Friday, March 31, 2017

Rupert Runners ramping it up for April 9th events

For the truly dedicated runners of the North Coast there really is no off season, but with the more appealing weather of the Spring on the horizon, more and more of the casual runners will be breaking out their shoes in anticipation of a number of local running events this year.

The first of the high profile runs on the schedule is the Prince Rupert Half Marathon Plus 8, which is set to see runners head down Highway 16 from the starting point of the Lester Centre.

The event takes place on Sunday, April 9th with start times and routes for the day as follows:

The Half Marathon start time is at 1PM

Half Marathon Route: Out and back along Highway 16, turning around at the Galloway Rapids Rest area. 

Two Person Relay: Runners will switch at the Galloway Rapids Rest area and must provide their own transportation. 

The 8 K run is to start at 2 PM

8K Route: The course is an out and back route along highway 16 starting and ending at the Lester Centre of the Arts. They note that walkers are welcome.

Entry fees and Registration for Individuals are 30 dollars, while 2 Person Teams pay 60 dollars.
There are deductions available for BC Athletics Full members and Rupert Runners members.

In person registration takes place Saturday April 8th from 10 to Noon at the Civic Centre, while the day of the run of April 9th you can register from Noon to 2:45 PM at the Lester Centre

You can find out more about the event and how to mail in your registration if you desire, from the Rupert Runners Facebook page or website.

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

A bit of Storefront campaigning for candidate Pond!

BC Liberal candidate Herb Pond will officially open his,
Prince Rupert campaign office tomorrow at 1PM

Putting together a team will be one of the themes tomorrow as North Coast Liberal candidate Herb Pond hosts the Grand Opening of his campaign office located at 255 3rd Avenue West on Third Avenue West, directly across the street from CityWest.

The office has actually been open for much of the week, with hours of 1 to 4:30 PM in place for anyone that wanted to stop in for a chat, if they did there's a good chance that they might have picked up a campaign button to show their support, something which was proving to be a popular item through the course of the week.

Campaign buttons are proving to be a popular item that
are available at the Pond office
(photo from Herb Pond Facebook page)

Mr. Pond has been spreading the word of Saturday's celebration through his Facebook page, noting that the events to make it all official begin at 1PM.

With a number of themes starting to pop up on the election radar for the riding, Saturday afternoon could offer up a chance for voters to learn more about the candidates opinions.

Best to catch him there while you can, his twitter feed of late has featured the candidate taking to the neighbourhoods of the city to knock on doors and hear views from residents of the region.

More notes related to the 2017 election campaign can be found on our North Coast Votes Archive page.

North Pacific Cannery Historical Site to host Job Fair in April

A chance to learn more about summer job opportunities with one of the top tourist draws in the region comes up in earlyApril, as the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site hosts a Job Fair taking place at Northwest Community College on Fifth Street in the city's downtown area.

Two sessions have been set aside for the Job Fair, planned for Thursday, April 5th.

The First which is dedicated towards NWCC students will take place from 10 to 11 AM. 

While the General Public is invited to stop by from 11 AM to Noon to explore the opportunities for employment.

Among some of the positions that are available for the 2017 season are:

Visitor Centre Assistants
Tour Guides
Cook Assistants
General Manager's Assistant

If you want to do some research on the scope of the attractions that the Historical features you can learn more from the North Pacific website or Facebook page.

For more items related to the Prince Rupert's Tourism industry see our archive page here.

Middle School replacement hopes become political cudgel for North Coast election campaign

Prince Rupert Middle School was thrust into the political spotlight
on the North Coast Thursday with a visit from Education Minister Mike Bernier

If the events of Thursday had happened in a primary class at any of the elementary schools at SD52, the teacher probably would have called for a time out!

The finger pointing was fast and furious on Thursday following a visit to the North Coast from Education Minister Mike Bernier, who was in Prince Rupert to discuss a range of issues with School District 52 officials.

One of the key items on the to do list for Thursday was a tour of Prince Rupert Middle School, the aging facility that served many years as the city's high school, prior to its shift in use with the creation of the 7-9 Middle school system a few years ago.

It was during that controversial rationalization of local elementary schools, that the carrot of a potential new school for the community was first proposed, though as the years have moved on the timeline seems no closer to delivering a new school today, than when PRMS accepted its first students in 2012.

As part of his visit to town, Mr. Bernier was taken on the tour of the school by School District 52 Superintendent Sandra Jones, who we imagine took him into every nook and cranny of the building to make note of the many documented deficiencies that it has, as well as to review the long running efforts from the School District to gain Ministry of Education action on the issue.

We made note of some of those efforts on March 9th when we outlined the latest approach by School District 52 to take the issue to the Ministry of Education.

Included in that review was a look at a recent letter from School District Chair Tina Last who charted much of the District's work on the topic, some of which began as far back as nine years ago.

For a bit more perspective on the long running issue for the community, at the bottom of our March 9th article is an archive of a number of stories we have posted on the theme, offering up some background to those past efforts dating all the way back to 2012.

