Tuesday, January 31, 2017

NDP make nomination official; as North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice acclaimed for 2017 election race

There has been little in the way of a rumble that any challenge was in motion, and with no one throwing a hat in the political ring, the North Coast constituency gave their official nod once again to incumbent MLA Jennifer Rice.

Monday, local NDP officials proclaimed by acclamation that Ms. Rice will once again take the NDP's message to the voters when election day rolls around.

First elected to office in the May 2013 provincial election, Ms. Rice had entered the provincial political mix after serving two years of the then three year term as a councillor at Prince Rupert City Hall.

She officially stepped aside from municipal politics in June of that year, having won the North Coast riding in the May election with close to 57 percent of the vote.

Since arriving in Victoria, the now incumbent MLA has been tasked with watching over northern rural health issues and a Deputy spokesperson for Children and Family development as part of the NDP shadow cabinet makeup.

Last week, NDP Leader John Horgan added to her duties, assigning her to the position of critic for northern and rural economic issues.

With her nomination confirmed with Monday night's gathering of the local NDP, the leader saluted her efforts through an information release issued on Tuesday afternoon.

“Jennifer Rice has been an outstanding advocate for people all across the province and has worked tirelessly for her community,”  ... “She has what it takes to help defeat Christy Clark and build a better BC.”

What appears to be the main theme for her campaign to retain her seat was also promoted through the NDP message, with the MLA targeting the way that Premier Christy Clark has governed the province and the impact of her policies on the North coast.

The campaign is officially on
as NDP MLA Jennifer
Rice started knocking on 
doors over the weekend
(From MLA Rice's Facebook page)
“Christy Clark isn’t working for you,” ... “I’ve seen how the decisions of the Christy Clark government are making it harder and harder for people who live on the North Coast.” 

 “Christy Clark’s government gives millionaires tax breaks but she takes more money from you. Increasing costs of MSP, ICBC and Hydro are making it harder for families to get by," she said. “People are worried they won’t have the same opportunities here that their parents had.”

Other areas that the NDP seem destined to use as part of their points for the upcoming campaign include transportation concerns, including the development of the Highway of Tears shuttle bus system as well as ongoing concerns over the level of service from BC Ferries on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii.

Health and education also are themes that seem to be forming up the foundation for the NDP approach to the campaign ahead.

Even before the NDP riding association made it official, Ms. Rice had been out doing some door knocking around Prince Rupert posting some photos to her Facebook page over the weekend.

More on her work at the BC Legislature can be examined here.

You can review the latest notes from the 2017 Provincial election campaign from our North Coast Votes archive page here.

Defensive play not a focus for regular season finale for Steelheads and Rampage

The final game of the 2016-17 Regular season for the Smithers Steelheads and Prince Rupert Ramapge pretty well looks to have resembled a somewhat messy game of pond hockey.

One where the goals were frequent and defensive play appears to have been but a suggestion.

With little on the line for the visiting Rampage other than what in effect was a real time scrimmage. The Saturday night matchup in Smithers made for a tune up skate for the start of the CIHL playoffs, with the Steelheads reaching double digits in an 11 - 6 victory over their guests from Prince Rupert.

The home side Steelheads took an early lead in game in the first twenty minutes, jumping out to 2 goal advantage before the seven minute mark, coming out of the gate fast and setting the tone for the offensive burst that lay ahead.

The Rampage for their part, did offer up a an answer towards that push from the Smithers squad as Kory Movald gained one back at the eight minute point with an assist going to Jared Meers.

Marcus Atchison also chipped away at the deficit with a marker at 14:39, helped by an assist from Jean Luc-Fouriner.

However, as the first period came to an end, the Steelheads appeared to be in control of things building to a 5-2 lead at the first intermission.

Whatever comments were made between periods must have hit home with the hometown side, which came out to send a message in the middle frame. With entries found on both the score sheet and in the penalty listings, as Smithers rattled off four unanswered goals in the second period to take a commanding 9-2 lead at the end of forty minutes.

The scoring outburst unfolded while a number of personal scores appeared to be settled on the ice in a busy second period for the officials. The middle period saw a parade to the penalty box and in some instances towards banishment, with Smithers Devon Hayhurst and Jean-Luc Fournier from the Rampage both earning misconducts for their extra curricular greetings.

Penalties would also form the narrative for much of period three, but this time in a way that would benefit the visiting Rhinos, who scored four goals in the final frame, two of them thanks to power play opportunities.

The scoring outburst came after Smithers had made it 10 - 2 in the first minute of the third and the Rampage push back started less than a minute later as Jared Meers picked up the third goal of the game with an assist going to Jacob Santurbano.

Seven minutes later Santurbano would pick up another assist, getting in on Kory Movald's scoring play on the power play, making for his second marker on the night.

Tyler Matalone would continue the Rampage advance with two goals of his own in less than a minute, his first a power play marker at 13:50 assisted by Thomas Robinson and Jordan Venditelli.

While his second of the night and the final goal of the evening for the Rhinos came at 14:39 with Jared Carter and Marcus Atchison picking up the helpers.

Smithers wrapped up the avalanche of scoring opportunities with one final marker on the night at 15:49, nursing home the 11-6 lead to victory at the the final buzzer.

