Monthly Archives: August 2013

Hump Day: Moncton needs more neighbourhood recreational facilities

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Recently, Moncton city councillor Shawn Crossman suggested that a revamped Moncton High site could include saving the auditorium and gymnasium and incorporating a new year-round indoor pool to replace the dilapidated outdoor one in Moncton’s east end that has now closed permanently. This was a much-loved and needed recreational outlet for young people in a low-income part of the city.

Unfortunately, he was met with what seemed like much derision. One proponent of a similar facility for the north end of Moncton even went so far as to call Councillor Crossman’s idea “disturbing.”

Disturbing? Really? Suggesting that a poor end of town that’s losing an important part of recreational structure have an opportunity to keep it while at the same time repurposing Moncton High School after it ceases its current life as a school? Is that really disturbing? Rape is disturbing. Wars are disturbing. Bullying is disturbing. Senseless violence is disturbing. Mr. Crossman’s idea? Not really disturbing at all.

Mr. Crossman’s suggestion (and it was just a suggestion) wasn’t disturbing by any means. It was proactive. It was throwing up a trial balloon. Sure, there’s the Crossman Community Centre-Kay Arena in the Lewisville area. That was an entirely different project to save a well-used arena and bring some recreational infrastructure to an under-serviced part of the city.

There are many naysayers about the new location for the new high school. I’m certainly not promoting the site as the best one possible, but at this point it’s a done deal. Fini! Construction has begun. It’s a go. It’s just reality. Now, focus should be put on making that school the best that it can be for the students who will be attending.

While it’s true that the Crossman-Kay Centre is a great facility, it doesn’t really serve the East End of Moncton. Those kids don’t play Lewisville Minor Hockey. If they play hockey at all, it’s Moncton Minor Hockey. Secondly, there is no pool.

The east end currently has two pools – one outdoor facility that just closed permanently and one at the St. Pat’s Family Centre – a centre that is aging and in the shadows of a large hospital that is probably drooling to acquire the property and turn it into a much-needed parking area.

Have you seen the atrociously long lineups of cars along Providence Street waiting for a parking space at the hospital from mid-morning to early afternoon? Between regular hospital visitors and patients going to the oncology centre for tests and treatment, it’s glaringly obvious that the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont University Hospital Centre is in dire need of more parking, especially in the Providence Street area.

I’ve heard many anecdotal examples of patients missing very important appointments because they couldn’t find parking. And even if you can find parking, how far can you realistically be expected to walk if you’re ill or elderly? The walk from the furthest corner of the parking lot near the old Vanier School to the oncology centre is quite a hike, some of it uphill, for someone who isn’t feeling up to snuff.

Like I said, if I were the hospital, I’d be drooling over the land occupied by St. Pat’s and the soon-to-be-vacated Radio-Canada/CBC building on Université Avenue. The hospital is in dire need of parking whether “anti-parking” people want to admit it or not. Let’s build parking structures, though, shall we? There’s no need for more wide expanses of surface parking. A multi-level, modern, safe parking garage with a connecting pedway to the hospital would be a welcome asset for patients and visitors.

So, what if St. Pat’s goes? What happens to the there’s-another-pool-in-the-eastern-part-of-Moncton argument then? Another community pool gone. More recreational infrastructure for that part of the city up in smoke.

Has anyone else other than Mr. Crossman got any brighter ideas for repurposing Moncton High — especially an idea that saves the gym and the auditorium and continues to attract people from the community? More condos? Perhaps — but I certainly wouldn’t want to buy a condo next to a train track. I mean, seriously. You’d have to be masochistic to do that to yourself. More apartments? No one in their right mind would build more apartments right now with the current sky-high vacancy rate.

So what’s left? Another cultural centre? In fact, there’s already one within a two-minute walking distance – the Aberdeen Cultural Centre. Can we really sustain two within just a few feet of each other? I’m not so sure.

Let’s not pit poor neighbourhoods against higher income neighbourhoods in this city. We’re smart enough and resourceful enough to walk and chew gum at the same time. If there are two worthwhile neighbourhood recreational projects on the books, then I’m sure we can figure it out as a community and both can be accomplished.

