Friday, August 31, 2012

Kitimat dreams the big dreams

The project may never actually come to conclusion, but for the month of August and for what we imagine will be the fall, all the talk of Northwest infrastructure development seems destined to be focused on Kitimat and Canadian press baron David Black's plans to develop an oil refinery at the end of Douglas Channel.

The announcement on August 16 of a multi billion dollar development provides for a change in the discussion on pipelines and development on the north coast, a plan which would clearly turn Kitimat into the industrial hub of the region.

Under the working title of Kitimat Clean Ltd. Black outlined the plan for the proposed Oil refinery, providing a website that offered some background and details on the project.

Black, who seemingly knows how to create a headline or two, has offered up the prospect of the oil refinery as one way to address the Northern Gateway pipeline debate and answer those that suggest that Canada should refined it's own oil for shipment, rather than sending the raw goods overseas.

Within a day of the announcement those that had issues with Black's proposal came forward to begin the opposition to the plan, leaving Kitimat with but 24 hours of dreaming the big dream of industrial development.

In British Columbia, the path to large scale projects such as pipelines, industrial plants and refineries is one that is a winding road of discussion, reviews and in some cases protests, one imagines that too will be the fate of the Black proposal.

The key aspect of the opposition seems to be the prospect of oil tankers plying Douglas Channel, whether they be carrying refined oil or bitumen from the Alberta Oil Sands.

How the proposal by Black may change that perspective and those talking points remains to be seen, however, his project, added on to the Rio Tinto Alcan Kitimat expansion, LNG terminal plans and Port of Kitimat expansion thoughts,  has certainly added to the talking points of industrial development in Northwestern British Columbia, with Kitimat jumping to the centre it seems of all the major development plans of the moment.

Northern View-- Plans announced for $13 billion oil refinery in the northwest
Northern View-- MP says plans for oil refinery 'ridiculous', MLA calls it 'pie in the sky' idea
Terrace Standard-- City council leery of refinery plan
Terrace Standrd- First Nations leader backs refinery proposal
CFTK-- Kitimat Council to support Oil Refinery Under Certain conditions
CFTK-- Kitimat Council on Refinery project (video)
CFTK-- Cullen puzzled by Black's Refinery Proposal
CFTK-- Oil Refinery Proposed for Terrace-Kitimat Corridor
CFTK-- Oil Refinery Project update (video)
CBC Northern BC-- Considering an oil refinery in Kitimat
CBC-- B. C. publisher proposes $13B crude refinery near Kitimat
Globe and Mail-- Kitimat refinery would be a game-changer
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Newspaper tycoon proposes $13 billion oil refinery...
Vancouver Sun-- Oil producers say economics will decide fate of Black's refinery plan
Vancouver Sun-- If Black can back his refinery proposal, it could change the Northern Gateway plan
Vancouver Sun-- Media mogul David Black knows how to recognize a business opportunity
Vancouver Sun-- Black's refinery pitch promises, jobs, safety
Vancouver Sun-- David Black's Kitimat area oil refinery project inspired by Arizona venture
Vancouver Sun-- Kitimat oil refinery could blacken province's reputation, foes say 
Vancouver Province-- B. C. media mogul proposes $13billion oil refinery...
Vancouver Province-- Give the customers what they want
Georgia Straight-- How one Black Press paper covers David Black's refinery proposal in Kitimat
The Tyee-- 'Kitimat Clean' promises new refinery to serve Northern Gateway
The Tyee-- David Black confirms BC Media Love a Tycoon with a Dream

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Prince Rupert City Council cancels August session

Vacation All I ever wanted,
Vacation Had to get away,
Vacation Meant to be spent alone

Vacation -- Go Go's,  1982

We're not sure if there's any water skiing on the agenda, but like Belinda and the gals back in 1982, this current collection of elected officials are getting away from it all for August.

 This week Prince Rupert City Hall served notice that the scheduled August 20th session of council has been cancelled, with our elected officials next set to gather in council chambers on September 4th.

