Sunday, October 21, 2018

To the victors ... go the thank you statements!

With the campaign for Council now at an end, and the final results delivering the names of those that will take their place around the Council Chamber for the next four years, as those who were successful in last night balloting have offered up their thanks today.

The successful six taking to their social media platforms and information portals to offer up a few words on the campaign just finished and for some a look ahead to the task at hand.

A recap of last evenings ballot results can be found here.

From the top vote getter of the night, to the candidate who snared the last of the six seats on Council the Thank you notes can be reviewed below:
(click on each to enlarge)

Blair Mirau -- 2,221votes received

Barry Cunningham -- 2,133 votes received

Gurvinder Randhawa -- 1,841 votes received

Wade Niesh -- 1,811 votes received

Nick Adey -- 1,535 votes received

Reid Skelton-Morven -- 1,342 votes received

The two remaining candidates, Sarah Dantzer and Charmayne Carslon who came up short of the required votes to claim a seat for this time around, have yet to reflect on the last six weeks and their quest for a Council seat.

For a look back at the 2018 City Council campaign see our archive page here.

Blog Watching: Week ending October 21, 2018

Such is the thirst for some kind of urban renewal in the city's downtown core, that a land transaction between Northern Savings Credit Union and the owners of the decaying Dairy Queen building on Third and McBride became one of the most celebrated announcements in recent years.

Wednesday's news from Northern Savings quickly echoed across the city making it by far our most read item in many months.

Far far down the list to follow were themes on politics, with our notes on the escalating rhetoric over the Ridley Island Tax Agreement and some campaign endorsements from Mayor Lee Brain for incumbents registered much further down the list of five.

Joining those two stories in the category of interesting but not near as much as the prospect of a renovation or demolition of the DQ building, were our stories on the month end Rocky Horror Picture show film presentation at the Lester Centre and the start of the push for the Provincial referendum on a possible change in how we vote in BC.

This week, as they say in the real estate business it was all about location, location, locations and the speculation ahead on what Northern Savings will do with its newest acquisition, far and away the top story of the week, the month and the way things are going on the read count, maybe the year ...

One down, dozens to go! As Northern Savings purchases Dairy Queen building on McBride  --  What ever it's fate in the months to come, the purchase of the abandoned Dairy Queen Building in downtown Prince Rupert has been greeted with much excitement int he community, with this week's announcement of the purchase celebrated by local politicians and residents alike.  (posted October 17, 2018)

That article was followed by:

The Ridley Island Tax Agreement: Discussion ... Debate ... Duel?  -- Or maybe just some Disclosure!  --  The latest instalment of the increasingly heated view of the current tax sharing agreement between Prince Rupert and Port Edward is the call from some Prince Rupert politicians for a debate on the issue   (posted October 15, 2018

Lester Centre looks to add to Prince Rupert's Hallowe'en traditions with special showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show  -- If the ticket sales mirror the interest in our notes on the next big event at the Lester Centre, the seats should be filled to the back row with hundreds of Prince Rupert's Rocky Horror fans doing the time warp again    (posted October, 18, 2018)  

Referendum discussion set to heat up as mail in vote nears  -- It's clearly not been the focus of attention over the last few months, introduced as we started our summer vacations and now sidelined by the interest in municipal elections, but as we get closer to the arrival of our ballots in the mail, we may yet have to make some time to consider our options when it comes to the electoral reform vote due by the end of November. The discussion began to percolate in the Legislature once again, as we noted with our item on MLA Jennifer Rice's commentary on the week.  (posted October  15, 2018

Mayor Brain's endorsements largely irrelevant to your choices Saturday -- The final item of the top five puts the focus on the municipal election campaign that was decided last night, and while the results of the evening did deliver to the Mayor his preferences for part of the composition of the team to be assembled. The election was the verdict of that thirty percent of the eligible voters who cast a ballot as to who they wished to have represent them for the next four years.  (posted October 18, 2018)  

You can find our weekly Blog watching feature posted every Sunday morning by 9AM, making for a handy way to catch up to the week that was, at a leisurely weekend pace.

You can also review the full listings of the week just past from our Blog Archive index page found on the right hand side of the page.

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A daily review of the latest items on the blog can be delivered to your email in box, simply by entering your email address into the information bar, items posted to the blog will be delivered to your e-mail account each day.

You can find the link to that feature on the upper, right hand side of the blog. It can be found underneath the Follow the North Coast Review by Email indicator.

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching can be found here.

