Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seafarers' Mission hosts Prince Rupert's celebration of International Seafarers Day

Prince Rupert's Seafarers' Mission is hosting a community BBQ
today from Noon until 2 part of their celebration of
International Seafarers' Day

With the Port of Prince Rupert growing at it's ever quickening pace, more and more international Mariners are exploring the city while they await the departure of vessels from the many terminals of the North Coast.

For those far from home, a downtown storefront location offers a place of welcome and rest with the Seafarers' Mission on Third Avenue offering activities and information for many of those that stop in during their Prince Rupert stop over.

Tomorrow marks International Seafarers Day and as part of the celebration of the weekend, the Port of Prince Rupert and the Prince Rupert Mission will hosting a community BBQ this afternoon.

To help share the word of the world wide event the strong core of local volunteers that staff the location will be on hand to welcome both the international travellers and local residents from Noon until 2 PM.

Prince Rupert residents are invited to drop by to take in some of the free food and to learn more about the work of the local organization that looks to bring some touches of home for the mariners.

The Seafarers Mission is located at 245 3rd Avenue West (across from CityWest).

You can follow some of the events from the day dedicated to those that travel the seas from a twitter feeds  #Seafarersmatter or #Dayoftheseafarer that are taking note of the global activities.

For those that have never left the dock, a fun quiz is available from the twitter feeds, offering you the opportunity to see if you're a landlubber or an adventurous mariner.

We took the quiz here at the NCR, we can head for sea, but we have a bit of studying to do ...

Back in 2015, the International Maritime Organization produced a video that highlights the life and career that those in the the global shipping industry can find as they sail the oceans.

They also have some background information on careers at sea and the importance of the shipping industry on the global economy, you can review that information here.

For more items related to the global shipping industry in Prince Rupert see our Port of Prince Rupert archive page.

Fun for all at Cow Bay Day Today

The city's Cow Bay District is set for a full day of activity today as the annual Cow Bay Days kick off at 11 AM, offering much for young and old alike through until 4 PM.

The Main Event Area can be found in the parking lot between the Cow Bay Gift Galley and Johnny's Machine Shop, featuring a number of events for children and families to take in, among some of the plans for the day a Scavenger Hunt, Bouncy Castle, and Chalk Art,  as well as a Spaghetti Eating contest, Egg Race and Face painting.

The crew from Good Times Games will also be part of the day in the main event area, offering up some Archery fun  and other activities.

The waterfront at Atlin Terminal also features some events, with Kayaking Rides part of the activities for those looking for a different view of the Cow Bay waterfront area.

Food makes up a good portion of some of the theme of the festival for the day, with food trucks on site as well as a BBQ to fuel you up for the pace of activities ahead.

The day also offers up a chance to check out some of the retail options in the city's expanding commercial area.

For more items related to business in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

BCAA Play Here makes it official for McKay Street Park

The month long clickfest of the BCAA Play Here competition has made Transition Prince Rupert's McKay Street Park plan 100,000 dollars richer, with the official results released yesterday showcasing the four communities in BC that have claimed the top prize money for 2017.

As we noted on the blog on Tuesday, Prince Rupert residents got behind the campaign from the very early days, keeping the McKay Street Park atop the daily count and holding off some strong challenges as the final days of voting came to an end last Sunday evening.

Yesterday, Transition Prince Rupert's Veronika Stewart and a large and excited group of McKay Street residents, received the good news from BCAA that the official count had put Prince Rupert to the top of the rankings.

See the video announcement here.

BCAA representatives will be coming to Prince Rupert in the near future to take a look at the McKay Street Park area and compare notes with Transition Prince Rupert as to how to put their re-development plan into motion.

Three other communities also have received 100,000 dollars as part of this years competition, with Bouchie Lake Elementary School, Galiano Community School and Marion Schilling Elementary School also recognized for their community efforts over the last month.

Learn more about the BCAA competition here.

The news quickly spread across the city of Prince Rupert's win, chronicled from a range of local media sources.

McKay Street Wins (video)
McKay Street Project in Prince Rupert A Winner!!
Community rallies, wins $100,000 for McKay Street Park
Lay out for new McKay Street park in Prince Rupert

Like Prince Rupert, the enthusiasm was high in the other successful communities, a snapshot of the reaction from a couple of those towns can be found below:

Marion Schilling elementary will get  $100,000 to upgrade playground
Bouchie Lake for the win

The fund raising for the McKay Street Project isn't over yet though, local residents can still dig into their wallets to help add to the funding pool for the work ahead, with a Go Fund Me Page created to help the cause.

