Saturday, May 21, 2022

MLA's Week: May 16-19, 2022

It was a rather light week for participation in the Legislature for the three MLA's of the Northwest, with Skeena's Ellis Ross gaining the most mentions, that through some committee work for the four days of work in Victoria.

All three MLA's were busy however  through their Social media feeds, with a range of themes explored and messages delivered through the week.

Some items of note from the week for the region included the addition of a new warning category for the provincial Alert Ready program

The government also called attention to its expansion of college housing opportunities for some parts of the province.

As for more on the recent week of work from the House, the four days unfolded as follows:


On the week, Ms Rice was not mentioned once  in the record for the week in the  Legislature from May 16-19

Through her constituency office and by way of Social media the MLA noted the observation by the province of the International Day Agains Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

As well, Ms. Rice did have some appearances in the community of interest this week however,  one found the MLA taking part in the ceremonies to officially open the new playground at Lax Kxeen School.

The North Coast MLA is also a member of the Following committees:

Ms. Rice serves as the Government's Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness

The North Coast MLA also addressed a range of themes through her Social Media Stream.


For our readers from the Terrace-Kitimat region, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross  was mentioned three times in the record for the week in the Legislature from May 16-19

Mr. Ross's work for the most part this week came through Committees, with the MLA speaking on Tuesday towards themes of the Government's Low Carbon Fuels Act.

He also provided for a introduction in the House Chamber on Thursday morning, paying tribute to his wife Tracey who was in attendance in the gallery

Like many of the Opposition Liberals, Mr. Ross picked up on some themes from last Friday from the Premier related to travel in the province amidst increasing gas prices

Mr. Ross serves as the Liberal critic on LNG and Energy

The Skeena MLA is also a member of the Following committees:

The Skeena MLA also addressed a range of themes  featured as part of the MLA's social media work.


For our readers from the Bulkley Valley area, Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen  was  mentioned once   in the record for the week in the  Legislature from May 16-19

That came through a statement in praise of the work of the UBCM, noting of the organizations current president, Laurey-Anne Roodenburg a City Council member from Quesnel who was in the chamber on the day.

He did however gain some notice for a number of  themes over the course of the week.

Mr. Cullen will soon be receiving a correspondence from Haida Gwaii, that after the community of Queen Charlotte voted to return the name of Queen Charlotte to the province and return to the ancestral Haida name for the community

Tuesday found the Minister for Municipal affairs making an announcement towards additional funding for libraries in BC

And Mr. Cullen was included as part of a statement hailing the latest step in the City of Prince Rupert Garbage/Recycling program

Mr. Cullen serves as the Government's Minister of Municipal Affairs

The Stikine MLA also had comments on a range of themes through his Social Media stream this week


There is more background on all three Regional MLA's available from our MLA's Week Archive,  as well as our constituency archives below:

MLA's now get a one week break from the Chamber, they return to the Legislature on Monday morning May 30th at 10AM

MLA's also participate in a number of Committee sessions scheduled through the week.

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

Friday, May 20, 2022

Lax Kxeen School playground gains some new attractions for new adventures

Kids large and small were enjoying the new playground at
Lax Kxeen School this week, with the project now complete the
Grand Opening took place on Thursday at the east side school
(Photo from PRPA)

The makeover for the Lax Kxeen Elementary School playground is complete, with the official opening for the improved space which features advanced accessible features celebrated this week.

School District 52 made note of the occasion as part of their Tuesday School Board session, with Superintendent Andrew Samoil updating the Board on the project and its opening plans for Thursday which would feature Marlene Clifton in attendance for the event, with drumming part of the day's program for the opening.

Also joining in on the celebrations is North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who shared some of her thoughts on the project through her Social Media stream  this morning

One of the partners with the School District in the schoolyard refresh program across the city is the Prince Rupert Port Authority. The Port has provided some of the funding through its Community Investment Fund towards building the new generation of safe play areas at elementary Schools across Prince Rupert.

You can retrace some of that investment through the last few years from our archive page here.

School District 52 offers up a full pictorial of the day's celebration here.

More items of note from SD52 can be explored here.

Canada's Air Travel security check in woes the topic for Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach in the House of Commons

"The situation at Canada's airports is a mess, massive lineups, missed flights, stress and anxiety for so many travellers, all this because the government loosened pandemic travel restrictions but didn't do the work necessary necessary to prepare our airports ... How is that this Ministrer of transport has been so woefully unprepared for travel" -- Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP  Taylor Bachrach on travel issues at the major Canadian airports

Those that have travelled by air through some of the nation's largest airports in recent weeks probably agree with the Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley.

Many of Canada's air travellers have come home with stories of endless lineups and lengthy delays in working their way through the Security Checkpoints at those airports, that as a result of some ongoing staffing challenges being faced by the service providers.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Union which represents more than 15,000 aviation employees in Canada, has put the situation on the employer, noting that they were unprepared for the return to travel and have asked the membership to do more with less while working in a very challenging situation.  

click to enlarge

The topic made for an item of note for Skeena Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach today, with the MP taking the issue for many Canadians to the House of Commons Question Period, directing his questions to the Minster of Transportation.

