Sunday, January 31, 2016

Blog Watching, week ending January 31, 2016

Themes related to LNG development, consultation with First Nations and new environmental guidelines and their impact on potential development all dominated the weekly reading list.

Of our list of five of top reads on the week, only one non LNG related item broke through to claim a spot on our list, a review of how the Board for SD52 is seeking out some feedback from the community on their budget process this year.

The LNG stories however were the ones that found the largest number of readers, with the highest level of interest give to the recent Salmon Nation Summit and the declaration that came from it, as well as the response from the Tsimshian First Nations related to a lack of consultation when it came to that final document.

As for the LNG industry itself, two items claimed some attention on the week, with  our  look at LNG Minister Rich Coleman and his optimism when it comes to the Pacific NorthWest LNG CEAA process, as well as a review as to how some new guidelines on the EA process may require Pacific NorthWest LNG to provide more data on potential green house gas emissions.

The Top five items on the week wrap up with the current online survey being conducted by the School District, which is asking residents of the region to offer up some thoughts on education in the District and where cost savings might be found as hey head into their Budget Discussions for 2016.

However, the top item of the week returned to Lelu Island, and the disappointment of the Tsimshian First Nation related to the release of the Lelu Island Declaration, which the Tsimshian note was drafted and signed without any consultation with them.

Tsimshian Nations take issue with lack of consultation on Lelu Island Declaration -- A signed document that was released at the end of the Salmon Nation Summit in Prince Rupert last weekend has raised concerns with some local First Nations, with officials showing their displeasure at the lack of consultation with them on the Lelu Island Declaration.  (posted January 25, 2016)

That article was followed by:

Salmon Nation Summit ends with signing of Lelu Island Declaration -- Two days of discussion on themes related to Lelu Island came to an end with the signing of the Lelu Island Declaration, where a number of First Nations, environmentalists and regional politicians declared that no LNG development should take place on the Island.  (posted January 25, 2016 )

LNG Minister Coleman anticipates CEAA draft report on Pacific NorthWest LNG --  The province's minister in charge of LNG development is holding out optimism that the CEAA process related to Pacific NorthWest LNG project will be delivering a report very shortly.( January 27, 2016)

Pacific NorthWest LNG project may get caught up in new Federal Government mandate on climate analysis -- Depending on what kind of science that Pacific NorthWest LNG has already provide on it's proposed LNG terminal for Lelu Island,  the company may be required to provide more data to meet new guidelines on Green House Gas Emissions.  Those new guidelines can be reviewed here(posted  January 26, 2016 )

School District 52 launches survey on proposed budget cuts -- With the prospect of $1,000,000 in cuts to the SD52 budget ahead, the School District is turning to the public for some guidance on issues related to the city's school system.  (posted January 29, 2016 )

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.

You can also review the full listings of the week just past from our Blog Archive index page found on the right hand side of the page.

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

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

You can find the link to that feature on the upper, right hand side of the blog. Underneath the Follow the North Coast Review by Email indicator.

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching  can be found here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Taking Stock: North Coast Business Scene -- January 2016

As is normally the case at the start of a year, the business scene on the North Coast remained fairly uneventful for the first month of 2016.

There was little in the way of new openings, closings or re-locations through January.

Though there was much in the way of planning and discussion on matters business related, with even those past dreams of Big Box stores arriving making for a bit of conversation at City Council during the last week of the month.

As well, as January came to an end, the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce released the nominees for their annual Business Awards.


The month opened with a look at the real estate listings and a long time favourite destination for many on the North Coast placed in the For Sale Category.

Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest is giving would be entrepreneurs a few ideas, with the launch of an eye catching advertising campaign around the city's downtown area.

Thrive North, also opened January up with some projects for those with a small business idea, hosting a Planning session earlier this month and introducing the Second Annual Business Challenge for the Northwest.

The Prince Rupert Hotel received some new signage to signal the shift to the Prestige Hotels chain, moving forward a process which started back in July  of last year.

The Financial Sector of the Northwest will soon have a new entrant, with the North Peace Savings and Credit Union announcing plans to start offering their services out Terrace.

The Small Business community will be watching Prince Rupert City Council with interest in February, when Councillor Blair Mirau returns to seek Council's approval on the Terms of Reference for a proposed Small Business Advisory Committee.

A familiar topic around Prince Rupert returned to City Council this week, as Council members explored some of their thoughts on the theme of Big Box Retail development in the community last Monday evening. And while there doesn't at the moment appear to be any large scale retailers looking to locate in the city, Council did offer up a very short review as to just how they would like to see that form of development evolve in the community, should applications arrive one day.

The month wrapped up with the release of the nominations for the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, a large number of nominees in fifteen categories will be available for public voting starting February 1st.  The Awards Gala takes place February 27th at the Lester Centre.

You will be able to find the archive for Taking Stock as a part of our larger page dedicated to the commercial sector of the North Coast found here.

We imagine we probably have missed a few here or there, so if you know of a business having opened, or seen the Going out of business sign appear somewhere in the area, drop us a line at our email account of

Or send us a short message through our twitter feed of @CharlesHays

Business Excellence Award Nominees revealed for 2015

The list of contenders for the 2015 Business Excellence Awards has been released and with the ballots now delivered, online voting will soon commence across the North Coast, as the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce prepares to honour the best of the region.

