Thursday, February 28, 2013

Council affirms support for Snowbirds funding

It's perhaps provided for one of the longest in timeframes from suggestion to funding, but what was threatening to turn into the Snowbird saga, has finally it seems come to a resolution.

On Monday night, Prince Rupert City Council confirmed that they will be providing funding towards the planned air show of the famed Royal Canadian Air Force squadron.

The issue came up once again for council's consideration, after what appears to have been a procedural faux pas by Council at their last session.

At that time, Council had seemingly approved a funding request for 7,000 dollars prior to the last Council meeting of February 12th.

The funding announcement been made in passing at the end of the Open session of that evening.

The only problem being, as Rob Grodecki of City Staff and Councillor Ashley both pointed out on Monday evening, was that Council had inadvertently discussed the issue in Closed session, which is contrary to the procedures of the Community Charter.

As we mentioned on the blog at the time, that situation had raised more than a few eyebrows in the community over Council's handling of a money issue, making for an editorial piece in the Northern View on the always popular transparency issue .

So, with a bit of controversy on the horizon, the motion was back in front of Council again for the February 25th session, introduced as the final motion and final vote on the topic at hand.

Much like the past few weeks however, the motion was discussed in front of a less than full Council chamber, with two Councillors, Mayor Jack Mussallem and the Acting City Manager all away from Council chambers for the night this time around.

That presence of but a skeleton crew however did not stop the process, with the motion introduced once again and up for discussion.

Offering up the opportunity for Councillors Garon and Kinney to once again speak in favour of the funding, while Councillor Ashley, reprised her concerns over the funding in the scope of recent Council decisions on Community Enhancement Grants.

When it came to the vote, Council Ashley stayed with her position from previous council sessions, as  she voted against the motion.

Which left Councillor Rice to send the issue on to a successful pass, or leave Council deadlocked on the issue.

Councillor Rice expressed her concerns over the topic and how it had left her torn on the issue.

In the end, she reversed her position of earlier this month, though not before expressing doubts on the logic of an outdoor festival in a community with wide ranging weather. She also expressed her opinion, that while it was not her particular kind of attraction, she would be voting in favour of the motion.

Suggesting that she had determined that it was the will of the people to have the air show take place.

With that vote quickly in hand, the motion was passed by a margin of 3-1.

You can review the entire discussion on the topic from the City's video archive from their website.(view the discussion at the 1 hour three minutes to 1 hour eleven minutes mark)

With the vote, it appears that the matter is now settled, with no further returns to council anticipated.

However, one hopes  that when the summer rolls around, that the actual attendance of the air show itself, proves more successful than that of council's attendance record when it came to the discussion of the issue over the last few weeks.

You can review the past discussion on the Snowbirds funding topic from our timeline of past Council sessions.

January 14
February 12
February 25

March 6-- Northern View-- City of Prince Rupert supports Snowbirds funding - barely

A split for the North Coast NDP?

The bubbling cauldron of politics seems to be on the hot boil this week, with what appears to be a trial balloon on the rise from some would be supporters for an Independent campaign by recently defeated NDP candidate Joanna Larson.

The prospect of perhaps a split in the ranks of the local NDP and left side of the political spectrum, appeared as a topic on a local chat forum and with an occasional note on twitter Thursday.

The sudden appearance of the topic, apparently is designed to create a bit of buzz over a potential Independent provincial campaign for the President of the Prince Rupert District Teacher's Union.

Ms. Larson recently came in second to Prince Rupert City councillor Jennifer Rice in the NDP North Coast balloting for the nomination for the upcoming Provincial election.  A result that held a rather close vote count and one that seemingly caught more than a few local residents by surprise.

As observed during the course of the NDP nomination process, Ms. Larson appeared to have the majority of the more established of NDP veterans on her side of the voting ledger.

Yet, all of that high profile support did not provide for a victory on nomination day.

Since her nomination, Ms. Rice has been the focus of much attention, (much of it from the local weekly newspaper, the interest of which we have reviewed on the blog here and here) mainly revolving around her environmental history and the fact that she has for the moment, decided to remain on City council while she prepares for the upcoming provincial election campaign.

Should there be some fire, to the smoke of an Independent campaign from Ms. Larson, it would clearly signify a split in the local NDP, with the labour side of the party and the environmental side of it, seemingly on different pages locally.

While that all plays out, the prospect of an Independent candidate and eventually we imagine, word of a Liberal candidate at least, might transform what was shaping up to be a potential coronation into an actual election campaign.

Something that would be a welcome thing in the riding, offering as it does for an exchange of ideas on any number of different options for the future.

One could think up any number of political scenarios that could play out before that May vote count, the debates would be fascinating, the issues finally discussed in open forum and the results far from determined before the voting even takes place.

Should she enter the race as an Independent, Ms. Larson would of course bring her own agenda and with it the need to offer up her thoughts on local and provincial issues. Offering the voters an opportunity to learn more on her thoughts on education (of which she obviously would be familiar),  the environment and the local economy and where the North Coast will go into the future.

There of course is a danger that a three way race, could provide a window of opportunity for the BC Liberals and any potential campaign of the BC Conservatives.

A prospect from the more regimented world of party politics, which may in the end bring an end to the fanciful desires of the day of a new option on voting day for North Coast voters.

There is however, a precedence of sorts for an Independent MLA to sit as a representative for Prince Rupert. Graham Lea held that title for a short period of time back in 1985,  sitting as an Independent when he left the NDP, after a less than successful leadership bid.

His time as an Independent was rather short lived and he clearly by then had less in common with the NDP than would an Independent minded Ms. Larson.

Still, considering her background in the community and the support she has within the NDP from her past work, any prospective campaign could prove quite rewarding for Ms. Larson.

If on election day,  she would prove successful at the ballot box, one imagines it wouldn't be too long before she is brought into the larger NDP fold again, perhaps even as a key participant in the government of a Premier Adrian Dix should he form the government in May.

We're clearly a long way away from a mention on a social media site to the launching of political campaign, but it does seem to reflect some of the conversation in the community about our political options heading into the spring provincial election.

Then again, it could all just be some trouble making by opponents of Councillor Rice, looking to stir the pot and disrupt her campaign.

