Friday, February 22, 2019

BC Government to increase service on BC Ferries coastal routes

The provincial government is about to reverse cuts from 2014 to ferry services along the BC coast, with ten BC Ferry routes set to see an increase in service as the government responds to concerns from coastal communities along the Central and North Coast.

Among the services to see an increase in sailings will be the Prince Rupert -Mid Coast - Port Hardy service, Prince Rupert to Skidegate run and the Skidegate to Aliford Bay service.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevana outlined the move today as part of the release of the Redlin Report which reviewed the difficulties that coastal communities were having with the current service model.

“For years people living in coastal communities saw ferry fares increase and services cut,” “Quality, affordable ferry services are a necessity not a luxury for people in coastal communities. That’s why we’ve turned the ship around – first by rolling back ferry fares on small coastal routes and now by reversing cuts to services that were making it difficult for people to get around.”

The ministry had been working with BC Ferries to respond to the BC Ferry Advisory Committee chairs’ request to restore some services cut in 2014.

In total 2,700 round trip sailings will be restored once the full program is put into motion.

The past cuts have been an issue of concern for Haida Gwaii officials and residents as well as for members or the North Coast Regional District for years.

Former Masset Mayor Andrew Merilees was one of a number of North Coast and Haida Gwaii officials to reinforce the need for better service at the September 2018 UBCM gathering.

The need for Ferry service improvement has also been a major focus for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice who shared the news through her social media platforms.

The agreement will see a return for the services over the next year with the majority starting as early as this spring. The updates on the expanded service options will be announced through the BC Ferries website once the schedule has been determined.

The full list of those services to see the boost in frequency of sailings can be found below:

Minister Trevena also made note of the expansive nature of the Redlin report and the complex nature of the ferry service requirements, as part of the process of implementation, the province will be amending the Coastal Ferry Act to integrate Redlin's recommendations.

“The Redlin report was very comprehensive with more than 60 recommendations directed to all parties working under the unique and complex coastal ferry governance model/ One of his recommendations is to establish a long-term vision for ferries and to connect coastal communities in a more integrated manner. This is something my staff and I will be focused on.”

You can review his report here.

The provinces notes on today's announcement can be reviewed here.

For more items of note related to BC Ferries see our archive page here.

Tournament time for Junior Boys Rainmakers

With a Northwest banner i hand, Tthe Charles Hays Junior Boys Rainmakers
are now in Langley as they prepare for the start of the Provincials on Saturday

(photo from CHSS twitter

The month long festival of high school basketball in British Columbia gets underway Saturday, with the Charles Hays Junior Boys team ready for the tip off in the BC Junior Invitational Tournament.

The Four Day event running from  February 23rd through to February 26th and features teams from across the province taking to the courts at the Langley Events Centre.

The path to a Provincial banner in Langley
(click to enlarge)

The Rainmakers booked their ticket to the Finals earlier this month when they claimed the Zones Championship held in Smithers, charting their course then for Langley and a chance to bring a Provincial banner to the Charles Hays Gymnasium.

The Rainmakers make their tournament debut Saturday afternoon when they take on J L Jackson of Salmon Arm  with a 1 PM tip off. 

Coach Kevin Sawka's team heads into the provincials after spending much of the last half of the regular high school basketball season in the Top Ten Listings province-wide.

They however won't be an unknown squad as they take to the court, having made a journey to the south in January for the North Shore Invitational.

Their appearance in Langley this year comes after last year's weather woes forced the team to miss the Provincials after some extreme weather affected their travel arrangements. A note on the CHSS Twitter feed notes that the team had successfully navigated their way to Langley on Thursday.

The tournament favourite is the Burnaby South Rebels ranked as the number seed for the 50th edition of the Junior Tournament

Fans of the Junior squad can follow the action through a pay per view streamcast offered by TFSE, the Pay per view service features a single day pass of $8.50 and a full event pass for $24.00

You can register for the Pay per view here, the schedule of games can be found here.

The BC Junior Junior Boys Provincial Basketball tournament website can be found here, it features a range of background features on the tournament activities. Included in the information stream is a link to the rosters for all participating teams

As the Rainmakers work their way through the Tournament we'll track their travels from our Junior Tournament Archive page here.

As well, the Varsity Letters blog hosted by Howard Tsumura will be in Langley for the entire tournament with updates on the Junior tourney as well as the Provincials for the Girls Division of BC High School Sports.

For updates on the Tournament follow the Jr Boys Tournament twitter feed, as well as the CHSS Rainmakers twitter feed.

