Saturday, May 31, 2014

MLA's week, May 26-29, 2014

A snapshot of some of the talking points from North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, during this week's proceedings of the Legislature.

The four days of the legislature work week, marking the final work week of the Winter/Spring session, found the North Coast MLA fairly active in a variety of forums at the Legislature.

Through the nineteen sessions of the Legislature in House, or Committee work listed for the week of May 26-29, MLA Rice appears in the index for the Legislature week session five times.

Once, providing a welcome to a visitor from the North Coast to the Legislature.

That appearance was followed by an presentation and question session with the Legislature Health Committee, where the MLA relayed concerns over Health issues ranging from LNG development and midwife concerns, to Ferries cutbacks and the impact on health on Haida Gwaii.

This week Ms. Rice was also engaged in the debate in the House over Bill 24 regarding the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Her work week came to an end on Thursday, with the MLA once again asking questions of the Liberal government on the theme of the shuttle bus for Highway 16.

As for committee work, MLA Rice is a member of the Standing Committee on Children and Youth,  however there were no meetings of that committee this week.

The North Coast MLA however, will have sessions to attend through the early part of June.

With Thursday's conclusion of work, the House adjourned for the summer. With MLA's from the NDP as well as Liberal members and ministers set to return to their home constituencies.

And while there is always the possibility of a recall for pressing or emergency issues, the next scheduled session for the Legislature is not until the fall.

Some of our items of note from the week in provincial politics from Victoria can be found below:

One final question from Jennifer Rice before the Legislature session ends
North Coast MLA joins debate on Bill 24 with thoughts on democracy
North Coast health issues raised at Legislature committee session
Jennifer Rice raises concerns on "systemic issues" from oil and gas industry

You can examine our reviews of past weeks of the Legislature session from our Legislature Sessions archive page.

We have more background on the North Coast MLA from our General Archive on Legislature issues as well.

One final question from Jennifer Rice before the Legislature session ends

The topic of the need for a shuttle bus along Highway 16 made one more appearance at the British Columbia Legislature this week, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice taking one more opportunity to ask the Liberal government as to their progress on the issue that has been at the forefront of her time in Victoria.

As she outlined her latest question on the theme to the Minister of Justic during the Thursday morning Question period, Ms. Rice recounted that by her math, she had raised the concern to the Liberal government ten times previous during the recent sitting, without receiving what she believes was a satisfactory answer.

Commissioner Oppal said the need for a bus along the Highway of Tears is clear and the support for these services "is so broad and undisputed that no debate or further discussion is needed." I have asked the Justice Minister this straightforward question ten times this session, and every time she has side-stepped. 

The minister's refusal to simply answer the question is a disservice to every missing woman, to their friends, to their families and to the countless women who can be kept safe in the future if the bus services are in place along the Highway of Tears. 

To the Minister of Justice, for the 11th time this session and on behalf of the victims, their friends and their families, will she implement safe and affordable bus service along the Highway of Tears? Yes or no?

We suspect that the reply from Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton, which touched on many of the Liberals past talking points won't tide her over until the Legislature next meets.

Among the usual points of rebuttal on the topic from the Liberals, Ms. Anton once again recounted the current transportation options on the highway corridor, as well as steps taken to improve policing methods and communication options for those that travel through the region.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry went to the north in British Columbia and heard from people in the north. It heard about the need for safety on all of the northern highways, because there were tragedies for women in many northern highways. 

That is why the recommendation is for safer transportation options on northern highways in British Columbia. That's why. It has to be looked at from two sides of that question. One is how much transportation and what kind of transportation, and the second is: what about safety on the highways the rest of the time? Indeed, there is transportation on Highway 16. 

There is bus, and there is train…. There's a health bus for people who need appointments. 

But, more important, all the rest of the time…. That is why it is important to have safe highways. That's why there is a partnership with Telus to have increased cell phone coverage. Now 70 percent of that highway has cell phone coverage. 

That's why our police in British Columbia have better communications between themselves than any other police department in North America — because it is safety at all times on those roads which is important. 

It's unfortunate for Ms. Rice that the Legislature session came to an end before a pair of writers from the Globe and Mail had posted the latest examination of the issues of Highway 16.

On Friday, Globe writers Sunny Dhillon and Ian Bailey outlined a fairly damning overview of the work of the Liberals when it comes to the Highway 16 corridor and the concerns that have been raised about it over the last decade.

As part of that review, the Globe article offers a startling, if not alarming, statistical review as to the nature of unemployment and poverty from Prince Rupert through to Prince George from recent years. 

And while those numbers from 2011 may have improved slightly in recent years, the work by the Globe shows that participation rates still make for a troubling aspect of the Highway 16 story, one that impacts on social issues in many communities Northern BC.

The review highlights many of the frustrations for those that have yet to benefit from the talk of boom times and how those frustrations have yet to be addressed, leaving many disillusioned at the lack of progress on any of the issues.

For those that may have given the topic just a cursory glance in the past, the Globe story makes for a good place to rejoin the discussion on the issues.

You can read the full article here.

Such work, outlining the many themes of concern in Northern BC, would have made for a powerful addition into the debate inVictoria.

However, the Legislature is now adjourned until the fall and with that,  MLA's and Government Ministers are returning to their various home constituencies.

Leaving the Globe article, as useful as it may have been to the discussion, be featured more as a thing of blog postings, twitter retweets and email forwards, before it may be entered into the Legislature debate at some future date.

The short exchange between Ms. Rice and the Attorney General can be found on the Legislature Draft minutes from Thursday morning it runs from the 1100 mark to 1105 on the timeline.

