Sunday, May 26, 2019

Blog Watching: Week ending May 26, 2019

The latest notes related to the ongoing, at time rhetorically charged dispute between Prince Rupert and Port Edward over the bounty of revenues from the Ridley Island Tax Agreement topped our weekly review, with the topic having now been brought to the Provincial government level.

Though as North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice indicated this week, the call from Prince Rupert for the District of Port Edward to be de-incorporated is unlikely to be acted on by Victoria.

Other items of note this week included the opening for the AltaGas Terminal at Ridley Island, which saw its first shipment of LPG make its way to Asian markets.

Word quickly spread this week about the passing of a familiar name in the fishing industry, as the City of Prince Rupert lowered the flag at City Hall in memory of Paddy Greene who in addition to decades in the fishery, also served two terms of office as a city councillor.

Prince Rupert's Middle School Band has been on the road for much of the last week, with Musical Director Kristy Tillman taking the PRMS group on a tour of the Edmonton area.

And the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal in Prince Rupert once again has been a news highlight, this time around as those US Customs And Border Service calls for armed back up for their work in Prince Rupert, calling for the service to be terminated to the city if their call is not heeded.

However the top story of the week returns us to the long running dispute between Prince Rupert and Port Edward, as the City of Prince Rupert ramps up their pressure to try and get a rewrite on the agreement with the District.

City of Prince Rupert call for de-incorporation of Port Edward not gaining much traction with the province -- North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice made some of her first public comments on the ongoing dispute over Ridley Island Tax Sharing between Prince Rupert and Port Edward, noting that a call for the de-incorporation of the District of Port Ed probably is not going to be acted on by the province (posted May 24 , 2019)

That article was followed by:

"On time, On Budget"  ... AltaGas hails terminal completion as first shipment of Liquid Propane Gas set to depart Ridley Island tomorrow -- The latest industrial footprint on the Prince Rupert waterfront opened for business this week, as AltaGas began shipping LPG to Asian markets.      (posted May 20, 2019)

City lowers flag, pays tribute at passing of former Councillor Paddy Greene -- With the passing of Paddy Green this week, the City of Prince Rupert paid its respects with a flag lowering for the Long time fixture on the Prince Rupert waterfront and two term council member of the nineties.   (posted  May 21  , 2019)

PRMS Band mix music and the sights on Edmonton tour  --  PRMS Music Director and her travelling band of Middle School musicians have been exploring all that the Alberta capital has to offer, including some stops at the highly regarded music program at Grant McEwan University    (posted  May  22, 2019)

Security concerns the latest item of note for the fate of Alaska Ferry Terminal in Prince Rupert  -- The US Border and Protection Service has served notice on the Alaska Marine Highway System that unless they have armed backup at the Prince Rupert Terminal they will be calling for the end of service to the northern terminus of the Ferry service.    (posted May 20, 2019)

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.

For those looking for updates to items as they are posted to the blog, don't forget about our email alert access.

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

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

As well, those who use Twitter can get updates as we post new items from our twitter feed

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching can be found here.

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

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP select Taylor Bachrach to lead them into the fall election

Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach addressing the NDP faithful in Thornhill
on Saturday afternoon, having claimed the nomination
for Skeena-Bulkley Valley on just one ballot
(photo fro S-BV NDP Facebook feed)

"We have so much to fight for in Skeena-Bulkley Valley, the Northwest is such a rich and important part of the world, I see my role as a candidate and hopefully as your MP being to help translate for the rest of Canada what this place is about and what it means. And I can't do that by myself, because I only know a small part of it, I need you to help me with that process of letting people in Ottawa and letting people all across Canada understand the heart and soul of Northwestern BC" -- From Taylor Bachrach's acceptance speech at Saturday's NDP nomination meeting 

After a two month campaign of visits to communities along the Highway 16 corridor, the four candidates awaited their fate in Thornhill this afternoon, as the final balloting for the NDP in Skeena-Bulkley Valley delivered the candidate to lead the party faithful towards the October election.

With but one ballot required, Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach claimed the nomination, receiving the endorsement of 446 voters of the party, the next closest challenger was Anita McPhee who received the vote of 191 NDP members .