For more items of interest about Rainmaker Sports see our archive page here.

Junior Boys Rainmakers at Provincials 2019

The quest to bring a Provincial Basketball Banner back to the North Coast will take place from February 23 to 26th, as the Charles Hays Junior Rainmakers hit the court in Langley for the 50th edition of the Junior Boys Basketball Championship.

From Saturday onwards, coach Kevin Sawka's squad will be working hard to make the journey from opening round to Championship game on Tuesday night.

The Rainmakers gained their berth in the tournament earlier this month with a victory in Smithers at the Northwest Zones

You can follow the progress of the Rainmakers at Provincials through the Junior Boys Tournament website

Those that wish to tune into the play can subscribe to the Stretch Internet pay portal, which has daily and tournament rates available for those wishing to follow the tournament through to Tuesday.

The Rainmakers open up their 2017 Championship bid with match up against J L Jackson of Salmon Arm on Saturday afternoon at 1PM

The Charles Hays Junior Boys are in Langley for Provincials this weekend
(photo from CHSS twitter feed)

As the tournament moves forward check for updated scores and other notes that may come from the tournament floor at the Langley Events Centre.

2019 Junior Boys Basketball Provincials 

Saturday, February 23 
Charles Hays Rainmakers vs J L Jackson  1PM 

A very good resource for British Columbia high school sports is Howard Tsumura's Varsity Letters project, the long time observer of high school and university athletics will feature a number of stories over the next three weeks as he follows all of the tournaments that are set to get underway.

You can follow the Rainmakers through the CHSS twitter feed.

More background on Rainmaker Sports can be found from our archive page here.

Notes on the Provincials can be reviewed below:

February 22 -- Tournament Time for Junior Boys Rainmakers

Lax Kw'alaams moves forward with proposed amendments to Band Election Code

Residents of Lax Kw'alaams may soon have a new election code in place, as the Band Council for the community north of Prince Rupert moves forward with its process to amend Custom Code document.

A notice for residents was issued earlier this month outlining the changes that will be made should there be no objections issued in writing to the Band Administrator by March 27th.

A summary of the proposed amendments includes:

Using independent arbitrators for electoral and conduct disputes

Implementing a progressive discipline process for all Council members

Offering electronic voting

Requiring criminal record checks for councillors

Changes in both quorum and the starting point referendums.

As part of their review and consultation process, the Band Council has decided that there will be no change to the size of the council membership, which currently features 13 members.

Mayor John Helin and twelve council members make up the elected body.

As we outlined back in October, the update to the Custom Election Code came through membership consultation, with the document now up for review the one that received unanimous approval from the Band Council.

The process now awaits the March deadline for written objections, if no written concerns are filed the Band will adopt the proposed amendments.

Should there be written objections from an eligible elector, the Band will then arrange for a referendum to poll all of the community's eligible voters by a simple majority vote, before they proceed with the proposed amendments.

Notices of objection can be forwarded to the Band Office at 206 Shashaak Street in Lax Kw'alaams

The advisory of the amendments to the Custom Code can be found here

The complete copy of the Lax Kw'alaams Band Election Code can be examined here.

For more notes related to Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page here.

Out with the old, in with the new: Highway 16 program through Prince Rupert back on track

Contractors were working on one of the downtown intersection lights
on Thursday, part of a Highway 16 remediation plan

Work crews from Westcana Electric, a Prince George based industrial contractor have been working through the week on a Ministry of Highways program of traffic light replacement, part of a larger schedule of enhancements for the city's main traffic corridor of McBride Street, Second Avenue West and Park Avenue.

The current work has seen the crews replace a number of the downtown traffic signals the intersection of Sixth Street and 2nd Avenue the focus for their work on Thursday, with flagging personnel on hand to help control the flow of traffic along the busy thoroughfare in the city.

The project which was first announced back in September has faced a fairly long delay, with work originally planned for the early fall pushed back until this month.

The lack of progress had been noted by Council in mid January, with Council members asking staff to make contact with the Ministry for an update as to when the work would get underway.

The Traffic light program would appear to be the first stage of the ambitious makeover project.

Among some of the features of the remediation plan for the entire corridor from the Lester Centre through to Five Corners are:

Installation of pedestrian crossing countdown timers and audible notifications at all intersections

Replacement of street names on signal poles

More durable long line painting along the arterial

Upgrades to 89 street lights converting the current lighting from conventional bulbs to LED

A bit further down the road time wise, will be a study of the intersection at McBride and Second Avenue West, with some thought being given to turning that location into a Roundabout as opposed to the current design which features Stop Signs at two spots.