You can review the video Archive from the House Question period for Thursday from the Legislature Archive page. The Question and answer session starts at the sixty minute mark of the video player timeline.

For more items of note from developments at the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Prince Rupert's Green Thumbs have a busy weekend ahead

The Prince Rupert Garden Club is looking for a few Good Thumbs, green ones that is and no experience is necessary!

The annual planting party for the City's Sunken Gardens behind the Court House (Market Place) is set for this weekend with two days of planting on the schedule.

The Club is looking for local residents to lend a hand, have some fun and maybe make some new friends on Saturday and Sunday.

The all day events will replenish the flower beds of one of the city's major attractions, the hidden gem of the city that both tourists and locals alike enjoy when in full bloom.

Those that wish more information on the weekend project can contact Andree  at 624-3666 or by email at

You can read up on how the Sunken Gardens is received by visitors to the region from this item from tripadivsor

Photo above from Visit Prince Rupert facebook page

Two from the Northwest to receive Order of British Columbia

This years list of honours for the Order of BC have been released by the Lieutenant Governor's office, with twenty five deserving British Columbians to receive the accolades for 2014.

Among those twenty five are two leaders from the Northwest who have provided dedication and inspiration to their communities.

From the Nisga'a nation, Chief Chester Moore has been named to the Order of BC, a hereditary chieftain and promoter of the Nisga'a culture. He has been recognized across the Northwest and through the province for his work towards the cultural survival of the Nisga'a through the years.

The second honouree from the Northwest is Chief Councillor Ellis Ross of the Haisla Nation, his leadership of the Haisla over the last nine years. His forward thinking and accomplishments on issues of  education, community facilities, job creation and economic partnerships were highlighted as part of the review of his work on behalf of the Haisla.

The two northwest members of this years Order join a rather impressive list of British Columbians to be honoured in Victoria on November 6th at Government House.

Among the who's who of BC for 2014: developer Bob Rennie, British Columbia hockey legend Pat Quinn, former Senator Len Marchand and author and artist Douglas Copeland.

You can review full biographies on Chief Moore and Chief Ross as well as all of the Order of British Columbia recipients from this item from Order of BC website.

More background on the Order of British Columbia can be found here.

The City provides its response to Watson Island case

The much anticipated City of Prince Rupert reply to the legal proceedings initiated by the Watson Island Development Corporation, has finally been delivered to the British Columbia court system.

A thirty four page response from the City's lawyers, that offers up a fair amount of background on the longest running story of the North Coast, with a good portion of the response featuring the City proclaiming the phrase "the city denies"...

In fact, over those 34 pages, that phrase is highlighted over thirty times. Covering off pretty well every item from the Watco Claim.

As the 48 points that make up the City's response to the legal issues come to its end, the key declaration has the City stating that "The City denies that Watco is entitled to the remedies claimed in the Notice of Civil Claim"

As well the filing concludes with the City seeking a discharge of the certificates of pending litigation registered by Watco on the lands, and costs incurred by the City as a result of the registration of the certificates of pending litigation.

As its final point, the City advises that it is seeking special costs or alternatively costs.

The Court document of Tuesday is the foundation of a recent story in the city's weekly newspaper, which uses much of the background from it for their review of the latest developments regarding Watson Island.

However, for some reason that story appears to be focused on one comment from 2009, reportedly from the Lax Kw'alaams Band.

Which as the city outlines in the court filing, states that the Lax Kw'alaams Band "threatened conflict".

That aspect of the review of the court document appears in the headline of the Northern View story, as well as a good portion of the opening paragraphs of the story.

It makes for an interesting focus for that review, considering that five years have almost passed since that original talking point. And for the most part, its relevance to the current situation that the city finds itself engaged in is never really made clear.

And while the remainder of the article touches on a few points to be found in the court filings, it's that theme of "threatened conflict" that most will probably make for the major take away from the article.

Neither the court document, nor the article however, provides any background as to what shape that potential for conflict may have taken. Making for a topic that Lax Kw'alaams representatives might wish to clarify for their neighbours at some point.

While those items make for an interesting side story to the topic, when it comes to the current setback on the Watson Island files, careful reading of the court filing might suggest that the clock perhaps starts a few years after that correspondence.

With late 2013 as the trigger point for the latest events that have us all heading back to the courtroom.

It's in December of 2013 where the two parties appear to find themselves on different pages when it comes to the future of the Watson Island, particularly when it came to interpretation of the status of the proposed sale of the industrial site.

Those disagreements on events moved through January and into March, with legal counsel representatives exchanging correspondences regarding a range of issues related to the Agreement under discussion.

All of which led up to the March 27th announcement that Watco had advanced litigation to the British Columbia Supreme Court, you can review some background on that development here.

Tuesday's filing of its response by the City (two months to the day from when the issue first became known) provides its opening rebuttal to those claims and lays the foundation for what could be another lengthy stretch of time in the courts for Prince Rupert's most infamous conversation topic.

Local residents with an interest in the theme can access the document for themselves through the Court Services Office website.

The cost of learning some of the intrigue behind the Watson Island story is a six dollar charge, with similar charges for further items if desired.

Those inclined can start the process here, type in watson island where it says organization and you will reach the CSO paywall to make your payment and then settle in for a little legal reading.

The full thirty four pages do provide a fairly useful recap of the travails of Watson Island, though this particular document is presented through the prism of the City's talking points.

The document is broken down into two key segments, the background to the dispute (25 and a half pages) and the legal response to the current course of litigation (8 and a half pages).

All of it makes the six dollar fee about the best investment an interested Rupertite might make, when it comes to a historical review of the recent issues of the one time pulp mill site.