Through January residents of the North Coast submitted the names of those companies and services that they believe have had an impact on the region and deserve recognition.

You can learn more about how the Chamber conducted their nomination search here.

From those suggestions, the Business Excellence Awards organizers put together the lists of top nominees, an interesting mix of newcomers to the area and a few of the old established companies and organizations on the North Coast.

The names for the Final Ballot session were revealed by the Chamber on January 26th, featuring a cross section of Prince Rupert's Business community in the fifteen different categories.

The online voting process will start on February 1st and continue through to February 14th.  

Those that wish to vote, can make their choices once each day over the fourteen day voting period. Giving the public the final say in determining which businesses and individuals have made their mark in 2015.

When voting opens on February 1st, you will be able to gain access to the Chamber of Commerce virtual voting booth from a link on the Chamber website.

Categories and their sponsor for the 2015 Business Excellence Awards are as follows:

Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Award
Sponsor: CFNR/Northern Native Broadcasting

All Nations Consulting
Empire Tree Services
Kaien Safety Group
Pacific Paramedics
Silver Grizzly Transportation

Industry and Manufacturing Excellence
Sponsor: DP World Prince Rupert

Harbour Machining
Lighten Up Electric
Rapid Gantry Manufacturing
Rupert Wood'N Steel
The Electrician

Tourism and Hospitality Excellence
Sponsor: TransCanada Pipelines

Fresh Onion CafĂ© and Catering
Inn on the Harbour
Naomi's Grill
The Crest Hotel
West Coast Launch

Family Friendly Business of the Year
Sponsor: Success By 6/Early Years

Cowpuccino's Coffee House
Good Times Games and Electronics
Happy Little Clouds Art Studio
Northern Savings Credit Union
Ring System Music Studio

Customer Service Excellence Award
Pacific NorthWest LNG

Eddies News Stand and Novelties
JavaDot Cup
Kathy's Hair Design
Leanne's Pet Shop
The Crest Hotel

Sustainability Award
BG Canada

Paws and Claws Thrift Store
Posh Pirates
The Argosy
Western Canadian Marine Response Corp.

Rookie Business of the Year
Sponsor: Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest

Andre's Electronic Experts
Empire Tree Services
Happy Little Clouds Art Studio
Kaien Safety Group
Ocean Pacific Air

Chamber Member of the Year
Sponsor: Ridley Terminals Inc.

Toastmasters Club of Prince Rupert
TD Canada Trust
Dave McKeever
Debbie Snidal-Beaudry

Retail Excellence
Sponsor: TD Canada Trust

Eddie's News Stand and Novelties
Good Times Games and Electronics
Oceanside Sports
Overwaitea Foods

Business of the Year
Sponsor: BDC - Business Development Bank of Canada

DP World Prince Rupert
Happy Little Clouds Art Studio
Naomi's Grill
Northern Savings Credit Union
Posh Pirates
Silver Grizzly Transportation
The Crest Hotel
Trishan Food Market
Wheelhouse Brewing Co.

Community Involvement Award
Sponsor: CityWest

Northern Savings Credit Union
Pacific NorthWest LNG
Posh Pirates
Ridley Terminals Inc.
Royal LePage Prince Rupert

Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Sponsor: Northern Savings Credit Union

Amy Dopson -- PAC 10 Tutoring
Erwin Arndt -- Pacific Flagging
Jade Rowse -- Fortitude Fitness and Training
Jessica Laberge -- Pacific Paramedics
Kevin Pottle -- Lighten Up Electric

Home-based Business of the Year
Sponsor: The Crest

Green Island Land and Garden
Lonnie Wishart Photography
Ocean Pearl Promotions and Event Planning
Perfect 10 Nails
Ring System Music Studio

Community Service Award
Sponsor: Prince Rupert Grain

BCSPCA Prince Rupert Branch
Friendship House Association
Prince Rupert Rampage
Prince Rupert Special Events Society
Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 64

Newsmaker of the Year
Sponsor: The Northern View

DP World Prince Rupert
Good Times Games and Electronics
Posh Pirates
Wheelhouse Brewing Company

The Winners from each category will be announced at the Gala, taking place at the Lester Centre on February 27th.

Tickets for the Awards Ceremonycost 30 dollars and are available through the Chamber of Commerce at 100-515- 3rd Avenue West.

You can find out more about the Business Excellence Awards and the Gala from the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce website, Facebook Page and Twitter Feed.

For more items related to the Commercial Sector on the North Coast see our archive page.

Friday, January 29, 2016

RCMP look for public's assistance in assault case on city's west side

"An unprovoked attack on a child, be it by another child or not, is one we take very seriously. We are asking for the public`s assistance in finding the people responsible for this crime." -- Sgt Dave Uppal, Acting Operations NCO for the Prince Rupert RCMP on a Monday afternoon incident in the city

An assault on a young school age male, walking home from school on Monday, January 25th is currently under investigation by the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP.

The unprovoked assault took place on a pathway in the 400 block between 6th and 7th Avenue West at approximately 3:50 pm, when three older males believed to be from Grade 7 or 8, assaulted the younger male.