We clearly won't know much more about the speculation, until Ms. Larson addresses the topic in the days to come.

However, for pure entertainment value and to make the day for political junkies, voters on the North Coast can only be hoping for a "more the merrier" approach to the upcoming campaign.

Offering the opportunity for a full debate and examination of all the issues, by all the candidates that put their name up for consideration.

City Council Timeline: February 25, 2013

It was another skeleton crew on duty for the 25th of February edition of City Council, with three Council members and the acting City Manager all away for the night.

The night provided for more in the ongoing process of presentations from groups seeking or receiving Community Enhancement Grants for this year. With the SPCA, Special Events Society and local Francophone Organization all providing some background on the their efforts for Council's review.

Derelict properties, property variances and resolutions for an upcoming local government convention were also discussed over the course of the night.

Council once again addressed the topic of funding for a Snowbirds air show this summer, with another vote (this one in open council session) to move forward the city's contribution in funding for the planned air show.

The remainder of the council night was taken up with resolutions and discussion on a number of items from the agenda.

The timeline of the proceedings can be found in red below, tied in with the City Council video feed archived below. Further information such as minutes, audio and video archives can be found as they are posted to the city Website.

Minutes from February 25, 2013

In Attendance February 25, 2013

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Absent 
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present 
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Absent
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present (Acting Mayor)
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present 
Councillor Jennifer Rice-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Absent

Video Archive for February 25, 2013 (not available) 
Audio Archive for February 25, 2013

Councillor Garon, as Acting Mayor commenced a session of the Committee of the Whole Meeting seeking questions from the gallery, with none approaching the microphone, Council then adjourned fo the Regular Council Meeting for February 25th.

The first task of business for Council on the 25th was the usual adoption of minutes from the past sessions of the Regular Council meeting of February 12th, and the Special session of February 12th. (0:00-4:00)

Regular City Council Business

Presentations to Council

Prince Rupert SPCA (4:00- 18:00 ) Anna Terebka The head of the local branch of the SPCA, provided a presentation on behalf of the SPCA in regard to that organization's application for a Community Enhancement Grant.  The SPCA, which has received a 23,000 dollar grant in the past outlined some of the work that they provide in the community, stressing the nature of the volunteers that give of their time to the shelter on a weekly basis. The presentation revolved around some of the principles that the SPCA has in place for the care of animals in the community.

On the topic of cruelty to animals, Councillor Rice asked some questions as to the nature of some of the photos provided in the presentation. The SPCA advised that 44 percent of the dogs that the Bylaw office brings to the shelter become the responsibility of the SPCA.

On the financials, Council was told that the SPCA operates on a deficit year each year, a review of the revenue streams for the SPCA was provided, with adoption fees and donations making up the bulk of their financial stream.

The shortfall this year is approximately 175,000 dollars, a total that can be lessened from donations from other branches in more populated areas of the province. Though the possibility of closure is always a possibility owing to the nature of the financials the SPCA faces.

Councillor Ashley began the questions phase of the session, asking for particulars on the financial items of the presentation. Councillor Kinney asked who sets the adoption fees at the SPCA, he was advised that with input from the local branch, the head office sets the fees. He recommended that the SPCA revisit their fee structure.

Special Events Society (18:00-39:00 ) An overview of the work of the Special Events Society was next up on the agenda, with a delegation from the Society thanking Council for their grant of 20,000 dollars. At which point Councillor Garon congratulated the Society on their success at the recent Chamber of Commerce Awards.

Rather than a financial presentation, the Society provided a review of the nature of the volunteers that offer their services to the Society on its four main events each year. An update of the status of the parade float that the Society hopes to have completed shortly was provided.

The video presentation for council featured some background on each of the events that the Society puts on each year for the community.

A short overview of the objectives of the Society and questions moving forward were provided following the video presentation.

The Society wrapped up their presentation with an explanation of why they do what they do and how they hope the community continues to get involved with their activities.

Councillor Garon thanked the group for their presentation and complimented them on their work and commiserated in their struggles to find volunteers.

Councillor Rice congratulated the Society on the work and the service that they provide to the community with the budget that they have to work with. She also saluted the inclusivity that the Society provides for in the community. Councillor Rice observed that with the Job Fair coming up in the community, the Society may find volunteers for their work from that event.

Nelson Kinney also saluted the Society for its hard work.

Councillor Ashley asked if there was need for a resolution to arrange for another meeting with the Special Events Society for a brainstorming session.

Councillor Rice then inquired as to whether Ketchikan has any plans to attend Seafest celebrations, the Society advised they will be.

Councillor Kinney asked if the Society Float would be ready for the annual trip to Ketchikan's fourth of July celebrations, the Society is hopeful that the Float will be constructed by that time.

AFFNO (39:00-46:00) Patrick Witwicki provided the overview of the Francophone Society and the events that they put on in the community.  He also saluted those volunteers that offered up their assistance to AFFNO's Sugar Shack festivities this year.

He thanked Council on behalf of AFFNO for their assistance over the years and looked ahead to growing the annual event.

He provided a review of how the partnership with the City worked, and how AFFNO made use of the 500 dollar grant from the City and how that grant impacts on Heritage Canada funding.

The use of the Civic Centre was the main focus of the City's contribution in kind and the Society thanked the City for that, Witwicki also reviewed some of the events of the weekend and how the festival is starting to catch the attention of residents beyond Prince Rupert.

Councillor Ashley congratulated the group for their efforts in putting on the event this year.

AFFNO also mentioned the help from Charles Hays and from a local business Rupert Meats.

Reports and Recommendations

(46:00--53:30) Report from the City Planner on an application for a development variance on Bill Road.

The City Planner outlined the particulars on the application, which would be the construction of a covered deck in the backyard and the request for a variance on the back yard property. His recommendation was that it be approved and forwarded to public notification.

The motion was approved by Council, with Councillor Ashley inquiring as to the impact that the deck may have on neighbouring homes. She also asked as to the height of the planned deck cover.

Councillor Rice asked as to the nature of compliance to existing zoning rules that the deck would be extending on.

Council was advised as to the changing nature of the lot sizes that homes are being constructed on in the community.

