Category Archives: Saint John, New Brunswick

NB Gov’t makes a good decision, shocks observers; my old middle school is safe

In total seriousness on April 1st, the NB Minister of Education, Kelly Lamrock, announced that he had decided to keep the North End schools open (an issue I declared my stance on in a previous blog post). This is despite the fact that education council members at the local level recommended to close the two schools.

Lamrock’s reasoning was that these were community schools, and removing them would “disempower” the communities. Plus, money isn’t everything, and there’s a projected population boom coming, soooo, not such a good time to close schools. Duh. Still, the decision was shocking because Lamrock actually listened to people (of reason) who are not being used to listened to.

It was only a few years ago that the school district argued for these two schools to become community schools, a special status under the provincial government, because of their importance to the community. To argue that we don’t need these schools anymore a short time later is wrong and stupid, and, if this were a commercial company involved, grounds for fraud. It is simply horrible that any of these people supported closing the schools. I wonder if any of these ever walk through the North End, with a purpose other than a photo shoot as seen in my last blog post.

Money and supposedly better facilities at a bigger building is always declared as a benefit of closing smaller schools. However, this was a unique situation where this argument does not apply.

While Millidgeville North has green fields nearby, so do Lorne School and Hazen-White. Lorne, one of the city’s newest school buildings actually, uses the city-owned Shamrock Park down the street, which is about a distance equal to the distance between the Millidgeville North building and its green fields. Furthermore, students living near their middle school can attend after school activities, something you cannot do when you need to catch a bus home right after school. Lorne actually has a city community centre attached to it.

There are some stupid mothers in Millidgeville who are disappointed that the schools are staying open because they are afraid their precious children are going to end up in trouble by going to a school in a neighbourhood where the police are taking active action against crime. There was a police raid. It was actually great for students. While the police were outside making the streets safer, all the students were kept safe inside, enjoying free pizza provided by the police. To the average middle school student, especially in a poorer neighbourhood, this was probably the highlight of a week. If you asked the average middle school student if they’d be in favour of more police action to make the neighbourhood safer that keeps them inside enjoying free pizza, I’m sure the results would be heavily slanted towards… YES.

So the more police action happening, dear beloved concerned mothers of Millidgeville, the safer your precious children will be. Besides, this is a city issue, and all the same types of issues affect all schools. A larger school, such as Millidgeville North Middle School, would have been probably been a larger centre of these problems, simply due to a larger student population.

By the way, I am qualified to speak on all sides of this issue. I grew up in Millidgeville, and I attended Lorne School and was regularly encouraged by the teachers there. I got good marks, and went on to graduate from Saint John High School with High Honours, and graduate in the First Division with a university degree in Computer Science. I am now pursuing my Master of Computer Science. My most recent school project has resulted in me receiving calls from media all over the world looking for interviews.

It’s too bad that I went to Lorne School in the North End and not a “better” school. I might have actually amounted to something.

Against the proposal to close Lorne, Saint John’s newest school building

Note: This post relates to the 2008 attempt by the New Brunswick government to close Lorne Middle School. Many of the same points are still valid for the newest attempt to close Lorne in 2015.

In Saint John, the school district is looking at closing two middle schools in the North End: Lorne (my middle school), and Hazen White-St. Francis. This post is likely going to be my first of many.

The decision to close any school is always tough to discuss, but the first part of my rant will focus on a sad irony. My curiousity was peaked when I read a newspaper headline saying Chateau de Champlain lends helping hand to Hazen White-St. Francis School library. How sad, I thought, because this school stands a good chance of closing within a year due to its low enrollment, somewhat remote location, and an aged building, and efforts to support could be in vain to some extent.

In the picture above from the newspaper article I linked above, you’ll see a smiling district superintendent, Susan Tipper. This bugs me to some extent since she’ll go to the school smiling for the children and the cameras, and then perhaps return to her office to think about why this very school should close, which would mean students that currently walk would likely need to take a bus to another school.

This is particularly interesting because the NB Education Minister, Kelly Lamrock designated Lorne and Hazen White as Community Schools and their neighbourhoods as priority neighbourhoods in the province a year ago. Now School District 8 wants to close them. How does this make sense?

