Monday, July 24, 2017

Sitting on the government side could mean many more questions coming Jennifer Rice's way

The view from the Government side of the House has its perks, with pay bumps for additional duties and more opportunities for travel and larger exposure, but with the higher profiles, will also come the quest for more accountability from the folks back home.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice may soon find that those return trips back to Prince Rupert will provide for a new reception, as the NDP now holding the reins of government begin to make decisions that may not always find acceptance from the public.

Something which will leave it to Ms. Rice having to answer for government decisions and face questions and comments from constituents and just from those that are forever to be counted on the opposite side of the NDP agenda.

Right out of the gate, the NDP have raised a few eyebrows with the speed in which they have dispatched a number of government staffers and crown corporation heads, so far ringing up a total of over 11 million dollars (and counting) in severance.

NDP paying 11.3 million in severance to 133 fired liberal linked staffers
Severance packages for fired B.C. Liberals cost taxpayers millions
BC Hydro CEO Jessica McDonald fired
B.C. Hydro president and CEO Jessica McDonald fired
BC Hydro shuffles leadership as NDP government prepares review of Site C
Premier Horgan goes headhunting to fire, hire, BC Hydro leader

While every new government changes the deck chairs when they take power, the NDP is in the unique position of holding the slimmest of margins in electoral seats as they set their course.

Aided by the Green Party's three seats Premier John Horgan's tenure will exist mainly at the whim of the Green's who while on board for now, may at some point declare they can go no further and to the polls we would go once again.

Should that happen sooner than later, those 11 million dollars in severance payments could very well make for a strong election issue, especially should the NDP not move very far in their ambitious program plans ahead.

Another hidden landmine for the new government could be coming from the province's auto insurance company ICBC, with a leaked report suggesting that some significant increases may be coming for policy holders in the months ahead.

Leaked report warns of massive ICBC hikes
NDP must come clean about plans for ICBC, Liberal opposition demands

And while it's pretty clear that the issues related to ICBC are not new and any increases have long been in the planning phase and considered during the Liberals time in office, should the rumoured increases come through, they will happen on the NDP watch.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
may soon find that the seat in the
House is hotter when it's on the
government side of the aisle.
Voters can at times be a fickle lot, and sometimes they just vent at whichever party happens to be making the announcement.

It would take a fair bit of spin by the new government to try and distance themselves from an unpopular money grab, even one that has a solid case behind it.

Any push back from the public on such things as significant increases to ICBC and other high profile areas of government overview will now be delivered to Ms. Rice, who won't be able to take the mulligan of "it's the government's responsibility", now that the NDP is the government.

Such are the challenges that come with taking control of the House, and for the North Coast MLA, the days of photo ops at community events may soon be a happy diversion of the past, with the real impact of government decisions providing immediate feedback from the public to her offices both on the North Coast and in Victoria.

To follow Ms. Rice's work for the North Coast in the Legislature see our archive page here.

You can review some of the developments out of Victoria from our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

Sunday work signals a return to Sidewalk Construction season in Prince Rupert

Third Avenue West near City Hall was fairly active work site on Sunday afternoon, as a string of Marcan Construction trucks along the city's main shopping avenue heralded the return of Prince Rupert's ambitious sidewalk remediation project.

Workers were busy setting up forms for the pouring of cement, with fencing directing pedestrians away from both traffic and the ongoing work to bring the city's downtown sidewalks.

The Third Avenue project received its start last year, announced with a significant amount of fanfare from the City through it's ReBuild Rupert banner back in October of 2015, with Rupert Wood and Steel having been awarded to work for portions of the sidewalk from McBride up towards City Hall through 2016.

So far there has been no similar announcement from the city, whether through the city website or the Mayor's Facebook portal, that declares the official start to this Season  of the Sidewalk rebuild initiative, nor the reviews the scope, or cost allocation, that is in place for this years work.