To view the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

Welcome to The Boys Club on Third Avenue West ... no Girls Allowed!

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced his first cabinet three years ago, he famously noted that the inclusion of fifty percent female participation in his cabinet was best stated with what became a catch phrase for the year of Because it's 2015.

When Mayor Lee Brain convenes the first City Council meeting for the new class of 2018 in November, he may have to turn to a different century for any bold declarations; as for the first time in decades, the new Prince Rupert council will not feature an elected female voice in the Chamber.

That shift in the composition of Council coming after the thirty percent who cast a ballot on Saturday sent an all male cast to the stage for what will now be a four year run of City Hall: Boys Club.

The verdict of the voters in this 2018 campaign was rather decisive, with the final council position eluding candidates Sarah Dantzer and Charmayne Carlson by 165  and 531 votes respectively.

Part of the shift might be attributed to such a low turnout at the voting booth, with roughly 70 percent of the eligible voters choosing to sit this one out; being able to make sure that your core group of supporters made it to the ballot box probably made for the difference between positions six, to seven or eight.

The change in the council dynamic makes for a startling turn of events however, for through the decades, electors in Prince Rupert have sent many strong female voices to civic office, as was seen most recently ten years ago.

To put the numbers into perspective, we need only travel back to the 2008 election which had a 41 percent voter turnout.

The voters of the day sending five women candidates to the Council chamber, with Joy Thorkelson, Shiela Gordon-Payne, Kathy Bedard, Anna Ashely and Gina Garon to join Nelson Kinney and Mayor Jack Mussalem to elected office.

The 2018 election has delivered a 180 degree turn from
the results from just ten years ago

(click to enlarge)

Ten years later, those results and the political advances that they represented have been reversed.

The list of the names of the past feature some of the legendary figures of Prince Rupert municipal politics, times that delivered strong willed advocates for any number of social causes.

Among just a few of the many notables:

Nora Arnold elected as Prince Rupert's first Mayor in 1947 and named Canada's woman of the year

Iona Campagnola a council member who went on to Federal success in the era of Trudeaumania taking a seat for the Liberals in the House of Commons in 1974, achieving a cabinet position in 1976.

Evelyn Basso a popular city council member who first was elected in 1974 and helped steer the city through a number of crisis situations and remains one of the longest serving council members in the city's history.

More recently there has been Joy Thorkelson who brought a passion for the North Coast fishery to her position, as well as to be an advocate for those who have been marginalized in the community.

And that's just a glimpse of the roster of many names that served on Council with distinction and had a significant impact on municipal government

In a bit of a historical twist, the first female elected to City Council was Mrs. Elizabeth Kirkpatrick elected to office in 1918, as RG Large observes in the first of his two encyclopedias of Prince Rupert  such was her dedication to elected office, that Mrs. Kirkpatrick also served on the School District Board at the same time as well. ...

Today, 100 years after Mrs. Kirkpatrick took office,  the next four years will return the Chamber to a Boys only membership.  With the history books for now recording that as her term expires on Monday, October 22nd, 2018,  Joy Thorkelson will have served as the last female member to sit in Council chambers.

You might have to check a calendar a few times over the next four years to see if we haven't somehow been transported back 101 years and to a return to a different era for politics when it comes to a gender balance in the City Council chamber.

Once the fall out from the 2018 campaign settles in, one imagines that more than a few residents will be waking up on Sunday and after reviewing the vote count of Saturday, may begin to think that the next election campaign can't arrive soon enough ...

For more notes of interest on Prince Rupert City Council see our archive page here.

Note: Some of our research notes have been culled from the works of RG Large: Gateway to Alaska Volumes 1 and 2, to get a full picture of the rich history of Prince Rupert, they are well worth a read and are available at the Prince Rupert Library.

More fascinating background on the history of the city can be found through the large volume of work of Phyllis Bowan and Dr. WBM Hick, who delivered a two volume set on the rise of the Port of Prince Rupert, Hay's Orphan and Canada's Pacific Gateway, both of which include some observations on the politics and atmosphere of the city over the decades.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Winds of change roar through Port Edward

With one of the slimmest of victories seen on the North Coast in many a year, Port Edward has a new mayor tonight, as Knut Bjorndal bested incumbent Dave Macdonald by just ten votes.

With Bjorndal receiving 113 votes, while the long serving Mayor Dave as he had become known as tallied 103.

The difference in the percentage of vote less than 4 percent, third place finisher Doug Larsen collected 20 votes or 6.4% of the vote.