Rounding out the four that were in the race, were Greg Brown who received 151 votes on the day, while Amanda Ramsey gained nine votes, voting took place by mail in ballot, online balloting on Friday and the paper count at the Northwest Trades and Employment Training Centre in Thornhill.

In his comments, Bachrach paid tribute to the members of the party across the region who shared their comments and concerns with him through the two months of the nomination process.

He recounted some of his past election campaigns first in Telkwa, then in Smithers, while thanking his family and those on his team that helped him through the campaign.

He also hailed the hard work of the three other candidates in the race, first noting his long association with  Mr. Brown in Smithers, as well, he called on Ms. McPhee and Ms. Ramsey to help during the upcoming election campaign.

The new nominee also pointed out the work of many that were involved in the process, both on his team and as part of the party during the last two months to make for a successful nomination period.

Turning to the upcoming federal election campaign, Mr. Bachrach observed how the party has to get to work to keep the riding in NDP hands, celebrating the fifteen years of leadership from the outgoing MP Nathan Cullen, while preparing the delegates to the nomination meeting for the work ahead.

The Skeena Bulkley Valley NDP posted a video of the final announcement and the comments of the successful candidate Mr. Bachrach.

The newly nominated NDP candidate joins two other declared contenders for the fall election to this point, with the Conservatives having selected Claire Rattée earlier this year, while the Christian Heritage Party will once again send Rod Taylor into the electoral battle.

So far the Liberal Party and Green Party have not indicated who their candidates will be, nor have the range of smaller parties that usually make an entrance during the election campaign, mainly to raise awareness of any number of issues.

You can keep up to date on the path towards the fall vote from our archive page here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Jail or Bail ... only you can decide! CIBC hosts Relay for Life Fundraiser

To the cells they go ... Prince Rupert has seen a parade of people heading
to incarceration today at the CIBC part of the annual Jail and Bail
fundraiser hosted by the Prince Rupert branch

Pedestrians passing by the CIBC branch at the corner of Fulton and Third Avenue West today had some hard thinking to do, passing by a temporary cell that included some of the city's once famous faces, now incarcerated in infamy ... all of it for a good cause.

The CIBC is hosting their Annual Jail and Bail fund raiser for the Relay for Life and all morning and into the afternoon the CIBC's temporary (they hope) guests were doing the perp walk to cells, guilty of any number of crimes, real or imagined.

Their only chance for freedom a cell phone that gave them hope that friends, family and maybe even some strangers might help them make bail.

Among some of those to show up in custody were MLA Jennifer Rice who was facing charges Because Terrace is getting a new Hospital and Prince Rupert is not

(Photo from Ms Rice's twitter feed)

(City of Prince Rupert Facebook photo)

Also sharing jail time with the MLA was the City of Prince Rupert's Communications Manager Veronika Stewart. as well as Gitmaxmak'ay Nisga'a Society CEO and City Councillor Blair Mirau, the latter incarcerated for "too much boyish charm".

There's still time for you to have someone arrested, call the Jail and Bail hotline at 250-615-8565

You can stop by the CIBC this afternoon to check out the latest Rogues Gallery of the incarcerated and offer up some assistance towards the Relay for Life.

This years event takes place tomorrow starting at 10AM at the Prince Rupert Middle School Field, so far participants are half the way towards their goal of 60,000 dollars.

Find out more about the Relay for Life from the Relay website or Facebook page 

Just like that! The shiny bauble of yesterday can become the discarded toy for tomorrow ... ask the Recreation Department

After close to ten years, the City of Prince Rupert's experience
with a Green Gym has come to an end with the equipment recently
removed from the front  Recreation Centre 

It's a tale right out of the movie Toy Story, with the City of Prince Rupert clearing out the once upon a time out door exercise area directly in front of the Civic Centre.

Much like the once popular toys of the past get put aside in an old box, the equipment from the city's Green Gym recreation site has now been tossed to the back of the city's recreation complex, piled up to the side awaiting perhaps faces an even worse fate.

Though to be fair to the City and its recreation department, the era of outdoor participatory workouts never really did become that popular in Prince Rupert, a location where the usual weather patterns tend to dissuade one from a lengthy outdoor workout.

So far, the City of Prince Rupert has not posted any public notice to the wide range of information portals that it operates to indicate the details of the decision.

