Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring time Sabbatical



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

Time to recharge the batteries for a bit, so we're taking a break from blogging starting today, with plans to return to our efforts in about ten days, just in time to say welcome to May.

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

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

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Prince Rupert now makes for a destination on the " West Coast Whale Trail"

Prince Rupert's Cow Bay Breakwater is a new destination for the
West Coast Whale Trail

There's a new mark on the map that charts the available viewing locations to follow the path of marine mammals along the West Coast, with Prince Rupert now the latest stop as part of a shore based marine Mammal viewing initiative known as the "West Coast Whale Trail"

New signage and viewing binoculars have been installed at the Cow Bay Dock area with a public viewing area now assigned to the City's public breakwater, identifying Cow Bay as the latest addition to the Whale Trail. The new signs and binoculars were provided through funding from the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, Prince Rupert LNG and the Port of Prince Rupert.

Caitlin Birdsall, coordinator of the North Coast Cetacean Research Initiative through the Vancouver Aquarium,  has served as the coordinator  for for the addition of the breakwater as a “Whale Trail” stop along with the City’s Marina staff.

“Prince Rupert’s breakwater provides an ideal viewing site for The Whale Trail, and its accessibility will help us in our efforts to engage citizen scientists to learn about and collect data on cetaceans,”

Birdsall also observed as to how the new site will help to engage residents with marine line, noting that "as well as information about local species, the new signage encourages people to report their marine mammal sightings for conservation-based research."

Prince Rupert will soon be the next mark
on the West Coast Whale Trail Map,
as the North Coast joins the list of optimum
viewing locations for marine mammals
There are over a half dozen species of marine mammals that could be observed at different times of the year from the Cow Bay dock, including Sea lions, Harbour seals, Humpback whales, Killer whales and both Harbour and Dali's porpoises.

Descriptions of each species are available on each sign and the names have been translated into Sm'algyax the language of the Ts'msyen people, that translation was provided by the regions Sm'algyax Language Authority Committee.

The project was one that caught the attention of the Prince Rupert Port Authority and meshes well with their program to reduce the impact of industry on the North Coast on the whale population.

Jason Scherr, the Sustainability Manager for the Port of Prince Rupert Port outlined some of the key elements of the program.

“Improving our understanding of the marine mammals that transit Canada’s west coast waters is an effort we’re proud to support in partnership with agencies like the Vancouver Aquarium,” ...  “Our marine mammal program is helping port industries minimize our impact on whales and other species. It’s our hope that joining the Whale Trail will encourage more residents and visitors to Prince Rupert to contribute to the Cetacean Sightings Network.”

More background related to the Whale Trail can be explored from the project website here, with an update no doubt destined for their map of the West Coast.

Further details on the Prince Rupert stop on the trail can be reviewed from this information piece provided through the Port of Prince Rupert, Vancouver Aquarium and City of Prince Rupert.

More notes related to the tourism industry in Prince Rupert can be found on our archive page here.

City Council Preview, Monday, April 24, 2017


For the first time in a while, the City Council Agenda offers up a fairly expansive range of items for consideration by Prince Rupert's elected officials.

When Council members gather on Monday evening at 7PM, they'll be reviewing a list of items that includes changes to the Airport Board makeup, a proposed new Seniors Housing development and they will also move forward with the final approval process for the city's Financial plan and Tax Bylaw requirements for 2017.


You can review the background documentation for tonight's Regular Session from the Agenda Package here.

As it is also a Committee of the Whole night, the public will have opportunity to ask questions of Council members at Monday's session, the first such opportunity since the end of February.

The Regular  Council session starts off for the evening with the adoption of agendas and minutes.

Following that requirement, the line up for the night looks as follows.

Petitions and Delegations 

Any Notes on Unfinished Business will follow that presentation.

Reports and Recommendations is next on the Agenda listings.

Report from the Community Planner  -- The Community planner will provide a report on a request for a Variance Permit for a renovation at a residence at 405- 5th Avenue East (Page 12 of the Agenda Package)

Correspondences for Action

Council will consider a request for a letter of support from Northwest Community College as part of the BC Public Access to Defibrillation program (Page 22 of the Agenda)

Council will consider a memorandum from the Communications Manager, related to the National Day of Mourning (Page 23 of the Agenda)

Resolutions from Closed Meetings,

Council has two announcements to make from previous Closed Sessions:

The First announcement, which comes from a Closed Session of March 6th, will appoint Mr. Alexander Hembroff to a year term on the Board of the Performing Arts Centre.

The second announcement, which is from a Closed Session of April 3rd will appoint four members to the Board of the Prince Rupert Airport Authority.

Among those to be appointed are: Mr. Rory Mandryk, Mr. Paul Venditelli, Mr. Richard Pucci and Mr. Cody Smith. Mr. Venditelli has also been named as the Chair of the Prince Rupert Airport Authority Board.

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

Council will consider a rezoning request from the Metlakatla Development Corporation, which is looking to develop an Elders/Seniors Housing complex at the corner of 8th Avenue East and Green Street (Page 24 of the Agenda Package)

Council will receive a report from the Chief Financial Officer related to the 2017 Five Year Financial Plan (Page 61 of the Agenda Package)

Council will receive a report from the Chief Financial Officer related to the 2017 Property Tax Bylaw (Page 74 of the Agenda Package)

The evening then moves on to Additional Items from Council members

Mayor Brain is listed as to provide a verbal update related to the Resource Benefit Alliance

The evening will come to an end with Reports, Questions and Inquiries from Members of Council.

Where Council members will offer up any items or concerns that they have for consideration on the night.

The Live broadcast of the City Council session can be found here, a video archive of past sessions is available here.

Our archive of items related to the April 24th session can be found here.

While our archive of all sessions for 2017 for Council is available here.



City Council Session: April 24, 2017




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

Regular Session of Council for April 24, 2017

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here.