There will be change on Port Edward Council as well,whlie three incumbents; Dan Franzen, James Brown and Christine MacKenzie returning to the District Hall.

They will be joined by Murray Kristoff,  a familiar face in the District who returns to the position he last held prior to 2014.

The results of Saturday night leave Grant Moore as the lone candidate out of the five person race for the four available seats.

In the Rural School District vote, incumbent Janet Beil will return to office, she received 124 votes compared to her challenger Joanne Dudoward who received 101 votes.

Port Edward's voting public were far more engaged in the electoral process than those living in Prince Rupert, with 239 ballots cast from a election pool of 387 eligible voters.  That makes for close to a 62 percent participation rate in the 2018 campaign.

The change in the roster at Port Edward Council comes as relations with their neighbours in Port Edward have hit a bit of rough patch, whether the newcomers will make for a shift in opinions from the District on the theme of the Ridley Island Tax agreement remains to be seen, though the theme of unity on topic did seem to be the approach that all the candidates were looking towards during the campaign.

For a look at some of the other notes of interest from the District see our archive page here.

Familiar faces return to School District Board, joined by two newcomers to the work ahead

There will be few changes to be found at the next School District 52 Board meeting after the 2018 vote count Saturday night, as all but one incumbent were returned to office, joined by two new names set to provide guidance over the next four years.

The 2018 vote totals saw Tina Last, Bart Kuntz, James Horne and Louisa Sanchez all find success in their re-election campaigns, with Kate Toye and Kristy Maier both resonating with voters to claim the final two positions.

The results leave Terri-Lynne Huddlestone as the lone incumbent not to return for another four year term.

The top vote getter was Ms. Toye who ran an energetic campaign and built upon her already known presence in education to valut to the top of the count listings with 1,838 votes.

Kristy Maier, who also ran a very engaged campaign found success as well, came up just under 1,100 votes when the ballots were counted.

The results of the rural race from Port Edward saw Janet Beil reelected to office, receiving 124 votes

The results mean that for the first time since 2015, the School District board will sit with a full complement of elected officials, after having spent the last three years down one member following the resignation of Judy Carlick-Pearson in her first term.

Many issues lay ahead for the new board of education, which will have to quickly jump into Budget preparation work and to steer ahead some long range planning for a replacement for the Prince Rupert Middle School. 

The School District will also have to try and find some common ground with the new Prince Rupert City Council as they look to sell the large parcel of land at the old Kanata school site, a process that saw one potential buyer walk away after a disagreement with the city over zoning requirements,

For a look at some of the items of note from School District 52 see our archive page here.

Prince Rupert voters return incumbents, send two newcomers to the Council chambers for the next four years

A sun filled day provided for some competition for the candidates seeking the votes of the public on Saturday, and judging by the vote totals the temptation to spend time outdoors seemed to win out over spending five minutes indoors to cast a ballot.

Just over 30 percent of Prince Rupert's 8,727 eligible voters cast a ballot in the 2018 Municipal election and the 2,913 ballots cast delivered a return of experienced council members and a pair of newcomers to the political scene on City Council.

As the vote totals were released just over an hour after the polls were closed, two themes loomed large.

The first Mayor Lee Brain would see his desire to keep the current Council team in place fulfilled, with all four incumbents returned to office.

Joining them will be two newcomers, both male, making City Hall a Boys Club for the next four years.

Below are the Results from the City vote totals, which are unofficial until the official results are published at a later date:

Blair Mirau 2,221
Barry Cunningham 2,133
Gurvinder Randhawa 1,841
Wade Niesh 1,811

Taking up seats to join the incumbents will be:

Nick Adey 1,535
Reid Skelton-Morven --  1,342

Filling out the remainder of the candidate listings were:

Sarah Dantzer 1,177
Charmayne Carlson -- 811

Those Prince Rupert residents that did exercise their democratic right faced low line ups and a smooth process to collect their ballot, fill it out in the style of a lottery ticket card and then to feed the voting machine with some helpful guidance from Election officials at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre Auditorium.

The Voting stats this year returned Prince Rupert to the levels last found in 2011 when only 35.3% of the eligible voters made it to the polling station.

At thirty 33.3% the 2018 election results will now be the benchmark for low vote totals over the last ten year.

At just over 33 percent, the 2018 election campaign will now mark
the lowest voter participation levels over the last ten years
(Click above to expand chart of results of previous three elections)

One reason perhaps for the lower turn out this year than four years ago, might have been the lack of a Mayoralty race, with Lee Brain acclaimed to office after no challengers submitted nomination papers for this years election period.

