Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Latest BC CDC weekly count provides continued good news for Prince Rupert and Northwest

Prince Rupert continues to sit just one mark away from a return to Zero, with today's BC CDC weekly review noting of just one case of COVID for the city for the period of May 2-8. 

The results a continuation of the remarkable turnaround of the COVID situation since the mass vaccination program of mid March.

To provide a snapshot of the progress for Prince Rupert, two months ago, the Case Count for March 17th had the city atop the Regional case count with 117 positive cases reported to the BC CDC.

The shift for the entire region made for the current of news from the information update from Wednesday afternoon. Which saw the data release herald impressive news for most communities west of Prince George, with all boasting case counts in the single digits.

Across the remainder of the Northwest, the cases reported from May 2- May 8 were as follows.

Nechako -- 6
Kitimat --
Terrace -- 3
Smithers  -- 3
Upper Skeena -- 2
Burns Lake -- 1

The Central Coast, Bella Coola Valley, Snow Country-Stikine-Telegraph, Nass and Haida Gwaii regions all once again have reported no cases this week from the data review. 

Other charts and information from the BC CDC can be explored here.

You can review the latest information from the Public Health office Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix here.  

Uptick in Wednesday COVID case count for BC, though Northern Health region drops to single digits on the day

A bit of a stall in the recent steady decline of day to day COVID case counts, as the total number of new cases for the province rose slightly to 600 new cases on the day, the majority of them recorded in the Fraser Health Region.

Today's written statement update also put the focus on the vaccination program, which now has reached the fifty percent rate for first shots of vaccine. 

“Today, we are reporting 600 new cases, including three epi-linked cases, for a total of 137,223 cases in British Columbia. 

There are 5,887 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. A further 129,524 people who tested positive have recovered. 

Of the active cases, 423 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 141 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation. 

There has been one new COVID-19 related death, for a total of 1,625 deaths in British Columbia. Our condolences are with the family, friends and caregivers of the people who have died as a result of COVID-19"

Across the province, the daily reports from the Five Regional Health Authority's was as follows: 150 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 394 new cases in the Fraser Health region, eight in the Island Health region, 39 in the Interior Health region.

There were nine in the Northern Health region, the total number of cases of COVID in the north since January of 2020 is now listed at 7,378 cases of COVID-19.

There were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in British Columbia by people who reside outside of Canada. “

Today's vaccination update noted of 2,277,318 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that  have been administered in B.C., 115,295 of which are second doses. 

With the Public Health officials stressing the importance of registration for second doses in the months to come.

“The vaccines that are approved and in use here in B.C. require two doses. This is why even if you have already had your first dose, it is important to register on the Get Vaccinated site. This will ensure a second dose is reserved for you."

The full statement for Wednesday. can be viewed here.   

Earlier today, the BC Government observed a new benchmark in the vaccination program, highlighting how the province had reached the Fifty Percent vaccination rate for first doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

"We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks toward everyone getting their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down, but this milestone gives us hope of better days ahead. We have to keep going. We need all British Columbians to help make sure as many people as possible get their shots. Register today and talk to your friends, family and neighbours and make sure they’re registered, too.” -- British Columbia  Premier John Horgan

BC CDC data for British Columbia for May 12, 2021

BC CDC data for Northern Health Region for May 12, 2021

The BC Centre for Disease control has some valuable Coronavirus notes related to COVID-19 you can explore that information here.

You can learn more about the outbreak from both the Province and the Federal government from the links below:

Federal Government site

British Columbia Government site

The World Health Organization website also offers up the latest advisories on the global situation.

More from  Northern Health can be reviewed here 

You can review our archive of past statements and local information here.   

Local governments and organizations have also provided for increased awareness of COVID-19 issues, those past advisories  can be reviewed here.

For notes from across Canada and British Columbia we have been archiving the latest items through our political portal Darcy McGee

Ottawa Observations

Victoria Viewpoints


City Council to share info, push for collaborative effort on themes for upcoming Rail Safety Hearings

The Prince Rupert Railyard along Water Street

Prince Rupert City Council is ready to help Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach in his efforts towards the upcoming Transport Committee hearings on Rail Safety in Canada, with the options of their approach to the theme up for discussion at Monday's Council Session.

The topic came up for discussion through a contribution from Councillor Nick Adey who spoke to the topic at the end of the Monday evening meeting, the Councillor making note of a Social Media post from the MP that had outlined the road ahead for the Committee's work. 

On Tuesday, we outlined some of the scope of the MP's work on the issue and the plans ahead for the committee.

As part of his commentary, Mr. Adey suggested that the City try to learn more about the hearings so the city could spread word of the initiative; as well he sought some feedback on how the City may wish to approach any involvement in the hearings process.

