A few of points on the map where Mayor, Council or Senior Staff have been so far in 2023 when it comes to civic travel
As we noted earlier today, Tuesday's City Council session provided for a travel update of sorts, with council members providing some notes on the recent NCLGA conference in Dawson Creek, as well as recently held meetings for Mayor Pond with Premier Eby.
A three day gathering of over more than 1,000 elected officials and Federation partners, designed to build connections, share notes on challenges facing municipal government and to seek out solutions from those who may offer the best path forward.
The updates from the Mayor and the volume of council sessions that are participated by remote methods since the start of the year, such as this week's session with participation by City Manager Rob Buchan from some undisclosed distant locale, all a testimony of sorts towards the number of trips that have taken place for a range of reasons and circumstances since the start of this council's time in office.
And while the travel tidbits and asides are a welcome shift in focus on transparency on travel by Council, the trend towards travel declarations could be expanded on somewhat with a relatively easy project, that for City Council to put in place a Travel Archive of sorts for the Civic website.
A one stop review of past and current travel events and an advisory as to where Council and senior staff may be today, that as they pursue our civic interests in locales beyond the Port Edward turnoff.
The concept doesn't need to be elaborate, a simple listing of our Mayor, six council members and the Senior Staff members who may have cause to be out of town on civic business at any give time of the week or month.
Residents shouldn't expect a listing of what was for breakfast and such, but at least some indication as to the cost for each transit once the full receipts come in.
The notes offering up a destination, a purpose for the travel, any cost to the city for the travels, or an indication that the travel was subsidized by a higher level of government. Something Mayor Pond noted just a few weeks ago when it came to the discussions related to the Resource Benefits Alliance.
If the trips have a reasonable civic purpose, it's doubtful that the public will have a problem with the travel. It's when there's no advisory that anyone is gone, or no report when they have come back, where questions may be raised.
An easily accessible, easily read checklist prominent on the city website would serve to put the travel budget into perspective for civic purposes.
What was a popular destination for those looking to explore some of the north coast wilderness has reopened to the public with, the Metlakatla First Nation announced the resumption of access to the Metlaktala Wilderness Trail.
The trail which was closed five years ago owing to damage from a sever wind storm has seen an extensive bit of work to bring it back to a standard where travellers can use it in safety.
The opening of the 8km trail, which winds along the shores north of the community, follows extensive engineering work to ensure the safety of the suspension bridges and work to clear out wind throw that had destroyed a portion of the pathway. Along with the suspension bridges, highlights of the trail include a viewing tower that offers a 360-degree view over the canopy, picnic sites along the coast, and various access points to beaches along the way.
A photo from this weeks reopening of the Metlakatla Wilderness Trail (from PRPA)
As we outlined earlier this week, Members of the Metlakatla First Nation celebrated the re-opening on Thursday and now the welcome is out for all in the region and visitors to the North Coast to come take a look at the remediation work.
“The Metlakatla Wilderness Trail highlights the beauty of the Coast Tsimshian Territory and offers an opportunity for all people to respectfully experience some of the natural areas that have sustained the Metlakatla First Nation for millennia. It is our hope that this trail will become a showcase piece for those spending time in the territory,” --Metlakatla Chief Harold Leighton.
The Work that went into the remediation efforts to re-open the trail was funded in part by the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Community Investment Fund with a $172,032 contribution, the Metlakatla Development Corporation (MDC) and Northern Development InitiativeTrust, all of whom recognize the outstanding recreation opportunity the Metlakatla Wilderness Trail provides.
“The Metlakatla Wilderness Trail is a world-class hiking experience that provides benefits well beyond outdoor adventure and breathtaking scenery by connecting users and visitors to the rich culture and values of Metlakatla First Nation. We are proud to collaborate together to restore this extraordinary recreational asset to enable greater recreational, cultural, and economic opportunities for Indigenous-led tourism and showcase one of the most beautiful places on the north coast,” -- Shaun Stevenson, President and CEO, Prince Rupert PortAuthority.
With the trail now back in service, the Metlaktla First Nation is making plans towards bringing visitors across the harbour to explore the Wilderness Trail.
