Monday, September 30, 2013

North Pacific Cannery Historical Site in quest for UNESCO status

It's one of the top attractions in Northern British Columbia and if everything falls into place, the story of the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site will be spread around the world, that as North Pacific seeks to gain status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Prince Rupert City council members will learn more about the prospects this evening, as they consider adding their support to a request from the District of Port Edward to endorse the pursuit of UNESCO designation.

Success in their quest would certainly boost the profile of the Cannery site, as there are currently only eight UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites in Canada, only one of which is in British Columbia located at SGang Gwaay on Haida Gwaii.

In North America there are only 17 such sites, so should North Pacific be successful in their bid, they would be joining some rather elite company.

Andrew Hamilton, the President of the Port Edward Historical Society outlined the background on the UNESCO quest with a letter to the District of Port Edward, which they have relayed across the Northwest. You can review that information package from the City Council Agenda for September 30th, pages 23 to 25.

As he outlines in his letter, the North Pacific Cannery site was put forward by some heritage experts in the country, who have nominated the Port Edward Cannery site for consideration.

Beyond the honour of such a prestigious designation as a World Heritage site, achieving such status would certainly be helpful for the Cannery site in developing partnerships with the Federal government and be of great assistance in realizing financial and human resource stability for the Port Edward site.

The North Pacific Cannery site is set to begin it's 125th Anniversary year, receiving word of progress on the bid for UNESCO status would certainly make for a major milestone for the staff, volunteers and Board members who have dedicated their work to preserving an important part of the history of the North Coast.

You can review more on the North Pacific Cannery Historical site from this link to their website.

To learn more about the proposal, these links to the UNESCO site and for the Canadian sites listed thus far offer up some background and what a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation could provide for.

With a lot of hard work and support, perhaps The North Pacific Cannery Historical site will join some pretty distinct company and become World Heritage Site number nine for Canada.

Update: On September 30th, Prince Rupert Council voted to request City Staff to provide a letter of support for the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site's bid for UNESCO status.

October 4-- CFTK-- North Pacific Cannery is Nominated to Become a UNESCO World Heritage Site
October 4-- N View-- North Pacific Cannery pushing to be named UNESCO World Heritage Site

City Council Session, Monday, September 30, 2013

Council returns to Monday evening, back to work following their recent trip to Vancouver and the gathering of the UBCM for 2013.

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

Regular Session of City Council for Monday, September 30, 2013

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here.

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

North Coast Review Preview of Regular Session for September 30, 2013

Agenda for Regular Session of City Council for September 30, 2013

Notice of Special Council Meeting for September 30, 2013
(Resolution to Exclude the Public)

Info to Council

September 25, 2013

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Present
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Present
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present
Councillor Jennifer Rice-- (Resigned position on Council June 10)

Minutes of Regular Session of Council September 30, 2013 

Audio Recording of September 30, 2013  (not available yet)

Video Recording of September 30, 2013 

North Coast Review City Council Timeline September 30, 2013  

North Coast Reviews Items on September 30, 2013 Session of Council

Council split on airport loan authorization process
Emotions run high at City Council session

News items from the September 30, 2013 Council session

October 3-- Homeowners bring Atlin Ave. development concerns to Prince Rupert council
October 2-- Why Westview?
October 2-- City of Prince Rupert's Development plans come under fire
October 2-- Prince Rupert Begins Removal of Equipment on Watson Island
October 2-- Watson Island update (video)
October 1-- Prince Rupert Airport Loan (video)
October 1-- Prince Rupert Museum (video)
October 1-- Westview Park use (video)
October 1-- Prince Rupert Moves Forward with Alternate Approval process for $7 Million Airport Loan
October 1--  City of Prince Rupert gives tax exemption but cuts grant for 2014
October 1-- Alternate approval process for $7 million airport loan 'anti-democratic', say councillors

City Council Preview for September 30, 2013

A fairly short list of items to consider will greet Prince Rupert City Council on Monday night, as they return to the city's business after their recent week long trek to the UBCM convention floor.

Council has a rather light agenda ready for review for the final public meeting of September, though not before they meet once again in Special session, closed to the public where they will consider a number of items as outlined in their public advisory.

Once they have addressed those items of the Closed session, Council will reconvene at 7 PM for the public portion of the night, the full agenda of which you can review here.

Tonight's session features both a Regular City Council session and one of the Committee of the Whole, once they take care of the housekeeping items of adoption of past minutes and other items of the usual routine, Council will explore a number of themes on the night.

Among the work ahead for Council, receiving reports on Property Tax Exemptions for the Museum of Northern British Columbia and Pillsbury House.

They will also explore some of the details on the process ahead for the Alternate Approval Process on the Loan Authorization Bylaw regarding the loan for the Prince Rupert Airport and consider a request from Port Edward Council, seeking the City of Prince Rupert's support in a bid to have the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Highlights of  the night's work ahead can be found below, reference the Agenda package by the page numbers listed in red and found in the agenda link found above.

Council will begin the evening with a presentation from Mr. Robin Weber, Director/Co-Adminsitrator, Museum of Northern BC, speaking on the Permissive Tax Exemption on Rental Properties (you can review the particulars on the request from page 10 of the Agenda Package)

Next up will be a Presentation from members of the Heritage Committee, who also will have some thoughts on the Permissive Tax Exemption for Pillsbury House.

The City's Financial Officer will then provide a report on the Permissive Property Tax Exemption Bylaw for the 2014 and 2015 Tax Years (Page 11 of the Agenda Package)

The Chief Financial Officer will then provide the Monthly Departmental Report for July 2013 (Page 13 of the Agenda Package)

Next up on the night, the Deputy Corporate Administrator will then deliver a report on the Alternate Approval Process on the Loan Authorization Bylaw regarding the proposed Loan to the Prince Rupert Airport (Page 19 of the Agenda Package)

City Council will be asked to consider a letter from the District of Port Edward, seeking a letter of support to Designate the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Page 23 of the Agenda Package)

Council will deliver any resolutions from their Closed meetings, review any bylaws and discuss any additional items that they may have.

