Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Everybody Mambo ... with Ballet Kelowna

Dance comes to the stage of the Lester Centre of the Arts on Wednesday
evening as Ballet Kelowna brings Mambo and Other Works to Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert audiences can explore a number of exotic musical and dance themes tomorrow night at the Lester Centre of the Arts, as Ballet Kelowna brings their latest touring production Mambo and Other Works to the North Coast for a Wednesday evening showing.

The evening opens to the sounds of 1723 - Vivladi, travels to the infectious rhythms of Buenos Aries and will conclude with a Mambo to remember as the talented performers of the sole professional dance company in the British Columbia interior take the road for a month long journey that takes them to eight communities in the province.

MAMBO and Other Works, is a high energy mixed program, which features Wen Wei Wang’s dynamic work 1723 – Vivaldi, the thrilling tango-inspired Cuatro Estaciones from Ballet Kelowna’s visionary Artistic Director and CEO Simone Orlando, and Alysa Pires’ vivacious audience favourite MAMBO.

The performance starts at 7:30 tomorrow evening, with tickets available for $25 for adults, $20 for Seniors and $15 for students, they are available at the Lester Centre box Office.

More on Wednesday night's show can be found from the Lester Centre event page

The Ballet Kelowna performance was one of the featured events as part of the Lester Centre's 2019-29 Season Pass program.

A short look at the program for tomorrow evening at the Lester Centre can be reviewed below:

click to enlarge

You can learn more about the tour here as well as from the Ballet Kelowna Facebook page, which is chronicling their travels across the province this month.

For more notes on the city's entertainment scene see our Community Events Page as well as our Arts and Entertainment Archive.

Elections Canada made sure to get out the vote, wherever it took them

Making each vote count, meant heading to some unusual places to
collect the ballots for Elections Canada

For some in British Columbia, making sure that their X was marked took a bit of extra effort from the staff at Elections Canada.

The recent Federal election saw voters across the Skeena-Bulkley Valley constituency head for local polling stations, a convenient walk or drive away from their homes. But for those working at British Columbia's remote light house stations, the prospect of taking part in the democratic process, was a little more complicated.

And to ensure that as many Canadians who want to vote, can vote, Elections Canada staff went the extra kilometre  ... or two, to make sure that ballots were available.

In a twitter update, Elections Canada shared the story of the work of a Coast Guard helicopter pilot, two Elections Canada staff members and a route that took them to 27  lighthouse stations along the BC coast.

You can check out the video of the mobile voting booth here.

Though judging by the comments, not all Canadians apparently were onboard with the plan, as a number of grumpy Canucks offer up their thoughts as to how the exercise was a particularly cost effective one ...

Teachers reject Mediators Report as contract negotiations stall

Local grocery stores may want to bring in an extra order or two of apples in the next few weeks, as local members of the BCTF may soon be delivering more apples a day for the MLA, that as contract negotiations hit another bump in the road between the Teachers' Federation and the Government's negotiators the BCPSEA.

Then again, considering the brewing anger amongst the province's educators, maybe lemons will mark the next escalation of the ongoing debate between the MLA and the PRDTA.

Since the return to school of September, the local teachers have made sporadic appearances in front of the MLA's Ocean Centre offices to deliver their message on the state of negotiations; a process which has also played out through the exchange of letters through the local paper.

The prospect of more storefront stops and more mail for the weekly paper's newsroom would seem likely in the short term, that after the rejection of the recommendations from the mediator on Friday.

In a statement released by BCTF President Terri Mooring on Friday, the teachers noted a number of areas where they and the BCPSEA do not appear to be on the same page.

“The main barriers to getting a deal are long-held demands from the employer to rollback the class-size and class-composition language recently restored by the Supreme Court of Canada and a lack of funding from government to make meaningful improvements to teachers’ salaries. BC teachers have the second lowest starting salary in all of Canada and the lowest overall salary in the Western provinces, including Ontario and Alberta.

Teachers’ low wages in BC have made recruitment and retention such a problem that our province is now in a teacher shortage crisis. The result of the teacher shortage is an unprecedented number of unqualified and non-certified adults teaching in classrooms across BC. That’s unacceptable and we wouldn’t tolerate it in other professions. 

The shortage has also caused significant disruptions to students with special needs. Too often, specialist teachers who work one-on-one or in small groups with students are being pulled from their work to cover classrooms with no teacher in them. There are not enough on-call teachers to cover absences and sick days. The negative consequences of the teacher shortage impact all students.”

Towards the theme of seeking to rollback the recent court victory, the BCTF President also highlighted that if successful the government's approach would lead to job losses and cuts.

“The government, through their bargaining agent BCPSEA, tabled massive concessions that would undo our entire court win on April 3, 2019. It was shocking to see this government, through their employers’ association, try to undo everything teachers had fought so long to win back. These proposed rollbacks to class size, class composition, and staffing ratios would create job losses and cuts. 

