Friday, January 30, 2015

AquaTrain mooring wall construction wraps up

Aquatrain at Prince Rupert, photo
from Prince Rupert Rail Images blog
While the renovation plans for the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal project, steeped as they are in cross border controversy, may have come to sudden halt in recent days, there is some progress on the waterfront.

One marine transportation option for shipping items to Alaska has something to show, as the Port of Prince Rupert celebrates the conclusion of a construction project on the Prince Rupert waterfront.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority took to their twitter feed this morning to outline some of the work that has taken place on the Aquatrain facility in the city, with work now complete on the new mooring wall for the Barge service to Alaska.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority
outlined the progress of work on the
Aquatrain facility in Prince Rupert
The Aqua train provides a vital shipping link between Prince Rupert and Alaska, with CN Rail highlighting the service as part of the transportation options that it delivers to the Port of Prince Rupert.

The Auquatrain which is operated by Foss Maritime, offers 4 day service from Prince Rupert to Whittier, Alaska.

The Foss vessels that serve Prince Rupert recently were in the news in October,  as the Barbara Foss came to the aid of the Russian Vessel Simushir when it was adrift off of Haida Gwaii

For more on items related to CN Rail in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

More on developments with the Prince Rupert Port Authority can be found here.

CityWest expands again, launching high-tech services to Gitanmaax

The Prince Rupert based communication company CityWest,  has expanded its service offerings to the eastern part of the Northwest, announcing earlier this month that they will be providing high speed Internet and phone service to the community of Gitanmaax, also known as Old Hazelton.

As well as improved options for those two communication services, some residents of that community will also be able to subscribe to the CityWest Fibre based TV services, a project which they hope to launch at the beginning of February.

That option finds CityWest using a Fibre to the home network for Gitanmaax, a process described by CityWest officials as the next phase in the evolution of telecommunications and broadcasting technology.

The nature of the change in technology is one which replaces copper and coaxial connections, shifting from the era of that old technology, by introducing new fibre connections.

As a result of the new services to the area, CityWest has advised of a new phone number range for its customers in the Gitanmaax area.

Bringing the Fibre-to-the-home network to Gitanmaax, brought CityWest into a partnership with the All Nations Trust Company, working as part of their Pathways to Technology initiative. A project designed to bring reliable, high speed Internet connectivity to First Nations communities in the province.

CityWest also plans to take that fibre concept to other Northwest communities,  with a fibre rebuild planned for Kispiox in the next few weeks and a larger fibre build is in the works, set to take place at another Community in the Bulkley Valley in the months to come.

You can review more background on the high tech direction that CityWest has taken to the eastern communities of it service areas from this item from the CityWest website.

For more background on developments with the City of Prince Rupert's communication company see our archive page here.

School District 52 prepares for 2015-16 Kindergarten registration in February

The opportunity for North Coast residents to register their Kindergarten age children for the upcoming 2015-16 school year is almost here, with School District 52 preparing to accept registration from February 2nd to February 13th.

Children who are eligible for the Kindergarten program will be 5 years of age by December 31st 2015, the Registration process will take place at all of the city's Elementary schools from nine AM until Noon and one until three PM each weekday.

Registration for Port Edward School takes place from 9 until 11:30 AM.

For those interested in enrolment in the French Immersion program, that will take place at Ecole Roosevelt School.

You can check to see which catchment area that your neighbourhood falls under from the map below from the School District.

In addition to the Kindergarten Registration, the School District is also outlining its Cross Border Transfer policy for the year ahead.

Families that are considering a change in schools for their child or children are required to fill out a Cross Boundary Application Form, available at all Schools in the city as well as from the School Board Office.

Completed forms are to be returned to the child's current school or to the School Board Office for consideration.

The timeline of submission for the Cross Boundary Transfer requests is from February 2nd to February 27th.

The School District advises that any requests that are received after that date will not be considered until the first week of School in September.

For more background on both the Kindergarten program and Cross Boundary Request issues, as well as a contact number for parents see this information sheet from School District 52

For other items related to Education on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Popular Sugar Shack Festival set for Saturday

The North Coast celebration of all things Francophone is almost upon us, with Saturday's Sugar Shack Festival of events set to launch, first with a Friday night concert.

Tonight at 8 PM the Pastiche Trio take to the stage at the Lester Centre of the Arts, providing a sample of the folk music of French Canada.

As an added bonus for concert goers,  the opening act for the Pastiche Trio will be Prince Rupert's own Ben Cornwall.

Tickets for the event tonight are available at Cook's Jewellers or at the Lester Centre. Admission is 15 dollars for adults, 10 for students with a reminder the cost increases to twenty for those who purchase at the door.

The fifth edition of the Sugar Shack goes into full swing on Saturday with a number of events planned for the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre from 11 am to 2 PM. 

Organizers have a day of fun planned for the whole family, with toffee on snow, live music and a sampling of some of the cuisine of French Canada.  The Pastiche Trio will also make an appearance during the Sugar Shack, providing more of their traditional sounds.

Tickets for the the Sugar Shack can be purchased through the AFFNO office in the Hecate Strait Building on 1st Avenue East or at Cook's Jewellers.

Admission for Saturday's Sugar Shack is 15 dollars per adult, 10 dollars for children ages 6 to 12, five dollars for those 3 to 5.

There will be a number of prizes awarded through the Sugar Shack festival for those in attendance, including a Grand prize of a return trip for four adults to Jasper, Alberta with VIA Rail.

Those that have purchased their tickets in advance will also be entered in the draw for a return trip to Haida Gwaii for two adults with vehicle courtesy of BC Ferries.

The Sugar Shack launch event social took place on Thursday evening at Cowpuccino's, setting the scene for the celebrations to come through to Saturday evening.

More on the Sugar Shack festivities can be found from the Facebook page created for the celebration. You can also get more information or volunteer your time by calling 250-627-4313

The Festival is organized by AFFNO, the association for Francophones and Francophiles of the Northwest, you can learn more about their work here.