The City Manager will provide for his report on any outstanding Council initiatives and Councillors will then have the opportunity to share any additional items they feel may require Council's attention.

And with that the September 30th session will draw to a close.

The next public session of council will take place on October 15th.

Our archive of the September 30th session can be found here.

Search Suspended for missing mushroom pickers near Terrace

After seven days of searching for two missing mushroom pickers in an area east of Terrace, search officials have suspended further coordinated attempts at tracking the missing the duo.

The decision to suspend the search was announced late Sunday, after an intensive weekend of searching for Ike Murray and Michael Sabo in the back country.

This past weekend saw a large group of search and rescue personnel, members of both the RCMP and a unit of  the Armed Forces Canadian Rangers, as well as over 150 volunteers all comb the Lorne Creek area looking for the missing men.

Yesterday marked the seventh day that the search for the pair had taken place.

Last Sunday, September 22nd, the two men had failed to arrive at the pre-arranged pick up zone for their work at mushroom picking in the popular picking section east of Terrace. Officials were notified shortly after that missed pick up deadline, launching the seven days of scouring the brush east of Terrace in an area north of Highway 16 along the Skeena River.

The unsuccessful search results leaving officials to have to make the heart wrenching decision to suspend their efforts, after no sightings or indications were found as to where the pair might be.

A variety of media sources both national, provincial and local have been following the search through the week, some of their reports can be found below.

September 30-- Search Suspended for Missing Mushroom Pickers
September 30-- Search effort for two mushroom pickers from Terrace called off (audio)
September 30-- Search for Missing Mushroom Pickers Near Terrace Suspended
September 30-- Official search suspended for missing mushroom pickers
September 29-- Crews halt search for missing B. C. mushroom pickers
September 29-- Search continues for two missing mushroom pickers east of Terrace
September 28-- "Thank You," says mother of missing mushroom picker to searchers
September 28-- Helicopter joins search for missing mushroom pickers
September 28-- Nearly 100 volunteers continue search for missing mushroom pickers
September 28-- Search for 2 mushroom pickers missing near Terrace expands
September 27-- Canadian Rangers to join search for missing mushroom pickers
September 27-- Search for missing mushroom pickers ramps up
September 27-- Tactics change in search for missing mushroom pickers
September 27-- Search for missing men enters day 5
September 26-- Search for mushroom pickers goes into day five on Friday
September 26-- RCMP release photos of missing mushroom pickers
September 26-- Terrace RCMP looking for missing man
September 26-- Search for missing mushroom pickers intensifies
September 26-- Search ramps up for missing Terrace mushroom pickers
September 25-- Call for search volunteers to help find missing mushroom pickers
September 25-- Family asks for help to find missing mushroom pickers
September 25-- Family, friends, RCMP helicopter hunt for missing pickers
September 24-- Missing mushroom pickers sought near Terrace
September 24-- Search on for Mushroom Pickers near Terrace

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Recent truck incidents have City Council seeking meeting with RCMP and trucking industry

A pair of high profile truck incidents in the city over the summer, has spurred Prince Rupert City Council to seek out a meeting with both the RCMP and members of the local trucking industry.

Cargo truck flips over while turning into downtown Prince Rupert
No injuries in overturned semi

With those two incidents still fresh in their minds, Prince Rupert City Council  revisited some of their previous concerns and  would seem to want to examine the issue further.

At the September 9th session of City Council, the Mayor suggested sending out a request for both trucking industry representatives and members of the RCMP detachment to appear at some future Council session.

The main theme of that meeting would seem to be a review of the recent incidents and to seek out more information from the RCMP and truck industry, exploring issues regarding safety on the roads when it comes to truck traffic transiting the City.

The concern over truck traffic rolling through the city's downtown core area has been a frequent topic of discussion around the Council table in the last few months, with a number of approaches considered as to how best deal with the issue.

As we outlined on the blog back in July, one suggestion was to reduce the speed limit on 2nd Avenue and Park Avenue in order to reduce the potential for further incidents. A suggestion that would be in effect, at least until the much desired truck by pass route is delivered by the Port.

That port development project would see the majority of truck traffic destined for the Fairview Container Terminal travel along the harbour south to Ridley Island. A change in the traffic pattern that would  significantly reduce the volume of traffic that currently makes the journey from Fairview to Ridley by way of the downtown and Highway 16.

Considering the recent incidents of note, that suggestion may become a key part of the dialogue should Council host its summit on traffic safety sometime in the fall.

You can review some of that discussion and the request for a meeting from the City's Video Archive, the trucking issue arrives as part of the "Mayor's Report" (from 1:16:30--1:17:30 on the Archive video)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Council seeks more consultation and conversation with provincial cabinet officials

When it comes to access to visiting members of provincial and federal cabinets, Prince Rupert City Councillors are feeling a little left out.

At their September 9th Council session, Councillors Thorkelson and Garon both expressed their frustrations at the lack of access made available to visiting cabinet ministers to the region.

Councillor Thorkelson led off the discussion on the lack of conversation between municipal and provincial officials, expressing her frustration, disappointment and concern over the recent visits from a number of cabinet ministers. Tours of the Northwest which it would seem, did not include a chance to stop in and answers some questions of City Council.

Following Councillor Thorkelson's points, Councillor Garon echoed some of Thorkelson's thoughts, suggesting that she too felt slighted by the lack of attention to city concerns from the provincial ministers.

