1) Do you feel the following intersections are pedestrian / cyclist friendly (if not, do you think it could be improved upon? If so, how?)
- a) Hampton / Church / Grove
- b) Hampton / Gondola point / Rothesay road
- c) Park drive / Rothesay road (yes we realize this is outside the town boundary)
2) Do you think pedestrian access to the following locations is adequate? If not, can you propose any improvements?
- a) Hillside trail
- b) Wells recreational trail
- c) Arthur Miller fields
- d) Access to several streets off Rothesay road (Gibbon, Renshaw, Scovil, Green, Jersey, Allison
- e) Access to K Park
Thank you for the excellent questions. I really appreciate that you are reaching out to candidates since there is no forum this election like during previous elections where residents can ask council hopefuls questions on things that matter most to them.
If there is one positive from the pandemic, it has made us realize how important our home community is and how we must continue to make it more pedestrian and bike-friendly.
Answer to Question 1)
As a regular walker of Hampton and Rothesay Road, I recognize that the intersections you have identified are issues for pedestrians and cyclists. Council also realizes there are issues with these intersections. A traffic study for two of those intersections (those in the vicinity of the Common) was proposed in summer 2019 for the 2020 budget process; however, the pandemic put that study on hold (i.e., with many people working from home, schools being attended intermittently, etc. it was felt that the results may not truly represent normal conditions).
I suspect results of the traffic study will indicate that a set of traffic lights is required at the Hampton / Church / Grove intersection because the last time a traffic study was done for that intersection (>5 years ago), the level of service almost warranted a signalized intersection. I believe this would improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, especially those travelling Hampton Road at Church / Grove.
The Works and Utilities Committee, which I Chair, has looked at the Hampton / Gondola Point / Rothesay Road intersection several times to try and improve safety. One of the solutions, other than installing a signalized intersection, is the use of a traffic circle. Conceptual plans for a roundabout were not well received by the public, so Council halted any further design development and the acquisition of lands to facilitate the traffic circle. A signalized intersection would be difficult at this location given that it is a Y intersection and there is very limited space for widening the road for directional turning lanes. Some work has been done in recent years to try and improve the safety at this intersection, such as through the installation of a signalized crosswalk.
The entrance to K-Park is complicated for several reasons: it is located in the City of Saint John (as you note); there is an active rail line that cannot be moved or affected in any way; and there is limited land availability with a steep grade between the rail line and Rothesay Road (making it difficult to create a T intersection). Council has worked with the City of Saint John previously to improve Park Drive – a few years ago the Town of Rothesay signed a 15 year agreement to assume maintenance of the roadway within Saint John’s boundaries. This is important, because it demonstrates the two communities can work together to benefit the residents of K-Park. Redrawing the municipal boundary is an arduous process that would require legislative approval, which is why a maintenance agreement was developed. I agree that the entrance to K-Park is dangerous on many levels: blind sight lines; being located across from several busy retail establishments; having two entrances / exits; and the rail line. There may be options to considerably improve this intersection. Although costs would likely be significant, it does warrant a more in-depth review.
Answer to Question 2)
Currently, the Hillside Trail and the Wells Recreation Park Trails are not destinations that can be safely accessed by pedestrians/cyclists without first arriving by car; parking in the lot at the end of Grove Avenue or parking in the lot at the Wells Recreation Park are popular ways for residents to access these trails. There are ways to make access to these trails safer. Those include making a proper intersection between Grove and Campbell Drive with the use of stop signs and crosswalks. Council has plans to connect the Hillside Trail with the Wells Recreation Park. That would involve constructing another sidewalk up Campbell Drive and across the overpass of the Mackay Highway. A tunnel would then be constructed under the Mackay Highway off-ramp on the Dolan Road Irving side of the highway. A reconfiguration of Dolan Road would be required whereby a signalized intersection would also be constructed where Dolan Road meets the Arterial. The Wells Recreation Park would then be accessed via the existing trail system that is very near the Arterial in that location.
Sometimes, connections to various destinations are not always direct. Access to the Arthur Miller fields is one of those instances. Students travelling to and from Rothesay Park School, Harry Miller, and Rothesay High School are encouraged to use the signalized crosswalk at the bottom of Highland Avenue to access the fields. I recognize this is a longer route for students from Rothesay Park; however, there are guidelines that have to be followed for distances between signalized crosswalks that the Town must adhere to. Also, Hampton Road is a designated highway so any infrastructure added to it requires provincial approval, which can sometimes be a long drawn out process.
Rothesay Road is another road that is a provincially-designated highway, which significantly affects how and where the Town can construct crosswalks. I do agree that it would be beneficial, and safer, to have a signalized crosswalk somewhere between Allison Drive and Gibbon Road (perhaps at Green) to access the East Riverside-Kingshurst neighbourhoods.
As an aside, when crosswalks are planned for provincially-designated highways, they have to be supported with detailed traffic and engineering studies and proper sightlines have to be available. The infrastructure for a signalized crosswalk costs between $80k and $120k.
During my time on Council, we have installed several signalized crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety, including: the Riverside Golf Course crosswalk, the Church Avenue Crosswalks at Hampton and Gondola Point Road, the Gondola Point Road Crosswalks at Rothesay Road and River Road to name a few.
Access to K-Park was mostly covered in the Answer to Question 1) above; however, I also believe there may be additional and safer access for pedestrians and cyclists in the future. Once the new wastewater treatment plant is constructed and operational at Sagamore Point (within the next 5 years), the K-Park lagoons will no longer be required. They will be decommissioned, after which they can be transformed into recreational lands (land-based or water-based or a mixture of the two). A trail could be constructed from Park Drive through those lands and over to Bishop Drive / James Renforth Drive.