The motion was carried.

(53:00--56:00) Report on Derelict properties in the community. An update on some of the properties of concern to the city, with an advisory that a property on Fulton had been demolished at a cost of about $110,000 to the city, it's anticipated that the city  try to collect that from the owners but that the city will end up owning that property. The city also had a building on 9th Avenue West demolished as per the council resolution, that removal will cost the city $25,000. A third building on Alfred street has been slated for demolition, however the owners of the building have said that they will take responsibility for the building's demolition.

Councillor Ashley recommended the report be received for information purposes, seconded by Councillor Kinney. The motion was carried

(56:00-- 1:03:30) Report from Corporate Administrator on the upcoming North Central Local Government Convention for 2013. A call for three resolutions for the upcoming convention was provided for councils consideration.

Included in the package for Council was a draft resolution for an amendment to the Community Charter /Local Government Act, to better serve communities in items regarding tax sales along the lines of Watson Island. Seeking to have the province amend the charter and act so that a municipality's clear title to a property cannot be disputed in a court of law or tribunal. The resolution would try to lobby the NCLGA and UBCM to look upon the legislation and amend it to remove the onerous costs to municipalities.

That motion was passed to  be forwarded to the NCLGA.

Councillor Ashley outlined the aspects and her thoughts on the other two resolutions that she was forwarding that night for consideration.  The first one being that the NCLGA and UBCM petition the provincial and federal government to award equal financial support to individuals on disability, welfare and old age security, regardless of their marital status.

The third resolution would ask both the NLCGA and UBCM to petition the provincial and federal government to increase the basic support allowance to those individuals, to a level that reflects the true cost of living in this country.

The motion was passed to be forwarded to the NCLGA.

(1:03:00--1:11:30 ) Community Enhancement Grant for funding for a Snowbirds airshow in the city .
Mr. Grodecki outlined the history of the recent request for a Community Grant, which was declined previously in January. The motion was then the topic of discussion in a closed session, and council then announced it at an open session. However, to stay onside of the Community Charter, the grant request is to be presented again at Council, with this session being the final vote on the resolution. Some background on the topic was revisited, with a look at the cancelled show of last year and how efforts were launched to try and bring it back for 2013.

Council then voted on the resolution to provide 7,000 dollars in funding for the Community Enhancement Grant, with Councillors Garon and Kinney firmly on side of the resolution to fund the grant.  Councillor Ashley thanked staff for bringing the topic again to the Council Chamber, with a nod that their efforts in Closed Session inadvertently discussed something that they should not have discussed in Closed Session. She then reviewed her previous thoughts against the funding, voting against the resolution.

Councillor Garon again reviewed her thoughts on the topic, expressing her thanks that the topic has again been put on the agenda and offering up much of the same support for the grant that she did at the January session of council.

Councillor Rice changed her previous position on the topic of the last open meeting, voting this time in favour of the grant, owing to the "will of the people".

Councillor Kinney took charge of the discussion at this point calling for the question to be voted on.

By a margin of 3-1, the grant resolution was approved.

Resolutions from Closed Meetings

(1:11:30-- 1:12:00) Mr. Grodecki advised that Mr. Scott Farwell and Mr. Jack Payne had been appointed to the Prince Rupert Tourism Board Board of Directors for a two year term.

Report from City Manager

(1:12:00-1:13:00) Mr. Grodecki pinch hitting for Mr. Rodin, outlined that there would be  a community forum in March for local First Nations and neighbouring governments.  He provided an update on a broken water main in the Cow Bay area, part of an ongoing situation in that part of town. And he provided a review of the recent All Native Basketball Tournament, from the city's point of view.

Reports, Questions and Inquiries for Council

(1:13:00-- 1:21:00) Councillor Rice congratulated the organizers and participants of the All Native Basketball Tournament recently held in the city. She pointed out two items from the Info to Council package, a letter from Nathan Cullen on a potential name change to the federal riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

She also called attention of Council to a suggested resolution from Green Jobs BC, she requested that Council adopt the resolution to support the Bold Green Jobs plan.

Councillor Ashley seconded the motion, the vote held, the motion then carried.

Councillor Ashley then turned her thoughts towards the Nathan Cullen letter and asked what kind of response Councillor Rice was looking for from the City.

Councillor Rice also had inquiries about the recent transformer spill at the Fairview Terminal area, she wondered if we should be concerned about PCB pollution and asked for the City to inquire further to the Prince Rupert Port Authority on the nature of that spill.

Councillor Kinney congratulated all the young people who took part in the recent Science Fair at Charles Hays Secondary School over the weekend.

Councillor Garon then brought up a request from Councillor Ashley regarding the ongoing meetings with the various groups seeking Community Enhancement Grants, limiting the presentation sessions to just the major grant recipients, and not requiring the smaller groups to have to make presentations to council.

Mayor's Report

(1:21:00- 1:23:30) Councillor Garon, filling in for the Mayor on a pair of occasions, outlined her recent attendance at the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce Awards Night, and provided an update to Council on the success of the night and congratulated all the Award winners on the night.

She also outlined her attendance at the recent Chinese New Year's celebrations in the city. She observed that there were representatives from the Chinese consulate attending the local festivities and that she had invited them to return to the city sometime in the future.

She then brought the night's session to a close.

To screed, or not to screed, that is the question!

When we last read the collected works of the Publisher of the Northern View, Prince Rupert's weekly editorial offering had provided a less than subtle request that Councillor Jennifer Rice relinquish her place on Prince Rupert City Council..

Todd Hamilton, the Northern View's publisher, seems at the moment to be providing for a one man campaign to provide some oversight on the newly nominated NDP candidate for the North Coast.

Weighing in on the theme of Prince Rupert's industrial future, mainly in the form of LNG terminal development and what he believes will be the moves of the NDP to slow that tide of forward momentum for the local economy.

For the most part, his approach has been to try to flesh out a declaration or two from the would be heir to Gary Coons seat at the Legislature, a task that to the moment, doesn't seem to have been particularly successful.

If nothing else, thus far his efforts have surely provided the Councillor/would be MLA the opportunity to learn the difference between the rather safe and secure environment of our municipal scene, where rarely a word of controversy is seen or heard, compared to the rather toxic at times atmosphere of the provincial scene.

