Sunday, July 31, 2016

Blog Watching, week ending July 31, 2016

The last of four community engagement information sessions hosted by the Lax Kw'alaams Band Council took place this week in Terrace as some background on a proposed LNG terminal for Lelu Island was provided for Band members.

Two proposed housing developments also dominated the views on the blog this week, with our notes on a proposed land sale on Graham Avenue and an apartment/condo project proposed for Drake Crescent both finding a large number of readers

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice had a fairly active week at the summer session of the Legislature, with her presentation to the Legislature on the NDP's Power BC energy plan attracting a fair sized audience.

And Prince Rupert's spot in the national spotlight took place this week, as the North Coast and Haida Gwaii were both featured on the television program The Amazing Race Canada.

The top story of the week however outlined the final of four LNG related information sessions for members of the Lax Kw'alaams Band.

Lax Kw'alaams community information sessions on LNG nearing an end -- The last of four information sessions for Band members took place in Terrace this week, while other developments  on the proposed Lelu Island LNG terminal continued to grab some of the LNG headlines.    (posted July 27, 2016)

That article was followed by:

NDP outline Power BC energy plan for British Columbia -- North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice outlined some of the key elements of a proposed energy plan from the NDP.  (posted July 26, 2016)

City Council adds Seniors Housing requirement and development timeline covenants to Graham Avenue land sale -- Residents of the Graham Avenue offered up a number of thoughts on a proposed land sale at Monday's Council session, with Council members later voting to move forward with the land sale but attaching some covenant items to the proposed sale terms.  (posted July 29, 2016)

Drake Crescent housing development gains Council approval -- Council moves forward with a proposed 2 building condo or apartment development on Prince Rupert Boulevard at Drake Crescent    ( posted July 29, 2016)

North Coast and Haida Gwaii in Amazing Race Canada spotlight tonight -- Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii had  a full hour of publicity on the popular television program the Amazing Race Canada (posted July 26, 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, July 30, 2016

MLA's week July 25-28, 2016

Vacation plans and summer event schedules were interrupted this week as MLA's were summoned to Victoria to discuss and vote on a pair of issues related to the province's Human Rights Act and Vancouver's current real estate speculation situation.

The session which was called earlier in the month, found MLA's back in their seats from July 25-28 to review the Liberal government's two agenda points, as well as to raise other items of note that have been percolating since the Legislature last sat in session back in May.

On the week, Ms Rice was listed four times in the account of the sessions of the Legislature from July 25 to 28.

On Monday morning, the North Coast MLA offered up some observations related to the NDP's Power BC proposals, focusing on how the NDP would approach the use of BC Hydro differently that the Liberals.

NDP outline Power BC energy plan for British Columbia

Monday afternoon found the MLA speaking out as part of the discussion on the Liberal government's amendment to the Human Rights Act, outlining some of her disappointment in the comments from some on the government side of the house, while providing some personal notes on the topic for the Legislature to consider.

Jennifer Rice takes to Legislature floor to speak on Bill 27 changes to Human Rights Act

Tuesday morning provided Ms. Rice to provide a tribute to a North Coast business, as she spoke to how the Wheelhouse Brewing Company has added to the Prince Rupert social scene.

MLA celebrates local brewery with comments to Legislature

The MLA also sought to learn more about the status of the province's Air Shed report and the findings for the Prince Rupert region, asking a short question on the theme of Environment Minister Mary Polak in the Thursday morning session.

Ms. Rice was advised that it was anticipated that the report would be released shortly. (see the 11:00 AM mark of the Legislature Minutes to read more of that short exchange.

Ms. Rice is also a member of the Committee on Children and Youth, however that Committee did not meet during the course of the last week.

With the two main issues of the summer session addressed by Thursday afternoon, the Legislature was adjourned at just after 5:30.

The brief return to Legislature duties now complete, members will now once again scatter across the province and beyond. Making for a little bit of constituency work to be mixed in with some down time as they head through the summer months and the call, sometime this fall for a return to Victoria.

A period of time where the real preamble to the 2017 election will begin to take shape.

For Ms. Rice the departure from Victoria was set to take her to Haida Gwaii this weekend, where she planned to take part in the ceremony surrounding the raising of a Unity Pole in Skidegate.

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.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Despite good returns coming ashore, Prince Rupert's fishery is providing for fewer jobs this summer

During Monday's City Council session Councillor Joy Thorkelson provided council members with a brief update on the 2016 salmon season to this point, offering up a glimpse into how the recent changes at the Canadian Fish Plant in the city have started to have an impact on the economic return  from the industry to the city.

Ms. Thorkelson, who is the UFAWU-Unifor representative on the North Coast, noted that while there has been a bumper year to this point for both pink and chum salmon in the region, the numbers of those working at the fish plant on George Hills way are down significantly.

The loading dock at Canadian Fish on
George Hills Way was in full motion this
week as fish landed in 

Prince Rupert headed out of town
Boats making their arrival at the 
Canadian Fish unloading docks 
bringing in the catch
from recent fishing efforts

As July comes to an end, Thorkelson outlined that from her numbers, only 250 workers were currently employed at the George Hills facility, with much of the work that has been required that of minimal work, mainly directed towards butchering the catch quickly and preparing it for turn around to be sent to Vancouver for further processing and shipment overseas.

She observed for Council that at this time last year, when the Canadian Fish plant was running its canning lines, there were close to 750 workers employed.

Adding that the city would feel the economic impact to the commercial fishery in town particularly from the reduced amount of work for those that have not been called back this summer.

Her short report to Council can be viewed from the City's Video archive starting at the two hour twenty nine minute mark.

More items related to the North Coast fishery can be found on our archive page.

Drake Crescent housing development gains Council approval

Property Developer Kevin Stunder
provided a brief overview of his
proposed development for the Drake
Crescent/Prince Rupert boulevard
area of the city
Compared to the lengthy engagement required when it came to the proposed Graham Avenue land sale on Monday night, the discussion related to a proposed housing development on the city's east side went considerably smoother and consumed significantly less time.