Earlier this month a report posted to the Legacy Inc. website noted that in 2016 the City of Prince Rupert had allocated 250,000 from the Legacy Fund for sidewalk work in the community.

The remediation of the city's downtown walkway along Third Avenue is now in the third year of its five year timeline.

Sidewalks are among a number of areas where the City is reinvesting in the city's infrastructure, you can review some of the other areas that the City continues to work on from our archive page here.

For more items related to City council discussions and decisions see our archive page here.

Say farewell to the NWCC Thunderbird

Change is coming soon to the Prince Rupert campus of NWCC, as the college
makes plans to retire the use of its Thunderbird logo

The long familiar NWCC Thunderbird logo is soon to be one that is going, going, gone.

Citing the new focus on cultural appropriation, Northwest Community College is making plans to phase out the use of the Thunderbird symbol a fixture on Northwest campus locations since 1969 and an image found on everything from signage across the region, to the myriad of forms that students fill out every academic year.

The history of the Thunderbird dates back almost fifty years, developed when the post secondary institution was still known as the BC Vocational School - Terrace.

Created through an initiative of the Student's Union, the credit for the final design was directed to the then Director of the Kootenay School of Art and was commissioned as the Terrace institutions crest.

The concept of the design was one of "Giving wings to learning"

The phase out is set to come over the course of the coming months,

NWCC President and CEO, Ken Burt observed as to some of the considerations the college gave to their plan to phase out the logo.

“When we learned the history of the symbol we knew we should phase out its use,” ... “When examined through the lens of cultural appropriation, we felt it was incumbent on us as a post-secondary school to acknowledge this history and move forward.”

The decision to put the logo into the history books is one which has been accepted as a positive step by the NWCC First Nations Council with Chair Barb McRae outlining their view on the move:

“Change is good,” says Barb McRae, Chair of NWCC’s First Nations Council. “Knowing this history, we agree that it is right to discontinue the use of the Thunderbird.”

NWCC is aware that making a change to something that has a fifty year history may stir some memories, not to mention generate comments from those that have been associated with the college over that half century.

And with that in mind, NWCC is welcoming any feedback that those in the Northwest may have to share about the design and long time symbol of the college.

You can address your comments to Sarah Zimmerman the Director of Communications and Public Relations, she can be reached at or by phone at 250-638-5494

The shift away from the Thunderbird comes as Northwest Community College continues on with its re-branding plans, most recently the college had embarked on a review of potential new names for the Northwest institution and its various Northwest campus locations.

April -- Northwest Community College narrows its name change list to four
February -- Northwest Community College has expansion plans and maybe a name change on the horizon for the region

No decision as to what new name the college will be re-branded as has been announced by NWCC officials on that initiative as of yet.

You can review the full background from NWCC on the Thunderbird phase out here.

For more items related to post secondary education in the Northwest see our archive page here.

City Council Preview: Monday, July 24, 2017

Despite being on a summer schedule with but one Council session scheduled for the Month of July, tonight's agenda offers up a fairly light list of work for the city's elected officials to consider, something which could make for a brisk pace for the work of the night.

With Mayor Lee Brain back at the helm following a one month vacation, Council members will most likely put the bulk of their focus on a report from the City Manager related to Watson Island.

As we noted in our review from Friday, the Report from Robert Long will review some recent activity on the Watson Island file, with one of the interesting elements of his document the notes related to the City's Financial Officer's attendance at a hearing in Vancouver in June, held to review a proposed expropriation plan for a portion of land on the island.

Depending on how inquisitive they are, Council members could dig deeper into the issue on behalf of their constituents, seeking to gain a bit more clarity on the issues for the public prior to their vote on whether to accept the three recommendations that come out of Mr. Long's report.

Other than the Watson Island topic, there is only one other item noted on the fairly sparse agenda for the mid-summer session, with council members to review a request for a variance for a property on Sloan Avenue.