You can review those notes here.

Once Minister Bernier's tour of PRMS was finished however, what followed became the domain of political theatre, featuring a few contributions from the politicians on hand that should raise a few eyebrows around the North Coast.

From the sidelines, residents of the region were treated to an exchange of thoughts that featured a healthy sample of the less than helpful political rhetoric that is frequently found in the Legislature.

In this case the usual Victoria bombast made its way out to the far reaches of the province, as Minister Bernier and MLA Rice took to their now well rehearsed talking points for the local media.

Our tour of the themes of the day start with a statement posted to North Coast Liberal candidate Herb Pond's Facebook page on Thursday.

In those comments, Minister Bernier seems to suggest that the school replacement issue gained no traction during his time as Minister, primarily because Jennifer Rice did not raise it personally with him over the last four years.

An interesting bit of washing of the hands on the topic, that leaves one to to wonder what former Education Minister Peter Fassbender and assorted Ministry officials did with all those files and correspondences on the issue that were received well before Mr. Bernier took over the office.

About the only thing that Mr. Bernier  did seem to get right in his statement for Mr. Pond's page, was the observation that North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is a little late to the issue herself. With Ms. Rice having only made it a significant topic over the last few months and that in the prism of the lead up to what may be a very tight election race in the riding.

And, as though the days events and talking points couldn't get much more strange, in comments to local reporters (see links at bottom of page) Ms. Rice basically confirmed that concept of her lack of long term engagement on the issue.

As part of the storyline on PRMS, Ms. Rice suggests that she was only made aware of the need for a replacement school when it was recently brought to her attention by parents, stating that she didn't know the severity of the situation four years ago.

If so, it would seem that Ms. Rice is somewhat out of touch with her own riding, considering the issue of a replacement school for the School District has been a frequent topic and one found in the work of any number of media sources in the community for almost a decade now.

As part of her review and focus on the day's events, the NDP MLA weighed in further through her Facebook page, expressing her disappointment that an anticipated announcement of commitment for a new school was not delivered by the Minister.

Why the MLA was of the belief that some form of an announcement was to be made is a bit of mystery though, as there had been no real indication from the government side that the Minister was coming to town ready to commit to anything.

During a March exchange in the Legislature between Ms. Rice and the Minister, Mr. Bernier advised her of his plan to tour the School District to look at the issues that are being faced. Though, nowhere during the course of those comments did he make mention of coming here to deliver any kind of a decision.

In a response to a question on that theme from her Facebook page, Ms. Rice states that it was the local media that apparently alerted her to the prospect of an announcement.

However, if one takes a quick scan of any of the stories from the region's media options since Mr. Bernier announced his trip on March 15th, none seem to offer up any indication that any major announcement was to  be expected as part of Thursday's tour.

Not to be left out of this political cycle of spin, are the thoughts from Liberal candidate Herb Pond, who appeared to be more than content to let Mr. Bernier deliver the heavy rhetorical artillery on his NDP opponent.

Other than by way of a few comments since he launched his campaign in January that acknowledged the PRMS issue, the Liberal candidate has not exactly been issuing any clarion calls, or leading the charge to advocate for a replacement for the building.

For Thursday's contribution to the conversation on education, Mr. Pond noted that all of his children had attended the school when it served as a High School, so at least he might have more first hand familiarity than Ms. Rice, when it comes to the conditions the building faced then and continue to face today.

Through his comments however, Mr. Pond also appears to be onboard with the Liberal government's current approach to the issue, offering up that the Minister has been engaged with School District officials to maintain an aging facility, while exploring plans to replace it.

Those comments do seem to suggest that the Minister is a little more aware of the long standing issues with the building, than the evolving narrative of the day appears to have been designed to provide for.

The main takeaway from it all is the prospect of the school replacement issue becoming the political cudgel of the campaign, one where the candidates hammer away from set storylines steeped more in scoring points at the moment, than addressing what should be the main focus.

And while the need to replace a failing structure may be obvious for most of those living in Prince Rupert, for anyone looking for some fast action on the need for a replacement school, disappointment would seem to be looming large at the moment.

With Mr. Bernier speaking mostly of addressing seismic issues for the short term and offering little indication that any replacement decision is near. The road ahead points to the need for the community to keep the spotlight on the issue and continue to put pressure on the government, regardless of whichever party should win the May vote.

Considering the long running nature of this issue and the range of reports and studies that have been submitted to the government, the unfortunate thing about all of this is, that progress really should have been made long before now.

The process of replacing a structure that has outlived its usefulness really shouldn't end up as the talking point of a political campaign; something that makes the education of students (anyone remember them?) in the community just another piece of the political chessboard.

Any project of such importance to students, parents and those that work for the School District, or live in the larger community, should be reviewed purely on need and left far beyond the realm of partisan politics.

However, that being said, the optics of Thursday would seem to serve to offer a guide for us as to how we apparently should view the debate.