Aurora LNG to host Open House, Open Community Office in Prince Rupert

The first stages of community engagement for the Aurora LNG Terminal development will come in February, when CNOOC/Nexen, the company proposing the Digby Island Terminal hosts an Open House.

The introductory session for Aurora LNG will take place on Wednesday, February 18th at the North Coast Convention Centre from 5 to 8 PM.

Besides learning more about the progress of the project, those in attendance will be asked to complete a feedback form, to share their thoughts on the proposed development.

The information that Aurora LNG receives from the public during the Open House will be considered by the Project team, as part of their considerations  as they move forward with the environmental, technical and socio-economic items related to the development.

In early March, Aurora LNG has plans to open their Community Project office, having selected space in the Coastal Business Resource Centre as their new home in Prince Rupert.

The Coastal Business Centre is located at 344 2nd Avenue West, across from the Bank of Montreal.

Aurora released their most recent information bulletin in December on their website, reviewing some of the latest developments with their project.

Included in that review were some of the steps that the company is taking in the areas of impact, health and safety and engagement with communities on the North Coast.

You can learn more about the Open House and further details about the proposed Digby Island project from the Aurora LNG website.

For more background on the project see our archive page here.

Roosevelt School the latest to benefit from Prince Rupert Port Authority Community Investment Fund

New Playground equipment at
Roosevelt Community School
Photo from PR Port Authority

Play time is on at Roosevelt Park Community School and the kids probably can't wait to get outside to check out the new playground equipment.

 It's taken a couple of years from the planning stage to development, but with the help of the Prince Rupert Port Authority's Community Investment Fund, the long desired upgrade to playground equipment is now complete.

Through its Community Investment Fund, the Port Authority contributed 35,344 dollars towards the playground renovations, which was combined with a grant that the Roosevelt PAC and Playground Committee had received from the BC Community Gaming Grant program.

The result of the two year process is a playground that not only features new equipment, but a project that involved a large segment of the Roosevelt Park School community.

Once everyone had offered up their input into the proposed changes to the playground, the Committee offered up two options for consideration, with the successful blue print selected by way of a vote that involved the staff, parents and students at the school.

“It was such a fun and inclusive process for everyone at Roosevelt, particularly the students who had their input included, and obviously the outcome was a resounding success,” “Our staff recognizes the supportive role that parents play in our school, and their efforts are greatly appreciated.” -- Sheila Wells, Principal of Roosevelt Park Community School/ École Communautaire Roosevelt Parc. 

In a media release from Thursday, the Port Authority outlined how the new playground will not only benefit those that attend the school, but will offer those in the immediate area with an opportunity to take advantage of the new equipment as well.

The Roosevelt School playground is one of the few areas on the west side of the city for parents and children to gather and during Spring and into summer, it is popular location owing to the use of the sports field by the Prince Rupert Youth Soccer Association.

The new playground equipment adds to the community nature of that part of town and provides for an outlet for all that youthful energy that needs to be burned off in a healthy manner.

You can review more about the playground project and the Community Investment Fund here.

For  more background on the Port's Community Investment Fund see our archive of items here.

With that in mind, a quick reminder for those in the community that the current opening for submissions of interest to the Community Investment Fund is quickly coming to an end, the final day for applications to the Fund is February 14th.

To get an overview of other Port related developments see our Port Archive page here.

For items related to School District 52, see our archive here.

National Energy Board approves Woodside Energy LNG export licence

Woodside Energy LNG, the Australian energy company that has been exploring its options for LNG development at Grassy Point received a 25 year natural gas export licence on Thursday, providing for another step along in the process of LNG for the North Coast.

That announcement, one of a number that the National Energy Board has made in recent months is part of the review by the Federal regulator of the many proposed LNG developments in British Columbia.

It's a positive move for those looking for progress when it comes to LNG development for the region, but whether a decision from the National Energy Board of yesterday is ever followed up by the company remains to be seen.

Woodside Energy proposal for
an off shore LNG facility for
Grassy Point
Woodside which has been reviewing its options for Grassy Point over the last year or so, has also become a major partner with Chevron for a proposed LNG terminal development in Kitimat.

That Kitimat LNG project is considered by those in the LNG industry as much further along in planning than the proposed Grassy Point project.

Whether Woodside Energy is inclined to take on two major investments in the Northwest at this time, is something that will be watched with interest by LNG observers in the months ahead.

Grassy Point already has had one of the two proposals for the area taken off the drawing board, earlier this month Aurora LNG confirmed that it was shifting its focus for an LNG terminal towards Digby Island, a site that Aurora believes offers the best opportunity for the company to move its plans forward.

The distribution note regarding the Woodside Energy approval  allows for a maximum term quantity of 807 billion cubic metres for export, you can review the NEB announcement for Woodside Energy here.

More background on their two potential developments can be found on our archive pages, the Woodside Energy Grassy Point proposal can be reviewed here, while details on their Kitimat LNG partnership with Chevron can be examined here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Prince Rupert RCMP warn residents about increase in theft incidents from vehicles

An increase in thefts from vehicles in the city has the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP advising residents to take preventative steps to protect their vehicles.

On Thursday, the RCMP outlined some background on the increase in thefts,  which have not been limited to any one area of the city.

Vehicles in question have either been left unlocked, or had their windows broken during the course of the criminal activity.

In the majority of the break ins, personal effects have been taken from the inside of the vehicles.

In a statement released on Thursday, Constable Matt Ericson from the RCMP outlined the approach that the local detachment is taking to address the issue.

"Currently the Prince Rupert RCMP has taken steps to assist in preventing additional theft ... We have stepped up patrols and have increased police visibility within the community."

In addition to those extra patrols, the RCMP is asking local residents to take measures of their own to reduce the risk of theft.

Among some of the suggestions:

Park in well-lit areas, near pedestrian traffic.

Remove possessions from your vehicle, such things as shopping bags, spare change, electronics and such.