Of the string of visits in recent weeks, the pass through from Mr. Coleman seems to be the one that has stuck in the craw of Council the most. With Councillor Thorkelson suggesting that Council should issue an invitation to the provincial minister, seeking Mr. Coleman's return to Prince Rupert  to attend to Council chambers in order to meet with Council as a whole..

You can review the frustrations of the Council members from our City Council Timeline.

For those looking for the video review of the discussion, the City Council Video archive offers up more, the Council members do a little venting at the one hour,  five minute mark.

Interestingly enough, shortly after the Councillors outlined their frustrations over the lack of contact, the Mayor in his "Mayor's Report" observed that he had actually met with Cabinet Minister Rich Coleman, as well as with Ministers Coralee Oakes and John Rustad during their recent visits to the city. (1:14:00-1:26:00  on the Council Video archive.)

Maybe they didn't catch that note  by the Mayor, as Council members didn't offer up much of a follow up to the Mayor's report.

Following his presentation, they had no questions for him in regard to the nature of those conversations with the visiting Cabinet ministers, leaving us all wondering what may have been discussed.

Perhaps the Councillors were saving their questions, hoping for the chance to ask them at some future time.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two on senior City Staff pass their auditions

The staffing levels at the senior level for the City of Prince Rupert are two thirds complete, that with word that two senior members recently passed their probation periods and will continue on with their duties.

The successful navigation of the probationary period for City Manager Robert Long and Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben was announced at the City Council session of September 9th, the pair confirmed to their posts during the closed session of Council earlier in the day.

With the announcement that Mr. Long and Ms. Bomben are now in good standing in their positions, the only position left to fill at the senior staff level is that of the Corporate Administrator, that position became open when Robert Grodecki left the city's employ in May.

Council thus far has provided no update on how that job search has gone, or whether they have a candidate in mind to bring the senior staff levels back up to full strength.

We outlined the delivery of the twin staffing announcements on our Council Timeline for September 9th.

The review of the successful probationary period can be found on the City's video archive, the news of their permanent status announced at the 48 minute mark to 50 minute mark.

City Council Timeline, September 9, 2013

We play a little catch up on City Council events, with this timeline of the September 9th session for our archival purposes.

This version may be a wee bit truncated in scope, considering it's almost three weeks old as it is, but for the sake of continuity of our Council coverage, we'll try to keep as close to the theme of our previous time lines.

The September 9th session featured a public hearing on the City's planned antennae policy, as well as the usual items found on the weekly agenda.

In addition, September 9th featured another "closed session" of Council, an event that seems of late to be a rather common development with each gathering of Council.

The timeline of all of the council the proceedings can be found in red below, tied in with the City Council video and audio feeds archived below.

Further information such as minutes and permanent placement in the  audio and video archives can be found as they are posted to the city Website.

In Attendance September 9, 2013

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

Councillor Jennifer Rice-- Resigned her position on June 10th.

Video Archive for September 9, 2013 
Audio Archive for September 9, 2013 (not available yet)

(0:00 -- 10:30) The September 9th session of Council started with the Mayor introducing the terms of a Public Hearing, regarding a zoning amendment bylaw on the theme of the City's antennae policy. Mr. Krekic provided the overview of the proposed policy, following which the floor was opened to discussion from the public. With no contributions from the gallery, the Public Meeting was then adjourned.

(10:30--12:00)  With the Public hearing complete, Council moved on to the remainder of it's agenda for the night. The Mayor outlining the usual procedural aspect of the adoption of the agenda and past minutes from August.

(12:00-- 29:00) A Presentation from Northern Health on Addictions and Mental Health services available in the community. Councillors, Carlick-Pearson and Kinney all followed up with questions and observations on the presentation.

Reports and Recommendations

(29:00-- 40:00Report from the General Manager of Engineering and Public Works -- Recommendation that Council decline the Multi Material Incentive Program and support the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District in their depot initiative. A presentation followed that outlined the scope of the recommendation in front of council. Councillors Garon, Ashley and Thorkelson asked questions and offered their thoughts on the topic under review.

The motion was carried. With Councillor Garon opposed.

Councillor Ashley then offered up a follow up motion for staff to prepare items for further discussion at a future meeting.

(40:00 -- 42:30Report from the Deputy Corporate Administrator -- Recommendation to rescind and then reappoint the appointment of electoral officers for the 2013 Byelection, rescinding the previous appointments then resets the clock for the byelection planned for November. Councillor Ashley then asked that staff advise as to what the process is for those that may be interested in the by-election.  Mr. Long advised that an advertisement would be placed in the newspaper soon, outlining the nomination process and the call to by-election.

The motion was carried

(42:30--47:15Report from the City Planner --  Pertaining to a Development application permit for a commercial property on 3rd Avenue West, Mr. Krekic outlined the nature and specifics of the application.

The motion was carried.

Correspondences for Action

(47:15--48:15 ) Proclamation request from the United Way of Northern BC-- Council reviewed the request and moved to proclaimed the Month of September as United Way month. The Mayor asked Mr. Long to outline the responsibilities of the United Way in Northern BC.

Resolutions from Closed Council Meetings

(48:15-- 50:00) Mr. Long released details from the closed meeting of earlier that evening, outlining that Council had supported the relocation of the marina project to city owned water lots at Rotary Waterfront park, pending Council's approval of the concept plan.

Ms. Bomben then outlined that at the closed session, Councillors Ashley and Kinney had moved that Mr. Long had successfully passed his probationary period  as City Manager and would continue on with that post.

Council also appointed Ms. Bomben as Chief Financial Officer and she will also continue on with her position in a full time capacity.