Smithers bad behaviour on the ice through the third period pushed their penalty totals for the night to 33 minutes served, on 11 infractions. The Rampage totals on the night found Prince Rupert assessed five penalties for a total of 21 minutes.

Brett Roth and Jordan Vanderweil split the night's duties in the net for Prince Rupert, with each working thirty minutes of play.  Roth made 21 saves on 28 saves, while Vanderweil turned aside 20 of the 24 shots that he was faced with.

Smithers also split the goaltending on the night, facing a total of 53 shots over the sixty minutes of play.

You can review the full summary from Saturday night here.

The season finale sets the scene for the playoff round, the victory putting the Steelheads into a first place tie with Williams Lake, though the Stampeders hold the season advantage on difference between Goals For and against.

The CIHL has not as of yet outlined what the playoff schedule ahead is going to look like.

A review of the regular season, along with links to a range of notes on the CIHL can be found here

North Coast First Nations sign agreement with Federal government on environmental protection for PNW LNG project

An agreement related to Environmental
monitoring of the proposed Pacific
NorthWest LNG project was announced
on Tuesday

Plans towards keeping an eye on any environmental impact of the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG project moved forward today.

With the Federal government and two North Coast First Nations releasing an announcement hailing the nation to nation agreement between the Federal government with both Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams towards environmental monitoring of the proposed LNG terminal project.

The statement from the office of Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna noted the historic nature of the agreement and outlined what the participation from Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams will bring to the process.

Through this historic agreement, First Nations will work directly with provincial and federal authorities as part of a committee to ensure the Pacific NorthWest LNG Project is developed in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.

The committee will enable enhanced environmental oversight of the Pacific NorthWest LNG Project and the active engagement of local First Nations. It will foster information-sharing and continuous environmental monitoring and oversight. It will also enable the Lax Kw'alaams Band and Metlakatla First Nation to provide input into the project's environmental management plans and follow-up programs.

One of the main themes of the agreement noted this morning was how the creation of the environmental monitoring committee came as result of input and feedback from the First Nations communities.

Along with the view as to how it answers the desire of the two First Nations to play an active role in the monitoring of the proposed project on an ongoing basis.

The agreement sets up a range of monitoring mechanisms including an Environmental Monitoring Committee which will consist of one senior representative each from the Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams First Nations, and one senior representative each from the Governments of British Columbia and Canada.

A Technical Committee will also be created, it will be in support of the Environmental Monitoring Committee and will include one representative each from Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla First Nations, as well as one representative each from the CEAA, DFO, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Transport Canada and the Prince Rupert Port Authority. Also taking part in the Technical committee will be one representative each from the BC Assessment Office, Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Oil and Gas commission.

Included in the agreement is the inclusion of a Coast Tsimshian Monitor, with members selected by the Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams First Nations, the focus to meet the needs of the Coast Tsimshian community.

The final part of the four elements of the agreement will see an Independent Environmental Monitor included as part of the structure of the committees, that role to be filled by a qualified professional or professionals with demonstrated experience and knowledge of environmental monitoring.

You can review the full terms of the agreement and what the tasks ahead for each committee may include, from the full overview available here

As part of Tuesday's announcement, the two leaders of the North Coast First Nations involved in the agreement offered up their view of how the process will move forward.

Chief Councillor Harold Leighton from the Metlakatla First Nation hailed the safeguards the agreement puts in place:

"Working together, we can ensure the safeguards are in place and LNG development respects the environmental values that are a priority for the Metlakatla First Nation."

For his part, Mayor John Helin from the Lax Kw'alaams Band pointed to the important step that the agreement installs towards protection of the fish and waters of the region.

"We have always maintained the view that the environment is most important to us and with this agreement in place, it will help protect the fish, waters and lands in our traditional territory. Any development can only take place if the necessary environmental protections are in place and this is an important step in that direction."

You can review the announcement and further commentary from federal and provincial officials from this information release from Tuesday morning.

More notes related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project can be found on our archive page here.

A look at notes of interest from the two First Nation communities can be reviewed from the links below:

Lax Kw'alaams 
Metlakatla First Nation

Province of British Columbia still hopeful that North Coast hops onboard the Highway 16 Shuttle Bus plan

The much anticipated launch of the
Highway 16 shuttle program got
underway in the Bulkley Valley Monday
The first trip of a new shuttle bus service along the Highway 16 corridor took place on Monday, as the Moricetown to Smithers segment of a new province led transportation plan took effect.

The introduction of the new service, which will offer low cost transportation between the communities of Highway 16 was celebrated during an official launch ceremony last Friday.

As part of the speechmaking and background information that was related to the launch, participants in the program hailed the arrival of the long awaited service and outlined how the program would expand.

BC Transit has outlined the particulars of the Moricetown to Smithers route through its website available here.

Some notes on the launch of the service from Smithers to Moricetown can be reviewed below:

BC makes final announcement on 5-year funding for Highway 16 action plan today in Smithers
Highway Transit Service in the Northwest
New Bus route between Moricetown and Smithers
Moricetown residents chipping in $10,000 annually for first leg of Highway of Tears bus run

During the Friday celebration, it was noted that the ambitious program to connect the communities of the region still had a few gaps to fill in, as other civic council's along the highway 16 corridor look to sign onto the Transportation plan.