I continue to support active transportation connections with our neighbouring communities. For example, the Q-R Trail connection along the rail line between Quispamsis and Rothesay. We have been working for several years on this, but there is one land owner that has placed roadblocks in our path forward. With Saint John, there could eventually be a connection from the Fox Farm Road area into the City.
Again, thank you for your questions and if you need any additional information or have follow-up questions, feel free to reach out.
Thank you for the great question and I’m glad you are assessing each candidate before casting your vote. The following are what I see as the top 3 accomplishments in my role as a Rothesay Town Councillor over the past five years: 1) the 2021-2031 Municipal Plan, which incorporates the Hillside Secondary Plan; 2) the Climate Change Adaptation Plan and the raising of several roads; and 3) the construction and enhancement of the Town’s wastewater infrastructure.
The new Municipal Plan, which hopefully will receive third and final reading at the next Council meeting on 12 April 2021, sets the direction of the Town over the next decade. It includes policies on how we should respond to climate change, flooding, ageing demographics, stagnant population growth, and technology advancements. The new Municipal Plan was developed over several years and involved many avenues of engagement with residents, such as five meetings throughout the community to solicit ideas, launching of a web portal to request thoughts and ideas, and meeting with various groups and stakeholders. The new Municipal Plan also includes the Hillside Secondary Plan, which provides a blueprint of how the lands between Grove Avenue and Fox Farm Road could be developed in order to balance growth and development and recreational opportunities (preservation of Spyglass Hill). The Secondary Plan was also developed over several years and involved a considerable amount of consultation and engagement.
I sat on the Steering Committee that worked with ACAP Saint John to develop the Town’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The Plan was developed over a 2.5 year period in consultation with regulatory agencies and residents, businesses, and other stakeholders of Rothesay. The Plan identifies specific climate change risks (spring flooding, winter rain on snow events, heavy precipitation, high temperature events, etc.) and provides 25 recommendations to reduce negative impacts of those risks on the natural and built environment. Council received the Plan on 12 March 2021 and was directed to the annual budget process for implementation opportunities. Council has also recommended that a Climate Change Adaptation Committee be established following the May 10th Municipal Election. During development of the Plan, Town Council identified several streets that required raising (Cameron, Park Drive, Rothesay Park, and Elizabeth Parkway) to reduce negative impacts to homes and Town infrastructure (wastewater lift stations, backup power systems, parks, buildings, etc.) that occurred during the unprecedented flooding we experienced in 2018 and nearly repeated in 2019.
The final item that I believe is important and necessary is the construction and enhancement of the Town’s wastewater infrastructure. The Town has been diligently working over the past several years to upgrade sewage infrastructure in preparation for the construction and operation of an advanced wastewater treatment facility at Sagamore Point. This is important because it will treat wastewater to a higher standard, thus improving the quality of the effluent discharged to the Kennebecasis River. The River that residents and visitors enjoy so much during all seasons of the year. In doing so, we will also eliminate the wastewater treatment lagoon at K-Park, which could be reclaimed and repurposed for some recreational opportunity (return to a water area of the river, fill and create a park, etc.). It will also reduce the size of the wastewater treatment lagoon required at Sagamore Point. Again, some of that lagoon could be reclaimed for other purposes.
Overall, I am very impressed with the way Council and staff have been able to engage Rothesay residents more in order to develop the plans and policies that affect them. This has been lacking in the past and I hope it continues to improve/be enhanced as we move forward.
Again, thank you for the question!
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Important Election Information
If you want to know who’s running in Rothesay, click “here“ – a summary is provided below.
If you want to know the election schedule, click “here“.
Looking for the local returning office? It is located in the shopping plaza at 83 Hampton Road (Fairvale Plaza):
Meet the Candidates Night
Here is a transcript of what I said during my introductory statements and summary statement at the Meet the Candidates night.
Good Evening, and thank you for being here.
Everyone in this room has one thing in common – we have all chosen to live, play, and raise our families in this beautiful town. It is no surprise that our housing starts show that Rothesay is a leading residential choice in New Brunswick. The success and management of our town requires a fine balance of fiscal responsibility, savvy investment in infrastructure, and educated planning and foresight where the betterment of the whole is our focus.
At $1.21, Rothesay has one of the lowest municipal tax rates in the Province. People are drawn here for our beautiful surroundings and amenities. As long as we continue to smartly invest in our community, I believe we will continue to be a residential hotspot in New Brunswick.
I’m Matt Alexander and on May 9th I ask for your support.
I have been an activist for change and improvement my whole life. I have a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from UNB and I am a Partner and Environmental Scientist with Fundy Engineering.
In May 2012, I was first elected to Rothesay Council and I have been working hard for the betterment of our community ever since.
I’ve helped shape positive changes in Rothesay. I Chaired a regional committee on waste diversion and I was instrumental in bringing curbside recycling to our community. I advocated for the Oakville Acres Detention Pond, which now mitigates flooding in the area. I was a strong promoter of the Rothesay Common upgrades and I am beyond thrilled to see the unprecedented use the site now gets.
I am proud of my record while serving you and would be honoured to earn your vote on May 9th.
Moving forward, our charming community requires our attention.
The 44 year old Rothesay Arena is in dire need of a modest replacement with flex change rooms to accommodate the increased number of female athletes.
With the changing climate and increased heavy precipitation events, I see a need to enhance Rothesay’s storm water management plans.
I feel strongly that Rothesay must promote the development of affordable and adequate housing options for individuals, families, and seniors of all incomes and abilities.
I have a strong passion to continue improving and growing Rothesay; and I am committed to making educated, balanced, and ethical decisions about the future of our town.
I’m Matt Alexander and on May 9th I ask for your support.
Over the past four years, residents have complimented me for being a dedicated, dependable, and engaged leader.