For more background on the McKay Street concepts see the Transition Prince Rupert Facbook page and website.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sunny skies greet Sojourn port call

A Prince Rupert Port call for the Sojourn today
as visitors take to the city's streets and attractions

The second port call for June at the Northland Cruise Terminal found the cruise ship Sojourn arriving early this morning, sending many of its 450 passengers off to explore the North Coast under very sunny skies and warm temperatures.

The Sojourn, part of the Seabourn Cruise line provides for a more intimate travel experience as compared to the larger vessels that run along the BC and Alaska coast, but luxury is still the key for those exploring the Pacific Northwest.

The vessel is relatively new to the Seabourn line, its maiden journey coming seven years ago, with the Sojourn featuring what is called the living room which replaces the typical cruise ship lobby with the ship's shops all located off the Square.

It features a number of spas, swimming pools, clubs as well as quiet areas. Larger events while at sea take place in the  Grand Salon.

The Sojourn will be tied up along Northland until its departure time of 6 PM tonight, it returns to Prince Rupert on July 18th, making for just one of eight port calls at Northland over the month, providing for the largest volume of port visitors for the 2017 cruise season.

July and August combined will find fourteen port calls taking place, a number which makes for over half of all cruise ship visits to Prince Rupert in 2017.

For more items related to the Prince Rupert Cruise Industry see our archive page here.

Port outlines planning for Fairview Terminal container truck bypass route

The Port of Prince Rupert is moving forward with plans to create a bypass
road from Fairview to Ridley Island

One of the long running concerns for Prince Rupert City Council may soon be taken off the to do list, as the Port of Prince Rupert revealed its plans to develop a container port by pass road, providing some background on the project at Tuesday's Annual Public Meeting.

Shaun Stevenson, the VP of Trade Development and Public Affairs for the Port outlined the details for the plan, which would see the a connector road running along the shoreline of the waterfront south from the Fairview Container terminal, then hooking up with the roadway infrastructure at Ridley Island.

"We're going to see increased trucking and we're mindful of the increased trucking and what it means as an impact of the trucks going through the downtown core, and we are very, very focused on the Fairview Connector Road Project. which will see a road developed from the south of Fairview Terminal to Ridley Island, to see all of those trucks bypass the downtown core." 

The new access route is considered a top infrastructure priority for the port and would provide for some significant relief for the downtown area, redirecting traffic away from the city centre.

The port noted that they hope to have construction on that bypass route underway later this year.

The topic of the need for such a road was raised once again in May, with Councillor Cunningham reaffirming his concerns over the level of container truck traffic that is currently transiting through the city's downtown area.

The city's desire to see such a route developed has been one of the consistent themes from City Council's over the last ten years.

Mayor Lee Brain had previously noted that one option, a bypass road along Wantage Road was something that the city had been considering, with Prince Rupert having rolled it into their larger Prince Rupert Access Corridor  project initiative.

The ports forward movement on their own transportation option along the shoreline could mean that the Wantage plans will be moved further down the list as part of the city's own transportation planning.

For more items related to Port of Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

Further background on City of Prince Rupert notes can be reviewed on our Council Discussion page.

Port Authority Meeting offers global vision, along with a strong community focus

Don Krusel addressed the audience at the Port's Annual Public Meeting
on Tuesday evening, providing a short synopsis of some of the port's
achievements from 2016 and plans for the future

(photo from PRPA photo stream)

The Prince Rupert Port Authority looked back at 2016 and offered a glimpse into the future as well on Tuesday evening, as the region's largest employer reviewed their port operations and the impact that they have on the community.

Port Board Chair Bud Smith offered up some opening remarks to kick off the two hour presentation for those in attendance at the North Coast Convention Centre, framing some of the main themes that would make for much of the night's discussion.

Mr. Smith provided for the overview from the Chair and an explanation of the focus of the Board, as well as the larger vision and ongoing desire to build on the Port's success of the past, (PRPA is currently listed as the third largest port in Canada) and outlined how the Port continues to work to expand the Prince Rupert footprint for the future.

