Friday, October 21, 2016

Alfred Street residents to face water disruption starting Monday

Residents of the Alfred Street area on the city's east side are receiving notices today that there is going to be a water disruption for them starting on the morning of Monday October 24, as the city looks to continue repairs on the water main on a stretch of the street between 8th Avenue East and 10th Avenue East.

A notice posted to the City of Prince Rupert website notes that the water main has been identified as beyond its life cycle and is in need of extensive repair work.

As a result of the work required next week its estimated that water supply disruption will last for a 48 hour period.

The road closure in the area is also having an impact on the travels of Prince Rupert Transit, with the bus stop in the 800 block now out of service during the length of the work ahead. As a result, the bus route will follow 8th Avenue East, up Bacon and then down 10th Avenue East.

Water main repairs on the east side have closed Alfred Street
and will see residents lose access to water for 48 hours
starting on Monday morning.

The City first began working on the street on the east side a week or so ago, just the latest in trouble spots around the city where the city's infrastructure is starting to show its age. Just a few blocks away from the latest challenge, City work crews continue to work on a similar issue along Frederick Street between 11th Street and Hays Cove Road.

You can review the full notice from the City here.

More items related to the City's infrastructure concerns can be found on our archive page, while notes from City Council can be examined on our Council Discussion page.

Another successful mission for Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue

The members of Prince Rupert's Ground Search and Rescue unit were called into action earlier this week when they were tasked to assist in a situation where two hikers had become lost on Mount Hays.

The search for the missing pair took place in the late afternoon of Monday, October 17th and continued into the early evening, spanning a period of one and a half hours in total, an operation that also made use of a helicopter as part of the rescue.

The Search and Rescue unit credit the two hikers for following the proper procedures when such circumstance arise, noting that they had done exactly what they should have to assist those on the search for them.

Those key elements that led to the quick resolution to the situation included, Calling for help, remaining in one place and alerting the responding members with fire and a tarp.

The Prince Rupert RCMP was also involved in Monday's response and positive outcome.

The background to the incident can be found on the Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue Facebook page.

More items of interest on Northwest Emergency Response files can be found on our archive page here.

Nathan Cullen outlines results of Electoral Reform findings

Nathan Cullen continues to engage
Canadians in the ongoing process
of electoral reform proposals
Through much of the summer and now into the fall, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen has been part of a cross Canada engagement process to take the pulse of the nation on the theme of electoral reform.

The MP has hosted a number of community meetings across Canada with some stops in the Northwest along the way, as the Committee on Electoral Reform engaged those Canadians that had an interest in the theme.

A session held in Prince Rupert provided some feedback for the MP, with the meeting at NWCC offering up some agreement with the need for change to the system, but with a range of opinion on how to approach it.

Along with that consultation, some residents have taken to comments on social media or through the op-ed page of the weekly paper to share their thoughts, one of those contributions came from Prince Rupert City Councillor Blair Mirau who outlined his support for a system of ranked ballot representation.

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP used the op-ed page himself in September, making use of the editorial page to offer a response to Mr. Mirau's submission and expand further on his preferred option, that of the proportional representation concept.

The first of the early results from some of those Cross Canada engagements have been released with the NDP providing their briefing notes on the topic last week, offering up their interpretation as to where Canadians stand on the issue.

Locally, Mr. Cullen delivers some thoughts on his engagement on the issue in the Northwest provided through his recent home mailer to the residents of Skeena-Bulkley Valley. Outlining some details on the findings from his community information sessions, which also included a telephone town hall.

From those engagement sessions the MP has noted the results of three questions that were posed as part of the New Democrat MP's polling process to those residents who participated.

Question Number One: 

Should Parties win about the same percentage of seats as the percentage of votes they get from voters?

Yes 83%     No 17%

Question Number Two:

When it comes to reforming our voting system, what is the most appropriate way for the government to go forward?

Put it to a regular vote 20%
Call a referendum before acting on reform 39%
Have a referendum after trying out a new system 41%

Question Number Three:

Do you think Canada should change the voting system to a proportional one?