Leaving those with the desire to see the province take action on the replacement issue, to do some fortune telling as to how the May 9th election campaign will turn out.

With voters on the North Coast looking to determine how best to cast a vote on May 9th towards the party that they believe will form the next government.

All with the hopeful wish that we see some satisfaction on the replacement issue and receive a measure of respect from our elected officials for what has been a very, very patient community.

The local reviews of Thursday's tour can be found below:

Education Minister Mike Bernier in Prince Rupert (video)
Education Minister tours Rupert's high risk middle school (audio)
Education Minister Mike Bernier visits Prince Rupert Middle School
Parents disappointed after minister says Prince Rupert Middle School won't be replaced (audio)

For more items on education (and a fairly healthy amount of background on the PRMS story) see our Archive page here.

Sauder School of Business Election Prediction Market suggests a political cliffhanger is in the making for May

It's still somewhat early in the current provincial election campaign, but if a recent report from Prediction Market at the Sauder School of Business at UBC is an indication, we may all be waiting long into the night for a final outcome of this May's vote.

The mid March forecast from the Prediction market delivered the following review:

The BC Liberals have a slight edge over the NDP in the Prediction Markets. However, the markets also indicate a possibility that the Green Party may gain seats and even has a small chance of holding the balance of power.

The prospect of the Green Party playing the role of King or Queen maker come May 9th, is certainly a theme that will spark some interest as things head towards election day.

It's a theme that may also help to generate some momentum on the North Coast for the campaign of Hondo Arendt, the newest Green candidate in this years election campaign who entered the race last week.

One of the more interesting currents to watch as we get closer to casting our ballot will be how his message resonates in the camps for the NDP and the Liberals, with the Green Party offering a very different outlook on how BC should be governed compared to the more traditional parties.

The introduction of a third option for voters to consider could offer up a significant shift to the ebb and flow of voter intentions from week to week as part of the march towards May 9th.

How many North Coast residents are willing to put their wallets and purses where there votes may go isn't known to this point, with no breakdown available as to the geography of participation in the Sauder Market.

For the 2017 campaign The Sauder School is hosting three Prediction markets, the Prospectus for each and most recent charts exploring the current trends can be reviewed below:

Majority Government     Prospectus 
 Seats Share                      Prospectus 
Popular Vote Share         Prospectus 

Operated on a not-for profit basis, the investment options are available to Canadian residents over the age of 19, the minimum investment is 25 dollars with a maximum of 1,000 dollars allowed per person.

Those who predict the outcome of the provincial election reap the financial reward once the polls close on May 9th and the vote totals are finalized.

The project is an exercise designed to explore and explain how futures trading works and has been fairly accurate in recent years when it comes to political trends, based on a highly motivated and engaged pool of participants.

UBC Sauder Associate Professor Werner Antweiler, the developer of the market outlined why the market participants seem to have their finger on the pulse of the election cycle so often.

"In previous election markets, traders seemed particularly adept at predicting seat distributions. This could be due, in part, to investors crowdsourcing information from multiple sources such as debates, news coverage, polls and pundits"

You can find out more about what the Sauter School of Business Prediction Market is all about here, those looking to make an investment in the election campaign, can invest in the political stock offerings and then wait until May 9th to see if those stocks deliver a political shock.

For more notes on the North Coast election campaign see our North Coast Votes Archive.

A larger overview of items of interest from the election on a province wide basis can be found over on our archive pages at our political portal Darcy McGee

Welcome to the end of March, it's Payment due day for the City's Utility billing

The first phase of the City's two pronged approach to collecting taxes from its residents finds its first deadline today, with the City of Prince Rupert's utility bill, those directed towards water, sewer and garbage charges is due by the end of business today.

The Utility bills were sent out to residents in February, reflecting a five percent increase for each service provided, as approved by Council in the final days of 2016.

Three percent of those charges will be put towards regular operations, while two percent is to be set aside for capital renewal of core infrastructure, as we noted back in February, that will make for a sixty dollar increase here at the home office, making for a helpful barometer for readers to gauge the increase across the city.

Still to come is the second wave of municipal taxation and the final verdict on the city's property taxation program for the year, with Council still to approve the Municipal budget by vote, a process that is expected sometime in the next month or so.

The last blue print we had on what to expect when it comes to an increase, was a proposed 1.5 percent rise in the mill rate, with the City putting forward the hopeful theme that not everyone will face an increase.

When the tax bills are mailed out sometime before the start of June, we will all find out together as to who pays more and who gets to save for 2017.

The deadline for payment for the second phase of the tax program will be in early July.

More notes on Civic taxation can be found here, while the archive of recent Budget discussion items can be examined here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A storm prepares to blow in; a Ferry prepares to depart early

The Northern Expedition is going to get ahead of the approaching
storm today, with an early departure from Haida Gwaii

As a Pacific weather system begins to make it's approach towards Haida Gwaii and then the North Coast, BC Ferries is being a little proactive with its sailing schedule, advising that today's 10 PM departure of the Northern Expedition from Skidegate is being moved up to 8 PM.