Perhaps as a course of transparency for its residents, the City of Prince Rupert might wish to secure a universal licence for the court documents and post them to its newly refurbished website.

Such a move would be a very helpful step for interested members of the community, who no doubt are concerned about how a deal that seemed to be closing in on the homestretch but seven months ago, so suddenly went off the rails.

With the City filing their paperwork with the courts, the prospect of any kind of negotiated settlement between the two sides would appear to be slipping far beyond the horizon. Leaving us all to wait for the court dates to be set and then to stand by, as the drama of Watson Island once again plays out in a court room.

Perhaps while we wait, Council might offer up some background information for the community when it comes to this latest development.

As we've seen in the past, this Council is never shy to weigh in on topics of community interest (of late topics have included, the Port, Pinnacle Pellet and Environmental issues on LNG to name a few).

We would hope they might be equally engaged when it comes to the status of the current impasse over Watson Island, as well as to the ongoing costs of maintenance and legal fees regarding the current situation.

You can  re-familiarize yourself with the talking points of the past with our items of interest on the Watson Island files from our Archive page.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lax Kw'alaams launches Marine Use study

With a growing number of LNG and other industrial projects proposed for the North Coast region, the Lax Kw'alaams Band is seeking consultation with their community, in order to document the ways that their members use and value the marine areas of their territory.

Towards that goal, the have begun the process of a Marine Use study, making use of two consultants to work with a team of researchers to get a better understanding of any issues of concern to
members of Lax Kw'alaams.

The two consultants, Julie Gardner and Tim Wilson, will be focusing on communicating the stories of the community by way of story documentation, pictures and maps.

To put together those information pieces, they will be conducting meetings with members of the Lax Kw'alaams in Prince Rupert, Terrace and Vancouver.

The finished product will be part of a report that the Band intends to use to assert their rights and title in any future negotiations and to ensure the protection of the Lax Kw'alaams marine environment over the long term.

You can review more on the project from the Lax Kw'alaams website.

For more items on developments with Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page.

North Coast MLA joins debate on Bill 24 with thoughts on democracy

Proposed amendments to Bill 24 dealing with the Agricultural Land Reserve have been high among the list of concerns for NDP MLA's in this spring session of the Legislature.

With many of our elected representatives engaging in discussion on the proposed changes to the Agricultural Land reserve and the impact that those changes could bring.

B. C. set to overhaul Agricultural Land Reserve
The topic of Bill 24 is one that has clearly caught the interest of North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who as we outlined on the blog, spoke to the issue two weeks ago.

Ms. Rice once again joined in on that contentious discussion this week, taking part in House Sessions on the theme on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

Adding her name to those that would prefer to see the issue  referred to a Select Standing Committee and with the recommendation that witnesses be invited to those sessions to assist in those deliberations.

As part of her review of the topic for the House, Ms. Rice  recalled her concerns on the nature of democracy that spurred her on to politics, first as a city councillor in Prince Rupert and then in her bid for a seat at the Legislature.

In the course of her comments to the Legislature, she offered up her overview of the disengagement of the voter to the political process in recent years.

Many of the non-voting population that I engaged during my election campaign — of any generation — stated that they felt their vote didn't matter. 

I feel that when governments fail to listen to their constituents, we witness a disengagement and an erosion of democracy. An erosion of democracy ensues. Failure to consult on this crucial piece of legislation is an oligarchic move, in my opinion. 

My hope would be that we encourage, not discourage, civic participation.

They are comments which make for some interesting observations on the theme of democracy.

Though from her short stay at the municipal level, it was a topic that perhaps didn't get a full review from her council counterparts.

At least if we judge democracy and civic engagement by the string of in cameras sessions that she was a part of during her time on City Council. Something that surely contributes to the impression that the voter doesn't matter and offers up impressions of a lack of transparency.

One item in particular comes to mind on the theme of civic engagement. That being last years City Financial discussions, where Council held a public forum to seek guidance on their Budget deliberations, only to then disappear behind the closed doors to disregard most of that consultation.

As events of the time moved forward, Council instead worked out a deal with CUPE to seemingly solve the financial concerns of the day. Though terms of that deal were never delivered to the public either before, or after the public forum, our contribution to the process apparently no longer required.

You can review some of that discussion at the Council chambers from our timeline of May 13, 2013, though the contributions at the time from our now MLA were rather limited to the theme. Her thoughts perhaps focused on her quest for provincial office that was taking place last year.

Beyond that rather stark reminder of dis-engagement, near as we remember there were more than a few other issues to that theme during her time on Council.

Items that local residents perhaps might have wished to have seen a bit more transparency on from the local government that she was a part of at the time.

You can review her talking points on democracy to the Legislature from Tuesday at the 1820 mark of the Draft minutes of the Legislature session from Tuesday.

Her contribution from Wednesday can be found at the 1510 to 15 30 mark.

For more items on developments in Victoria see our Archive page.

Northern BC Travel Guide for 2014 is released

A helpful blue print to the sights of Northern British Columbia has been released by Northern BC Tourism, providing visitors from afar as well as those looking to stay close to home, a wide listing o things to do.

Making for a very useful resource for those looking to make travel plans from the Alberta border to Haida Gwaii.

For Prince Rupert the exploring begins on page 72 with four pages of items of note, Included int he overview,  short capsule items on such local attractions as the Museum of Northern BC, the Port's Interpretive Centre, Mariners Park, Kwinitsa Railway Museum and the Prince Rupert Fire and Police museum at the Fire Hall.