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

North Coast Review -- Preview of Session for April 24, 2017

Agenda for Regular Council Session for April 24, 2017

Notice of Committee of the Whole Session


Info to Council 


Attendance

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

Minutes of Regular Session of Council, April 24, 2017  (not available yet)

Video Recording of April 24, 2017

North Coast Review City Council Timeline April 24, 2017


North Coast Review Items related to the April 24, 2017 Session of Council 


Few options available to Council to force Clean Up of downtown eyesores
Metlakatla Elders/Seniors complex heads towards public overview
City points to external issues when it comes to financial pressures
City to consider old King Edward School site for Seniors Housing proposal at Monday's meeting
City changes direction for airport oversight; with four new members named to Prince Rupert Airport Authority Board

Media items from other sources for the April 24, 2017 session can be found in our Discussion Points from City Council feature.

City to consider old King Edward School site for Senior's Housing proposal at Monday's meeting

The Old King Edward School site on Eighth Avenue East may see new
life as a housing development for Elder's and Senior's

A proposal for increasing the housing stock for Senior citizens will be on the agenda for Monday's City Council Session, as the Metlakatla Development Corporation outlines its proposed development plan for a parcel of land at the corner of Eighth Avenue East and Green Street on the city's east side.

The proposed development to be known as the Metlakatla Elder's/Senior's Village is part of a rezoning application for the property in question listed as 700 Green Street, the location of the Old King Edward Elementary School, which was demolished in 2012.

The Metlakatla Development Corporation purchased the land in 2009, with the site remaining vacant over the years as a number of proposals floated for the location never move past the discussion phase.

The potential development of the site as Senior's housing was outlined one year ago, when the Metlakatla Development Corporation explored community interest in the concept, hosting a pair of community forums on the theme.



The City Zoning map outlines the area under consideration for re-zoning


The proposed project comes as part of an accommodation agreement reached with the province through BC Housing and the current consideration would offer a mix of senior's affordable rental housing consisting of 32 units in two separate two storey buildings, and 10 units of row housing for seniors who may want to downsize from their current homes.

Two structures two storeys high and ten row homes make for the design
under consideration for the Metlakatla Elder's/Senior's Village proposal

A full overview of what the proposed development might look like can be found from the City Council Agenda for Monday evening, the Metlakatla proposal can be found at page 24 of Monday's documentation.

Council will give consideration to the rezoning application and if they choose to move forward will set in motion the process of consultation required for those in the area to offer their feedback to the project, prior to the proposal going to the Public Hearing phase.

The need for Senior's housing has been a frequent refrain from Council in the last few years, and while many options have been promoted in the last two years, few have actually made it to the shovels in the ground phase of development.

You can review some of the past housing files from our archive page here.

More notes related to City Council Discussions can be found on our Council archive page here.

City changes direction for airport oversight; with four new members named to Prince Rupert Airport Authority Board

Some significant changes have been made to the make up
of the Prince Rupert Airport Authority Board.

The City of Prince Rupert has put three familiar civic faces onto the Board of the Prince Rupert Airport Authority, though it makes for a move that marks a significant change in direction when it comes to oversight of the airport operations from how the city has handled airport issues in the past.

The new Board appointments which were made as part of a Closed Session of April 3rd, will see the City's Corporate Administrator Mr. Rory Mandryk, Mr. Paul Venditelli from the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Department and Mr. Richard Pucci the city's Director of Operations all assigned to the board. 

They will be joined by Mr. Cody Smith, who works with Quickload Terminals as the  Director of Business Development with the local transportation company.

Mr. Venditelli, who carries the Civic title of Manager of Transportation and Economic Development at the City of Prince Rupert, has been tapped to become the Board Chair, he will be replacing Judy Fraser who previously held that position.

Mayor Lee Brain outlined what the City of Prince Rupert hopes to achieve from the revision to the Board make up.

“These changes were made to improve communication and organizational coherence between the airport, and the ferry and the bus service that bring passengers to the airport,”

“Disconnection in the chain of transportation services has caused multiple logistical issues over the years, including lengthy delays at the Airport and a lack of communication between all three providers. We saw these appointments as a way to close this communication gap.” 

“Over the last couple years, we’ve implemented new initiatives to improve the Airport experience. We created a new a shuttle center, acquired new and improved buses and helped organize the grand opening of the new Airport terminal,”   

“We’re looking forward to continuing to see improvements at the airport, so that residents can access an efficient travel option.”

The four new appointees replace the four board members who saw their positions come up for reappointment, the departing members include Ms. Fraser, Dave Smith, Micheal Cote and Erminio Pucci, they had been appointed in May of 2015.

The existing four members of the Board Don Scott, Gloria Rendell, Kelly Sawchuk and Knut Bjorndall were appointed in 2016, they will remain in their positions as the new appointees take their seats.

The city's information announcement released on Friday is available for review here. Mayor Brain expands on those notes with a post to his Facebook portal available here.

The move by the City resembles a similar approach the city took with CityWest in 2014, which saw the city install three senior City officials on the Board of the city owned communication company.

Since that move took place, there has been little in the way of discussion on CityWest issues in public session of City Council, with council members rarely mentioning the city owned company as part of their council overview.

Likewise, this decision to take a different approach to the oversight of the Airport did not make for any form of public debate in the Council chamber, with no indication as to what the six sitting council members might have to say on the topic, or what long term outcomes that the city expects from the shift in governance of the facility.

Today's moves are not being hailed by some of the current board, with Don Scott expressing a number of his concerns when it comes to the city's decision to the Northern View.

Last month we noted some of the challenges that await the new board members, with the level of flight options having diminished at the Prince Rupert airport with the cessation of Hawkair service last year.

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

Radio debates set the scene for Monday's North Coast All Candidates meeting

The trio of candidates for the North Coast riding were in the
studio with CFNR this week, taking part in a one hour debate on area issues
(photo from CFNR website)


This week found the three North Coast candidates in the provincial election testing out their radio voices, with Jennifer Rice, Herb Pond and Hondo Arendt engaged in two radio discussions on issues leading up to the May 9th vote.

Wednesday night the three took part in a one hour debate on election issues hosted by CFNR's Corey Callaghan, the trio explored a number of key areas introduced by Callaghan.