(50:00--50:30) Zoning Bylaw 3334-2013-- Council was asked to consider details of the zoning bylaw regarding the City's antennae policy. The motion was carried and the motion adopted.

Report from the City Manager on Outstanding City Initiatives

(50:30--51:00)  Mr. Long advised that he would make a presentation on the City Manager's report on September 30th.

Reports, Questions and Inquires from members of Council

(51:00--57:00) Councillor Ashley inquired if staff could review the details of the recent partnering agreement with the Airport for the Council and  outline what the process of securing the loan for the airport is. Mr. Long then explained the steps required to move the project forward and what the mechanism is to start the process.

Councillor Ashley then followed up with a number of other questions regarding the approval process required and whether it was something that could be attached to the byelection in November. The timeline of the process regarding the agreement was then outlined by Ms. Bomben.

Councillor Ashley then asked for further information on the alternative approval process that could be used in the bid to move the agreement forward.

(57:00--1 :05:00) Councillor Carlick-Pearson inquired as to the nature of a sign recently posted at the Dog Park in the city. Outlining some concerns that she has heard from the community over changes to the times the park is available. Mr. Long brought the Councillor up to date on the compromise that had been decided on. Councillor Carlick-Pearson followed up his update, seeking to have Council give further consideration to the topic. Councillor Ashley echoed some of Councillor Carlick-Pearson's points, she then suggested it be returned to staff to seek out a further compromise. Councillor Thorkelson then offered up some of her thoughts on the subject, suggesting that it be reassessed in six months time.

(1:05:00-- 1:08:00) Councillor Thorkelson outlined her disappointment over the recent visit of Cabinet Minister Rich Coleman and her concern over the lack of access that council had to him at that time. She suggested that Council should request that he return to the city to appear in front of City Council to address their concerns over the proposed LNG developments in the region.  That motion was adopted by Council.  Councillor Garon shared her own thoughts on perceived slights by the various provincial cabinet ministers when it comes to meeting with Prince Rupert council.

(1:08:00--1:10:00) Councillor Thorkelson then introduced a second topic for consideration, that being housing, particularly rental housing in the community. She suggested that Council request that BC Housing make an appearance and make a presentation at City council to address their concerns over the scarcity of rental housing in the community and what direction they may have for the future.

(1:10:00-1:10:30) Councillor Ashley expressed her thanks to those that worked to bring the Vancouver Canucks to town to meet with fans on the North Coast. She also took the opportunity to thank the Canucks for making the trip north.

(1:10:30-- 1:26:30) The Mayor's Report

The Mayor then a number of short updates on developments in the community and outlined some of his recent activities.

Among his comments an was update on the Airport passenger traffic numbers, which he says show a 4 percent increase in traffic through YPR in recent months.

He reviewed some of the public events and meetings that he attended on behalf of the City through the previous month.

He reminded residents that the city is seeking commentary from the public on use of the Civic Centre, cards are available at the Civic Centre for that purpose.

He thanked those volunteers in the community that were involved in the Cruise season over the summer.  He also thanked those in the public and the corporate community that helped in making sure that the recent Snowbirds performance took place.

He updated Council on his discussions with Cabinet Minister Rich Coleman regarding potential LNG development in the region.

He outlined Council's concern over some recent incidents of container trucks travelling on city streets and losing their loads. He suggested to Council that they ask the local detachment of the RCMP and the owners of the truck lines operating in the city to meet with Council to discuss the issue.

He outlined for Council his thoughts on the status of the proposed Canpotex development, outlining his belief that Council should invite Canpotex  to return to the city and hold a public forum to outline further what their plans may be.

Upon conclusion of his report, Councillor Thorkelson then offered up her thoughts on the Canpotex situation. Adding her voice to the Mayor's suggestion that they be asked to come to the city to explain what their plans are regarding their proposed development.

She then put forward the motion to have the invitation extended to Canpotex to hold a public meeting in the community. The motion was seconded by Councillor Ashley and adopted.

Councillor Kinney also took a moment to update Council on his attendance at an employment forum hosted by an Immigration Employment organization at Northwest Community College.

Council Garon then recounted her concerns over traffic lights at McBride and Third Avenue and Third and Fulton, asking that the city investigate the issues further through the Ministry of Transportation. Ms. Bomben outlined the steps that the City has taken thus far to address the issues.

Councilor Ashley echoed the Mayor's thoughts on truck safety in the city and offered her support to the request to have a meeting take place on the issue. That motion was adopted.

And with that final bit of discussion the Council session was brought to an end.

You can access the City Council Review page for September 9th here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including media coverage of it can be found.

As always, consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to the website for further review.

Minutes Regular Council Session from September 9, 2013 
Minutes from Public Hearing September 9, 2013
Minutes of Special Council Meeting from September 9, 2013

City Council Session, Tuesday, September 9, 2013

We play a bit of catch up with the municipal review, with this look back to the September 9th session of Council.

As we were away for the September 9th meeting, we will limit this review to just the Archive of regular features and our Timeline of the session.

Regular Session of City Council for Tuesday, September 9th, 2013

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here.