The move to cancel the already light August schedule completely (one scheduled council session in August) was examined in the Northern View, which discovered that with seemingly little to put on the agenda and anticipated absences from council members, it was felt that the planned session for the month would best be abandoned.

In the article the City suggests that the session will be rescheduled for September, though one wonders if that means that it will just be meshed in with the regularly scheduled September 4th session or if we'll have three sessions in September, as opposed to the regularly scheduled two.

The move comes as Prince Rupert taxpayers begin to voice concerns about full value for all that tax money collected by the city, so the decision to skip the meeting completely may make for a new wave of letters to the editor to the local paper, much along the lines of this one, or perhaps this one.

Especially when in comparison to the neighbours up the road in Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers,  all city councils which feature not one, but two council sessions in both July and August, apparently they are able to find enough work to do around the council chambers in those locales to gather in summer session.

For those looking to review councils deliberations beyond the missing month of work for August, the full review of council's 2012 body of work can be found here.

Captain Monaghan to the bridge!

If Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan has her way, the North coast port will soon be home port to a coastal ferry to serve Hartley Bay, Klemtu and Bella Bella.

Monaghan has been championing the project for over a year now (page 1 Mayor's message of the Kitimat Annual Report), the result now being a feasibility study that has recently been completed and is off to a number of BC provincial ministries for review.

The ferry, would be geared towards tourism and would operate on a three day week basis.

The task force received funding from the Northern Development Initiative Trust and now moves from the concept stage to a more formalized approach.

Considering the reviews for BC Ferries over the last few years have outlined the financial challenges of operating ferry service in Northern Waters, one has to wonder if such a competing service would fare better without subsidy in its delivery of service.

Of note for Prince Rupert of course is the impact that such a service out of Kitimat could have on the BC Ferry Service operations already in place on the north coast.

With few details available yet, the prospect of a service out of Kitimat could result in a reduction from Rupert to those same communities, a spin off effect that could in the end reduce further the state of the current ferry service on the north coast.

The proposed Kitimat Ferry project is however still very much a developmental idea, contingent of further funding from any number of provincial sources.

CFTK TV-- Kitimat Ferry Proposal Sails Forward
CFTK TV -- Kitimat Ferry Update (video)
The Northern View-- Kitimat wants its own ferry service to isolated native communities
Kitimat Daily online-- Ferry Study complete

Port Edward school plans for 2012-13 announced

School District 52 is closing the Port Edward School on August 31st and then, school will reopen in the same location in September, under a lease back provision with the District of Port Edward.

The paperwork and agreement from it will provide for a community school in Port Ed for the 2012-13 school year, leading up to the completion of a new school building in that community, which would seemingly provide for a guarantee of education there until at least August of 2032.

Port Edward has been looking for creative ways to ensure that there was a form of local education in the community at the elementary level, a key aspect of growth for the community and a plan that would not require students to be transported to Prince Rupert schools for the elementary years.

In order for Port Edward to have a school in place for this September, the School District will be using the existing building on the sub lease provision, with Port Edward responsible for any major maintenance requirements that may arise in the interim period.

The plan to close the school and the terms of the sub lease were up for discussion at a School District meeting held on Thursday.

The Northern View provides some background on the recent developments here, a review of the construction project can be found here.

Northwest continues to lead province in unemployment

While we are reminded frequently that the glimmer of better days is on the horizon, the current situation when it comes to jobs and employment across the Northwest would seem to still be a work in progress.

The monthly unemployment statistics were released last week and once again, as we have for many months now, the Northwest remains a little behind the curve when it comes to job opportunities and employment.

The reported unemployment rate for the North Coast and Nechako region was 11.9 per cent in July, an increase of 4 percent from last July.  That is significantly higher than the provincial unemployment rate which is 6.9 percent. The Northwest is the only region of the province with double digit unemployment.

The rates as compiled by Statistics Canada do not include those that are currently on Employment Insurance, nor those that have exhausted those benefits or have withdrawn from the job search completely.