From her opening remarks through to the back and forth of the discussion over the hour the NDP's Ms. Rice seemed to be making use of the John Horgan talking points. With the incumbent MLA outlining a number of NDP themes from the election campaign so far, with a note made on plans to replace Prince Rupert's Middle School included in her opening remarks. Ms. Rice also put some focus on the larger NDP plan to call attention to Christy Clark, making note of the Liberal leader in a number of instances, referencing the Premier as one quick for a photo op, but little in the way of assistance to the riding.

For his part, Liberal candidate Pond stayed with a more local focus, calling on his past years as a Mayor of Prince Rupert and his past engagement with First Nations of the region, offering up a short synopsis of his time as an elected official and community advocate. Mr Pond observed as to how he and his wife had raised a family in the community but had to watch as their children had to leave the region to look for work, calling that moment as one that spurred him on to municipal office and continues now to be his main thrust for the quest for a seat in the Legislature, offering up his desire to produce results for the riding.

Green Party candidate Hondo Arendt offered up some of his background of twenty five years on the North Coast, the majority of it employed with Northwest community College in Prince Rupert. He called attention to the staying power of the Green Party and how as a third party they have continued to grow in vote totals and attention. While noting that they still don't have the financial resources to reach all corners of the riding, the party continues to find loyalty among voters that support the Green ideology.

As for the question period, the theme of LNG made for the first foray into talking points, with the NDP's Rice calling into question the approach taken by the BC Liberals, which she said did not have much in the way of coordination, with each project looked at individually, suggesting a more regional overview would have been more appropriate.

For his part, Mr. Pond noted that LNG if done right would be a positive for the North Coast and that he had done his own personal review of what impact the industry would have on the people of the communities of the North Coast and he believes that it offers a number of unique opportunities, pointing to tax generation and employment as the major aspects that it offers. Though he did add that the development needs to be respectful of the environment, calling attention to the strong work of First Nations in the region towards that environmental overview.

Hondo Arendt noted that no one would be surprised that the Green Party is not in favour of LNG development and how the Green's would be looking to shift the tax burden more towards the energy industry to allow for other energy options to become more prevalent. For his takeaway on the LNG discussion, he noted that the Liberals were pro LNG, while NDP policy is somewhat unclear on LNG development while there is no confusion on the Green policy of the industry.

Ms. Rice took that opportunity to reinforce how the BC NDP views LNG development, using the Pacific NorthWest LNG project as her measuring stick as to how the Liberals have failed the local community, using the region and its issues as more of a political check box rather than a full engagement with the community.

The LNG discussion also provided the first of what would become a frequent approach by Ms. Rice of tying Mr. Pond, or "the liberal candidate" as she frequently referred to him to a number of Liberal policies.

As a rebuttal, Mr. Pond noted how the NDP approach has created an investment chill for the province, with investors unsure as to how the rules will be applied and at what consistency, he also offered up his confidence in the ability of local communities and First Nations leaders to negotiate arrangements that provide them with the protection they are seeking. He pointed to the container terminal which is foreign owned but has become a local fixture as a model for what the North coast can achiveve.

Mr. Arendt suggested that the Liberals have not maximized the potential benefits that were available and noted how resource extraction is an area where there should be more benefit to local communities. He also observed that the strategy of holding out scare tactics that things must be made advantageous for business is not one that works well.

Question Number Two was focused on the recent sinking of the Nathan Stewart barge off of Bella Bella with the candidates asked how they would protect the coastlines.

The conversation opened on a theme that wasn't much of a surprise, will all three were on the same page as far as the nature of the tragedy and the impact on the Central Coast.

Mr. Pond noted that there is an increasing level of marine traffic on the coast and how there is a need to be prepared and he would be advocating for protection of the coast line.

Mr. Arendt echoed the traffic concerns, calling for controls on shipping in some areas including Haida Gwaii, he observed that any MLA regardless of party affiliation needs to be concerned about the potential dangers that exist.

Listening to the residents of coastal BC, in this case the Heiltsuk was the theme of Ms. Rice's commentary, calling for the central coast to be treated with respect. She recalled her time in Bella Bella and her observations and conversations with local residents on what could have been done to protect the coast.

In response, Mr. Pond noted that Ms. Rice's observations were good ones, as well he acknowledged the work of the first responders that were engaged in the clean up.

That was something that Ms. Rice also offered praise towards, recalling the work of those dispatched to the scene and how the local community and neighbouring communities also offered their own assistance. Though taking time to note that the means of dealing with the issue and the training provided by provincial and federal sources was totally inadequate

Mr. Arendt observed that while it was a good thing that the communities were quick in their response, there is a need for a larger presence and a better process in place on the coast to address such incidents should they occur.

Question Three focused on BC Ferries and should they be considered an essential service.

The Green candidate, Mr. Arendt made the argument that it was the resources of the Northwest that provide the economic backbone for the province and from that, this region should receive more benefit from that contribution to the provincial economy. He noted that the province needs to better address needs such as transportation, health and education of those areas from where the resources come from.

Ms. Rice noted that the Ferries should be treated as part of the provincial transportation system, she observed as to the financial cost to residents of Haida Gwaii owing to the cost of ferry transportation or the lack of frequent service, adding that there is also a spin off effect where residents have cancelled medical appointments owing to the schedule cut backs and expense of travel.

For his part Mr. Pond called back to his days as Mayor and how residents want results and how the people want their representatives to build the case for decision makers as to what the major issues are and how to ensure that local needs are heard.

Ms. Rice responded to that observation from the "liberal candidate here", calling on her time as MLA and her tireless work on keeping the issue of Ferry transportation as a main concern of the region, noting that it had fallen on deaf ears. She then further outlined the NDP plan for a new ferry strategy and to bring it back into the provincial transportation system.

Mr. Arendt noted that Ms. Rice has been a good advocate for the riding on the issue of Ferry transportation, adding that there is a need to look at a larger issue than just ferry subsidization and how decisions on transportation can have impacts on other issues.

Some more flashes of controversy popped up as the topic was winding down, as Mr. Pond returned to the need for results and how during his time as Mayor he found the way to learn how the system works and found success on projects that have made a difference in the community and that's what people are looking for as an MLA.