With the shift in schedule the Ferry will arrive in Prince Rupert at 6 AM on Friday morning.

A schedule change is now in effect for today's sailing of the Northern Expedition

The Environment Canada Forecast for Haida Gwaii and the North Coast indicates that Rain will begin late this evening, with the winds increasing to 80 km/h over exposed coastal sections overnight.

The Wind and rain remain with us for much of Friday, with the winds expected to diminish through Friday afternoon.

A Satellite image from Environment Canada shows the extent of the
weather system making its way to Haida Gwaii and the North Coast

Marine Weather Warnings are in effect for all off shore areas
of the North Coast and Haida Gwaii

Gale Warnings have been issued for marine areas off both Haida Gwaii and the North Coast with winds expected to increase to south 45 knots near midnight, with seas of 5 metres expected at that time as well.

Depending on  how long the weather system may linger on the North Coast, BC Ferries may have further Service Notices in place over the weekend, you can find the latest information from their website  or twitter feed.

For more items related to BC Ferries see our archive page here, notes on past weather events can be found on our Weather archive.

UNBC education program to host introduction session in Prince Rupert Saturday

With the Province of British Columbia recently announcing that the search is on for more teachers and School Districts across BC facing a surge of retirements in the next few years, the timing to enter the teaching profession might not get any better.

UNBC is taking the lead in the North to train and prepare teachers for the classroom and in the Northwest, the Terrace campus for the Prince George based university is the first stop for would be teachers from this region.

Saturday, the Terrace office will be hosting an information session in Prince Rupert, where prospective students can explore the routes to a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma and Bachelor of Education for K to 7.

The two information sessions are being held at NWCC/UNBC campus in Prince Rupert on Fifth Street, with Room 186 booked for the event.

The Masters of Education session starts at 10 AM, while the Bachelor of Education program will be reviewed at 11AM.

The Terrace campus of UNBC which is located on Keith Avenue, is looking to expand on their program offerings, they currently deliver the Bachelor of Education and Master of Education in Counselling program in the Northwest.

Terrace campus officials have expressed an interest in approaching the main campus to offer the Post-Baccalaureate Diploma and Master of Education in Multi-Disciplinary Leadership/Curriculum program in the Northwest.

Should they move forward with that plan, they note that there is an option for students to complete the program in 24 months.

Saturday's meetings are being set up to gauge the interest from Prince Rupert, as they look to expand the program options from the Terrace campus.

You can find out more information about Saturday's information sessions by calling the Terrace campus for UNBC at 250-615-5578.

Some background on the what the Terrace campus has to offer can be found here.

The also have a Facebook page to keep students and prospective students up to date on events.

More information about the overall Education program offered by UNBC both in Terrace and the main campus in Prince George can be found on the UNBC website.

More notes on Education in the Northwest can be found on our archive page.

Thar be Dragons ... Dragon boaters that is!

The first of two opportunities to learn more about the Dragon Boat program on the North Coast takes place tonight at the Prince Rupert Middle School.

Prince Rupert's Rainbow Warriors are hosting the information sessions, where those with an interest in the sport can learn more about what the Prince Rupert squad is all about and register for 2017 if it seems like a challenge they are up to.

Dragon Boat racing on the North Coast involves a team of 22, who work together to propel the long boats in both competitive events and for recreational outings.

The group can frequently be seen taking to the water for practice in the harbour area, along with trips to local destinations as they get their practice hours in, explore the North Coast, making for a pretty interesting exercise regimen.

For 2017 the group hope to enter the annual Dragon boat Regatta competition at Lakelse lake Terrace, an event that the group has had some success at in years past.

The group has also been strong supporters to help those who fight, fought and live with Breast Cancer and have been seen at a number of other community events through the year.

Prince Rupert's Rainbow Warriors Dragon Boat team, seen here off of
Cow Bay last season.  Registration/Information sessions take place
Tonight and Sunday at PRMS

(Photo from PR Dragonboat Facebook page)
Paddling dates and times for 2017 will be on Monday and Thursdays from 6:15-8:15 PM, Membership fees for the season are set at 150 dollars, the sport is open to those who are 18 years of age and over.

The information and registration sessions take place at 7PM tonight and again on Sunday April 2nd at 2PM at PRMS, located at 419 9th West, beside the Prince Rupert Golf Course.

Local organizers of the group are Robyn Marin who can be reached at 778-884-0617 or Lori McWilliams at 778-884-1454

You can learn more about the program form the Prince Rupert Rainbow Warriors Facebook Page

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

With another cancellation, City Council frees up your Monday evening for you ...

The lights will be off and nobody will be home when 7 PM arrives
this Monday night, as City Council cancels their regular public session

If you're the type of engaged citizen of Prince Rupert that is inclined to follow along with our elected officials as they discuss such things as tax increases, infrastructure plans and a bevy of visionary ideas for the future, then you can take this coming Monday night off.