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

North Coast Review Preview of Regular Session for September 9
(No preview for this session, your correspondent on vacation)

Agenda for Regular Session of City Council for September 9, 2013

Agenda for Public Hearing September 9, 2013

Notice of Special Council Meeting for September 9, 2013
(Resolution to Exclude the Public)

Info to Council

August 28, 2013

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Present
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Present
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present 
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present
Councillor Jennifer Rice-- (Resigned position on Council June 10)

Minutes of Regular Session of Council September 9, 2013

Minutes of Special Meeting of Council September 9, 2013

Minutes of Public Hearing of Council September 9, 2013

Audio Recording of September 9, 2013  (not available yet)

Video Recording of September 9, 2013 

North Coast Review City Council Timeline September 9, 2013 

North Coast Reviews Items on September 9, 2013 Session of Council

(No review of items for September 9th, as your correspondent was on vacation)

News items from the September 9, 2013 Council session

CFTK-- Prince Rupert Pushes By-election to November
CFTK-- Prince Rupert calls Canpotex Back to Discuss a Future Potash Export Terminal
Northern View-- Prince Rupert Council revises dog park hours
Northern View-- City of Prince Rupert looking for answers from Canpotex
Northern View-- Prince Rupert byelection set for November

Middle School Replacement program top Capital Budget priority for School District in 2013-14

The quest by School District 52 to replace Prince Rupert Middle School with a new building will continue on into the 2013-14 school year, as the School District made the replacement program its number one priority in this years Capital Budget.

The replacement proposal was re-committed to at the School District's September 10th meeting, the first one held in the 2013-14 school year.

Replacing the Middle School, which was created with the merger of the city's two high schools at the time, has been identified as a high priority project by the Ministry of Education.

As the School District outlined at their meeting earlier this month, the estimated cost of replacement of the school will be 24 million dollars, the middle school replacement proposal was described as one that will allow the district to better meet the needs of its grade 6,7 and 8 students.

As we highlighted on the blog last year, the prospect of replacing PRMS goes back as far as October of 2012.  

It again came up for discussion in March of 2013 as the Ministry of Education ranked the proposed replacement as a high priority. 

The Capital Budget priorities were outlined as part of the September 10th session, you can examine the review of that item and the other points of interest from the School Board meeting from our blog item here.

More items of interest on School District 52 developments can be found on our archive page.

Terrace, Kitimat highlighted as two of eight key growth areas for the province

All this talk of the changing economic fortunes for the Northwest has apparently caught the attention of the Real Estate industry, with a magazine that targets investment opportunities highlighting two Northwest communities for particular attention heading into the rest of the decade.

The November issue of Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine is publishing its list of the Top 100 neighbourhoods across the country that will lead growth in Canada. With eight of top 100 found in British Columbia, with Terrace and Kitimat the two Northwest communities that the magazine says are among the ones to watch.

The list is based on statistics which include population, average home price, capital growth and vacancy rate. The main concept of the listings is to highlight which communities offer up the most promising of investment opportunities.

Business in Vancouver offered up this synopsis of the report, for those looking to explore the report further, a subscription is required to the Real Estate magazine, you can give a review to some of their work from this link to their website, those inclined to subscribe to the magazine (or its digital version) can learn more about it here.

Some of the media reviews of the magazine's list can be found below

Vancouver Sun-- Investors should stay local, advises Love It or List It host

School District to seek guidance from Minister of Education on wage increase funding

School District 52 held its first Board meeting of 2013 on September 10th, following that return to School District business, the Board released some of the highlights of that initial session of the new school year.

Not surprisingly a fair amount of material was covered in this first gathering of the Board, high among their talking points the issue of funding of wage increases for staff and how issues of wage settlements should be funded.

Towards that question, the School District intends to write a letter to the Minister of Education asking that wage increases for staff be funded by the Ministry.

Board Chair Tina Last outlined the main scope of the Board's concerns stating "Our Board is unanimous in its view that wage increases should be funded by the Ministry of Education", further adding "We will continue to work with the Minister to achieve a fair wage increase for all of our employees".

That point of concern gained further importance on September 19th, when a tentative deal was reached in the school staff dispute, as CUPE and the BCSPEA came to terms on a new agreement, which will see a 3.5 percent wage adjustment in place running through to 2014.

The burden of the financial terms of the new contract will fall on individual school districts, with SD52 no doubt awaiting a reply and perhaps some guidance from the Minister from their most recent correspondence.

The financials were not the only concern of the School District Board at that September 10th meeting, some of the other items of note from their gathering included a report on a Student Self-Regulation Project at Ecole Roosevelt Park Community School, a program that is focused on the development of students to integrate diverse information in order to develop new skills.

As well the Board heard a review of the Camp Jupiter program over the summer which focused on helping students with identified speech and motor skill challenges.

They also received a preview on the Walk to Build Strength that took place on September 21st in the community.

The Board was also brought up to date on a wide range of projects planned for the 2013-14 school year, ranging from efforts to improve literacy, items pertaining to the issue of bullying and projects on instruction in Math, special education and social-emotional learning.

The Board also approved is Capital Budget on September 10th, the first priority being the replacement of Prince Rupert Middle School, a project that the Ministry of Education has identified as a high priority.

A second project that the Board is exploring is one that would see the School Board consolidate its Office staff in the Westview building, currently staff for SD 52 is housed in three locations.

The Board also approved an updated its Policies, with a new bylaw on Student and/or Parent Guardian Appeals, as well as new Policies in effect for Student medication, one on Anaphylaxis and approval of the District Code of Conduct Policy.

You can review the full list of deliberations from the School Board Meeting from the synopsis provided on the School District website, which you can read over here.

The School District posts both its agenda and minutes from their meetings to their website, the agenda from September 10th can be found here, the minutes have yet to be published to the website.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

North Coast MLA offers up thoughts on Adrian Dix resignation

North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice has offered up the first of her  thoughts on the resignation announcement last week by BC NDP leader Adrian Dix.

In an item in the QCI Observer this week, the North Coast MLA said that it was "sort of a sad day", but that the decision that Mr. Dix made was "the best thing for the party".

Ms. Rice made prominent use of Mr. Dix during her campaign in the recent provincial election, whether it was through print items, or multi media platforms, the now soon to be departing NDP leader was a key part of the NDP campaign on the North Coast.

Until the short article in the Observer which you can read here, the only other comment that the MLA had on the resignation of Mr. Dix was a short tweet she put out on her twitter feed last week.

