 members, representing 600 small, medium, and large businesses and organizations and therefore, the interests of more than 30,000 citizens, the Board is a dynamic advocate and the principal voice for the business community of Greater Saint John. It offers a variety of programs, activities, services, and networking opportunities designed to enhance the business prospects of members and the overall business climate of the area.

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