Lock all vehicle doors

Keep your garage door opener out of sight.

More background on the local incidents as well as some information related to auto crime from ICBC can be found from this item from the Prince Rupert Detachment.

For more items related to Police and Emergency Services see our archive page here.

Prince Rupert Council gives final approval to Transit Fare Increases

Considering in recent weeks the usual running time for a Prince Rupert City Council session has been close to two hours, Wednesday's Special Council session may perhaps one day be listed in the record books as the shortest session of municipal governance for the year.

All Council members with the exception of Councillor Joy Thorkelson participated in Wednesday's 5 PM meeting, using sixty seconds of the two minutes and fifteen seconds of the session, to give final approval to some Fare increases for Prince Rupert Transit.

The short meeting was required owing to requirements from BC Transit when it comes to route planning and information material to be delivered in time for the May 1st date that the fare increases will go into effect.

For the record, the video presentation of Wednesday's public session can be found below.

Council then adjourned from their public gathering and went into a Closed session, which excluded the public.

Those discussions marked the third such meeting behind closed doors of the year so far.

For more items related to developments at Prince Rupert City Hall see our Discussion page here.

Northwest Community College receives 100,000 dollar donation from Seabridge Gold

Trades training in Northwest British Columbia received a significant boost this week as Seabridge gold made its third consecutive donation of 100,000 dollars towards programs at Northwest Community College.

The donation  will be put towards the NWCC Trades 10 program, which introduces five trades to Grade 10 students. The Intro to Trades program is currently available with School Districts in Smithers, Terrace and Hazelton, areas where Seabridge Gold is active in mining in the Northwest.

NWCC Took to twitter
to announce donation
NWCC recently outlined details of a new program designed in support of the Mining industry, with background on the Mineral Processing Operator program, which just delivered its first graduates  through their Houston campus.

You can learn more about the 100,000 dollar commitment to NWCC from Seabridge Gold from this media release.

Other trades program opportunities are available at the Prince Rupert campus, the popular Electrical Foundation Training program begins in February, the ACE IT program is also offered through the local campus, with Welding and Industrial Millwright foundation programs currently under way.

For more background on other Trades programs offered through NWCC see their website here.

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

Port of Prince Rupert may see increased throughput owing to US congestion

Things continue to get heated along the ports of the western United States as negotiations between employers and longshore workers continue on at a fairly slow pace, with slowdowns on the waterfront giving shippers cause to reconsider their transportation plans.

Through the last year, both the Port of Prince Rupert and Port Metro Vancouver have seen increased numbers of transit and some industry observers suggest that those numbers will continue to climb, owing to some of the turmoil of recent months in the US.

While the two sides have reached a tentative deal on some aspects of a proposed agreement, there are still a number of hurdles to be cleared before the US situation settles down and until that final agreement is in place, shipping companies will be looking for alternatives.

With that increased interest however, would appear to bring some challenges, with an increase in delay times a potential problem.

According to Business in Vancouver, container cargo customers have faced delays of two to five days through Prince Rupert, though compared to some of the other ports along the west coast, the Prince Rupert option would appear to remain the fastest transit available to gain entry to North America.

BIV -- U. S. container traffic jams could boost B. C. port business

The long term prospect of more re-directed traffic would appear to work in favour of the planned Phase Two expansion of the Fairview Container Terminal,  with current gateway already working at a high capacity.

With word continuing to spread to shipping lines about the advantages that the North Coast gateway offers,  the prospect of even higher levels of Shipments through Prince Rupert would seem easy to forecast, once the added space has been made available on the Prince Rupert waterfront.

The Port is attending a major Conference on shipping and Logistics this week in Vancouver, with the Prince Rupert Port Authority also listed as one of the Gold Sponsors for this weeks event which wraps up today.

Prince Rupert Port Authority booth
at Cargo Logistics Conference

That event provides an opportunity to share more details on the current capabilities of the Port of Prince Rupert, as well as to highlight the plans for the future, once the highly anticipated expansion project moves forward.

For more on the current levels of U. S. congestion and the impact on Canadians ports see the items below.

Vancouver Province-- B. C. could pick up business from backed-up ports on U. S. West Coast
Seattle Times -- West Coast ports are in rough seas due to slowdown
Wall Street Journal -- West Coast Port Snarls Will Take months to unwind
Labor Notes -- Union Faces Fresh Questions in West Coast Longshore standoff

For more items related to developments with the Prince Rupert Port Authority see our archive page here.

Rainmakers retain fifth place in Provincial rankings for another week

After another week of basketball, the Charles Hay Senior Boys Rainmakers didn't go up, nor did they go down, as Mel Bishop's squad once again was awarded the fifth spot in the top ten AAA rankings from BC Boys Basketball.

The latest rankings were provided by the Vancouver Province newspaper yesterday afternoon and CHSS continues to keep its pace against some of the big schools of the Vancouver area in the weekly update.

In the coming weeks, Charles Hays will be looking to topple Sir Charles Tupper, Fleetwod Park, St. Thomas More and the team once again atop the rankings, the Abbotsford Panthers.

Over the past weekend, the Rainmakers swept three games over Northwest competion at the CHSS gym and most recently wrapped up a whirlwind trip to Haida Gwaii, picking up two wins and a loss on the Islands.

Next up for the team is the opportunity to keep their skills sharp over the weekend with some play against the Prince Rupert Men's league.

You can keep up to date on all of the sports developments out of CHSS from the CHSS Sports twitter feed.

For some of our past items on Rainmaker sports see our archive page here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Council schedules two Special sessions for Wednesday

The City of Prince Rupert posted two advisories to their website late Tuesday, providing notice of Two Sessions of Council to take place on Wednesday, January 28th.

The first is a Special Regular Session of Council set for 5 PM, the main purpose it would seem, to provide Final adoption to the recent Transit Fare Fee Bylaws.

Background on the planned changes to the cost of Transit use in Prince Rupert can be found from this item from the blog.