I pride myself in being an accessible and objective community leader. I have listened to all sides on important community issues through conversations and online dialogues. I have been unbiased and strived to make logical decisions that represent the majority. Most importantly, I have treated residents equally, fairly, and with courtesy.
Municipal elections have the most impact on our daily lives because we can tangibly see the results of our leaders. If you wish to learn more about how I have helped shape positive changes in Rothesay, please visit mattalexander.ca
In closing, I want to thank Kim Shaw and the Rotary Club of Rothesay-Kings for hosting this Meet the Candidates night and, most importantly, I want to thank you for attending.
Best wishes to my fellow candidates.
Remember, your vote is your voice for shaping the future of Rothesay. I’m Matt Alexander and on May 9th I ask for your support.
Campaign Trail: Week #5 (Final Update)
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Campaign Trail: Week #1
Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference 2013 – Vancouver
From May 30 to June 4, Councillor Bill McGuire and I were in Vancouver to attend the 76th Annual FCM Conference and Trade Show. The conference brought thousands of municipal delegates from all over Canada to the amazing venue of the Vancouver Conference Center. Overall, the conference provided a balanced approach to networking and socializing and attending formal talks and events. Below is a brief summary of the specific program events that we attended while in Vancouver.
Thursday May 30
- Delegate Registration
- Trade Show Official Opening and Reception
Friday May 31
- Breakfast in the Trade Show
- Opening Ceremony
- Lunch in the Trade Show
- Keynote address by Rick Hansen
- Mayor’s Welcome Reception
- Progressive Waste Management’s hospitality night
Saturday June 1
- Trade Show (met Tom Mulcair)
- Olympic Legacies Tour – Olympic Village and the Richmond Oval
- Insurance Bureau of Canada’s hospitality night
Sunday June 2
- Keynote address by Justin Trudeau
- Stanley Park Seawall bike tour
- Working lunch and election of Board of Directors and Regional Chairs
- Host City Gala Evening
Monday June 3
- Vancouver Sunshine Breakfast
- Metro Vancouver Annacis Wastewater Treatment Plant and Annacis Wastewater Centre Tour
We dropped by almost every booth at the Trade Show. That event was designed such that the vendors could scan your conference card to be able to get your contact information. Product data has been coming in since that event and probably will for months to come. We felt it was valuable to be able to speak with vendors on specific issues we are dealing with, such as waste management, recreation (facility coverings, turf, etc.), and storm water management.
If we networked/socialized with anyone who did not know where Rothesay, New Brunswick is, they certainly do now. In fact, there probably is not a place out there with beaver in their name whose representatives do not know us!Over
Truly a Diamond in the Rough
Over the past few weeks, Councillors Lewis, McGuire, and I have all been actively using the new water line trail that extends between Grove Avenue and Dunedin Road. This new walking/running/biking trail is truly a diamond in the rough!
Although not planned as a trailway, its use as a trail is definitely a bonus. Soon after the water line was completed, people started to actively use it. The trail has even been identified by one of our engineering consultants as an active transportation route. During the election campaign last year, most councillors heard from residents about the difficulty in walking/running/biking on the surface because of the large-sized cobble that was placed over top of the installed water line that extends all the way to K-Park. I had tried to bike the route once and I agreed that it was difficult going.
Recognizing the use of the waterline route as a trailway, Rothesay Town Council voted in favour of placing crusher dust on the trail late last fall. What an awesome result! This has opened up a beautiful trail through natural surroundings. It is about 3.1 km from the gate at Grove Avenue to the Gate at Dunedin Road; a round trip walking at a brisk pace takes about an hour. If you are really adventurous, there are even connections to the RNS trails along the route.
Possible upgrades that may be coming in the near future include parking spots at both ends of the trail, benches and garbage bins/dog poop bins placed at locations along the route, and trail markers.
Maybe we will see you out on the trail!
At 11:18AM on Thursday 31 January 2013, the electricity stopped flowing to our house. We were in the cold and dark until 7:39PM on Saturday 2 February 2013. What an ordeal!
On 31 January, I was just winding down a long stretch of 16 hour days working on a proposal for the City of Saint John’s clean, safe drinking water initiative. Apparently, the winds on that day, which peaked at 111kph and achieved a sustained level of 73kph, were moderately reminiscent of the Groundhog Gale of 2 February 1976 when winds blew at level three hurricane strength (187kph). Thankfully, there my office did not experience a power outage, which allowed me to finish my proposal. Things were very different at home.
My wife Sarah, arriving home from UNB Fredericton, sent me a text message at 2PM to let me know that we had no power at home and that it had been out for several hours. When I arrived home at 5:30PM, the power was still out. An NB Power crew and a team from Fundy Tree Trimming Ltd. arrived at the end of our driveway around 6:30PM. They scouted out the area and appeared to find some problems with the lines running behind our property. For several hours, while Sarah was out at her regular ladies curling night, I heard chainsaws going and men yelling in my backyard. Lights on adjacent streets started to light up. I was fairly optimistic that power would be restored soon as I was looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend after putting in 132 hours of work over the past two weeks. We were not to be so lucky.
When Sarah arrived home from curling, she said that the word on the street was that several major transformers in Rothesay had blown and that it could be 2 or 3 days before power was restored to many homes. I brushed what I thought was Sarah’s pessimism off thinking that there was no way that Rothesay could experience a power outage that long.
Apparently, about 80,000 to 90,000 NB Power customers lost power during the 31 January wind storm. About 10% of those customers were in Rothesay. I drove around Town that night and noticed that our street (Silverton Crescent) was an island of darkness in our neighbourhood. That was rather disappointing.
