Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vancouver Sun paints a portrait of better times a dawning for North Coast

It's the kind of article that we imagine will find a prominent placement among the various blogs of the local Realtors, destined we're sure to find favour at the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and City of Prince Rupert portals.

Gordon Hamilton of the Vancouver Sun provided the prospectus for the future of the North Coast, a future that will provide for prosperity mainly through the efforts of the Port of Prince Rupert.

Vancouver Sun-- Port's growth returns prosperity to Prince Rupert

The article which coincided with the arrival of the largest container vessel yet to call on the Fairview Container Port, outlined the past history of the Port as a resource based bulk shipment point, an era where decline was the buzzword of choice for the Northwest, hostage to the mercurial nature of the forestry and coal industries along Highway 16 and to the North.

The change to the Port of Prince Rupert's arrival as an international shipment terminal of course came in 2007 when the plans of creating a container terminal on the north coast came to fruition and the lobbying to carve out its niche in the world of transportation began.

Five years later, the Port is very much a player in that world, the annual numbers of throughput going up and up and up, the Port now claiming status as the third largest container terminal in the Country.

The Northern View-- Largest container ship yet arrives in Prince Rupert
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal marks fifth anniversary
The Northern View-- Traffic through Prince Rupert's Fairview Terminal up more than 50 per cent

The achievement of the Port of Prince Rupert is something that hasn't escaped the steely gaze of American lobbyists and politicians, who have begun to  look north with a variety of concerns at the volume of traffic going to the US heartland through Prince Rupert.

Such is the success over the last few years that expansion plans are still very much in development with the Phase Two project still anticipated to get underway in 2013.

Beyond the container port, the waterfront it seems is destined to play a larger and larger role in the region's development, from LNG projects to the Pinnacle Pellet Plant to hopeful thoughts that the Watson Island debacle may soon be coming to an end, a shift is clear in place for the local economy.

The city and the northern half of the province for that matter, has a future that now runs through the various facilities of the Port.

Some of Hamilton's thoughts are perhaps overstated, the "building boom" of 11th Avenue isn't quite on the scale of many other communities, and new home construction on the North Coast isn't near the pace of Prince George, let alone anywhere else in the province.

The anecdotal thoughts from the Credit Union of increased savings account balances is also an interesting economic indicator, though after years and years of economic stagnation and decline, any bump up would seem like golden times we imagine.

Still as Mr. Hamilton outlines, there is a sense that a corner has been turned, one hopes that those that read it however do a bit of research before packing up the car and heading north, the region is far from a home of endless job opportunities just yet, those days may be a good number of years down the road.

For a number of local residents who haven't quite benefited from the opportunities thus far, times are still hard, sacrifices have still to be made.

As the Sun's very favourable portrait points out, much of any development in Prince Rupert now comes from the Port, the fates it seems will rise and fall on development plans hatched in countries far removed for our shore.

Whether it be resource based developments from northern Alberta and British Columbia or inbound materials shipped through Fairview destined for the USA, the rejuvenation of the local economy will depend on economic conditions that seem to change by the day in Asia and the USA.

Conditions which most likely will have much to say over how much prosperity eventually comes our way.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Council heads due south for UBCM gathering

The annual political gathering known as UBCM is underway in Victoria, bringing together municipal politicians and city staff members with provincial politicians and bureaucrats, a week long convention that offers for the exchange of ideas, numerous motions and a whole lot of meet and greets.

The theme of this year's UBCM is "In Conversation", as the introduction to the theme goes elected officials know the value of communication, except of course when they seek to go into closed session, but we digress.

The contingent from the North Coast will be a rather strong one, all of City council's elected officials as well as those from the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District are in attendance, bringing with them all of their senior staff.

At last weeks city council meeting, Councillor Rice asked that someone explain for the viewing public at home what exactly UBCM is and what council and staff do when attending. Nelson Kinney serving as Chair for the session tasked the City's Financial Services Manager Dan Rodin to the task, Councillor Ashley also offered some input as to what the elected officials do for us while in attendance at UBCM.

You can view it all from the City's video archive at the 1:51.30 minute mark.

The City of Prince Rupert brings a few resolutions to the floor this year.

Calling on the provincial and federal government to loosen the requirements on grant funding for infrastructure projects.

Extend liability for marine accidents involving dangerous cargo to both the carrier and seller of the cargo.

Recommend that local governments tenders be exempted from the CETA free trade treaty with the European Union.

They would also like to have the Joint Preparedness Emergency Plan and its funding kept in place past 2013.