The following is a letter I submitted to District 8 to be considered as part of their decision in the “reorganization” of the north Saint John schools.

To whom it may concern:

I disagree with the proposal to close Lorne School. I am a graduate of UNBSJ. Prior to moving to Calgary to pursue my Masters in Computer Science, I lived in Millidgeville all my life. I chose to attend Lorne Middle School, and fondly recall my 3 years there.

Lorne has a strong case to stay open. Because most of the building burnt down in the 80’s, it was rebuilt, and is thus one of the newest and most modern school buildings in the Saint John area. It is also the only middle school in the older part of the city’s North End, which has been a struggling neighbourhood, as you know. Residents tired of the crime and other problems have come together to take back their neighbourhood, and have succeeded in making things better, even raising money to build their own police station to raise police presence in the neighbourhood. This is quite impressive to me, and gives me lots of optimism about the potential recovery of this neighbourhood.

Despite this, School District 8 wants to take away the only middle school in the Old North End, a designated community school, perhaps partially because of the perceptions of some parents who believe the neighbourhood is unsafe. If this is a real problem, shouldn’t we work on fixing the problems in the neighbourhood, instead of ghetto-izing it and assuming it will never improve? Obviously those supporting this proposal disagree or simply don’t care.

It’s easy to just get rid of a few smaller schools and bus them wherever. In many cases, the cost savings make sense. But I think such a proposal could be devastating to the Old North End neighbourhood in this case. The report on the district web site lists a bunch of advantages, but in an entirely unbalanced view, fails to list any possible disadvantages. So this proposal is absolutely perfect? The omission of any reference to the possible effects due to the projected “energy boom” for the Saint John area is particularly jarring to me. While school populations have been dropping, it’s not unreasonable to expect these populations to rise significantly once again if the energy boom materializes. How embarrassing will it be to have to have overcrowding in our schools a few years from now because we closed too many schools now without any forward vision?

I feel there are other solutions. If I recall correctly, there have been discussions about rebuilding Princess Elizabeth for years, implying that the days are numbered for the current building. Why is there no consideration about closing this aging school instead of a much newer Lorne school building? I am certain that a sensible solution could be determined that would have some or all of the savings presented in the proposal, while retaining Lorne School in the Old North End.

Thanks for your consideration of my remarks.

Paul Saulnier

You’ll notice my arguments largely are targetted towards Lorne, though most of the same factors apply to Hazen White-St. Francis as well. Moving forward, this proposal has to be accepted in entirety or not at all, so they will close neither school or close both.

You can read the proposal for yourself on the School District 8 web site. If you scroll to the last page, you’ll find an e-mail address where you too can make your feedback heard. It’s too late for written submissions, but there’s no deadline indicated for e-mail.

Additionally, you can write letters to the District Education Council and the Telegraph-Journal expressing your views on this. This is the type of action which actually gets things done. I’ll hopefully be doing more of this myself, and have my blog posts up soon.

My thoughts on the proposed Irving world headquarters

As most locals already know, a couple weeks ago, Irving and the Saint John Port Authority announced their plans for development along the waterfront. Irving wants to build a new world headquarters on the site of Long Wharf. With that would come development of public green space. Since this is right next to Harbour Passage, it’s not a bad idea to be improving the quality of the parks and green space in the area.

In this artistic concept courtesy of the Irving press release, you can see what the development will look like. Right now, most of this space is a big ugly concrete field. Since this is currently active port space, this deal is conditional on the former sugar refinery site being transferred to the Port Authority to use instead. There’s no loss. In fact, there’s a gain. The area would continue to act as a secondary cruise ship terminal, keeping the other space always free for other purposes.

Here, you can see the building as an artistic rendering from the ground level. Instead of a high rise, the use of a low-rise structure is more practical and will not block out too much view of the harbour. The press release also cites various environmental considerations leading to the choice of this type of structure.

Exactly why is anyone opposed to this? Some people suggest that Irving should build a taller building or that the location is bad, and they should use the old Centracare site instead. How stupid. It’s clear to see why a large company like Irving would want its headquarters centrally located in a prestigious spot of the waterfront. It’s also obvious to me that this city isn’t yet big enough to be in a position to start demanding high rises when all we need is more appropriately sized low rises.