The RCMP is asking that if anyone can provide assistance in locating the three males responsible for the attack, that they should contact the RCMP at 250-627-0700

A background statement regarding the incident can be reviewed here.

For more items related to Northwest Emergency Services see our archive page here

As CIHL playoffs get underway, Rampage ready for a Saturday Night Black Out at the Jim

The Prince Rupert Rampage are calling Saturday night's opening match with Terrace a Black Out, but they'll be hoping that there's no power outage as they take on one of the CIHL's top scoring teams.

The first game of the three games series provides the loud and boisterous home town crowd a chance to send the team off into a playoff run, with a large crowd anticipated for Game One.

To fit the theme of the night, the Rampage are asking that their fans wear black to the game, a visual image that should provide some spark to what will most likely be a highly charged atmosphere Saturday night.

The last visit by the River Kings is still clearly on the mind of the Terrace squad, with memories of a packed Civic Centre crowd described to the Terrace Standard as hostile, the River Kings remembering a Rampage attack that  was fast and skilled, something which offers up an indication that the upcoming series should be an entertaining bit of hockey, where the required two out of three wins won't come easy.

The two teams are fairly close when it comes to offensive output from the regular season, Terrace holding a slight edge in the Goals For category with 87, compared to the 78  registered by the Rampage.

If there's one area where Prince Rupert has to pick up its game it will be on defence, the Rhinos struggled at times this season in the back end, with a goals against total of 80.  Reducing those opposition scoring chances will be one area to take note of through a short three game series.

Some key players for the Rampage to watch will be Ben Reinbolt, Kenny Nordstrom and Steve Cullis,  all three had over 20 points for the River Kings in the regular season, with Chapin Leblond just one point short of making it four River Kings in the over 20 club.

Getting pucks by Patrick Leal could provide a challenge for the Rampage as well, Leal, was second in goaltending this season in the CIHL, with 9 wins, 4 losses, 2 shut outs and GAA of 2.90.

However the the one intangible of a best of three series is momentum, where a hot team can ride their success to the next round pretty quickly, particularly if they can get the scoring jump on their opposition.

For that the Rampage will be looking to Josh Cook and Kory Movald for some offence, they finished 7th and 8th in the CIHL scoring race this season, with 23 and 22 points respectively.

Jared Meers, Tyler Halliday and Tyler Ostrom weren't too far behind them with points totals in the high to mid teens, making for a good core of depth scoring that will be called on as the post season gets underway.

The ultimate target as of Saturday night for both teams is the Coy Cup, the River Kings already have their tickets to that dance as the host for this years tournament, while the Rampage will be looking to crash the party by upsetting their northwest rivals in the first round of the CIHL post season.

Game time at the Jim on Saturday is 7 PM, note that tickets are available at the door only for Saturday night's matchup.

The Dress options are endless for Rampage fanatics, just as long as it's in black, a colour that the hometown fans hope will provide for a few nightmares long into the night for visiting squad from Terrace.

Any late breaking items from the Rampage camp can be found on their Facebook page or twitter feed.

More background on the Rampage regular season just past and notes as they  head into the playoffs can be found on our archive page here.

Those Big Box themes start to percolate at City Council

One day the signs of pending of
Big Box dreams may soon be back on
the Prince Rupert horizon
There were ghosts of Big Box Stores past and visions of Big Box stores of the future at City Council on Monday evening.

As a discussion related to a proposed Small Business Advisory Committee got sidetracked a bit, exploring some of Council's thoughts when it came to protecting the downtown core business area.

And while there is to this point no indication that any Big Box outlet is even considering Prince Rupert as a destination, Council gave the topic about ten minutes of their time on Monday.

The topic came up almost by accident it seemed, with Councillor Mirau outlining the terms of reference for his proposed Small Business Advisory Committee and noted as part of his talking points that the City Council would want to protect the downtown area, and they wouldn't want to see Big Box Stores develop south of the Industrial site, or outside of the downtown core.

That seemed to open the door for a wider exchange of ideas on the theme of Big Box stores and where they should go in Prince Rupert, should those commercial interests ever decide to come to the community.

The main theme appeared to be to be a preference that any Big Box retailer be directed to the downtown core area of Second and Third Avenues, with some hesitation expressed at locations that may be outside of the downtown area.

Councillor Mirau noted that one of the key elements of his proposed Small Business Advisory Committee would be that those that would be a part of the Committee would have to subscribe to the philosophy of council to protect the character of the  downtown and protect the small businesses that operate on Second and Third Avenue.

That was a direction of the conversation that Councillor Cunningham suggested some caution on, stating that the City needs to find a balance on the topic of Big Box stores.

Making note of his travels to Terrace and how he frequently sees residents from Prince Rupert in the Big Box outlets of Terrace and that they are there because of that attraction, noting that there doesn't seem to have been a large impact on that city's small business sector.

Councillor Cunningham added that, while he doesn't particularly want to see Big Box outlets locating out on the highway, that if the residents of  Prince Rupert residents want Big Box outlets the City would need to listen to its them.

He further observed that rather than blocking something, Council should listen to the people and if the people want something out on the highway, Council needs to listen to them.

For his contribution to the discussion, the Mayor noted that it doesn't mean that the City doesn't want Big Box stores, it just reinforces the position that the city wants proper development of the downtown core.