In the last few weeks, the approach of the weekly paper's publisher taken has been a rather strident review of Ms. Rice's environmental leanings and how in Mr. Hamilton's thinking, they will run counter to any hopes of improving the Prince Rupert economy.

From the February 12th editorial of the weekly paper, we were offered up this synopsis of the Councillors current status compared to her hopeful ambitions for larger political glory in Victoria.

February 12th-- Prince Rupert City Councillor Jennifer Rice should resign her seat

Jennifer Rice should resign her seat on Prince Rupert City Council. Rice, or as some refer to her as, the-woman-who-never-met-a-megaphone-she-didn’t-like, recently defeated Prince Rupert District Teachers Union President Joanna Larson to capture the NDP nomination for the North Coast riding in the upcoming B.C. provincial election. In a nutshell, Councillor Rice and NDP nominee Rice can be one but not both.

Needless to say the description of Ms. Rice as "one who never met a megaphone she didn't like, didn't hit a particularly popular chord with a number of the Councillor's supporters.

The Letters to the Editor section providing for one participant who was less than thrilled with Mr. Hamilton's typecasting of the candidate.

February 20-- Hamilton's comments show bias

Two weeks later, the Publisher is back to the topic, this time with a Shakespearean theme it appears. Perhaps setting the stage himself  for what would seem to be some kind of ongoing regular feature.

One that surely offers up any number of Shakespearean offerings as a title page, though depending on who you are talking to, the options are either from the genres of comedy or tragedy.

At the moment however, one thing seems pretty certain, the direction of any work would seem to be very much that of a soliloquy.

His latest contribution to the editorial pages takes to asking questions of the local union memberships and if they are inclined to see Prince Rupert's future stalled by the leanings of the local candidate and the NDP.

February 27-- Time for Prince Rupert to write the play

And again, the hyperbole meter was banging into the red for another week.

Or to quote MLA-in-waiting Prince Rupert city councillor Jennifer Rice, “[not a damn thing on LNG]” 

 To be fair, outside of “no” to any development, and a fear-mongering, near-hysteric, megaphoned diatribe against a long-proposed oil pipeline without an alternative solution, the 15 months into a 36-month term rookie councillor has not weighed in on what could be the LNG lynchpin of Prince Rupert’s economic life.

And as was the case from February 20th, the letters are starting to arrive, though in the early returns, they will serve to provide comfort to the Publisher that he's on the path of righteousness perhaps.

February 27-- Rice is in conflict of interest

We imagine other letters pro and con, are in the mail as we write this.

While there is a case to be made for the Councillor to surrender her seat on Council, something we have explored on the blog a few times now since her nomination victory. It would appear that the Northern View's editorial approach, may only serve to steel the resolve of the Councillor and her supporters in the community and within the NDP.

Likewise, as we have mentioned here more than a few times, the need is there for her to provide a clear presentation of her thoughts on the LNG industry in the region and how, or if, Prince Rupert should benefit from that development.

On that message the Publisher is correct in seeking more information from the NDP nominee, though one imagines that the nature of his methods certainly don't seem to provide for the opportunity for much of a conversation.

We imagine if Ms. Rice decides to provide for a manifesto of sorts on economic development and environmental concern, the recent temperature of Mr. Hamilton's approach, probably won't see the weighty tome of revelation delivered to the Northern View offices any time soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

And the Winners were...

The Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce held their Gala Awards Ceremony on Saturday night, as the nominees for the Business Excellence Awards gathered with Chamber members to celebrate achievement for 2012.

Through January and into February, Rupertites were invited to vote for nominees for a number of Awards, highlighting service and achievement in the community over the last year.

The opportunity for local residents to vote for their favourite nominee on line proved to be a popular thing, with the Chamber reporting a six fold increase in the numbers of ballots cast in the voting process.

The winners of that voting process were announced at the Crest on Saturday night, as part of the celebration of business and service in the community.

The Winners list can be found on the Chamber of Commerce website (see here)

The Chamber also has an album of photos from the Saturday night celebration available online as well (see here)

The media review of the Saturday night Awards Ceremony can be found below.

CFTK-- PR Volunteer Year
Northern View-- Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce hands out Business Excellence Awards

Rainmakers tournament bound

The boys basketball program at Charles Hays has found success on the court in both the boys Junior and Seniors divisions, with both versions of the Rainmakers qualifying for provincial tournaments over the last few weeks.

Last week it was the Junior Boys and Girls who claimed the Northwest Zones championships, destined now for a trip to the Lower Mainland for the Provincial championships.

This weekend past, the Senior Boys claimed their own Northwest Zones banner, with a weekend of victories over Smithers Secondary.

The Senior Rainmakers now head for Kamloops and the AA Provincial Championships.

Unfortunately, the Senior Rainmaker Girls won't be making the trek this year, the Senior Girls lost some close contests over the weekend in Terrace, as the Caledonia team claimed the Northwest Girls Zone championship and secured their place in Kamloops.

As for the tournament bound squads, travel plans are in the making with departures fast approaching.

The Junior Girls are heading off to Langley for the Provincial Championships, that tournament gets underway March 6th and wraps up on March 9th.  Full details on the Telus Junior Girls Tournament can be found from the tournament website.

The Junior Boys tip off their tournament on March 6th at Vancouver College. You can follow the results and get more information on that tournament from the Vancouver College Tournament website.

The schedule for the Junior Boys tournament can be found here,

The Senior Rainmakers have their first game scheduled for Wednesday, March 6th at Thomson Rivers University, with a tip off time of 5 PM against top ranked Holy Cross of Surrey.

You can follow the Senior Boys from the British Columbia High School Boys Basketball Association's website which has full details on the Championships.

The Double AA tournament schedule can be found here.

All of the tournaments run until March the 9th.

On line video streaming of selected games will also be available on the SportsCanadaTV streaming service.

The Junior and Senior Boys games can be found from this link.

In addition to the success of the Rainmaker High School program, Prince Rupert Middle School has claimed a regional title as well. The PRMS Storm collected their Championship banner a week ago, marking the second year in a row that the Middle School has claimed a championship.