The spike in the numbers from the area of Vanderhoof west could have many reasons and is on the radar of the Liberal government, though according to an interview in the Northern View Pat Bell the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation the trouble areas don't include Terrace, Kitimat or Prince Rupert.

Minister Bell seemingly is using anecdotal observations to come to that conclusion, pointing to Port development in Prince Rupert and the ongoing projects in Kitimat to reinforce his points. The numbers provide for a worrisome trend, one worth watching heading into the fall and winter where unemployment numbers tend to increase on the North coast.

Northern View-- Job Stats raise question of priorities
Vancouver Province-- BC lost 15,000 jobs in July as Canadian unemployment rate rises
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. hit by sharp employment decline in July: Statistics Canada
Opinion 250-- Unemployment holds steady in P. G.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Copper River Road a trouble area for Northwest Fire Centre

Northwest residents that use the Copper River Road this weekend would be advised to keep an eye on their surroundings and be prepared for potential closures as the Northwest Fire Centre keeps an eye on a wildfire burning along the 10 mile mark of the road.

Travellers may experience delays along Copper River Road

The fire which grew in size Friday to close to one hectare, was first spotted on Thursday, smoke will be visible to travellers in the Copper River Road area and those that use the road are advised that flaggers could closed the road when necessary out of safety concerns.

The fire is currently inaccessible to fire suppression crews, they are keeping an eye on its path and will take action when it transfers to more workable terrain.

Terrace Standard-- Wildfire may cause traffic delays
CFTK-- Wildfire burns near Terrace

Friday, August 10, 2012

Smart Meter concerns continue to pop up for BC Hydro

BC Hydro perhaps thought that the firestorm of controversy had passed over the introduction of the "smart meter" program, the installation process having continued on from the spring into the summer with little in the way of public blow back since those early first days.

Then an actual fire, seems to have raised an alarm for some that perhaps the issue of the Smart Meters needs to be looked at once again, something that BC Hydro seems to be working quickly to knock down.

The provincial electric utility has been quick to respond to the latest discussion on their new technology. That after fires in Mission and Coquitlam traced back to the base of a newly installed Smart Meter bringing the program back to the top of the news cycle in the province.

BC Hydro is reminding its customers that homeowners must share responsibility for electrical safety after the two recent fires, advising that the condition of those sockets is the responsibility of the homeowner, but if any problems are found by installation crews BC Hydro will contact the homeowner and offer to bring in a qualified electrician to solve the problem at Hydro's expense.

The utility also advises that the actual smart meter installation program provides little risk to the electrical system of a home and in fact provide improved surge protection over the old meters.

Still, for a program that has been a flash point for the utility this year, the high profile fires and the fall out from them, once again puts the Smart Meter program back on the minds of homeowners.

BC Hydro Smart Meter information portal, FAQ page

CBC-- BC Hydro offers free fix if meter installers find hazard
Vancouver Sun-- Fire concerns over smart meters appear overblown
CTV BC-- 2 home fires probed where new smart meters were set up
Opinion 250-- BC Hydro Issues Advisory to Homeowners

Udderfest offers up a wide range of entertainment

The North Coasts mid summer theatre festival known as Udderfest is underway, the 14th annual edition of the popular event is holding court at two venues in the city.

Opening night was Thursday with Stab in the Dark and I'd Like to Buy A Vowel taking to the Tom Rooney stage, that venue will also play host to the topical Zenbridge, as well as War of Wits, High Society and Rupert Tonight.

The Lester Centre of the Arts is providing the stage for Juvenile Eyes, Toast and Jam and Playground Revenge and presentations of Rupert Tonight.

The events are for the most part local Harbour Theatre presentations, offering up a stage for the city's large theatre population, however, the lure of Udderfest also brings in the out of town acts, Lyle McNish returns with Kitimat's On Cue Players, while the Vancouver based band High Society  is making the trip north for the festival.

The Festival wraps up on August 12th.

The Tom Rooney Playhouse is located at 954 3rd Avenue West, the Lester Centre of the Arts can be found on Highway 16/McBride Street at Wantage Road, beside the Civic Centre.