Ms. Rice, took note of that observation and challenged how Mr. Pond's party, or as she put it "this guy's party" has approached BC Ferries and recalled how she had fought to overturn a regulation related to wheelchair access, something which Mr. Pond noted she should be given credit for.

Question Four was focused on affordable housing.

Ms. Rice led off the discussion on housing, calling attention to the NDP plan for social and co-op housing in the province, noting that housing has been a file that has been neglected for years. She touched on issues of renovictions and how the NDP will also create jobs by building homes using BC engineered wood. For renters there will be rental rebates, as well as a focus for the NDP on fixing loopholes in regulations and legislation.

Mr. Pond offered up that housing can be tied in to employment, noting how people are returning to Prince Rupert to take advantage of the new employment opportunities. He also noted that there are some in need in the community when it comes to assistance for housing and that local governments have been seeking grants to address those issues. He also observed as to how he would work to bring in resources to help those who need it most.

The Liberal candidate however offer up some concern over the NDP plan for a 400 dollar a month rebate, questioning how it would be applied, as well as to suggest the prospect of an expanding program and to question where the NDP would find the money to deliver those programs.

Mr. Arendt offered up a snapshot as to how the Green's approach housing issues and how there is a difference between issues in the Lower Mainland and the North Coast, noting how Prince Rupert has had some of the highest vacancy rates in the province and how that has not translated into a lower cost of  housing. He challenged the unfettered capitalism approach of the Liberals and how in Prince Rupert there is a need for a specific approach to the issue.

On housing stock Ms. Rice observed as to the aging nature of what is available in the community and how vacancies may not translate into acceptable housing conditions. She noted how under the Liberals, BC housing has gotten out of the housing business, shifting the burden to private organizations calling attention to a number of properties in Prince Rupert that are not in a condition for occupancy at the moment. She also challenged Mr. Pond's theory on jobs and the ability to access housing.

Mr. Pond returned to that theme, noting how people want to at some point own their own home and for those that need assistance there is a need to make sure that it is available.

Mr. Arendt, acknowledged that if the past is an indication that Mr. Pond is one who would fight for his community. But he also agreed with Ms. Rice that the Liberals have not been very engaged in taking care of public housing in the community calling the situation with some of the public housing units in Prince Rupert as somewhat surreal.

Question Five was one related to recent findings from the Youth Representative and other reports on how to best serve Aboriginal children in the province.

Mr. Pond led off the discussion on the topic, noting how the issue is one that is heartbreaking, he then observed that there is a need to fight for those families and how there is more work to be done when it comes to providing support for aboriginal families.

Mr. Arendt looked to the areas of lack of opportunity and lack of access to such things as education and transportation that is key to the systemic problems facing aboriginal children, and how there is a need for equal services.

Ms. Rice looked for some clarification on the question and then relayed some of her concerns over the disparity between those aboriginal children in care and other segments of the community, she called for better resources and support for the agencies that face the issues on the front lines.

Question Six was focused on political donations in British Columbia.

The policy of the Green party to not accept donations from large industry or union was the theme for Mr. Arendt, noting that the party is wholly funded by smaller donations and that means that his budget for the campaign will be significantly smaller than his opponents.

On the larger issue of political donations he outlined some of the expectations that come from political donations and how it impacts on democracy.

Ms. Rice took note of how John Horgan is approaching the issue, highlighting how Christy Clark and the Liberals have stymied approaches to reform political donations and how that is impacting on how politics works in the province.

Mr. Pond commented that he was constantly hearing about Christy Clark, but he as he looked around he didn't see her in the room, noting that in the North Coast riding the issues are much more localized and that's what is on the mind of the people at the moment, and how he wants to work for them on those issues.

On the theme of political donations he notes that nobody seems to have clean hands on the topic and for him the larger issue is that those that are elected are working for the people that elect them.

In response Mr. Arendt noted some of the inconsistencies on the issue when it comes to how political parties approach the issue, though he suggested that the theme of political funding is something that local voters should take note of.

Ms. Rice observed that at the doors that she knocks on the issue is resonating, noting how Christy Clark is unpopular owing to the scandals that have arisen in recent months and that she found it a bit rich that the NDP should take criticism for taking donations from unions, when they pale to what the Liberals are taking in and how they NDP doesn't want to go into the election with their hands tied behind their backs. She did outline that the NDP has a plan to change how the political donation process works.

To rebut some of Ms. Rice's notes, Mr. Pond observed that he wasn't running away from the Liberals, taking note that his campaign is for the BC Liberals and that his purpose in running is to fight for the people of the North Coast.

As for political funding he called for a full review on the issue, and that there should be a thoughtful approach to the topic. He called attention to the transparency that the BC Liberals have put in place for the listing of donations.

The Green approach to the reform of political donations was a bit more basic, with Mr. Arendt noting that they wouldn't advocate for a review, but would just outright ban donations from large corporate and large industry donations.

The final question of the night was related to the call by the Northwest BC Benefits Alliance for more financial benefits to be returned to local communities from large scale development.

Not surprisingly the candidates thought that was a good idea, with differing levels of approach to the theme.

Ms. Rice noted that the alliance was modelled after the NDP fair share program for the Northeast and how it's designed to ensure that communities in the areas of development receive the resources to address the additional costs that local governments and First Nations will find with the development.

Mr. Pond also agreed that there is a need to better provide funding to municipalities, recalling his time on City Council when the NDP reduced provincial funding to the municipalities and how the city had to deal with the issues that came from that decision. He said he would advocate for that level of resource sharing and how the best level of government that responds to local concerns is local government and how there is a need to ensure that they have the resources available to tackle those tasks.

Mr. Arendt noted that he doubts that you would find anyone running for political office that would state that they are against local benefits, he also called attention to the issue of log exports on the North Coast and across the Northwest that there is a lack of return to the communities from those exports, with much of the benefit flowing out of the region.