With the Prince Rupert squads preparing for the provincial championships, we'll offer up updates on the results and events surrounding the tournaments below.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A giant step in Container ships is on the horizon

The prospect of even larger container ships one day calling on Prince Rupert may not be too far over the horizon, as the global shipping industry works on new designs and makes final preparations for even larger ocean going vessels in the near future.

The BBC and many other news outlets have provided a helpful guide as to what that near future may look like, as they review the specifications and expectations for a new class of container ship known as the Triple E, set to start sailing the world's trade routes in June.

The Triple E will be the largest of container vessels to be launched yet, taking up a quarter mile of length, higher than the Olympic Stadium in London, England and apparently holding enough steel as that of eight Eiffel Towers.

As far as storage capacity goes, the Triple E will hold the equivalent of 18,000 of the now standard 20 foot containers. One line Maersk, has ordered 20 of the vessels, which no doubt will assist the shipping line in the competitive world of global shipments.

The capacity of the Triple E vessels will make it a most impressive sight, the most recent vessels to come into service are what have become known as the Post Panamax Plus vessels, which arrived on the water in 2000 and can hold up to 8,000 containers.

An upgraded version of that vessel the New Panamax is to arrive in service in 2014, it's capacity to tops out at 12,500.

So the arrival of the Triple E vessels into service will provide for a significant jump in the amount of cargo that can be shipped.

To give you an idea of the scope of the project, the Maersk line has a number of videos posted to their YouTube portal, the one below, explains the key selling points of the new generation of their container ships.

Some background information on the Triple E can be found below

Maersk homepage for the Triple E project
Maersk Tripe E fact page

G -- Maersk's New 18k TEU Containerships will be the "Prius of the Seas"
Gizmag-- The Triple-E Maersk container ship will be the world's largest ship and the most efficient
Marine Insight--  Maersk's Triple E Vessels: The World's Largest Container Ships Might Change the Face of Shipping Industry
Globe and Mail-- New ocean giant as steady as China goes
Canadian Saillings-- Canadian Ports brace for impacts of super sized container vessels

You can examine the BBC review of the new generation of container vessels from their website.

Waterfront watchers hopeful of spotting one of the Triple E's in Prince Rupert can keep the binoculars in their case for the short term however.

The Maersk line currently does not call on the Port of Prince Rupert, limiting it's Canadian destinations to Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver.

The promise of a giant vessel with such a huge payload, is no doubt something that could provide some competition for clients for the Port Authority in Prince Rupert over the next few years.

But as the nature of global shipping evolves and the reputation of the Port of Prince Rupert continues to grow, there may be a day when such giant ships will loom large in the Prince Rupert harbour.

RCMP turn attention to Alberta in search for wanted men

The search for a trio of British Columbia men, one of whom is from the Terrace region, has now shifted to Alberta. The latest update to the public was provided after a stolen car, the white Hyundai that was of interest to the RCMP in attachment to the suspects was found in the Calgary area.

Last week we outlined the scope of the search for the three who were believed to be armed and dangerous and at the time still thought to be in the Prince George area.

With a suspect with ties to the Northwest, the RCMP had last week issued an alert for the public to be cautious should the trio be spotted in Northern BC and to contact their local detachment.

Wanted for a number of offences the RCMP updated details on their search today, repeating their request for assistance from the public, should anyone have any information that could lead to the arrest of the three suspects in question.

You can review the latest details including mugshots of the three suspects in question from the RCMP website.

LNG conference in Vancouver focuses on Northwest plans

With the BC Liberal's staking some of their political talking points to the development of the LNG industry in the province, this weeks International LNG conference is providing the backdrop to the recent thoughts of Premier Clark on the future of the industry in the province.

The two day conference opened up on Monday at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the opening day saw a number of presentations and panel discussions on the topic of Natural Gas development and the plans to ship it from Northwest terminals.

The Vancouver conference does appear to be more Kitimat focused than an overview of the Northwest, much of the discussion from the two day meeting seems to be concentrated mainly on the plans to develop the Port of Kitimat into an LNG shipment point.

Day One featured a number of overviews of the LNG plans, including perspectives from First Nations and Community leaders from the Kitimat region, as well as a review of the LNG development thoughts from a more global perspective, mainly focused on Asian destinations.

Skills and Development training and the impact of LNG development on the province's Hydro infrastructure also were part of the day's events.

Day Two will again focus on the Global Economics of LNG prospects, included on the agenda is a look at the potential markets for the product, with a major Panel session set to discuss on the economics and security of energy supplies from the LNG industry.

Transport Canada will provide an overview of Marine Safety and Security in the morning, while the afternoon and final session of the conference will examine the prospect of LNG as a Transportation Fuel.

You can review the entire agenda of events from the Conference Program link of the BC government website.

Some of the reviews and background of Day One of the conference can be found below

Vancouver Sun-- LNG optimism tempered buy uncertain market prices, B. C. geography
Vancouver Sun-- Proposed LNG project o B. C.'s north coast gets federal export license approval
Vancouver Sun-- B. C.'s LNG sellers may find Asian markets no pushover
Vancouver Province-- Clark updates gas pact
CBC-- Shell Consortium gets nod for 25 year LNG export license
CBC-- Fueling the Future with LNG (audio)
CTV BC-- B. C. Announces First Nations agreement, royalty credits to bolster LNG plans
Vancouver Observer-- Premier Clark opens her arms to LNG industry at Canada's first International LNG conference
Vancouver Observer-- Premier Clark at LNG conference: BC will not be undersold
Victoria Times Colonist-- More hopes pinned on liquefied natural gas prospects

Monday also offered up the news that the Federal Government had approved another export permit for the prospect of shipment from a North Coast port. The announcement of a 25 year export permit for LNG Canada Development Inc.  to export LNG  marks the third such long term export permit granted since 2011.

The Kitimat plans have been moving forward rather quickly over the last year. The announcement of the export permits and arrangements with First Nations on royalties, just the latest development in the lengthy process that leads from the concept of LNG development to actual shipments.

For the Prince Rupert region there are currently two LNG proposals actively under consideration, the Progress/Petronas project for Lelu Island. A project that as we outlined last week, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has recently issued a call for comments on, a process that will assist the agency in it's decision as to the further the scope of any review process to come for it.