The Terrace to Hazelton leg of the new service has still to be launched and as it stands at the moment, the westward terminus for the program will come at the Terrace city limits.

As part of the notes from Friday, a BC Transit official observed that to this point, the North Coast is holding to its decision not to participate in the program.

Though it was noted that community leaders can return to the process at any time and that provincial officials are hopeful and even optimistic that the representatives from this region might reassess their decision at some point in the future.

In December, Prince Rupert and the other North Coast communities indicated that they would be taking a pass on the program at this time, announcing their decision not to participate in the transit plan.

During the course of their December announcement, the City of Prince Rupert and its regional partners instead indicated a preference to partner with the local Transition Society, creating a regional approach to address local needs, without the need of a dedicated daily connection to points east.

That has been a decision that North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has been rather quiet on. So far the MLA has offered little in the way of a statement that shares her view as to whether the North Coast plans embrace the spirit of her advocacy for transportation options for the Northwest.

A check of her many official, or social media communication options for the community, offer up no comments related to the path that the City of Prince Rupert and its North Coast partners chose to take when it comes to an issue that has been the main focus of much her time as an MLA.

Her low profile on that theme locally is somewhat of a surprising thing, considering how much time and attention she has dedicated in the past to the topic. It was through her efforts in the Legislature chamber where the MLA most frequently delivered her view on the need for the shuttle bus concept across Northern British Columbia.

It's just a bit ironic that a version of a plan that she has long advocated for is now taking shape in many areas of the North, except in the area that Ms. Rice represents in the Legislature.

While the North Coast remains on the sidelines of the initiative, the push to add more communities to the list of those participating grew even further as the first leg of the new map began to go into service.

The province recently announced that it would be adding to the timeline for it's plan of two thirds funding towards the initiative, increasing their commitment from three to five years.

As well, it's expected that an update will come this spring to explain which communities of the Highway 16 corridor will next see the service introduced in their area.

Monday, the City of Prince George committed to a five year funding commitment of 50,000 dollars per year for the provincial plan, increasing its involvement in the initiative from an original decision to participate for only one year.

From the media coverage of the Prince George discussion, it was noted that the Central interior city had expressed a desire to bring some stability to the project, as well as to offer some leadership for the smaller communities across the north.

One theme that seems to have resonated with the Prince George civic officials was related to a concern that had been heard from along the highway 16 corridor and the fears for some that the decision by Prince Rupert to not participate might have an impact on the future of the overall program.

City Commits to 5 years of funding for Highway 16 Transit
Council commits to funding Highway Transit
City Council approves long term Highway 16 public transit investment

Burns Lake is also showing a change in its original position, noting that with five years of provincial funding ahead, they too may soon hop on the bus.

Burns Lake Mayor optimistic about Transit Service between Smithers

Whether the increased commitment from other communities around the north and the change to the funding timeline offered by the province gives North Coast officials cause to reconsider their decision, is something that may yet stir some debate among the local stakeholders through the year.

More items of interest related to the Highway 16 corridor can be found here.

Monday, January 30, 2017

4.0 quake rumbles off Vancouver Island Monday evening

Sometime around the 5:30 dinner hour a slight shudder of the sea bed rattled along the west side of Vancouver Island, as the an increase in seismic along the Pacific coast fault lines took place 87 km South-Southwest of the community of Port Hardy.

Listed at 11 kilometres in depth and with a magnitude of 4.0, the temblor was recorded at 5:38 PM, there is no indication that it was noticed by those living on the Island and No Tsunami warning was issued related to it.

You can review the full scope of the Monday event here.

More background on the recent string of small quakes off Vancouver Island can be found on our archive page here.

Woman taken into custody following east side incident Sunday night

A 40 year old female is in custody, after members of the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP responded to an complaint related to a residence in the 1000 block of Immanuel Street on the city's east side.

The incident was called in just before 9:30 PM on Sunday and upon arrival responding officers located a 46 year old male who was suffering serious injuries to his throat area.

As a result of their investigation into the incident, the 40 year old female was taken into custody.

The injured male was transported to Prince Rupert Regional Hospital for further treatment.

In a media release issued on Monday, the RCMP looked to reassure the public by stressing that the incident was not considered a random act of violence, as both individuals were known to each other.

Should anyone have any information related to the Sunday incident, they are asked to contact the RCMP at 250-627-0700 or through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)

RCMP members responded to an incident in the 1000 block of Immanuel Street
on Sunday evening, one female is in custody while an injured male was taken
to Prince Rupert Regional Hospital for treatment

Some background on the incident can be found here.

You can review more items from our Northwest Responder files here.

New political movement ImagineX calls for British Columbians to look at a different approach to provincial politics

With the election drums starting to warm up towards the May 9th vote, one group in the province is making a call for British Columbians to think differently when it comes to how we select a government.

The group is offering up the concept of sending a large number of Independent candidates to speak for the people of the province, suggesting that it would be an alternative that would provide for more transparency and collaboration on the issues that are of key importance to residents of the province.

The project is known as ImagineX, which organizers describe as a collective of passionate citizens who are looking to ReimagineBC and hold no affiliation with the BC Liberals, NDP, Green Party or other political parties and interest groups.