The Second Special meeting will follow the Special Regular session, though it will be Closed to the public, with the City citing Section 90 of the Community Charter for the closure, highlighted by the following notice:

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

The closed session of Wednesday, marks the third such closed session of January.

For more background on events at City Council see our Archive page here.

Update: Council spent two minutes in public session to provide Final Approval to Transit Fare Increases for 2015.

Council waives Arena Rental fee for Guns and Hoses Charity Game

Prince Rupert's Everybody Gets to Play program was the winner on Monday evening, as Prince Rupert city Council considered a request from organizers of the annual Guns and Hoses Charity Hockey Game that takes place in the City.

Council reviewed a letter from Inspector Wayne Maughn of the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP, who outlined the nature of the Charity Game and the local program designated for support this year, all part of the request to have the City waive the regular rental fee for ice time at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

After a few minutes of discussion and a reminder from Councillor Barry Cunningham on the focus of the program that is run through the Civic Centre, the rent for the night of hockey was waived.

You can learn more about the Everybody Gets to Play program from this link to the City's Recreation Department

As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, planning is now in motion for the game, which is set to take place on Saturday, February 7th starting at 7:30.

The short conversation regarding the Arena request can be found from the City's Video Archie, it runs from the 47 to 49 minute mark

For more items from Prince Rupert City Council see our Discussions Page archive here.

Procedural concerns make for lengthy discussion at Monday's council session

For the second City Council session in a row, an attempt from the Mayor to seemingly move the proceedings along at a faster pace found some opposition from Council members.

Monday night's Council session started with the surprise announcement that the Council of the Whole Session, was to be cancelled for the evening, with the Mayor explaining that he was looking to try something new in the future to engage the public with Council.

The Council of the Whole process, which is normally in place once a month, in the past has provided for residents the opportunity to ask questions of Council regarding issues that they have concerns about.

The Mayor, citing his interpretation of Council procedures suggested that since no one had expressed an interest prior to the meeting to speak to Council, then Council could move forward without the need for that Committee of the Whole engagement.

It was an announcement that Councillor Thorkelson took some exception to later in the evening, outlining her thoughts on the Mayor's decision to change the procedures that have been in place since before her arrival on Council in 2005.

In particular, she was concerned about the surprise nature of the decision to change the procedures and expressed the belief that it was an issue that Council should discuss before such moves are put in motion.

Councillor Cunningham also offered up his thoughts on the Council of the Whole meeting, suggesting that it offers up a good opportunity for Council to hear from the Community and is not something that they should quickly discard.

Adding that it could complement the Mayor's still to be developed plans for more Civic engagement, earlier in the evening the Mayor had once again floated the concept of monthly Town Hall like meetings for the Civic Centre at some point in the future.

Mayor Lee Brain during course
of Procedural discussions Monday night
The Committee of the Whole controversy seemed to come to an end after the Mayor had reviewed some of the procedures by way of his smart phone, suggesting that he perhaps may have mis-interpreted the process that is currently in place.

Beyond the Committee of the Whole issue, Councillor Thorkelson also expressed concerns over the Mayor's approach to the changing of the Council Agenda, looking for the opportunity for all Council members to share their opinions on any procedural changes that may be considered.

In particular she had concerns over how the Mayor was approaching the segment of Council where Council members are allowed to raise issues, make comments and offer observations.  Suggesting that the Mayor's proposal of Council members having to advise to their intentions at the start of Council, expressing the thought that it would be a duplication of efforts.

The lengthy discussion for the most part involved only three members of Council, with Councillors Cunningham, Thorkelson and the Mayor providing for all of the back and forth on the issue.

None of the three newcomers to office, Councillors Niesh, Mirau and Randhawa, nor incumbent Nelson Kinney offered any comment to the procedural debate of Monday night

As the topic finally exhausted itself, the main takeaway would seem to have been that the topic of change to any procedural issues would best be discussed as part of Strategic planning sessions, though Councillor Thorkelson did add that any moves to change a portion of Council business that involves public participation should be discussed in public sessions.

A larger overview of the procedural discussions can be found on our City Council Timeline page.

For a review of the exchanges between the Mayor and Councillors Cunningham and Thorkelson see the City's Video Archive, the lengthy back and forth starts at the one hour thirty one minute mark and continues on until the end of the Council session at one hour fifty five minutes

Monday's controversy was not the first time this session where Councillor Thorkelson has raised issues of procedure, at the January 12th session she raised concerns over the Mayor's attempt to secure a blanket adoption of all of the previous minutes for December.

As we outlined on the blog on January 14th, at that time Councillor Thorkelson pointed out a number of errors to the minutes and counselled the Council members to address each of those minutes on an individual basis, sending some back to staff for clarification and to address the errors.

The rocky start to Council for January seems to suggest that there might be a need to go over the process that Council will use as a template moving forward with their Council sessions.

The ongoing confusion over process and mis-steps of recent weeks, is making for a City Council that appears to be creating more problems than it needs to take on in these early days.

Until they get a better handle on their day to day planning for the simple mechanics of a Council meeting and other related items, it may be a wise strategy to slow down the pace of some of their other initiatives, such as the string of Committees that they have recently formed.

Otherwise, the very real problem of getting overwhelmed by their self created workload could pose larger problems for Council solidarity.

For more items related to City Council Discussions see our Archive page here.

Council moves Transit fare increases forward, but with some changes to the BC Transit recommendations

Bus Fares are going up in Prince Rupert, but the impact won't be quite as harsh as originally outlined two weeks ago.

Monday night at Council, after consideration of the overview from BC Transit of the last council session and a review of a report from Staff, the Mayor and Council decided on a few changes to the fare structure provided.

But those decisions didn't come easy and weren't made until after a lengthy and at times vigorous discussion, of the impact of increased fares on low income residents and Seniors in the community.

By the end of the discussion however, all but Councillor Joy Thorkelson provided first, second and third reading to the bylaw motion to raise the fees, with the cost of travelling on the City's bus routes set to increase on May 1st.

