Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Northern Savings enters period of transition, revisits strategic direction and seeks new CEO

A short notice posted to the Northern Savings Credit Union website outlines the recent departure of now former President and CEO Ken Doleman.

Mr. Doleman apparently left the company earlier this month, having served in his capacity as CEO for over two and half years.

Northern Savings hailed his contributions to the financial institution, wishing him well in his future endeavours in a March media release. No further background on the change in direction was offered through the media release.

The Board has appointed Sharon Stromdahl to take on the duties of Interim President and CEO while the Board considers its strategic direction for the Credit Union, once they have determined their path forward, they will launch their search for a new CEO.

It is not the first time that Ms. Stromdahl has served as an interim CEO, a familiar face known with the Credit Union she will offer some continuity for the organization as they revisit their direction and start their search for a new head.

Ms. Stromdahl and the Board will be reporting on the Credit Union's performance over the last fiscal year with a number of public information sessions across the region in April.

Membership meetings will be taking place on April 8th in Masset, April 9th in Queen Charlotte City, Terrace hosts their meeting on April 13th.

Prince Rupert members will meet on April 15th with the AGM set for the Crest Hotel.

You can review the background from the announcement here.

No bounty of jobs from herring fishery for local shore workers

While the topic of the herring fishery is proving to be controversial on Haida Gwaii and the Central coast, for the North Coast the season is in full swing as we head into April.

As most residents of Prince Rupert have no doubt noticed this past week, a large volume of transport trucks have started to make their annual trek from the city's remaining fish plants, destined for industrial popping locations in the Lower Mainland or off shore.

An ongoing issue of concern that Councillor Joy Thorkelson raised with Council members last Monday evening.

Ms. Thorkelson made use of time at the end of the council session to provide an update to the community on the current status of that herring fishery, calling attention to the continued process of trucking the frozen herring to locations outside of the North Coast for further processing.

That shift from the past practice of local popping, she observed has resulted in a number of job losses to the community as shore workers remain at home without work, as the product caught in northern waters is transported south or taken off shore for further processing.

She pointed to a change in regulations by the Federal Government as the main cause for the shift in processing procedures for the industry.

This year she estimates that the practice of shipping the herring out of town for further processing, mainly to non-union plants she observed, has resulted in sixty to eighty local workers losing out on roughly six weeks of work.

The practice of shipping product out of the city, has made for a shift in the direction for the local fishery, one that has had a significant impact on what once was a key portion of the local fish processing industry in the community.

You can review her presentation to council on the issue from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the one hour thirty five minute mark and continues on for about a minute.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page here, we also have a page dedicated to items regarding fishery issues which you can access here.

City Council hires Dr. Barb Faggetter as "resident scientist"

Dr. Barb Faggetter has been hired on
as the City's "resident scientist"
The first significant hiring through the funding of the Legacy Corporation has provided Dr. Barb Faggetter employment as the City's "resident scientist".

With Dr. Faggetter set to take on environmental assessment work on issues related to the proposed LNG development planned for the Tuck Inlet area of the city.

The announcement of Dr. Faggetter's hiring came by way of a posting to Mayor Lee Brain's Facebook page, as the Mayor made mention of her position while updating residents on his recent trip to Texas and the Exxon Campus.

"Council has zoned 10 conditions into the process itself and have hired Dr. Barb Faggetter as our resident scientist to oversee the Environmental Assessment" -- Mayor Lee Brain providing an update on the Exxon/Imperial LNG proposal for Tuck Inlet

The Mayor was touring the giant facility as part of the city's efforts to secure an LNG processing and shipment facility for the Tuck Inlet area.

In addition to the announcement regarding Dr. Faggetter's employment, the Mayor also outlined that Exxon has plans to release the design of the facility to the public shortly.

Mayor Brain announced Dr. Faggetter's
hiring through a Facebook post last week
As we outlined on the blog earlier this month, the Exxon project commenced its Environmental phase on March 5th.

The hiring of Dr. Faggetter appears to have been conducted as part of a number of closed sessions of Council in recent weeks.

At least we can only suspect that is where the hiring was considered, as there has been no mention of it made, or welcome aboard provided to the Doctor in recent open sessions of Council.

The Mayor's Facebook update was the first mention of Dr. Faggetter's involvement with the now ongoing environmental phase of the proposed Exxon project.

By not addressing the topic in public, residents will have no idea if the decision to hire her was unanimous, or if anyone on council had any concerns about the process involved.

Nor it seems, was there much of an intensive search for other qualified candidates for the position of a resident scientist, as no employment opportunity ads, or tender for services has appeared on the city's web page in recent weeks, signifying that the search for any position was under way.

Dr. Faggetter had previously been hired on as part of a contract basis by the Legacy Corporation to conduct an overview of the Lot 444 area related to the city's rezoning plans of last year.

Previous to that, she has made numerous appearances at City Council sessions to provide observations on local LNG proposals.

Of note among her presentations were sessions related to her concerns over the Pacific Northwest LNG Lelu Island development and more recently her findings to Council on the Tuck Inlet proposal from Exxon.

And while Dr. Faggetter most likely has the qualifications for such a position as "resident scientist" as the city may have defined them, the method of the city's approach to the hiring, is something that might be of note for those that are concerned about transparency issues when it comes to the Legacy Corporation staffing for such positions.

Beyond the lack of a proper posting procedure for what appears to be a civic position, there was also no public discussion at Council about the process as it relates to the staffing of Legacy Corporation related positions.

At recent budget information sessions, the City outlined that Legacy funding would not be used to cover municipal budget shortfalls, or other concerns related to civic operations.