Some people think it’s a good idea, but a bad location because we’re “losing valuable port space”. That isn’t true at all though because the sugar refinery space would open up as new space. In fact, I think that space would be even more valuable for the port’s purposes since ships could avoid entering the main part of the harbour and dock at the entrance instead.

Those who know me well know that I’m often not the hugest Irving fan, but let’s be realistic, this is a good idea. I hope it goes through. What do you think?

Flooding of the St. John River in Millidgeville

Today was my first chance to see some of the flooding of the St. John River with my camera at hand. I saw some of the flooding before it got real bad on my way home from Fredericton last Friday. The road my bus was travelling on is probably closed off entirely now.

A corner of Kennebecasis Drive is down to one lane. Even before the flooding, this part was in desperate condition with concrete blocks marking where the road had deteriorated. If the water rises maybe another 6 inches, this whole part of the road will be under water.

Access to the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club (not visible, left) is closed off due to the rising water.

Water completely surrounds the Yacht Club. Talk about true water access!

Any higher and these boats will start to launch themselves! The water usually rises quite high around the yacht club each year, but nothing like this!

In a developing country somewhere that only dreams of clean water, someone is looking at photos like this from our news reports, and cursing us for being lucky enough to have this “crisis”.

Stay tuned to my blog for updates from my trip to Alberta!

Rockwood Park in April

Since today was a nice day, I decided to take a stroll into Rockwood Park.

Even without the colour of leaves on the trees, this shot still looks good.

The pathway leading to Fisher Lakes doesn’t look overly inviting right now. Compare this same path to one of my pictures from last year going in the opposite direction.

Totally different place seemingly, eh? I just love this picture. I can’t wait for summer when everything looks like this once again.

The sign warns of thin ice. VERY thin ice.

Snow is gone. Time for nature to wake up.

We un-did a “done” deal

Although there’s still a lot of work to do, the Premier’s comments during Friday’s State of the Province Address were reassuring enough to mark a victory for UNBSJ. It was during this address that the Premier clarified that the University of New Brunswick in Saint John will remain the University of New Brunswick in Saint John with Liberal Arts programs, but also new programs in technical fields. In addition to this, the universities themselves will become responsible for organizing the necessary changes.

For me, it is great to know that all the rallie, letters, media coverage, and public uproar over this issue was enough to change the government’s direction, and prevent a major blow to this city and the province. Is everything good forever now? No, of course not. But at least the Premier is finally acknowledging the importance of the Saint John university and has now created an opportunity for UNBSJ to write a new chapter for itself. We must not become complacent and ignore what the government was originally considering. For now though, we can rest and celebrate.

Early on, I said that a “done” deal CAN be undone. We un-did a “done” deal. Too often, Saint Johners are perhaps too used to situations where government deals go through regardless of what the people want, but this is one notable exception for the history books.


History did repeat itself.

Fall in Fredericton

I’ve been in Fredericton a lot this year, particularly this fall. I didn’t take too many photos, but here are a few that I like.


This bench caught my eye after leaving the Provincial Legislature following the provincial student rally. It looks so inviting, doesn’t it?!


I really like this pathway on the UNB Fredericton campus. I took this last month when I was there for a programming competition.


Such colourful trees!

With rallies and other things happening in the capital city, it’s likely I’ll be back before long!

Close call with moose on highway from Fredericton

On the way home from Fredericton last night with other people from UNBSJ, we suddenly saw cars pulled over and someone standing in the middle of the road. As it turns out, there was a moose in the middle of the road that had just been clipped by another vehicle. It was limping along, with it’s two back legs broken.


It made its way into the ditch, bleeding all over the place as you can see. It was moving around a bit, seemingly whining a bit as well. Luckily, no people were hurt.

It seems that everyone you talk to has a moose encounter along this highway, or knows someone who has. My psychology professor from first year told us in class one night about how he hit a moose with his own vehicle. I’m sure the government had the right intentions when erecting signs every 10 kilometres or so along the stretch. The problem is with education on the issue. The moose never seem to cross next to the signs!