The Government's talking points on the situation facing CATSA which is the organization that provides security were rather light in response, other than to ask for patience of the travelling public.

Something that may be a little bit short in supply as the summer months approach and long delayed travel plans suddenly face new problems to intrude on summer getaways.

Also of concern for many is the continued problems for those who are looking to renews passports, with the Federal offices overwhelmed by the demand for passports and seemingly so short staffed that delays and reduced access to the offices has become part of that discussion as well.

More items of note from the Federal scene and the House of Commons can be reviewed here.

Shaking off some rust from a two year break from Cruise days, Tourism Prince Rupert excited for the year ahead

The Princess Cruise Line vessel Ruby Princess 
at Northland Terminal on Tuesday

With Day one in the books for the 2022 Cruise Ship season and a four busy few months ahead til the end of September, the North Coast Review checked in with Ceilidh Marlow the Executive Director for Tourism Prince Rupert this week, to see how the first visit went and what may be ahead for the year.

As for the inaugural visit on Tuesday for the Ruby Princess Ms. Marlow observed the following:

Tourism Prince Rupert was thrilled to welcome the Ruby Princess to Prince Rupert for its inaugural call on May 17th, 2022. It was an exciting day to welcome our first cruise ship since 2019, especially the first call of a brand new vessel to our community. 

The return of cruise is just one of many signals that the tourism sector is starting to be rebuilt in Prince Rupert after a difficult two seasons resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Towards the year ahead she noted of the partnership with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and their success in adding the Princess line vessel to the port call itinerary for 2022.

Together with our partners at the Port of Prince Rupert, we're excited to welcome international visitors once again via cruise. The addition of an additional 45,000 passengers to this season's original schedule is also very exciting and will mean significant economic benefits for local businesses and tour operators this summer. 

Ceilidh Marlow, far right, was one of a number of officials on hand
to welcome the Captain and crew of the Ruby Princess to 
Prince Rupert
(photo from PRPA)

When it comes to the Tuesday opening for the season, the Tourism Prince Rupert official noted of the enthusiasm of the Cruise Ambassadors and the Visitor Centre staff on the day, as well as that of the crew and passengers from the Ruby Princess.

Despite the weather, many cruise passengers we chatted with yesterday were excited to be in Prince Rupert and to learn about our local community's culture and heritage. The captain and crew also showed great enthusiasm for their first call to Prince Rupert and we look forward to building on that relationship going forward. 

In our Visitor Centre, many passengers were excited to learn about the area and find local restaurants, shops, and trails to explore. 

Out at the terminal, our fantastic volunteer cruise ambassadors provided advice, information, and helpful tips for the passengers as they disembarked.

The Ruby Princess returns to Northland Terminal on May 27th. 

With its next return and for those port calls that follow, Tourism Prince Rupert will be rolling out more information packages and tour products out for those visitors and the thousands of others that will come through the season on other vessels as part of the 43 port calls at the Northland facility this year.

In addition to the Cruise Ship season, the Tourism office is working on a number of information programs to provide a push towards marketing of the region for the upcoming summer season.

We'll explore that theme later next week.

Our look at the visit of the Ruby Princess can be reviewed here.

You can review more notes on Tourism from our twin archives below

COVID numbers continue to decline for most Northwest BC communities

BC CDC Data on COVID for May 8-14

The ebb and flow of COVID reports across the Northwest is one of mostly slight decreases or increases, with no significant surge recorded in a number of weeks  by Northern Health or the BC CDC

This week's report for the period of May 8-14 represents that theme well 

Terrace continues to the top the Northwest listings at 9 this week an increase of three from a week ago.

Haida Gwaii saw an increase from Zero last week to four for this period, a mark also reached by Burns Lake which doubled its count from last week from two to four

Prince Rupert found no change from its report, with 3 cases still the mark for the city.

The highest numbers listed in Northern British Columbia's continue to come from its largest community, with Prince George recording a case count of 39 in the period which is a decline from 48 last week.

The full review across the region for the week of May 8-14  from the BC CDC looks as follows:

Terrace --  9 cases
Haida Gwaii --  4 cases
Burns Lake --  4 cases
Prince Rupert -- 3 cases
Kitimat --  2 cases
Smithers -- cases
Upper Skeena --  1 case
Nechako --  1 case
Bella Coola Valley -- 1 case
Nisga'a Region -- 0 case
Snow Country-Stikine-Telegraph Creek --  0 cases
Central Coast --  0 cases

The Provincial Data Review looks as follows:

1,645 New Cases, with 540 hospitalized, 49 in Critical Care and 59 new deaths from COVID reported. The total number of deaths in BC since the start of the coronavirus is 3,398 to date.

There have been 369,202 cases of COVID recorded in the province since the arrival of the pandemic

As of May 19th the Province had administered 12,432,414 doses of COVID Vaccine in first, second or booster shots, with a fourth booster program for specific groups underway.