A short presentation from the development proponent Kevin Stunder of Aurora Resorts provided the background to the proposed development, which will feature two buildings consisting of no more than 80 units in total.

The mix of the units to be constructed would be one, two and three bedrooms, though it has not yet been determined if the building will be stratified and sold to individual buyers, or rented out.

Two members of the public participated in the public hearing, with realtor Victory Prystay offering his support to the proposed development, noting how it would help to answer some of the housing concerns in the community.

Council moved forward with plans for
a two building housing concept
for the Drake Crescent area
When it came to the vote later in the evening on the zoning requirements, Mayor Brain and a number of Council members hailed the willingness of the developer to get some boots on the ground and launch the project.

As well, the developer was praised for his efforts when it came to the covenants that the city had
placed on the land in question, addressing the concerns of the city related to project density and the need to assist in amenity development in the form of a trail that is located near the proposed development.

On the theme of the trail development, the developer will either offer his services to work on the trail site, or contribute cash towards the project.

No timeline was outlined to Council on Monday evening however that indicates when the work on the actual housing proposal may get underway.

You can review more of Monday's discussion from our Council Timeline feature.

The full account of the Drake Crescent zoning issues can be found from the City's Video Archive, the Public hearing can be viewed from the very start of Monday's session, while Council's discussion and vote on the topic comes at the one hour and nineteen minute mark.

For more items related to housing in Prince Rupert see our Housing archive page here.

More background on City Council discussions can be found on our archive page.

City Council adds Seniors Housing requirement and development timeline covenants to Graham Avenue land sale

City Council has voted to sell a parcel
of land on Graham Avenue to developers
The Bryton Group, but added a number
of covenant items to the sale.
The Bryton Group will be facing some new requirements when it comes to moving forward with their plans for development of land in the Graham Avenue area.

The latest twist in a long running discussion on land use in the west side neighbourhood came after Prince Rupert City Council added a number of covenant items to the plan to sell a parcel of land to the developer.

The new covenants to be put in place were introduced by Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham as part of Monday's council session.

By the time the final comment had been made and the back and forth of discussion had come to an end, Council had put in place what it called their only tool available at the moment, as they looked to ensure that the wishes of the City and the area residents would be heard by the developer.

From their deliberations on Monday a number of additional conditions have been put in place when it comes to the land sale, with the main focus directed towards Council's reinforcement of its desire to see a Seniors Housing condo unit included in the development plan as part of the covenant package related to the sale of the land to the Bryton Group. 

Along with that key element, Council will place a number of timeline benchmarks that the developer will have to meet when it comes to the long discussed property development on the west side.

The lengthy Monday night session featured two distinct sections to the discussion, the first through a forty four minute public comment opportunity provided to residents in attendance at the Council session, with eleven participants taking advantage of the Committee of the Whole Session to express their concerns related to the land sale and development plans for he neighbourhood.

When the minutes of both the Public comment opportunity and follow up Council session are added up the Graham Avenue land issue grabbed over one hour and forty minutes of the two and a half hour Council session.

The nature of the way that the issue was approached by Council on Monday however, seemed to provide the image of two competing sets of lectures, one from the residents of the neighbourhood, the other by members of City Council.

Despite the lengthy amount of time allocated towards the topic, there were actual few moments where each side actually engaged with each other on the many issues that seemed to dominate Monday's discussion.

Of the eleven residents who spoke, ten offered up a list of issues that they wished the city to consider,  among the key concerns were:

The use and timing of the Alternate Approval Process, with some noting that many were away during the summer and calling for a full public hearing in September.

A belief that the City was selling the land at a fire sale price, suggesting to Council that if the City has to sell a piece of land to move a housing development forward then maybe they have the wrong developer in place.

Lack of information provided to the area's residents related to what the proposed development will look like.

A need to respect the long time residents of the neighbourhood and respect their wishes.

Concerns related to increased traffic and the impact on the vulnerable road and sewer infrastructure in the Graham/Atlin Avenue area.

Only one participant in the public comment period offered unqualified support for the project, with Realtor and Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce President Keith Lambourne offering up his observations on the need for more housing in the community and a desire to see some shovels finally hit the ground when it comes to housing proposals.

To try and provide some clarity on the issue of land valuations, Kevin Stunder, who has provided some consultation work on behalf of the Bryton Group offered up some insight as to how the land valuation had been determined.

Once the public comment period had been exhausted, the topic would return later in the evening as part of Council's Regular Agenda, when Council members weighed in for a fifty six minute discussion on the theme,

Councillors Niesh and Mirau provided the opening conversation points as they relayed a range of thoughts when it came to the concerns raised by the public.

Councillor Niesh who noted that he had wished that the Graham Avenue residents had stayed through the Council session to hear his thoughts, noting that he had listened to their presentations earlier in the session.

He then recounted some of his findings from a nine hour tour of the Graham Avenue area on Saturday.

From his study he offered up findings that indicated a split for the most part in the neighbourhood on the issue of the land sale and proposed housing development.

From Mr. Niesh's account he observed that 23 had agreed with the proposed development, 5 against it while 7 were considered neutral. On the issue of the land sale, 20 were in favour of selling it, with six stating that they were against the sale. 

The councillor also offered up his belief that some of the residents appeared to have felt pressured by their neighbours to sign the AAP.

Councillor Niesh also observed that he believes that the City could have done more to inform the residents of the area about the land sale and the AAP approach that the city had decided to use.

Councillor Blair Mirau had many challenges
to offer when it came to Monday's decision
to install covenants to a land sale on the
west side of the city
Those comments related to how the City had approached the issue was something that Councillor Mirau challenged, noting that he believed that there was some misinformation delivered to the community by area residents, a campaign that he said was hard for the City to counter.

He also reminded Council of the city's approach to the efforts that the city made to inform the public, including a video which he hosted explaining the AAP process.

As well, on the theme of misinformation, Councillor Mirau noted that while he lives in the Section Two area, he had not been invited to a meeting related to the land issue, suggesting that organizers had purposely chosen not to invite him, perhaps knowing that he would offer a different perspective.

