August 8th, 2007

Report could determine fate of Maritime beef plant
The future of beef farming in the Maritimes may hinge on a consultant's report now being prepared for the governments of the three Maritime provinces. 'We want to be confident that the plant has a sustainable and profitable future.'— N.S. Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor. There is only one major beef processing plant in the Maritimes, in Albany, P.E.I., near the Confederation Bridge. It's just three years old, but it's already racked up a loss of $9 million, much of that covered by the P.E.I. government. But Premier Robert Ghiz says his province is no longer going to go it alone, and it will close down this fall if the other Maritime provinces don't come up with some support. The plant has had difficulty getting its beef into major grocery chains.The plant has had difficulty getting its beef into major grocery chains. The consultant's report will look at the long-term future of the plant, something the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick say is crucial to their decision about whether they will put forward any money. "We want to be confident that the plant has a sustainable and profitable future," Nova Scotia Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor told CBC News Wednesday.

Parks aren't suitable places for homeless: Phair
Edmonton's huge river valley may seem an inviting camping spot to the homeless, but it's not a suitable place to stay, Coun. Michael Phair says. "It isn't the normal camping where you go with all your equipment and food and you're prepared for it," Phair said Tuesday. "We're really talking about people who are making do out in the open. That is not good for many reasons, including health, sanitation, basic food preparation and storage, your belongings." Violence and theft are also issues, because police can't protect people who are hidden away in the valley, he said. There are emergency shelter spaces available for homeless people, he added. Doug Costigan, acting head of the city parks department, said city park rangers give campers 24 hours' notice to move. Boyle Street Co-op outreach workers work with the park rangers, trying to connect with people in the river valley and help them find a better place to live, he said.

Credit unions merging
After almost 70 years of small-town independence, Victoria’s oldest credit union is giving itself up to a higher power. Greater Victoria Savings Credit Union announced it plans to merge with Vancity Credit Union in a deal that includes a $5-million legacy fund intended to continue the company’s “tradition of community involvement.” Members of the four Greater Victoria Saving branches would receive access to Vancity’s network of Lower Mainland branches, as well as its tele-banking and insurance services if the deal goes through. Barry Bittner, vice-president of the Greater Victoria Savings board of directors, said increased competition from bigger players has made it difficult for smaller credit unions to survive on their own. “There’s more players in the marketplace,” Bittner said. “It’s difficult to recruit and retrain employees and the competition is getting more fierce.” Internet-based financial firms such as ING Direct have had a major impact, he added.