Yes 81%    No 19%

The complete presentation delivered to Northwest homes can be viewed below:

Some of those themes from Mr. Cullen's survey will spur on further debate both in the local riding and across the nation as the Committee works towards the finish line of December.

Though one concept from Question Two, that of test driving the proportional representation option without first taking the change to the public may find a bit of resistance for voters.

The Conservative party has already telegraphed their objections to that prospect, while the Liberals haven't been particularly clear on how they would react to the idea of a major shift to the electoral process without voter assent.

All of which points towards that proposal being an approach to participatory democracy that may raise a few eyebrows from the voting public.

While the goal of reforming the Canadian Parliamentary system is always something worthy of further exploration, the final decision on any change should rest with those that have sent the MP's to Ottawa.

If those politicians who are in favour of the Proportional Representation proposal can sell that concept to the public as an idea worth moving forward on, and judging by Mr. Cullen's findings it's one that may find success, then the politicians would surely have no problem in testing the winds of change by referendum before any new process is put in place.

Allowing the voters to hold the final say on how to change their democratic process, would surely seem for most of us to be the most "democratic approach" to the whole issue.

We have been following the progress of the Electoral Reform Committee from our Darcy McGee political portal, you can review some of the latest entries to that archive page here.

More notes on the work of Mr. Cullen in the nation's capital can be found on our House of Commons archive here.

Shrinking Wishbook another sign of changing retail trends

It was a bit of a surprise to see the Sears Wishbook on the coffee room table the other day, the once weighty tome of glad tidings of the Christmas season has slimmed down significantly this year! Perhaps offering up a glimpse into the changing nature of how we may be approaching the retail trade at holiday time.

While it once could provide more than a few hours of Christmas dreaming and stand in as a dandy door stop should it be required, the 2016 version won't take quite as much time to ramble through from cover to cover and sadly, any door in the house would appear to pass right over its width.

The reduction in the size of the catalogue perhaps is providing us with an indication as to how the nature of the retail trade is changing, with so many new options available through on line shopping, the days of a mass order to the Sears order desk hotline in the weeks leading up to Christmas would seem to be a thing of the past.

Instead, the Wishbook, currently available at the Prince Rupert Sears location at Five Corners, may be joining the offerings of boutique like shopping from Amazon, Chapters and the many other online storefronts that keep the local delivery trucks busy every day of the week on the North Coast.

Times change of course, but with those changing times, so too it seems could be some long standing traditions.

As we spend more and more time scanning the websites of countless North American retailers and adding to cart, the prospect of some excited tugging back and forth of the Wishbook and the composition of a lengthy list for Santa may be one of those traditions that is about to evolve.

East meets West the theme for Chamber of Commerce Fundraiser this weekend

The fashion styles will follow twin themes this weekend as the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce hosts its 4th Annual Fall Gala tomorrow night at the North Coast Convention Centre.

East meets West is the backdrop to the popular chamber event, with Back tie the dress for an evening that promises much in the way of conversation and entertainment, with good food and live music from Triple Bypass providing the musical background to the night.

Local businesses have provided for a range of items up for grabs as part of the Live and Silent Auction portion of the evening, an event which offers the chance for those in the city's commercial sector to offer a night out for their employees.

The event has sold out in the past and ticket sales were going well leading up to this weekend.

Tickets are priced at 100 dollars per person, you can contact the Chamber office at 250-624-2296 or drop into their office in the Capital Mall building on Third Avenue to pick up your passport to the Gala.

More information on the East meets West Fall Gala can be found on the Chamber of Commerce website or Facebook page.

Environmental concerns for Vancouver Port expansion could be beneficial for Prince Rupert

Plans from the Vancouver Port Authority to expand the container facility at Roberts Banks may be about to  hit a few snags, as an environmental review from Environment Canada has outlined some concerns over the impact of the development on migratory birds making their way to Alaska.

The Port of Vancouver has proposed a 2 billion dollar expansion of the container terminal at Roberts Bank, a project that would double the size of the existing facility, delivering increased throughput through Vancouver, with expectations of 260 more container ship visits should the second facility be built.