Port Edward's attractions are highlighted on page 77, with the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site as the main attractions for travellers to the North Coast. A day trip to Diana Lake is also part of recommended Port Ed experience.

Haida Gwaii is featured from pages 81 to 88, with a comprehensive listing of the many options for visitors in each community on both of the islands.

The stretch of Highway 16 from Smithers to Kitimat/Terrace can be found from pages 56 to 71.

You can review the full digital version of the guide here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Prince Rupert teachers to return to the picket lines on Monday

With little progress at the bargaining table, the BCTF announced another round of rotating strikes will take place June 2nd through June 6th, with no strike action scheduled for Wednesday.

In a late afternoon media release,  BCTF President Jim Iker outlined the next stage of the labour dispute.

 With the provincial government still refusing to put the necessary funding on the table to reach a reasonable deal on issues like class size, composition, staffing levels, and fair wages for teachers, the BC Teachers’ Federation will continue rotating strikes next week"

For Prince Rupert parents and students, Monday. June 2nd will be the targeted strike day for School District 52.

As it was this week, the labour dispute will also affect transportation resources for the School District and will once again find affiliated union members on the picket lines alongside the PRDTA members.

Any updates on the Prince Rupert school's situation can be found on the School District 52 website.

A copy of the press release and list of all the communities to be affected by next weeks round of rotating strikes can be found here.

More background on the latest developments in the labour dispute can be found on the BCTF website, however access to the site is at times hard to come by, as user requests appear to be overwhelming their systems.

Beyond the current round of negotiations, Thursday will also bring an 11 AM session at the Labour Relations Board The labour Board will hear arguments regarding the recent 10 per cent wage reduction placed on striking teachers and whether that move by the government is a valid procedure.

As has been the case over the last two weeks, we have been tracking a wide range of information and opinion on the dispute, you can find updated items on our archive page.

North Coast health issues raised at Legislature committee session

Topics ranging from concerns over levels of midwife availability on the North Coast, to the impact of BC Ferry cuts to medical health access on Haida Gwaii made up a good portion of a Legislature Committee session on Tuesday,

During the course of her speaking time in the Health Estimates Committee, North Coast MLA Jennifer rice raised the issues to Health Minister Dr. Terry Lake.

She began her review of Health issues on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii by addressing maternity issues across the region.

"In a study by the Rural Physicians of Canada, which looked at four rural northern B.C. communities, it was found that "maternity care can affect the physical, cultural, spiritual and economic makeup of a community" and that "it is not a service that can be removed or altered without having some effect on a variety of other sectors of the community."

My question is: what is the ministry doing to address the worrisome trends of a decrease in maternity care providers and an increase in birth rates in the northern B.C. communities?"

Minister Lake outlined a number of the initiatives regarding that issue that are currently ongoing,  referencing a government paper called "Primary Maternity Care, Moving Forward Together" as one such consultation.

Also among her discussion points for the Tuesday session was a number of questions on the theme of paramedic services to rural and remote communities.

"Local governments, regional districts and paramedics themselves have been calling for solutions to paramedic shortages in rural and remote communities, with new models of service delivery, such as the community paramedicine model that the minister mentioned earlier. [1425] Can the minister provide an update to the government's intentions when it comes to community paramedicine?"

The Health Minister provided a short review of the evolving nature of delivering those services to rural communities and some of the challenges that the government is finding in securing recruits for those regions. He further advised that the Health Ministry is working with Northern Health to address such concerns as those recently expressed both in Stewart and on Haida Gwaii.

On health concerns for Haida Gwaii, Ms. Rice also outlined the growing concerns there when it comes to issues related to recent cutbacks of BC Ferry service and the impact that those cuts are having on medical care on the Islands.

As part of her review of the medical concerns on Haida Gwaii, she read out a letter from a doctor on Haida Gwaii, which highlighted the nature of the transportation issues that Island residents face when trying to access further medical care in Prince Rupert and beyond.

That correspondence and a full account of Tuesday's Committee Session can be found from the Legislature Draft minutes, the Health aspects of Tuesday's discussion can be reviewed from the 1415 mark  to the 1510 mark of the timeline.

The Video Archive of the Committee Session can be found from the Index page of the Legislature, the video review of Tuesday's Committee session is listed as Committee A.

Ms. Rice's contribution to the discussion starts at the 35 minute mark and carries on through to the 93 minute mark.

For more items on developments at the BC Legislature see our archive page.

Jennifer Rice raises concerns on "systemic issues" from oil and gas industry

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided for one of her longer topic reviews on Tuesday, as she outlined a string of questions for Minister of Health Dr. Terry Lake at a Committee session on Health Estimates.

The Tuesday afternoon session, provide the MLA an opportunity to make a number of inquiries on a range of topics related to LNG development both at the source of the gas of the Peace region and for potential development of terminals on the North Coast.

Speaking to the theme of rural health concerns, Ms. Rice offered up questions when it comes to risk assessment on oil and gas development. .

"Today I'd like to start with some questions on the human health risk assessment in regards to the oil and gas in the northeastern part of our province. During the public engagement phase the Fraser Basin Council received over 300 submissions from stakeholders outlining their health concerns as a result of oil and gas development. Of these, several questions were raised about gas flaring, as these pollutants can wreak havoc with human health. 

A Finnish study found an increase in spontaneous abortions among populations chronically exposed to low dosages of H2S, and multiple studies have found that chronic exposure is linked with depression, fatigue and reduced mental function. 

My question is: how will the Ministry of Health work with the Ministry of Natural Gas to address these health concerns directly related to flaring?