On Friday, I was fairly optimistic that power would be restored before the evening. Winds had died considerably that day, but outside temperatures also plummeted. I was getting concerned about our hotwater baseboard heaters in the house. It was recommended by one of my Facebook peeps that I drain the heating lines to avoid a possible freeze. I heeded that advice and drained the entire system. Sarah and I were also getting increasingly concerned about our hot tub not being heated or recirculating water. I called John Bevans of Simply Relax Spas and he suggested that I do whatever I could to keep heat within the tub enclosure in order to keep the circulating lines from freezing. Using some Kings County ingenuity, I wrapped our tub in down-filled sleeping bags, towels, and a tarp. A quick check on the water temperature suggested we were in pretty good shape at that point – the water had only dropped from 102F to 86F over about 18 hours.
During the peak of the windstorm, temperatures were about +12 degrees, but by 10PM on Friday, the differential was 22 degrees as temperatures hit -10 degrees. Although we are fortunate to have a fireplace to provide some winter ambiance, it does not do a great job of heating the house. Temperatures on the main floor of the house that night hit 12 degrees. We were starting to get cold and a check of NB Power’s website through my mobile phone indicated that power would not be restored until between 6 or 7PM on Saturday to the approximately 49 customers on the shared line. Therefore, Sarah and I decided it would be best to stay at friends for the night.
I was concerned that our neighbours were not aware of their plight so I went to every house on our street to let them know that they were in for many more hours of cold and dark conditions. Many of them had no idea that it would be that long because they were not able to access information about the outages on NB Power’s website, which is the only place I was able to locate information on the power outages. Our street has many retirees on it and they are not in the demographic who get their information from a cellphone so I thought it was prudent to go door-to-door. What is really troubling to me is that on Friday an NB Power meter reader gathered data from our street. When he stopped at our house I went out to talk to him and ask if he had any updates on when the power would be restored (at that time NB Power’s website noted an “update pending” on when power would be restored in our area, which meant that it still had to be assessed). He gasped and said, “is that why my wireless reader is not working because you don’t have power?” Well, duh! He also noted that he had no information on when power would be restored as he was only the meter reader.
I think NB Power, knowing that the meter reader was in the area, could have done a good community service and had him go door-to-door and provide residents with an update so they could plan accordingly. One lady down the street noted to me that her husband was very ill, bed-ridden, and they had nowhere to go during the outage. The qplex was being opened as a warming center, which I found out from a TJ reporter who contacted me that day, but my neighbour and her husband would not be able to go there as she could not move him.
On Saturday morning, when outside temperatures were about -15 without the windchill, I dropped by our house to see how things were going. Temperatures on the main floor had dropped to 5 degrees! I was getting really concerned about our house. I quickly lit a fire and scrounged a friend’s generator to run a small heater in the house. All I could do was wait until power was restored. I regularly checked the NB Power website for updates. Knowing that crews had been brought in from SJ Energy, NS Power, Maritime Electric, and Hydro Quebec, I was optimistic that power would be restored quicker than predicted. That was not to be so. By mid-day, the time for restoration had been moved back an hour to between 7PM and 8PM.
While I was out for dinner with friends, NB Power crews were in my yard. My neighbours enquired about the length of time for the power to be restored to our street considering the other streets all around us had been restored on Thursday afternoon/evening. They were not met with very kind words. As one of the employees was hoping back in their truck, he told my nieghbour, “if I was you, I would go home and unplug everything valuable because they are going to hit this area with a whole lot of power”. Again, it would have been nice for NB Power to inform residents of this in case they failed to unplug valuable items.
Our power, and the 54 other customers (this was increased from the 49 originally listed by NB Power) on our shared line, was restored at 7:39PM on Saturday and I quickly got to work trying to bring our house back up to temperature. I filled the heating lines with fresh water and I powered up the furnace. Within 30 minutes, I was getting heat within some of the heating loops, but not in others. Thinking that there was too much air in the system, I contacted Irving to bleed my lines. After a two hour wait, a technician arrived to bleed my lines. All was good except for one of the loops on my main floor. Every indication there pointed to a frozen section. So, I got work trying to find the blockage. At 2AM I was too tired out to continue so I snuggled up in a sleeping bag on the couch next to the fire place to get a few hours sleep (the upstairs floor had only hit 12 degrees by that point). I got up at 8AM and started to tackle the blockage again. At 2:30PM, I finally found and successfully released the blockage. Just in time to prepare for my annual Super Bowl party.
Again, I will refer to my neighbour whose husband is bedridden. On Saturday, she heard a loud bang in her ceiling. A few minutes later she heard and saw water gushing from her ceiling. Almost every heating line in their house exploded; the plumbers were there for two full days repairing the broken pipes. They currently have several dehumidifiers and heaters running to dry out the moisture in their walls and floors. There are many holes in their ceiling where the plumbers had to access pipes. Their clean-up will continue for several weeks and I find that very upsetting. We made out much better, though we did have to discard everything in the fridge and freezer.
I am not critical of NB Power’s power restoration crews and the many, many hours of work they and outside crews spent bringing power back on-line. What I am critical of is their communications strategy. NB Power should and must do a better job of informing their customers of power outages. If that means going door-to-door during disasters such as this, then so be it. They will likely suggest that is too onerous. So, maybe they could establish community informants who could be contacted during events such as this and they could in turn contact residents in their neighbourhood.
It has been three months since I took a seat around the Rothesay Town Council table. The most popular questions I get asked by friends, coworkers, and family are:
1) How do you like being on Town Council?
2) Do you find Town Council busy?
3) What are the biggest issues that the Town is facing?
I enjoy being on Town Council because I feel like I am giving back to my community and that I have expertise that is valuable to have around the Council table. The existing Council is made up of a great bunch of individuals and I believe we are going to accomplish wonderful things over the next four years.