The Port of Vancouver has plans to add a second terminal complex to their
Roberts Band Container Facility near Tsawwassen

(Photo from Port of Vancouver website)

To see the project through however will require the construction of an artificial island as the host of the site and an expanded causeway for the surge in trucks that would be required to service the port.

Last week, Environment Canada issued some cautionary notes related to the proposed development in a submission from October 14th. Along with the Environment Canada submission, a number of other Federal agencies also provided comments, offering observations and in some cases seeking more background on a number of aspects of the proposed development.

The CEAA is currently considering
a proposal for an expansion of the
Roberts Bank Container Terminal
Health Canada
Natural Resources Canada
Transport Canada
Canadian Coast Guard
Department of Fisheries

As part of the comment period to this point some 591 documents have been submitted related to the project.

The proposed development is currently in the final stages of the public comment period, with the deadline for submissions extended until October 28, 2016.

More background on some of the reaction from the Vancouver area can be reviewed below:

Environment Canada report warns Roberts Bank port expansion could significantly damage bird habitat
B.C. port could have 'adverse effects' on birds headed to Alaska: report

A delay, or outright rejection of Vancouver proposals could set back the Port of Vancouver's expansion ambitions and could also provide one more factor for Prince Rupert officials to look at as they consider the future plans for the Fairview Container facility.

With the current expansion of the container port working towards its Spring 2017 completion date, the Port and DP World have been examining the prospects for taking the container port footprint towards Ridley Island, with a study to conduct further expansion signed back in December of 2015.

June 2016 -- Journal of Commerce features White Paper report on Port of Prince Rupert
January 2016 -- Port Authority heralds jobs and benefits should expansion plans move forward
December 2015 -- Prince Rupert Port Authority and DP World gaze south for potential expansion of Fairview Terminal

It's not the first time that we've noted the theme of land issues in the Vancouver area and how the limited options in the south may provide some benefits for the ambitions in Prince Rupert.

Room to grow in Prince
Rupert could be a key advantage
for future expansion in BC
port facilities

December 2015 -- Vancouver land issues offer opportunities for Prince Rupert to take advantage of

November 2012 -- For some in Delta, there's no better place than Prince Rupert for Container Terminal Expansion

There is some logic for the shipping industry to make a shift away from the Lower Mainland port facilities should another option become available, or if as expected the volume of international shipping between Asia and North America should increase over the next few decades.

Any ongoing push back against the plans for port expansion in the Greater Vancouver area, could see the Port of Prince Rupert push ahead its timeline for development of the highly anticipated expansion plans for south of the current Fairview Terminal site.

More items related to the Port of Prince Rupert can be found on our archive page here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Prince Rupert waterfront and Hays Creek area the focus for Shoreline clean up 2016

The annual Great Canadian Shoreline Clean Up takes place Saturday morning, with the Prince Rupert waterfront, (or at least those areas of it that residents are allowed on these days) and the Hays Creek area to be the attention of local volunteers.

The launching spot for the Clean Up is the Rushbrook Harbour area on the east side of the City with volunteers asked to arrive by 10AM on Saturday for the two hours of clean up ahead.

The Shoreline Cleanup is a national event with Canadians from Coast to Coast to Coast taking part in the two hour event, a project that first started in Vancouver back in 1994.

Since that time the project has expanded to many communities, with Prince Rupert residents answering the call over the years when it comes to the local waterfront areas.

Last year 2,016 groups across Canada registered for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, with 59,136 participants Canada wide taking to shorelines of the nation, collecting some 15,776 Bags of debris.

The national organization offers up a glimpse of some of the debris that they have collected, with this list from the 2013 Shoreline cleanup providing just a few ideas of the challenges that clean up crews face. A look at some of the Cross Canada plans can be found here.

If you need more information on the project contact Caitlin at for more details.

As the Clean Up moves ahead on Saturday keep your eye on the National Facebook page for the event or their twitter feed, just in case some of the local volunteers have a camera handy to record the efforts on the North Coast.

For a look at current and past Community events on the North Coast see our archive page here.