City of Prince Rupert website
City of Prince Rupert Facebook page
City of Prince Rupert Recreation department

A number of media outlets have noted that the reason behind the closure of the outdoor gym was a less than positive inspection which had indicated that significant repair and maintenance was required for the equipment, something that the city did not wish to take on.

There has also been no mention of the equipment, or any decision to remove it from the recreation centre from any of the member of City Council.

The outdoor gym was introduced to the community in October of 2009, making its debut at the start of the region's rainy season and the elements did tend to have an impact on its usage over the years, with the sixteen pieces of equipment more or less morphing into a playground as time moved forward, something that may have been an indication that the city might have required a few more playgrounds for the youth around the city.

As we took note of last year on the blog, the site had seen its use decline since the early days of its launch, with the original use as an exercise area more or less abandoned, the park  itself note even destined to celebrate its tenth anniversary.

Some of the equipment of the outdoor exercise in a photo from earlier
this year, the little equipment has now been removed by the city

The project which was officially known as the McClymont Park Green Gym Fitness Park was initiated by then Recreation Director Michael Curnes, who brought the concept to town as part of the city's commitment towards Active Communities.

Mr. Curnes himself didn't have much time to get in any workouts at the new outdoor gym, he changed jobs in the spring of 2010, leaving the city to move to Northern Health, before eventually moving away from the community.

The city has provided no indication as of yet whether they have any other plans for the former location of the Fitness Park, or if the area will just be returned to its once former status as a grassy part of the landscape of the Recreation complex.

For more items of note from the City of Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

ILWU reportedly set to act on strike mandate with job action at two Vancouver terminals on Monday

The shipping industry in British Columbia is bracing for some labour troubles with word out of Vancouver that the International Longshore Workers Union will be taking strike action on Monday at two Vancouver terminals.

A strike notice that was leaked to the Vancouver Sun indicates that Deltaport and Vanterm container terminals, both operated by Global Container Terminals will be the first location for the job action which will be to support the unions call for progress in federally mediated contact talks with the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association which represents shipping interests in the province.

One of the key issues in this round of negotiations is said to be the looming prospect of automation on the docks of the province and the potential for job losses that it may bring.

Delta Port in the Vancouver area is one of two potential strike targets
for Monday morning as contract negotiations between
the ILWU and BCMEA appear to be stalling

The disruption of the two sites in Vancouver will have a significant impact on container operations out of the Vancouver gateway, Monday's job action will take up to 2,000 longshore workers off the job in the Lower mainland. 

There is no indication yet as to what effect the Vancouver move may have on the rest of the province including operations in Prince Rupert.

At some point however, one might imagine that allowing some ports to remain open, while others are behind picket lines may make for a change of strategy. Should no progress be found at the negotiating table in the days or weeks to come,  the various terminals across the province may see a complete coast long shutdown should the dispute move forward.

As we outlined on the blog earlier this month, the ILWU negotiating team was given a strong mandate for strike action if required, with over 98 percent of the membership who cast a vote giving their approval to a walkout if the union called for one.

More notes on the ongoing labour dispute can be found from our archive page.

City of Prince Rupert call for de-incorporation of Port Edward not gaining much traction with the Province

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has weighed in on the topic of the ongoing dispute over the Ridley Island Tax Sharing agreement between Prince Rupert and Port Edward.

As the MLA  provides a rather instructive glimpse into how the provincial government is viewing the increasingly nasty spat between the two communities that are part of her constituency.

In an interview with CFTK's Brittany Webster this week, Ms Rice made note that a recent request by Mayor Lee Brain that Port Edward should be de-incorporated has not  made much headway with the province.

With the MLA observing that province will only support that call, when a community indicates that it wants to de-incorporate or amalgamate with a neighbouring community and that is rare that the province would act to force communities to do so if they didn't wish to do so.

For its part, the District has strongly affirmed for the province that they have no such desire to de-incorporate or become part of a larger Prince Rupert municipality.

Ms. Rice also noted that she has held numerous meetings with Selina Robinson the Minister of Municipal Affairs, with the Minister well aware of the situation between the two communities.

As part of her comments for the TV station, Ms. Rice added that there is not likely to be any kind of a resolution to the situation until "people are a little bit more calm and rational in the process"

You can review the full interview here.

While the issue once again became a heated one during the last municipal election campaign Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain has not spoken much publicly on the Ridley Dispute in recent months.