Instead, the revenue streams from the Exxon money related to Lot 444 development is to be directed towards staffing issues related to development, which we imagine is where the hiring of Dr. Faggetter comes in.

To this point residents have no knowledge of the term of employment for Dr. Faggetter, leaving it unsaid as to how long she will be on the payroll,.

As well, so far there has been no explanation as to the terms of reference for her work, what the city's expectations are regarding her oversight on the Lot 444 issue, or what amount of salary she will be paid in relation to her expertise on the issues the city may be concerned about.

Instead, the only mention the public receives of the hiring comes by way of the Mayor's Facebook page,  that while helpful in a vanity press kind of way of providing updates on the Mayor's activities, probably should not be taking the place of a proper information flow from the city itself.

Positions of employment and decisions related to developments with the City and the Legacy Corporation, should primarily be routed through the City's website, with a proper trail of information regarding how those decisions have been achieved available for review by the public.

For all it's talk of transparency and consultation on issues related to the Legacy Corporation, the handling of Dr. Faggetter's appointment would suggest that Council still has some work to do when it comes to keeping the public up to date on what the newest City owned corporation is up to.

More on the Tuck Inlet LNG project can be found from our archive page here.

Quickload shift to old Canadian Freightways yard heads for public hearing stage

Rezoning proposal for the old
Canadian Freightways location
A proposed move for Quickload Terminals to the old Canadian Freightways site was the subject of a portion of last weeks City Council session.

As council members heard of the need to rezone the land in question to allow for container stuffing and other operations related to the container service in the city.

Quickload recently announced that they were preparing to shift their operations from Watson Island, apparently settling on the location that once housed the Canadian Freightways operations in the city, located at Frederick Street and Highway 16.

In order to locate in that area however, the city will have to rezone the land in question, a process which they put in motion last Monday, following a report from the City Planner Zeno Krekic.

As part of his overview, Mr. Krekic also noted that the proposed shift of purpose for the area will be outlined for the province's highways ministry, in order to hear comment from them regarding the change and any impact on traffic at the Frederick Street entrance to the highway.

Councillor Thorkelson had questions regarding the rezoning proposal, with concern raised over what other kind of industry might be able to locate on the land, should Quickload at some point decide to leave.

To address those concerns, the City Manager suggested that Council could put in place covenants to exclude other uses, beyond what is specified with the current proposal.

Council voted to move forward with the process, putting forward a timetable for a public meeting to consider the issue further.

The public hearing will take place on Monday, April 13 at 7 PM in Council Chambers at City Hall, background on the process can be reviewed here.

You can examine the proposed relocation to the Canadian Freightways yard from the City's Video Archive, the discussion starts at the one hour twenty two minute mark.

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

Rushbrook Floats issues received by City Council

City resident Wes Baker with a
presentation to council
regarding Rushbrook Floats

Concerns over a number of issues at Rusbhrook Floats caught the attention of Council last week, with the comments from a local resident making the case for action for the local facility.

As part of the Committee of the Whole Session from last Monday's City Council meeting, Mr. Wes Baker delivered a petition of concerns in the community related to Rushbrook Floats on the east side of the City.

Mr. Baker highlighted the need for a more equitable pass process for local residents and expanded on the nature of repairs required for the boat ramp for the heavily used facility.

He suggested that Council reduce the current year round pass was too expensive for local residents and recommended that the rate be cut to one hundred dollars a year, under a category to be known as resident taxpayer. In addition he called for Free Parking for all daytime users of Rushbrook Floats from October 1st to May 1st.

As for the condition of the boat ramp at Rushbrook, Mr. Baker described the deteriorating condition of the facility as embarrassing for the City, seeking to have something similar to what is currently in place at Port Edward provided for the Rushbrook area, adding that the repairs should be made before the summer arrives.

Repairs for the boat ramp are apparently in the works for the City, with the Mayor advising that the public would be advised through Facebook and other options as to when those repairs will be taking place.

He also noted that a full report on the nature of parking is due to be provided to Council shortly, where all of the issues related to not only Rushbrook Floats, but the Atlin terminal lot and Fairview may be reviewed.

He added that Mr. Baker's petitions and presentation to council would be added to that information archive. More background on the presentation can be found from our Council Timeline for March 25th.

Mr. Baker's concerns and suggestions for Council can be examined by way of the City's Video Archive, he makes his commentary at the five  mark of the evening's proceedings.

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

Proposed West Side Housing Development moves to public notification stage

As we outlined in a post prior to our break from blogging last week, City Council is currently examining a proposal from a Prince George developer to carve a new housing development out of a wooded area off of Park Avenue, near the BC Ferries Terminal on the west side of the City.

The proposal which appeared as part of last Monday's Agenda package, highlighted the nature of the proposed development and the prospect of a secondary road access that it would provide for the Graham Avenue area of the city.

Last Monday, Council members received a presentation from the Zeno Krekic, the City Planner who outlined the basic plan moving forward for the project, which as a first step will require some rezoning of the land in question.

As part of the process, Mr. Krekic observed that before any work gets underway on the site however, the proponent is to provide for  a public information session to further explain the project for the city's residents.

As well, the developer is to address any outstanding issues related to ownership of portions of the land in question and issues related to highway access and DFO concerns.

Following the City Planners overview, council members were offered the opportunity to outline concerns or ask questions regarding the proposed development, with Councillors Cunningham, Niesh and  Thorkelson offering a number of observations on the topic.