Council had a short discussion on the
theme of Big Box stores on
Monday evening.
Councillor Thorkelson however expressed her agreement with keeping a focus on the downtown area, recounting how she started her political career on Council by fighting against the Shopping Village concept that had been proposed for the BC Hydro site back in the days of Mayor Herb Pond.

She noted that back during the discussion of the shopping village concept, she was concerned about the potential impact to the downtown area, fearing that the downtown area would dry up with the prospect of everyone moving out to the strip malls.

She reinforced for Council that she remains committed to protecting the Downtown area and making it grow, adding  that she does not want the City to look like Terrace.

The large scale development that had been proposed for the BC Hydro site in 2005 was officially put on the shelf by the Royop Development Corporation back in 2008, with little mention of it since.

You can look towards a one day Big Box future from the City's Video Archive, the discussion on what direction council may go should the time ever come starts at the 2 hour thirty eight minute mark.

For more items related to the city's commercial sector see our archive page here.

More background on topics of discussion at Prince Rupert City Council can be reviewed from our Council Archive page.

School District 52 launches survey on proposed budget cuts

School District 52 is turning to the community for some guidance on what they say will be the need for a 4 per cent cut to their budget, or around 1,000,000 dollars.

To gain some idea as to where they might find those savings, the School District is hosting a survey on its website until February 19th.

Transportation appears to be one area where the School District is directing a fair bit of interest towards, with one third of the survey questions addressing the topic of how children get to school and what choices parents and guardians might be willing to make on that theme.

The remainder of the survey deals with some of the core areas of instruction in the School District, with respondents tasked with identifying the ones that they believe hold the most importance.

The survey consists of six questions which cover a number of different scenarios and pose a range of question.

Included in the SD52 Survey is:

A ranking of priorities in four functions of the School District, Instruction, District Administration, Operations and Maintenance and Transportation.

The second question focuses specifically on instruction and outlines eight areas where respondents are asked to rank the categories, listing their thoughts according to what they believe are the level of importance for each. The instruction areas include: Regular Instruction, Career Programs, Library Services, Counselling, Special Education, English Language Learning, Aboriginal Education and School Administration.

Question Three explores the area of Services and Supplies, with respondents once again asked to rank the importance of items from a list of eight, those areas include: Services, Student Transportation, Professional Development and Travel, Rentals and leases, Dues and Fees, Insurance, Supplies and Insurance.

Transportation items make up the focus of the fourth question, with participants asked to note how their children get to school, choosing from a list that includes: Walk or ride a bike, Ride in a Car, Public Transit, Yellow School Bus, or not applicable as the respondent does not have children in the school system.

Transportation is also the subject of the fifth question, with the School District asking that if they were to decide to reduce spending on Transportation, what option would participants choose as the best option.  The three choices are Discontinue the Yellow Bus Service, Charge all users of the service a fee, Charge a user fee with discounts available according to need.

The Survey comes to a conclusion with the opportunity for participants to provide four suggestions for further savings for the School District to consider.

You can submit your contribution to the survey  here.

The School District survey is open to all residents of Prince Rupert, whether they have children in the school system or not.

School District officials will be using the results as part of their consultation process on the Budget as they look to chart the financial path ahead for the public school system in the city.

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

Drake Crescent housing proposal to go to Public Hearing in late February

City Council moved forward with a
proposed housing development for
Drake Crescent, sending the topic
to a Public Hearing on February 22
Prince Rupert City Council made some tentative steps forward Monday  night on required zoning for a proposed housing development on Drake Crescent.

Moving the proposed zoning changes further along in the process and scheduling a Public Hearing on February 22nd to provide the public an opportunity to learn more about the housing plans.

The City Planner provided a review of the process so far, providing some background on the nature of the project which would see no more than 80 units created for the site in question.  

He also outlined some of the findings from a public information session from December 9th that had been held in relation to the proposal.

The review of the zoning requests for the Drake Crescent proposal led to a larger discussion by Council members on the subject of how they will seek to approach future growth in housing requirements in the community, with a particular desire to provide for parks, public open spaces and other amenities as part of the engagement process with developers in the future.

Councillor Thorkelson led the majority of the discussion, referencing some of the past decisions that Council has had to make, calling attention to how they approached the development of Edwards Street cul-de-sac area a number of years ago.

Using that example as a way of noting that Council needs to find a way to ensure that it's desires regarding open spaces and park like elements are addressed when they look at new developments.

As well as to review land options in the city where such elements could be included, adding that the City needs to be aware to guard against putting up places that they wish to see people locate in  but then not having any no amenities available for children to make use of in those neighbourhoods.

The Mayor tied that concept into his thoughts on placemaking and the need for balance in the community and something that would be part of further review.

You can review the discussion from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the 1 hour 29 minute mark.

For more items related to housing issues in the region see our archive page here.

For more background on City Council discussions see our Council Archive page.

Plans in motion to move forward with School District 52 byeletion

The City's Corporate Administrator
outlined the path ahead Monday
night towards a by-election for SD52
School District 52 officials will no doubt be relieved to finally see some progress on their desire to hold a by-election to find a replacement for departed trustee Judy Carlick-Pearson.

On Monday evening, City Council began the process of revising its Local Elections Bylaw (page 56 of the Monday Agenda), with Council changing the wording of the bylaw to reflect the new terms of four years, as opposed to the previous three year cycle.