Port President and CEO, Don Krusel then took to the podium and, delivered a comprehensive snapshot of performance levels for the various terminals that make up Prince Rupert's gateway to the world.

Fairview Container Terminal made for a good portion of the early focus on the night, the Port CEO showing some tangible pride in the Terminal that is set to celebrate it's 10th anniversary and delivering a glimpse at the future for the shipment terminal which will see a recent expansion project come into service shortly.

For his look at the container terminal's impact on the community Mr. Krusel took some time to review the history of the port and how Fairview has changed the nature of both the port operations and added significantly to the economic rebound for Prince Rupert.

He returned to the theme of how the Port of Prince Rupert has become the fastest growing port in the nation, with only Vancouver and Montreal providing levels higher that the North Coast port.

As well, to bring home the large scale importance of port operations in the region, port statistics explain quite clearly that when it comes to employment, Fairview has had a major impact on the North Coast jobs picture, with Mr. Krusel observing that in 2006 the longshore board hosted less that 80 positions, ten years later there are now nearly 800 positions listed. 

As for direct employment related to Port development, those numbers have doubled over the last five years, with 3,000 jobs now serving port movements, with in-direct employment created through the port's related activities estimated to be at the 5,000 mark.

To further expand on those statistics Mr. Krusel noted that at this point, some 23 percent of the labour force of the region now receive a pay cheque through Port related operations or industries.

To launch the overview of Port operations from 2016, Mr. Krusel revealed that the port maintained volumes at 19 million tonnes, which was down 4% over the last year.

However, to put that decline into some perspective, he pointed out that two significant factors had contributed to that slight decline, the bankruptcy of the Korean Hanjin shipping line and the continuing struggles of the Canadian coal industry.

When it came to the review of recent movements through Fairview, the Port CEO noted that Container shipments were down by around five percent in the last year, however as he observed the Hanjin Shipping line bankruptcy process in the final quarter of the year was the main factor contributing to that overall slippage.

And to be fair to the port's results, the Hanjin story was one which has found the entire global shipping industry facing similar concerns from the bankruptcy of the global shipping giant.

Coal as well continues to be an ongoing commodity in decline in BC, with shipments through the port down ten percent overall last year, but again that would be a condition facing all of Canada's ports as the coal industry continues to struggle.

Though, as 2017 has progressed, Mr. Krusel noted that there is some positive news to be found from the Northeast coal fields with some operations returning to operations over the last six months.

Diversification however is proving to be a helpful antidote to the concerns on declines, with the port's established terminal options now getting a boost by a number of new ventures with the Port pointing towards the Westview pellet terminal as one area where significant growth was found in the last year.

As well, the Port CEO took note of a number of the prospects for the future, including the Alta Gas Terminal for Ridley Island, a new lumber loading facility and a specialty grains terminal operation on the waterfront will all offer continued opportunities to expand the shipping options offered at the Port of Prince Rupert.

The Port's involvement with the Community was also a theme for the APM, with Port officials outlining some of the high profile community projects that they have provided funding for over the last year,

The latest contribution to that fund was announced on Tuesday, with the Port putting forward just over one million, nine hundred thousand dollars towards community initiatives across the region.

The latest contribution is part of the ongoing commitment to the region that has seen the Port deliver close to 8 million dollars in funding, since they launched the Community Investment Fund over the last seven years.

You can review many of those projects from our archive page here.

Much of the rest of the presentation was turned over to a number of Port officials who provided some background on finance, port operations and future projects, with much described as in the works for Ridley Island, including a Logistics park on the north side of the Ridley Island Access road.

As well, Fairview terminal will soon be putting in place a refrigeration service program that could offer some export opportunities for local seafood processors across the region.

One item that should capture the attention of Prince Rupert city Council officials was the Port's planning for a connector road from Fairview container facilities to Ridley Island, the roadway which would travel along the shoreline south to Ridley.

The new access route to be known as the Fairview Connector project is considered a top infrastructure priority for the port and would provide for some significant relief for the downtown area, redirecting traffic away from the city centre.

The port noted that they hope to have construction on that bypass route underway later this year.

A panel discussion of sorts through the final hour of the presentation picked up the theme of the port's work, with Port President and CEO Don Krusel handling much of the work answering questions, with the audience participating online and in person at the Convention Centre.