As they moved through the fifty six minutes of discussion on the issue, other Councillors weighed in, with both Councillors Cunningham and Randhawa noting that they believed that the valuation of the land was low.

Councillor Thorkelson returned to a theme she had raised with the residents earlier in the evening, noting that while she acknowledged that many of the residents felt strongly about  the development, they appeared to be using the land sale issue as another way to try and influence the developer into doing what they believe was promised back in the past.

She observed that the input from the residents puts the focus back on the issue of the wish to see a Seniors housing condo located in the area, reminding council that such a project was something that she had been advocating in favour of for a number of years.

The Mayor also noted that the residents were not saying no to development, but that the issue of Seniors Housing was something that many residents of the Graham Avenue area consider to be something that had been originally promised when the area was first proposed for development.

Mayor Brain observed that through additional steps added to the land sale, the City is providing some assurance to the residents that they are working to achieve that goal, using the only tool they have at the moment to deliver it. 

The debate entered the home stretch with Councillor Mirau and Councillor Thorkelson exchanging thoughts on the concepts of private property rights, compared to collective rights, with Councillor Mirau expressing his concerns as to how any property developer may view such last minute covenants and how it could have an impact on how any developer views their plans in Prince Rupert.

To bring the motion to a vote, Council then heard the covenant proposals that both Councillor Cunningham and Thorkelson had originally offered up for consideration earlier in the evening.

Councillor Cunningham making his
final points on the Graham Avenue
land sale
Councillor Thorkelson responding
to some of Councillor Mirau's concerns
on Monday evening

In his closing remarks, Councillor Cunningham echoed some of thoughts of Councillor Niesh from earlier in the session, noting that the covenants will try to reach the original intent of the project and should help to move the proposed development forward, noting that there has been little progress so far and how the time lines should help spur on the project.

After the final comments were delivered, and with a bit of last minute tweaking towards the final draft of the covenants to be put in place Council voted to 6-1 to adopt the motion, with Councillor Mirau noting that he was in favour of the land sale but strongly registering his opposition to the covenant provisions.

With the motion passed, the following conditions will be put in place when it comes to the sale of the Graham Avenue land.

The construction of the site be completed in full by December 31st of 2019

A percentage of not less than thirty percent of the total number of units be solely dedicated for seniors and provisioned with wheelchair accessibility,

A development permit must be obtained by December 31st of 2017.

And should any of the provisions within the covenant not be met in full within the time lines as specified, the City of Prince Rupert shall have the right to take back the lands previously sold at a rate of the original sale price at appraised value less twenty percent for administration costs.

The evening made for a fascinating, if at times somewhat tiring review, of how local government in the community moves. Any resident looking to learn more about how a number of conflicting views on a controversial issue get thrashed out in Council chambers, should give Monday's session a viewing.

You can review our full overview of both the Public Hearing and following Council discussion through our Council Timeline feature.

The two segments can also be reviewed from the City's Video Archive, the Public hearing section can be found starting at the 26 minute mark, while Council's deliberations on the motion can be followed starting at the one hour thirty two minute mark.

Some past background on the long running discussions related to the Graham/Park Avenue development plans can be found below.

July 2016 -- City set to move on land issue off Graham after AAP results released
May 2016 -- City to make use of Alternate Approval Process for Graham Avenue Land sale
January 2016 -- Council pulls west side road closure bylaw from Agenda consideration

July 2015 -- Concerns over Graham Avenue Road extension dominate Park Avenue Public Hearing
July 2015 -- Park Avenue Housing Development to get Second Public Hearing
June 2015 -- Park Avenue proposal receives petition push back
June 2015 -- Councillor Thorkelson looks to include Senior's Housing in Park Avenue Development planning
April 2015 -- Public Meeting scheduled regarding Park Avenue Housing rezoning issue
March 2015 -- Proposed West Side Housing Development moves to public notification stage
March 2015 -- Council to consider Zoning issues related to proposed housing development off of Park Avenue

March 2014 -- Council takes Graham Avenue Condo project to public comment phase
February 2014 -- City considers townhouse development for Graham Avenue area

More items related to City Council discussions can be found on our Council Discussion page.

City Council Timeline: Monday, July 25, 2016

The one major drawback of City Council's summer schedule of reduced meetings was pretty clear on Monday evening, as the need to catch up on a range of issues that face the city's council members meant that a marathon two and half hours of work was required to tackle the night's agenda.

Much of Monday's session dedicated towards the issue of the sale of a parcel of land on Graham Avenue to the Bryton Group, with residents of the area adding their voices to the conversation, prior to Council addressing the topic later in the evening.

Monday's session started off with a Public Hearing related to zoning changes for a property on Drake Crescent and Prince Rupert Boulevard.

A Committee of the Whole session was also featured as part of the evening's work, and it was at that time that a number of residents took advantage of that opportunity to offer comments on the city's plans to sell a parcel of land off of Graham Avenue.

That topic would make for a portion of the Regular Council session, along with a number of other items on the evening that made up the items of consideration in the Regular Session.

Before the evening would come to an end, Council had also discussed a number of variance requests, moved forward with a proposed development for the Drake Crescent area and  addressed the topic of moving forward with a one kilometre rule related to liquor establishments in the community.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, the Agenda for the Regular Council session for July 25, 2016 

Council also had a Closed Session scheduled previous in the evening.

Further information from our overview and 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 July 25, 2016

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

Video Archive for July 25, 2016

(0:00-- 26:30) Public Hearing related to property at Prince Rupert Boulevard and Drake Crescent Monday, July 25, 2016 --  The public hearing opened up with a presentation from Kevin Stunder of Aurora Resorts who offered up some background to his company's concepts to create residential housing in the region, providing three different plans that are being considered. 

The three versions for consideration highlighted parking options, green space provisions and layout reviews for the two buildings that have been proposed to house up to 80 units on the land in question.

Councillor Randhawa had one question related to traffic concerns, while Councillor Thorkelson inquired about the nature of the covenants that the developer had reached with the City related to the development.  