A notice posted to the City Website on Tuesday outlines that the regularly scheduled City Council Session for Monday April 3rd has been cancelled.

And despite the many options for communication that the City has put in place over the last two years, no details are to be found anywhere, from the City website to the Facebook pages, or twitter feeds, that might explain as to why the regular council session that is available for public overview has been taken off the schedule.

Interestingly enough the City website also advises that, while the Public session is cancelled; the Closed session, that would be the one not available for public viewing will go ahead as planned at Five PM on Monday.

The decision by Council members to take the night off however, does raise a question as to when does a special instance, start to become a trend?

The cancellation of Monday's Regular Public Council session marks the second time so far this year that our City Councillors have chosen to call off a meeting.

The first cancellation came in January, when they took the January 23rd session off, citing  the number of Agenda items that the City was unable to finalize prior to the meeting.

Lost in that instance, was the public comment period that comes with the monthly Committee of the Whole process that marks the last meeting of the month. That segment of the monthly session is one of the few opportunities the public has to address Council in a public forum to ask questions or raise concerns.

It's somewhat puzzling that with the many issues that could be available for public discussion by City Council, that they are tossing aside the regular council sessions at the same kind of pace as a teenager changes their social calendar at the last moment.

Earlier this year, Councillor Cunningham offered up the suggestion that Council should be asking for more presentations from civic departments and other areas of interest to the public,  something that once made up part of Council proceedings and an element that would be a welcome addition to the process for the public meetings.

Though, one imagines that if they keep knocking the meetings off the calendar, that Mr. Cunningham's theme may never see the light of day.

It's not like the Council members are overworked to this point of the year.

During the five public sessions that they have held so far this year, the majority have finished in less than forty two minutes, the published Agendas listing only a few items to review, while council members have offered up little in the way of topics for further review or discussion once they are in front of the cameras of the City Hall chamber.

Watching the Council time clock looks like this:

April 3 -- Cancelled
March 20 -- 38 minutes (NCR Timeline)
March 6 -- 50 minutes (NCR Timeline)
February 20 -- 33 minutes (NCR Timeline)
February 6 -- 80 minutes (NCR Timeline)
January 23 -- Cancelled
January 9 -- 41 minutes (NCR Timeline)

The City's council members also hosted a Public Budget Consultation session on March 15th, an event that featured low attendance from the public and lasted all of thirty six minutes.

As it is, in recent years the schedule of meetings has been one of a slow march of reduction, long gone are the days of Council meeting twice a month, a process that once delivered for a total of 24 public opportunities to view the mechanics of civic government.

This year for instance the "scheduled" sessions number at but 20 (and declining fast), with Council only meeting once a month in July, August, September and December.

The reduced amount of time in public session certainly makes for an interesting approach to the concept of openness and transparency, that ever popular theme that most of the current council proclaimed their devotion to during the 2014 Council election.

The brevity of those sessions that they do hold, has also delivered a bit of a trend where there is little in the way of discussion and more in the way of Announcements of late.

For the most part now, what we get is a Council that relays the list of some of the work that they have apparently been addressing outside of the public sessions, with little explanation provided as to how they reached their decisions.

At this current pace of cancellation, the gap between the Closed sessions and the Open and public ones, is something that is certainly starting to shift in the wrong direction.

Considering this percolating approach of ripping up the calendar, the city's residents might want to give some thought to changing the way that we approach pay for Council members, perhaps considering payment on a per meeting basis, rather than with a monthly stipend.

Should Council keep to this trend of cancelling off the public sessions, we might be able to save enough money that we wouldn't have pay that 1.5 percent tax increase that Council is on the cusp of approving.

Then again if they continue to keep closing the doors to open sessions, one wonders if we should have to pay it at all.

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

For the Canadian Coast Guard, the employment ship is coming in

A strong surge of hiring is ahead for the Canadian Coast guard, with the government agency set to hire over 500 workers across Canada through this year, with over 150 positions to be made available in British Columbia.

The employment push comes as the Federal Government prepares to move forward with the ambitious Ocean Protection Plan that it outlined last November,

As we noted on the blog at that time, the Coast Guard was considered a key element of that protection program, with the Government announcing plans to create Community Response Teams in coastal communities along the BC coast.

Port Hardy had a primary focus at that time selected as a key staging site for Marine Response services, and it's expected that some of the new employment push will come from those plans.

As part of the government program Coast guard vessels will receive additional resources for marine rescue work, while Communication services on the West coast will also continue to see additional resources directed to facilities.

Unifor, the Union that represents workers with the Coast Guard however have taken note that none of the positions will replace retiring workers, nor do they address the cuts made by the previous government of Stephen Harper, when the Federal government reduced the Coast Guards footprint in a number of communities.

The union also has concerns as to long term funding for the Ocean protection plan, noting that the Trudeau government has only put funding in place for a five year period as part of the program.

The Coast Guard Vessel Tanu tied up at the
Prince Rupert Coast Guard Base at Seal Cove

Still, for those looking for a job with the Coast Guard the next few months should provide a good opportunity to sign on, with job fairs planned across the country to outline what is being offered.