They offer up five core values which include being Citizen-centric, seeking Respectful Collaboration and Evidence Based Decision Making.

They also note that they are Forward-thinking and are dedicated towards more Transparency in provincial politics.

The launch of the political movement includes a Nomination Form as well as a listing of those that have been nominated in ridings across British Columbia, though to this point there are none listed for the North Coast, Skeena or Stikine Ridings

ImagineX is now taking nominations for their
community based approach to BC politics

Also making for a key element of their information presentation is a chart and searchable data-base that offers up some background on how current MLA's have voted on past initiatives and bills in the British Columbia Legislature.

Once you enter the name of an MLA you can track how she or he voted and access more information about each voting opportunity.

The ImagineX website features a data base to search out how MLA's
from across the province voted at the British Columbia Legislature

You can find out more about their plans and how to become involved here.

For more items related to the 2017 provincial election campaign see our North Coast votes archive page here.

Province introduces new mobile app for Highway travellers

BCHighways is a new
app available for travellers
across British Columbia
Those who take to the highways across British Columbia now have one more tool to use when it comes to travel planning and tracking conditions along the network of roads in the province.

The Province has teamed up with a Victoria based application development firm known as AirSenze Solutions to introduce real time access to highway information, road closures, planned work or extreme weather conditions.

The app which is known as BCHighways is free to download comes in both apple and android versions. It works on such devices as an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV as well as many android devices.

The program integrates Drive BC's twitter feed along with border crossing information and the network of BC Highway cameras to give travellers a complete view of what their travel day will look like before they hit the road.

Samarth Mod, the CEO and co-founder of AirSenze outlined that the idea for the app came while becoming struck in traffic while travelling to Alberta and noted that the cooperation of the province in providing data for the project offered the chance to provide a valuable service to travellers.

“After getting stuck for two hours driving to Banff because of an accident, we saw the perfect opportunity to develop a native app using DriveBC’s open511 data. We think it’s super cool that B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has provided the open data to BC Developers’ Exchange and giving companies like ours the data we need to develop easy to use apps that benefit the lives of millions of people. And as a start up, we also wanted to show our expertise to the government to gain trust and credibility. Hence, it results in a win-win situation for everyone.”

Needless to say, the province has noted that anyone using the app while on the road is required to pull over to a safe area of the highway to access the application, noting how operation of electronic devices while driving is against the law.

Road Conditions are
one feature of the new
BCHighways app
The network of BC
Highway cameras is
part of the new
BCHighways app

Transportation Minister Todd Stone outlined some of the elements included as part of the new application.

“By making DriveBC’s Open511 data available to the public, we’re helping make driving on B.C. highways even safer for British Columbians and apps like these share our valuable road information system making it more available to more people. The more people who ‘know before they go’ — whether they check the DriveBC website, mobile site, phone system or partner apps — the easier it is to make better travel decisions.”

You can review more information related to the program here.

More background about AirSenze Solutions can be found from the company website.

For a review of items related to the Highway 16 corridor see our archive page here.

NDP MLA's Rice and Mark to attend community lunch at Nisga'a Hall today

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and the Kaien Island Elders are hosting community lunch today featuring a special guest for the two hour event, as they bring MLA Melanie Mark back to the Northwest.

Ms. Mark was the elected to the Legislature in a by-election of last year and with her election to office as the MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant became the first, First Nation woman to take a seat in the British Columbia Legislature.

As we noted on the blog at the time of her election in February, Ms. Mark has Nisga'a, Gitsxan, Cree and Ojibway ancestry and throughout the 2016 by-election campaign she called up on her Nisga'a and Gitxsan roots.

When the final vote was counted from the by-election, she had collected over 60 percent of the vote from the voters of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.

At today's luncheon she will be speaking to those in attendance on what she has accomplished during her time in office and will most likely highlight some of the issues that she and the NDP are taking into the upcoming election campaign.

The event takes place from Noon to 2 PM at the Nisga'a Hall on Third Avenue West, across from Save on Foods.

You can find more on the event from the Facebook page created for today's luncheon.

More items related to provincial politics can be found on our Legislature Archive page here.

International Halibut Commission sets 2017 catch allocations

After a week of discussion and review during sessions in Victoria, the International Halibut Commission has outlined the bi-national catch allocations for the halibut fishery for 2017.

The Victoria meetings marked the 93rd time that the panel has met to discuss issues of the halibut fishery and to set the guidelines for an upcoming season, meetings which at times have become quite controversial as industry fleets received the word on how much of the stock they will be able to chase.

The week long review of the industry brought together more than 200 halibut industry stakeholders to meet with the IHC commissioners.

A look over the briefing pages from the handout to last week's meetings gives an indication as to the expansive nature of the discussions related to the halibut fishery, with technical sessions, policy briefings and a range of studies making for much of the work load through the five days in Victoria.

As for the catchment allowances for 2017, British Columbia which represents Area 2B on the regulatory map was allocated with a total of 7,450,000 pounds for both commercial industry and sport fishery elements for the year.

The British Columbia allocation is an increase from the 2016 numbers, which saw 6,049,000 pounds of halibut landed on 668 catches.