In particular, Councillor Thorkelson  expressed an interest in addressing the need for multi family housing options and wondered if that could be tied into this current proposal.

However, Mr. Krekic pointed out that in this first phase of the proposed development for 30 new homes, the housing stock would be of more upscale single family housing which offers the most financial sense for the proposal. He further noted that the proponent did have plans for potential future development of multi family housing in areas adjacent to the area currently under consideration.

The City planner also suggested that the topic of furthering those multi family goals for the city, might be best addressed as part of the public information session to be held by the proponent.

Following the presentation, Council gave first reading to the proposed zoning and Community Plan changes, setting in motion the process for further consultation on the project.

You can review Mr. Krekic's presentation from the City's Video Archive at the one hour two minute mark.

For more items related to City Council Discussions see our archive page here,  we also have a page dedicated towards housing issues on the North Coast, you can review our items from those listings here.

City of Prince Rupert looks to increase pressure on Province on taxation caps

A city resident offers up comment
regarding  the City's budget for 2015
Last Monday's council session provided one more opportunity for the City of Prince Rupert to put some of the blame on the areas financial woes back on the shoulders of the provincial government.

As the Mayor and a number of councillors, once again recounted the issue of taxation caps and how they are impacting on the city's ability to cover services.

As part of the final public comment phase on budget deliberations, local resident Denis Rowse offered up his concerns regarding the city's plans to once again increase taxes for local residents to address their 200,000 dollar budget shortfall.

His statement provided both Mayor Lee Brain and Councillor Joy Thorkelson an opportunity to cover some familiar territory of recent weeks, as both explained the nature of the impact on the city of provincial taxation caps on local industry.

As part of that commentary Councillor Thorkelson observed that there is currently a letter in draft stage at City Hall. Observing that once it is finished, it will offer local residents the opportunity to send a message to the province when it comes to what the city considers a major issue between the municipality and the provincial government.

Once the letter is approved, Thorkelson would like to see copies of it provided to a number of locations around the city such as the Library, Civic Centre and MLA Jennifer Rice's office to name a few possible spots, offering an opportunity to provide as wide a distribution to it as possible.

She also added that residents could sign a copy of the city composed letter, or create their own original letter to express their concern over the cap situation and the impact that it is having on the city's financial picture,

You can review that portion of the conversation from the City's Video Archive starting at the 21 minute  minute mark.

For more background on City council discussions see our archive page here, we also offer up a page for review that is dedicated towards issues related to taxation for the City, you can access that here.

City will not make use of Legacy Fund for budget shortfall issues

The City's Financial Officer made a short presentation to Council last week as part of the final public consultation session on the city's budget preparations.

One aspect of Corinne Bomben's overview to Council included an answer to questions raised during the last public session of March 9th.

Last Monday evening, particular attention was directed towards the potential use of Legacy Corporation money to fund the budget shortfall, a proposal that the city is seemingly not inclined to make use of.

Instead it would appear that the City prefers to allocate any Legacy Funding towards staffing requirements and other items related to development of the land in question along Tuck Inlet related to the proposed LNG development for the area.

As part of her presentation she suggested that using Legacy Funding to offset operational increases would have as she put it "dire consequences".

Explaining that should the major projects proposed for the region not go ahead, the Legacy funds  would become depleted over the course of an eight year timeline.

Should the city use the Legacy Fund during that time to keep mill rate increases to zero until the fund is exhausted, the result would then be a required 23 per cent increase to the mill rate to fund operational purposes at the end of that period.

She outlined that the city believes that the current method of an incremental approach to taxation that the city is using towards operational costs makes more sense. As it allows for smoother rate changes and keeps pace with normal increases such as contractual and statutory obligations as well as to normal increases to supplies and services.

She also offered up an explanation on the process of determining the mill rate for taxation, making note of the current proposal of a 1.9 percent increase for 2015.

The Mayor further expanded on the proposed use of the Legacy Fund revenues later in the council session, as part of an answer to Denis Rowse, a city resident who had posed a question related to the city's plans to increase taxes once again.

The Mayor outlined some of the challenges that the city is facing when it comes to accessing tax revenues on the industrial side of things, as well he offered up a snapshot of the City's plans when it comes to uses for the Legacy Fund revenue stream.

More background on issues related to the Legacy Fund discussion can be found from our Council Timeline from March 23rd.

Ms. Bomben's presentation to Council can be found from the City's Video Archive, the presentation runs until the five minute mark.

Mayor Brain's thoughts on the Legacy Corporation can be found at the 30 minute mark.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page.

City Council Timeline, Monday, March 23, 2015

We catch up on developments from Prince Rupert City Council after our week away from blogging, with a recap of the events of the March 23rd session through our usual timeline feature.

Last Monday offered up a second opportunity for public comment on the Budget process, with one resident taking the opportunity offer comment on the city's plans for another tax increase to cover a pending budget shortfall.

That topic also provided the chance for the City to once again stress the pain that the province's caps on taxation on port lands is providing for the community.

Council also heard concerns over the state of repair of Rushbrook Floats and inequities in charges at the location.

As well, Council received a presentation from the City Planner regarding both a proposed housing development for the west side of the city, and zoning issues related to the relocation of Quickload Terminals to the old Canadian Freightway's location.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note see the Regular Council Agenda for March 23 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 March 23, 2015

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 

Video Archive for March 23, 2015

( 0:00- 1:15 ) The Mayor started off the evening, by reviewing and having Council adopt past minutes and agendas, following which he turned the proceedings over to Ms. Bomben.