Adoption of the new bylaw would be  the first step that is required to install a Chief Election Officer as well as an assistant Elections Officer, who will then be tasked to oversee the election process for the School District.

The City's Corporate Administrator Rory Mandryk introduced the path ahead for Council on Monday night, providing some background on why Council needs to change the Bylaw and offering up some detail on the new approach that the City will be taking to conduct the School District by-election.

As Mr. Mandryk explained it, the City is required to provide the services for the local school board's by-election requirement and as they moved forward on that requirement, the City had determined that they did not have sufficient staff on hand at City hall to conduct the by-election, putting the process out to tender in December and awarding that tender to Joe Zelwietro.

The explanation noting of a lack of staff in house to conduct the by-election, might raise a few eyes from those that have been following the flow of job opportunities found on the careers page on the City website over the last year. With a number of new staff positions created and filled through the last six months through City Hall, a topic of conversation that a few Council members have made note of in recent months..

Both Mr. Zelwietro and a Deputy Elections officer to be named shortly, will be appointed to their position at the February 9th Council session, where one imagines the School District will perhaps finally receive word as to when the actual by-election vote may take place.

The adoption of the new bylaw took place at a Special Council session held on Wednesday.

Mr. Mandryk also provided some background on the cost of the election process for Council, noting that when the City provides staff for elections, the cost of a by-election runs at 25,000 dollars.

Though it was not outlined on Monday evening what the cost for the by-election required this year might be estimated at using the new approach of putting the process to tender.

According to background information from the School District, they will be paying the City for their services in conducting the by-election as is required under the School Act.  However, the length of time that it has taken however to get to this point has been something that has made for frequent conversation at the School District level.

In their minutes from their December 9th meeting School District officials noted their frustration at the pace of the by-election request and how it would mean that they would not be able to fill the position in the time period expected. They also  expressed some concerns over the use of a service provider to conduct the by-election.

(click to enlarge)

The lengthy delay proved to be a theme that was raised again during the course of the School District's January 12th gathering.

On Monday, Councillor Mirau did make mention of the time sensitive nature of the process, with both he and Mayor Brain inquiring as to the process ahead for the City to get towards a By election date.

You can review Mr. Mandryk's presentation to Council from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the 1  hour 58 minute mark.

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

More background on developments with School District 52 can be found on our archive page here.

Provincial population estimates for Prince Rupert at odds with those of the City

Part of last year's LNG GO plan/Major Projects Planning population study initiatives included the City of Prince Rupert's own version of the census, a project which was one part on line based and one part featuring a hands on approach to determining the population numbers for the city.

As part of the January 11th City Council Session, City Planner Zeno Krekic went over a number of reports and provided a stream of data as part of his overall review of all the work of the last year.

Recounting for Council how the population review of the Spring and Summer had given the city the data to determine that the population of the City was now just under 14,000 residents, listed at  the 13,766 mark.

City Planner Zeno Krekic at Prince Rupert City Concil
on January 11th where he outlined that the estimated
population of Prince Rupert was just under 14,000 residents

However, figures released this week by StatsBC suggest a different counting of the heads, with the BC government agency coming to the conclusion that the City of Prince Rupert's population was 11,386 in 2015,  down 443 people from the last time they tabulated their figures one year ago.

That decrease makes for the lowest number recorded for Prince Rupert by BC Stats in the last five years.

It also leaves a significant difference of opinion between the City and the Province as to how many residents are calling Prince Rupert home these days, making for a gap of  2,380 people between the two results.

In the course of his report to Council Mr. Krekic noted that the City of Prince Rupert findings  from 2015 included a shadow population that BC Stats does not take into account.

In an article in the Prince George Citizen, BC Stats outlined that their method of determining population numbers involves using the federal census and using a number of provincial indicators such as BC Hydro connections and BC health numbers to deliver their estimates.

According to Stats BC, the population of Port Edward also declined in the most recent survey period settling at 500 down 33 from the last time that the government took a look at the numbers.

Population numbers are important to both the District of Port Edward and the City of Prince Rupert as provincial and federal funding monies are often based on population.

The population declines found by BC Stats were common for the most part across much of Northern British Columbia, with Terrace dropping to 11,164 a decline of 33 people while further to the east the largest community in Northern BC, Prince George saw a population drop of 1,958 with the current estimated population to be 71,363.

For those that wish to compare the numbers and the studies, some of the information below offers up a good place to start.

Mr. Krekic's presentation to Council of January 11th can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive, and there is also a fair amount of data on the Population Study of last year available from the City's website.

You can also look over the BC Stats findings and download their findings from their website here.

Short of everyone in town gathering down on the waterfront for a head count on a sunny afternoon, we will all get another chance to be counted later this year, when the Federal Census takes place in May.

The federal head count will make for a comprehensive data collection project and perhaps the one that will provide the final grade on whether the City or the Province has their math right.

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

Federal Government announces new environmental assessment guidelines

Additional reviews on the nature of
Greenhouse gas emissions will
be added to the assessment process
for proposed LNG terminals 
The path towards development of energy resources and shipment terminals is going to require a little bit more science and consultation now, with guidelines released by the Ministers of Natural Resources and Environment and Climate on Wednesday.

