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Serving Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra since 1984 FRIDAY 20 December 7, 2012 Want your Christmas cactus to produce those beautiful pink blooms this season? Gardening expert Anne Marrison has some advice. Your source for local news, sports, opinion and entertainment: City weighs 6.65% tax hike Port Moody mayor expects homeowners to ‘freak out’ Jeremy Deutsch Port Moody residents may want to brace for sticker shock when they open up their tax bills next year. The preliminary city budget is projecting a property tax increase of 6.65 per cent for 2013, to make up for a $1.9million operating budget shortfall. Homeowners can expect to pay $2,837 in total property taxes in 2013 based on the average assessed property value of $531,600. If that figure stands, it’s an extra $117 for the average Port Moody household, which includes an extra $3 in the utilities category for storm drainage services. A further breakdown of the numbers shows the bulk of the shortfall related to an increase in salaries worth $570,000, or 1.93 per cent, and $650,000 in policing costs worth another 2.21 per cent. Other items in the budget shortfall include $143,000 for the Inlet Centre fire hall debt levy, $192,000 for inflation, and $444,000 for operational service priorities. Mayor Mike Clay said he expects residents to “freak out” when they see the number. But he’s quick to put much of the city’s budget woes on  CONT. ON PAGE 4, see BUDGET. Lisa King/NOW Fire crews and police were out in force at Aspenwood Elementary Thursday, after flu-like symptoms led to fears of a gas leak or other problem. Sickness leads to school closure Jeremy Deutsch It was a frightening morning for some students at a Port Moody elementary school after several kids felt ill in a classroom. Emergency crews were called to Aspenwood Elementary just before 11 a.m. Thursday to a report of students and a teacher suffering from flu-like symptoms. In one instance, a child briefly passed out. The entire school was evacuated over concerns the symptoms were brought on by a gas leak or some type of fumes. “There was reason to believe there could have been some noxious substance in the school that was causing this effect,” said Port Moody fire chief Remo Faedo. However, fire crews determined there was no gas leak or any other possible cause for the sickness. The school was closed for the day, as a hazardous materials team was brought in to perform air tests and clear the building. The school was expected to re-open Friday. In all, six people were taken to hospital as a precaution, including two adults. But the morning’s commotion left some students and parents on edge. Adele Holgate and her daughter Adrienne live just a few doors down from the school. Adrienne said she was heading back to class after recess when the fire alarm sounded. After being briefed by the principal, she said her class was led outside. The Grade 1 student said she didn’t see anyone getting sick, but admitted she and some of her classmates were scared. “Some were a little bit afraid and some weren’t,” she said. Meanwhile, Adrienne’s mom heard the sirens from home and then noticed the emergency crews at her daughter’s school. Holgate was one of several dozen parents who lined up outside the school waiting to take their children home for the rest of the day. Despite the potential for chaos, she praised the work of both school and emergency officials in their handling of the situation. “They handled it really, really well,” Holgate told The NOW. While the mom said she isn’t worried about sending her daughter back to school Friday, Adrienne admitted she is a bit nervous. Steve Purdy was carrying his Grade 4 daughter Kiera out of the school following the evacuation. He said the ordeal proved a little overwhelming for his daughter, but she’s OK. Purdy said he was also a bit nervous when he heard the school had been evacuated, but he gave top marks to school and emergency personnel. “It’s a little unnerving, but at the same time I know they’re handling it very well,” he said. And he, like other parents, isn’t worried about sending his daughter back to school on Friday. Free Gift with Purchase For the Month of December />A>'4> D H;J5I/; (M!'@D0 M<ODP>O8 ND %?* 7;5 <>8D'! 4D!6>L 3'8( 0M6< =6<A(D:> M+ %B*C M< PM<> M+ H;J5I/; $>3>!!><0EG G9>+M<> 8D2>:E 1MM@ 3('!> :6==!'>: !D:8F !'P'8 MO> =>< A6:8MP><E .>> M6< :8M<> +M< @>8D'!:E COQUITLAM CENTRE -==>< K>4>! # 7>O8<> 7M6<8 # )C,E",*E**&C

Coquitlam Now December 7 2012

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