A good portion of the inquiries of the panel involved how the Port may become more involved in providing assistance to the City of Prince Rupert and what future plans that may be in motion for development of municipal infrastructure in the area.

On the topic of its relations with the City, Mr Krusel noted that each year, the various port facilities contribute some six million dollars in tax revenues per year to Prince Rupert and Port Edward.

As well, the Port noted that that they will be making some infrastructure assistance available to the City of Prince Rupert, with Mr. Krusel outlining the ports intention to direct 1.5 million dollars to the city to be used on a matching basis, for use towards some of their infrastructure check list over the next five years.

When it comes to the nature of some of that investment and how the Port can assist the city, the Port CEO called attention to a committee that the Port is part of with City officials on rebuilding the city's infrastructure.

It was also noted that the Port had already contributed funding to the city of Prince Rupert to assist with the preparation work for the Second and Third Avenue Paving projects. The port at the time having partnered with the city to cover the costs of the curb work and manhole cover preparation prior to the paving of the road earlier this spring.

Another main feature of Tuesday's meeting was the Cow Bay area near Atlin Terminal, with the Port outlining some of its plans for redevelopment of that area, with plans still in motion for a second office building on the waterfront area, with a community gathering space also still part of the Port's blue print towards the future.

More immediately, work continues on the Atlin Parking lot, which will reconfigure that space with a wider pedestrian access and beautification plan.

A look back at our North Coast Review archives outlines some of those prospects for the years ahead.

More change on the way for Cow Bay waterfront
A glimpse into what could be the future of Cow Bay

The Port will also be reclaiming some of the space in the Atlin Terminal itself for its office needs, with Mr. Krusel noting that they are working with the current tenant the Ice House Gallery to find a suitable replacement location to showcase the work of the North Coast's artistic community.

Following the meeting, those in attendance had an opportunity to move to other areas of the Convention Centre to explore a number of presentation stations, staffed by Port employees who explained further some of their work at the Port.

A sample of some of the information stations provided at the Annual Public
Meeting for the Prince Rupert Port Authority on Tuesday

(photos from PRPA photo stream)

The live stream of the APM is available on the Port's Facebook page here.

You can review the Annual Report through the Port's website, those that take the time to do so over the next week can also take part in a draw for an iPad mini.

Details on how to participate in that opportunity can be found on the final page of the Annual report presentation.

For more items related to the Port of Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

Christy Clark's Political Opportunity, or is that political opportunism?

Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon delivered the Liberal Government's
Speech from the Throne on Thursday

(BC Gov't Flick feed)

It's been a rather remarkable makeover for the BC Liberal party philosophy these last few days, as Premier Christy Clark (said title now apparently on a clock it would seem) revised a wide swath of the Liberal agenda and presented the Speech from the Throne to Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon for delivery Thursday in the BC Legislature.

The forty minute blue print for a Government that many never actually have to deliver on any of the items presented, covered pretty well every talking point ever heard in BC Politics.

And as more than one political observer has noted over the last 48 hours, many of the Liberal themes seem rather familiar from the campaign trail, though they were concepts presented by the opposition parties.

As one reads over the text and thinks back to but the two months just passed and the talking points of the election campaign, had Ms. Clark handed the throne speech into a University Professor for a final term paper, one imagine's that she would be up in the Dean's office today explaining some of the elements of academic dishonesty that she presented as her own.

Then again in Politics, political platforms are always evolving, though for the Throne Speech, evolution has taken the Liberals on a journey that may have even caught some of their long time supporters by surprise.

Among some of the key elements from yesterday:

Funding for Education, check, they're on that.

Social assistance boost, you betcha, time for a top up.

Assistance for housing needs ... the hammers are hammering now.

Environmental issues, the Liberals will leave Andrew Weaver Green with envy ...

Transportation expansion for the province's largest cities, the Liberals won't be late for the bus and won't miss that train ...

And on and on, the good news went, leaving Christy Clark to take on the the role of Oprah and British Columbians checking under their seats for those new car keys...

As the Lieutenant Governor revealed each element of the Liberal agenda for the upcoming session of the Legislature it quickly became clear that Ms. Clark's government, would spend with pleasure, if only there were some way that it could stay in office past July.