Thursday's provincial report lists  93 new cases of COVID for the Northern Health region for the reporting week. That makes for a total of 30,133 cases recorded since the start of the pandemic.

For the Northern Health Region in total as of Thursday, 23 patients are listed as in hospital, with  3 noted as in Critical Care, the Northern Health region recorded three new death this week, the Northern Health total of deaths attributed to COVID is listed as 344 since the start of the pandemic.

The  breakdown of hospitalizations by community in the Northern Health region is not included in the data release information.

COVID review for May 19
British Columbia wide 

COVID review for May 19
Northern Health Region

Also of note this week was an Independent report delivered to the province that outlined that notes that the Second Omicron wave is showing signs of having peaked in  British Columbia.

The larger BC CDC Data release is available here.

Past information statements on COVID and other notes on the Northwest response can be reviewed from our archive page


PRDTU puts emphasis on staffing, safety as SD52 Board considers budget options for June meeting

As we noted earlier this morning, School District 52 has pushed any decision on the 2022-23 budget down the road a bit to June, with June 2nd the date now set for the final decision making for the financial plans for the District in the year ahead.

The budget concerns didn't make for much in the way of discussion at the Regular May Board meeting held on Tuesday, though it did serve as a conversation piece later in the hour and a bit session, that with some comments from the Prince Rupert and District Teachers' Union President Gabriel Bureau.

Mr. Bureau noted of the lack of discussion on Budget themes on the evening and made note of some of the concerns of the membership when it comes to how the Board may be crafting its final budget plan.

"When you went through the information items, I didn't see anything related to consultation for Budget meeting and it's a little concerning for staff, staff wanted to know and like many other people do I'm sure about the Budget. And the implication it may have on starting Spring Staffing, which could be very problematic at some point"

In reply to some of those comments, Secretary-Treasurer Cam McIntyre observed how the Budget process will evolve over the next few weeks

"My understanding is, that parts of the spring staffing will need to proceed, there are many District's that don't approve their budget until June. And you know,  these will be very early in June that the Board will consider the budget and if there's something that needs to change as a result of that"

The PRDTU President followed up by noting of the process that is required for lay off notices and the impact missing that deadline it could have on the District.

"Lay off notice has to be taking place before June the1st, if someone gets laid off after spring staffing has started, that person did not know they would being laid off ... so what do they do?"

The Board received a report earlier this month at the Budget meeting of May 5th, that noted of the potential deficit of 800,000 dollars, with the Board to explore how they plan to address that amount as part of their June Budget session.

Many of the President's concerns have made for some notes for the membership through the PRDTU this week.

click to enlarge

You can review his full commentary for the Board from the SD52 Board video from Tuesday. 

The themes of Budget planing began with some notes from the Board Chair Kate Toye exploring a concept about what a future Budget process may look like; those were followed by some questions and observations towards the budget concerns from the PRDTU President. 

Ms. Toye's  themes on the future for the Budget process in 2022-23 begin at the one hour nine minute mark, Mr. Bureau's commentary and questions about the current budget process begin at the one hour fifteen minute mark.

A wider overview of the Tuesday Board session is available here.

More notes on Education can be explored through our archive page.

Prince Rupert RCMP introduce new Detachment Commander

After a lengthy period of time with a full time boss, the Prince Rupert
Detachment of the RCMP has a new Officer in Charge 

After a few years with temporary Officers in Charge, Policing in Prince Rupert now has a new name at the top of the depth chart, with the introduction today of Sergeant Gerald Walker to the community.

An information release from the City's Detachment on Sixth Avenue West notes of the arrival of the Sergeant and his wife Corporal Angela Spicer and their family, the newest members for the city's police force come by way of Lake Louise, Alberta.

Today's announcement also notes of a local connection to the region for the new OIC.

Sergeant Walker is no stranger to northern BC, having started his career with the RCMP back in 2001 in Prince George. Sgt. Walker also had roots to Prince Rupert from his mother having been born and raised here.

"After visiting family here while growing up, Prince Rupert has always been a place we wanted to call home. My family and I are excited to experience the community and opportunities it presents. I look forward to meeting with our partners and stakeholders, and working with my colleagues to provide the service this City deserves."  -- Sgt. Gerald Walker.

Prince Rupert's New OIC for the local detachment 
Sergeant Gerald Walker,  along with his wife Corporal Angela Spicer
and family have arrived in the city

(photo from Prince Rupert RCMP)

The career trajectory to Prince Rupert for the Sergeant comes from 21 years of service that included stops in the Yukon and Nunavut, 

The RCMP statement notes that Sgt. Walker brings a lot of experience with him in general duty functions, general investigation sections, major crime units, indigenous policing services and detachment management. 

You can learn more about the new OIC from this profile from the local detachment.

Now in place, the Sergeant will be the focus for much attention over the next few weeks, with City council noting earlier this month of hopes of a public session with the new Officer in Charge in the months ahead.

So far, the city has yet to offer the official welcome to Prince Rupert through their website or social media stream.

More notes on the work of Emergency Responders in the Northwest can be explored here.