Without the interest of a marquee match up to top the ballot and create some interest, the council campaign at times struggled to gain some attention, competing as it did in the latter stages with the rather strenuous rhetorical commentary over the Ridley Island Tax Agreement, spurred on through Mayor Lee Brain's social media posts.

The insertion of that talking point in the final weeks of the Council race, seemed to steal a lot of the oxygen from the conversations on other issues that the candidates were trying to bring to life.

The returning incumbents will take care of the final duties of the current City Council membership on Monday evening, with the new class of 2018 to take up their work at the first Council session of November.

Over the next few days we'll explore more of the themes of the 2018 campaign and how the candidates both the successful and the disappointed have viewed the vote this year.

We will also keep an eye on the results and reviews of the Port Edward race and that of School District with separate items to call from those two races.

Links to results across the Northwest can be found from our preview item here.

To review the election campaign of 2018 see our archive page here.

To follow all of our notes on Prince Rupert Council see our Council Discussion archive page here.

MLA's Week: October 15-18, 2018

Having taken a week off for the Thanksgiving break, most MLA's were back to their desks and offices at the Legislature in Victoria this week.

The return to Legislative duties made for a busy week for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, with the MLA speaking to a range of topics from photo tourism in the Bella Coola Valley, to electoral reform and poverty, as well as to the remind MLA's and residents of the province of this week's Great BC Shakeout.

The focus for the week for Skeena MLA Ellis Ross appeared to that of the Kitimat area, where he spoke about the recent announcement that moves the LNG Canada terminal development towards the planning and construction stage.

Our look at the work week that just concluded, can be found below:

On the week, Ms Rice was listed six times  in the accounts of the sessions of the Legislature from October 15 to 18 .

Among her talking points on the week were themes of Poverty reduction, the upcoming referendum on the potential changes to the electoral system and to remind us of this years Great British Columbia Shake Out earthquake exercise.

Monday afternoon Ms. Rice was speaking to the details of the NDP government's Bill 39 which looks to address the issue of poverty in the province.

MLA Rice speaks to issues of Prince Rupert poverty in Bill 39 debate

Tuesday and Wednesday she joined in on the Legislature debate on the upcoming electoral reform referendum, calling up some past words from a former Liberal Premier to support her call for voters to consider a proportional representation model.

MLA Rice calls on the broadcasting ghost of Christy Clark to push for electoral reform

As we noted earlier in the week, Ms. Rice's observations on the referendum are significantly different from those of the MLA representing Skeena, Ellis Ross has often spoken in the past of his opposition to the way the the referendum process has been introduced.

With more referendum information arriving by mail at homes across the region daily, we explored both of their views on the topic on Monday.

Referendum discussion set to heat up as mail in vote nears

Wednesday Ms. Rice was also preparing residents of the province for the Great British Columbia Shake Out, previewing the event on Wednesday (1:55 PM from the Legislature archive), Thursday she served as the Great BC Shake Out Monitor for the Legislature, as the MLA's joined British Columbians province-wide in the exercise on earthquake safety

BC to Shake it out at 10:18 this morning

Ms. Rice began the week on Monday, with a statement of celebration about the growing photo tourism industry that has taken root in the Bella Coola Valley, with the MLA noting that the industry has seen its rise following the ban on trophy hunting of bears in the Central Coast area.

However, as we noted yesterday, while the North Coast MLA was highlighting that achievement in the region, she has yet to make comment or observation on another issue of note for the residents of the Bella Bella region.

Heiltsuk marine response concerns gain little reaction from North Coast MLA

The North Coast MLA is also a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, serving as the convener of that forum.

Transcripts of the work of the committee are available on the Legislature page for the Committee.

Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs


For our readers from the Terrace-Kitimat region, this week found no mention of Skeena MLA Ellis Ross for any work in the Legislature from October 15 to 18 .

From the flow of news out of the Terrace-Kitimat region this week, the bulk of Mr. Ross's attention seems to have been directed towards topics related to the recent LNG Canada announcement to move forward with their LNG shipment terminal in the Kitimat region.

MLA Ellis Ross says it's time to get to work to ensure the success of LNG

Mr. Ross is also a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives,

Transcripts of the work of that committee are available on the Legislature website

There is more background on the North Coast and Skeena MLA's available from our MLA's Week Archive  as well as our General Archives on the Legislature below:

North Coast constituency

Skeena and Stikine Constituencies

A larger overview of provincial issues can be found on our political portal D'Arcy McGee

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.