In order to accommodate visitors who may wish to experience the trail but have no access to the area, the Metlakatla GoverningCouncil is providing a twice-weekly charter that will be limited to the first 20 hikers.
The Charter Service which will start on June 6 will leave the Metlakatla Ferry Dock below the Crest Hotel on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. and return from the dock in Metlakatla at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Those on the charter will be asked to sign in to ensure those on the trail can be tracked for safety purposes.
For hikers that may wish to explore the trail, some advice from the Metlakatla First Nation notes of the supplies you will require for your tip.
Please note that anyone hiking the trail is asked to bring water, food and any necessary supplies as there is no opportunity to purchase food, drinks or supplies once in the community of Metlakatla. As well, given the rich cultural history of the area, hikers are asked to be respectful of the trail and beaches and not remove any materials.
This weekend makes for a special event in Prince Rupert, with the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association and Prince Rupert Cancer Group joining together to welcome and host Kaleb Dahlgren to town.
A former Junior Hockey player who survived the Humboldt Broncos accident, Dahlgren who is also an author, will be in the city this weekend for a Play it Forward Event.
The former player and author of the book Crossroads, will be here to share his thoughts on the challenges in his life; from the impact of the tragedy of the accident to his navigation of life with Type 1 diabetes.
His presentation at the Highligner Hotel and Conference Centre on Saturday night the keynote address of a night with may speakers for the evening.
In addition to the speakers lined up for the event organizers note of the other actives planned for the Saturday event.
There will be a live auction, silent auction, dessert auction and appetizers provided by the amazing chefs at the Highliner Inn.
Together we will provide support to our local hospital as well as assist in supporting our hockey community.
Saturday nights event starts at 6PM at the Highliner Hotel and Conference Centre.
Tickets are available for purchase by the seat for $100 or for a table of ten for $1000.
Please contact us at email@example.com or Jen Silva at 250-600-7293 if you would like to purchase tickets!
On Sunday, PRMHA has arranged a special event for Minor hockey families in the community, with an invitation to return to the Highliner for a 10 AM session, to meet Kaleb and listen to his amazing story of resilience.
Councillor Barry Cunningham led off the review, he having arrived a day prior to the rest of the Prince Rupert delegation to take part in Northern health discussions, his account of the topics making note of some of his past concerns on health care in Prince Rupert and the need to continue to advocate for services locally.
From the first day, the City councillor outlined a suggestion he offered up to Northern Health and UNBC in Prince George and its northern campus locations to work towards filling staffing positions across the north.
"If students are coming from down south to take nursing courses or anything like that, they should be required to spend at least two or three years the North after they get their degree because they are taking seats from residents up north.
Ontario already has something like that in effect. So it would help with the number of nurses graduating actually staying in the North.
In the second day of the conference, Mr. Cunningham had opportunity to speak with Northern Health officials on the topic of hospital replacements, noting that Prince Rupert has now dropped to fourth in the listings for the Northwest.
"My concern was the replacement of our Prince Rupert Regional Hospital. Mills Memorial is number one, Bulkley Valley which is Smithers definitely has to be replaced, it's an old wood frame and it's in pathetic shape.
We, I understood through the last four years were going to be the third replacement hospital. We've now been pushed down to fourth and Wrinch, out of Hazelton has bumped up to number three.
Mr. Cunningham further outlined how he believed Prince Rupert could rise on the Northern Health list, that related to local issues at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.
"In the list of how they actually categorize the hospitals I think there is still movement for us. There's some definite issues at our hospital that they're trying to address, like water purification and things like this.
But it's the pipes in the walls and things like that that are going to be the problem. So even after they put in the water purification system, they're going to have to now test the water again because the water had lead in it before, you couldn't drink it.
And they were flushing the system constantly and things like this and if that still exists that will give us enough points to jump up"
He also noted how Prince Rupert was the oldest of the four, as well as the winter travel conditions that impact on health care in the region.
Another topic of concern was recruitment for Mills Memorial Hospital and how it could impact on Prince Rupert.