Those two covenants involved limits on the amount of units to be built and a contribution either by way of constructing a trail in the immediate area of the housing development, or providing cash towards it.

Councillor Cunningham asked as to the mix of housing that is planned as part of the development and what the scale of rents would be.  He was advised that the mix would be one, two and three bedroom units, as for rents it has not been determined if the building would be stratified as of yet.

Mayor Brain then called on City Planner Zeno Krekic to then provide some background related to the proposed development and answering a number of question raised by Council members.

When it came to the public comment phase of the evening, two members of the public came forward, with Realtor Victory Prystay offering his support towards the proposed development suggesting that it would help to answer some of the housing concerns in the community at the moment. One other resident came forward to express some thoughts towards the nature of the design of the property in question.

With no other members of the public coming forward to comment, the Public Hearing came to a close.

( 26:00 --1:10:00 ) Committee of the Whole Session for Monday, July 25, 2016 -- The Committee of the Whole Session began with the introduction of the Graham Avenue Alternate Approval Process added to the evenings proceedings.

Prior to opening the forum to the public, the Mayor noted that the AAP process did not require a public hearing, but that Council had chosen to allow for comments related to this particular AAP initiative.  He noted the rules that govern the Committee of the Whole public comment period, advising that each participant should limit their comments to three minutes.

 With the guidelines delivered, the topic was turned over to the public for comment.

Eleven residents came forward with a range of comments related to the proposed sale of land off of Graham, among some of their notes on the issue:

The opening couple to participate issued a request for a postponement of any decision until September and the call for a public hearing, noting that many in the neighbourhood are away during the summer months.  Others raised Concerns related to infrastructure and traffic issues on the west side were also raised during the course of the public comment period.

Some noted that they are not against development, but that they don't know what the nature of the development of the land in question will be. Also raised were concerns over stated value of the property that the city hopes to sell, with suggestions that the city should not sell the land to a private developer and that further review of the value of the land should be conducted.

Questions related to aspects of the Community Charter, the use of the AAP mechanism and how the city is approaching the issue were raised as part of the public comment period, with concerns raised that if the city feels that they have to sell this land at a fire sale price to move a housing project forward then they may have the wrong developer in place.

One participant expressed concerns over a lack of information available to residents of the area as to the plans for the development, as well as adding his voice to concerns over the financial return that the city is to receive from the sale of the land.

Another resident of the area, echoed the call to wait until the summer is over and consult the neighbourhood as a whole, noting that it is the long time residents that have made neighbourhood what it is today and deserve more of a say into what will affect them, adding that Council should listen to their concerns.

Other items of note from the residents included the nature of comparing property values from one side of the city to the Graham Avenue area, making note of the tax levels found in the west side area.

Only one participant offered up unqualified support for the proposed development.

Keith Lambourne, a local realtor and head of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce spoke in favour of the sale of the land, noting the need for housing in the community and calling attention to the fact that there is a need to get some shovels in the ground when it comes to housing proposals in the community.

Kevin Stunder, who has been providing some consultation work on the land in question for the Bryton Group provided some insight into the nature of the land valuation that had been determined for the lots being considered. Noting that an independent appraiser had offered up the value in question, adding that the lots in question are considered undevelopable and that the project would not extend into that area and that the property would provide definition for the existing development plan.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up some comments related to their concerns, noting that the land in question is not at the moment an actual park, asking the delegation to Council if they are asking that the City develop that land as a park. She then expanded on her thoughts as to what such a potential community enhancement could look like.

As a form of further background on the issue, she noted that the land in question had been sold by one private owner to the Bryton Group and that the city had no say over that sale, however she noted that they do have a say over the stretch of land in question. She added that if the residents are using the issue as a way to stop a development they don't want in their area they should say that, but if they are actually proposing that the land could turned into green space then they should express that concept which she would be interested in following up on.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his thoughts on the issue of the land appraisal in question, with the Mayor seeking some background on the topic from the Corporate Administrator.

As the public comment period came to a close, some of the Graham Avenue residents reviewed their key concerns related to the land issue, repeating many of their previous themes and offering up some further background as to the nature of their neighbourhood.

The Mayor then outlined that Council would consider the issue later as part of the Regular Council session.

As for other topics for consideration as part of the Committee of the Whole session, no residents came forward to offer up other items for discussion, the Mayor then suspended that aspect of the proceedings and moved on to the rest of the Agenda for the evening.

(1:08:00--1:08:30 Regular Council Session for Monday, June 27, 2016  -- The Mayor reviewed past minutes and the current agenda for the evening. 

Reports to Council

(1:08:30 --1:10:30 ) Report from the City's Chief Financial Officer outlining the June Financial variance report -- Ms. Corinne Bomben provided the background to the report noting that most operating departments are within budget, though the Airport Ferry revenues are down due to the departure of Hawkair. She also outlined how the Cow Bay Marina is heading into its busy summer period.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up some observations and asked questions related to the Cow Bay Marina financial items.

Council voted to receive the report.

( 1:10:30--1:13:30 Report from the City Planner regarding a request for a development variance permit for a property on Ambrose Avenue  --  City Planner Zeno Krekic provided a review of the background on a request for a variance permit for a property on Ambrose Avenue. 

Council voted to approve the motion and moved the item to the public notification process.

( 1:13:30 -- 1:18:00 ) Report from the City Planner providing details on the request for a variance permit for a development by Horizon North -- Mr. Krekic outlined the background to a request to change the parking requirements for a proposed work camp location to be created behind the Lester Centre of the Arts in the area of the old trailer park. The main thrust of the request is to reduce the amount of parking required at the proposed site from 168 to 110 parking spaces.

The City Planner offered up some notes for consideration from Horizon North's camps located in Alberta and how those parking provisions can be compared to the Prince Rupert proposal.

Councillor Niesh provided a few thoughts in support of the proposed development.

Council voted to approve the Motion and the process now moves on to final consideration.

1:18:30 -- 1:19:30 Report from the City Planner providing details on the request for a variance permit for a development on Atlin Avenue -- Mr. Krekic outlined the background to a proposed variance for work on a deck to the property in question.