In her remarks to the Observer, she made no mention of the start of the BC NDP leadership campaign and whether she had a personal short list of potential leaders for the party. Nor did she have any comment on  the speculation of a possible return of Nathan Cullen to British Columbia.

The North Coast MLA has had a fairly close working relationship with the NDP MP, having made many appearances at a number of functions with Mr. Cullen throughout the region over the last few years.

The NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley is one of four MP's from the province currently giving some thought to their political future in the wake of Mr. Dix's announcement of last week.

You can review some of that talk on the leadership angle from this item of earlier this week, for more items on the provincial political scene with the focus on the North Coast riding you can check out our Legislature archive.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

4.4 magnitude temblor near Sitka, Alaska

Another rattle along the fault line of the North Coast, as a 4.4 magnitude earthquake shuffled off the coast at Sitka, Alaska.

The quake struck at 7:35 Pacific Time, located 127 kilometres south of the Alaskan community, some 377 kilometres to the West North West of Prince Rupert.

The Wednesday evening temblor, comes four days after a similar sized quake rumbled along the fault line to the south of Masset on Haida Gwaii.

No damage has been reported from the Wednesday event and No Tsunami warning or watch has been generated by it.

Earlier in the day on Wednesday, a large earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Peru, the latest of strong quakes to rumble along the area known as the Rim of Fire.

You can track further developments on the fault lines from the USGS website, background on recent earthquake activity off the North Coast can be found from our archives.

Former PRMHA players ready for new season ahead

Hockey season is underway in many leagues across North America and for a pair of former Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association players 2013-14 means another season of high intensity hockey on two fronts.

In the WHL, Devin Oakes starts the season on the right wing of the Kamloops Blazers, last season Oakes split his time between the Blazers and their developmental team the Storm,  he was called up to the main squad just in time for the Blazers playoff run last season.

As the long grind of the WHL regular season gets underway this month, Oakes has been named to the team's 25 player roster.

You can follow along with his progress in the hard hitting, top tier of junior hockey in Canada with updates available from the Blazers website.

Prince Rupert's Frank Slubowski is also ready for a new season as the Hobey Baker Award candidate from last season prepares for the new challenges offered up by an expanded NCAA conference, as his Western Michigan University Bronco's take to the ice for the 2013-14 campaign.

The path blazed by Slubowski was well documented last season (see PRMHA archive below) as he led his Bronco's through the regular season and into the NCAA playoffs, the squad falling short of a berth in the famed Frozen Four of NCAA hockey.

However, Slubowski's stellar work in the WMU nets was heralded as one of the high points for the Bronco season and many in Kalamazoo are anticipating an exciting season ahead.

WMU's media relations team provides a full and informative website on Bronco's developments, you can keep up to date on the progress of Slubowski and his team through the many updates through the season.

Any items of note on both Oakes and Slubowski that we come across during the season to come will be added to our PRMHA archives.

On the local scene, a number of PRMHA graduates are currently part of the Prince Rupert Rampage lineup, they take to the ice for the 2013-14 regular season on October 5th, when Quesnel arrives in town.

 You can keep up to speed on developments from the Rampage camp from their twitter feed and facebook page, as well as with updates to our CIHL/Rampage archive page on the blog.

Mr. Cullen's contemplations

The race to replace Adrian Dix as leader of the BCNDP is not even a week in and as we suggested last week, the calls for Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen to come home are seemingly growing in volume.

As we outlined on the blog last week, the departure of Mr. Dix has set in motion a fair amount of positioning from would be BC NDP leadership hopefuls, as they test the waters of a potential bid for the top job with the provincial party.

As recently as May, Mr. Cullen had suggested that he wasn't inclined to explore options with the BC NDP, however, with the announcement of Mr. Dix intending to step down, the dynamics of political considerations seem to be changing.

As media reports out of the nation's capital are showing today, some of the federal NDP contingent in Ottawa are also giving some thought to a return to the West Coast, with at least four of the NDP's BC collective going over their options.

Mr. Cullen it appears is one of them, though if the early reports are any indication, his ambitions are not quite as red hot as some of the others.

It's not the first time that the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley has been sought out to offer his skills to the provincial scene. Mr. Cullen was one of the names on the list when the BC NDP decided in January of 2011that the time had come to seek out someone other than Carole James to lead the party.

However, after weighing both his political and personal situations at the time (he and his wife had recently had twins) Mr. Cullen chose to stay in Ottawa.

A few years later and the BC NDP has come knocking again, though one imagines that if he takes a pass this time around, the provincial window would most likely be closed for the foreseeable future.

Then again, that's what many said when Mr. Dix took charge and as we have seen in recent months, things can change rather quickly when it comes to the provincial leadership scene.

Some of the media accounts of the quest for the NDP leadership can be found below:

CFTK-- Nathan Cullen Warming Slightly to the Idea of Running For BC NDP Leader
CFTK-- Cullen Leadership (video)
CFNR-- Nathan Cullen Not Ruling Out BC NDP Leadership Candidacy
Opinion 250-- Cullen Giving Strong Consideration to Provincial NDP Leadership
Vancouver Sun-- MPs line up for a shot at B. C. NDP leadership
Vancouver Sun-- Four B. C. New Democrat MPs considering move to provincial politics
Vancouver Province-- Cullen is wary of entering race for top B. C. NDP job
Globe and Mail-- NDP race starts in earnest
Globe and Mail-- Cullen weighing pros and cons of B. C. NDP leadership run
National Post-- Federal MPs mulling run to replace Adrian Dix as B. C. NDP leader 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oil and Gas Commission set for Prince Rupert session

Those looking for more information on the regulatory process involved in the suddenly very hot BC Oil and Gas industry may find some of their questions answered on Wednesday evening, when representatives of the BC Oil and Gas Commission arrive in Prince Rupert.