"I would anticipate that there are local voices that would like to be heard so I'm wondering; first of all if we can find out more about the hearings in relatively short order so that we can facilitate information to people who might be interested in giving some input into those hearings. 

And my second question is more for us as a group. Do we see a role for us to play in terms of voicing community perspectives at those hearings, assuming we're afforded the opportunity to do so. 

Or would it be more appropriate, since we're talking about an entire rail corridor, would it be more appropriate to try and develop a voice to contribute to those hearings that represents a broader swath of the communities that are affected by rail safety "-- Councillor Nick Adey

The Councillor also noted how its a rare opportunity for consultation that the community should take part in, especially considering the expansion of port facilities in the area and the increase in rail traffic that would bring.

Mayor Brain outlined that the city could definitely be part of any information sharing program and how he has been in discussion with the MP on the issue, noting how the MP has expressed a plan to host a Town Hall on rail safety. 

Mr. Brain did note that the city has little sway over CN Rail and how it was a federal matter, but recognized that the city has a role to play as an advocate for the community, he also spoke to how the issue is one of concern along the CN main line and how he agreed with Councillor Adey that a collaborative approach with those communities could be the approach to take.

"Many people come to us for issues around rail safety and as most people know we have zero jurisdiction or authority over the railway, in fact, even the Federal government has their own hard time with CN Rail and some  of the jurisdictional issues. So at this juncture that's a federal matter and I think we have a role to play in terms of advocating for any concerns that residents feel around that" 

The Mayor also relayed how the MP would be taking the lead towards a community response and how the city could be of some common assistance to his work.

"I've also spoken with other community leaders in the region well up the line and I think you're right Councillor Adey that probably a bigger broader coalition of communities working together on common issues" -- Mayor Lee Brain on how the City may approach any engagement on upcoming Rail Safety hearings

As for a local lead in the community approach, the Mayor took note of and for the most part nominated Councillor Adey as a good choice for the Prince Rupert point person for contributions.

You can review the conversation on how the City should approach the topic from the City's Video Archive starting at the 47 minute mark.

For more notes on the upcoming hearings and other rail issues see our CN Archive page.

How the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP plans to proceed can be explored from our House of Commons Archive.

A full look at Monday's Council Session is available here, while further items of interest on City Council themes can be reviewed from our Council Discussion archive.

City Council to review request for Grant application towards development of Integrated Transportation Plan for Prince Rupert

Transportation elements made for some of the themes to
City of Prince Rupert's 2030 Vision planning
(image from City of PR website)

A request to pursue some funding for development of a Transportation plan for Prince Rupert will be on the Agenda for tonight's Special Council session, with the city's contract planners from iPlan providing a report that outlines the positives they see towards such an initiative.

In the report, Rob Buchan from iPlan, providing his report under the title of City Planner, notes as to how the need for such a Transportation Plan has been identified in previous community engagements and ties that theme into the recent discussion on parking issues in the downtown core.

The importance and need for a downtown parking strategy has also been raised as an important goal, and is a critical action for enabling the revitalization of the City Centre. The Province is providing funding for new transportation plans that include active transportation.

His notes on the topic also observe how the provincial grant program through UBCM of up to $20,000 could cover the active transportation element of a program, but for a larger Master Transportation plan the cost could be as high as 70,000 dollars.

The maximum grant that the City can qualify for is $20,000.00. 

This amount of funding may be sufficient to undertake the active transportation component but additional funding will be necessary to fund the entire master transportation plan. 

Total funding required has not yet been fully determined but it is estimated to be in the order of $50,000 to $70,000.00. The contribution of $20,000 towards this expenditure would be significant.

A Report on Transportation grant funding from
iPlan for City Council

(click to enlarge)

The deadline for applications to the funding program comes up on May 21st.

The need for a more dedicated approach to Transportation themes was a focus for the local Complete Streets group in the city, which outlined some of their thoughts towards improved transportation last September.

Elements of Transportation themes have made for part of the City's 2030 Vision planning in recent years.

Council members will consider the request to make application for the funding as part of this afternoons Special Session which will start at 4 PM

More notes on past Council discussions can be explored from our archive page here.

Special Council session tonight to review application for Crane's Crossing work for old Raffles Building

The Crane's Crossing supportive housing project will be
the subject of a Special Council session for this afternoon

(image from City of PR Agenda package)

Prince Rupert City Council will consider the first significant downtown proposal to come under the recently adopted Official Community Plan; with a Special Council session called for this evening to review the plans for Crane's Crossing, the supportive housing facility destined for the old Raffles Hotel.

At the afternoon session, set for a 4 PM start, Council will receive a report from the city's contract planners at iPlan, with Chris Buchan providing the background to the proposed housing to be operated by the North Coast Transition Society.