Council voted to approve the Motion and the process now moves on to public notification.


( 1:19:30--1:25:30 ) Drake Crescent Zoning and Covenants  -- With Council having hosted the Public Hearing related to the proposed development on Drake Crescent, council offered up some final thoughts on the topic.

Councillor Mirau opened the conversation, highlighting how the project is consistent to the city's land use policies and making note of the covenants in place related to density. Councillor Cunningham also outlined his support to the proposed development, noting the willingness of the developer to get some boots on the ground and to launch the project. 

The Mayor observed as to the voluntary contribution aspect of the developers plans when it comes to amenities in the area in the form of a trail.

Councillor Niesh echoed those comments offering his salute to the developers work with the city on the proposal. 

Councillor Randhawa outlined his support calling attention to the nature of the city's housing supply at the moment. Councillor Thorkelson had a question on procedure on the  motion, asking where the covenant comes into play as far as the motion is considered.

It was noted that the covenant was not included in the original motion, with Councillor Thorkelson recommending that an amendment be added to include the two issues related to the issue.

Council then gave third and final reading to the required bylaw.

( 1:25:00 -- 1:32:00 ) One Kilometre rule on Liquor establishments -- The City Planner provided some further background related to the proposed rule to regulate the distance between liquor establishments in the community to one kilometre from door to door.

Councillor Niesh noted that the rule was designed to protect the local operators in the community.

Councillor Mirau expressed his concerns over the introduction of more red tape for local business, calling attention to some recent developments in Kamloops, adding that he believes has more important priorities to deal with.

Councillor Cunningham countered those concerns, adding he believes that the bylaw is good one for the city and that it is designed to assist the local small retailers in the community, addressing his concerns over the prospect of the introduction of liquor sales into larger retail options.

Noting that if the Council chooses to change the regulation, or add a variance to it, they can address it again should the population grow or the demand to change the bylaw arrive.

Councillor Thorkelson noted her concerns over alcohol issues in the community and that she didn't believe it was wise to increase access to alcohol through the grocery stores in the community. Adding that she frequently finds that the senior level of government in Victoria introduces issues that don't consider the impact on local communities.

The motion was carried with Councillor Mirau voting in opposition to it.

1:32:00 -- 2:25:00 Graham Avenue Land Sale -- With the public comment period of the Committee of the Whole providing for much of the background for consideration on the sale of land off of Graham Avenue, Council gave consideration to the two recommendations to remove park dedication to the land in question and allow for the sale of the land to the Bryotn Group.

Councillor Niesh led off the conversation on the issue, noting that it had become a rather contentious one for the city to deal with. He observed that many of the Graham Avenue residents had left the chambers and how he wished they had remained for the remainder of the session noting that he had listened to their concerns, and wished that they were there to hear his comments.

He then provided some of his notes from his nine hours in the neighbourhood the previous Saturday, where he sought opinion from area residents. From his review he called on 78 homes, though noted many were not home. For those that were home he culled a number of responses on the issue of the land in question.

From those he spoke with, 23 agreed with the development, 20 were for the sale of the property, seven were neutral, five were against the development and six were against the selling of the land, which he determined offered up about 80 percent approval of those he polled.

He heard some concerns over the process that the city had used to seek opinion through the AAP and suggested that the city could have done a better job of informing the public on the issue.

Other comments were related to the nature of the development and the valuation of the land that had been determined. The councillor also observed that some residents felt pressured by their neighbours to sign the AAP documents.

He noted that the land in question is considered undevelopable and not something that he would consider parkland and that the sale offers a chance to generate revenue for the city and if the city goes ahead with the sale it could generate increased tax revenue through property development.

Councillor Mirau challenged Mr. Niesh's observations related to a lack of information available to the public, noting that there was some misinformation disseminated through the neighbourhood by area residents, something which was hard for the city to confront. He noted some of the efforts that the city took to inform the public, including his participation in the information campaign and a recent video that he hosted to present the issue to the public.

Further to the misinformation aspect of the issue, he noted some of the concerns that he had heard during the process, such as traffic issues and loss of foreshore access that did not reflect the nature of the land in question and any impact of sale of it, suggesting that comparisons to Stanley Park or or Prince Rupert's Service Park were completely ridiculous, noting that you can't build a staircase to nowhere.

Councillor Mirau also observed that he lives in the section two area and that when residents of the neighbourhood organized a recent meeting related to the issue, they did not extend an invitation to him. Suggesting that they had puprosely chosen not to invite him, knowing that he would offer a different perspective.

His other observations on the issue included the aspect of the purchase price, noting that while it is true that the land does have more value to the developer than it does to the appraised value, there is a flaw in that rationale, as the city charges tax rates based on assessed value.

The comparison of per square foot costs were also a subject of his thoughts, with the councillor noting that the nature of the lot in question doesn't warrant the same consideration as that of a building lot.

He also reflected on the aspect of adding value to the land, challenging the perception in the neighbourhood that the plan is that of a fire sale, calling that belief among area residents as wrong, noting that the city is looking to get better value for the taxpayers and how this project accomplishes that.

He also addressed concerns over the Alternative Approval Process noting concerns in the neighbourhood over making it a city wide issue and not limiting it to the area in question, which residents suggest would have provided for a very different result.

Using a past discussion related to the a previous council's efforts to find land for an Emergency Service building, Council, Councillor Mirau noted that in his opinion it would be unfair to limit discussion on any parkland issue to just residents in one area of the city.

Councillor Thorkelson's contribution to the discussion first started with a question on procedure and what council was currently taking under consideration, after some clarification on the theme she then offered up something that she and Councillor Cunningham had discussed, outlining their thoughts when it came to putting a covenant in place on the land in question.

Councillor Cunningham followed up on that theme, first expressing his concerns over the valuation that was determined for the land, suggesting that the city could have received more money for the land in question. He added that he wasn't opposed to the development as it stands as long as Council controls the development there and that any value from the sale won't come until the proposed development moves forward and could offer other options for discussion.