( 1:15--5:30 )  Report from the City's Chief Financial Officer, providing an overview of the 2015 Budget Preparations -- Ms. Corinne Bomben offered up some responses to public inquiries about the budget process. Providing a review of two items of interest on the theme.

Money received from the Legacy Fund will not be used to fund the current projection of a budget shortfall of 120,000, or it would appear any in years to follow.  Her main observation on that theme that using the Legacy Funds over eight years until that pool of money is exhausted would result in a larger increase of mill rates at the end of that eight year period.

She outlined how it is better to make for smaller increases each year to cover contractual and normal increases to supplies and services.

She also provided a short tutorial on how the mill rate process works and what the formula is to deliver the mill rate increase that the city uses to assess taxation levels.

For 2015 a projected mll rate increase of 1.9 per cent will deliver a final mill rate of 7.3766 per cent.

Committee of the whole Session

Council shifted from their regular council session to a Committee of the Whole session to allow for public comment. After going over the items of the Agenda, council members heard presentations from the public

( 5:30 -- 21:00 )  A Presentation from Wes Baker on the theme of required repair work and rate changes for Rushbrook Floats

Mr. Baker representing a number of users of the Rushbrook Floats facility provided a number of concerns from those that make use of the boat launch and dock area of the waterfront.

He called for Free Parking for all daytime users of Rushbrook Floats  from October 1st to May 1st, also to add a category of resident taxpayer to the payments scale for the annual pass for use of Rusbhrook Floats.

He called attention to the nature of Free Parking currently available at the Atlin Terminal.Cow Bay parking area, suggesting there is a need for fairness on the issue of parking.

He also recommended a charge of 100 dollars by way of a pass for all resident users, good from April to April. This Resident Taxpayer charge, homeowners and business users would be able to purchase one resident pass, which would help offset the high taxes for resident taxpayers.

He believes that this would reduce congestion at the docks.

The second part of the petition to council is to seek repair to the boat float ramp at the dock, calling attention to the deteriorating condition of the current ramp situation. Calling it an embarrassing situation for the city.

He called for a ramp similar to what is currently in use for Port Edward and suggested if the city can afford to create slips for yachts, it can make required repairs to the boat launch area.

He urged that the repairs be made before summer arrives.

For council's consideration he presented the various petitions he had collected around the community.

Mayor Brain advised that there is a full report about to be provided to Council related to issues surrounding the Rushbrook Floats area.  He added that the City would integrate the petition findings and Mr. Baker's presentation to that report.

Councillor Niesh asked if there was a currently a year long pass process in place, Mr. Baker outlined how the current situation that is in place was too expensive for local residents.

Councillor Cunningham suggested if there was not a possibility to create a split pass, strongly recommending that the City do something as he doesn't see why the local resident should be penalized in the winter months.

Councillor Thorkelson also offered up some thoughts, focusing in part on the concerns of commercial fishermen and made a number of observations related to the condition of the ramp and the parking situation in the area.

The Mayor asked the Chief Financial Officer as to the timeline for repairs for the boat ramp in the area, noting that it would be addressed in the weeks to come. The Mayor observed that he would be advise the public as to when that will be considered through Facebook and such.

Councillor Kinney asked for clarification on which pass Mr. Baker wished to have changed.

21:00 --40:00 ) Opportunity for Comment related to Budget Issues

The Mayor outlined that this session was the final opportunity for public comment on the process, reviewing the process taken to this point to inform the public of the budget considerations.

One resident, Denis Rowse offered up thoughts regarding Council's approach of increasing taxes each year as opposed to reducing staff or cutting costs for City operations.  He wondered how often Council considered cutting costs.

The Mayor offered up a short review of how the City came to its decisions for this year, advising that the City can't cut any further than it has cut, pointing to staffing arrangements that he called "cut to the bone".  He said that there is nowhere else to look to seek cost savings.

He called attention to the city's financial position at the moment and outlined that one of the reasons for the tax increase is the city's inability to collect full taxation from capped industries in the area. He highlighted the difference between Kitimat and Prince Rupert when it comes to ability to tax industry.

He offered up some commentary on how those caps are affecting not only local taxpayers and having a major impact on the city's small industrial base.  Suggesting that after a seven year period the cap should be lifted and the City able to collect full taxation from them.

He advised that the City is working towards finding a solution to that problem, making it the number one issue for this council.  Her observed that operationally to continue on with their core requirements they will require an additional 120,000 dollars this year.

The Mayor also observed as to the potential for future industry in the region and how the City will use income from the Legacy Fund to fuel additional staffing resources for planning and environmental issues related to that potential growth.

He noted that the LNG industry could be a game changer for the community and that council will be working hard on that file over the next four years and could take the burden off the taxpayer to secure some sort of investment.

Councillor Thorkelson then made note of a proposal that was circulating to provide a draft letter on the tax cap situation, suggesting that Council have local residents either write a letter of their own to the Province, or sign the draft letter regarding the issue and how it impacts on the community.

She suggested that the letters be made available at a number of locations in the city such as the Library, the Civic Centre and the MLA's office in order to generate as wide a response from residents as possible.

Councillor Cunningham offered up a number of comments related to the taxation caps from the province and the impact that they are having on the business community. He also made note of the shrinking population base and how the City still has to operate a municipality of a larger area with less resources available.

( 42:00 -- 1:02:30 )  Opportunity for General Comments from the Public on other issues

A resident made a presentation on the issue of safety in the Kootenay Avenue area.  Calling attention to speed issues and other items that require further attention from the RCMP.

She also offered up a lengthy list of other topics for councils consideration, ranging from maintenance of pathways to cruise ship season, concerns over the driving habits of local taxi drivers and skateboarding concerns.