The announcement from the two Ministers on interim principles when it comes to addressing greenhouse gas emissions will be conducted apart from and in addition to the current regimen of deliberations that the National Energy Board conducts on proposed projects.

The Background statement from the Federal Government can be reviewed here, while further information related to interim measures on pipeline reviews can be examined here.

With the Federal government now looking to include the impact of Green House Gas emissions as part of the review when it comes to major energy projects, five new principles were announced as part of the environmental assessment process moving forward.

Those principles include.

1. No project proponent will be asked to return to the starting line — project reviews will continue within the current legislative framework and in accordance with treaty provisions, under the auspices of relevant responsible authorities and Northern regulatory boards; 

2. Decisions will be based on science, traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and other relevant evidence; 

3. The views of the public and affected communities will be sought and considered; 

4. Indigenous peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated;

5. Direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to the projects under review will be assessed.

The guidelines will be used for current projects under consideration and those that have still to start their environmental projects, for those Environmental Assessments that are underway there will be no need to start over, but whether the science on hand to this point will provide enough information or require further investigation will remain to be seen.

How the new guidelines might impact on the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG Terminal project is not known just yet, if they have enough scientific research already completed to meet the government's requirements there should be little delay to the anticipated CEAA draft report.

However, if they are required to submit more data on the theme of green house gas emissions, then the timeline of delivery of that report and any potential decision on approval could be delayed.

Some of the overview and comment on Wednesday's announcement out of Ottawa can be found below:

Clark needs Trudeau to approve Pacific NorthWest LNG project
Expect LNG to remain a B. C. political football
Pipeline projects to face new environmental regulations
Pipeline industry optimistic after new Liberal policy
Liberal pipeline policy presents 3 key problems
Eventually, Trudeau will have to disappoint someone on pipelines
Ottawa adds additional steps to pipeline reviews
Governments must commit to greenhouse gas policies, NEB warns
Pipeline reviews to look at 'upstream' greenhouse gas emissions, consultation with aboriginals

More Background on the LNG industry on the North Coast can be found on our LNG archive page.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sr Boys Rainmakers working their way back towards Provincial Top 10

The weekend success for the Rainmakers over Caledonia has moved them back into the discussion in provincial rankings, with the team receiving an honourable mention in the latest listings from the Vancouver Province.

Charles Hays dropped off the list one week ago after a rough weekend at the Pitt Meadows tournament, but a solid week of practice and a positive result in a 58-56 thriller against their Northwest rival on Saturday has put them back on the radar.

Of the ten teams in this weeks AAA listings, three come from outside of the Greater Vancouver areas, with one team from Abbotsford to go along with the six from the Vancouver region.

Vancouver Province AAA Basketball rankings for
January 27, 2016 (click to expand)

The full overview of the British Columbia Basketball scene at all levels can be found here.

It's a light weekend for Basketball at Charles Hays this weekend, both the Senior and Junior Girls have the weekend off as far as game action goes.

We're still a little unclear as to the weekend plans for the Senior Boys, should we have more information to share from that camp we'll update our information flow.

The Junior Boys were supposed to take on a team from Prince George, but the unexpected passing of a popular teacher in the Prince George area has changed those travel plans. The Prince George Citizen provided a fitting tribute to the educator, highlighting the impact that Matt Pearce had on his community.

Updates on the Rainmakers can be found on the CHSS Sports twitter feed, while further background on items related to the teams can be found on our archive page.

Councillor Mirau's Small Business Advisory Committee Terms sent back to the writer's workshop

Councillor Mirau will have to tweak
his proposed Terms of Reference for a
committee on Small Business and
Community Services
While City Council did approve the Terms of Reference for two committees on Monday evening, hopes of moving forward on the Advisory Committee for Small Business and Community Services had a bit of set back as Councillor Mirau's concept of consultation met with some opposition from Councillor Thorkelson.

As he opened his presentation, Councillor Mirau highlighted the focus of his Committee which is designed to develop a better spirit of collaboration and gain perspectives from the community that they don't normally hear at Council. Adding that one of the goals of the committee is to make it easier for business to operate and grow in the community.

When it comes to the  Committee structure, he noted that the Committee would be accepting resumes and the involvement of small business owners, developers, and different people like that who could provide their perspectives. 

However, a number of red flags appeared from the Terms for Councillor Joy Thorkelson, who in particular had much to say on the nature of the tasks to be taken on by the Committee and expressed a fair bit of concern over having outside interests such as the Chamber of Commerce involved in advising Council on just about everything, asking what the purpose of the committee was.

She outlined her hesitation at having the business community looking over Council's shoulder, advising council on every issue that they look at, noting that reviewing small business issues was a legitimate task for a committee, but that she didn't think she wanted the Chamber of Commerce reviewing major bylaws, local and regional land use, park planning and other land base issues.

By the time she had finished her review of the proposed Committee structure, she had effectively questioned the majority  of the points provided by Councillor Mirau.

Councillor Cunningham also outlined a few of his concerns over the wording of the Terms and the impact that they could have on the workload of city staff.

As well he offered up some thoughts when it comes to the engagement of the committee members and who they would report to or inquire information from.