It’s time for the government to confirm that their bargaining agent has abandoned their demands for unacceptable concessions once and for all. The BCNDP government’s public positions supporting teachers and public education have been at odds with the employers’ actions at the table for months. The BC cabinet needs to give the employer new marching orders and put new funding on the table to get a deal that works for teachers and students.”

The full statement, along with a timeline on the negotiations from the BCTF can be reviewed here.

For its part, the BCPSEA released the details of the mediators report which was submitted to both parties on November 1st, you can review that document here.

They also included a shorter listing, featuring the key items related to the recommendations.

Alan Chell, the Board Chair for the BCPSEA outlined the government negotiators side of the issues at the moment, observing how some of the BCTF talking points are significant barriers towards a contract resolution.

“Given the BCTF rejection, the BCPSEA Board of Directors has determined that a vote of the Board or a vote of our members is moot,. Although the mediator’s recommendations didn’t represent BCPSEA’s preferred approach, the Board believed they would provide the public school system with the necessary labour stability while we attempted to work with the BCTF over the term of the agreement to address the structural barriers that are preventing productive negotiations.

We are concerned that the BCTF continues to take an approach that will not lead to a freely negotiated collective agreement. In his report, the mediator specifically points to the barriers, including, among other matters, the BCTF refusal to negotiate within the provincial government public sector bargaining mandate, their attempts to re-negotiate the split of Provincial and Local issues as agreed by the parties, and their attempts to negotiate the size of the K-12 public education operating budget. These are significant barriers."

The entire statement from the employers organization can be reviewed here.

As the teachers did, the BCPSEA also noted that there is still the opportunity for more contract discussions to come; with the government negotiators noting that the mediator has not as of yet booked out of the ongoing round of talks.

The stalemate that is in place has made for much in the way of discussion through social media where the teacher's dispute makes for some lively debate, wth a number of contributors from the Prince Rupert area weighing in on a range of themes.

Among the themes of the social media sharing, a number of the contributions express disappointment in the position that Premier John Horgan's NDP government has taken on education and the negotiations.

Many of the themes related to the contract negotiations are being explored through the twitter pages of #bctf #bcpoli and #bced

So far, the Premier himself has not said too much about the stalled state of the teacher's discussions, though he did offer up some guidance for striking support workers in the Saanich area last week, indicating that accepting a recent contract offer was something they should consider.

As for the local themes on the North Coast, there is no indication yet what steps the PRDTA may take next to reinforce their position on the state of the talks or where they see a resolution of the issues that have led to the stalled discussions.

For a look at some of the lates notes on the BCTF/BCSPEA negotiations see our archive page.

Nomination time is open for the Prince Rupert and District Chamber's Business Excellence Awards

The road for local business operators to the Lester Centre's Business Excellence  Awards Gala got underway last week, as the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce opened the nomination process for the 2019-2020 Awards.

The online nomination opportunity for the twelve categories listed for this year began to accept submissions on November 7th with the window to submit your nomination open until Midnight on December 5th.

The Awards, which are a partnership between the Chamber and the Prince Rupert Port Authority will turn the process over to voters in December through February.

The BEA's for 2019-20 will be awarded on February 29th with showcase event at the Lester Centre of the Arts from 6 to 9 PM. Tickets are now available for the event for 30 dollars from the Chamber office in the Capital Mall building on Third Avenue West.

Among the categories for consideration this year:

Award for Dining Distinction
Community Involvement Award
Home-Based Business Excellence Award
Indigenous People's Entrepreneurship Award
Individual Customer Service Excellence
Industry and Manufacturing Excellence
Not for Profit of the Year
Professional Excellence
Retail Excellence
Rookie Business of the Year
Tourism and Accommodation Excellence
Young Entrepreneur of the Year

You can submit your nominations and see which local businesses have already been included in the roll call of the nominated from the Chamber website portal which you can explore here.

Those participating in the nomination process are reminded that even if a business you want to nominate is already listed, you can still log on to show them your support and add some thoughts on the level of service they provide to the community.

More details on the voting process to come and the Awards Gala program will be coming shortly from the Chamber. To get updates on the nomination process and the Awards program see the Prince Rupert and District Chamber's Facebook page.

For more items of interest on the region's Commercial sector see our archive page here.

School District 52 introduces Reconciliation Newsletter to chart progress on goals and share information with community

SD52 has launched a new
initiative towards
A new initiative from School District 52 will offer the community an opportunity to learn more about the process of Reconciliation and explore some of the work being done by the School District itself when it comes to the goals of their ongoing reconciliation process.

The Reconciliation Resource Newsletter was launched this  month, a project made possible through grant assistance from Ridley Terminals Inc. and with the approval of the Board of Trustees for School District 52.

The project will provide updates through the year and is provided by the Aboriginal Education Department of SD52 in collaboration with the TRC administrator.