The other project proposed for the North Coast is the BG group LNG project, which does not seem quite as advanced as the Petronas/Progress plan as of yet, but should it move forward would also see a terminal development take place in the Lelu Island area.

And as we explored on the blog last week, the Provincial Government is hopeful of a potential third LNG option for the North Coast, seeking to auction of land north of Prince Rupert, in an area once tapped by Dome Petroleum for a terminal back in the 1980's.

The spurt of announcements and interest in the proposed LNG developments of the Northwest has provided for a fair amount of review in the media these days, focused mainly of the projects and of the interest of the current BC Government to see the process move forward.

The CBC's Daybreak North program recently featured  a pair of reports on the LNG developments and in March, Bill Good, the host of one of the province's most listened to talk shows on CKNW radio Vancouver will be in Prince Rupert with a full three and a half hour program dedicated to the topic of LNG development.

Indicative it would seem of the growing interest in the proposals and providing perhaps one of the themes of the provincial election to come in May.

You can find more of our items on the LNG file from our archive page.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Minor Temblors for Haida Gwaii

The earth once again has sent up a reminder to residents of Haida Gwaii that they live on an active earthquake zone, as a pair of minor temblors have rumbled underneath in the last couple of days.

The first of the reminders came on Sunday morning at 7:32 when a 4.3 jolt occurred off the west coast of the Islands, the second one came this morning at 5:41 when 4.5 temblor rumble 134 kilometres south of Masset.

No damage was reported from either of the minor earthquakes, though they do serve as a reminder of the 7.7 earthquake of October and the frequent after quakes that have taken place since then.

CFTK had details of the twin rumbles posted to their website this morning.

Vancouver Sun-- 4.5 magnitude earthquake strikes off Haida Gwaii

You can review the seismic activity along the North Coast and Haida Gwaii from our archive of events.

Seattle takes notice of its competition up the coast

With thirty thousand jobs dependant on the transit of containers and goods in and out of the Port of Seattle, it appears that the increasing through-put levels of the Port of Prince Rupert are beginning to find some cause for concern for the folks that work the Seattle waterfront.

In fact, the concern of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma is such, that KIRO TV recently dispatched reporter Graham Johnson to Prince Rupert, to see what is happening here and more importantly from a Seattle point of view, just how much impact  the expansion plans of the Port of Prince Rupert may have on Seattle's future.

Those expansion plans could see the Port of Prince Rupert having the same size and scope of that of Seattle by 2020, just seven years down the road.

Some observations of Johnson's trip north can be found on the KIRO website, the report takes a look at how Prince Rupert has moved from being but a blip on the global radar to a growing competitor for ports up and down the Pacific coast.

The report highlights the advantages that Prince Rupert has to offer shippers, less congestion at port side, the rail link that runs right to the container terminal and the shorter transit times both from Prince Rupert to inland markets and to overseas destinations.

The other theme of the report seems to be more Seattle centred, where municipal and state officials seem to have their focus on other issues, other than the transportation corridor that Seattle is part of.

In addition to that, it would appear that the competitive nature between the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle is working against a common strategy in Washington state, a situation that could be partially responsible for some of their troubles.

Included in the report are these two video reports, which highlight the troubles facing the Port of Seattle, which it seems from the tone of the report is having troubles finding its place in the changing nature of North America's transportation landscape.

The two video contributions are instructive for North Coast residents to better understand the impact that our particular gateway seems to be having further and further away from our corner of the Pacific.

Canadian Ports threaten Seattle Jobs

Local Ports undercut one another in race to the bottom

Nisga'a Lisims Government sees change at top

Prior to this weekends Hoobiyee celebrations, the Nisga'a Lisisms Government announced that it had accepted, with reluctance, the resignation of Frederic Tolmie from the position of CEO of the Nisga'a Lisims Government.

Mr. Tolmie had held the post since December of 2004, extending his original 4 year term into nine years of leadership and now looking to gain some balance to his work and life, he has advised the Nisga'a Lisims Government that he wishes to step aside.

Prior to his departure however, Mr. Tolmie will work with the Executive and Administration through the transitional period ahead.

The Nisga'a Lisims Government issued a press release to outline the change.

CFNR Radio provided this report on his planned departure.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

UNBC offers one year of free schooling to successful candidate

A chance to get a year of University education for free, it's music to the ears of parent's and students alike and for would be students of UNBC in Prince George, it's as close as a two minute video presentation.

The University of Northern British Columbia is offering one student the opportunity to receive 8 months of the UNBC experience for free should the candidate claim some Northern Exposure by way of becoming UNBC's campus correspondent.

Eight months of experience and education awaits the candidate that provides the best 2 minute video outlining, why they wish to attend UNBC and experience the Northern Exposure that the University life in Prince George may have to offer.

The project has been introduced through a YouTube video that provides some background on what the Award is all about and what will be required of the successful candidate when they take their place on the UNBC campus.
The project has been introduced through a YouTube video that provides some background on what the Award is all about and what will be required of the successful candidate upon being awarded the

The program details can be found on the UNBC website, you can review some of the entries so far here.

The Deadline of March 1st is fast approaching for submissions for the award, with your contribution accepted until 11:59 PM on that date.

City Council Report February 25, 2013

City Council Sessions for Monday, February 25, 2013

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

North Coast Review Preview of Council Session for February 25, 2013

Agenda for Regular City Council Session of for February 25, 2013

Agenda for For Committee of the Whole Meeting for February 25, 2013 

Agenda for Special Council Meeting February 25, 2013
(resolution to exclude the public)

Info to Council

February 20, 2013

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Absent
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Absent
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present 
Councillor Jennifer Rice--  Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Absent

Minutes of Regular Meeting February 25  

Minutes of The Committee of the Whole Meeting February 25

Audio Recording of February 25, 2013  

Video Recording of February 25, 2013 (not available)   

North Coast Review City Council Timeline February 25, 2013 

News items from the February 25th Council session

City Council Preview for February 25, 2013

The final regular February session of Council is set for Monday evening, starting with a Committee of the Whole night, which will provide an opportunity for the public to pose questions of the Mayor and Council prior to the night's regular City business.