Honestly, I thought I would be busier than I am; however, it could just be that I started during the summer and once fall arrives the workload may pick up. True, there are a few hundred pages of documents to read before each Council meeting, but Council meetings are only held once a month. Also, depending on the week, there are few hours of community events to attend. I try my best to attend as many community events as possible because I believe it is an important duty of a Councillor.
The biggest eye-opener for me, and I think for any new Councillor, is recognizing how slow municipal government moves forward. There are processes in place for everything and those processes cause the wheels to turn very slowly. Having monthly meetings is a hindrance to speedy process and many of the new Councillors realize this and are open, when necessary, to meeting more frequently.
One of the biggest issues that we as a Town are struggling with is finding a solution to the flooding in Oakville Acres. All of us around the Council Table want to see flooding mitigated in that subdivision. We are also faced with deciding on whether or not to build a Fieldhouse in the center of Town. At the moment, support for the facility is mixed.
I believe we have a great Mayor and Council in Rothesay and we will do great things during our term!
Active Audit for Active Transportation – July 7th, 2012
It may have been the weather (threatening severe thunder storms), it may have been the time (10AM on a Saturday), or it may have been conflicts with mid-summer vacations, but whatever the case, the few people that did attend exp’s active audit for active transportation provided excellent input. Participants were invited to walk, run, or bike one of five routes throughout the heart of the Town that were designed to demonstrate the value of active transportation – getting to and from a destitation under human power. The five routes were aptly named: 1) Concert on the Common and then Summer School; 2) Dinner and a Movie; 3) Trail Hopper; 4) The Valley Viewer; and 5) the Commuter. I chose to bike the Trail Hopper which involved biking on main thoroughfares, along some trailways, and through quiet neighbourhoods. After doing the routes, participants were asked what they liked and what they didn’t like in terms of features. For example, were sidewalks level? Were bike lanes available along the route? Were there potholes in sidewalks and roadways? Those under 15 that attended provided some of the most valuable comments on the active routes and is probably because they take so much in and they are the ones that are more often using the routes. I found it a valuable excercise. I again emphasized that the watermain route between Campbell Drive and the Fox Farm area should be upgraded with a finer gravel so that it can be used by walkers, runners, and bikers. When I was turning around at the designated location on that pipeline route, I fell off of my bike because the gravel was too large for my streetbike tires to handle. The large gravel on that route also made for a very bumpy ride.
As President of Uptown Saint John Inc., I was invited aboard the Disney Magic for its inaugural call to the Port of Saint John. Mickey even joined in the celebration! After awards were presented on behalf of the City and Disney Cruise Lines, we all had an opportunity to have our picture taken with Mickey Mouse. Well, my wife wouldn’t be lying if she todl you that I was singing the classic, “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse” song in the shower that morning. I will admit, I was probably almost as excited as some of the little kids aboard. Disney Cruise lines, which only represents 1% of Disney’s annual income, has an amazing experience to offer its guests. I was delighted to be invited to this event and hope to make it to the Magic’s Inagurual Call at the new Terminal on September 5th. Hopefully then I will have a chance to meet Minnie and Goofy!
Sw$%&ing In! – May 31st, 2012
Last night (Monday, 30 May 2012), the new Rothesay Council was sworn in. A quaint ceremony was put on in the Council Chambers and it was well attended by friends and family of the new Council. Former Councillors (Scott Cochrane, Terry Kilfoil, Tom Young, and Norma Mullet) were also in attendance to see the reins handed over for the next four years. The first item on the agenda for the new Council was to elect a Deputy Mayor. Dr. Nancy Grant was elected to that position. As Mayor Bill Bishop indicated, the current Council is energetic and looks forward to getting involved and working on issues identified by Rothesay residents during our door-to-door campaigns. The new Council was also given direction as to what committees they will be sitting on. Information will be going up on the Town of Rothesay webpage shortly along with pictures taken during our photoshoots last night.
A Heartfelt Thank You! – May 16th, 2012
On Monday, 14 May 2012, residents of Rothesay voted me as one of seven councilors to represent them over the next four years. Thank you everyone for your support throughout the campaign! Thank you voters for electing me to Town Council, thank you Team Alexander for your dedication throughout, and thank you Sarah, the best campaign manager ever, for having an absent husband over the past six weeks! We did it and I look forward to representing you on Town Council over the next four years.
Voter numbers were up! During this election, 48.5% of Rothesay residents Got Out The Vote compared to 34.9% in 2008 (the average for 2001, 2004, and 2008 was only 41%). I was thrilled to see the remarkable numbers that came in from my supporters. The hard-work and solid dedication that my Team and I put forth over the past six weeks paid amazing dividends.
Again, thank you Rothesay residents for your support and I look forward to working for our community.
Meeting Constituents – May 12th, 2012
Even today, in light of the power of the internet and social media, it is important to get out and meet as many residents as possible. Putting yourself in front of the voters allows them a chance to see who you are – first impressions are very important – and an opportunity to ask personal questions – those that are important to them and that you may not have covered off in other forms of messaging.
I kicked off my door-to-door campaign on Saturday 21 April and ended on Saturday 12 May. I had a busy schedule while also working my full-time job; I door-knocked for 4.5 hours every night after work (15 nights) and for 8 hours every Saturday (4). I took Sundays off during the campaign.
By my estimates, there are 3821 homes in Rothesay. I ordered 3000 postcards for the door-to-door campaign. At the end of the campaign yesterday, 2967 doors were knocked on by my team (78% of all homes in Rothesay). I estimate that I personally knocked on 2600 doors while Sarah, Stacie, Linda, Justin, and Joel did the remainder. Although I was unable to visit every home, I believe I did an excellent job at connecting with the majority of residents. I am hoping that the people I missed either visited my website/Facebook page, or spoke with someone who had a chance to meet me.