The Minister offering up the replay that public engagement on the topic is using a three phase approach,
with the first phase having recently come to an end, he advised her that the review of  the health aspects of LNG development are part of the second phase.

Ms. Rice then outlined a string of concerns when it comes to the prospect of development of the oil and gas industry and the impacts that it can have on family and social issues in those communities that will be at the centre of that development.

"How will the ministry work with the other ministries to address the widespread systematic issues that arise from this industry? For instance, we know that there is an increase in prostitution catering to cash-rich oil and gas workers in these communities, and we know that the shift work can severely disrupt family life and lead to an increase in domestic violence, strain on children, marital breakdown and so on. 

How will the ministry work with other ministries such as the Ministry of Children and Family Development or the Ministry of Justice to address these widespread effects of the oil and gas industry in northern B.C. communities?

She also raised a number of discussion points on work camps and the Government's oversight on the prospect of widespread growth of those camps in the forestry, mining and oil and gas development sectors across Northern BC.

Among her questions, the distribution of the camps across Northern BC, the number of workers at the sites currently in place and how many of those facilities may be required for camps that are expected to be developed.

You can review the full exchange on the health and social concerns of industrial development from the Legislature archive page. Ms. Rice offers up her questions from the 1345 to 1415 mark of the draft minutes timeline.

The video archive of the session can be found from the Legislature archive page, the Committee session took place on Tuesday afternoon and is listed as A on the video listings. Ms. Rice outlines her concerns from the 8 minute mark to the 35 minute mark on the video player timeline.

For more on developments at the BC Legislature see our Archive page.

No open door to oil for Lax Kw'alaams

Mayor Garry Reece of Lax Kw'alaams has made things pretty clear to the Federal Natural Resources Minister, the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation will welcome some discussion on issues of LNG and other energy projects, but when it comes to oil, the door is closed.

Mr. Reece spoke on Tuesday following the announcement of two new initiatives from the Federal and Provincial governments over energy development on the North Coast.

However in this article from the Globe and Mail, he makes the point that his community will not support heavy-oil projects such as Northern Gateway.

Some time in June it is expected that the Federal Government will announce whether that pipeline project will go forward, the National Energy Board review panel offered up approval of the project with some 200 conditions to go along with it.

Since then, opposition to the project has been steadfast, with a recent referendum in Kitimat providing a result that provided another public setback for the Enbridge proposal.

And while Mr. Reece clearly outlined the opposition of his community to the Northern Gateway pipeline, there has as of yet been little comment from Lax Kw'alaams or Metlakatla, to the proposal of any shipment terminal plans for Grassy Point.

That project has been promoted by the North Coast's Calvin Helin, who has been providing much background on his Eagle Spirit Energy Project  for almost a year now.

Recently Eagle Spirit announced that the Aquilini Group would provide financial backing for the ambitious project, which would refine Alberta oil and ship it from a proposed Grassy Point facility.

While Mr. Reece has firmly shut the door on the Northern Gateway concept, supporters of Mr. Helin's proposal most likely will continue to point towards their project, as perhaps something that may yet find favour with local First Nations.

With a renewed focus on energy projects on the North Coast, the prospect of an oil refinery and shipment terminal is something that the local First Nation leaders should offer up some guidance on.

Providing an overview for the region, as to how they are receiving Mr. Helin's proposal and how it fits in with the  vision of First Nations on energy projects progressing on the North Coast.

Write to read builds libraries in First Nations communities

The story of a literary project that has taken off in British Columbia received some well deserved acclaim from the National broadcaster this week.

The CBC's flagship news program The National featured the story of "Write to Read" which brought Provincial Court Judge and former Lieutenant General Stephen Point and former RCMP officer Bob Blacker together, originally hoping to just promote literacy in First Nations communities in the province.

That early plan however grew impressively over the years, with the project now having provided for fully stocked libraries for six communities to date, with Bella Bella and Old Masset among those to benefit from the early days of the project.

Buoyed from that success, there are now plans in the works to deliver six more libraries to First Nations communities in the near future.

It's a story of marshaling resources, making connections and providing for a much required resource to communities that have struggled to have access toreading materials that such a project has provided for.

During the course of their efforts, Mr. Point and Mr. Blacker recruited retired librarians for their project and found that Rotary Clubs in British Columbia were also eager to lend their support to move the initiative forward.

Write to Read is much more than books however, it's a story about people coming together on a common cause, all of it a project that started with the simple process of bringing a box of books to a distant community.

You can learn more about the Write to read project from this story from the CBC website.

The story as featured on The National can be found below:

An overview of what the Write to Read Project is all about can be found from their website

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Federal and Provincial governments to work with North Coast First Nations on energy engagement

As we outlined on the blog earlier today, representatives of the Federal, Provincial and First Nations governments all gathered in Prince Rupert on Tuesday afternoon.

Providing background on a pair of initiatives that will provide easier access  and engagement on energy infrastructure issues for First Nations of the North Coast.

Greg Rickford, the Federal Minister of Natural Resources outlined the nature of the twin approaches to community involvement.  With local participation in the Major Projects Management Office West, which serves to coordinate activities on energy infrastructure with BC First Nations.

As well, First Nations on the North Coast will become participants in a Tripartite Forum, sharing information with Federal and Provincial levels of government and identify common interests on issues that directly impact on Aboriginal participation in the development of energy and Natural resources on the North Coast.

Both Mayor Gary Reece of Lax Kw'alaams and Chief Harold Leighton of the Metlakatla First Nation heralded today's developments as a welcome addition to the dialogue between their communities and both Federal and provincial governments.