Port Edward is seeking that the national repeat sexual offenders registry be made public and that federal infrastructure project funding not be limited to only public/private partnerships.

The folks at SQCRD simply want the coastal ferries recognized as part of the province's highway system.

The North Coast of course is not alone when it comes to the motions list, some other interesting thoughts come from Prince George and Terrace where Mayor Dave Pernarowski holds an executive position with the UBCM.

You can follow along as though you too are in Victoria, the UBCM program keeping you up to date on each days discussions tours and seminars..

The opening sessions kicked off at 8:30 with a few tours and seminars, though Monday is generally registration day, the real meat of the sessions gets underway on Tuesday, with a number of Cabinet Minister panels scheduled for Wednesday. All of it leading up to Friday's closing session with speeches from James Moore from the Federal Government and the keynote wrap to the event a speech from Premier Christy Clark in the afternoon.

In between Tuesday and Friday a lot of talk, a few panels, a lot of handshakes and a little socializing all in the spirit of better governance we trust.

The Northern View provided this preview of the North coast delegations trek south.

The weeks developments can be followed on Twitter at #UBCM2012, where updates on site and shared experiences will apparently be posted.

We'll update the happenings as they percolate over the next five days, items of note can be found at the link below as they occur.

UBCM discusion points 2012

UBCM Talking Points 2012

Our ongoing archive of any developments from this years UBCM gathering in Victoria, September 24-28.

October 11-- Local officials divided on tanker ban issue
October 10-- From the UBCM motion handbook
October 2-- UBCM Delegates debrief
September 30-- UBCM Pot Resolution Likely to Go Up in Smoke
September 30-- UBCM recommends keeping three year terms
September 29-- Dix criticizes Clark's munciipal auditor general proposal in UBCM speech
September 28-- Premier Clark at UBCM (video)
September 28-- Province considering financial help to solve corporate tax revolt
September 28-- At UBCM Premier Clark promises infrastructure sooner and more blacktop
September 28-- Premier Christy Clark looks ahead with pipelines, labour issues at UBCM...
September 28-- Adrian Dix will repeal balance budget law if elected Premier
September 27-- B. C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix adresses UBCM Delegates (audio)
September 27-- Call for pot decriminalization symbolic move
September 27-- B. C. municipal politicians narrowly approve oil tanker expansion
September 27-- UBCM opposes oil tanker traffic growth in near-split vote
September 27-- BC Mayor's caucus considering ways to become more democratic
September 25-- Municipalities look for funding
September 24-- Concerns about municipal funding and infrastructure costs...
September 24-- UBCM convention to discuss policing costs
September 24-- UBCM Gets Underway Today
September 23-- No new cash for municipalities, B. C. government warns
September 23-- B. C. Mayors to address 'taxpayer fatigue' as municipalities feel financial squeeze
September 23-- Local Politicians head to Victoria for UBCM

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tom Brokaw puts his Bulkley Valley getaway up on the market

Perhaps the folks around Smithers were in the loop, but kept the secret, they had a celebrity within their midst's, but in true Bulkley Valley fashion gave him his distance.

Tom Brokaw, the legendary NBC newsman seemingly has been an owner of property just north of Smithers his getaway of choice, a fishing lodge known as Hat Rack Ranch.  A 275 acre spread that highlights the steel head fishing on the Bulkley River as it's key attraction.

Mr. Brokaw purchased the property with  two friends to pursue their passion for fishing, a quiet respite from the very high energy life of Manhattan. No doubt it was  a place where Mr. Brokaw would go to get away from the network news grind back in the day, a little piece of BC that would serve as a retreat.

But all good things it seems do come to an end, Mr. Brokaw and his friends don't use the property as much as they used to and so now are putting it up on the market.

Hall and Hall property brokers are handling the sale and have this prospectus up on the net for you to look over. If you can come up with the 1.8 million dollar asking price, you can say you own the spread where Brokaw put his hat on the rack.

So, with Mr. Brokaw soon to be a Bulkley land baron no more, you can think back to those trips through Smithers when you noticed that guy in the Bulkley Valley Wholesale or at the A & W and went, hey he looks like...

Turns out you may have been right.

The discovery of the Brokaw property sale spread quick among the media sites of the province, each listing some of the key points of his Bulkley Valley home away from home. Which no doubt means that there will be no turning back now, after all it's not much of a getaway home if everyone knows where it is.