A second citizen of the city approached Council with concerns related to parking issues and two hour grace periods at both the Atlin Parking lot and George Hills Way, calling for the city to examine the situation. Calling attention to the nature of parking around the region, with a focus on not only Rushbrook Floats and the Atlin Terminal/Cow Bay Road area, but Fairview Floats as well.

The Mayor once again pointed to the upcoming report for Council related to parking issues.

With no other residents approaching with topics of concern, Council returned to it's Regular Council session.

Bylaws and Reports

( 1:02:30 -- 1:23:00 )  Report from the City Planner regarding a proposed Zoning amendment for a section of Park Avenue --  Mr. Zeno Krekic, the City Planner outlined some background on the proposed housing development for an area of the west side of the City.  Mr. Krekic offered up the history of the property which is located between the campground area and the Fairview dock area.

He provided a review of the current zoning of P1 and the need for change to allow for the proposed housing development for the area. He made note of the prospect of a secondary access point for the Graham Avenue area, by way of a road from Park Avenue.

Mr. Krekic recommended that before advancing the proposal to the next stage, the proponent conduct a public information session related to the development and to provide certainty of purchase of land.  As well, city staff should conduct internal referrals and seek out a referral with transportation and infrastructure and seek out if a DFO referral is required.

Councillor Thorkelson raised a number of issues related to the proposal.

Her first was related to the nature of the development and the number of lots for the area in question.

Her follow question explored questions related to zoning on Graham and the previous proposal of a condo development for that area and whether this new development would impact on that project.

She then asked if the city could approach the zoning issue to seek out multi family housing requirements for the area currently under consideration by the proponent. Mr. Krekic suggested that the public information session that would be part of the process as an appropriate point to raise that issue with the proponent, though he cautioned that the best financial sense for the proposed development would be as currently set out.  Noting that the proponent does have future provisions in place for potential multi family housing proposals.

Councillor Niesh made note of the need to make sure that the advertising for the public notice makes it clear that the proposal is one that the City of Prince Rupert is considering to perhaps attract a larger audience.

Councillor Cunningham had questions about the city owned property that the developer is looking to access as part of the proposed development. He also pointed out an error in the application that mentions the City of Prince George as opposed to City of Prince Rupert.  He also made note of the involvement of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in the process of review of the application.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up one more observation, seeking some clarification on the process ahead for the proposed development.

With Mr. Krekic's timeline outlined, Council then provided the proposed zoning amendment and Quality of life amendment its first readings, moving the process forward.

( 1:23:30 -- 1:34:00 ) Report from the City Planner regarding rezoning of land on Prince Rupert Boulevard for the purpose of stuffing containers  -- Mr. Krekic outlined the proposal from Quickload Terminals to make use of land at the old Canadian Freightways yard at Frederick Street.  With the requirement of council to rezone the land from M1 to M2 to allow for the stuffing of lumber into the containers.

He provided a short overview of the current operation on Watson Island and what it would look like once relocated to the Canadian Freightways yard.

Mr. Krekic noted that he had advised the proponent that he would be referring the topic to the Ministry of Highways, in order to hear comment from them regarding the change proposed for the property off of Highway 16.

Councillor Thorkelson inquired as to what other kind use could be in place if they rezoned the land and Quickload was to walk away from the area leaving it open for another industry to move in. Mr, Krekic advised that it would be a higher active use of land but not at the same level of M3 which is what the industrial park is currently zoned at.

Councillor Cunningham asked why there was a need to consult with the Ministry of Highways, he was advised that it was a good exercise owing to the increase of vehicles that would be introduce in close proximity to the highway.

City Manager Robert Long also added some thoughts to Councillor Thorkelson's question, advising that other uses could be excluded by convenant, a process that he recommended in this instance. Restricting all other uses, other than the storage of containers as part of the proposed relocation.

Council voted to move forward with the process, putting forward a timetable for a public meeting and  further consideration.

( 1:34:00 -- 1:39:00 ) Reports and inquiries from members of Council

Councillor Cunningham requested that Richard Pucci from the City Engineering Department provide regular updates to Council regarding city initiatives, Mr. Long observed that those updates would be more valuable to Council once the budget was passed and Mr. Pucci had some idea as to the budget he would have available to work with.

Councillor Niesh offered up public thanks to a local group that were working to keep the surrounding area clean through Chantal Bolton's Positive Prince Rupert project. The Mayor and Councillor Cunningham added their accolades to her work.

Councillor Thorkelson provided an update to Council on the nature of the current herring fishery season on the North Coast and the nature of the industry to pop the herring out of Prince Rupert where payrolls are cheaper. Which has had an impact on local employment at fish plants in the community.

Councillor Randhawa had some items of concern related to cellular phone service on the far east side of the city. The Mayor suggested that staff look into the issue and see what the city might be able to do to address the issue.

Councillor Cunningham made note of the 75th anniversary of the Credit Union and suggested that the City send them a letter to congratulate them on their achievement. The Mayor made mention that he would send the Credit Union a letter and observed to Councillor Cunningham that he needs to get Facebook access as that's where things are happening now.

The Mayor then adjourned the Regulars session, shifting to a closed session of council.

You can access the City Council Review page for March 23rd here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to media coverage of it can be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night.  Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to the website for further review.

Minutes of the Regular Council Session from March 23, 2015 

Council next meets in Regular session on April 6, that session takes place back at the Council Chambers at City Hall

Don Cherry's Sports Grill arrives in Prince Rupert

Just in time for the NHL playoffs a new entertainment option has arrived in Prince Rupert as Chances Gaming Centre re-brands their Lush lounge, securing the rights to the Don Cherry Sports Grill chain.