The controversial plan to raise the Seniors rates to 48 dollars ran into a fair amount of push back, with Councillor's Cunningham and Randhawa speaking out against that particular proposal.

In the end Council decided to go with Councillor Randhawa's compromise suggestion of an increase of the Seniors bus pass rates to 24 dollars for the year, making for a cost of 2 dollars a month for those Senior Citizen's that rely on Transit.

As part of the discussion, Council broke away from the usual procedures of a Regular Council session, to allow for comment from a participant from the gallery, with Charles Justice making a presentation to urge council to keep the fee structures low, so as to increase usage of the Transit system.

The suggestion to seek ways to increase ridership was a theme that both Mayor Brain and Councillor Thorkelson found much to like and one which both offered up their intent to follow up on.

The discussion however did not come without some disappointment expressed by Councillor Thorkelson ,who was clearly against both the increase to the Seniors rates and the overall increase to all passengers.

After the full exchange of comments and a few tweaks to the original BC Transit recommendations, Council voted to approve the new measures, with Councillor Thorkelson voting against the motion.

The new rates will provide for a mix of the BC Transit recommendations and a few changes to those

The daily fare for Adults will be 2 dollars, however the Student/Seniors fares will remain at 1.50.  

As well the price of a book of tickets for Adults will be 18 dollars, and remain at 13.50 for Students/Seniors providing for ten tickets for the price of nine. 

The Adult Day Pass will remain at 4 dollars, while the Students/Seniors Day pas will cost 3.75.

The Seniors Annual Pass will increase by 12 dollars to a yearly amount of 24 dollars.

The new fares will be in effect as of May 1st, Route changes as recommended by BC Transit were approved at the January 12th Council session.

You can review that BC Transit presentation from our blog item of January 14th.

A more expansive overview of the back and forth discussions around the Council chamber can be found on our City Council Timeline.

You can review the full discussion on the theme from the City's Video Archive, it begins from the 50 minute mark and continues on until the 1 hour 27 minute point.  As well, the public participation of Mr. Justice can be reviewed at the 34 to 38 minute mark.

For more items related to discussions at Prince Rupert City Council see our Archive page here.

Northern Health provides City Council with an outline of its Healthy Communities Program

Monday night's Council session featured a presentation from Northern Health, as Sheila Gordon-Payne and Jane Boutette offered up some background on the focus of the Healthy Communities Program.

They highlighted the consultation and innovation that the project is bringing to Health Care in the community, taking a more a pro-active approach on the health of those living on the North Coast.

Through their Healthy Communities Committee, Northern Health is looking to engage the community in developing a strategic approach to target areas of concern to help residents avoid the need for acute care further down the road.

The main focus for this year for the Committee will be to examine issues related to youth at risk and items of interest regarding Seniors.

Representing the City of Prince Rupert on the Healthy Communities Committee will be Councillor Barry Cunningham, with Councillor Thorkelson standing as an alternate to the Committee.

More on the Healthy Communities approach can be found from the Northern Health website.

In addition to the overview of the Healthy Communities program, Ms. Gordon-Payne outlined the need for local residents to take advantage of the many grant opportunities that are offered by Northern Health, noting that they did not have a large number of applicants from the North Coast in the most recent grant period.

That lack of participation, left a fair amount of grant money behind that could have been used for programs and services in the community.

You can review the presentation from Monday from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the eleven minute mark and continues through until the 34 minute point.

For more items related to discussions at City Council see our Archive page here.

Council gets preview of Northern Growth Conference planned for March

Representatives of the Northwest
Growth Conference at Council Jan 26
Prince Rupert City Council members received a bit of a sneak preview of a Conference planned for the city in March, an economic gathering which will offer up the opportunity for local residents to explore opportunities that could come from any industrial growth that may be planned for the city.

John Farrell from Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest and Paul Venditelli of the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation provided the outline of the two day event known as the Northwest Growth Conference.

Scheduled for March 6th and 7th at the North Coast Convention Centre and other venues around town, the conference will feature presentations, speakers and boot camp like experiences. All designed to offer more information for those in the community that may be interested in learning how to gain access to industrial supply chains and other items related to development.

As well as the two days of information, the Northwest Growth Conference will play host to a local Trade show element, offering the opportunity for local businesses or organizations to secure a booth to showcase what they may have to offer as development nears.

Former Prince Rupert CBC Radio reporter Kevin Brown has been tapped as the Master of Ceremonies for the two day conference. With economist/author Michael H. Shuman providing the keynote address to the gathering.

The City of Prince Rupert has signed on as a Platinum Sponsor of the event, lending its support to the the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event for the City.

You can learn more about the Conference from its Facebook page here, or from the Hecate Straight Employment Development Conference page, where information on how to register for the two days of information exchange on the North Coast.

A review of the presentation to Council can be found below, it starts at the 3 minute mark and continues on until about 11 minutes.

For more items related to City Council see our Discussions from Council Archive page here.

City Council Timeline, Monday, January 26, 2015

For the most part Monday's City Council session was your run of the mill gathering of municipal governance, a few bylaws to deal with, a couple of presentations, pretty tame fare, at least until the Mayor took to changing the procedures of the night.

A fair  bit of controversy dogged the last hour of Monday's two hour meeting, as Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham expressed some concerns over a few procedural matters, particularly over the cancellation of the night's Committee of the Whole session.

For the first hour, Council's business was taken up by a pair of presentations one from the organizers of the Northern Growth Conference and the other from Northern Health.

A request regarding the annual Guns And Hoses Charity Hockey game and a proclamation request from the Chamber of Commerce also made up part of the night's workload.

Council also moved forward the process that will see some Transit Fares increase this May, while holding the line on other proposed fare changes from BC Transit.

Councillor Thorkelson who was out of town, participated in the proceedings by way of Internet telephone link.  The bulk of her contribution for the evening coming towards the end, when she once again raised some issues with the path that events at Council have taken in recent weeks.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note see the Council Agenda for January 26th here.