What’s truly “disturbing” in all of this is that a good idea seems to have been shot down because others are afraid of losing their new toy. Everyone says we need to get kids more active. Obesity and diabetes rates are alarmingly high. Yet, when someone suggests a possible solution to perhaps put dent in that phenomenon, their idea is called “disturbing.” If money’s tight, we’ ll find it. Determined people have done stranger things.

Hump Day: Early holiday sales promotions annoying but inevitable

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I was going to write another sad-ish column this week, but I just noticed that the headlines in the last two columns contained the word “tragedy,” so perhaps I’ll go with something a bit more cheerful. Shopping!

I came across an article over the weekend while doing research for my weekly newsletter. The article bemoaned the fact that the retail world is always far ahead of the public when it comes to holiday shopping.

For example, Halloween candy is out in certain stores already. I’ve already seen people posting photos on Facebook of candy corn that’s for sale at the local bulk food place. After a trip there the other day for something, Halloween is in full swing.

And any Costco shopper will tell you that they already have some Christmas stuff out. So do some of the greeting card and gift shops. Again, much disgust is spewed online and in conversations with friends, but the bottom line (hint! hint!) is that retailers are doing this for one reason: yeah, the bottom line.

Promoting seasonal items long before their time is commonplace now. Perhaps people 50 years ago complained about Christmas shopping starting way too early — like December 1. Ha! Well, if they were still around today, their heads would most likely explode. December? That’s when the Valentine’s Day stuff comes out!

It’s the same old thing every year. It won’t change, so if it drives you really crazy you might as well just invest in a padded room now because it will likely only get worse. I still remember an old Frank and Ernest comic strip from many years ago that made me laugh. Frank and Ernest are walking through a shopping centre when they pass a sign that says, ‘Santa arrives tomorrow!’ One turns to the other and asks, “Is it March already?”

One trend I find particularly troubling around here will rear its ugly head again this fall with the ‘Black Friday’ sale promotions by Canadian retailers. If there’s something that drives me batty, it’s that. Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving, the day considered to be the busiest shopping day of the year. (Apparently, this isn’t true. The busiest shopping day of the year is usually the Saturday before Christmas.)

Canadian stores are likely just piggybacking on the intense amount of American Black Friday advertising being thrown at us here in Canada — and here in New Brunswick, too. We’re certainly not immune from it if you watch any amount of television or see the numerous ads online. The problem I have is that there’s no such thing as Black Friday in Canada. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. It’s simply a fake holiday made up by the retail industry to shop.

And we do shop! Why? Because there are sales. Yes, people shop when there are sales. It makes no sense to buy something for full price when you can buy it at half price, does it? I can’t remember the last time I bought laundry detergent at full price. I just don’t. I buy what’s on sale — and usually the sales are excellent, especially in pharmacies.

I just can’t imagine American retailers adopting Boxing Day sales, can you? I have to admit, though, that some of the violence at those Black Friday sales certainly reminds me of boxing – literally. If you put a television on sale for half price, people will literally punch each other in the face to get to it. Ah, nothing says “Happy birthday, Jesus!” like a black eye and picking your teeth up off the floor, does it? Brings a tear to my eye, I tell ya. I can hear the choirs of heavenly angels singing now.

Today, I see shopping as a sport, especially with retailers that will match pricing you find elsewhere — even online. Here’s the thing: you can get discounts off even the sale price at many electronic stores. Find one that says they won’t be undersold. Usually, they’ll match the price of any in-stock item at a Canadian retailer.

I don’t care what a retailer’s website or newspaper ad says. Even if something is on sale, there’s usually a better price out there in Canada. Just Google “price comparison” and “Canada” and then the item you’re looking for, such as “camera,” Websites will pop up that do much of the sale price searching for you. I did this over the weekend and saved myself a cool $300 on an item. Not bad, eh?