CFTK-- Udderfest Kicks off in Prince Rupert
CFTK-- Udderfest (video report)
Northern View-- Harbour Theatre getting ready for Udderfest in Prince Rupert

UdderFest Schedule 2012

August 8-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, Stab in the Dark, 7 PM
August 8-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, I'd like to Buy a Vowel, 9 PM

August 9-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, Zenbridge, 7 PM
August 9-- Lester Centre, Juvenile Eyes, 8 PM
August 9-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, Stab in the Dark, 9 PM
August 9-- Lester Centre, Rupert Tonight, 10 PM

August 10-- Lester Centre, Toast and Jam, 7 PM
August 10-- Tom Rooney Playhouse,  I'd Like to Buy A Vowel, 8 PM
August 10-- Lester Centre, Juvenile Eyes, 8:30 PM
August 10-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, Stab in the Dark, 9:30 PM
August 10-- Lester Centre, Rupert Tonight, 10 PM
August 10-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, Zenbridge, 11 PM

August 11-- Lester Centre, Playground Revenge, 1 PM
August 11-- Lester Centre, Playground Revenge, 3 PM
August 11-- Lester Centre, Toast and Jam, 4:30 PM
August 11-- Lester Centre, Juvenile Eyes, 7 PM
August 11-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, I'd Like to Buy A Vowel, 8 PM
August 11-- Lester Centre, Toast and Jam, 9 PM
August 11-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, Zenbridge, 9:30 PM
August 11-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, War of Wits, 11 PM

August 12-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, Rupert Tonight, 2:30 PM
August 12-- Tom Rooney Playhouse, High Society, 7 PM

City sees commercial growth from port activity

The City is trumpeting 12 new business starts as an indication that economic conditions have begun to turn around,  an interesting interpretation of growth that offers up a few things that could raise some eyebrows.

The Northern View published the City's declaration that activity from the Port of Prince Rupert is having a spin off effect on the commercial core of the city, highlighting the 12 new business options that have arrived in the last 18 months.

From a new Meat store in Cow Bay, to a new storage unit on Saskatoon Avenue, as well as a thrift shop on Third and the new Dollarama in the Rupert Square, the city is championing the new shopping opportunities that have come to the region.

In among those options that the city suggest heralds as the rising tide of commercial development, a Tobacco and News operation in the Rupert Square and the recently opened Chads Smoke shop on 2nd Avenue West.

The latter finding a more positive spin from this city government, than its reception in other Western Canadian communities over the last year or so.

And while any new opening or (renovation and move in the case of Shoppers) is a positive trend for the city, there have also been a number of closings that have taken away from the employment base and commercial space downtown.

The biggest hit of course came earlier this year from the Ocean Fish Plant, which was a large employer in the city and provided for a number of high paying jobs, both seasonal and full time.

Add on the closing of Zellers (to be replaced by the Wal Mart in the fall) the Husky Gas Station and the Pizza Hut to name a few, and on balance perhaps, just treading water may be a more accurate description of the commercial situation at the moment.

CFTK-- Twelve New Business Locations in Prince Rupert
CFTK-- Rupert Local Business (video report)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mother Nature wakes the neighbours

From Haida Gwaii to the Interior, Mother Nature offered up a bit of light, a bit of noise and a bit of shaking on a Tuesday evening.

The night of reminders started on Haida Gwaii with a 4.2 magnitude earthquake west of the Islands, a temblor that was felt across Haida Gwaii, rattling the neighbours but causing little damage.

Another warning for the North coast that we live on fault lines and from time to time things tend to move.

The night got interesting east of Prince Rupert as well, a noisy thunder storm rolled through the Terrace area and moved east, rattling windows and knocking out power, with Prince Rupert suffering a power outage around 2 in the morning.

That storm was perhaps a far edge of the string of severe storms that rolled across southern British Columbia on Tuesday night, lighting up the sky from Victoria to Hope with one of the most impressive of light shows seen in that area in many years.

Wednesday saw the storm systems move east, into the Interior both north and south, with Prince George reporting a few power outages over the last day or so in the wake of the systems passing.