Global BC-- Tom Brokaw selling Smithers property for $1.8 million
Vancouver Province-- Tom Brokaw selling Smithers property for $1.8m
Vancouver Sun-- Newsman Tom Brokaw lists B. C. fishing compound for $1.75
Huffington Post-- Tom Brokaw Lists Smithers Ranch for Sale

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yukon power failure knocks CityWest off the grid

A power outage on Wednesday night in the Yukon has had some long lasting and long range effects, including knocking out CityWest's cellular and data services.

The power failure which struck the Yukon on Wednesday lasted only four hours, but when the lights came back on, one by one the telecommunication backbone of the Territory began to crumble.

As the night moved into Thursday, Yukon officials were still seeking answers to the problem, which has Northwest Tel the communication provider in the Yukon scrambling to get things back on line.

The immediate impact was to the Whitehorse area which has lost all phone and communication service, leaving the community to bring in extra police officers to work the streets should assistance be required as the 911 service was among the communication services affected.

The disruption to the north has also had a major impact in Prince Rupert, for those using the CityWest Cellular service, CityWest uses Northwest Tel as its partner in cel service, the service interruption has CityWest customers unable to use their cel phones or send text messages.

No information on the disruption including any kind of time frame for the resumption of service has been provided on the main CityWest website nor on its Latest news section, or the section dedicated to Service Outages.

Update: The Northern View advises that CityWest service had been restored by Thursday afternoon.

Port Corporation spreads the wealth a little bit more

The Prince Rupert Regional Hospital is about gain some much needed equipment, the recipient of a cash contribution in part from the Community Investment Fund of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

In a press release of September 18th, the Port outlined the background and the numbers behind a donation to Northern Health which provides for a $60,500 contribution towards the Orthopedic Surgery program.

The donation is just the latest of Community contributions that the Port has made from the fund, covering a wide cross section of the fabric of the city and the region, a very visible way of showing the Ports impact on Prince Rupert and the Northwest.

Since its inception, the Community Investment Fund has contributed over 1 million dollars to a number of local initiatives, at times partnering with other local corporations to provide for worthy projects.

Some of the other contributions of note include:


Prince Rupert Port Authority lends a financial hand towards Salmon Education
Port Authority Announces Rampage Hockey Sponsorship
Port Authority Contribution Brightens Limelight at Local Playhouse
Port Authority Investment Supports New Round-the-Clock Recylcing Depot Initiative
Port Authority's Donation to Seafarers' Centre Marks International Day of the Seafarer
Port Authority Contribution Empowers Trades Training Project
Music Studio Receives Noteworthy Contribution from Prince Rupert Port Authority


Port of Prince Rupert's Hockey Sponsorship Nets a Win for Local Charity
Racquet Facility Upgrades in full swing Following Port Authority Contribution
Port Authority Contribution Helps Level Playing Field at Community Golf Course
Collaborative Effort Raises New Weather Tower
Soccer Contribution Kicks Off Year of Port Authority's Community Investments

News coverage of the Port's contributions provides a look at some of the background and community reaction to the donations (not to mention the ever popular photo op with the big cheques) that frame the Port's contributions to the local community.

The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $10,000 to Oldfield Creek Hatchery
CFTK-- The Prince Rupert Port Authority Contributes $10,000 to local Salmon Education...
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $250,000 to music studio
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $60,500 for operating room equipment
CFTK-- Rupert Hospital Equipment
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $20,500 to improve local golf course
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $100,00 for field replacement
CFTK-- CHSS will be getting a new field
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $25,000 to Seafarer's Mission Centre
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $475,000 to community groups
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $50,000 to My Mountain Coop

2011 Contributions to the Community Investment Fund (video)

Northwest Community College seeks Trades building renewal, in Terrace

The departure of the Electrical program from the Prince Rupert campus of Northwest Community College may have caught the Mayor of Prince Rupert by surprise, but its relocation to Terrace and the demand for other trades at the Terrace campus of NWCC has that location now looking for expansion.

Towards that goal of renewal in Terrace, NWCC President Denise Henning appeared in front of Terrace City Council this week, seeking their assistance in approaching the province to provide the funding to expand and rejuvenate the trades building and program at the Terrace campus.

The project which would cost 45 million dollars who'd provide for 120,000 square feet of space and include up to date equipment, a makeover that the college believes would serve the growing need for trades people in the region and the changing dynamic of the work force in the Northwest.

CFTK TV-- College Renweal (video report)
Terrace Standard-- College makes pitch for $45 million

In July, Mayor Mussallem asked council to request that representatives of NWCC appear at Council to explain the departure of the electrical program and outline where the Prince Rupert Campus is in the larger picture for the college.