Ms. Rice noted how the Liberal candidate was totally on board with the Northwest BC Benefits Alliance and how the Liberal party has stalled any efforts to try and get the process moving forward and have come out against it. Towards that theme, the NDP candidate wondered how Mr. Pond would reconcile that position with Christy Clark's views.

Mr. Pond took advantage of that opening to outline why North Coasters may want to vote for him, offering up how he is not be running to represent a party to a riding, but to represent the North Coast into government. Adding that he may not always agree and would be prepared to make that known, including how he votes. He offered up a glimpse into the future where he suggested that a look at his voting record in the Legislature that there may be three or four times where he will have voted away from his party and taken a stand for the North Coast.

He also called attention to some of the challenges that all candidates on the North coast are facing as they need to battle the southern more urbanized areas and their approach to how the province should be governed.

With that Ms. Rice questioned why he didn't run as an Independent, noting that if he doesn't agree with the Liberal platform why is he running as a member of the BC Liberal party.

To that thought, Mr. Pond noted that he wasn't running from the party, adding that he believes that the BC Liberals will be better for the economy as a whole and what has been lacking is the ability for the North Coast to hitch its wagon to the economic success of the province and how he wants to be the lynch pin between the communities of the North Coast and the province's future.

Ms. Rice continued to work the theme that Mr. Pond should instead have run as an Independent, a theme that Mr. Pond observed is why people hate and tune out partisan politics, noting that if elected the people could judge him on whether he has represented the North Coast and delivered results back to them.

Mr. Arendt offered up a bit of levity on the theme, though it came with an important point, providing an observation that if Mr. Pond was to vote two or three times against the BC Liberal positions, that he may end up sitting as an Independent.

Towards that idea, Mr. Pond noted that it that was the price, that's fine, noting some of his political heroes in the province are those that did not always vote along a party line, adding he would be that kind of MLA.

He further suggested that voters should look at every MLA's voting record to see if they ever voted against their party and if they haven't, ask who they really are representing.

The three candidates then revisited some of their main themes as part of their closing comments, looking to what they would hope to achieve in Victoria should they be elected, as well as to touch on some of the areas that weren't covered during the hour and a bit discussion.

You can view the Wednesday night exchange from this link.

Carolina de Ryk from CBC's Daybreak
North hosted a Thursday morning question
period for the North Coast candidates in
the Provincial election
(photo from CBC archives
Thursday morning the three were in the Prince Rupert studios of Daybreak North, where host Carolina de Ryk navigated the discussion on issues related to three key themes.

For the most part, the same topics made for the Thursday review as well, with the candidates settling into their talking points easily when it came to affordable housing, LNG and the North coast economy.

Housing was the lead off topic and to set the scene the CBC host introduced the candidates by way of an audio clip, to a local resident who had been living on the streets for a period of March.

Ms. Rice outlined the need for increases to income assistance to help provide some form of a financial cushion when it comes to housing. As he did the night before, Mr. Pond returned to his themes of how employment can build towards home ownership, while also noting of some of the local assets available in the community and the plans for future projects in the community to address housing issues.

Mr. Arendt took note of the broad array of problems facing those looking for housing in the community and tied it towards some of the government policies over the last fifteen years where the suggested solutions are not matching up with the need.

When it came to what the NDP might offer up towards addressing the issues on housing, Ms. Rice seemed to have some difficulty in interpreting the questions being asked by the CBC host, asking for clarification a couple of times when it came to that theme.

Once she was back on track, Ms. Rice recounted some of her observations on housing in the community and the need for better leadership on economic matters, working the issue of LNG into the discussion and how the Liberal ambitions have yet to be delivered to the community.

The theme of resource development and how the North Coast was losing forestry and fishing employment made for a focus for Mr. Arendt as well,  as he noted that the traditional industries of the region have seen larger exports of raw resources whether logs or fish and little of it is processed in the region. That is a situation that the Greens would look to address through legislation.

Turning to the theme of LNG, the three candidates were offered a chance to explore their thoughts on the industry, with Mr. Pond the first to offer up his view of how the industry is evolving in the region.

He noted that there are parallels to when the region brought the container shipping industry to the port, how many said that it would never take place and that it was through the hard working women and men of the North coast who made that industry a huge success

He further outlined how he has confidence in the same type of dedication from the hard working residents of the North Coast to create an LNG industry in the region, though noting that external forces are shifting the timeline somewhat.

From the early stages of LNG development, Mr, Pond observed that over the last few years, education and training opportunities have been introduced to the region in anticipation of the industry's arrival and those skills have been valuable additions to the community for jobs today.

Ms. Rice was asked how the NDP would revise the environmental assessment process with a Made in BC process and what impact that would have on those terminals with existing certificates, a question that Ms. Rice noted she couldn't really answer at this time.

She did however expand on the difficulties that the NDP have with the current environmental process, which she called onerous and a hindrance for all that are involved, adding that it provides for a large amount of stress on those that are most affected by the prospect of development, calling attention to the current evaluation process for the residents of Dodge Cove.

Ms. de Ryk noted that while the Aurora project for Digby Island would have a impact on those living at Dodge Cove, it also has large economic resonance for residents around the North Coast.

Ms. Rice questioned just how much resonance that the project would have, noting the lack of success so far by the Liberals when it comes to delivering on the LNG industry in the region, observing as to some of the division and angst that the issue has called in the communities of the North Coast.

For his part Mr. Pond called on a comment from the evening before, where he noted that once again the theme of Christy Clark is making for the main theme on the debate and yet she's not in the room.

He again recounted how he had approached his review of what the industry could mean for the community, balanced with how it could be balanced with environmental concerns. He pointed to the need for more industrial jobs in the region and how that would allow the community grow.

He offered up that the NDP candidate has been all over the map when it comes to her thoughts on the industry, something that Ms. Rice disputed.

Hondo Arendt brought the discussion on LNG to an close, noting that Green party is not a large fan of fossil fuels, calling attention to issues such as climate change and fracking related to energy development.

However, he did note that British Columbia is a primary resource exporting province and that the main goal of the Green party is to maximize the benefits of that and to produce a taxation system that gains the most from the forestry and energy sectors but also levels the playing field for other green energy sources

The twenty minutes of Daybreak North can be found here.