The new location opened its doors late last week, as the renovations came to an end and new menu options arrived for hungry sports fans to sample as they watch any number of sports options on the large volume of television sets around the room.

To celebrate the arrival of the iconic sports lounge name to the Northwest, Chances had a special Don Cherry cake on hand for the opening, the loud sports jacket style in icing, looking every bit as dapper as that which appears on our television screens every Saturday night.

The Don Cherry opening
provided for a cake 
that should 
get thumbs up from the coach
(From Chances Facebook page)

Prince Rupert Minor hockey 
received a donation 
from Chances as part of the 
opening of Don Cherry's
(From Chances Facebook page)

As well, local minor hockey were winners with the opening of the new location, as Chances donated a fifteen hundred dollar cheque towards minor hockey activities on the North Coast.

More on the debut of the Don Cherry Sports Grill can be found from their Facebook page.

The new entertainment option for the region marks the second sports themed night spot to open its doors in recent months, in late January the Hub took over the old Surf Club location, taking on the sports bar theme as well.

With a growing number of options for Prince Rupert's sports fans finding a place to grab a bite to eat, have a pop and watch the game won't be a very hard task for locals.

Three month drug investigation leads to cocaine trafficking charges for Prince Rupert man

A combined effort of RCMP resources from Prince Rupert and Prince George has led to charges being laid against a Prince Rupert man, the net result of the conclusion of a three month investigation into cocaine trafficking in the region.

Last week, the RCMP announced that 33 year old Philip Nguyen of Prince Rupert is facing two charges of trafficking in cocaine, with his first court appearance to take place in early May.

The three month investigation brought together elements of the Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) units in Prince Rupert and Prince George, as well as members from the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP.

Over the course of the criminal investigation police seized several thousand dollars in cash, a vehicle and 6 ounces of cocaine.

The effective coordination of Federal and Detachment level resources has resulted in a disruption to the flow of drugs reaching the streets of our northern B.C. communities. Any time we are able to interrupt drug distribution and hold those accountable for making illegal drugs available to community members, it is considered a success.  -- Inspector Brian Gateley of RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime, outlining the focus of the three month investigation into northern BC drug activity.

The investigation started in November of 2014 and came to its conclusion in late February.

You can learn more about the investigation and charges laid from this item from the Prince Rupert RCMP.

For more items related to law enforcement and emergency response events see our archive page here.

MLA's week March 23-26, 2015

As we were away for last week's session of the Legislature, we're playing a bit of catch up on the work of North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice.

From the thirteen sessions of the Legislature in the House, or those related to House Committee work listed for the week of March 23-26 , MLA Rice spoke twice in the Legislature chamber.

On Monday Morning, Ms. Rice offered comments on the theme of BC Ferries and her belief that it is an important part of the province's infrastructure and should be treated as such by the provincial government.

On Thursday morning, she spoke to the ongoing issue of funeral service arrangements on Haida Gwaii, noting that the situation has now been addressed with the previous arrangement back in place.

She also called on the Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton to provide an update on the situation as well as to offer an apology to the residents of the islands.

March 26 -- North Coast MLA Rice on Funeral Services on Haida Gwaii (video)
March 23 -- North Coast MLA Rice on BC Ferries as part of Provincial infrastructure (video)

As for her committee work, MLA Rice is a member of the Standing Committee on Children and Youth.  

That committee met on March 25th, with Ms. Rice offering short commentary on the concept of waiving tuition for Families in Need with Social services.

Ms. Rice and her fellow members of the Legislature will now enjoy and extended Easter break, with no sessions of the Legislature scheduled until mid April.

The Legislature next sits on Monday, April 13th.

There is more background on the North Coast MLA available from our MLA's Week archive as well as our General Archive on the Legislature.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Time for a Break

Spring has sprung and we're going on the run!!

Time to recharge the batteries for a bit, so we're taking a break from blogging starting today, with plans to return to our efforts in about ten days, give or take.

With our sabbatical, our regular review of Council issues and many of our other features that require attention on an ongoing basis will be in hibernation for that period.  

We'll play a bit of catch up upon our return. Filling in the gaps as best we can.

Feel free to wander through the various topics listed on the right hand column, you may find some items of interest that you may have missed when they first came out.

Council to consider Zoning issues related to proposed housing development off of Park Avenue

Location of proposed housing
development off of Park Avenue
Those that have taken a drive along Park Avenue in recent months may have noticed some land clearing taking place in the area between the Park Avenue campsite and the BC Ferry Terminal, a bit of activity that has had more than a few in the city wondering what might be up.

Tonight, we get a bit of a preview, as City Council reviews a report from the City Planner, who will outline the nature of a proposed housing development for about 25 per cent of the land in that area of the city.

And while the meeting this evening is only a preliminary look at zoning issues related to the area, the scope of what may be under discussion is fairly interesting to look over.

The report that City Planner Zeno Krekic will present, will offer up some details on a proposal from The Bryton Group Development Corporation, highlighting their plans for property along that stretch of Park Avenue, a section of Prince Rupert real estate that they recently purchased from Oceanview Developments.

Zoning change will be
required for proposed development
Among their plans for one section of that land, is the extension of Graham Avenue to provide for up to 30 single family residential lots created,  a number of which could have potential views of Prince Rupert harbour.

That extension of Graham Avenue would also create a secondary access route into the existing Section Two residential area.