In one last attempt to try and move his initiative forward, Councillor Mirau noted that the underlying philosophy for the committee would be to try and make it easier for business to succeed and grow in Prince Rupert, adding that the city needs to grow its tax revenues every year and that the committee would provide an avenue to receive feedback from the movers and shakers in the community that Council doesn't receive on a regular basis.

To bring the discussion to a close, Council voted to accept a suggestion from Councillor Niesh that would see Mr. Mirau withdraw the current terms of reference and fine tune the presentation for another run by Council in the future.

You can look over what Councillor Mirau had hoped to have below, might make for an interesting comparison to how the Committee eventually looks like whenever Council approves the new terms.

The Terms of Reference for the Small Business committee
are heading for a rewrite

(click to enlarge)

More on the discussion can be  found on our Council Timeline feature, and You can review the full back and forth on the topic from the City's Video Archive starting at the 2 hour thirty one minute mark.

For more items related to Monday's Council session see our Council Discussion Archive page here.

Council looks to bring many aspects of Major Projects and other planning together with new Committee

City Planner Zeno Krekic will be at the helm of a committee with a long running name that calls to mind something along the lines of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, with Council on Monday night accepting the terms of reference for the "Planning for Major Projects, OCP and Affordable Housing Policy Developments Special Committee"

Mayor Brain introduced the Committee plans, offering up the background to what it hopes to accomplish and who will be involved in bringing all the moving parts of the project together.

As the Mayor explains it, the Committee will be looking at policy relating to managing applications for amendments to zoning, planning and procedures, as well as such issues as affordable housing issues, secondary suites policies, planning for major projects as well as a range of other items.

The intention is to integrate all the aspects of the city's planning work to be coherent to each other, as well as to provide a framework for policies to manage what the Mayor described as a plethora of short and long term planning tasks and initiatives.

There are short, mid and long term goals in mind from the Committee work, with the short focus directed towards the planning for major projects affordable housing policies and the current applications that the city has amended into how they see those policies developing.

The process would then move into a mid and long term strategy of updating the Official Community plan, zoning bylaws and downtown permit guidelines

As the Mayor's Sustainable City Committee plan comes together it would be integrated into those policies, ultimately as the Mayor explained things, it all would be integrated into the city's Hays 2.0 Vision, creating one entity.

Mr. Krekic will facilitate the efforts of the working group and create a policy framework to integrate all of the components. They will work under a timeline of eight to ten weeks, with the plan to have it all available for council's adoption at the end of the ten week process.

Councillor Thorkelson took the lead when it came to questions related to the Mayor's Terms, raising a number of issues related to her concerns over the affordable housing desires of Council.

She also expressed some confusion over whether it had been designed as a committee of staff, or whether it's one which Council would take a more active role in developing policies forward. Calling attention to some items of concern that she had in what the Committee might be addressing.

The Mayor noted that in the time frame of the Committee work, that there should be room for specific conversations with Council as to what they want to do with specific concerns.

The City Manager offered up his overview as to how he interprets the committee structure and planning and what would be required of council members as part of the process.

Council accepted the terms for the Committee creation, with council members to advise Mr. Krekic this week as to the nature of their interest in the project.

The first meeting of the Committee will take place in February.

More background on the discussion can be found on our Council Timeline Feature, while a full review of the Committee concept can be examined through the City's Video Archive starting at the  2 hour, fourteen minute mark.

Further items related to City Council items can be found on our Council Discussion archive page here.

Mayor Brain's 2030 Sustainable City Select Committee gets approval, but not without spirited discussion on its purpose

Mayor Lee Brain outlined the terms
of reference for his 2030 Sustainable
City Committee on Monday night
The Mayor received Council's go ahead when it comes to the Terms of Reference for his latest Committee plans, with Council reviewing his proposals for how the City should move forward on issues of sustainability and other initiatives towards those goals.

As part of his overview for the process ahead, the Mayor focused on such issues as renewable energy production, food production and other sustainable related initiatives, as just some of the items that will be reviewed, with the intention of integrating those concepts into the city's core planning.

Adding that his concept will embrace three general areas, jobs and the economy, greener communities and social well being to help develop a culture of placemaking.

The makeup of the committee would consist of a combination of local experts and outside advisors where gaps exist in the local community, as well as select city to staff to ensure proper integration of policy into other areas of work that the city is moving forward on.

The direction of the Committee is to deliver a report back to the Council with policy recommendations and to outline goals and actions to be implemented over the next five years, with recommendations as too any funding and grant opportunities that are available.

Councillor Thorkelson called the proposal an excellent idea, but took note of a number of items from the synopsis of the Mayor's Terms of reference, noting the definition of it as a Mayor's Select Standing Committee and expressed her preference to see it  created as a Committee of Council.

The City Manager provided some background on the nature of Select Committees and how it would work in this particular instance, allowing the Mayor to appoint people from outside of Council. The Mayor  followed up on the City's Managers comments by advising that he would like to see all of Council to be involved in the initiative.

Councillor Thorkelson however reinforced her desire to invite the community to be a participant in the Committee and expressed her worries that the concept of the Select committee might mean that local residents could feel squeezed out of the process, believing that there is no room for their participation.

She also noted that the concept was almost that of a Super Committee and was something that could probably be divided up into up to ten different committees.