The NCTS took possession of the property in late May of 2020, for much of the year they have operated the city's homeless shelter out of the main floor of the facility.

The report notes as to how the proposal meets the city's guidelines and goals, as well as to provide some details on parking related themes, a topic that has become a flashpoint of sorts for Council in recent months.

"The exterior renovation is largely in compliance with both the General and Midtown Development Permit Guidelines. The proposed renovation maintains both the General and Midtown goal of defining a street edge. The proposed building materials are encouraged in the General Development Permit Guidelines and will result in an aesthetic improvement to the area.

A total of 15 parking stalls are required for this site. The applicant has proposed parking on-site and a designated parking lot located on an adjacent site. This parking will be secured through registration of an easement and covenant prior to Building Permit issuance. The applicant will provide a surplus of parking which adds to a total of 27 parking stalls."

As part of their work tonight, Council members will be asked to approved the Development Permit and Variance request related to the property.

The full package related to the Crane's Crossing application can be reviewed from the Agenda for this evening's special Council session.

Some past notes on the Crane's Crossing proposal and more items on housing in Prince Rupert can be reviewed from our archive page here.

Just a test ... nothing to see, move along, move along now

British Columbians who subscribe to the province's Emergency Alert System had cause to wonder what was up this afternoon, that as alarms blared and an emergency message appeared on mobile devices ... though fortunately, the day's alert of just after the Noon Hour was not the real thing.

As it turned out, the Emergency Warning System had been activated by Human Error, providing for a re-broadcast of last week's official test of the system which took place one week ago.

BC's Emergency Preaparedness Program explained the situation shortly after the alert posting their update to their Twitter account.

The reaction of some of those who have signed up for the program however was one of some concern that the alert system could be activated with something as simple as a bit of human error, with some suggesting that it doesn't install a lot of confidence for those who may be relying on the program.

The British Columbia Alert program is operated by Alert-Ready, you can learn more about the program and how it's supposed to work from their website.

Notes on last weeks "official" test of the system can be reviewed here.

Skeena MLA reflects on Salmon conservation past and present as part of Legislature debate

Ellis Ross spoke on themes of Wild Samon as part of the
Legislature debate of Monday 

As we noted yesterday, the early part of this week at the BC Legislature had been allocated towards discussion on a Private Members motion related to Wild Salmon Conservation from Fin Donnelly, the Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The North Coast received some strong representation on Monday, with MLA Jennifer Rice and Skeena MLA Ellis Ross both sharing notes on the theme, Ms. Rice's contribution can be reviewed here, for Mr. Ross the opening of his remarks focused on his time as a member of the Haisla Council.

Back in 2003, when I joined the chief and council, my council had already been fighting for it for the better part of 20 years. It was part of our treaty negotiations. It was part of our relationship with DFO and related agencies. 

In that fight, we understood how complicated this issue is. 

It's not a simple issue, and the answers are not simple, when you look at how many levels of jurisdictional issues have to be resolved even just to get a handle on what's happening locally, let alone worldwide. 

As part of his contribution to the debate, the Skeena MLA noted at how development across the province has had an impact on salmon bearing streams and the need to mitigate future impacts.

The advocacy we initiated and that we still initiate today are mainly around habitat restoration and protection, both historic and proposed — "historic" meaning the many streams and rivers that were either diked or backfilled, for either commercial or residential use, when our ancestors were building B.C. 

It would be really interesting to find out how many salmon-bearing streams were actually redirected or filled in for our ever-growing population. 

As a matter of fact, it's how we built B.C.

Mr. Ross also noted of the work of the Haida almost a decade ago as well as to some proposed solutions or the future.

In 2012, the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation was widely criticized for releasing 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into Canadian waters in the Pacific Ocean. The theory was this would stimulate the growth of plankton, which would be eaten by large ocean dwellers and begin a feeding frenzy by the juvenile fish heading into the ocean, and it might ultimately lead to higher survival rates and better fishing results when the fish came back to the island streams to spawn. 

Like I said, the Haida were heartily criticized for this, but it was an idea that I supported as chief councillor, mainly because it was a bold attempt to try something new based on what I thought was logical thinking. 

It still makes me wonder today what the results were. 

There are more proposed solutions — like selective fishing with no bycatch, inland fish farms for sockeye and trout — but one thing is clear: the demand for seafood will only grow. 

So the pressures on wild salmon will also grow ...  I think about it in a holistic manner, in terms of what this means to the commercial industry, the sport fishing industry as well as native food fishing and sustenance, but overall as what an incredible asset this is for the country of Canada.

The full transcript can be reviewed here.

The video presentation is available from the Legislature video page starting at 11:30 AM

For more notes on the work of the Skeena MLA see our archive page here.