Thursday, March 29, 2012

No collusion, just Price confusion

Wednesday night provided for a variety of pricing options for gasoline at the gas stations of Prince Rupert.

Not so much as a price war  as to perhaps a sense of confusion from the various stations in the city.

The price at the pump ranged from 1.39 at the Hays Cove Petro Canada to 1.25 at Chevron, in the mid range were 7-11 at 1.29 and Husky a 1.32, we neglected to check out the Petro Canada at the Industrial Park, fearful in this new era of spiking gas prices of using too much of the black gold from the pumps to get there and back.

Still, it leaves us in wonderment every time a price spike appears in Prince Rupert, where drivers rather than price shopping stick to their traditional patterns, pulling in to the pump at the higher priced locales to fill up.

The pricing roulette wheel no doubt will continue to spin on in the foreseeable future if this cautionary warning is any indication, if so and providing the local stations continue on with their incremental approach to posting the rising prices, shopping around might help take the bite out of the overall bill of a fill up.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

BC Ferries increase no April Fools Day joke

The timing is perhaps unfortunate, but when the calendar flips from March to April, travellers who use British Columbia Ferries will be digging a little deeper once again for their journey.

An increase of 4.15 percent is ready to go into effect on April 1, which means that travel from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy will increase from 130 to 135 dollars, while the vehicle tariff will jump from 300 to 312 dollars.

BC Ferries outlined how the cost of operating and capital expenditures, as well as lower than anticipated traffic levels have combined to make the rate increase a required thing from the Ferry corporation's point of view.

CFTK-- BC Ferries Announces Fare Hikes Effective April 1st
The Northern View-- BC Ferry fares going up slightly at the end of the month

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tsunami flotsam approaches BC coast

The wreckage that stemmed from last year's massive earthquake and tsunami  in Japan is finally making its way to our side of the Pacific Ocean.

The Department of Fisheries reports that one of its surveillance planes has spotted the wreck of a Japanese fishing boat currently due south of the Islands of Haida Gwaii.

The last plot mark on a map puts the 150 foot ship 120 nautical miles south of Cape Saint James.

To that end, the Canadian Coast Guard has issued  a notice to all vessels that the vessel is an obstruction to navigation.

It's the largest piece of flotsam from the Japanese tsunami that has made it to British Columbia waters to this point, though certainly it won't be the last, it's anticipated that more reports will be arriving from Alaska to Washington State as the currents steer the floating debris fields to North America.

CBC-- Tsunami linked fishing boat adrift off B. C.
Vancouver Sun-- Japanese ghost ship lost in tsunami found off B. C. coast
Globe and Mail-- Japanese fishing boat tied to earthquake and tsunami spotted off B. C. coast

Thursday, March 22, 2012

And the lucky winner is???

Now mister the day the lottery I win I ain't ever gonna ride in no used car again -- Bruce Springsteen, Used Cars

We're not sure if a new car is on the agenda, but there will no doubt be some planning going on around Prince Rupert today.

Rupertites awoke on Thursday to the news that someone in the city (or at least someone who bought a ticket in the city) was holding 500,000 dollars in their hands, courtesy of the main jackpot win in the March 21, 2012 BC Lottery Corporations extra lottery.

The Extra which is the afterthought to most lottery ticket purchases, paid off handsomely for someone on Wednesday night's Lotto 649 draw,  with but four numbers, 14, 30, 64 and 81 the key to instant financial security.

No word has been released yet as to who the lucky winner was, or where the lucky ticket was purchased, but somewhere in the city is someone or a group making their arrangements to go pick up some cash...

Just a guess, but a grand opening for April 20?

Prince Rupert has seen a fair amount of businesses close their doors over the last few years, the empty storefronts along 3rd Avenue testimony to the economic climate of the city over the last decade or so.

Still, hope like the arrival of spring is a highly anticipated thing around here, so there's much chatter about a few new business offerings in town of late, including some excitement generated by the Mayor himself.

There's the new meat market in Cow Bay which has had locals talking of late, as well as the pending arrival of Wal Mart after Zeller's liquidates itself (and Fields) out of existence later this spring.

There's word of a Dollarama for the Mall and  relocation of Shopper's Drug Mart to the old Extra Foods location in the mall as well, but we imagine, that once word gets more widely delivered, the majority of the talk over this sudden surge of business opportunities will belong to the store set to go directly across the street from Subway in the heart of the downtown on 2nd Avenue West.

The Chad Smoke Shop reportedlyhas taken root in that location (at least that's the inference from the sign on the outside) once the home of an ice cream parlour many years ago, it would seem it will be seeking a slightly different clientele upon its opening.

