Thursday, May 4, 2017

City Council Timeline: Monday, April 24, 2017

In the span of a minute and three seconds, and with only a mild rebuke from one council member, the city's tax bylaw and accompanying tax increase was put in place for 2017, making for one of a number of items addressed at the April 24th Council session.

The meeting, which made for another fairly short bit of civic discussion, lasating but 42 minutes, also saw Council members receive an application for a Seniors residence on the east side of the city, release some information from past closed meetings and approve the writing of letters of support for some community initiatives.

The also applauded the city's Operations Director for sourcing out another funding opportunity for the third phase of the city's waterline replacement program and addressed a local variance issue for a property in the community.

The evening wrapped up with the Mayor delivering some talking points on the challenges that face the city, calling attention to the city's work with the Resource Benefits Alliance to gain a better financial agreement with the province of British Columbia, as well as another reminder that the City will be looking towards Port Edward for a better share of local funds for some of the shared resources that the city hosts in the community such as the airport and recreation centre to name a few.

Council members also brought a few final items up for a short overview prior to the conclusion of the nights proceedings.

The evening was also a Committee of the Whole night, which offered up the chance for the public to raise any concerns with Council members, however no one appeared in Chamber last week to take advantage of that opportunity for civic engagement.

For some background on the items of note on the evening, the Agenda for the Regular Council session for April 24 can be reviewed here.

Prior to the 7 PM meeting, Council also had a Closed Session Scheduled for earlier in the day, the notice to close it to the public can be examined from the city website here.

Further information from our overview and placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city website.

In attendance April 24, 2017

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

Video Archive for April 24, 2017

( 0:00 -- 1:00 ) Committee of the Whole Session -- The Mayor outlined the Agenda for the Session. With no members of the public coming forward to raise any issues or concerns, Council then moved forward to the Regular Council session.

(1:00 -- 3:00) Regular Council Session -- The Mayor reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the Agenda while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

( 3:00 -- 8:00 ) Report from the Community Planner for a Development Variance permit for a property on 5th Avenue East -- Some background related to the request was provided. Councillor Thorkelson made some inquiries as to the nature of the planned renovations. Councillor Niesh, having discussed the issue with the applicant offered up some clarifications on the work that was taking place. Councillor Cunningham outlined that he had no concerns over the proposed plans. Council then voted to approve the request.

(8:00 -- 10:00 ) Report from the Director of Operations related to the Strategic Operations Fund -- Mr. Pucci provided an update on a fund proposal through the UBCM for capital improvements, with the Operations department looking to apply for funding for the Vern passage submarine line from that fund. Mayor Brain recapped the progress to this point on the city's waterline projects and how accessing this funding would be the final piece of the puzzle. He also congratulated Mr. Pucci in finding the funding opportunity. Councillor Thorkelson inquired as to how much the submarine cable might cost and if the fund would cover that requirement, she was advised that it wasn't expected to exceed six million dollars.

Council voted to approved that request.

( 10:00-11:00 ) Correspondences for Action 

The first was a letter from Northwest Community College seeking support for a defibrilation pad program. Council approved the request for support.

The second was a request to have the City lower the flag at City Hall as part of a National day of mourning for occupational safety. Council approved that request.

( 11:00 --12:00 ) Announcements from Closed meetings

The city's financial officer outlined the announcements from previous closed sessions of council.

The First was to announce the appointment of Mr. Alexander Hembroff to a two year term of the Performing Arts Centre Board.

The Second announcement noted that the City had appointed for a term of two years Mr. Rory Mandryk, Mr. Richard Pucci, Mr. Paul Venditelli and Mr. Cody Smith for the outgoing vacancies on the Prince Rupert Airport Board. Mr. Venditelli has been appointed to the Chair.


12:00 -- 19:30 Report from the City planner on the nature of a proposed Senior's Housing project for the Eighth Avenue East and Green street area of the city. -- Mr. Krekic offered up some background on the proposed development and explored the required change for zoning related to the property.

Councillors Mirau and Thorkelson inquired about parking options related to the proposed development. While Councillor Randhawa asked about any traffic concerns that might be required for the development.

Mayor Brain expressed his enthusiasm for the proposed development as it moves through the process.

The motion to provide first reading to the proposed Quality of Life Official and community plan amendment was approved.