Councillor Randhawa offered up some comments over traffic and infrastructure issues that the residents had expressed, adding that he also believes that it is too low and suggested that the city seek out a second opinion on the land valuation.

Councillor Niesh observed that Council could sit around for months and still not get a price that all would agree on, noting that they had hired a professional to provide the value of the land in question. He also provided some thoughts on the obstacles to developing land in Prince Rupert and how the city needs to be aware of those issues that face them. He also reminded Council that the land in question is not really a park, but more of a drainage ditch.

The Mayor offered up some background from a meeting he held with Graham Avenue residents a few months ago, noting that at the time the City hadn't decided on how they were going to approach the  process towards the issue. He recounted that at the time he had communicated to the residents that the property adjacent to the lot in question had already been rezoned in another process, with the original owners having sold the land to someone else.

He added that as long as the development plan fits into the existing guidelines and permit process the developers don't have to come back to Council and can build whatever they wish as they already have the zoning in place and own the private properly. He observed that whether the land in question was sold or not the developer can build what they wish and the L shaped lot would be trapped in front of a development and only accessible through the public property by way of private property.

He also noted that by selling the land, the City was adding additional value to a lot that would otherwise be trapped, providing for additional units which provide more tax revenue for the community to do the things that we need to do. For the residents of the region, the Mayor observed that Council had created parkland with its designation of land on Atlin as the Odd Eidsvik park which would be available for use.

Councillor Randhawa reiterated his belief that the city should seek out a second opinion on the valuation of the land to see if there may be more revenue to be received by the city.

The Mayor then outlined the results of the AAP process and moved forward with the vote on the issue on the night, declaring that the City of Prince Rupert had obtained the assent of electors to move forward with the proposed park dedication removal and to direct staff to move forward with the sale of the subject lands to the Bryton Group, to be consolidated with the adjacent lands.

Council then  moved towards their final vote to approve the sale of the land, with the two covenants proposed by Councillor's Thorkelson and Cunningham put in place.

Heading into that vote, Council members worked their way through the wording of the covenants, offering up  a number of revisions before settling on the final terminology.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up a friendly amendment that specified the subject lands value of 21,000 dollars, or if a second appraisal provides a second price, that price will be used.

Councillor Niesh offered up concerns over the dates of the timeline specified, suggesting that they were unrealistic and suggesting that those dates should be changed by one year, Council then approved those changes.

Councillor Mirau then weighed in with his concerns over the nature of the covenants in place, noting that from his perspective adding such specific conditions fundamentally changes the proposal and while supporting the concept of a covenant in general, he doesn't believe that there is a need to set the timelines in place, suggesting that Council could work in good faith with the developer on those issues that concern council.

He expressed his concerns over property rights as key to Western civilization and noted that if Council puts covenants in place at the last minute that are that specific, could give cause for other developers to be be hesitant to invest in the community.

Councillor Thorkelson countered some of Councillor Mirau's observations, noting that she wasn't too concerned about private property rights, pointing to other countries that are democratic states and how they approach restrictions to property issues. She then addressed the Graham land issue observing that in her opinion the residents of the neighbourhood feel strongly about this development and are using the issue of the so called park as a way to try influence the developer into doing what they believe was promised, that being a seniors housing condo unit, adding that would be something that she would like to see in that location.

She noted that at the moment the City does not have in place changes to the city's building standards and that putting the covenants in place is the only tool that the City has to address what the City and the residents of the neighbourhood really want.

Councillor Niesh highlighted the need to ensure that some form of progress was made on the land in question, adding that it was time for the developers to start building, or to step aside and let someone else develop the land.

Councillor Mirau challenged a number of Councillor Thorkelson's observations, with a particular focus towards what tools Council had to ensure that the city's wishes were followed by developers, noting that the City's planning department and building inspectors can exert control. He then turned his attention to Councillor Niesh's comments, noting that putting covenants in place at the last moment is not the path to follow and that if council is not going to respect private property rights, he questioned as to what are were doing.

The Mayor observed that there are still residents in that neighbourhood that believed that senior's housing was to be part of the development, noting that the proposed moves by the city provides some assurance to the residents and is the city's only tool to achieve that at the moment.

Councillor Cunningham also noted that by putting conditions on the property in question the city is providing for some certainty towards making sure that the development moves forward. Noting that the timelines that the city has in mind should not provide any problems for the developers to meet.

Councillor Niesh then offered up suggestions for revision to the timeline requirements to ease up some of the concerns.

Councillor Mirau reinforced for Council that he was in favour of the need to develop Senior's housing but stressed that the way to achieve that is to ensure that proposed multi family guidelines are put in place as soon as they possibly can, adding that the lack of those guidelines is creating some of the problems that the city is facing at the moment when it comes to housing. He then returned to his fears on how developers may view such last minute changes and what impact that they may have on those development plans.

The Mayor observed that the city at the moment is seeking to find the right balance to address housing concerns, and in this particular circumstance the topic of this development has been stressful for the residents and that he doesn't see the covenant as providing an issue for the developers, while the city will be providing some security for the residents who have expressed their concerns.

Councillor Cunningham noted that Council members have already heard that there is a need for new housing in the community and how the prospect of port development will drive the market more than anything.

Councillors Randhawa and Thorkelson provided a few final thoughts before Council finally got to the motion, with Council voting to approve the motion by a vote of six to one, with Councillor Mirau standing in opposition to the amendment, but noting that he was in favour of the selling of the land in question.

With the vote, the final terms of the covenant were put in place which specify that:

The construction of the site be completed in full by December 31st of 2019

A percentage of not less than thirty percent of the total number of units be solely dedicated for seniors and provisioned with wheelchair accessibility,

A development permit must be obtained by December 31st of 2017.

And should any of the provisions within the covenant not be met in full within the timelines as specified, the City of Prince Rupert shall have the right to take back the lands previously sold at a rate of the original sale price at appraised value less twenty percent for administration costs.

( 2:29:00--2:32:00  ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillor Thorkelson offered up a short update on the state of the fishing season to this point, advising that the Canadian Fish Plant was providing minimal work on fish caught on the North Coast, with the fish then transported by truck to Vancouver for further processing and shipment overseas. 