Neighbouring Southeast Alaska which is listed as Area 2C, was provided with a combined catchment of 5,250.0000 which includes both the commercial industry and the guided Sport Fishery.

How those catch limits break down can be reviewed from the chart below.

The Commission also approved of the length of the season for the U.S and Canadian Individual quota fisheries, the eight month halibut season will start on March 11th and will wrap up on November 7th.

The recommendations will now be turned over to the governments of Canada and the United States for final approval, providing the guideline for the 2017 Halibut season.

The full News release can be examined here.

You can review more of their work from the IHC website here.

Those with an interest in the work of the IHC can follow up on how the 2017 season progresses through their twitter feed and Facebook page

You can also review all of the week's public proceedings through the daily videos from the Commission sessions available through the IHC YouTube feed

Ketchikan's public radio station KRBD provided a thorough overview of the work of the Commission and how the issues of the Halibut fishery are viewed just north of the A-B line.

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

Real Estate Tracker: Week ending January 29, 2017

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

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

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

The Archive for our weekly review can be found here.

Our list of the top ten priced homes for the week ending January 29, 2017 is below:

Prince Rupert Real Estate West Side week ending January 29 2017

Prince Rupert Real Estate East Side week ending January 29 2017

There were no changes to be found to our review of the top ten listings as January comes to an end, with no new transactions or arrivals indicated over the course of the last seven days.

That leaves the realty geography as it was last Monday, with eight properties found on the west side of the City, while across the McBride Street dividing line, two properties continue to hold their placement in the east,

The pricing remains fairly constant from last week as well, with the lower range shifting upwards slightly to a value of $469,000, while our top end from the last week remains pegged at $829,000.

Below find our findings as of the Week ending January 29, 2017

2280 Graham Avenue                   $829,000  --  Remax
1208 Beach Place                         $629,000  --  Realty Executives
1805 Graham Avenue                   $575,000  --  Royal Lepage
2062 Atlin Avenue                        $548,000 --  Remax
1724 Graham Avenue                   $515,000 --  Remax
1253 Conrad Street                       $499,000 --  Royal Lepage
1731-1733 Sloan Avenue              $498,000 --  Royal Lepage
1311-1313 Sloan Avenue              $489,000 --  Royal Lepage
1325 7th Avenue East                   $489,000 --  Remax
853 Borden Street                         $469,000 -- Remax
For more items related to Real Estate see our archive page here.

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Blog Watching: Week ending January 29, 2017

Provincial politics provided some themes for the week as the 2017 provincial election campaign began to heat up, with both the governing Liberals and opposition NDP identifying some of their talking points for the next four months of political discussion.

Also carving out some space on our list of the five most read items of the week was our look at some notes on Watson Island and a connection to a recent public notice related to some land disposal plans from the City of Prince Rupert.

A new addition to the city's fitness sector will soon open its doors, with a good readership found for our item on the plans of Genetics Fitness, which is set to open up a fitness centre in the Ocean Centre mall.

Also making news from the city's commercial sector was our piece on Northern Savings Credit Union and the latest search for a CEO, marking the third time in the last few years that a new name will be need to put on a door at the Third Avenue financial services organization.

The quick work by the staff of Wal-Mart also made the five most read items of the week, as we took note of a small fire in the Rupert Square store and how staff and management were able to have the store re-opened in less than 24 hours.

However, the top story turns to the political scene and the upcoming battle for the affections of the voter on the North Coast.

Race for the North Coast set to heat up as political camps make their plans -- With candidates in place for the two main political parties, a number of themes for the North Coast campaign have started to develop. (posted January 24, 2017)

That article was followed by:

Fitness options continue to grow for Prince Rupert -- For those on the North Coast with a dedication towards their fitness goals, a new entry, Genetics Fitness is set to open its doors to the community. (posted January 24, 2017)

Legacy Corporation Land plans turn gaze towards Watson Island -- A short notice by the City of Prince Rupert over the Christmas holidays takes North Coast residents on a trip down highway 16 to the Watson Island industrial site and may provide some hints towards future development. (posted January 27, 2017)

Northern Savings Credit Union parts ways with CEO Geoff Grodecki -- A change at the top for Northern Savings Credit union as the Prince Rupert based financial organization goes back on the hunt for a new CEO . (posted January 25, 2017)

Prince Rupert Wal-Mart reopens following Monday evening fire -- The staff and management at the city's Wal Mart store put in some hard work to reopen the store following a small fire on Monday evening.  (posted January 24, 2017)

You can find our weekly 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. It can be found underneath the Follow the North Coast Review by Email indicator.

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching can be found here

Friday, January 27, 2017

Rainmaker teams split weekend on the road and at home

Two of the four Basketball teams of Charles Hays will be back in action this weekend with both the Senior Boys and Junior Girls hitting the floor to take on some Northwest rivals.

The Junior Girls are on the road to Hazelton for a Saturday Play day, with Rainmakers scheduled for action against Bulkley Valley Christian at Noon Hour and then taking on Hazelton at 3PM.

At the Charles Hays Gym, three teams come to town for games Friday and Saturday, for the home side Rainmakers three games are on the weekend agenda.