A suggestion that was made very early on was to get a pedometer and track my progress throughout the campaign. I walked over 168 km throughout Rothesay. That is equivalent to walking from Saint John to Moncton.
Some interesting observations during my door-to-door campaign:
>I estimate that about 65% of the doors I knocked on were answered and I had a chance to speak with residents- I left a postcard at the 35% where there was no answer
>The best time to connect with residents is during the evening
>Friday evenings are the only evening not good for connecting (people are out)
>Saturday mornings people are home, but are usually relaxing after a long week so it is best to not start until 10:30AM or 11
>The best way to visit residents in the majority of Rothesay is on foot, but using a bike is the best way to tackle Wells/French Village
What it must be like to be a Rockstar! – May 4th, 2012
Last night was my second evening visiting with residents of K-Park. Over the past week, I have noticed people saying my name before I have a chance to introduce myself at the door. My four large signs around Town with my face on them are doing a great job of putting a name to a face. One of my big signs is near the entrance to K-Park.
While walking down Calistoga Road last night, there were several girls playing outside. When they noticed me knocking on their door, they ran up, ran into the house and called for their mom because, “Matt Alexander is at the door”. I hadn’t introduced myself to the girls so I think they must have seen one of my signs around town. While finishing Calistoga, the girls waved to me several times and called my name.
Later in the evening, while walking up Crestline Road, a similar thing happened. I was knocking at the door of a house when I noticed two boys playing ball hockey next door. I could overhear one of the boys say to the other one, “hey, I know that guy, that’s Matt Alexander”. When I arrived at their house, they were excited to see me and trotted off to get their parents so that I could meet them.
It is a great feeling to be recognized by people I have never met before. Like an ice breaker, recognition allows conversations at the door to start easier. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a rockstar where you are recognized everywhere you go.
Area Bounded by Hampton Road, Marr Road, Campbell Drive, and Grove Avenue – April 29th, 2012
I have been so busy pounding the pavement over the past week that I have not had time to sit down and post all the comments I received while going door-to-door. Rest assured that I have not forgotten your comments – I write them all down as I go along. Below are the concerns I heard in this large area of Rothesay.
>Sidewalks are lacking, especially in areas where children frequently walk to go to school – children in this area are close enough to the schools that they have to walk
>Street lighting in some areas is sparse and while some people enjoy the lack of lighting so they can see the night sky, others do not
>Speeding along Iona Avenue, Islay Drive, and Highland Avenue is sometimes a problem, especially when children are walking to and from school – traffic-calming devices could be installed to mitigate speeding
>Deer are regularly feeding on residents’ well-manicured properties – it has become so bad in some areas that people have resorted to fencing in their plants or putting up colourful flagging tape – residents are also concerned about the potential for Lyme disease from deer ticks and the feces from deer contaminating drinking water
>Some residents who are on wells are being charged a fee for not being hooked up to the municipal water system – they are essentially paying for a service they do not get
>Lack of recreation opportunities for children under 12 and for adults and the elderly is often noted and although people would like to see a field house erected, many do not believe Scott Avenue is the right place – other suggestions are for Millennium Drive, or across the highway near the ball fields on the way to Barsa Subdivision
>Some properties along Hampton Road, and other low-lying areas like Colonsay Place, experience flooding from higher areas during heavy rains because it appears that the storm water piping cannot adequately handle large volumes of water or they become easily clogged with debris
>Biking routes along Rothesay Road are non-existent – the City of Saint John has bike lanes on some streets and so too does Quispamsis, but we don’t along Rothesay Road, and bikers find it dangerous to use Rothesay Road, particularly during rush hour
>Residents have identified the new commercial block going in at the Corner of Marr Road and Hampton Road to be very secretive – although everyone has heard rumours of a financial institution, a retail/office space, and two or three food outlets being built, the Town has not done a very good job of communicating with residents about what is being built and how traffic will be routed in an already congested area
>Some teens I spoke with would love to see a bike park built in the area – right now they resort to doing stunts in unsafe areas and have been injured doing so – a bike park would be a place for them to safely do what they love
>The new digital sign with red lettering at the entrance to the Villa Madonna and the Bill McGuire Center is routinely identified as being a waste of money and being hideous looking – in New Brunswick, we have laws against driving and using cellphones so why would the Town erect signs that only serve to distract drivers?
>Signage for small businesses could be improved upon to increase awareness of their presence – large businesses appear to have a leg up because they don’t seem to have the same constraints
Walking Miles In Our Neighbourhoods – April 27th, 2012
In the past four days, I’ve walked over 25 km in the area bounded by Campbell Drive, Grove Avenue, Hampton Road, and Marr Road. All that walking in shoes probably not fit for walking, but hey, it makes me realize I am out there for a purpose; to learn about our neighbourhoods.
I have met hundreds of residents and I am getting valuable insights about what is on their minds regarding our community. Once you get people talking they are not afraid to open up and let you know what is on their mind. All of it is valuable information. I have had history lessons on our community that date back to the early 1900s. Did you know that Cortland Place behind the Tim Hortons used to be an apple orchard? I have been informed of why certain areas likely have sidewalks while others don’t. I have been told about the first traffic light in the area and how the five former communities came together. It is a wonderful journey going door-to-door and I will use all of the information I have collected to serve our community after May 14th.
Going door-to-door is a great way to meet people in our community and to learn about what the issues and concerns are as we move forward. I have learned many things while campaigning and some of the highlights are listed below.