Even as the Coast Guard makes its plans to take on additional staff nationwide, Prince Rupert features prominently in positions currently identified as availalbe with DFO or Coast Guard.

With the following positions listed on the Coast Guard Employment website today:

The Marine Communications program has been part of an ongoing recruitment process, in late November we outlined the Coast Guards engagement on the North Coast as they put a focus on local First Nations and coastal residents, making note of the unique knowledge of the region that local applicants could have to offer the service.

You can learn more about the range of career opportunities that the Coast Guard has to offer here, it's a site worth book marking for future use as the expansion program begins to gather steam over the next few months.

More background on the Coast guard plans can be reviewed from a range of media stories from the last few days.

Canadian Coast Guard needs new recruits
Canadian Coast Guard on hiring blitz, 150 positions in B.C.
Canadian Coast Guard hiring spree in B.C.

For more items related to the work of Emergency Services in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Riding the rails to Rupert, just one option for VIA's 150 Youth pass holders

Prince Rupert is just one of many destinations that the youth of Canada
may be exploring this July as part of a 150th anniversary rail pass

It's a new promotion from VIA Rail might just help bring a few visitors to the North Coast this year, with the national passenger service having a one day blitz yesterday offering 1,867 youth rail passes for 150 dollars, in celebration of Canada's 150th Birthday.

Of course, the railway runs both east and west, so the youth of the North Coast also had the opportunity check the program out and start checking their Google Maps to see what destination they wish to explore beyond the Tyee Crossing.

The project designed for travellers between the ages of 12 to 25 offered up the prospect of unlimited Economy class travel through July to any of the destinations that VIA Rail serves .

Though, while it was a pretty good idea,  the actual launch of the VIA plan had more than a few glitches along the way, and with a few dis-satisfied would-be customers.

With technical issues leaving would be travellers lost in cyberspace, unable to connect with the VIA rail servers in time to take advantage of the program, something which created a bit of  PR disaster for the railway as those left on the siding vented through the railway's twitter feed.

The most telling commentary from those that didn't get through this time around, was the suggestion that with the project one that generated some significant interest, VIA might want to offer the program again, once they sort out their computer issues.

One of the more creative tweets to the railway was the suggestion that VIA offer up an additional 2017 passes as a form of apology for how the original plan rolled out.

If they do, the VIA website and twitter feed will be the place to watch for another opportunity to take to the rails.

For other items related to VIA Rail operations on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Update: VIA Rail feeling a bit of pressure from the customer base offered up an explanation on Thursday,  making note of their website issues and how they handled them.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

4.2 magnitude earthquake recorded off coast of Haida Gwaii

A moderate sized earthquake has been recorded just west of Haida Gwaii, the 4.2 magnitude seismic event took place at 10:59 it was centred 148 km South Southwest of Masset 

It had a recorded depth of 1 kilometre.

No Tsunami Warning has been generated as a result of this event.

Mayor Andrew Merilees advised the North Coast Review that the temblor had not been noticed in the Masset area.

So far there has been no indication from Southern Haida Gwaii as to whether the event had any effect on residents in that region.

Quakes of similar magnitude have been recorded off of Vancouver Island north on the Alaskan panhandle in recent weeks.

More items related to seismic events on the North Pacific coast can be found here.

BC Ferries set for North Coast vessel shift this Saturday

Back to work for the Northern Adventure, which will return
to service following a refit this Saturday

It's welcome back to the Northern Adventure, and bon voyage to the Northern Expedition as BC Ferries makes a vessel change on its Northern Service as of this Saturday.

The Northern Adventure having just returned from its annual refit will begin service on the both the Haida Gwaii and Inside Passage routes as of this Saturday.

At the same time the Northern Expedition will be heading off for its own refit, a process that is expected to take two and half months. In addition to its makeover, the Northern Expedition will also receive its recertification during its short absence from North Coast service.

It will be till we meet again for the Northern Expedition,
the BC Ferry is heading for refit as of Saturday

It's anticipated that the Northern Expedition will return to service on June 19th, just in time to service what is expected to be a robust summer tourism season on the North Coast.

More on the vessel changeover can be found here.

For further items of interest related to Marine Transportation on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Ferry rate increases on the way for North Co Corp Ferry Service

The cost of travel on the North Co Corp Ferry Service is going up slightly
as of this Saturday

Transportation between the Prince Rupert area and a number of coastal communities is about to go up just a little bit, with the North Co Corp Ferry Service introducing new Fees effective April 1st.

The Ferry Service connects Metlakatla, Hartley Bay, Kitkatla and Oona River and also crosses the harbour to Prince Rupert.

Owned and operated by three communities: Hartley Bay, Kitkatla and Metlakatla, learn more about the service here; the service offers a vital transportation link for the coastal communities in the region, details on its schedule of operations can be found here.

Notice of the Ferry rate increase was posted to the Metlakatla First Nation Facebook page.