The call for changes came after a number of pedestrian/vehicle incidents along the busy roadway through the heart of the city, it made for the focus for some of council's comments as part of a presentation to Prince Rupert City Council by then area Manager Darrell Gunn in November of 2017.

More notes related to Transportation issues across the northwest can be found from our archive page here.

For a look at some of the past Discussion topics for City Council see our Council Discussion archive.

Road Advisory in effect as Avalanche Risk could see Highway 16 closed at times today

See updated info at bottom of page

The unsettled weather of the last 48 hours has taken a toll on the mountainsides along the Highway 16 corridor between Terrace and Prince Rupert, and as the snow and sleet accumulates Drive BC has issued a warning that any time through the morning the Highway may be closed owing to a High Avalanche Risk.

Highway crews will be attending to a number of locations along the Highway through the day to provide for avalanche control work, which also could bring major delays in travel as they go about their work. Work will begin at 930AM and continue through to 3 PM. Potential delays could last up to one hour at a time through the day.

The main focus for the concern is an area just west of Kwinitsa, where two avalanche risk areas have been identified.

Late last night a Travel Advisory had been put in place for the highway owing to poor visibility and heavy snowfall along the corridor. That advisory remained in effect as of earlier this morning.

At the moment the stretch between Terrace and Prince Rupert at Kwinitsa and Rainbow Summit indicates snow covered conditions.

Kwinitsa highway camera

Kasiks Highway camera
Rainbow Summit Highway Camera

You can access the latest updates from Drive BC from their website and Twitter Feed.

A list of Highway cameras across the Northwest can be found here.

Update: Drive BC updated their information on the avalanche control work advising that all required work had been completed by mid morning Friday.

For past notes related to weather events around the region see our archive page here.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Transportation Safety Board of Canada report identifies axle fatigue as cause to 2018 derailment near New Hazelton

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada report into a January 2018
derailment near New Hazelton was released today
(map from TSB of C report)

The federal agency tasked with investigation transportation related incidents in Canada has released its findings into a derailment along the CN Rail mainline near New Hazelton in the winter of 2018.

The report into what was described as a Class 3 occurrence was released this morning on the Transportation Safety Board of Canada website, following an extensive review of the background to the train initiated emergency brake application on the Bulkley Subdivision.

The initial inspection at the time of the incident determined that 27 of the 199 car train carrying coal had derailed, listed as the 50th to 76th cars of the westbound train destined for Ridley Terminals in Prince Rupert. 

As a result of the derailment, approximately 2900 tons of thermal coal was released from 24 of the derailed gondola cars.

Most of the coal remained on the railway right-of-way. The estimated total volume of coal recovered was 2800 tons or 97% of the coal spilled. A small amount of coal was spilled into Mission Creek

(Images above from the TSB of C report)

As part of the investigation, the broken axle from the car was recovered and sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory for metallurgical examination and failure analysis.

From that examination it was determined, that the axle had fractured between the L1 bearing seal wear ring and the backing ring, at the location where the axle journal merges into the fillet. 

As a result, the journal (with the bearing) separated from the rest of the assembly (Figure 6). The fracture was due to fatigue cracking in the journal near the fillet. Crack arrest lines (beach marks) were present on the relatively smooth areas of the fracture surface (Figure 7).

(Images above from the TSB of C report)

While the transportation board notes that it is likely that the axle had been subject to abnormal cyclic loading, the exact cause of the fatigue cracking in the axle could not be determined.

The report also notes that Over the previous 10-year period (2008–2017), there were 23 derailments on CN and Canadian Pacific Railway track caused by a broken axle. In 9 of these derailments (39%), the axle had failed near the journal fillet radius which is part of the axle assembly.

The TSB previously investigated 3 other derailments involving axle failures in the journal fillet radius.

As the report is not designed to assess fault or to determine civil or criminal liability, but instead to advance transportation safety, there are no recommendations in this instance.

The report does identify its findings as to potential risk noting: Without alternate strategies to identify fatigue cracks in the journal fillet radius or to predict the likelihood of cracks developing, problematic axles might not be removed from service in a timely manner, increasing the risk of broken-axle derailments.

With the final reference related to Safety Action indicating that the Board is currently unaware of any safety action that has been as a result of this occurrence.

You can review the entire report here.

The information notice related to the release can be examined here.

For more items of interest related to CN Rail service across the Northwest see our archive page here.

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