Should City Council approve the various zoning changes that would be required, it's anticipated that work on the first stage of the redevelopment of the area would get underway immediately.

Further plans into the future would see the applicant look to  further develop low density residential housing and single story residential developments as part of the remaining 75 percent, with a portion of the land also allocated for a possible park with trails connecting to Highway 16.

You can review the full report from the City Planner from the Council Agenda package for tonight, it starts on Page 3 and continues through until page 26.

For more items related to City Council discussions, see our archive page here.

City Council Session, Monday, March 23, 2015

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

Regular Session of Council for March 23rd, 2015

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 March 23, 2015

Agenda for the Regular Session of City Council for March 23, 2015 

Committee of the Whole Agenda for March 23, 2015

Notice of Special Council Session for March 23, 2015
(Resolution to Exclude the public)

Info to Council 

( March 11 )
( March 18 )

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

Minutes of Regular Session of Council March 23, 2015  

Video Recording of March 23, 2015  

North Coast Review City Council Timeline March 23, 2015  

North Coast Review Items on the March 23, 2015 Session of Council

March 31 -- No bounty of jobs from herring fishery for local shore workers
March 31 -- City Council hires Dr. Barb Faggetter as "resident scientist"
March 31 -- Quickload shift to old Canadian Freightways yard heads for public hearing stage
March 31 -- Rushbrook Floats issues received by City Council
March 31 -- Proposed West Side Housing Development moves to public notification stage
March 31 -- City of Prince Rupert looks to increase pressure on Province on taxation caps
March 31 -- City will not make use of Legacy Fun for budget shortfall issues
March 23 -- Council to consider Zoning issues related to proposed Housing Development off of Park Avenue

Media items from other sources for the March 23, 2015 Council session can be found in our Discussion Points from City Council feature

City Council Preview, Monday, March 23, 2015

The Final Council Session of March, offers up one more opportunity for the public to offer up some comment on the City's Budget plan for 2015.

With council holding a public comment period as part of tonight's Committee of the Whole session, one of a number of items on the Agenda for the evening ahead.

As well as that public comment opportunity, Council will receive a presentation from the Chief Financial Officer, who is to offer a Response to Public Inquiry.

Council will also receive a report from the City Planner regarding a proposed Amendment Bylaw for a section of Park Avenue, related to a potential housing development for the area.

The remainder of the Council meeting will feature the usual listings of items from the Agenda for Regular Council sessions.

Prior to the Regular Council Session, Council will then hold a Special Closed session of Council at 3:30 PM.

While not specific in nature, the City provided a short synopsis of the nature of the Monday evening plan of action, Closing the meeting under Section 90 of the Community Charter, considering the following items:

c -- labour relations or other employee relations;

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;

k -- negotiations and related discussions respecting the proposed provision of a municipal service that are their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality if they were held in public.

You can review the notice of Special Meeting Closed to the Public here.

The full review of the evening ahead can be found from the Agenda Package for March  23.

Below we'll highlight the different elements of this evenings work, for further background on each item, the page number from the Agenda is listed in red.

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

Petitions and Delegations
A presentation from the Chief Financial Officer -- Regarding a Response to Public Inquiry.

Following that presentation, Council will then suspend the Regular Meeting and Convene a Committee of the Whole meeting.

Once that business has been completed, Council returns to the Regular Agenda for the night.

Any Unfinished Business is then up next on the Agenda.

Followed Reports and Recommendations, Requests and Correspondences for Action, as well as any Resolutions from previous Closed Meetings of Council.

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

With the City Planner providing a Report on an Application for a Proposed Amendment Bylaw and Zoning Amendment Bylaw for a section of Park Avenue.  (See pages 3 to 26 of the Agenda Package)

The evening then wraps up with Additional Items from Council members, as well as Reports, Questions and inquiries from Members of Council.

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 March 23rd session can be found here.

While our archive of all sessions of 2015  for council  is available here.

Prince Rupert Real Estate Tracker, Week ending March 22, 2015

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

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

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

The Archive for our weekly review can be found here.

Our list of the top ten priced homes for the week ending March 22 is below:

Prince Rupert Real Estate
West Side March 22 2015
Prince Rupert Real Estate
East Side March 22 2015

Once again there were  no location changes to our list of ten for the last seven days, with no new properties introduced on the market above the 469,000 dollar range.

As it has been for a few weeks now, it is the West Side of the city that hosts the majority of the listings, with eight of the homes listed at over 469,000 dollars among the ten.

The east side of the city continues to count two location for the week for your review.

The high end remains at a property on 2nd Avenue West, which continues to claim the top of listings for the week.

Below our findings as of the Week ending March 22, 2015

1942-46 2nd Avenue W       $659,000  --  Royal Lepage
2040 Graham Avenue --       $650,000  --  Royal Lepage
160 Van Arsdol Street--       $649,900   -- Royal Lepage
2126 Graham Avenue --       $615,000  --  Royal Lepage
2044 Graham Avenue--        $549,000  --  Remax
1229 Conrad Street --           $525,000   --  Royal Lepage
1711 Sloan Avenue --           $499,900   --  Royal Lepage
524 Cassiar Avenue --          $499,000   --  Royal Lepage
1765 Sloan Avenue --           $450,000   --  Remax
216 Silversides Drive --        $469,000   --  Remax

For more items related to Real Estate see our archive page here.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blog Watching, week ending March 22, 2015

An article this week about a small business that is creating a bit of buzz in the Cow Bay area, was far and away the most popular item of the last seven days, as our look at Posh Pirates sailed its way to the top of the listings.