Friday 7 PM  -- Rainmakers 131 vs Smithers 82
Saturday 10:00 AM -- Smithers vs Centennial Christian
Saturday Noon -- Rainmakers vs Caledonia
Saturday 2:30 PM -- Rainmakers vs Centennial Christian

The three games in less than 24 hours will help to get the Senior Boys back in focus after a week off after their successful trip to Pitt Meadows of earlier this month.

Admission for the games is 5 dollars for Adults and 2 dollars for students.

The Senior Girls and Junior Boys both have the weekend off from competitive play.

The Senior Girls are putting their practice time focus towards next weekend, when they head to Vancouver for the Big Kahuna Cup Tournament with games set for York House School and Little Flower Academy.

More notes on Charles Hays athletics can be found on the CHSS Twitter feed.

A look at the Rainmakers season so far can be reviewed on our archive page here.

NDP's John Horgan adds northern economic development to MLA Jennifer Rice's Shadow cabinet responsibilities

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice had
some extra duties assigned to her critics
role today by NDP leader John Horgan
The BC NDP made a few changes to their shadow cabinet line up today, adding some new responsibilities for five MLA's as the party prepares for the upcoming legislative session and the upcoming provincial election campaign.

And with the shift in responsibilities, will come some extra work for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who was one of the five that NDP leader John Horgan tapped for a higher profile.

As part of an announcement made just before the noon hour today, Ms. Rice was handed the responsibility of delivering the NDP's message when it comes to economic development in northern British Columbia.

The North Coast MLA was named to the critics position for northern and rural economic development.  Ms. Rice will also be  holding on to her duties as the NDP critic for issues related to health services in northern B.C.

In his comments while introducing Ms. Rice to her new post, Mr. Horgan noted the task ahead for the MLA as she prepares to address the economic concerns of the region.

"I'm very excited to have someone from the North Coast looking at these important issues, to talk about the real jobs; not fake jobs, not the made up jobs that Christy Clark has been talking about for the last five years."

The decision to add economic elements to her shadow cabinet responsibilities comes as those themes begin to form some of the narrative to the upcoming provincial election campaign on the North Coast.

Both Liberal leader Christy Clark and North Coast Liberal candidate Herb Pond, have made North Coast jobs and economic development as their main focus in recent comments  both prior to and following Mr. Pond's nomination last week.

With her expanded duties as an opposition critic, Ms. Rice will be expected to outline what her approach to job creation across the region might be. A theme that hasn't always been delivered in very much detail for residents across the sprawling North Coast riding.

Over the course of the next three months the NDP MLA will be staking out her own territory on a range of economic issues and providing the voters with her blue print for future development, offering up the NDP alternative to how the Liberals see the future for the Northwest.

How both she and the NDP leader handle such issues as LNG development, forestry, the fishery and small business concerns during the course of the upcoming campaign will be key to the re-election hopes for the incumbent MLA.

Today's announcement was streamed live through the Social Media streaming service of Periscope, which you can view here.

More items related to provincial politics can be found on our Legislature archive page, while election campaign notes heading towards the May vote can be reviewed here.

School District 52 seeks public input on Budget themes

It's Budget preparation time for School District 52 and as part of their consultation process, the District has put a short survey on the SD52 website seeking the feedback of the public on how they should approach the delivery of services for 2017-18.

The survey consists of six questions, four pf which are budget specific questions, as well as one that asks the public to provide comment on a potential new vision statement.

The final question for the survey asks what category of involvement with the School system that the participant belongs to.

The survey launches with participants asked to rank their priorities for spending when it comes to a list of the four main various functions of School District Operations.

The current allocation of finances towards notes that 78 per cent of the budget is directed towards Instruction, 14 percent towards Operations and Maintenance, while District Administration takes 7 per cent of the budget with the remaining one percent allocated towards Transportation.

Survey participants are also asked to rank the importance of the elements that make up the 78 percent of the budget that is spent on Instruction, the review of how the budget is allocated is found below:

With 87 percent of the district budget dedicated towards Salaries and Benefits, the remaining thirteen percent is the focus of the third question of the survey. With participants asked to advise whether the District should increase, decrease or keep current spending levels in eight areas of spending.

They include Services, Student Transportation, Professional Development and Training, Rentals and Leases, Dues and Fees, Insurance, Supplies and Utilities.

Question four notes that the District is expecting a decrease in spending for 2017-18, with trustees set to consider potential changes to balance the budget for that period.

Survey participants are offered four opportunities to outline where they would suggest that the District reduce its spending.

The non financial question offers up the prospect the School District looking to introduce a new view on how it sees itself in the community, giving survey participants a preview of the District's new vision statement.

"The School District 52 Experience: Inclusive. Engaging. Real"

As they look to introduce that new positioning statement, the survey asks what resources should be required to enable the School District to achieve their new vision, with participants offered space to make up to four suggestions on that theme.

You can take part in the survey from this link.

There is no indication on the SD52 website that outlines how long the survey period will be and when the last day for participation is.

The School District launched its 2017-18 budget engagement process with a public meeting on Wednesday evening which offered the chance for discussion on some of the themes under consideration by trustees.

The schedule of consultations that are ahead is as follows:

February 7th -- Meetings with Partner Groups
March 9th -- Public Meeting
April 11th -- Regular Board Meeting where the Budget will be submitted for approval 

Update: Since we published our item SD52 has added more background information towards the budget consultation process:

Their Presentation on the theme can be viewed here.