Once the public participation phase is complete on the night, the regular agenda items will provide for a variety of discussion points for Council to consider.

Among some of the items of note from the Council Agenda for Monday night is the continuation of the process of presentations from local groups, with Council receiving a report on activities from the SPCA, The Special Events Society and AFFNO (L'Association des Francophones et Francophiles du Nord-Ouest), all providing information in relation to their Community Enhancement Grant requests.

Council will also review an application for a Development Variance on Bill Road, as well as receive a report on Derelict properties.

They will hear word of the upcoming North Central Local Government Association convention, with Council to discuss with the recommendation to approve a draft resolution.  The topic of which is to amend the Community Charter and Local Government Act so that a municipality's clear tittle to a property as a result of the operation of the Municipal Tax Sale Process cannot be disputed in a court of law or other tribunal.

The complete review of that particular item can be found on the City Council agenda (pages 24 and 25)

As well City Council will apparently receive the opportunity to discuss a topic that came up in passing at the last Council session of February 12th.

At that time as we outlined on the blog earlier this month, City Council reported that they had moved forward to provide funding for the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds show.

A topic of which was discussed in a closed session of council, a process that raised a few eyebrows in the community.

Council has the topic back on the agenda list for Monday, seeking formal approval this time around of the Community Enhancement grant of $7,000 to the Snowbird Organizing Committee. Offering up the chance for all councillors, including those absent from the last meeting, to weigh in on the discussion and share their thoughts on the topic in public session.

You can review their discussion points on the night from the Info to Council package (page 26)

The full City Council Agenda can be found here, (click on the items in Boxes on the right for more information)

The Info to Council package that all councillors receive can be viewed here.

Council will also feature another of their Special Sessions of Council, which are closed to the public, the short note on that particular item of the night's business can be found here.

Our archive for the February 25th session can be found here.

The Archive of Past City Council sessions can be viewed here.

You can view the City council session for February 25th from the live stream on the City Website.

City Utility Bills start to arrive in Prince Rupert

The first of two reaches into your bank account for 2013 is underway, as the City of Prince Rupert begins to mail out its annual City Utilities bills, the first of which began to arrive in mailboxes across the city late last week.

And with another year of billing arriving, the cost for most of Prince Rupert's taxpayers is going to go up, once again there is an increase in the cost of services to city's resident's the average uptick apparently hovering around the forty dollar mark for 2013.

The Utilities Invoice, is not to be confused with the Property Tax Invoice, that City bill comes around at the start of July, the February billing focuses on the Water, Sewer and Garbage services and provides the City with a bit of financial room to move for the start of the year.

The City Explains the reasoning of the split bills as such:

Why are Property Taxes / Utilities split apart? 

The Property Taxes and Utilities are split because the City used to encounter a cash flow problem each spring, which resulted in the City having to incur interest costs on borrowed money. By moving the payment of the Utilities forward, the cash flow problem was alleviated and interest costs were saved.

The City has a page of its website dedicated to all items of note on taxation you can access that page here.

Once again this year, those that pay their Utilities Invoice by March 28th will be available for a discount, reducing the total amount of the yearly, a residential taxpayer with an invoice around the 1,100 dollar mark for instance would qualify for a reduction of close to 110 dollars should they pay promptly by that March 28th date.

Which at least gives the Prince Rupert taxpayer bit of  financial reserve to draw on for the next phase of the billing in July.

However, if the omens from Prince George are any indication, that bonus reduction may soon be a thing of the past, that Community recently announced it was eliminating the Discount on payment before deadline, in its place adding a ten percent surcharge to those that did not pay on time.

The loss of the discount aspect of their utility bills would seem to have been a decision by Prince George Council that has not been particularly well received by the locals there.

Taxation issues are always a popular and sometimes controversial theme in the city, you can review some of the past discussion from our City Taxation Issues archive page.

CN talks up Prince Rupert by video and website

CN Rail is about to launch it's new website, a portal designed to highlight the many advantages that shippers can find when they make CN their choice for shipments from Asia to North America.

The railroad which spans three coasts of North America is presenting the redesign to highlight more than just on time delivery and the current status of the rail cars as they transit the continent.

Among some of the features of the website is some background on Supply Chain Solutions, a look at available careers at CN and a Community section, which offers up details on the CN Stronger Communities Fund.

The Stronger Communities destination on the website  offers up a number of options, with the main focus on those CN employees in the community and how they can contribute to the community.

As well as the use of the website to share the options available from the railroad, one of of the key components CN presentation is the use of video.

Mainly through the Media Kite destination of the website and through the YouTube portal.

There are a number of Prince Rupert related items on those portals and from that online destination we discovered that Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminals is one of the main attractions of the Western Gateway Intermodal feature:

You can review the Prince Rupert contribution to the marketing strategy from the 1 minute 20 second mark to the three minute, forty five second mark

The new CN website launches Monday morning, (check here) they introduced a preview of it this weekend through YouTube.


Is Anyone up to run a Liberal Challenge on the North Coast?

Saturday night Premier Christy Clark introduced a large number of BC Liberal contenders for riding's in the upcoming Spring election, but if there is a North Coast candidate for the BC Liberals to be revealed, it apparently is going to be a pretty well guarded secret for now.

The Premier held a pre-campaign kickoff in Vancouver on Saturday, with sixty candidates serving as the backdrop of what will be Team Christy heading into the May election, a collection of Liberals ready for what appears to be a tough electoral road ahead if the recent polls are any indication. Poll-- February 19, 2013
BC Election 2013 Poll-- January 30, 2013
Mustel Poll-- January 29, 2013
Robbins Research Poll-- January 26, 2013
Angus Reid Poll-- January 21, 2013

And while those of the high profile and the relative unknowns were assembled for the public unveiling on Saturday, residents on the North Coast still have no idea if anyone is ready to step into the spotlight and offer up a challenge to the recently nominated Jennifer Rice for the NDP.

While it's perhaps understandable that the BC Liberals may be having a problem finding a candidate to take on the challenge of one of the safest of NDP seats in the Legislature, there is perhaps a window of opportunity for the right candidate, should someone be inclined to take the risk.