The July 24th session is also a Committee of the Whole night, where residents will have an opportunity raise concerns or to ask questions of Council if they wish.

Council members will also head behind closed doors once again as they host a Closed Session on the night, the advisory to the City website noting the following criteria for the discussion outside of the public view:

90.1  (a) personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the municipality or another position appointed by the municipality and,

(e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.

The evening begins with the Committee of the Whole session with the adoption of the agendas 

Following that requirement, Council will receive any petitions and delegations, as well as seek questions from the public.

The focus then shifts to the Regular Council Session starting with the adoption of agendas and minutes.

Following that requirement, the line up for the night is as follows:

Petitions and Delegations

Any Notes on Unfinished Business will follow that presentation.

Reports and Recommendations is next on the Agenda listings.

Report from the City Manager -- Report re: Expropriation of Lands - Watson Island -- Mr. Long will outline some background related to the proposed expropriation of land at Watson Island, relaying the findings of an Inquiry hearing held in Vancouver related to the Expropriation plan, Council will then be asked to vote on three recommendations from the City Manager's report. (Page 13 of the Agenda Package)

Report from the Community planner -- Application for development of a variance permit -- Council will review an application for a development variance permit for a property on Sloan Avenue (Page 52 of the Agenda Package)

Correspondences for Action

Resolutions from Closed Meetings,

Bylaws mark the next item of the Agenda on the night.

The evening then moves on to Additional Items 

The evening will come to an end with Reports, Questions and Inquiries from Members of Council.

Council members can also take advantage of the period to offer up any items or concerns that they have for consideration on the night.

The Live broadcast of the City Council session can be found here, a video archive of past sessions is available here.

Our items of note related to the July 24th session can be found here.

While our archive of all sessions for 2017 for Council is available here.

City Council Session: Monday, July 24, 2017

Our archive of items from the session can be found below.

Regular Session of Council for July 24, 2017

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here.

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

North Coast Review -- Preview of Session for July 24, 2017

Agenda For Council Session for July 24, 2017

Agenda for Committee of the Whole Session for July 24, 2017

Notice of Closed Council Session for July 24, 2017

Info to Council 

July 19
July 12
July 5
June 28


Mayor Lee Brain --
Councillor Barry Cunningham --
Councillor Nelson Kinney -- 
Councillor Blair Mirau -- 
Councillor Wade Niesh -- 
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa -- 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- 

Minutes of Regular Session of Council, July 24, 2017  (not available yet)

Video Recording of July 24, 2016 session  (not available yet)

North Coast Review City Council Timeline July 24, 2017  (not available yet)

North Coast Review Items related to the July 24, 2017 Session of Council 

City Council to consider expropriation of Watson Island land

Media items from other sources for the July 24, 2017 session can be found in our Discussion Points from City Council feature.

Real Estate Tracker: Week ending, July 23, 2017

Our weekly review of the listings of the local real estate agents, tracking those properties which appear to be driving the local price structure for the North Coast.

Every Monday, we look over the listing prices of the past seven days and outline the Top 10 asking prices in the area, providing a snap shot as to where the Real Estate market may be trending on a week to week basis.

The listings below are purely for information purposes, for further background on the properties recorded, see our links page for access to the individual real estate listings.

The Archive for our weekly review can be found here.

Our list of the top ten priced homes for the week ending July 23, 2017 is below:

Prince Rupert Real Estate, East side, week ending July 23 2017

Prince Rupert Real Estate, West side, week ending July 23 2017

As the final week of July gets under way we find little movement on our listing of the ten highest priced properties in the city, with the list of ten the same as it was last week.

The Graham Avenue area continues to see the most significant attention with seven of our ten properties featuring addresses on that west side roadway, with properties on Borden and Beach rounding out the western exposure for the week.

One listing cracks the ten from the east, with a home on Silversides returning to the $500,000 plus club.