The Internet can be good for many things and bad for many things, but if you’re looking for big-ticket items, it pays to do your pricing research, especially on electronics. I prefer to buy local – and I do whenever I can. But if I can get a great deal elsewhere, then hey – why not? It’s my money. I worked for it.

I make no apologies for wanting to save a bit of cash, but I fully understand and support shopping locally. It’s a rough time to be in the local retail business, I know. With large retailers matching ridiculously low prices elsewhere in the country, it’s rough!

The weather has been so nice lately that it seems absurd to be thinking of ghosts, goblins, elves and reindeer. But whether we like it or not, our friendly retail industry will encourage us to start shopping early for whatever holiday is coming next.

My advice: we should all just give in and enjoy the sales. It’s a lot cheaper and less stressful. As Wilma and Betty used to say on The Flintstones, “Cha-a-a-a-rge it!”

Get a new family photo and help Cameras for Healing

Cameras for Healing - Photo Day - Aug. 24, 2013
Cameras for Healing – Photo Day – Aug. 24, 2013

Cameras for Healing is a humanitarian organization which strives to make a difference for people struggling with daily issues for survival in marginalized countries and for at-risk youth in our communities through photography.

On Saturday, August 24, Cameras for Healing is organizing a Photo Day to raise funds for its endeavours. A host of activities, including family portraits and live entertainment, will guarantee a fun-filled day for everyone! The event will take place at Rotary St. Anselme Park, 505 Melanson Road, Dieppe, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The success of such an event relies on the support of community and business leaders, as well as concerned citizens. Cameras for Healing hopes to count on your help.

Click on the photo for a larger version!

FoodTender.com startup connects food service suppliers and establishments

FoodTender logoIf you’re a food service supplier or a food establishment, FoodTender.com can help save you time and connect with new clients and suppliers. The online service goes live this Wednesday, August 21, after being in beta testing.

FoodTender.com is an innovative concept created by André Pellerin and André LeBlanc, two food-service industry experts with combined experience of more than 40 years both directly in the restaurant industry as well as in food distribution. Pellerin and LeBlanc saw a need and joined forces to make FoodTender.com a one-stop shop for food establishments, retailers and suppliers who want to make negotiating simple.

Their powerful combination of knowledge and expertise sparked an idea that there must be a better way for customers to find and negotiate with suppliers – and for suppliers a more efficient way of finding new customers and growing market share.

Their idea – FoodTender.com – goes live on Wednesday, August 21, and is growing its customer base daily. For $24.99 per month, clients can issue tenders or have access to tenders locally, regionally or nationally.

FoodTender.com will help food establishments connect with suppliers and suppliers connect with food establishments. Pellerin and LeBlanc knew they could change the way the industry works with this web-based application. Registered food establishments of any size can create tenders and request a quote from registered suppliers.

“It’s the first service of its kind in Canada,” says Pellerin, the company’s president. “Many suppliers can only visit 6-8 customers per day and are limited by their clients’ availability. They may have to visit a client 4-5 times before gaining access to the right person who can make decisions. Clients who sign up for FoodTender.com get access to the decision-makers immediately and can communicate with them around the clock through our messaging system.”

“Now, a sales rep can easily interact with 25-30 clients per day instead of only 6-8. And smaller niche market suppliers now have access to many more potential clients for their products and services. The first month is free and there is no contract or cancellation fee after you sign up. $24.99 is within everyone’s budget – especially when it give you access to so many potential clients,” Pellerin says.

FoodTender.com also got high praise from Ottawa-based technology business advisor Rob Rose who met Pellerin and LeBlanc at a recent Montreal Startup Festival. Rose sent this testimonial to Pellerin: “Hi André. I thought that FoodTender was one of the more well-thought-out opportunities at the festival. You guys have a clear understanding of your space. I’d love to hear how your guys are doing as time goes by. I think that this can be a major revenue stream for you guys once you amass a large member base.”

FoodTender.com was also recently chosen as one of Canada’s Top 1000 startups by Startup Canada.

Pellerin says he hopes to grow the company and hire on new staff soon to take on administration and marketing tasks.