As part of the discussion on today's announcement, the success of the Rail-Utility corridor at Ridley Island was presented as a blue print of sorts.

Highlighting the cooperation and opportunities that First Nations on the North Coast are looking to continue on with, as they look for access to  energy infrastructure projects that are preparing to move forward in the region.

"Today's announcement by Minister Rickford is an important step forward in strengthening the relationship between the federal government and First Nations, including the Coast Tsimshian, on energy projects. Members of our community want to ensure projects are safe for the environment, our marine resources, and generate business opportunities and jobs for our members, as we have done successfully on initiatives like the Road-Rail Utility Corridor Project." -- Mayor Garry Reece Lax Kw'alaams First Nation . . . 

"We are pleased to see the federal government recognizes the importance of working with First Nations on issues related to energy infrastructure. The Coast Tsimshian are proud of its record as business partner on the Road-Rail Utility Corridor Project. Most of the workers on the construction site are from the region and about one half are from local First Nations communities. They are bringing the project in on schedule while gaining valuable work experience." -- Chief Harold Leighton Metlakatla First Nation.

Details of today's announcement can be found here.

You can review some background on the Major Management Office for the West from the Natural Resources Canada website.

Also available from that portal is a review of the Tripartite Forum process announced at today's media conference in Prince Rupert

Increased flight options out of YPR subject of local on line survey

The quest for better air connections between Prince Rupert and Vancouver is always a popular topic on the North Coast and the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Office have combined forces to seek out some feedback from the community.

An online survey is currently underway, offering local residents the opportunity to answer a number of questions about flight opportunities to Vancouver.

The survey is a fairly short process, with only three questions involved offering up a number of options, which would make use of Hawkair as the proposed carrier of the additional flights.

Those taking part will be asked if accessing an early morning flight out of Prince Rupert would be of benefit to their travel plans, with a variety of options available to select as to departure from Prince Rupert and arrival in Vancouver.

Likewise, a late evening flight option is also being explored, with a range of options as to an arrival time in Prince Rupert.

The background to the survey is to gauge support locally for earlier and later flights, so as to allow for same-day meeting and medical appointments in Vancouver and to perhaps provide for a better range of connections out of Vancouver International Airport.

The desire for increased flight options out of the Prince Rupert airport is one issue that could help repatriate some of those from the North Coast, that currently make the trip to Terrace to access the larger listing of departures and arrivals from that airport.

Those interested in learning more about the topic and taking the survey can access it here.

Federal and Provincial Ministers to meet with North Coast First Nations on Energy today

The interpretive centre at the Port of Prince Rupert will play host to another announcement on energy development today.

As the Federal Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford and John Rustad, British Columbia's Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation  meet with representatives of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation and Metlakatla First Nation.

Minister Rickford and Minister Rustad, along with Chief Garry Reece of Lax Kw'alaams and  Ryan Leighton of Metlakatla will outline the outcome of recent discussions, providing for background on the latest measures of what is being called enhanced engagement on energy infrastructure.

No details have been released as to the nature of those discussions prior to this afternoon's announcement, which is set to take place at 1 PM.

Prince Rupert Port Authority introduces new member to Board of Directors

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is adding one more name to its listings of the Board of Directors, announcing that Mr. Kenneth Clayton of South Delta has been appointed to the Board.

Mr. Clayton,  graduated from UBC's Public Civil Engineering Program in 1971 and has provided leadership on a number engineering projects in the province through the decades.

Since 1990, he has served as President of Humphrey Construction, providing general contracting experience to the fishing and port industry in the province.

“Engineering and construction have been a lifetime commitment and career, one that I have enjoyed — and one that I remain totally involved in and passionate about,” ... “It will be a privilege to be able to use my experience to help guide the Port of Prince Rupert’s growth and development in concert with its Directors and employees.” -- Kenneth Clayton on what he will bring to the Board of Directors of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

His announcement was made by Mr. Bud Smith, Chairman of the Board of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, you can review the list of other members of board here.

Details on yesterdays appointment of Mr. Clayton can be reviewed here.

For more items of interest on developments at the Prince Rupert Port authority see our archive page here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

City Council Preview, Monday, May 26, 2014

The wrap up to May for Prince Rupert City Council arrives tonight, as Council turns it's attention to a Committee of the Whole session and the possibility of some citizen participation, along with the regular items of the May 26th Agenda.

Beyond the usual business of a regular session, Council will hear a presentation from Spectra Energy providing an update on their LNG  pipeline project.

During the course of the Monday evening meeting the Mayor and Council will hear reports from the Corporate Administrator, Chief Financial Officer and City Manager.

Before they take to the Monday night session Council will once again take to behind closed doors, with  a Closed Session of Council to take place in the early evening.

The notice for the May 26th version of the Closed Session provides for a topic which offers up little as to the nature up for discussion, but provides for an item which Council feels cannot be discussed in open session.

That the meeting be closed to the public under Section 90 of the Community Charter to consider items relating to one or more of the following: 

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

When Council is finished with its Closed Session business, they will then reconvene at 7 PM for their Regular session.

Council starts the evening off with it's Committee of the Whole Session, the agenda for it can be reviewed here.

Following the Committee of the Whole opportunity, Council will turn its attention to the Regular Council session, the Monday night Agenda for their Regular session can be found here.

A guide to the night's content can be found below, the corresponding page number listed in red.

The session starts off with the regular adoption of agendas and minutes.

That is followed by the presentation from Mr. Genge of Spectra Energy. Providing his update to Council on the latest developments with the Natural Gas pipeline project.

Council then turns its attention to Any Unfinished Business that Council

With Reports and Recommendations next on the night's to do list.