"We were told that they were going to recruit from outside of Northern Health but I'll believe that when I see it. Because you know, you can't stop a nurse or a doctor from leaving our hospital to go to another hospital and I don't think Northern Health will discourage anyone from doing that. So it's something that we're going to have to keep an eye on and we're still going to have to really push to have our hospital replaced on the future"
Councillor Teri Forster, who is a nurse in the community, observed as to some of the advantages that Prince Rupert has towards recruiting and retaining medical personnel in the community.
"It came up at NCLGA was people doing a lot of push for recruitment, which alienates the people that are currently here.
So part of how we're going to make sure that people aren't leaving to go to a new hospital is reminding them how great we are as neighbours to each other and all the benefits to living in our community.
Terrace might have a new hospital but they don't have all of us. So please thank a nurse or a health care worker because we don't need them leaving"
Mr. Pond expanded on Councillor Skelton-Morven's notes on the upcoming travel.
"With that, I'll just point out that Councillors Forster and Skelton-Morven are travelling to FCM in Toronto to represent the City, along with Dr. Buchan and we appreciate them doing that on our behalf"
Mayor Herb Pond also recounted some of the themes of the Peace Country event, noting of his attendance along with Councillors Forster, Cunningham and Doctor Buchan.
"Having been absent for some time and coming back into local government, one of my purposes was to go and see whether NCLGA was still relevant to what we're doing.
And I think others went with the same viewpoint. And I think all of us concluded, well I know all of us concluded because we had the discussion, that it is worthwhile.
There's probably some things we can do to make it even more worthwhile, but I think gathering with similar municipalities, similar size, similar issues very, very worthwhile
The Mayor also observed how delegates to the annual event are anxious to see Prince Rupert host an NCLGA convention in the near future.
"One of the things that overwhelmed us almost, was almost to a delegate they want us to host, we had to beat them off because they actually wanted us to host next year.
There's two drivers that I heard from that one, they just like coming to Rupert they want to do the seafood thing and all that sort of stuff.
But they also are people from communities whose products are moving through our port, whether that's grain, or energy, or whatever. And they've heard a great deal about what's going on, on the ground here and they want to see it first hand"
The Mayor noted that the city declined the opportunity to host in 2024 owing to staffing workload at the moment, but that some consideration could be given to a host role for NCLGA in 2025.
Councillor Cunningham observed an upcoming session that he has with the organization and how they are already looking to see a letter from the city towards the hosting opportunity.
Mr. Pond also noted of a series of meetings that he has had with the Premier since January.
"I had an opportunity to meet with Premier Eby, Doctor Buchan and I attended a meeting in Victoria while we were at NCLGA we got word that we had a meeting so my travel was detoured down to Victoria.
And this was a follow up meeting, to the meeting that we had had earlier with the Premier and so a chance to update him and I won't go into all the details of that.
But suffice to say that it's actually the seventh meeting I've had face to face with the Premier since the beginning of the year.
And this is all about continuing to pursue long term sustainable funding that will allow us to do things we need to do to support the industries that want to make their home here.
And allow us to be the kind of community where people actually want to come and live. Whether that's as simple as water pipes and new roads or expanded recreation facilities or trails as we heard earlier this evening"
The Mayor also offered up a short update on the work of the Regional Benefits Alliance and their ongoing work towards gaining a revenue stream from the Province related to local industry and resource development.
You can review the Council travelogue through the City's video archive starting at the one hour, fifteen minute mark.
One of the more successful fundraising efforts for the Canadian Cancer society is making its return to Prince Rupert this September, with the city once again making for the finish line for the Cops for Cancer Tour de North.
The 2023 plans were launched yesterday at a Prince George event which outlined the scope of this years Tour, with teams already shaping up along the Highway 16 corridor and beyond for this years travels.
The tour itself will depart Prince George on September 15th with the participants travelling Highway 16 for seven days, with rests each night in communities along the way. The Grand finale comes Friday with the last push into Prince Rupert on September 21st.
So far thirteen law enforcement officers, first responders and guest riders from communities across Northern British Columbia have signed on for the tour. The introductions to them to come through the summer, as well as the opportunity to support their efforts as part of their fundraising work.
2023 marks the 22nd edition of the Northern leg of the Cops for Cancer program one of four in the province.