CFTK-- Wildfire Burns Near Terrace
CFTK-- Lightning Sparks Wildfires

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tragic events mar Riverboat Days weekend

The August long weekend in the Terrace region was marred by two events that put a damper on the Riverboat Days weekend in that community.

Terrace RCMP and search and rescue volunteers in that community spent Sunday and Monday seeking to find a 29 year old Greenville resident, Alvin Clayton who was reported missing after he failed to surface while swimming on Sunday.

Rescuers had a rescue boat in the water by Sunday night but as of Monday had not found Mr. Clayton.

Out of respect for that search, Riverboat Days organizers chose not to conduct the annual Riverboat Days duck race, one of the many events that make up Riverboat Days. Organizers instead held a draw of all the entrants.

Saturday, a single motor vehicle incident claimed the life of a 60 year old Terrace resident,  the vehicle went off the road on the eastern approach to the city, sliding down an embankment, emergency personnel responded to the call and administered attention, however the driver was pronounced deceased upon his arrival at Terrace's Mills Memorial Hospital.

RCMP continue their investigation into the incident.


CFTK-- Tragedies Mar Riverboat Days Celebrations
CFTK-- Skeena River Search continues for Missing Laxgalts'ap Man

A ticking clock for a major temblor

The National Post provides the helpful reminder to West Coast residents that they are on the clock for the "Big One", the long predicted major force earthquake that will test many of the resources of communities up and down the West Coast.

The watch box if you will, appears to run from Vancouver to Northern California, with the potential for an earth movement similar to that which struck Japan in 2011.

Needless to say, such an event of that kind of magnitude would provide for much in the way of destruction and mayhem in those communities, a timely reminder to have in place emergency response plans, both personal and community based ones.

Based on two separate geological studies, the consensus is that the risk is significantly greater than previously anticipated.

A previous study (one of many on the topic) published in 2010 by the Geographical Society of America suggests that the southern portion of the Cascadia region that being California and Oregon was most likely at more risk than the northern reaches, however the threat of tsunami would impact all communities along the Pacific coast.

National Post-- "The clock is ticking": Megathrust' West coast earthquake could resemble Japan's, studies say.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Train keeps a comin'

I was born by the railroad tracks 
Well the train whistle wailed and i wailed right back
Steve Earle -- I Ain't Ever Satisfied (Copperhead Road1988)

As the number of trains rumbling across Northern British Columbia continues to grow, it would seem communities along the corridor are getting a little weary of the increasing frequency of those train whistles.

The subject has been the subject of debate in Prince Rupert for a few years now, the increased activity at the Port of Prince Rupert bringing with it a larger volume of trains shuttling in and out of the waterfront freight yard, the accompanying noise becoming yet another flash point issue for residents on that side of town.

The City of Prince Rupert has begun its exploration of the issue on the waterfront with a Whistle Cessation Resolution,  a first step in bringing the issue in Rupert to a more amenable situation.

Transport Canada may require safety measures such as flashing lights, bells, gates and signs, CN and the Prince Rupert Port Authority have committed the required resources to upgrade the subject crossings so that they can support the cessation of train whistling.

While the City of Prince Rupert is announcing its intention to pass a resolution as part of the process as outlined by Transport Canada, ultimately the City does not have jurisdiction over the two subject railway/road crossing.

The final statement suggesting that in the end, it will be up to the Port and CN to put forward the required measures to bring the whistles to an end, a process which is going to come with some expense,  how that expense may be split we haven't seen much guidance on as of yet.

Now it seems, the issue is spreading further along the railroad, with Terrace residents the latest to join in  on a call for a more audio friendly transit of their community.

A story in the Terrace Standard outlines the annoyance of the whistles there and provides an advisory that any kind of resolution to the troubles may be a ways off.

With the Port of Prince Rupert still with Container Port expansion plans on the books and further development of other shipment terminals in the planning stages, the prospect of less trains seems rather remote, the issue of the train whistles destined to be with us for the foreseeable future.