The Commission has been on a tour of the Northwest, with stops in Smithers and Kitimat this week.

The Prince Rupert stopover is set for Wednesday, with the Commission hosting their information session from 4 to 8 at the Nisga'a Hall on 3rd Avenue West.

They will offer up a presentation on the scope of the Commission's work and experts will be available to answer questions and explain how oil and gas activities are regulated in the province.

They will also be prepared to answer any questions that local residents may have about the LNG industry and some of the proposed LNG gas pipelines for the region.

Following the Prince Rupert stop, the final session for the Commission will be in Terrace on Thursday.

You can gain more information about their work and perhaps do a bit of research on them prior to Wednesday's session by exploring the Oil and Gas Commission website.

Northern View-- B. C. Oil and Gas Commission visits Prince Rupert

Inaugural port call for Celebrity Century brings 2013 Cruise season to an end

The winds and rain of late September provided the exclamation mark for the end of the 2013 Cruise Season on the North Coast, the tail end of the weekend storm offering the background for the inaugural visit of the Celebrity Century.

As it pulled into Prince Rupert Harbour on Monday morning for it's debut port visit to the city, the Century marked the largest of the vessels to call at the Prince Rupert Cruise Terminal this year.

The Century arrived shortly before 8 AM and as the day progressed, a number of the 1,800 passengers on board took advantage of some of the planned excursions of the North Coast, with buses departing at frequent intervals to showcase some of the city's offerings.

A fair volume of others, braved the occasional rain and gusts of wind and took to the streets of the city to take in the sights of the Cow Bay area, as well as the stretch of the city along 2nd and 3rd Avenues. They also it would seem took advantage of a few of the larger shopping options to stock up on a number of items and take advantage of the free WiFi at the local Safeway.

The arrival of the large ship provided a glimpse back to a few years ago, when the giant cruise ships made a weekly arrival at the Cruise Terminal.

Since those days, the cruise industry on the North Coast has tended to service more of a niche market of late, with the port calls of this year providing for a smaller vessels and a smaller volume of passengers to tour the city.

This year offered up another step towards a return to the more frequent port calls, with nine scheduled port visits put on the calendar, the first vessel arrived on June 15th, providing for an opportunity for local cruise proponents to keep the city on the cruise industry horizon.

There still however would appear to be work ahead to return the city to a more prominent place on the itineraries of the cruise lines that travel up and down the British Columbia and Alaska coastline, of the nine vessel calls this year, none took place in August, a key month for tourism.

And by comparison with the giant industry (and the volume of port visits) that has entrenched itself in neighbouring Ketchikan, Prince Rupert is still very much off the charted course of the Alaska cruise industry.

With the season now at an end, those looking to keep the Cruise Industry an active part of the summer scene will look at how the past season went and what can be done to improve the visitor experience.

Making contact with the various cruise lines of the region will also no doubt be a part of their off season agenda, looking to secure more port visits and hopefully from more vessels such as the Century.

The importance of the larger cruise lines to a successful cruise season is easily reviewed, especially when you consider that the Century delivered more visitors in one windy and wet afternoon in September, than what the first three port visits combined this year provided in total.

You can review some of the items of note from the past season from our Cruise Industry archive page.

Oregon eyes opportunity to ship Canadian LNG to Asian markets

Two Oregon companies are putting forward proposals to build LNG shipment terminals, looking to join the growing list of export facilities, but in the case of the Oregon proposals, providing a bit of a twist on the business models being proposed for the North Coast of British Columbia.

The Oregon LNG terminal is proposed for the Skipanon Peninsula, while another terminal is proposed to be built and operated by Veresen at its Jordan Cove LNG project.

Both of the proposed Oregon projects hope to tap into the Canadian Natural Gas markets and provide an answer for those small and middle sized Canadian companies looking to find a way to get their gas to world markets.

They are designed to service those Canadian companies that, unlike the larger players in the industry (including the ones staking out turf on the North Coast) may not have the financial resources to develop their own export terminals.

The two proposed terminals would be smaller in scope than the large scale developments proposed by the large Global energy companies for the Kitimat and Prince Rupert regions. You can review some of those North Coast proposals from our LNG archive page.

Both proposals are still subject to a number of regulatory and environmental examinations. There has been significant opposition expressed by a number of Oregon residents regarding the proposals.

The background on the two proposals can be found below

Oregon LNG
Jordan Cove LNG Project

Below find some Media items on the proposed LNG developments in Oregon.

Globe and Mail-- Proposed Oregon projects could open door to Asia for Canada's natural gas
The Oregonian-- Oregon LNG goes for federal license, says approval would override county opposition
The Oregonian-- Jordan Cove files formal application for liquefied natural gas export in Coos Bay
Portland Business Journal-- Coos Bay LNG project shifting to exports

Monday, September 23, 2013

August expenses for NDP MLA's released, some Northern MLA's still at top of rankings

While the BC Liberals extended the suspension of proceedings of the Legislature for the foreseeable future, the work of MLA's of both parties continues on.

Though with little action in Victoria for the last month of summer, the expenses reported by our elected officials have declined significantly from the early flurry of declarations of July.

To their credit, the  BC NDP has continued on with their disclosure procedures (how long that will last under a new leader remains to be seen), posting the expense reports of their MLA's for August to their website.

Outlining what their MLA's are spending on such items as travel, accommodation and meal expenses to name a few of the items available for review.

And while the expense claims from the Northwest have dropped sharply from the numbers of July, two of the Northwest's three MLA's once again find their expenses as the top claims for August.

However, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice won't have her claims form highlighted this time around, as Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson topped the reporting list for August, claiming expenses of 3,311.90.

Ms. Rice's expense claims for August came in at second over all, with a claim of 2,949.85 for the period of August 1 to 31.

At the other end of the spending scale, Skeena MLA Robin Austin, was one of some fourteen NDP MLA's who claimed no expenses for the month of review.

As for the the breakdown for the declared expenses of the North Coast MLA the totals are as follows :

Airfare 2,445.14
Accommodation 370.46
Per Diem 61
Meal Expense 39.50
Taxi 18
Misc Transport 15.75

Total Expenses for August 2,949.85

The subject of expense disclosure is one that many suggest should be a required part of the Legislature process.

The review of expenses by the NDP is a welcome bit of financial review for BC taxpayers, perhaps their transparency on the financial accounts of representation could spur on the governing Liberals to provide a similar overview of the cost of representation.

You can review the full NDP disclosure from this link to the NDP website, the entries for the North Coast MLA can be found here.

Following the opening of the Legislature in June, the expense claims submitted for the first few weeks of the Legislature session provided for much discussion, as the North Coast MLA's expenses of 9,283.74 topped the debut of the NDP reports.

You can review some of that discussion from our archives.

Oil by Rail proposal rolls into view once again

The weekend provided for a flurry of media reports that the path of Alberta oil may one day make its way to Prince Rupert, as a CN discussion paper from March made a bit of news for the cycle on Sunday.

Word that the Chinese energy giant CNOOC, through it's Canadian purchase Nexen had been nudging Canadian National towards putting in motion an oil by rail option, made for much conversation on twitter yesterday, as the social media outlet fed the quest for more information on the subject of how the oil companies of North America will seek to get Alberta's oil to world ( or in this case mainly Asian) markets.

The first story on the percolating thoughts of an oil by rail transit first came through the Canadian Press, where Bruce Cheadle's article gained wide review both at the Financial Post and other Postmedia newspapers across the nation.

From that point, his work was picked up by the national forums of the CBC, Globe and Mail and many other media outlets, all offering up more reading material for a Sunday morning.

With the Financial Post headline suggesting that the volume of shipments by rail could match that of the proposed and controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, the prospect of an oil by rail delivery system would clearly be a major change for the CN rail corridor through Northern British Columbia.

The main thrust of the Sunday review by way of documents obtained by Greenpeace, accessed through the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that internal memos highlighted that discussions on the proposal took place last March with Natural Resources Canada.

CN for it's part responded to the Canadian Press with the statement that no specific crude-by-rail project to Prince Rupert was discussed at that time.

However, the door it seems is not closed to that possibility in the future.  With CN stating to the news service that it will continue to explore new opportunities "to move crude oil safely and efficiently to markets." 

Any oil by rail project is one that could be  in place fairly quickly considering that Canadian railways already have the ability and permission to move oil by rail, with no large scale review required to commence the shipment process, (building an export terminal may be another story though).

Perhaps something that wasn't given much thought of a year ago,  Oil by rail transportation however, is now something that is under the micro-scope following the Lac Megantic tragedy of earlier this year.

The re-emergence of the oil by rail prospects for Northern British Columbia comes as the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal has received a less than enthusiastic welcome across Northern BC.

For many, the new talk of the rail proposal has all the makings of a Plan B, should the pipeline proposal fail to move forward.

Faithful readers of our blog and attentive news fans of the Northwest will know that the oil by rail proposal is not something new to the Northwest.

CN first made mention of it some four years ago, the project prospectus seemingly something that is sitting on a shelf somewhere in an office at the railway. But at the moment, according to CN's recent comments to the Canadian Press, it is not one that is an active development mode.

Some of our most recent reviews of the possibility of oil by rail can be found below:

May 2013-- Oil by rail option continues to generate interest in Canada and overseas
March 2013-- The Oil by Rail Option, CN builds infrastructure for the future
February 2013-- The next battle over Bitumen?
November 2012-- Alaska to Alberta rail option could have an impact on Port of Prince Rupert

With the Chinese energy giant CNOCC investing much of its interest into Alberta oil, it would seem obvious that they want to find some way to make sure that the oil makes it to their destinations of choice.

Whether it be through Kitimat, Prince Rupert or some other potential export route, such as the recent presentation of a Northern BC route to Valdez, Alaska.

Interestingly enough, CNOCC, last week we outlined that CNOOC/Nexen is looking to put its footprint on the North Coast, perhaps through development, or shared development of an LNG terminal in the Grassy Point region.

Should they find success in that ambition, the added prospect of moving oil through Prince Rupert would in effect, make the North Coast port the energy export hub for the company's North American investments.

So far on the North coast, the main coverage of the re-emergence of oil by rail has come from the CBC Daybreak North program. With the Sunday story from CP the subject of some investigation both through the morning radio program and in social media through a variety of twitter feeds, where some of the background on the story has played out.

Considering the discussion that even the mention of a March conversation has had on the topic, we imagine that the oil by rail proposal will make for much in the way of news coverage over the months to come, whether through twitter or on the various news platforms of the province and the Northwest.

We'll offer up some of those contributions to the discussion below.

PG Citizen-- Eco group rails against oil plan
CBC BC Almanac-- Rail Transport of Bitumen (Podcast audio from 30 seconds to 23 minutes)
CFNR-- Coastal First Nations reject crude by rail
Sun TV News-- Oil will be shipped by rail if not pipelines: Natural Resources Minister
Vancouver Observer--  Gateway sized oil by rail project planned for Northern British Columbia, Greenpeace has learned
Vancouver Sun-- Alberta oil will reach the coast, like it or not
Vancouver Sun-- CN is considering shipping crude oil by rail from Alberta to B. C.: memo