Councillor Cunningham inquired if there the Committee plan was going cost to the City any money, to which the Mayor stated that there would be no cost involved in his initiative as it would be volunteer based.

After a few more thoughts on the issue, Council then moved forward with the creation of the Committee.

The Terms of Reference as provided to Monday's agenda can be reviewed below (click to enlarge):

More background on the Mayor's presentation and Council's questions can be found on our Council Timeline feature.

You can also review the discussion on the Mayor's plans from the City Council Video Archive, it starts at the one hour, fifty nine minute mark.

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

Questions on funding issues point to need for easier access to Civic information

An interesting bit of discussion on how much information the city provides to the community, came up as part of the public comment session of Monday's Council session.

And from some of the observations found on the night, it might be suggested that there is a desire from the city's residents to have better access to information on such areas of interest as the City's Legacy Fund and other segments of public spending by our elected officials.

As part of the Committee of the Whole session Monday a number of residents took to the microphone to outline their concerns over the recent cuts to the Library funding, during the course of that one hour overview, one participant expanded his inquiries towards some concerns related to the City's Legacy Fund and some of the other spending initiatives that Council has taken on over the last year.

Mayor Brain spoke to a number of items
related to the Legacy Fund and other
spending issues on Monday night
The way that those topics were presented, resulted in a bit of push back from the Mayor, who expressed frustration with the tone and the method of approach to some of the questions.

Noting that in the case of the Legacy Corporation funding there is information available on the city's website as to how the city makes use of that money and to where it has been directed.

As well, on the theme of spending on civic initiatives, or travel, the Mayor and City Manager noted that the process of approval had changed over the years and that there is no longer any requirement to hold a public vote on some spending requests.

As a way to bring that segment of the discussion to a close, City Manager Robert Long suggested that the resident would be welcome to take as fine a tooth comb as he has to the city's information, seeming to suggest that digging deep into the past minutes and budget reports might deliver some of the answers that he was seeking.

And while that is one option, a better approach and one which might be welcomed by the residents of the city would be to make that information more easily accessible on the city's website.

When it comes to the Legacy Corporation, the Mayor is correct in noting that there is information on the city website regarding the formation of Legacy Corp.

However when it comes to a review of the full details and other items that might be of interest regarding that city instrument, the offering is rudimentary at best.

The current information portal provides mainly a listing of the Articles of Incorporation and not much more. Leaving anyone trying to find anything else out about the city's use of the fund, to have to drill deep into the agendas, minutes and other documents that the city posts on its website.

What isn't available at the moment for residents is a one stop reading kind of presentation. Providing a breakdown as to where the funds that have been received have been allocated and what projects they have been put towards, whether it be sidewalk repair, major infrastructure or other council projects.

Currently it seems that any information on Legacy Fund is lumped into the Council initiative known as planning for Major Projects, with little indication as to just what the city's residents are getting from their investment and what council has decided the money should be used for.

"The City is taking a hard look at the infrastructure deficit and coupling it with the impact from Major Projects. Planning is of the utmost priority for Council to ensure our City can be a model for how to successfully host large industrial growth. Maximizing the benefits of possible change while mitigating as much of the negative impacts will require additional resources. The City’s wholly owned subsidiary Legacy Inc. will contribute towards this additional cost with no impact to the taxpayers over the planned four year time frame that the Planning for Major Projects Budget has undertaken." -- From the Conclusion to the Spring 2015 Community Update

Considering the range of LNG Go Plans, Vision Statements and other civic initiatives of the last year such as the Re:Build Rupert updates it probably shouldn't be too hard to provide a similar style of visual display that shows clearly and effectively for the community, just how the City is spending the money received through the Legacy Fund.

And while they're on that theme of disclosure, offering up a montly spending report on Council activities, whether they be from out of town travel, reflecting in town workshops or other such kinds of activities, probably would be a welcome addition to the flow of information for the public as well.

Those are concepts that other communities have explored with some success, providing reports and information outlines to their civic websites.

With such information in hand, the city's residents might even be able to help City Council when it comes to the Budget Consultation process later this Spring.

Using the information to offer suggestions at to what priorities that the city's residents might have for the fund, something that could be helpful in Council's search for that sixty six thousand dollar takeaway from the Library.

The theme of making better use of the Legacy Fund was the topic of this letter in the weekly newspaper this week, with the author also listing some concerns over how the money from the fund is being used.

As was noted by Councillor Cunningham in early January, "The Legacy Fund is owned by the people of this town, it is the residents money, as well as the council's money" which was a sentiment reprised in the letter to the paper yesterday.

It would seem that through the comments from the Public comment session at Council, or by way of a letter to the opinion page of the paper, that all that folks in Prince Rupert seem to want to know, is how the fund is being used.

Allowing them to shape their opinions when it comes to whether the City is making the right decisions when it comes to that spending.

The city's residents really shouldn't have to take that fine tooth comb to explore a range of Council minutes and documents, City Council should be making sure that the information that the public wants and deserves to have access to, is as easy to find as possible.

The discussion on the topic of the Legacy Fund from Monday night can be reviewed on the City's Video Archive, it starts at the thrity nine minute mark and continues for about ten minutes.

We have more background on the Legacy Fund available here, while a wider overview of Council topics can be found on our Council Discussion Archive page.