CFTK-- Terrace Train Noises Concern Council
CBC-- Prince Rupert residents want train whistles silenced

Spectra Energy considers LNG shipments out of Prince Rupert

The line up of potential users of an LNG shipment point out of Prince Rupert seems to grow by the month, the latest one is Spectra Energy, which announced in a press release yesterday that it is considering enhancements to its pipeline grid in British Columbia to support liquefied natural gas exports out of Prince Rupert.

According to the release, the company is already involved in advanced negotiations on the project, calling Prince Rupert a great location.

The Spectra grid is connected to both Prince Rupert and Kitimat,  though those connections are smaller diameter lines and provide for far less capacity than a shipment terminal might require.

Towards the project of a shipment terminal Spectra would commit 4 to 6 billion dollars to its Western Canadian Infrastructure projects to support LNG exports, making use of a pair of properties that the company is developing in Horn River and Montney shales.

The Houston, Texas based company recently opened a processing plant in Dawson Creek, BC and is poised for further expansion in the provinces North East.

Spectra is just the latest of Natural Gas Exporters to express an interest in using Prince Rupert as a shipment point, last month details were released of the interest by Petronas, Malaysia's state owned oil and gas company in plans to develop a shipment point on Lelu Island near Ridley Island.

From the North Coast Review Archive

July 2012-- LNG plans dusted off for Prince Rupert

Thursday, August 2, 2012

City Council has questions for NWCC over program plans

It came at the end of a mid summer City Council meeting, the Mayor offering up his surprise and disappointment to learn that Northwest Community College had recently relocated the popular Electrical program from the Prince Rupert campus, centralizing it at the main campus at Terrace.

The Mayor offers up his observations on the issue at the 37:45  mark of the July 30th streaming broadcast of the council proceedings, seeking  a motion from council to request a meeting with NWCC officials to discuss this and other education related concerns that council may have.

It took a couple of prompts from the Mayor, but in the end Councillor Garon seconded the motion, a  situation that provided for further discussion from Councillor Carlick-Pearson on the importance of NWCC in Prince Rupert.

Following those talking points around the table, city staff  was instructed  to seek information from the college as to the reasoning behind the electrical move and perhaps to determine if there are any other local programs at risk as the college continues with its budget cutting.

As has been reported through 2012, NWCC is currently trying to resolve a budget shortfall of up to two million dollars, and with requirements to make up  that shortfall now in place, there have been cutbacks made at many of the campuses across the Northwest.

Council may be a day or two late to try and reverse the electrical program decision by NWCC, but by seeking further information, they at least have the opportunity to send a shot across the bow of the college administrators that they will remain watchful for further reductions at the Prince Rupert campus.

Update:  The Northern View examined the issue on August 3rd with details as to the reason for centralizing the program from the college's perspective as well as further information on the Mayor's thoughts.

Northern View--  Electrical Apprenticeship program no longer offered at Prince Rupert NWCC campus

The Statistically Mean streets of Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert makes a return appearance  to the top ten of the rolls of the criminally inclined, our second year in a row at number eight in combined violent and non violent crime reports.

While it's not quite the days of shoot outs at the streets such as the big cities sometimes face, the latest crime statistics offer up the numerical review of criminal activity weighted by population. From those findings  it would appear that crime remains a bit of an issue for locals, whether they know it or not it seems.

The Northern View provided the details on the latest from the Crime Severity Index, a statistical review that outlines Prince Rupert's placement as second among cities in BC when it comes to the worst of communities in Canada when it comes to crime.

The review tabulates the Crime stats for all communities over 10,000 in population from across the nation.

The statistics are culled from the 2011 report from Statistics Canada, released in June and from that review Prince Rupert ranks 8th overall across the nation in the rankings of violent and non-violent crimes.

When it comes to violent crimes reported, Prince Rupert is in fifth place overall across Canada, second to BC with only Williams Lake to keep us from infamy.

Non violent crimes finds Prince Rupert's ranking as 12th overall in Canada, third in BC trailing Williams Lake and Langley City.