The first being a Report from the Corporate Administrator - Who will review details of an encroachment agreement regarding a property on 10th Avenue East (page 10 of the Agenda)

The next item on the night is a Report from the Recreation Services Consultant -- Who will review details on the purchase by the PRMHA of a Zamboni Ice Resurfacer for use by the Recreation Department (page 15 of the Agenda)

Report from the Chief Financial Officer -- Who will provide background on the City's Annual Report

Report from the Deputy Chief Elections Officer -- Providing an update on items of note pertaining to the Failure to File Election Campaign Financial Disclosure Statements. (page 30 of the Agenda)

Report from the City Manager -- Outlining the appointment of Elections Officers for the City of Prince Rupert (Page 32 of the Agenda)

Requests and then Correspondences for Action are next on the Agenda for Monday.

A Proclamation request from  the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) -- Providing background on Access Awareness Day (Page 33 of the Agenda)

A Request from Mr. Antonio d'Emanuele, an Art Teacher at Charles Hays   -- Seeking approval of Council for a street art project for the Skateboard park (Page 36 of the Agenda)

Any resolutions from Closed Meetings will then be reviewed.

Followed by a required attention to the Bylaws and Development Permits requests for the evening.

Any additional items for the night then will then be discussed.

The evening then wraps up with Reports, Questions and inquiries from Members of Council, as well as the Mayor's Report, which is then followed by adjournment.

Council next meets in Regular public session on June 9.

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

Our Archive of the May 26th session can be found here.

While our archive of all sessions of council this year is available here.

City Council Session, May 26, 2014

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

Special session of City Council For Monday, May 26, 2014

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 May 26, 2014

Agenda for the Regular Session of City Council for May 26, 2014 

Agenda for the Committee of the Whole Session for May 26, 2014

Notice of Special Session of Council for May 26
(Resolution to exclude the public)

Info to Council

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

Minutes of Regular Session of Council May 26, 2014 

Minutes of the Committee of the Whole Session of Council May 26, 2014

Video Recording of May 26, 2014 

North Coast Review City Council Timeline May 26, 2014   

North Coast Review Items on the May 26, 2014 Session of Council

Mayor Mussallem shares thoughts with Cabinet Minister Oakes for potential Student Housing for NWCC
Seafest recruits needed
City publishes Annual Report for 2014, with public comment period available on June 23rd
Recreation Commission tapped to make decision on Skateboard stencil Art project
Pinnacle Pellet reps to update Council regarding ongoing issues on June 9th
Council continues to have concerns about speeding issues
Spectra Energy updates Council on pipeline development and community outreach plans
A share of the LNG rush? City's newly expanded boundary to include proposed LNG site
The City provides its response to Watson Island case

Media items from other sources for the May 26, 2014 Council session can be found in our Discussion Points from City Council feature

Rotating Teacher Strikes Underway today, as the Education Minister enters the fray!

Education Minister Peter Fassbender offered up his first comments on the launch of rotating strikes across the province today, outlining the latest discussion points from the BC Liberal Government when it comes to the ongoing labour dispute in the education sector.

His opening remarks on the first day of the week long rotating strikes, pointed the government's finger of blame towards the BCTF as the picket lines appeared at a number of schools in the province.

“It is unfortunate that the BCTF leadership is shutting down schools with their rotating strikes - it is always students and parents who bear the greatest brunt when the BCTF orders teachers to walk out.-- Education Minister Peter Fassbender with the Government response to the start of rotating strikes at BC's Public schools

Mr. Fassbender also provided a list of concerns that the Government has on the nature of the dispute, carrying on the theme of the dueling press releases that made for much of last weeks back and forth between the BCTF and the BCPSEA.

For those looking to read the full statement from the Education Minister, it is available on the BC Government website.

The labour disruptions today, mark the start of four days of teacher walkouts across the province, Prince Rupert parents and students will find School District 52 teachers on the picket lines on Tuesday.

As we outlined last week on the blog,  School District  52 provided parents with a heads up as to its plans for tomorrow's local walkout.

As Monday's picket lines formed in those School Districts affected by today's strike schedule, the BCTF received support from a string of provincial and national union leaders, as well as from a list of NDP MLA's, many of whom took to twitter to offer their support to those off the job today.

Much of that support and the ongoing discussion on the theme of the dispute over education can be found on the twitter feed of #bced

And while the BCTF counts up those that are offering up their support so far. Of interest perhaps to the Prince Rupert District Teachers' Association, is the lack of commentary on events from North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice.

As the dispute heated up over the last few weeks, the North Coast MLA has yet to have offered much, if any contribution to the theme of the labour dispute on any of her many social media portals or through her work at the Legislature.

While the back and forth plays out through media releases, the actual negotiations are set to resume this afternoon. With the first session since last week's developments set to bring both sides to the table again, looking to find some common ground, where at the moment little of it would appear to be in sight.

To keep up to date on developments in the dispute, check our archive page on the issues of the negotiations, which is updated regularly through the day.

LNG "Boot Camp" comes to Prince Rupert June 2nd and 3rd

“We’re working to ensure that B.C. businesses can participate in the opportunity LNG offers. Workshops and seminars will provide practical information including specific tips on what proponents look for in a contractor and the steps small- and medium-sized companies need to do to be ready to take part when these global proponents start looking for B.C.-based suppliers. 

Premier Christy Clark made a commitment to help B.C. companies connect with the opportunity of LNG and these boot camps and workshop are part of meeting that commitment.” -- Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skill Training and Labour, on the the LNG Boot Camp experience

An opportunity for local businesses to learn more about accessing the hopeful tide of LNG development comes up next week in Prince Rupert.