Far off on the horizon, four remaining items jockeyed for placement on Blog Watching standings.

Our look at a recent trip to Asia from Pacific Future Energy officials  who outlined their proposal for an oil refinery and shipment terminal for the North Coast proved popular, as did some new developments with the Pacific NorthWest LNG file.

Wrapping up the list of five, two items related to City concerns, as our look at a trip to Alaska from a delegation led by Mayor Lee Brain found a strong audience, as did our review of the taxation cap issue that is of high concern for civic officials.

But, Ahoy Matey's, the pirates of posh led all over the last seven days!

Prince Rupert's Posh Pirates showcased in provincial review --  Our look at the attention that a Cow Bay business has received proved to be our most viewed item of the week (posted March 16, 2015)

That item was followed by:

Pacific Future Energy makes Prince Rupert's ocean access a selling point for its refinery proposal  --  A proponent for an oil refinery and shipment terminal for Prince Rupert took their message to Asia, using the North Coast as a key point of the presentation (posted March 19, 2015)

Pacific NorthWest LNG project one of three to participate in development agreement negotiations with BC Government  -- The province looks to create more certainty for prospective LNG developments   (posted  March 16, 2015)

Prince Rupert delegation heads north for Marine Highway discussions   -- Mayor Lee Brain led a delegation from the North Coast to the Southeast Conference talks in Juneau, Alaska (posted March 16, 2015)

Looking for Allies for Prince Rupert's taxation cap fight with the Province  -- A look at the taxation cap issue in Prince Rupert and how the city might find some common ground with other communities  (posted March 17, 2015 )

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.

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. Underneath the Follow the North Coast Review by Email indicator.

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching  can be found here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Province debuts 10 year transportation plan through BC on the Move program

Earlier this week the Province of British Columbia introduced its 10 year Transportation plan known as BC on the Move.

A 2.5 billion dollar project designed to grow the economy, as well as to maintain and replace aging infrastructure across the province  and provide support to B.C.'s expanding resource sector.

The final document delivered this week, was created through engagement sessions across British Columbia, where Ministry of Transportation officials heard concerns and received suggestions on transportation issues from a number of communities.

There were three sessions of interest from the North Coast and Haida Gwaii, opportunities for the province to gain some insight into what local residents were looking for, when it came to transportation issues of the region.

The thumbnail reviews for Prince Rupert highlighted concerns related to truck traffic both on the highway and on surface streets related to Port and potential LNG projects, with Highway 16 identified as a key link for any potential LNG development.

As well transportation issues related to the Prince Rupert Airport and a desire to see a walking/cycling trail created along Highway 16 were some of the other items outlined at those community sessions of last October and November.

You can review those items in more detail below.

(To enlarge the engagement points listed, click on each section, that will open the discussion points in a separate window)

Prince Rupert

Masset/Queen Charlotte City


Considering the amount of time dedicated to the Terrace stop and the volume of interest from that community, it's probably not a surprise that one of the first of the major projects announced following the launch of the program features improvements for that community.

As the Ministry of Transportation outlined details regarding a project designed to improve the Sande Avenue - Highway 16 intersection at Keith Avenue in Terrace.

To this point that project, has been the only improvement project announced for the Northwest region.

You can review more of the findings from the Northwest community sessions, as part of the Northwest Report.

The larger document for BC on the Move can be reviewed here.

More items on issues related to Highway 16 across the Northwest can be found here.

Prince Rupert Library to offer two programs through Spring for children under 5

The Prince Rupert Library is putting the finishing touches to the launch of two new programs this spring designed for children under the age of five, both of them at no cost to parents or caregivers.

Tales for Twos is a lively participation program for two year olds and their parents or caregivers, providing a mix of stories, songs, rhymes and activities to keep the younger set engaged.

The second program is Story Hour, designed for those three to five, the hour long program finds Library staff exploring a different theme each week, making use of stories, songs, action rhymes and colouring activities.

Both programs start on March 24th and continue on until May 7th at the Library located at Sixth West and McBride.

While the program has no fees, the Library does ask that those interested in either of the two programs pre-register by either dropping in at the Prince Rupert Library or contacting them at 250-627-1345.

CityWest shares plans for Internet improvements in the Smithers area

Improved Internet opportunities for the Bulkley Valley was the topic, as  a Smithers Chamber of Commerce luncheon crowd welcomed CityWest CEO Don Holkestad to their gathering on Thursday.

During the course of his luncheon address, Holkestad  outlined the CityWest plan ahead and explained how the introduction of fibre optic technology will create a much faster and reliable Internet experience for the company's customers in the Smithers area.

An enhancement that he stressed would be very beneficial not only to home users, but to businesses in the community as well.

The expansion to bring faster access to Internet services, could make for a valuable selling point for Economic development in the Bulkley Valley community.

The introduction of  the Fibre to home technology to Smithers is something that CityWest has been working on over the last year, first making mention of the prospect one year ago, when the CityWest CEO wrote this letter to Smithers Business owners.

CityWest hopes to have the fibre optic cables in place and the service up and running by the end of this year. In addition to the well received technology announcement, CityWest also outlined their plans to move into new offices in Smithers on April 7th.

It's the latest move in expanding the footprint of the Prince Rupert based communication company in the Northwest.

A program that CityWest, which is owned by the City of Prince Rupert, launched a number of years ago, taking their brand and offering communication and entertainment services to many other communities of the region.

CFTK TV 7 covered the CityWest speech to the Smithers Chamber, you can review their report below.

For more items related to developments with CityWest see our archive page here.