When the overall CSI numbers are compiled, Prince Rupert stakes a claim to 8th spot in the listings.

Alaska moves forward with AMHS Terminal rebuild plans in Prince Rupert

The Alaska Marine Highway terminus in Prince Rupert could very well have a new look in the near future.

According to KRBD radio in Ketchikan, Marine Highway System officials are currently in negotiation with with both the Port of Prince Rupert and Canadian National Railway, seeking a 50 year lease to allow the system to better improve its facilities at the southern end of its state wide ferry system.

In the immediate future is replacement work on the dock and marine structures of the terminal and further along perhaps an improvement to the terminal building itself. The Alaska Ferry Terminal dock has been in need of major renovations for a number of years and has had to be repaired on an emergency basis more than a few times.

AMHS was recently authorized 9 million dollars in  further spending on the proposed project and they plan on seeking US federal funding as they move closer towards the reconstruction plans.

With the security of a long term lease and the prospect of cost recovery, the momentum to move forward is getting closer as far as the Alaskans are concerned.

Prince Rupert Marina project receives cash injection

The plan to increase the capacity of recreational boat traffic to the city moved forward this week with word that the community was successful in its quest for 250,000 dollars from the West Coast Community Adjustment Program, which is operated through the office of Western Economic Diversification Canada.

The Program was applied for through Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest, which taps into a fund for coastal communities to improve on infrastructure in their community.

The seed money was applied for in June and will go towards developing the plan that could eventually see a 700 foot floating wharf in the area of the Prince Rupert Yacht Club on the Cow Bay waterfront, a 1.7 million dollar project that would provide for more space for pleasure craft that travel up and down the west coast.

Currently there are but 10 slips for yachts to dock at in Prince Rupert, the project when completed would add another 32 openings, an increase that local advocates for the project hope will help Prince Rupert attract more pleasure boaters to stop over in the community for a few days.

The Northern View-- Prince Rupert receiving $250.000 for marina project
The Northern View-- New yacht dock begins applying for grant money with City's support

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Watson Island sale on the table

When it comes to the Industrial lands of Waston Island, it would appear, that as they sale in the Real Estate industry, it's a "buyer's market".

The City has received a bid on its long running quest to relieve itself of the burden of ownership of Watson Island, the one time home for Skeena Cellulose, New Skeena and Sun Wave to name a few and now used for container stuffing and loading, but for the most part an all but abandoned scrap of industrial vista.  

The once thriving pulp mill long ago ceased its operations, leaving the land to be returned to the city over tax issues, languishing with any number of environmental issues and lawsuits to resolve over the years.

Still, hope springs eternal of a sale and the return of some kind of development on the site and to that end comes word from the Northern View, that there is now an offer on the table for the site, all be it with a few caveats, the most important one of course being the end of the never ending lawsuits between the City and Sun Wave that have held the headlines over the last few years.

Should that deal breaker ever find resolution and the conditional offer is accepted, a consortium of the Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams bands and two resource companies Colonial Coal , as well as Hillsborough Resources, apparently have plans to develop the site into a bulk shipment terminal and Industrial park.

The sale will provide for a purchase price of 5.5 million dollars, with the City of Prince Rupert to receive 5 million dollars and the District of Port Edward 500,000. For their money the two bands will hold title to the land, while the resource companies will develop and operate the property on a 99 year lease.

The final purchase price is a significant drop in expectations from the City's original asking price of 13 million dollars listed when the property went to tax sale in 2009 and as the Northern view outlines, it's still below the $6.48 million owed to the City of Prince Rupert in back taxes from the former owner Sun Wave Forest Products.

Add on to that, the ongoing cost of the litigation with Sun Wave over those back taxes and other assorted issues and the amount of recovery from sale of the land could even drop lower, a gusher of financial compensation to the city it may not be.

All of of which will be a moot point unless those court challenges come to an end at some point, before the possibility of court costs take what's left from that 5.5 mil.

Until then, the proposed purchase is still just another plan for Watson Island, whether it ever sees the light of day is something that will be of interest to locals who have been following the sagas of Watson Island for decades now.