The program one which has seen similar tours take place in BC and other provinces. The event is in support of the Canadian Cancer Society, with funds raised directed towards research into childhood cancer as well as to the recreation camp for children with Cancer, Camp Good Times.
The training for the tour officially started yesterday following the launch event at the Prince George detachment of the RCMP, from that session it was noted that from the northwest, participants will come from Smithers and Prince Rupert.
Among those listed in the opening day roster include:
Kasper Green (Prince Rupert Fire Rescue), Justin Preston (Smithers RCMP), Jacque Van Wyngaardt (Prince Rupert RCMP), Jordan Venditelli (Prince Rupert Fire Rescue)
Follow the Tour de North website for more information as the fundraising programs launch over the next few weeks. The fundraising goal for 2023 is 200,000 dollars.
The 2023 Salmon Festival opens at Noon hour today, making for two days of celebration of the Salmon in Prince Rupert
In just a few short hours, the doors to the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre will open to the popular annual celebration of the salmon, with the Gitmaxmak'ay Nisga'a Dancers and Society ready to welcome their guests to the 9th annual presentation of the Salmon Festival.
The event which is free to the public offers two days of events from Dancing to Drumming with participants coming to Prince Rupert from the Nass Valley, Haisla Nation, Haida Nation to join local groups in the celebrations.
Festival Organizer released the timetable for events over the next two days, to allow for some planning for those coming to town to follow their groups or take in those that have caught their interest.
The Aboriginal Head Start Centre on Prince Rupert Boulevard, one of a number of Child Care facilities in the city
As part of their initiative to improve the opportunities for the development of Day Care spaces in the community, Prince Rupert City Council took some steps towards changing the zoning bylaws towards where those facilities can locate to.
At their Tuesday Council Session, City Council members provided first and second readings towards a new Bylaw to permit Child Care Facilities in all Public Facilities Zones, waiving the need for a public hearing to the topic.
The Councillors work on the topic came following a report from City staff members Veronika Stewart and Myfannwy Pope that outlined the thinking behind the changes to the zoning regulations.
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In the past. Council has noted of the need for additional daycare options in the community, observing as to how it has been a key issue towards attracting professionals and other residents to relocate to the community.
Tuesday night's discussion to the topic found Council much in agreement towards that goal of more Daycare spaces.
Councillor Barry Cunningham did have some concerns towards a wide reaching roll out for the facilities.
"We need child care, we need it in a big way. My only concern with this is, opening up all residential areas to child care, especially if some people are talking about 24 hour child care centres.
And by opening up residential areas or two or three. Are we still going to be ale to have the neighbours have a say in their neighbourhood, whether they want a child care next door to their house or not.
Or with this change in the zoning, carte blanche"
In response, both Ms. Pope and Ms. Stewart observed that the province has overview on Day Care licensing, Ms. Stewart adding that the bylaw change would still allow for comment.
"As part of the zoning bylaw amendment folks could still come forward and make their opinions about potentially having childcare facilities in that RM, multi family residential zones known through that process
Councillor Wade Niesh was fully in support of the city's zoning ambitions for daycare.
"I think reality is that most child care centres are already in residential areas as it is and I would think that most are going to be small numbers of people, so I don't anticipate this being a big impact on most neighbourhoods.
And if it is, it's for a couple of minutes dropping off in the morning and a couple of minutes picking up at the end of the day,.
I wouldn't anticipate you know a child care centre where there's fifty or sixty kids or something where it's huge in a residential areas, so I have no issue with this"
Councillor Cunningham did note of his concerns over the potential for large scale operations if desired by a proponent, Councillor Adey countered that with an observation that he believed Provincial regulations provided for limits.
Councillor Niesh praised a local centre the Aboriginal Head Start on Prince Rupert Boulevard which has been successful in the community for years.
Councillor Skelton Morven also endorsed the plans by the city noting how it removed barriers in the community towards Child Care.
The full discussion of the topic can be reviewed from the City's Video archive starting at the 59 minute mark.
As part of Tuesday's session, Council members also reviewed a letter from Friendship House which is making its own plans for a Child Care centre in the near future. The City approving a request for a letter of support towards their plans.