One thing is certain, we don't think that they'll be much of a threat  to Eddies News.

Google us goes the sign in front of the building, so with a few clicks of your keyboard here's some of what you may find... and this and this

Of course a few more clicks and we'll find that the business plan hasn't always found a welcome mat out in other communities across Western Canada where the franchise has arrived.

Chad Smoke Shop owner gets rough ride

Town to review position on smoke shop

Smoke Shop sparks backlash

We're not sure how much due diligence the city is required to do before granting a business licence, nor if in fact they have the ability to refuse such licences. But surely they had time to look into the application and the reaction to past applications elsewhere, it's not like the city has suddenly faced a gold rush like quality of business applications.

One also wonders if City Council members and the Mayor were even aware of the nature of the business prior to the arrival of the delivery trucks earlier this week.

Perhaps they were too busy discussing such things as website development and keeping  any would be tanker fleet out of Prince Rupert harbour to track such mundane concerns.

Like any new business the key to success is to get a bit of a buzz about town on their venture, to that we're fairly sure that they'll be the talk of the town in short order.

We're also pretty sure that City Council is going to hear much more about the newest addition to the Prince Rupert Business scene.

All that's left for now we guess is the grand opening, hmm, wonder if the Mayor will be there to cut the ribbon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Moneysense review places Rupert near bottom once again

The Mayor, who doesn't appear fond of cold statistical reviews with bad news of his city, will not be a happy man with the latest listings on the annual Moneysense review of cities, Prince Rupert while not bottoming out in the survey is still within view of the lower reaches of the survey.

With a placement of 179th out of 190 cities surveyed, Prince Rupert is one of five British Columbia cities to trend at the bottom eleven of the rankings, Squamish (182), Campbell River (184), Port Alberni (186) and Williams Lake (189) all didn't pass the Moneysense test for 2012.

The results are kind of a half glass full, half empty scenario for local boosters, while not trolling the bottom of the annual listings this year, there were more communities included in the annual rankings, so it may not be that conditions are getting better, just that there may be a few other towns are in worse shape at the moment, at least in in the opinion of the Moneysense tabulators.

Prince Rupert's more negative reviews included job prospects where the city ranked second last in employment options, with only Bay Roberts Newfoundland keeping the city from the last spot on the list.

We also fared poorly in the safety category, with the third highest ranking of crime of ranked at 186 of the 190 listed cities,  only Williams Lake and Yellowknife (187), Thompson MB (189) and North Battleford SK (190) had more crime reported than us.

The full rankings and background information can be found on the Moneysense website.

The compilation was the topic of a few local reviews over the last little while, some of which can be found below.

The Northern View-- Prince Rupert ranked among the worst places in Canada to live
Terrace Standard-- Terrace ranks low on best places to live list

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Residents are rumbling...

City council members perhaps were taken just a little aback at their most recent public forum on the topic of the Emergency Services Building.

If reports from the Northern View are any indication, the taxpaying population, or at least those that feel the need to attend such public forums, may be feeling just a little overburdened by the quest for their dollars.

On more than one occasion, the Fire Chief, City Manager, Chief Constable, city staff and councillors felt the wrath of the small, but apparently vocal group, a collective who don't seem to be buying into the need to add on to the tax dollar load with spending on aging infrastructure, or at least on infrastructure to be used by the Fire and Police services.

The outbursts of anger seemingly led to admonishments from councillor Thorkelson to show a bit more decorum towards the civic employees in question, trying to keep the discussion on track about the need to replace the two buildings currently housing the city's RCMP detachment and fire department.

The meeting is but the first of five, though if the process is as heated as this initial meeting suggests, a bit of consolidation might be required to bring the debate to a sense of order.

More importantly to that process might be better planning by members of city council itself, for this first meeting on what is clearly a controversial project, only four members of council were in attendance, the Mayor and two Councillors reported as absent by the Northern View.

Perhaps those in attendance can bring them up to speed on the reaction to the city's reconstruction plan and suggest that they share in some of the fire next time around.

To help those that missed out on this initial debate, the Mayor, councillors and citizens alike can catch up  when the City provides the video of the discussion courtesy of the City's archived video section.

CFTK-- Rupert Council held first public meeting about Emergency Buildings
CFTK -- Rupert Building Meeting (video)
CFTK-- Emergency Services Building (video)
Northern View-- More concern over tax increases than condition of emergency buildings...