She observed that the current level of employment at the Prince Rupert plant was 250 workers, when at this time last year with a functional canning line the employment levels were at 748.  She stressed that even though there were good returns in the pink and chum fishery, the changes at the fish plant would mean that the community would not see the same economic impact to the community of years past.

Councillor Randhawa made a request that the city consider putting a crosswalk in at the Atlin Terminal area across from the Cow Bay Cafe where it seems the majority of visitors and residents are crossing across at.

Councillor Cunningham asked that city staff provide him with the ice schedule for the Civic Centre from last year, as well as the revised one from this year, so he could make comparisons and address some concerns he had received from the public.

You can access the City Council Review for July 25 here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, if any, 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 their website for further review.

In addition to the city's official minutes, the City's Video archive provides a helpful record of the events from each public council session.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from July 25, 2016 (not available yet)

Council members continue with their summer schedule for Regular Council sessions, featuring only one session per month, the next scheduled Council session takes place on August 22nd.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MLA celebrates local brewery with comments to Legislature

Prince Rupert's Wheelhouse Brewing
Company  received a shout out in
the Legislature on Tuesday
The opening statements portion of every morning during sessions of the BC Legislature provide time for a thumbnail sketch of communities across the province with MLA's taking those in the Leg on a tour of their constituency, highlighting people, places or things that add to the fabric of community they serve.

This week, it was a tip of the hat and perhaps a tip of an elbow or two from North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice who
Tuesday saluted the local Wheelhouse Brewing Company as a "place of refuge with great atmosphere".

Noting how the local establishment is a favourite of fishermen, longshoremen, city workers, businessmen and politicians alike who enjoy congregating in the local gathering spot to share an ale and perhaps debating daily events on the North Coast.

In her short presentation to the Leg, Ms. Rice offers a short biography of the three partners in the project and the success of their efforts in the short period of time that the Wheelhouse has been part of the city's entertainment scene.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
in the Leg on Tuesday with a tribute
for the Wheelhouse Brewing Company
Included in her tribute, was a celebration of the Wheelhouse's accomplishment at the 2016 Canadian collected a bronze medal for their Smokehouse Porter brand.
Beer Awards, where the Brewery

The full statement to the Legislature can be found below, forever to be catalogued in the Legislature Archives from the minutes of the Tuesday morning session.

The tribute can also be viewed on the Legislature Video Archive, with the tip of the elbow towards the Wheelhouse coming at the 10:15 mark of the Tuesday July 26th morning session.

Wheelhouse Brewing in Prince Rupert is a place of refuge, lively discussion, great parties and, often, live music. Three nights a week, fishermen, longshoremen, city workers, businessmen and politicians alike congregate there. They might be drawn to the energy, but they stay for the award-winning beer. 

Brewmasters James Witzke, Craig Outhet and Kent Orton all have day jobs. Their wives and families have patiently tolerated this basement hobby transformed into a high-calibre successful business. They are a production brewery with a tasting room and a retail store. 

Wheelhouse beer is available in most local restaurants in the B.C. liquor stores, and it's winning awards. The Wheelhouse has three delicious brews on tap. The flagship pale ale is described as a bold citric, hop-forward, medium-bodied west coast pale ale with a multi-backbone. The Gillnetter golden ale is described as a crisp, clean, light-bodied German stout kolsch ale, with hints of fruit flavours. The Blacksmith brown ale is a full-bodied dark brown, sweet and toasty ale with caramel notes, a true British Columbia brown ale, malt from the old country and hops from the new world. In addition to these three standard beers, the brewmasters craft seasonal beers such as the award-winning Smokehouse porter and the Scurvy Dog spruce ale. 

The Wheelhouse Brewery is the brainchild of three friends that share a deep appreciation of both the north coast and of high-quality beer. It showcases the vibrant nature of the north coast through quality beer that represents the people and the historical culture of the northwest coast. Indeed, the north coast was well-represented this spring, when the Wheelhouse took bronze for their Smokehouse porter at the 2016 Canadian Beer Awards. This is quite an accomplishment, and we on the north coast are proud of our local brewery's success. 

I want to thank Craig, James and Kent for all that they have given back to our community and for providing a place of refuge with a great atmosphere for when the seas are rough for so many of us in Prince Rupert.

More items related to Ms. Rice's work at the Legislature can be found on our archive page, while items that focus on the city's commercial sector can be found here.

City looks to add to City hall staff with Customer Service coordinator

The hiring plans continue to percolate at City Hall this month, with another addition to the list of job opportunities now available with the City of Prince Rupert.

The administration department for the City is the latest to start the process of accepting applications, with the posting of a Customer Service Coordinator's position now added to the External Job Postings section of the city's website.

The successful applicant for the position, which will report to Antonio Vera, the Deputy Corporate Administrator, will be responsible for the coordination, development and supervision of the Customer Service and Administration Clerical staff at City Hall.

Among some of the key elements of the position, an ability to identify skill gaps and work with individuals to develop their talents, as well to be able to designate the work to impact on the completion of assigned tasks in a timely and effective manner.

No salary level was listed in the job posting, the deadline for applications is August 3rd.

The full outline for the position can be found below:

Since the current City Council took office following the election of November 2014, Mayor Lee Brain and the six members of Council have provided for a significant increase when it comes to staffing city positions, with many of the new opportunities dedicated towards administration staff positions directly at City Hall.

You can review some of the more recent postings that the city has offered through our archive pages the most recent positions for 2016 can be found here, while last year heralded the launch of the new dedication towards city hall staffing with a number of positions posted in Council's first year of their term.

And while the Help Wanted notes are plentiful, notices of who the successful applicants are seem harder to find through the city's information pages.

With few introductions, or letters of welcome from the City provided to highlight the arrival of the successful candidates and the work that is ahead for them.

The increase in the growing levels of employment that have been offered by the city for the most part has moved forward with little in the way of discussion in public session by Council members. With the topic of the growing nature of the civic bureaucracy and how to sustain it, rarely introduced as a theme  for the twice a month regular council sessions.