The combined value this week of our ten high end listings is $6,768,000

The lowest mark for the list of ten was found at $515,000, while our top end from the last week is again listed at $829,000.

Below find our findings as of the Week ending July 23, 2017

2280 Graham Avenue                   $829,000 --  Remax
1027 Borden Street                       $789,000 --  Realty Executives
1830 Graham Avenue                   $759,000 --  Realty Executive
1933 Graham Avenue                   $719,000 --  Remax
1881 Graham Avenue                   $710,000 --  Remax
2230 Graham Avenue                   $689,000 --  Remax
1810 Graham Avenue                   $660,000 --  Remax
1208 Beach Place                          $559,000 --  Remax
1805 Graham Avenue                   $539,000  --  Royal Lepage
184 Silversides Drive                    $515,000  --  Remax
For more items related to Real Estate see our archive page here.

For background on Housing issues in the region see our past items here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Blog Watching: Week ending July 23, 2017

Provincial politics returned to the top of interest list this week as NDP Premier John Horgan named his cabinet on Tuesday, and while she did not make it into the top tier of cabinet positions, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice did received a posting from the Premier, as she takes on duties as Parliamentary Secretary for Emergence preparedness.

While the kids probably have no interest in the topic of heading back to School in September, SD52 did offer up some helpful advice this week for parents for the upcoming year, outlining the new approach to school supplies for the year ahead as well as the guidelines for registration for the year ahead.

The robbery of a convenience store on the city's west side has the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP seeking some help from the public as they continue on with their investigation.

Watson Island is back in the news again, this time as City Council prepares to review a report from City Manager Robert Long related to plans to expropriate land on the industrial site.

And the final story of the top five that generated significant interest came as the ground shook, and rather violently far off to the Northwest, as the Russian islands of the Pacific suffered a 7.8 magnitude quake. The seismic event was strong enough to temporarily set off a tsunami alert for portions of Alaska, one which was quickly called off as any danger passed.

The top story of the week however returns us to Victoria and the launch of the new NDP government, as Premier Horgan revealed his cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries this week.

Jennifer Rice given parliamentary secretary duties in John Horgan government --  The first NDP government to take power in BC in over sixteen years was sworn in to office this week, and for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice the path ahead finds her appointed to the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.   (posted July 19, 2017)

That article was followed by:

School District 51 issues advisory on school supplies and fall enrollment -- School has only been out a few weeks, but for parents making plans for September, SD52 outlines some helpful notes on school supplies and the start of the school year just after Labour Day (posted July 18, 2017)

RCMP  seek public assistance in PJ's Park Avenue Foods robbery -- A robbery on the west side of the city earlier in the week has the Prince Rupert RCMP seeking the help of the public as they continue on with their investigation. (posted July 20, 2017)

City Council to consider expropriation of Watson Island land -- The return to council duties on Monday evening, will see the Mayor and Council members reviewing a report from City Manager Robert Long, with Watson Island and a potential expropriation of land on the Island the main item for the Agenda.  (posted July 21, 2017)

Tsunami Advisory for Coastal Alaska issued following 7.8 quake along Russian Islands -- A powerful earthquake on the Russian side of the Aleutians provided for a short lived tsunami advisory for portions of Coastal Alaska, though the threat never made it as far as Southeast Alaska or the North Coast of BC. (posted July 17, 2017)

You can find our weekly Blog watching featured posted every Sunday morning by 9AM, a handy way to catch up to the week that was, at a leisurely weekend pace.

You can also review the full listings of the week just past from our Blog Archive index page found on the right hand side of the page.

For those looking for updates to items as they are posted to the blog, don't forget about our email alert access.

A daily review of the latest items on the blog can be delivered to your email in box, simply by entering your email address into the information bar, items posted to the blog will be delivered to your e-mail account each day.

You can find the link to that feature on the upper, right hand side of the blog. It can be found underneath the Follow the North Coast Review by Email indicator.

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching can be found here