Further information from our overview and permanent placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city Website.

In Attendance January 26, 2014

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present  
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh-- Present 
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present (participated by telephone)

Video Archive for January 26, 2014

( 0:00- 18:00 ) The Mayor opened up the session by announcing that the Committee of the Whole for the evening was being cancelled, advising that the City is exploring new engagement strategies on how to gain feedback from the public on a more regular basis on a number of issues. Though he did note that one item on the evening's agenda, that of the Fee Setting Bylaw related  to Transit Fees might give members of the public cause for comment. So with that, he advised that when Council reached that part of the evening's work, comments from a delegation from the public would be accepted.

Following those opening remarks, Council then adopted the minutes of past meetings, though the Mayor had one correction for those minutes, that related to the creation of a Small Business Task Force,  which he advised should also be referred to as by a Select Standing Committee.

( 3:00 -- 11:00   )  A Presentation from John Farrell and Paul Venditelli regarding the upcoming  Northern Growth Conference -- Mr. Farrell provided an overview of the upcoming conference which is designed to engage Small Business operators, or would be small business operators in the discussion about opportunities that could be coming to the region in the future for the area.

He offered up a blue print of the conference and some of the topics that they will be focusing on over the two days of the gathering. With the First day dedicated to opportunities that could be coming to the Northwest.

Entrepreneurs will also be taking part in the evening session of the first night, outlining some of the challenges, both the successes and the failures that they faced in starting up their businesses.

The second day features sessions on positioning businesses to fit into the supply chain,  and offering a mini boot camp of sorts, to gain more knowledge on the topic. As well as to offer some suggestions on  how to ensure that local companies get a share of some of the opportunities that will arrive with growth.

In addition to the two days of meetings and get togethers, Mr.Venditelli outlined the nature of the Trade show element that will also be a featured part of the conference.

The City of Prince Rupert is a platinum sponsor for the gathering for this first edition of the Northern Growth Conference set to take place on March 6th and 7th.

( 11:00 -- 34:00 )  A Presentation from Ms. Sheila Gordon-Payne and Jane Boutette from Northern Health -- Providing background on the Healthy Communities program in the region, explaining the focus of Northern Health's program through its Healthy Communities Committee.

The pair stressed the nature of the consultative and innovative approach to address some of the health concerns that the project is trying to take on. Taking a more pro-active approach to health care, to help residents access services and programs that will enhance their health and lifestyles.

Of particular concern for the Prince Rupert approach and among their objectives for this year of the local Healthy Communities Committee, will be a look at youth at risk and Seniors.

They also outlined the need for those in the Community to take advantage of Grant opportunities through Northern Health, noting that they did not have a large number of applicants for the recent Grant period, leaving some grant money that could have been made available to the community behind.

Councillors Cunningham and Thorkelson will be representing the City of Prince Rupert as part of the Committee.

( 34:00 -- 38:00 ) Opportunity for Members of the Public to comment on the Transit Fare increases -- Mr. Charles Justice, representing the Prince Rupert Environmental Society provided his observations on the proposed Transit Fare increases and his suggestions on how to better encourage residents to make use of Transit in the community.

Reports and Recommendations

( 38:00 -- 42:00  ) Report from the City Planner regarding a Development Variation Permit for a property on Immanuel Street. -- City Planner Zeno Krekic provided a review of the work of the City Planners office and what Council might expect in the weeks to come regarding the property on Immanuel Street. He then moved on to the  background of the Permit currently under review by Council.

Council voted to carry the motion

( 42:00-- 44:00  ) Report from the Corporate Administrator regarding the City of Prince Rupert SQCRD voting rights.  -- Mr. Mandryk outlined the nature of the voting procedures at Regional District. Following the explanation that there is a total number of seven Prince Rupert votes at SQCRD, Councillor Kinney recommended that the Mayor take four votes and that he would hold the three remaining votes at Regional District.

Councillor Thorkelson participating by telephone inquired as to some of the procedures of Regional District.

Council passed the motion

( 44:00--45:00 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator regarding the rescheduling of a Regular Council Meeting -- Mr. Mandryk outlined that as the February 9th meeting was falling on Family Day, that it was required reschedule the Regular season of Council to the next day February 10th.

Council passed the Motion.

( 45:00 -- 46:00 )  Report from the Building Inspector regarding a property suffering Fire Damage -- Mr. Mandryk spoke on behalf of the Building Inspector, outlining the nature of the Fire Damage and a request to hold off on any Civic orders while the mortgage holder explores its options.

Council passed the motion

Correspondences for Action

( 46:00--47:00  Request from the Director of the Chamber of Commerce -- The Mayor reviewed the request for a proclamation to declare the week of February 16-20th to be known as Chamber of Commerce Week.

Council approved the proclamation.

( 47:00 -- 49:00 ) Request from the Organizers of the Guns and Hoses Charity Hockey Game
Council reviewed the letter of request to waive the fee on the Civic Centre in benefit of the Annual Charity Hockey Game. After some discussion, and with Councillor Cunningham outlining the nature of the Charity to benefit from the game, Everybody gets to play.

Following the discussion Council voted to approved the motion.

( 49:00 -- 50:30 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator regarding a Road Closure Notification for McCutcheon Road -- Mr. Mandryk reviewed how Council had already given the motion first, second and third readings and this would be the final action to adopt the road closure bylaw.

Council voted to adopt the motion.

( 50:30 -- 1:27:00 )  Report from the Chief Financial Officer Regarding the  Fees and Charges Amendment -- Ms. Bomben provided an overview of the proposed Fees and Charges changes to be considered for BC Transit. From her review she recommended that the proposed fee changes as presented by BC Transit be accepted, all new fares would be in effect as of May 1st.

Council then discussed the issue, with the Mayor leading off outlining his thoughts on the recommended fee Structure, expressing the fear that by increasing fees that the City may find a reduction in the use of the service.