With development of resources and of the expansion of the port an important economic issue for the North Coast, many residents are still waiting for some kind of indication as to the plan from the NDP and the thoughts of the local candidate on those north coast development issues.

As things seem to stand at the moment, without a candidate for any other party, but in particular for the currently governing Liberals, the NDP in effect will be getting a free ride on the North Coast. Able to run a rather pedestrian campaign in the local riding, with no need to  explain where they sit on the many topics that may be of interest to North Coast voters.

So far, publicly anyways, the riding appears to be but a one woman show, with Ms. Rice, who is currently holding down the position of city councillor in Prince Rupert, the only declared candidate set for the upcoming election.

The BC Liberals and the BC Conservative party have both nominated candidates in the Terrace - Kitimat riding of Skeena to provide some competition for the NDP's Robin Austin, but just an hour and half west there has been nothing but silence from both parties.

Perhaps the local Liberals and Conservatives are just biding their time waiting until the election is closer, but to run an effective campaign, it would seem that the sooner your candidate is out there getting known, the better your chances on election day may be.

The task is perhaps daunting for the two other parties, however untested provincially as she is, one might think that Councillor Rice may not have as easy a task as the NDP might believe of claiming the riding that Gary Coons has held for the NDP since 2005.

A solid candidate for the BC Liberals could eat away at that margin of the last victory and depending on the campaign of Ms. Rice, could even possibly reclaim it for the Liberals.

Though considering the polls and the tired nature of the Liberal government, that is perhaps a long shot at best. Which may explain why, thus far, no one has found the prospect of a campaign something worthy of a run.

Which is too bad, it's one thing to earn your way to Victoria in a hard fought election campaign.

But to have the other side effectively run up a white flag on the whole concept, doesn't do much for the people that live in the riding, or for the electoral process either.

Some of the reviews of the BC Liberal pre-election kick off can be found below.

Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Premier Christy Clark unveils candidates, talks economy in run-up to May 14 election
Vancouver Province-- Clark kick-starts campaign, introduces B. C. Liberal Party candidates
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Liberals try to pump up candidates for 'close election' at boot camp
The Tyee-- At pre-election kick-off, Premier Clark pushes debt as key wedge issue
CBC-- Christy Clark kicks off pre-campaign

On Monday, CFTK offered up the following reviews of the nomination situation in the Northwest.

Northwest Ridings soon to have BC Liberal Candidates
NW Liberal Candidates (video)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Waterfront vandalism spurs Environmental Response

The Port of Prince Rupert is in the midst of a remediation effort on the Prince Rupert waterfront, after vandals compromised some decommissioned electrical transformers, resulting in a fluid leak.

The efforts to address the environmental clean up began on Thursday, as Port Authority staff became aware of the situation and took the lead in the process of addressing the fluid leak.

A quantity of transformer oil entered the immediate vicinity of the transformers, located northeast of the Fairview Container Terminal, in the vicinity of the old McMillan Fisheries plant acquired by the Port last year.

Western Canada Marine Response Corporation is on the site to contain the waterborne contamination, while Quantum Murray, a hazardous materials firm from Richmond, is handling the land side portion of the clean up effort.

The vandalism incident is currently under investigation by the RCMP and is considered to have been a criminal act.

The full review of the incident and the response to it can be found on the Prince Rupert Port Authority website.

Update: February 24

The Prince Rupert Port Authority issued an update on the situation on Sunday morning, outlining the work done to control the fluid leak, a process that was completed early Saturday evening.

The encapsulation process on the fluid leak insulates the source of the contamination from coming in contact with rainwater, and slows or stops the leeching process into the environment.

The use of absorbent pads, water skimmers and floating booms has been part of that process.

The full account of the steps taken to address the situation can be found on the Port Authority website.

Update 2: February 27

The Prince Rupert Port Authority outlined the wrap up of the incident near Fairview Terminals with this press release, issued on Wednesday morning. Addressing local concerns over possible PCB contamination and reviewing the steps taken since first notified of the situation on the Prince Rupert waterfront. The remediation efforts on the site will continue for the next number of weeks ahead.

Items of note from the media on the topic:

February 27-- CFTK-- Oil Spill Clean up (video)
February 27-- CFTK-- Emergency Response for Transformer Vandalism Leak Wraps Up
February 27-- CFNR-- Port wraps up emergency response to oil leak
February 27-- Northern View-- Emergency Response for Transformer Vandalism Leak Wraps Up
February 27-- Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority confirms less than 1,500 litres of oil leaked, no PCB's found
Feb 25-- CBC Daybreak North-- Hazardous materials spill in Prince Rupert Harbour (audio)
Feb 25-- CFTK-- Vandals Create Oil Spill on Prince Rupert Waterfront
Feb 25-- CFTK-- Oil Leak Vandalism (video)
Feb 23-- Northern View-- Oil leak into Prince Rupert harbour now contained

CNC tuition set for 2 per cent increase

Northwest parents who are sending their children to the College of New Caledonia will have to dig a little bit deeper to fund their children's education, as students at the College will be facing a tuition increase in the fall semester to come.

The Prince George based community college is a favourite destination of many in the Northwest, mainly owing to its focus on the trades and with costs rising and government funding decreasing over the last few years, tuition is the one thing in the control of the College.

With that in mind, a 2 per cent increase has been approved by the Board of Governors as one way to chip away at the financial situation. 

The two percent increase is anticipated to provide the College with an additional 100,000 dollars, dependent on enrolment, though that apparently won't be near enough to address their financial challenges.

Required to present a balanced budget, CNC is facing a 1 million dollar shortfall in its 2013-14 budget planning and in addition to the pending tuition increase, the College Board of Governors has been considering a number of other options in the bid to reduce the shortfall.

Among those under consideration are retirement incentives and voluntary severance packages, closure of under subscribed programs, reduced workloads as well as some reshuffling of their revenue sources.

The final decision on the cost cutting and tuition increase plans will come at the Board of Governors meeting on April 26th.

Some of the background on the decisions facing CNC can be found below:

Prince George Citizen-- CNC hikes tuition rates
CKPG TV-- CNC Tuition Up (video)