As we noted yesterday, the Ridley Tax issue also did not make for part of the Mayor's annual letter to residents that accompanies the city's annual tax notice.

And other than in passing as part of the narrative to the budget discussions, the topic has not been raised in any detail during any of the Public Prince Rupert City Council sessions this year.

As well neither Mr. Brain, nor any member of City Council, has yet to this point, provided for any public comment on the reports of the city's letter calling for the District of Port Edward to de-incorporate or be forced to amalgamate with the city.

The contentious issue has also not been part of the prolific social media flow of the Mayor's Facebook page.   A portal which of late, seems to be mostly a relay station for some of the many favourable themes of interest on civic governance from the weekly newspaper.

You can review some of the recent history to the dispute below:

April 17 -- The bully boys of Third Avenue West?
March 29 -- Money for Diana Lake, promise of update on Ridley Tax Dispute among notes from Port Edward update
March 22 -- And then they rode ... Mayor Brain and Council take tour of Watson/Ridley Industrial sites
March 15 -- Temperatures on the rise over Ridley Island Tax Dispute
March 8 -- Some unfinished updates for Prince Rupert City Council to take care of ...
March 5 -- Budget engagement includes online presentation of Five Year Financial Plan
February 28 -- Bomben's Budget Blue Print, Council comments both point to increased confidence in city's financial results

To refresh our memories on the nature of the long running and now somewhat acrimonious dispute, let's hop into the time machine for a review.

October 2018 -- The Prince Rupert City Council Forum: Eight variations of a similar theme
September 2018 -- The Victory speech he won't have to make: Mayor Brain's Northern View podcast moments 
September 2018 -- Ridley Island Tax issues with Port Edward remain a concern for City officials
June 2018 -- Annual Report presentation channels many of the Hays 2.0 themes
June 2018 -- Partnerships and Solutions part of the focus for City of Prince Rupert's 2017 Annual Report
May 2018 -- In your mailbox this week ... your 2018 Property Tax Bills
May 2018 -- City releases notes on recent audit of 2017 finances
April 2018 -- Small Business Committee Report finds common ground with many City Council initiatives
April 2018 -- City's Small Business advisory committee to deliver report to Council tonight
March 2018 -- In final year of their mandate, City Council's list of feuds continues to grow
March 2018 -- City's Budget Presentation now available online; providing City's message along with a review of revenues, expenses and taxation loads
March 2018 -- Some rumblings of discontent from one of the BC NDP's most loyal constituencies
February 2018 -- Budget preview charts course towards public consultation period in Prince Rupert
February 2018 -- Council members to receive Chief Financial Officer's 2018 fiscal blue print tonight

June 2017 -- City's Annual Report available online; public comment session set for June 26th
June 2017 -- City's tax notices make their journey to your mailbox this week
May 2017 -- Prince Rupert City Council's election Quiz
March 2017 -- Familiar themes and a mill rate increase mark Budget Presentation to council

Back in 2016 the District did offer up a different interpretation when it comes to the Service Agreement and noted at the time, that they were planning to  seek out a legal opinion on the Tax Agreement prior to any further discussions with the City of Prince Rupert.

For more items of note related to the District of Port Edward see our archive page here, while a similar archive for City of Prince Rupert notes can be found here.

A look at the work of the North Coast MLA in Victoria can be reviewed here.

Coast Mountain College members among those to ratify new 3 year deal with the province

The Provincial government is hailing some success at the post secondary bargaining table this week, taking note of five new labour agreements that have been ratified by union membership, including 155 members in the Northwest.

The contract agreements are between the Ministry and members of the BCGEU Vocational Faculty, with a general wage increase of 2 percent per year and a three year term carrying through to March 31, 2022 making for the headlines of the agreement.

In addition to the financial terms, representative for the 155 members of BCGEU Local 172 at Coast Mountain College negotiated to establish a fund to provide support to faculty, either individually or as groups, to plan and undertake innovative projects that lead to improvements in the student experience and program sustainability.

The contract agreement was part of the Sustainable Services Mandate, the mandate is consistent with B.C.’s commitment to balanced budgets and sound fiscal management. Currently, there are more than 217,000 unionized public-sector employees covered by tentative or ratified agreements reached under the mandate.

You can learn more about the agreement here.

For more items of note related to post secondary education see our archive page here.