Councillor Cunningham echoed the Mayors concerns over the possibility of a decline in usage and also expressed some thoughts on the impact on Seniors. Councillor Kinney offered up much the same commentary as those of Councillor Cunningham.

Councillor Niesh expressed his observations that the City needs to move more towards user pay concepts to take the burden off of residential taxpayers, he also offered up reminders to Council as to some of the programs available for those in need to access transit pass options. He wasn't very concerned over the suggested increase for Seniors as a major concern.

Councillor Thorkelson's concerns on the topic focused on the daily rates for transit, stating that she disagrees whole heartedly with the increases suggested there, wondering why Council would want to boost them just to match up with other communities in the province. She outlined how she would be willing to work with other members of Council to launch a campaign to urge residents to use Transit more often.

Councillor Cunningham pointed out for Councillor Niesh that a lot of the Seniors own their homes too and it's not a case of taking advantage, he also said he would be willing to try and encourage residents to make better use of transit.

Councillor Randhawa also had concerns over the proposed changes, while Councillor Kinney then pointed out that while there have been a number of increases to recreation fees and other areas, Seniors pensions don't rise.

Councillor Niesh observed that Prince Rupert was the only community to offer its own Senior Pass, if they adopted the BC Transit plan, Seniors could use their passes in other communities served by BC Transit. He also pointed out that those Seniors that had already purchased their passes would be using them for the rest of the year, with the new increase not to take effect until 2016.

Councillor Randhawa recommended a compromise, suggesting that the Seniors Fare be increased to only 24 dollars per year.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up some further comments that the impact of increased daily fares would have on the working poor and the unemployed.

The Mayor at that point then suggested that Council seek further information from Staff regarding the numbers, giving cause for the City Manager to weigh in advising that Council needed to address the proposal under consideration adding amendments if they wish.

Following those observations Councillor Kinney recommended that Council go with the proposal that had been provided by staff, with the exception of changing the Seniors Pass fee to 24 dollars.

The Mayor suggested that he was fine with the fare of 2 dollars for adults, but that the city should keep the same cash fare day rate in place now for Students/Seniors at $1.50, as well as to keep the price of the book of tickets process currently in place of ten tickets for the price of nine at a cost of $13.50.

He was fine with the monthly pass provisions, and would peg the price for Adult Day pass remain at 4 dollars while Seniors/Students would cost $3.76. That amount was later adjusted to round down to $3.75.

Councillor Thorkelson outlined a matter of procedure on the issue, leaving Council to discuss the chain of events that led up to the motion under consideration.

After a recap of the amendments in place from the Corporate Administrator. Council held its vote to adopt the motion, with all in agreement, with the exception of Councillor Thorkelson who recapped her objections to the increased fares.

Council then gave First, Second and Third reading to the Bylaw, with Councillor Thorkelson again reinforcing her opposition to the bylaw.

( 1:27:00  -- 1:31:00 )At this point the Mayor attempted to bring the meeting to a close and take Council to its Special Session for the evening.

However, Council members advised the Mayor that they had not finished the Agenda, with Councillor Thorkelson observing that they had not addressed additional items or Questions and Inquiries from Council Members.

The Mayor stated from his understanding of the process, that since those items had not been stated as they adopted the Agenda at the start of the Council meeting, that there then was no need to address them at this time.

An interpretation that Councillor Thorkelson took issue with, advising that its quite different from past practice, suggesting that it was a topic of concern that Council should have further discussion on.

For this Council session, The Mayor advised that he was willing to accept any issues or comments.

Councillor Thorkelson then asked some more questions regarding the new process the Mayor would like to follow and suggesting that it is different from the past.

Councillor Cunningham also spoke in favour of the past process where Council members had opportunity to recount their contact with the members of the community, suggesting that they shouldn't have to place them on the Agenda at the start of the meeting.

The Mayor then said he would review his interpretation of the procedures and at that point asked if there were any additional comments from Council for the evening.

( 1:31:00 -- 1:54:00 ) Comments or Inquiries from Council

Councillor Cunningham made comment about the success of the CBC Daybreak Food Bank in Prince Rupert, with this community donating more than Prince George.

He also called attention to the recent birthday of Harry Stewart a long time resident of the community and acknowledged his long membership with the Royal Canadian Legion.

Councillor Randhawa had concerns over the high price of gas in Prince Rupert and inquired if there is anything that the City could do to express its concern.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up a remembrance on how the City addressed the issue in the past.

She then had two items for Council, the first making note of a memorial for Chief Bob Hill, highlighting many of his achievements in the Community. She also suggested that the City provide a letter of condolence and acknowledgment of his work on behalf of the community on a number of Boards in the community.

Council voted to approve the motion to compose the letter of condolence.

Her second point was to express her concern over how the decision was made to not hold a Committee of the Whole Meeting for the evening. She observed as to the ongoing review of the Bylaws and the desire to improve communication with the public, tying the Committee of the Whole  meetings as key to communicating with the public.

Stating that while she was open to holding discussions related to the Committee of the Whole process, she was however, quite taken aback by the decisions that have been made to do away with things like the Committee of the Whole. A procedure which has been in place going as far back as 2002, particularly as it offers up the opportunity for the public to engage with Council in a public forum.

She stressed the need for Council to have some input into any such review.

The Mayor then reviewed the events of the evening and some of his thoughts on how to better engage the community, by way of more informal monthly sessions where the community would be more inclined to participate many of their concerns. Suggesting that it would be a good way to solicit the input of the public in a more fun approach, using different facilitation tools to get that feedback.

He explained how tonight he and the Corporate Administrator believed that as no interest from the public had been made  regarding the Council of the Whole,  that the segment could be cancelled, though he added that with the Transit Fare Discussion on the night, they used the approach of allowing for discussion at that point of the Regular Agenda.

He suggested that the effectiveness of the Committee of the Whole sessions could be an issue for further discussion at Council's Strategic planning sessions.