19:30 -- 25:00 Report from City's Chief Financial Officer related to the City's Five Year Financial Plan -- Prior to discussion of the report, Councillor Mirau raised a question on the process in place for calling special meetings and how the financial plan could have been conducted during the prior regular meeting. The Mayor observed that the time constraints of the process made for scheduling conflicts, with Ms. Bomben weighing in that the BC assessment final numbers coming in as they did had required the pause to have the full range of financial information available.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up an observation on the Five Year Plan that she believes the public shout be aware of, noting that a part of the documentation provided how the municipal property taxes only raise 26 percent of the city's revenue, with user fees taking another 26 percent, while the dividend from Prince Rupert Legacy is twelve percent. She observed that as that Legacy Fund is used up, the city could again find problems in funding any kind of infrastructure work and that they will have to continue to find ways to access more revenue streams for the city's infrastructure needs. She pointed to areas such as Ridley Island and Port Edward that companies may be locating at and how they should provide their fair share to Prince Rupert to help out with the city's services and infrastructure issues.

( 25:00 -- 26:03 ) Report from the City's Financial Officer related to the 2017 Property Tax Bylaw  -- Councillor Randhawa led off the discussion on the Tax Bylaw recounting his concerns over the tax burden already in place on residents in the city, particularly those on fixed incomes, calling the tax increase this time too high.

With no other discussion, Council voted to adopt the 2017 Property Tax Bylaw.

 ( 26:03  -- 42:00  ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Mayor Brain delivered the first of two reports to Council, his first an overview of the latest developments related to the work of the Northwest Resource Benefits Alliance and their attempts to enter into a negotiation with the province related to resource or industrial development in Northwest British Columbia. The Mayor outlined some of the frustrations that the 21 communities in the alliance have found with the government's approach and how they are seeking a better share of those revenues to address local concerns. He noted that the community leaders across the northwest have made the topic for the current provincial election campaign and outlined the pride he and Council are taking from their participation in the initiative. Councillor Cunningham observed as to how the program that exists in the Northeast works and how it has provided for financial assistance on issues of infrastructure in those communities.

Mayor Brain's second topic for Council members recounted his presentation to the Chamber of Commerce related to the current situation when it comes to the loss financial revenues through the Port property tax situation and the need to transfer Ridley Island money to Port Edward. The Mayor noted that the issues have provided for the city to continue to be a tax bind. He observed that the city is currently in a renegotiation with Port Edward related to the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement to reconsider how that is structured, he also outlined how the city is looking to have Port Edward pay for shared services that they don't currently pay for, such as the airport costs, or airport ferry, library or recreation centre. He outlined how in other communities such as Terrace outlying communities do provide some funding for such things. The current system that Prince Rupert faces is one which leaves the city losing some 1.2 million dollars annually and growing, money that they could use for other elements of the city's requirements. Calling it an unfair situation, the Mayor observed that the City is simply looking for fairness.

Councillor Thorkelson reminded Council and the city's residents that there would be a presentation related to the McKay Street project on Tuesday, on the theme of the Mayor's presentations she outlined how the city had decided to put forward questions to the candidates on those themes to gain information from the the three residents contesting the provincial election.

Mayor Brain offered up some thoughts on the McKay Street park project, which he noted was hosted by Transition Prince Rupert who will be providing the final design for public review at Northwest Community College. Plans for a public fundraising project to deliver that project will be outlined as the process moves forward.

Councillor Cunningham had questions for staff related to parking at Rushbrook Floats for handicapped residents, he also looked for a follow up on the issue of nuisance bylaws related to home based grow ops in the community.

He also drew attention to some of the unsightly buildings in the community and wondered if the city could contact the owners to try and improve their appearance.

Mr. Long observed that the for the noxious odours issue the city is letting the RCMP determine what action may be required before taking further action, as for the unsightly premises, he noted that the city doesn't have anything in the budget and that all that the city has is moral suasion to try and convince the owners to do it on their own, noting that they don't have any bylaws in place with any teeth unless there is a health and safety issue involved.

The Mayor observed that the City may wish to send letters to the owners to encourage them to clean up the appearance of their buildings. He noted that the city hasn't had much pride since the mill closed and that there is a need to revitalize the town and that building owners should care about their investments in the city.

On that theme, Councillor Cunningham suggested that Council should give some consideration to creating a bylaw that has some teeth to address the issue.

And with those contributions complete, the evening's session came to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for April 24 here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, if any, can be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

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

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

The next regularly scheduled Council session, takes place on May 8th.

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