Increases from the 2016 rates and the new fee structure for 2017-18 to the four communities look as follows, the new rates come into effect on Saturday.

Adults (One way)

Hartley Bay  -- Five Dollar increase to 55 dollars
Kitkatla -- Three dollar increase to 28 dollars
Oona River -- Two dollar increase to 25 dollars
Metlakatla -- One dollar increase to 8 dollars

Seniors (One way)

Hartley Bay -- Three dollar increase to 36 dollars
Kitkatla -- Two dollar increase to 19 dollars
Oona River -- Two dollar increase to 19 dollars
Metlakatla -- No change fee remains 3 dollars

Children (One way)

Hartley Bay -- Three dollar increase to 31 dollars
Kitkatla -- Two dollar increase to 19 dollars
Oona River -- Two dollar increase to 19 dollars
Metlakatla -- No change fee remains 3 dollars

More notes on marine transportation along the North Coast can be found here.

Cow Bay Marina opens applications for three summer positions

Ahoy  all ye would be mateys, the City of Prince Rupert is looking for you!

The Cow Bay Marina is making its plans for the 2017 boating season and as they prepare to ramp things up on the welcome front, they are seeking some staff for the summer season.

The City posted three job opportunities for the waterfront facility on Tuesday, all of them directed to college or university students who are enrolled in a current program, two of the positions are temporary full time and one on a part time basis.

Senior High School students will be considered for the part-time employment.

In their Job posting the City notes that they are looking for candidates who must be passionate about Prince Rupert, have a great customer service aptitude, a reliable work ethic and keen sense of work safety.

Candidates are also expected to act as community ambassadors and direct marina visitors to local businesses, services and attractions.

Those interested in the positions are asked to submit a cover letter and resume to the Human Resources Department at City Hall at 424 3rd Avenue West,  Prince Rupert, BC, V8J 1L7

The email address is

The Cow Bay Dock Facility opened last year and 2017 is expected to be a strong tourist year after a full year of promotion for the city's latest tourist service.

A quiet scene at the Cow Bay dock in this photo, but the City is hopeful
that the 2017 Tourism season will make it a busy place through the summer

You can review the job requirements for the job opportunities below:
(click to enlarge)

More notes on past employment opportunities with the City can be found from our archive page.

You can find more about the tourist season ahead from our archive pages here.

Baker's Beware! CFIA issues flour recall in Western Canada

Those that like to buy their flour in the 10kg bag will want to take note of a product recall issued by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

A Food Recall Warning has been issued by the Agency for 10 kilogram bags of Robin Hood Brand All Purpose Flour, Original  -- which has been recalled to E. Coli.

The Flour was distributed to stores in the four Western Canada provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In a notice to consumers, the CFIA notes that the recall was put into effect as of March 28, following one reported illness that was associated with the produce, adding that consumers should not consume the recalled product.

The product should be thrown out  or returned to the store where it was purchased

The Key information for consumers to look for if they have a bag at home is the Date and Lot number of BB/MA 2018 AL 17 and 6 291 548  the UPC Code is 0 59000 01652 8, images of what to look for on the bags can be found below:

More on the recall notice can be reviewed from this page on the CFIA website

Update: the number of cases of reported illnesses related to the issue has increased, with the Public Health Agency of Canada issuing this advisory

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lax Kw'alaams takes action on derelict buildings

While Prince Rupert continues to try to find a way to address the growing concerns related to derelict buildings through the downtown core, there's a bit of urban renewal taking place past the north end of Tuck Inlet.

With the Lax Kw'alaams Band Council beginning the process of preparing its community for the future by taking a proactive approach to development.

The sound of heavy machinery lumbering through Lax Kw'alaams has been heard through the last few weeks, as the Band takes action on a number of derelict buildings in the community.

The Lax Kw'alaams Council was responding to community concerns about the nature of the buildings and how they had become an eyesore, the demolition project allows for the prospect of future development for the area and reduces potentially dangerous situations from the abandoned structures.

In addition to the photo below from the Lax Kw'alaams Band Facebook page, they have also posted a video of some of the work that has taken place to this point of the project schedule.

You can check out some of the work here.

For more items related to Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page here.

Pinoy store offers familiar Filipino themes for residents and visitors alike

A new business in the downtown area of the city is helping to build on the growing theme of expanding on the many cultures that call Prince Rupert home, with Andhielhang's Pinoy store now offering a range of items that will be quite familiar for the city's Filipino community.

The Grand opening of the store at 313 Third Avenue West, across the Ocean Centre, took place earlier this month and from that celebration word has quickly spread about the products and friendly atmosphere that the store offers.

And while it's designed with the city's Filipino community in mind, it offers a chance for others in the region to sample some of the favourite items that come from the South pacific.

Filipino items are now available at
Anehielhang's Pinoy Store
on Third Avenue West
It should also prove to be a welcoming destination for the large number of crew members that call on the port facilities of the Port of Prince Rupert.