Monday, March 12, 2012

City Council Report March 12, 2012

City Council session for Monday,  March 12, 2012
Home page and archive of  sessions can be found here

Mayor Jack Mussallem -- Absent
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Present 
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present (in the chair)
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Jennifer Rice-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Attended by Phone

News items of note from March 12, 2012 session

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mayor finds positive signs in new business arrivals

It could be that the ability to gain some good quality of cuts of meat is a positive trend for Prince Rupert's commercial class.

With the City heralding the opening of the Rupert Meats as a sign of a rebound in the city's commercial fortunes, the Mayor outlined for the Northern View how he sees economic future of the city as one while in flux, on the right track.

"The City continues to generate interest concerning the sale of commercial buildings, the creation of additional food and beverage establishments and new retail opportunities" said Mayor Jack Mussallem.

"Strong performance of the Port of Prince Rupert and related project announcements will continue to create additional business development opportunities in our City.  Greater diversity of retail and service related businesses will attract more people to Prince Rupert as a service centre, and the increased activity will benefit our existing businesses and residents" Northern View, page 9, Wedenesday, March 7, 2012

He points to the soon to arrive WalMart and and expansion of Shoppers Drug Mart into the Rupert Square as signs of the economic turn for the city, however, in the spirit of balance, he did neglect to mention that WalMart is replacing the closing Zellers and with its arrival the Fields store will close as well.

Shoppers expansion, which is a welcome thing, certainly can't be considered a new business and lost in among the shuffle a few other local businesses that quietly closed their doors over the last few months.

So, while the arrival of a Wal Mart and the introduction of a meat market to the city's commercial class are certainly welcome things, the big picture still suggests that Prince Rupert business owners are still suffering from the economic malaise that has been part of the city's fibre for the last few years.

Combined with a drop in the population over the last decade ( up to and including the most recent census, though those are numbers that the Mayor seemingly does not  subscribe to) it's not a surprise that the commercial properties would be the main indicator of the distress of the business sector in the city.

If we see a surge in new business arrivals and the flocking of the chain stores that has long been prophesied but yet to be delivered, then perhaps we can say we've turned the economic corner, for now though it seems very much to be more of a holding pattern than anything else.

CFTK TV-- City of Prince Rupert Taking Steps Forward in Small Business Growth
CFTK TV-- Small Business (video)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Just call us Basketballville

While much is made and rightly so of the success of the All Native Basketball Tournament each February, Prince Rupert's basketball blue print goes further into the province this month.

Four teams representing Charles Hays Secondary School are in place this week to take part in High School Basketball Provincial tournaments.

The Charles Hays Senior Boys and Girls Rainmakers are in Kamloops taking part in the British Columbia AA Basketball tournament, while the Charles Hays Junior Boys and Girls are in the Vancouver area for the Junior Boys and Girls Basketball Championships.

Three of the four teams claimed their spots in the tournaments with Zones victories in February, with the Senior Boys winning in Smithers, the Junior boys in Terrace and the Girls at home at Charles Hays.

The Junior Girls will also be competing in a tournament this week, despite finishing second in their tournament, they were the only Northwest squad to register for possible tournament action and so they are making the trip to Langley.

Prince Rupert's dominance in roundball bounced through February, as the Prince Rupert Middle School Storm claimed the Grade 8 boys Zones championship in a tournament in Smithers, the Girls Storm squad finished second in their tournament.

This weeks tournaments across the province are going ahead despite the current labour dispute between the BCTF and the provincial government,  that after the BCTF granted permission for high school coaches to continue on with their work during the dispute, owing to the amount of preparation that the tournaments required to be put in place.

Charles Hays Senior boys tip off on Wednesday at 5 at Thompson Rivers University, the Charles Hays Senior Girls play that same day at a different venue in Kamloops.

The Junior boys first game is Thursday at 11:30 AM, the girls first see action at 12:30.

North coast residents can follow the tournament action from these websites

AA Basketball Championships Kamloops
Telus Junior Boys Basketball Provincial Championships
Telus Junior Girls Basketball Provincial Championships

The Northern View-- Senior boys and girls basketball teams moving on to Provincials
The Northern View-- Grade 8 boys and girls place well at regional zones
The Northern View-- Junior Girls moving on to Provincials
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert basketball teams begin provincials
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert teams compete in provincials (Day 2)

Scoreboard Update Senior AA Tournament:

Results Girls and Boys

Saturday Sr. Girls-- Abbotsford 71 -- Charles Hays  50
Saturday Sr, Boys-- LV Rogers 73 -- Charles Hays 67
Friday Sr. Girls-- Nechako Valley 71 -- Charles Hays 69
Friday Sr. Boys-- Abby Christian 61 -- Charles Hays 44
Thursday Sr. Girls-- Summerland 72 vs Charles Hay 65 
Thursday Sr. Boys-- Archbishop Carney 77 -- Charles Hays 56
Wednesday Sr. Boys--  GW Graham 93 -- Charles Hays 59
Wednesday Sr. Girls--  Lambrick Park 85 -- Charles Hays 56

Scoreboard Update Junior Tournament:

Boys results  /  Girls Results

Saturday Jr. Boys-- Charles Hays 29 vs Princess Margaret 23
Saturday Jr. Girls -- Charles Hays 29  -- College Heights 24
Friday Jr. Girls-- Mark Isfeld 34 -- Charles Hays 11
Friday Jr. Boys Game 2-- Charles Hays 48 -- Valleyview 46
Friday Jr. Boys Game 1-- MEI 51 -- Charles Hays 28
Thursday Jr. Boys-- Vancouver College 66 -- Charles Hays 24
Thursday Jr. Girls Game 2-- Little Flower 42 -- Charles Hays 19
Thursday Jr. Girls Game 1 -- South Kamloops 55 -- Charles Hays 11

Discussion begins on emergency services replacement building

With Prince Rupert on the clock when it comes to replacing the aging RCMP detachment, the city has begun the process of discussion into a combination emergency services building which would house both the city's police and fire services under one roof.

That process got underway on Monday night as the city hosted the first of what will be five meetings designed to inform the public as to the requirements of the city's emergency services.

The first session explored the theme of Why we should consider this?

The next session is set for April second, when the pros and cons of the project will be discussed.

Subsequent meetings take place on the following dates:

May 7 - The topic of when it needs to be addressed,

June 4th-- How would the building be financed

June 18th-- Where would the building be located

All of the meetings take place at 7 PM

The city may not in the end have much of a choice when it comes to the Police station, under the terms of the policing contract, the RCMP can initiate the construction of a new structure providing they make the proper documentation and initiate the process, which they have done over the last three years.

Over the time, the RCMP has sent an annual letter to the province advising the province as to the situation in the city and the requirement of a new building.  The RCMP are now in the position to have a new structure built and have the bill sent to the city.

With that hanging over the city's head, the push towards consultation and information is seemingly on, no doubt towards the goal of a new emergency services building that will provide new facilities for the city's services.

Originally the plan was to put such a project to referendum at the last election, however with short time to debate and inform, the city pulled back on that plan, leading up to the process that began on Monday.

The Northern View-- First public meeting on emergency building issue Monday night
CFTK TV 7-- Rupert Council held first Public Meeting about Emergency Buildings
CFTK TV7--  Emergency Building (video)
The Northern View-- Council reopens emergency building issue with four months of meetings
The Northern View-- (Sept 21 2011) City to seek voters' approval for new fire and police buildings
The Northern View-- (Oct 2011) Council scraps referendum on new emergency buildings for now

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Airport woes frustrate Rupert residents

Travelling to the Prince Rupert Airport sometimes appears to resemble an out take from that legendary John Candy  movie, Planes Trains and Automobiles, the Rupert version perhaps, Bus, Boats and Planes.

Regardless, it's a major logistical adventure just to get to the airport from downtown, but of late that is only where the problems begin, as the Northern View outlines, maintenance issues on the de-icing equipment at Prince Rupert Airport have resulted in flight cancellations over the last few weeks.

The most recent cancellations follow on the heels of  a Christmas holiday problem that left many travellers frustrated as a Prince Rupert bound flight had to be diverted to Prince George owing to troubles clearing the Prince Rupert runway of snow.

The incidents while usually rare (despite the recent problems Prince Rupert still appears to have less delays and cancellations than elsewhere in the Northwest), seem to be piling up as 2012 progresses, something that is frustrating travellers and perhaps providing for a performance level black eye for the local airport.

While the use and maintenance of the de-icing equipment is contracted out to the transportation provider there, the simple fact is, if the flights are delayed or cancelled completely it's the image of the Prince Rupert airport that suffers the most.

Considering the marketing plan of the Terrace airport is to place it in the minds of travellers as the Northwest Transportation hub, the ongoing issues at the Prince Rupert Airport may be inadvertently adding to that impression that Terrace is morphing into the hub.

The Prince Rupert Airport Authority might want to sit down with its transportation partner sooner rather than later to sort out all the maintenance and equipment problems, lest the travelling public migrate eastward on their own.