The overview above is just a sample of some of the back and forth of the discussions of the two radio events and exploring the themes further is something that will be of some benefit for those that don't have their voting patterns already pre ordained.

Both the CFNR debate and the CBC discussions are worth a review to get a bit of a glimpse into how the three candidates are approaching the issues of the campaign and where they part ways on some of the topics.

The two radio discussions also served as a bit of a primer for what will be the main event of Monday night at the Lester Centre, where some of the same themes will no doubt make their way into the discussion.

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Salmon Festival planning continues for June 9th event at Jim Ciccone Civic Centre

This year marks the fifth anniversary of what has become a popular introduction to summer with the Annual Salmon Festival set for the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on June 9th.

To get towards that Friday celebration however takes a fair bit of planning and the Salmon Festival Committee is currently taking applications for those that wish to participate in two elements of the day's events.

Cultural Groups interested in taking part in the day are asked to register by May 1st, application forms are available here, and are to be submitted to the Gitmaxmak'ay Nisga'a Dancers.

For those interested in participating in the Salmon Festival as a vendor, that deadline for applicants is also May 1st. The vendor permit registration form can be accessed here, Fees for the day are listed as 50 dollars per vendor table or 75 dollars for a food vendor.

To give you an idea as to what is in store for you when this year's event arrives June 9th, here's a look at what the 4th edition of the Salmon Festival delivered one year ago.

Updates on what's coming up this year can be found on the Salmon Festival Facebook page.

More items on Community Events can be found on our archive page.


2017's Grads to showcase their talent Friday night at the Lester Centre

The stage is abandoned at the moment, Friday night however will
bring a range of talent to the Lester Centre as part of the
2017 Grad Variety Show

The first sign of the upcoming Grad Season will be found this Friday night at the Lester Centre as the Grad Class for 2017 at Charles Hays Secondary showcase their talents with the annual Grad Variety Show.

The popular event highlights the range of artistic skills that Prince Rupert's young adults bring to the stage each year, with Dance, music, drama and comedy among some of the themes to be explored when the Show starts at 7:30 tomorrow night.

Doors open at 6:30 and advance tickets at ten dollars each are available at Cooks Jewellers. 

Those that wait for show time can get theirs for twelve dollars at the door.

The Grad Show serves as a reminder that the school year is nearing an end and it offers up one final chance to salute the class of 2017 before they take to the same stage in May to receive their diplomas and chart their course ahead for their post high school years.

More notes on Community events can be found on our archive page, while items related to School District 52 can be found in our Education archives.

City seeks requests for proposals on Moresby Park removal and improvement project


A request for proposals for the Moresby Improvement Project is now open
as the City looks to move forward with their plans to removal storage tanks
and piping systems in the Moresby park area.

A project first mentioned in October of 2015 is looking to see some momentum this summer as the City of Prince Rupert puts out to tender a request for proposals for removal of Bunker Oil tanks, pipelines and a Boiler room structure in the Moresby Park area.

The first indication of the city's interest in addressing the issue of the old oil storage tanks came with this press release from October 9, 2015, which provided a short overview of the situation and how the city planned to address what at the time was an environmental incident in the Moresby Park area

City Council received an overview of what would be required at the March 21, 2016 Council session as the City's Operations Manager Richard Pucci and Robert Grodecki of the Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society provided the thumbnail sketch of what the remediation project might look like and what avenues the City might approach towards moving forward with it.

That March review would make for the only mention of the project in a public session for 2016.

While the Bid process is now underway, Council has not to this point discussed the project in public session this year, nor have they issued any statements or updates as to how the project will progress and what kind of funding will be required to see the job done to completion.

As for the current bid process, it features three separate documents for consideration.

The Demolition of 3 Bunker C Storage Tanks

The condition of one of the storage bunkers designated for demolition
as part of the Moresby improvement project

The demolition of three, 5.5 million litre Bunker C tanks, removal of associated piping connections to the main distribution network, removal of any related infrastructure contained within an approximately 10 m radius of the outside wall of the tanks, removal of three concrete firewalls/blast walls (one per tank), and the treatment and disposal of all residual Bunker C and water contained in the tanks.


The Removal of Bunker C Tank piping


Some of the underground piping in place as part of the Moresby Park
Oil Tank system, it has been designated for removal as part of an
improvement project planned for the park


The removal of approximately 667 m of 300 mm diameter Fuel Oil Line and 970 m of 200 mm diameter Circulating Oil Line located between the firewalls/blast walls at each tank and the box culvert at the Boiler House. Further, it is anticipated that approximately 58,400 litres of Bunker C impacted water has accumulated in the distribution piping that will need to be treated and discharged prior to the removal of the piping. A third 200 mm diameter used for fire protection will be removed where it is located within the project limits. Any water contained in the fire protection water line is not considered to be impacted.


The Abatement and Removal Activities related to the Boiler House

The Old Boiler House in Moresby Park, as part of a plan to address
the issues of the storage tanks and pipelines, the Boiler House will see items
removed and the structure sealed to block access

Phase III of the Moresby Improvement Project (MIP) includes the abatement of hazardous materials in the Boiler House, removal of existing equipment, removal of piping, and the treatment and disposal of all residual Bunker C and water contained in the equipment and piping for the Boiler House. Following the completion of abatement and removal activities, the Boiler House is to be re-secured to prevent any un-authorized access.

As part of the request for proposals, the City will be hosting a mandatory site visit by interested parties on Monday April 24th.

The deadline for those interested in submitting a bid for the required work is May 16th at 2 PM.

The Schedule for the work ahead would see the contract awarded by May 29th, with the On site Demolition to be achieved by November 10th of this year.




You can review the full documentation for each of the projects from the BC bid website here.



All of the photos above, as well as a range of other documentation can be examined as part of the Bid packages attached to each job above.

You can review some of our past items on the theme below:

March 2016 -- Council to receive update on Moresby Fuel tank removal project tonight
October 2015 -- City to tackle environmental issues in Moresby Park

For more notes on the City's infrastructure project plans for the year see our archive page here.