>There are more dogs in Rothesay than I thought – I guesstimate that 60% of doors knocked on have a dog and many of those homes have more than one dog
>Doorbells wear out – I would say about 40% of doorbells don’t work and the replacements (the wireless ones without batteries) also do not work – the old knock on the door works the best
>Doorbells are placed differently depending on what neighbourhood you go to and probably reflect the builder’s choice – that also goes for the brand of doorbell
>Side doors are always best to use when a house has two doors in the front – front doors are sometimes too formal
>Some people, men and women, DON’T WEAR PANTS when they are lounging about their house!
Rain or Shine – Meeting People of Rothesay – April 23rd, 2012
The banner streaming across the top of the Weather Network App on my phone this morning was red and announced a heavy rainfall warning. Predictions are for upwards of 100mm of rain. People living in low-lying areas of Rothesay are likely on tenterhooks tonight hoping that their basements don’t flood with rainwater, or worse, sewage backups. Water concerns are a major concern in several neighbourhoods of our community and they are an issue that I want to address in the future.
Tonight, Sarah, Stacie Michaelson, and I went door-to-door before the horizontal rain showers became too much to bear. The warm rain showers did not deter us or dampen our spirits as we visited with residents along Highland Avenue. Although our umbrellas were turned inside out several times, our rain suits managed to keep us dry during our 4.5km trek around the neighbourhood.
Concerns raised along the eastern portion of Highland Avenue were:
>lack of street lighting – the ornate lawn lights are supposed to be the night lighting in the area but because residents must pay for the power and upkeep of those lamp posts, many are not maintained
>council not appearing to listen to concerns and issues raised by residents
>rezoning of lands to allow for high-density development in a single-family residential neighbourhood and coincident with that, losing remaining green spaces
Balance and A Fresh Perspective – April 21st, 2012
I am in the younger demographic running for Rothesay Town Council – there is one hopeful that is slightly younger than I. It is great to have experience on council, but a fresh perspective is also needed. Did you know that there are some people on the current council that have been involved in municipal politics longer than I have been alive? With the exception of one councilor, all have been involved in politics since before I graduated high school! I am looking for some new people to be working for our community and that is a consistent theme I am hearing at your doors. Every now and then change is good because it offers a fresh perspective.
Dad, it’s another one! – April 18th, 2012
Last night my great friend Justin and I walked throughout Sprucewood Subdivision and part of Oakville acres to meet with residents. One of the funniest encounters was when I knocked on a door and a boy of about 12 came running to the door. As soon as he saw Justin and I, he stopped in his tracks, smiled, and yelled up the stairs to his father, “Dad, it’s another one!”
It is fantastic to hear that many of the candidates running in the Rothesay election are getting out to meet people in our community. Surprisingly, I have yet to bump into another candidate on the campaign trail. I am sure I will meet one somewhere during the next few weeks before the election. I would welcome a meet the candidates afternoon/night if any community group is willing to organize it.
The concerns that I heard while in Sprucewood Subdivision include:
>ensuring that contractors doing roadwork provide guarantees on materials for a period of time (shortly after Sprucewood was last paved, the asphalt cracked)
>reducing/limiting the amount of sand put down on roads during the winter to reduce tracking onto driveways and into garages and houses
>having the owner of the former gas station/convenience store at the corner of Marr Road and Gondola Point Road clean up the property
>hooking homes up to town water
The number one concern that I heard while in Oakville Acres is the reoccurring flooding issues they experience. Many of the residents have experienced flooded basements and/or backed up sewer lines. In many cases, homeowners are no longer able to get flood/water damage insurance because of the constant issues during rain storms. This community has been hit hard and they need a hand up. Prior to the flooding issues, they were impacted by groundwater contamination. I would like to see more work done to stop flooding within Oakville Acres.
Another great conversation I had was regarding Spyglass Hill. That natural area is a place used by many within our community and they would like to see it remain as an area that can be enjoyed for many years to come.
Meeting Residents of The Estates of Chapel Hill – April 16th, 2012
This evening, Sarah and I visited with the residents of The Estates of Chapel Hill. What a wonderful neighbourhood! I believe that the Inuksuit (plural of Inuksuk) may outnumber the residents by about 3 to 1. They are absolutely everywhere in the community; on door steps, on top of large decorative rocks, atop power boxes, and even in planters! There is even a garden gnome at one of the houses that speaks to you when you walk in front of it.
Most of the residents love the peacefulness of their neighbourhood and their close proximity to many of the amenities Rothesay has to offer. What was the number one topic raised by residents? Recreational facilities for retirees are lacking. Most of the people we spoke with walk several times a week at the qplex. They would prefer to have an indoor walking track somewhere in our community. I want to see a recreational facility in Rothesay that caters to ALL residents, young and old.
We also heard that the frequency of the COMEX service could be increased, a smaller curbside compost bin is preferred because waste generated by residents is far less than for growing families, and some maintenance is required at the Bill McGuire Community Center, which is regularly used for various activities in our community.
What Barsa Residents Are Saying – April 15th, 2012
On Saturday morning, my wife Sarah and I visited all of the homes in Barsa Subdivision. We enjoyed talking with residents of the close-knit neighbourhood and learning about their thoughts on our community. Below are a few interesting details on the neighbourhood:
>lots are mature and many residents take a lot of pride in their properties
>there are only 2 street lights in the subdivision
>there are no sidewalks
>residents are very satisfied with the snowplowing service provided by the Town’s subcontractor
>there is no playground for the many young children
>police rarely visit the subdivision
>all residents are on groundwater supplied by one well along Barsa Drive and the well water is of excellent quality
>ATVs frequently operate at high-rates of speed on the streets
>the roads have not been paved in several decades
>there is an excellent mixture of young families and retirees
>drainage in some of the roadside ditches is poor
>some bylaws enforced in other parts of Rothesay are not applied in Barsa
When elected, I will work to improve Barsa Subdivision for the residents that live there.