While a Project Description For for submission as part of the consultation process can be reviewed here.

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

Legacy Corporation Land plans turn gaze towards Watson Island

Are there plans in motion that may finally see some kind of forward momentum for the development of land on Watson Island?

Well, grab your compass and let's check out a map kids, as we follow some clues, just like a Prince Rupert version of Dora the Explorer, or Blue's Clues.

As 2017 took its first few tentative steps into a brand new year, we made note of some City business over the holiday period which featured a Public Notice from the City of Prince Rupert, advising of the City's plans to dispose of property, to be directed towards the city owned Legacy Corporation.

The notification which was not posted to the city's website or range of social media streams, was handled mainly through two advertisements which were placed in the back of the local paper on December 28th and January 4th.

The city's public notice providing for the terms of a City proposal to dispose of property by way of lease for a thirty year term commencing January 5th. Indicating that the land is to be subdivided by leasehold subdivision to Prince Rupert Legacy Corporation.

The notice included a short advisory that any comments related to the topic were to be in the hands of the city's corporate administrator by January 4th, making for a pretty short window of opportunity for any questions or comments that may have come from the community.

The only reference to the land that was in consideration for the property disposition, was from a listing of a number of Property Identification Numbers, with no map offered up for review, or further information provided in the way of background for interested residents.

Something that might have been helpful when it came to the city's quest for public feedback and could have worked towards the cause of community engagement.

As it turns out, if you have some time to put towards exploring the city's website, there is an instrument available to access more information related to those PID numbers.

And while the City doesn't promote the online tool very effectively, the mapping feature which is tucked away as part of the city's information portal, does help clear up some of the mystery when it comes to the lots flagged by the City in December.

You can take the city's program out for a spin and check out the properties in question through the link available here

By Clicking on the Bar Graph Icon found on the mapping page you can call up the PID Search engine.

From that point, simply enter the numbers listed from those newspaper notices (we've listed them below) click view on Map and you'll get an overview of the lots in question.

Lot 1 -- PID 004403703
Lot 2 -- PID 004402511
Lot 3 -- PID 004428650
Lot 4 -- PID 004428641

Once you enter the numbers into the search box you will find that the destination of those four PID's takes us out to the city limits and to a number of lots spread across the Watson Island Industrial site, a place that is the home of the political ghosts of Council's past and still a location that continues to make news even to this day.

As we've noted over the last few years, the flow of information to the public on anything to do with Watson Island has diminished a fair bit as the months have passed by.

With only a few exceptions, there have been few updates by the City on themes related to Watson Island, whether it be potential industrial development plans, or notes on the long running legal issues surrounding the site.

That approach to information sharing remains very much a theme that has continued on to this point into 2017 for the City.

As we wind down the first month of the year, there hasn't been much more out of City Hall related to the public notice from December, or what plans the City may have for the lots listed in the newspaper notifications.

Owing to the cancellation of the January 23rd Regular Council session, any opportunity for the city's council members to make mention of the topic, or for any potential comments from the public on the theme (or any other issues) were lost this month.

From that cancelled session, the city has also noted that it will be yet another twenty eight days, before the next opportunity for public comment to be made available, something which will come as part of the February 20th council meeting.

At the January 9th Council Session, Councillor Cunningham made note of his desire to see the City provide more updates to the public from a range of areas of civic control, suggesting that Council have department heads and other civic staff members appear in public session and offer up some background on what they have planned for the year ahead.

Perhaps as he moves forward with his initiative to share more information, Mr. Cunningham could add an update on Watson Island, as well as one on the work of the Legacy Fund as part of his ongoing checklist on civic updates for the year ahead.

With Watson Island seemingly the focus for the long term plans for the Legacy Corporation, it's somewhat puzzling that City Council wouldn't want to share news of what appears to be progress in returning that industrial site into a money generating asset for the community.

In addition to the prospect of delivering some potentially positive news for the folks at home when it comes to the deserted industrial site at Watson Island, celebrating the involvement of the Legacy Corporation which we rarely hear much about might have been worth a shout out.

The last that we heard word of Legacy, a civic instrument created in 2014 to maximize benefit for the city and the community, was back when energy giant Exxon/Mobil/Imperial Oil was exploring Tuck inlet for potential LNG development.

A few years have passed by since that initial announcement outlining the scope of the city's ambitions through the Legacy Corporation.

One imagines that it would certainly be of some interest for city residents if Council was to offer up some background on what became of that Tuck Inlet initiative.

As well, Council could outline some of the vision that the Legacy Corporation may have when it comes to Watson Island and what that involvement might offer to the community in the years ahead.

Some background on the Watson Island story can be found on our archive page here, while the short list of notes on Legacy Corporation can be examined here.

More items of note related to City Council can be reviewed from our Council Discussion page.

AltaGas caps banner week with acquisition and additional expansion plans

January has been a pretty hectic period for Calgary based AltaGas, in the space of these first 27 days of the month, the Canadian energy company has now moved forward with a near 500 million dollar terminal project in Prince Rupert, with the proposed development now a featured item on the Alta Gas website.