More items related to Council discussions can be found on our archive page.

Lax Kw'alaams community information sessions on LNG nearing an end

Lax Kw'alaams residents taking in
an information session providing
background on the proposed Pacific
NorthWest LNG project

(from Lax Kw'alaams Facebook page)
Terrace based members of the Lax Kw'alaams Band will take part in one final community meeting tonight, the gathering held as part of an information sharing process, with Band officials sharing details and background on the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG project.

Tonight's meeting which starts at 7 PM at the Best Western Terrace is the last of four sessions that the Lax Kw'alaams Band has held over the last week, with previous sessions hosted in Lax Kw'alaams, Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

Few details have been made public about those previous sessions to this point, with attendance of the Prince Rupert session estimated to be at 130 members of the local Lax Kw'alaams membership taking in the local information meeting.

A previous session held in Lax Kw'alaams also attracted an interested and motivated crowd, taking advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers in attendance and offer up opinions both pro and against related to some of the new information provided about the project proposed for Lelu Island.

The final community meeting tonight comes as hereditary chiefs in opposition to the proposed LNG development at Lelu Island continue with their efforts to have their concerns addressed by the Federal Government.

On Tuesday, the Vancouver Sun outlined the latest step that has been taken by the hereditary chiefs, with the group forwarding a letter to the CEAA last Friday that calls for a four month extension to the Review process to allow for the collection of more scientific evidence.

The letter to the CEAA has not as of yet been added to the volume of documentation available on the CEAA's Pacific NorthWest LNG project page.

The story in the sun includes some comments from former Mayor Garry Reece who observes that the Crown has ignored the hereditary tribes and houses whose aboriginal rights and titles will potentially be infringed by the project.

Mr. Reece, noting that he is also a hereditary chief, also expanded on the the current controversy in the Lax Kw'alaams community. Adding that the people of Lax Kw'alaams have made it clear that it is not the band council's choice to make decisions on their territories.

You can review the full Vancouver Sun article here.

The information sessions for Lax Kw'alaams residents come as the CEAA process related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project moves towards the finish line, with the federal assessment agency expected wrap up its Finald Draft Report before turning the process over to the federal cabinet in September, or October.

More background on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project can be found on our archive page here.

Further notes on items of interest from Lax Kw'alaams can be reviewed here.

Jennifer Rice takes to Legislature floor to speak on Bill 27 changes to Human Rights Act

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice during
discussion of Bill 27 in the Legislature
This week's return of MLA's to Victoria has for the most part provided for discussion on two main themes that the Liberal Government has introduced.

A bid to reign in housing issues in the Metro Vancouver area and a key addition to the province's Human Rights Act to protect the rights of transgender persons in the province.

Monday afternoon found the latter issue as the main topic for consideration by members of the Legislature, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice taking to the theme of protecting transgender people as part of the Act.

In her remarks to the Legislature, Ms. Rice noted that after hearing some of the comments from a few of the members of the Liberal party, that their contributions to the discussion were not quite as accepting of a more open, diverse and tolerant society as many others in the province are prepared to be.

"I started the day out feeling quite elevated and spirited, but I must admit that I'm quite taken aback by a couple of the last speakers on the opposite side of the House. I think, to quote the Prime Minister, it's 2016. 

Today would have been a good day to stay home or stay in the office because you're not contributing whatsoever — to portray trans people and the LGBT community as a special interest group with a big agenda. I can't believe that we're having this discussion in the House. Today marks a big step for British Columbia. It's a step towards a more open, diverse and tolerant society."

From the opening remarks, Ms. Rice then traced some of the past work from many advocates that have worked long towards inclusion of transgender British Columbians to the Human Rights Act, noting for the Legislature that even with the step of inclusion into the Bill, members of that community will still find discrimination and sadly in some cases, even violence in their lives.

She noted how the long overdue process now underway in the Legislature marks a step forward towards making British Columbia a more welcoming place for transgender and gender-variant in the province.

"We're here today to amend the B.C. human rights code to explicitly protect transgender people under the Human Rights Act. This is due to the tireless work of transgender activists and their allies. 

This includes organizations like the Trans Alliance, the Vancouver Pride Society, the B.C. Teachers Federation, West Coast LEAF and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and countless activists and the people that are in the gallery today. I must say to my colleague from the West End, I'm proud to be your colleague and I thank you for your tireless work."

She also pointed towards Prince Rupert, making mention of the city's Rainbow Pathway in the Cow Bay area as an important symbol of a community going in the right direction.

Calling on her own personal experiences through the years, the North Coast MLA offered some passionate comments on the issues facing those in the LGBTQ community and recounted the journeys that many have made through their lives, and how Bill 27 is an important step for the province.

The full contribution to the Legislature discussion can be found here from the Minutes of the Monday Afternoon session listed at the 16:04 mark.

Her comments are also presented in the Video Archive of the Legislature proceedings, which you can view from the Chamber Video section of the listings for Monday afternoon listed here.

More background on the work of the North Coast MLA at the Legislature can be found on our archive page here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NDP outline Power BC energy plan for British Columbia

In the run up period to next years provincial election, British Columbia's political parties will be running more than a few development proposals up the flag pole for review from those that will be heading to the polls in May of 2017.

One proposal that the British Columbia NDP want to put forward for the year ahead, is their Power BC energy program, introduced by leader John Horgan the plan puts a focus on job creation, respect of First Nations land title and protection for BC hydro customers from runaway bills.

Some of the focus is directed towards the retrofit of public buildings, as well towards homes and businesses, making maximum use of existing hydroelectric dams and investments in clean energy options.

The full overview of what the NDP has in mind can be found here.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice outlined some of the proposed energy concept during her time in the Legislature on Monday morning (see Legislature draft minutes).

Ms. Rice's contribution to the morning sitting was part of a larger discussion on the Site C energy development plans of the Liberal Government and the NDP's suggestions of alternative options that should be considered..


More on the work of the North Coast MLA can be found on our Legislature archive page.