The November edition of the newsletter features an introduction to the theme of Reconciliation from Lori Burger the TRC Administrator for SD52, it features some photos of past or current initiatives at SD52, as well as links to other items of note related to Reconciliation.

Included in the Archive as part of a theme of Remembrance Day, is a look at the work of students at PRMS and CHSS on the role of Indigenous veterans in both world wars.

The work of some students at PRMS/CHSS on Indigenous War Veterans
(from the SD52 Reconciliation newsletter)

The link to all of the material as part of the Reconciliation Newsletter program can be found here.

For more items of note related to the work of SD52 see our archive page here.

City to commence with Moresby Park Tank Removal project

Fencing marks the spot for work ahead for tank removal at Moresby Park
The City is asking residents to stay away from the area in question to
allow for crews to take on the work of dismantling the structure

With the area fenced off and equipment in place, the City of Prince Rupert is advising the public to give an area of the Park Avenue side of Moresby Park a bit of a wide berth as a team from Sumas Contracting prepare to begin the removal of the first of the large fuel tanks that the City of Prince Rupert has marked for removal.

An update on the project was posted to the city's website and Social media resources on Friday alerting the public to the situation, as well as to recount some of the recent history towards the planned removal of the tank.

As the City was aware we would need to have the tanks removed, years ago we began putting away money towards their eventual removal and remediation. We had hoped to remove all of the tanks at once, but unfortunately due to the cost to remove them properly, we are only currently able to remove the one which poses the greatest potential risk to the surrounding environment. 

To fully remove this potential hazard, Sumas consulting has been hired treat and dispose of the water and separate the fuels and other contaminants for safe disposal at approved facilities. The tank will then be cleaned, and the remaining steel will be recycled, as feasible.

Heavy equipment and fencing along the pathway leading to the
Tank to be removed by Sumas Contracting

The City's statement also reviews some of their frustration with both the Department of National Defence and the Federal government, noting how they have made multiple attempts to request assistance towards removing what they describe as the 'environmental liability' but so far have not had much in the way of success, leaving the city to remove the tanks themselves.

An overhead view of the area of the three DND tanks in question,
Tank 3, the one closest to the Anchor Inn Apartments is the one
that will be the subject of removal

As the City only has enough money set aside for the work required on the first tank, which is the one deemed the most at risk, they will continue to set aside funds towards removing the remaining tanks as soon as they are able.

In September, at a Special Council session, City Council gave approval towards an increase of funding towards the project, with 675,000 dollars set aside for the work with an additional 100,000 dollars to be used from surplus for  any additional contingencies.

You can review the full statement from the City here.

Some of our past notes on the city's plans towards the old DND tanks in the popular recreation area can be explored below:

September 2019 -- City Council expected to move Moresby Park Fuel Tank removal project forward tonight
June 2019 -- City looks to move forward on Moresby Park tank removal plans
April 2017 -- City seeks request for proposals on Moresby Park removal and improvement project
March 2016 -- Council to receive update on Moresby Fuel tank removal project
October 2015 -- City to tackle environmental issues in Moresby Park

For more items of note on past Request for Bids see our archive page here, a wider over of City Council discussion themes can be found on our Council Discussion archive.

Terrace RCMP issue call for Dash Camera footage as part of suspicious death investigation

A suspicious death incident in the Thornhill area just east of Terrace has that city's RCMP detachment asking for the help of travellers through the area in the early hours of November 10th.

As part of their investigation the Terrace Mounties are seeking dash camera footage for those travelling along Highway 16 and its parallel roads between Midnight and 5 AM.

The area of particular interest is the strip between Highway 37 and the Thornhill sign.

The suspicious death investigation was launched after Terrace RCMP were called to respond to a report of an intoxicated pedestrian in the area at 1:45 AM on the 10th, though at that time, the subject of the call was not able to be located by members.

Just over four hours later, at 5AM, the RCMP were dispatched to a report of a man discovered in the roadway on the Thornhill Frontage Road, which is parallel to the north side of Highway 16.

The Terrace RCMP are looking for early morning dash cam footage
from November 10, with the area east of Highway 37 along Highway 16
to the Thornhill sign of particular interest as part of a suspicious death investigation

The responding officers attended to the unresponsive male, who was transported to hospital by BC Ambulance service, but sadly pronounced dead a few hours later at Mills Memorial Hospital.

The male has since been identified as Blaine Frisk of Kamloops, BC and he is also the male that was the subject of the initial call from earlier in the morning on the 10th.

Should you have the footage requested, or you have more information to share about the night's events involving Mr. Frisk, you are asked to contact the Terrace RCMP at 250-638-7400, the File reference number is 19-12330

You can also call in any tips through the Crime stoppers line at 1-800-222-TIPS or online at www.terracecrimestoppers.ca

For more notes on the case file see this advisory from the RCMP

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