And while the decision to give the go ahead to the Ridley Project was significant news for the North Coast, it has already been eclipsed in recent days as AltaGas put the finishing touches on a large scale acquisition of the Washington D.C. based American gas distributor WGL.

That 8.4 billion dollar acquisition was announced on January 25th, the full outline to the energy deal can be reviewed here.

Some of the key elements of the acquisition can be examined from this information sheet released by AltaGas.

Media notes on the acquisition can be reviewed below:

January 25 -- AltaGas to buy WGL Holdings for $4.5 billion in major U.S. push
January 25 -- AltaGas launches $8.4 billion takeover of U.S. power company WGL Holdings
January 25 -- AltaGas buying U.S. based power and pipeline company in $8.4B deal
January 25 -- AltaGas joins Canadian Spree in U.S. with $4.6 Billion Deal
January 25 -- AltaGas acquiring WGL Holdings in deal worth $8.4B

Such was the scale of the 8 billion dollar deal, that some other news from AltaGas fell off the radar somewhat.

One item of note of some interest for the North Coast, was an announcement from earlier this week by the Alberta energy company, one that expanded on the area of an additional investment in infrastructure in the gas fields of Alberta and Northeastern BC.

That is a move that could see an increase to the shipment plans for AltaGas products through the soon to be developed Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal

On Monday, AltaGas outlined its plans for a new 180 million dollar investment, noting that it was working with an as yet un-named partner, to construct a natural gas processing facility, with a natural gas separation train to produce Natural gas liquids.

The addition to the AltaGas presence in the gas fields is expected to have access to both the CN rail network, allowing product to be directed towards the Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal.

The overview of that proposed development in Alberta can be reviewed here.

Notes on the Northwest Alberta plans can be examined below:

January 24 -- New Natural Gas Plant Proposed for Montney Formation
January 23 -- AltaGas proposes new natural gas plant
January 23 -- AltaGas to jointly build natgas processing plant

The news flow of January offers up a glimpse for North Coast residents as to the quick pace of developments when it comes to the business dealings that take place in the energy sector.

As the AltaGas terminal project moves forward, Prince Rupert and Port Edward will soon find a place on the global shipping map, included as a key element of the energy industry and its impact on the Canadian economy.

More notes on the creation of the Liquid Propane export industry in the region can be found on our archive page here.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Prince Rupert Port Authority introduces new safety initiative for local mariners

A New safety initiative from the Prince
Rupert Port authority is designed to
improve on harbour safety

With the prospect of more shipping traffic making its way to the North Coast as port facilities expand, so too will come an increased level of congestion for Prince Rupert harbour and with that, the need for new concepts in port safety.

Towards that theme, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is already ahead of the curve, increasing its approach to safety in local waters with a new initiative for vessel tracking.

The latest in upgrading the aids to navigation was previewed this month, with the Port outlining the nature of it's Automated Identification System, known as AIS

Earlier this month, the Port announced that the new system was now available to local vessel owners and offered them the opportunity to install a transceiver their vessel, at no cost to the owner. 

Once in place, the new system will  allow for critical information to be transmitted to the Canadian Coast Guard and commercial vessels that transit through the harbour.

One of the first vessels to take up the opportunity from the Port was the Tsimshian Storm, with Captains Dean and Carl Robinson installing the transceivers, making their vessel more visible to harbour traffic.

The Tsimshian Storm is one of the first of local vessels
to sign on with the Port's new Automated Identification System

(photo from PRPA Facebook page)

Any local mariners or vessel owners that are interested in joining the program can contact Captain Bernie Egan at the Port Authority at 250-627-2523 or through email at began@rupertport.com

You can follow the progress of the new initiative through the Port Authority Facebook page.

For more items of interest related to Port activities see our archive page here.

Junior and Senior Rainmakers climb the rankings in latest Provincial results

The recent success for both the Junior and Senior Rainmaker Boys basketball teams has been given its props from the observers of the game in the south.

Both Charles Hays programs moved up the listings from the weekly rankings released on Wednesday, making for a steady climb towards the top as the teams head into the heart of the high school basketball season.

Mel Bishop's Senior Boys squad claimed the Pitt Meadows Air Show title two weeks ago, and from that hard work on the court they now shift upwards one spot from last week, placing them into sixth place overall in AAA Basketball in BC.

The upward momentum signals a growing awareness of the calibre of basketball found in the Northwest, with the Rainmakers the only team north of Kamloops to stick in the Top Ten so far this year.

The Senior Boys Rainmakers climb one more spot for January,
with the Triple A Basketball rankings of January 25th.

The Junior Boys are also gaining more and more attention as each week passes by, Kevin Sawka's team is currently holding down the seventh spot heading towards the end of January, a significant jump two spots from their previous ranking of 9th at the start of the month.

Much like the Senior team, the Junior Rainmakers are the only team outside of the Lower Mainland or Okanagan in the top ten, an impressive achievement considering the amount of attention that the Vancouver area teams receive on a weekly basis in the southern media.

Another jump shot for the Junior Boys, with the CHSS team now ranked
at number 7 in the province in the January 25th listings

You can follow the path of the 2016-17 season for both teams through the CHSS Twitter feed, which features updates, photos and videos of recent play for both Boys and Girls athletics at the school.

For more items related to Rainmaker sports see our archive page here.