What Hillside Residents Are Saying
Saturday afternoon Sarah and I visited many townhomes in the Hillside area of Rothesay. Like Barsa, there is an excellent mixture of residents in the neighbourhood from all walks of life. Many of residents are happy with the services provided in the community while the others believe that we need more forms of active living. Multi-use trail-ways and pathways are top of mind for those people. Improving connections with neighbouring communities of Saint John and Quispamsis would provide people with commuting alternatives. Other issues/concerns in Hillside are drainage problems, crumbling roadside edges, littering, potholes, and lack of recreational facilities for older residents. Thank you Hillside for your input – I will work for you when I am elected!
Get Out The Vote (GOTV) – April 14th, 2012
In past years, voter turnout for municipal elections has been dismal (35% of Rothesay voters GOTV in the 2008 election). The New Brunswick government is doing an excellent job at trying to GOTV for the 2012 municipal election. There is a wealth of information for voters and for candidates atwww.electionsnb.ca This morning, as I reached for the milk in the fridge, an advertisement for the May 14th election caught my eye on the side of the milk carton. Northumberland Dairies has teamed up with Elections NB to encourage voters to GOTV.
The newspaper has also been providing excellent coverage on the upcoming election. Almost daily, the TJ has been running regular columns on candidates in southwestern NB municipalities. Four of the 12 candidates in Rothesay have already been reviewed in the City Section of the TJ. Please keep an eye out for my article in the coming weeks.
Nominations Are Closed… – April 13th, 2012
Nominations closed at 2PM today (Friday the 13th). There are 12 people (5 incumbents) running for 7 councilor positions and 2 people (1 incumbent) running for mayor. Click here to see who’s running: http://bit.ly/Iw8NCH. There will be an election in Rothesay! This is normal for our Town:
2008 – 13 ran for council and the mayor was acclaimed
2004 – 11 ran for council and the mayor was acclaimed
2001 – 11 ran for council and 2 ran for mayor
1997 – 11ran for council and 2 ran for mayor.
Based on the average voter turnout for 2008, 2004, and 2001 (41%) about 1200 votes are needed for a candidate to be elected to council. On May 14th, I hope to be one of the 7 Councilors elected and have the privilege to serve our community.
Many Hands Make Light Work – April 10th, 2012
Thursday was the day for placing small signs and yard signs around Town. Have you seen them?
I assembled a crew that was able to get the job done efficiently. My father Ross built a jig for sign construction. He used the jig to make sure the wooden stakes were centered on the sign and that the screws for holding the plastic to the wood backing were centered along the stake. My good friends Justin Michaelsen, James Simonds, and Tim Ryan took the signs around Town after they were built. Tim’s sons Matt, Nick, and Noah also took part in the sign delivery and placement.
I really appreciate my Team’s efforts!
Why Are Signs Up Only In Rothesay? – April 5th, 2012
Many people are probably wondering why there are only election signs up in Rothesay if there is a municipal election going on in all communities across New Brunswick. Many other communities have a bylaw in place that does not allow candidates to put up signs until the close of nominations (each candidate must obtain 10 signatures of eligible voters in their community or ward).
Quispamsis and Saint John both have a sign bylaw in place. That does not mean there aren’t ways to get around it. Candidates in Quispamsis are aware of the bylaw and in order to get their message out early, they have placed their signs inside Rothesay, just at the edge of the boundary line with Quispamsis. This actually adds to the amount of signage in Rothesay and could confuse voters.
I have decided to not to put my signs out as early as other candidates because I don’t want to unnecessarily clutter the sides of roads. Putting up signs too early could lead to voter fatigue. Also, people notice signs when they first go up, but after a few weeks, they tend to not notice them anymore.
In due time, you will start to see my signs going up. In the meantime, I want to grow support online.
There are currently 8 people (2 incumbents) running for 7 councilor positions and 1 person (incumbent) running for mayor (click to see who’s running: http://bit.ly/HuM3NJ). There is a confirmed election for Councilors in Rothesay, which cannot currently be said for other local communities, such as Saint John, where satisfaction for municipal government is in a rapid tailspin.
What does this suggest for our community? Change is needed in Rothesay. If there are this many new people running for Town Council, it tells me that people are not satisfied with the status quo. New blood is needed around the Council horseshoe. On May 14th, I hope to be one of the 7 Councilors elected and have the privilege to serve our community.
Chaos Begins – April 2nd, 2012
Little did I know how much upfront work there is to run an election campaign! Election signs, brochures, website, Facebook group, linking of my twitter account, etc. all had to be developed from scratch and in short order. This is where family and friends come in. Calls were made and tasks were assigned. I have a great team assembled that is ready to help me get my message out to the community. Keep an eye out for us when we hit the pavement in the coming days to share information with you. Also keep a look out for my signs.
For several years I have been thinking about running for municipal council. With spring seemingly coming early this year, there was a little extra something in my step, ambition to run for Rothesay Town Council. Why? Because I believe I can offer a fresh perspective on our community.
I spent years going to school and working my way into an excellent career as an environmental scientist. Along the way I have been involved with many volunteer and community organizations, but I always wanted to give back in a more meaningful way. I believe working to better our Town is the best way to achieve that satisfaction.
I toyed with the idea for a few days and talked about it with my wife Sarah. Being my biggest cheerleader, she told me to jump in with both feet. I also discussed running with other family members who also thought that it was a great idea. It is wonderful to have such great support. Discussions with several people in my personal network suggested that I was on to something.
On March 23, I met with John Wallace, a lifetime resident of Rothesay. He is a great supporter of mine and I believe he has a wonderful perspective on our community and beyond. In discussing my platform, he confirmed that what I believe the issues facing our community to be, are real.
By the end of our discussion, my decision was made; I was going to run for Rothesay Town Council. And with that, John was the first to sign my nomination papers.