Many of the crew positions on the cargo vessels and container ships that call on Prince Rupert are held by workers of Filipino descent and the opportunity to find a little corner of home on this side of the Pacific should help spread the word on the new store.

The Third Avenue location makes for a perfect location to serve that potential group, located but one block away from the Prince Rupert Seafarers Mission, where volunteers will surely direct visiting sailors to take the walk one block west to see what may be available.

More items related to Prince Rupert's increasingly diverse commercial scene can be reviewed here.

Terrace hospital boosters busy rallying community support for trauma centre designation

Residents of Terrace are coming together to continue
to push for their desire to see the new Mills Memorial
Hospital be built as a high level trauma centre for the Northwest

When Finance Minister Mike de Jong spoke to the Terrace Chamber of Commerce in February and indicated that Budget support for a new hospital in Terrace was in place, he sent a community into motion determined to see the long held dream of a new facility to the finish line.

De Jong's comments brought civic officials, health care advocates,  area residents and the Terrace media together, all working towards one purpose; that to make sure that all the requirements are knocked off the to do list to ensure that a new facility to replace Mills Memorial Hospital is built and to set the course to make their community a centre for health care in the region.

As we noted on announcement day, the welcome delivery of replacement plans for the aging Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace came following some impressive lobbying by the Terrace council, which no doubt with an eye on an election campaign, made sure that the Terrace message was one that caught the attention of the Provincial government.

With the NDP having already stated that they would be receptive to the idea of replacement for Mills Memorial should they form a government in May, Terrace officials made sure that the project was flagged as the number one priority for the community.

Now with all the politicians on board, community leaders are rallying residents of the city to their cause, putting together an effective campaign to generate interest and attract attention to their goals of developing the new hospital as a high level trauma centre for the Northwest.

Through a number of media stories over the course of the last month they are building momentum for that message, calling on the spirit of the community that delivered a Hockeyville victory in 2009, to make sure that the health care project follows the same kind of blue print to become a medical centre for the Northwest.

Over the last thirty days, Terrace residents have been receiving a steady stream of background on what a new hospital will mean. Through articles and video stories that highlight for Terrace residents how a trauma centre designation would bring additional medical professionals and medical resources to the city, the lure of a high level centre seen as the best recruitment tool that the community could have.

And while Terrace is lining up its support and making their plans, further down the highway in Prince Rupert, themes of holding firm for existing services, or exploring future ambitions for health care at the moment are barely making a ripple.

With few notes heard either from the local city council scene, or as part of the narrative of the current provincial election campaign.

While Councillor Barry Cunningham did run the topic up the flagpole at city hall back in February, since that time there has been scant public mention at City Council as to how Prince Rupert is addressing the issue of any expansion of health care in Terrace and what impact it may have on this community.

Likewise, as the provincial election campaign moved onward, we heard a few short comments from North Coast candidates at the time of the Terrace announcement.

But since then, none of the three declared candidates have offered much in the way of putting a focus on discussions related to health care, protecting services on the North Coast, or even offering a look at expanding on them.

It is a topic that might be worth raising when the candidates knock on your door sometime between now and election day and certainly should make for a theme of any candidates debate should one be held in the community.

As well, City Council does have the opportunity to invite each of the three candidates currently running in the election campaign to drop in at City Hall during one of the public Council sessions.

That would allow residents of the city to learn more about the candidates thoughts on the issue and provide those council members that have an interest in Health care a chance to explore the theme with the candidates.

As well, since the candidates would be there anyways, it would also give Council an opportunity to get a reading on what each candidate has to offer the residents of the city on any number of other political themes.

The groundswell of support that is building in Terrace is an impressive thing to see, they have fixed their eye on a goal and with some strong leadership in that community, it would seem that they are on track to deliver on health care.

Hopefully that same spirit of community will be found on the North Coast, providing the resources to keep our health care requirements a top priority with Victoria, particularly as the prospect of an expanded medical footprint in Terrace arrives.

You can get a sense of how much the Mills Memorial replacement program is resonating with the people of Terrace below.

Each story adding to the theme of if we build it, medical professionals will come, the only question remaining being that of where those professionals might be coming from?

March 25 -- It's time to shift our health care priorities
March 25 -- The best place for a Terrace hospital 
March 18 -- New hospital will draw more professionals to Terrace
March 18 -- Let's make Terrace 'Hospitalville' 
March 11 -- A chance to secure local jobs
March 9 -- Here's a glimpse of what a new Mills Memorial Hospital means for Terrace
March 5 --  Terrace mega project a go
March 2 -- Terrace to get a brand new hospital

February 28 -- 'My cheeks hurt so hard from just grinning," says Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc (audio)
February 28 -- Terrace's Mills Memorial Hospital to get replacement announces Finance Minister (audio)
February 28 -- Mills Memorial Hospital Replacement Announcement (video)
February 28 -- New Hospital for Terrace?
February 28 -- Terrace getting new hospital

More notes related to Northern Health in the Northwest can be found on our archive pages.