Our archive of Discussion points from City Council sessions can be examined here.


New President installed at Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce



The  Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce held their changing of the guard on Wednesday, as the old executive exited the stage, with a new collective of leadership preparing to take on their roles to guide the Chamber through the next 365 days.

Leading the new executive will be Michelle Bryant-Gravelle, who was sworn in to her office on Wednesday and outlined her vision for the Chamber for the year ahead with a six minute address to the Chamber membership.

With a traditional welcome to open up her presentation, the newly installed President outlined some of her background and the path that has led her to the leadership role at the Chamber for the next year.

She spoke of equality for aboriginal residents and women and how that will come through conversation and engagement in the community.

Ms. Bryant-Gravelle made note of the changing face of Prince Rupert with the population now nearing a point where First Nations now make up fifty percent of the city's base and that it's important that people and businesses in Prince Rupert to recognize what comes with that change.

Adding that opinions, attitudes and perspectives must change and how the culture of the aboriginal people will change the way that we do business in the town. She observed how culture and economic development have to run parallel to each other

Noting that economic development is set to roar at a fast and aggressive pace, and with it culture has to be part of that change, with a clear understanding of the culture of the people of this territory, the Tsimshian, needs to happen at all levels of business.

She took note of the spirit of reconciliation, most recently found with the raising of a reconciliation pole at UBC in Vancouver and tied that event as a metaphor for how the Chamber will need to approach its work.

New Chamber President
Michelle Bryant-Gravelle addressed
the Chamber on Wednesday morning

(Photo from Linked In)
The New President also highlighted the growing membership of women as part of the Chamber and observed that there are now three First Nations members with the Chamber of Commerce Board, offering that up as an indication that the Chamber is no longer the "old boys club" as it was once perceived to be and how she is proud to be part of that change.

She also noted that the Chamber will be observing the June 21st Aboriginal Day as a statutory holiday in Prince Rupert, with the chamber offices to be closed that day in recognition and to allow staff to participate in the days events.

As the presentation came to a conclusion, Ms. Bryant-Gravelle reviewed some of the success of the Chamber in recent years, as well as the steady growth that it has found and observed that many other Chambers have contacted them to borrow some of the Rupert ideas.

She highlighted for the audience that the strength of the Chamber is in building relationships, whether it's within each member company with their employees, or to larger engagement with other companies in the community.

The President issued the call for local business owners to champion each others and promote and refer their customers to all the businesses in the community, adding that when one business thrives it allows others to thrive.

To better understand what's available in the community, she invited those in the audience to take the time to visit the store fronts in the city and talk up at least three businesses each week, by doing that she notes that the Chamber would see business grow.

To close off she outlined her enthusiasm for the year ahead and welcomed the remainder of the Board to their duties, thanked the staff at the Chamber, adding that she looks forward to working with all.

You can review her presentation from the Chamber Facebook page.

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce Class of 2017
(missing from photo Crystal Lorrette, Leah Jowe, Rosa Miller)

The New Executive for 2017 includes:

Michelle Bryant-Gravelle -- President
Dave McKeever -- Vice-President
Cyrstal Lorette -- 2nd Vice-President
Rosa Miller -- Treasurer

Leah Jowe  -- Northern Savings
Shelby Sullivan -- Pacific Northwest LNG/Sullivan Mechanical
Jamison Prystay -- DP World Prince Rupert
Carl Sampson -- Lax Kw'alaams Business Development
Irene Mills -- Nexen and Haida Jaada's Suds and Stuff
Carol Bulford -- Advantage Print and Design
Shannon Bahm -- Hecate Strait Employment Development Society

Keith Lambourne -- Past President

Photos and notes from the Wednesday event will soon be available on the Chamber Facebook page and website.

More notes related to the city's business scene can be found on our Commercial  Sector archive page.

There's Scrum High anticipation for Rugby season icebreaker


The test of a new season beckons for the Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby squad as they make plans for a Saturday showdown with Terrace, as they head down the highway for a 3PM match up with the Northmen.

This weekends first hit of the season, marks a return to competitive rugby for 2017 and an ambitious schedule of travel ahead as they return to the regular rotation of Northern BC rugby events as part of the Central Interior Rugby Union.

Next month the team makes the journey to Prince George, ready to do battle in what should be a high profile test for the 2017 season.

The Rupert team's return to the Northern collective is being welcomed in Prince George, where anticipation for the May 6th opener is already starting to ramp up.

Other events along the way this year include match ups with Williams Lake and more battles with Terrace, with the Rupert squad to host their own home dates through the six game schedule.

For the month of April, the Seamen have been working out at the all weather turf at Charles Hays Secondary, with practice sessions taking place Tuesday and Thursdays at 5 PM, with Sunday Scrums set for 3PM.

Once the weather improves and the field is ready, the team will shift over to their more familiar home of the natural turf surface at Prince Rupert Middle School.

Always on the look out for new talent, you can check out a practice session to see if Rugby is where you might find your sporting groove, or at least an opportunity to get involved in the growing Prince Rupert sports scene.

You can find out more about the team and their plans for 2017 from Prince Rupert Seamen Facebook Page.

As the season moves forward we will track some of the notes from the Seamen camp from our archive page here.

Sports: North Coast Rugby 2017

Our archive of Rugby on the North Coast, with a look at the Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby Club and notes on the Charles Hays Rugby Program.


Prince Rupert Seamen Facebook Page


May

May 7 -- Rugby nudity a traditional rite of passage
May 5 -- Gnats ready to host first rugby tournament (video)
May 5 -- Gnats back on rugby field today
May 4 -- Rugby Seamen head inland for Prince George tournament  NCR
May 2 -- Seamen struggle in preseason match

April


April 20 -- There's SCRUM High anticipation for Rugby season icebreaker   NCR

Provincial leaders square off this morning in radio debate

The first salvo in the battle of bombast that makes up a provincial election campaign will be heard this  morning just after 8:30 when the three leaders of the main BC political parties take to the airwaves from Vancouver's News 1130 studios.