Councillor Cunningham suggested that they could have both, the monthly public sessions as outlined by the Mayor as well as retaining the Committee of the Whole aspect of Council sessions. Reminding council that in the past, some in the community have suggested that Council hasn't been transparent at times.

The Mayor observed that he had no problems with that, however he did offer up the thought that Council should strive to find a mechanism to ensure that Committee of the Whole meetings don't go on for two hours, before Council can approach its regular agenda.

He further outlined that his ultimate goal is to keep the Council meetings focused on business, more concise and find another way to encourage feedback from the public.

Councillor Thorkelson once again reinforced her concerns over how Council was being engaged on these issues, while expressing her support for seeking the feedback of the public, she outlined her determination to make sure that Council is allowed input into any proposed changes to procedures.

Stating that she as a council member doesn't believe that she has been properly consulted on these issues, nor that she has been asked her thoughts on the issues, nor had the opportunity to express her opinions on such proposals.

She made the observation that the Committee of the Whole Structure of the past engaged the residents with a question at the start of the session, issuing the invitation for comment with the statement "Do you have a question of the City that we can answer directly".

She closed her comments by stating that if there is to be a different structure to be put in place, she wants to have a say in how it is approached and to be a part of the conversation.

The Mayor then observed that he may have mixed some of the elements of the procedure bylaws together, and apologized for creating that procedural confusion. And then stressed that any changes would not be able to take place without the approval of Council.

Councillor Thorkelson then said that issues of changing procedures should be addressed in public and that perhaps a review of the Procedural Bylaws could be examined by Council, perhaps setting up a committee of Councillors to make some recommendations as to those potential changes.

The Mayor reviewed how Council had not yet had a chance to get together so as to get on the same page of where they wish to move on issues of procedure.

Councillor Cunningham echoed some of the Mayors' comments about not having had a chance to sort out some of their differing opinions on the topic, he then turned to the public and the need for them to be more engaged with City Council and bring them their concerns and what they want from Council.

The Mayor expressed his eagerness to get towards that process of engagement with the public in the future.

Before the evening's session came to an end Councillor Niesh outlined some details of the most recent meeting with the Airport Authority Board meeting, explaining to the Board that the City wants to be more involved with the airport and work with them.

( 1:54:00 --1:55:00 )With that Council adjourned to a Special Closed session for the night.

You can access the City Council Review page for January 26th here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to 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 of the Regular Council Session from January 26, 2015 

Council next meets in Regular session on February 10, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Prince Rupert RCMP issue Wolf Warning

An increase in contact between residents of Prince Rupert and wolves in the area has led to the RCMP issuing a public warning on Tuesday afternoon.

The Prince Rupert RCMP took to its twitter feed and website on Tuesday to issue a Wolf Warning to the public, a step deemed necessary after receiving 14 related calls for service regarding Wolf sightings in the last month.

"Currently we have met with conservation officers and are developing a strategy to deal with these issues... Although wolves may seem intimidating in most circumstances they are more afraid of you, however there are some simple precautions that community members can take to deter wolves from urban areas. -- Constable Matt Ericson, spokesman for the Prince Rupert RCMP Detachment

The RCMP did not specify if the wolf sightings were limited to one section, or if the reports of wolf activity were spread across the city. The RCMP and Conservation Office are currently discussing the best approach to take to deal with the situation.

To go with the general warning to the public, the RCMP also provided some options for local residents when it comes to engagement with wolves in the community among those recommendations.

Remove all potential food sources from outdoor areas (such as garbage)

Thoroughly clean areas where game may have been quartered

Supervise young children when out playing or walking

Do no leave small pets unattended in outdoor areas

Should the public encounter a wolf the RCMP also recommend the following actions:

Do not run

Stay Calm

Back away slowly while facing the animal

Leave the wolf a way to escape

Pick up small children without bending down

Raise your voice and speak firmly

If the wolf approaches or acts aggressively, wave your arms and make yourself look as large a possible

Shout, make noise and throw any available objects.

In the unlikely event that the wolf attacks, you should fight back. Remain standing and use rocks, sticks, tools and your hands to keep off the animal,  as well you those facing a wolf attack should  keep the animal away from your neck and head area.

If anyone in the community should see wolves in the urban are of the city, or observe them being aggressive they are to contact the RCMP immediately at 250-624-0700 or Contact the BC Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

More information on how to deal with interactions with wildlife can be found from the BC Conservation Service website.

You can review the full Warning from the RCMP website, for updates on the situation follow that page or through the Prince Rupert detachment twitter feed.

For more items related to RCMP and Emergency Response situations see our archive page here.

Alaska Governor maintains Prince Rupert Terminal renovation will go ahead ... at some time.

While the January bid process for repairs to the infrastructure of the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal in Prince Rupert is now dead, the project itself should come back to life at some point.

That at least according to some news reports out of Juneau, which suggest that Alaska Governor Dave Walker is hopeful that that the different levels of government will eventually come to an agreement on the Buy America controversy that brought the renovation plans to halt last week.

The Juneau Empire featured an item that outlined how the State of Alaska believes that the current state of the terminal would allow for up to five years of operation, though they are looking into the details of the lease agreement to see if there are any obligations or timeline required to have those renovations in place.

The article goes on to explain that the State plans to re-engage with Canadian officials at some point in the next year, allowing for the current break to serve as a cooling off period it would seem.

Ketchikan's Public Radio station KRBD also had some background on the current state of the ferry renovation project, with the Governor highlighting the Prince Rupert Terminal as important to what the state does as part of its Alaska Marine Highway System.

The tone of commentary regarding the Ferry terminal renovation is a little more subdued from that of last week.

Last Thursday we outlined on the blog, how the Juneau Empire in an editorial piece had called for the Ferry service to end its port call in Prince Rupert.

The comments coming out of the Governor's office of last week would seem to suggest that patience and discussion will be the path chosen and not the approach as recommended by the newspaper's editorial page writers.

You can review the full timeline of events regarding the controversy through our archive pages from 2105 and 2014 found here.