The Northern Development Initiative Trust is bringing its popular LNG Boot Camp sessions to Prince Rupert, setting up shop at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on June 2nd and 3rd.

For local business owners and contractors, the Boot Camp project provides background on the many proposed industrial projects for the North Coast region, providing some helpful advice on how to work the procurement process for those developments.

Some of the main points to be reviewed during the sessions include:

What supplies and services will be required by project proponents.

How local businesses can take advantage of the major projects and become part of the supply chain of goods and services.

Understanding the bidding process.

Understanding more on the opportunities and obstacles that could be part of the process.

Make contact points with those who can your business get prepared for LNG development.

The Contractor Boot Camp takes place from 5 to 8 PM on Monday, June 2nd.

Tuesday provides for more background for those interested in preparing to make a bid on LNG opportunities in the region.

The Tuesday morning session starts at 8:15 features a workshop as well as a Question and Answer period.

In addition it provides for a good opportunity for local contractors and business leaders to conduct some networking with those that may be able to assist them in accessing the LNG industry and the requirements that will come from development.

Attendance to the both the Contractor boot camp and the Proposal and Bid workshop is by registration, those looking to secure a spot in the Boot Camp should contact Paul Venditelli at the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Office, he can be reached at 250- 627- 5138.

After the Prince Rupert events, the LNG boot camp program moves on to Kitimat on June 4 and Terrace on June 5.

You  can learn more about the two days of events on LNG development from the NDIT website.

Some background on the program can be found from the BC Government website.

For more on LNG development on the North Coast see our archive page.

Dempsey Bob receives honours from UBC

The acclaimed North Coast artist and Master Carver Dempsey Bob has received an honorary Doctor or Letters degree, receiving the honours during recent convocation ceremonies at the University of British Columbia.

The latest celebration of the work and achievements of Mr. Bob took place on Wednesday, as the UBC Class of 2014 gathered at their end convocation at the Point Grey campus.

You can view the presentation of his Degree and his comments for the graduates of the convocation from the UBC website, (28 minutes to 36 minutes)

Mr. Bob is currently a Senior Advisor at the Fred Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art at Northwest Community College.

As we outlined on the blog last July, Mr. Bob was celebrated last year as an Officer of the Order of Canada, receiving that honour from the Governor General in Ottawa.

His recent awards join the list of the many accolades that he has been presented with in recent years.

The celebration of his latest achievement was featured by local media in the Terrace area, you can review those items below:

Terrace Standard-- Artist shares doctorate with his family, people
CFNR--  Dempsey Bob Honored by UBC with Degree

Rupertites ready to take to their two wheels for Bike to Work week

The prospect of Bike to Work Week normally involves a careful scan of the long range weather forecast, our unpredictable weather patterns offering up more than a few challenges to the truly devoted.

Still, late May should be better than late March (though you wouldn't have known it last week) so with fingers crossed Prince Rupert residents that signed up for the week long celebration take to their bicycles this week.

The Ride your Bike to Work event  was officially kicked off on Saturday, with registration taking place at the Ice House Gallery.

The One week challenge will see individuals or teams competing from Monday May 26th, to Saturday May 31st.  Participants need to only ride their bicycle once during the week to qualify for a number of prizes, with a range of activities planned for the week ahead.

The wrap up to Bike to Work week comes up on May 31st with a BBQ and awarding of prizes to take place at the Salmonberry Farmer's Market at the Prince Rupert Courthouse.

Here for your bike riding planning, is the week long forecast for Prince Rupert from Environment Canada.

You can find out more about the Challenge from the facebook page created for the event.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Blog Watching, Week Ending May 25, 2014

As part of a weekly feature on the blog, every Sunday we offer up this weeks recap of the top five items viewed over the course of the last seven days.

Included in the countdown, we will provide links to the articles in question, offering up with one click of the mouse, those items of the week that you may have missed.

This week, LNG issues, the Teacher's Dispute and the Mayor's thoughts on recruiting doctors top the list of items viewed.

With our top item of the week being a look at the start of some push back against the increasing pace of LNG development planning across Northern British Columbia

From there, the developments in the Teacher's dispute in the province dominated the week of blog viewing.

The Mayor's plans to discuss Doctor recruitment with the current group of physicians in the community and the need for Pacific Northwest LNG to provide more information for the CEAA round out the top five items of the last seven days.

Kicking off the review, our top item of the week:

An LNG pushback  --  A look at some of the latest discussion points from those that are looking to see a slower pace or complete reversal of the Province's plans for LNG development  (posted May 21, 2014)

That item was followed by:

BCTF responds to employer's salary rollback and lockout plans --  Events heated up significantly in the last seven days between the province and its public school teachers, our item outlining some of those developments proved to be a popular resource offering this week. (posted May 22, 2014 )

School District 52 outlines plans for Tuesday's teachers strike  -- With rotating strikes planned for May 26-29, School District 52 outlined some background for parents for Tuesday's Prince Rupert walkout (posted May 22, 2014)

Mayor to discuss Doctor recruitment with local medical professionals -- The Mayor offers up some observations on Doctor recruitment for the Prince Rupert regain (posted May 21, 2014)

CEAA reportedly requests more information regarding Petronas Environmental Assessment -- The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency sends a letter to Pacific Northwest LNG seeking some more information on a number of items from the Assessment application  (posted May 23, 2014)

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

The Permanent link to the feature can be found here or above our Blog Archive section, found on the right hand side of the title page.

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

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

You can find the link to that feature on the upper, right hand side of the blog.