Of course, fascinating as it was, it won't change the immediate future for the Liberals who surely are destined for opposition once the NDP/Green collective unleash the confidence vote that should shut down the fanciful financial planning for Ms. Clark.

Which means, that at some point in the next few weeks, Ms. Guichon will be making a return engagement at the legislature, probably to repeat much of the same but with the NDP/Green stickers on the windshield for British Columbians.

The promises will no doubt be similar, with funding levels perhaps increased or decreased depending on where the Horgan/Weaver alliance wishes to allocate their political capital.

British Columbia's version of the Odd Couple will make for the timeline of the Horgan government, with many watching to see how our Felix and Oscar will get along, something which could very well determine how long Mr. Horgan's tenure as Premier will be.

For the more ghoulish of political observers, other factors could also make for a short lived minority government, through an illness, or some other change to the Legislature seat count which could also play a role into the future government plans.

Thursday for the most part was Ms. Clark seemingly laying the groundwork for the short term and the talking points for a potential snap election, Mr. Horgan, with the helpful guidance of Mr. Weaver will offer up the NDP/Green concepts, most likely in early July, if not before.

After that, the drama of minority government will take to the stage, an epilogue that most political observers suggest will see British Columbians heading back to a polling booth sooner, rather than later.

The full text of yesterday's Speech from the Throne can be reviewed here

A look at some of the background to the preparation of the Liberal Throne Speech and the actual delivery of the material can be reviewed below:

Rumours of a change in direction for Liberal policy

B.C. Premier to address her government's mistakes in Throne Speech
Premier Christy Clark pledges $1 billion for new child care spaces
Will the real Christy Clark please stand up?
Premier Clark adopts NDP, Green promises as throne speech looms
Clark pledges $1 billion in childcare spending
Game of Thrones: What's at stake when MLAs return to Victoria on Thursday
Clark pledges no new election, $1B for childcare in platform relaunch
More policy promises from premier on eve of throne speech
What wouldn't Christy Clark Promise now?

From the Throne Speech

BC Liberals pack Throne Speech with NDP, Green Party policies
The beginning of the end: BC Legislature hears Throne Speech
Steve Thomson takes on role of B.C. Speaker, but how long he'll stay is unclear
BC Liberals' Throne Speech proposes protection for renters
BC Liberals propose transit expansions in departure from election platform
BC Liberals' policy reversal is one last grab for power
Clark denies BC Liberals are saying anything to win, defends Throne Speech
Reaction to BC Liberals' promises rolls in
Power hangs in the balance following Throne Speech at the B.C. Legislature
Metro Vancouver Mayors react to BC Liberals' promise to eliminate bridge tolls
30 Throne speech pledges by the B.C. Liberals that weren't' in their election platform
B.C. Liberal throne speech lays out ambitious vision borrowing from NDP and Green platforms
B.C. Legislature elects Liberal Steve Thomson as Speaker
Today kicks off 'very interesting, likely short legislative session'
B.C. Liberals cite windfall revenues as grounds to adopt NDP/Green proposals
Liberal explanations disguise reckless spending plans
B.C. Throne speech makes grand promises for transit, transportation
Then and Now: What the Liberals promised before the election and what they are now promising in the Throne Speech
B.C. Legislature resumes MLAs elect Liberal Steve Thomson as speaker
Five things about new B.C. Speaker Steve Thomson
Copy Cat Christy impersonates New Democrats
NDP and Greens attack Throne Speech: 'You Have to Change Before an Election"
What Must Christy Clark's Party Think of Her Now?
Liberal Steve Thomson Chosen as Speaker, Won't 'Speculate' on Possible Government Change
Andrew Weaver says a confidence vote is a matter of trust - and he doesn't trust the B.C. Liberals
The speech that wasn't from the throne
Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister pitches Andrew Weaver on keeping Christy Clark in power
BC Liberals elect speaker to begin historic session
Throne speech piles on PST cut, other promises
Throne speech just brazen plagiarism
Highlights an U-turns in the B.C. Liberals' speech from the throne
Liberal minister leaves cabinet for new role as speaker
The foul cynicism of Christy Clark's speech from the throne

With the Legislature back in session, you can follow developments related to the North Coast from our Legislature Archive page.

The article above was cross posted from our political portal Darcy McGee, more items on the provincial portal scene are available there for your review.