It's the first head to head to head competition between Christy Clark, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver, as long time broadcaster Bill Good returns to the microphone for an extended tour to host the two and half hour and half discussion on the issues.

The radio debate runs from 8:30 to 11 AM and will live streamed across the province from the News 1130 website, it will also be broadcast on Vancouver's City TV which is available on Satellite TV in the Prince Rupert area.

As well for those that can't tune in live, the debate will be available for replay from the News 1130 YouTube Channel.

The Radio debate, is the first of two to come in the next week, with CKNW preparing for their own forum to explore the issues.

Both radio versions serve as the preamble to the April 26th Televised debate.

For more items related to the provincial election campaign see our BC election Digest on our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

Notes related to the North Coast election campaign can be reviewed on our North Coast Votes Archive page.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

North Pacific Cannery restoration job opportunities to be outlined at Thursday info session in Prince Rupert

With the Spring and Summer season for restoration now in motion, the planned work at the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site is about to get underway and that means that there are some job opportunities available for those who qualify.

The Port Edward historical site is looking for labourers to perform restoration and construction work on the Historic Main building of the site, the Reduction Plant, Working Dock and a number of residential units.

To participate in the work, potential workers must be EI eligible, or have been on employment insurance (EI) in the last five years. Basic carpentry skills and some tools are required for those that are selected to work on the site.

The length of the contract will take you through to mid December, with the contract lasting eight months, the start date for the projects will be April 24th.

The Working Dock at North Pacific Cannery Historical Site is just one
of a number of restoration projects scheduled for 2017 at the Port Edward site

To give would be applicants a better understanding of the work ahead, Steve Milium who is in charge of the restoration work at North Pacific will be hosting an information session on Thursday, April 20th at 1:30 at 125 Market Place, the Work BC employment Services Centre. 

That is the main office for the Hecate Strait Employment Development Society located behind the Prince Rupert Court House.

You can contact the Hecate Strait offices at 250-624-9498 to get more information about tomorrow's Information Session.

For more items related to the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site see our Tourism archive page here.

Capital funding and calendar approvals among SD52 meeting notes

SD52 held their monthly Board meeting last week and from that session a number of notes have been released from School District officials.

Planning for the 2017-18 Spring Break is now complete, after the Prince Rupert District Teachers' Union approved the changes required to the collective agreement that will enable for a two week Spring Break next year.

That marked the second year in a row that the Board has approved the two week Spring Break model and finalizes the calendar preparations for the year ahead.

In Capital Funding the School District approved $550,000 in funding for three projects to date, they include:

Roof Repairs for Conrad Street Elementary School
DDC upgrades and floor repairs at Lax Keen Elementary School

The School District also notes that the Ministry is considering urgent work required for Prince Rupert Middle School, the work required will ensure that the building can continue to operate until it is replaced. 

The anticipated work will include repairs to the roof, boilers and the school's electrical system.

SD52 took note of some of the urgent work required at PRMS to allow the
facility to remain in use until a replacement school is approved by the Ministry of Education

The School District also outlined the final details to their annual 2017-18 Budget noting that they have a budget surplus of 2 per cent, to be used as a reserve to address future operational issues.

As well an additional 2.6% is being held as a contingency fund for staffing if enrolment in the District increases by the time school resumes in September 2017.

The total expenses in the approved budget will come to $25,323,000, by approving the budget the Board agreed to both ongoing and one-time spending increases.

The District also has created a special purpose fund, to be known as the Classroom Enhancement Fund, which features $1,349,168 of Provincial funding to address the restoration of the class size and composition language from the teacher collective agreement.

From that $188,000 of the funds will be allocated to overhead coasts and will be used to restore a day shift custodian position and provide additional release time for principals.

As well, School Board Chair Tina Last made note of one time funding to be directed towards the implementation of the new curriculum and to support recruitment of more teachers.

“The Board has approved one-time funding in the budget to support schools in the implementation of the new curriculum and to support the recruitment of more teachers,” ...“On behalf of the Board I would like to thank our partner groups who provided valuable input in the budget process.”

Grant Funding was also a key element of the announcements from the April 11th session, among those notices were:

Student Learning Grant -- SD 52 will receive an estimated $99,000 from the Ministry of Education for the Student Learning Grant, a one time grant designed to support students in the new curriculum and to save parents money. As part of the grant funding, basic school supplies will be purchased for elementary and middle school students which will help reduce the cost for parents.

The remaining money from the fund will be used to support hands on learning in elementary, middle and secondary schools in the District.

As we outlined on the blog earlier this month, the School District has also received funding for Industrial Training supplies for both Charles Hays and Prince Rupert Middle School.

At the April 11th Session, Board Chair Last offered thanks for the work involved in securing that funding.

“The school district is very appreciative of the work by the district career coordinator, Sebastien Paquet and the Director of Operations, Dave Garcia, to gather the information required and ensure this grant application was submitted,”  ... “Our students will benefit from these new tools for many years.”

Youth Trades Grant -- The Industry Training Authority has approved a series of grants to upgrade tools in the shops at Charles Hays Secondary and Prince Rupert Middle School.

2017 -- $15,920
2018 -- $32,760
1019 -- $43,400

The final note on the Board meeting of last week reviewed the progress of a restoration project taking place at Charles Hays Secondary.

A look at the Before picture for the
1940's Police Car restoration project
taking place at CHSS

(photo from Prince Rupert Crimestoppers/
Lonnie Wishart photography)
Vice-Principal Carla Street and students Bren Stevenson and Sehjot Sahdra from CHSS provided a look at the work in progress on the restoration of a 1940's police car currently underway through the auto shop class.

The project is being documented by students in the media arts class who provided a sample of the chronicle of the car restoration to this point for the Board members .

Something which the SD52 officials greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm.

“It is exciting to see the collaboration between the shop class and the media arts class,” ... “The Board is looking forward to the day when this car will appear in the Seafest parade.”
-- SD52 Board Chair Tina Last

A glimpse at what the car looked like heading into the shop in February can be found from the Prince Rupert Crimestoppers Facebook page

A full overview of the April 11th School District session can be found here.

More items of note from School District 52 can be found on our archive page here.