The movement of the electrical program to Terrace appears to be a case of centralizing the trades at the Terrace campus, moving away from the previous era of providing programs in all communities served by NWCC, from Haida Gwaii to the Bulkley Valley.

There has been no word delivered from City Council as to whether that discussion has ever taken place.

The college is currently involved in a number of cost cutting measures, part of a financial plan to address a 2 million dollar deficit in financing that the province wanted addressed.

Civic Centre "fix" could see ice back at rink next week

A temporary fix to the ammonia pipes in the refrigeration system of the Prince Rupert Civic Centre could see ice back in the complex by next week, a prospect that no doubt will lessen the load of local users such as Prince Rupert Minor Hockey, the Prince Rupert Figure Skating Club and the local CIHL team the Prince Rupert Rampage.

Those three groups have had to make alternative arrangements for training and such with the breakdown of the ice making equipment, word of its repair, all be it temporary will at least allow them to get some portion of their season's underway.

The temporary solution is set to cost roughly 15,000 dollars, a cost that Rudy Kelly of the City's recreation department tells the Northern View will be covered by Prince Rupert Minor Hockey.

The rink will however still require the major overhaul of its ice making system, with a 120,000 dollar chiller and compressor destined to be installed in November, a move which require local users to do without the ice again while installation takes place.

Further testing of the temporary system will take place over the next few days, with a hopeful debut of ice at the Civic Centre planned for Wednesday, September 26.

CBC Daybreak North-- Prince Rupert ice rink runs out of ice (audio report)
The Northern View-- Rink will be working again by next Wednesday
The Northern View-- City hoping that a temporary fix can get ice rink working in a week
The Northern View-- Ice not expected in Prince Rupert arena until early November

Tour de North rolls into Prince Rupert Thursday

The 11th annual Cops for Cancer Tour de North bike ride should be in the home stretch as the day dawns in Prince Rupert, the 860 kilometre ride started last Friday September 14th, having taken its participants through the various communities of Northern BC from Prince George to Prince Rupert.

The Terrace to Prince Rupert stretch, the final leg of the six day ride takes place today, with an arrival at the city's Mariner's Park anticipated for this afternoon.

Two riders have represented Prince Rupert on the ride Inspector Bob Kilberry  and Jennifer Collins, both of the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP trained in the months leading up to ride, collecting pledges of support from the community along the way.

The two Prince Rupert representatives received much in the way of support from the community, surpassing their goal of $8,000. The most recent amount of donations was $9,400 and counting.

The Northern BC Cops for Cancer program is one of four in the province that have proven to be popular with both participants and local communities, raising money and awareness in the fight against cancer.

The Tour de North route changes from year to year, a North south route from Prince George is anticipated for be the 2013 ride, which means local residents won't see the ride come through town until 2014, making for today as a good opportunity to welcome the riders and congratulate them on their success.

The Tours of BC began fifteen years ago on Vancouver Island, the success of the program expanding to four districts of the province, with the Tour de North celebrating ride number 11 with its completion today.

Donations raised from the Tour de North and the other tours of British Columbia are destined for Cancer research and towards Camp Goodtimes a summer recreation program for children with cancer and their families.

CFTK TV -- Father Daughter Cycle (video)
The Northern View-- Cops for Cancer Tour de North wraps up in Prince Rupert
CFTK TV-- Rupert Cops for Cancer (video)
The Northern View-- RCMP Tour de North riders hold jail and bail, surpass fundraising goal
The Northern View-- Northern Savings Credit Union helps Prince Rupert Cops for Cancer riders..
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Cop for Cancer ready to arrest for Jail and Bail fundraiser
The Northern View-- Two Prince Rupert officers participating in 2012 Cops for Cancer ride
CFTK TV-- 3rd Annual Cancer Awareness walk in Hazelton a Success
CFTK TV-- Hazelton Cancer Awareness (video)
CFTK TV-- Hazelton Cops for Cancer (video)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

City Council Report, September 17, 2012

City Council Sessions for Monday, September 17, 2012

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

Notice of Special Council Meeting and Agenda for September 17, 2012

Regular Council Meeting Agenda September 17, 2012

Committee of the Whole Meeting Agenda, September 17, 2012

Info to Council

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

Minutes of Regular Meeting September 17, 2012 
Minutes of Committee of the whole Meeting September 17, 2012

Audio Recording of September 17, 2012 

Video Recording of September 17, 2012 

News items of items from September 17th Council session

The Northern View-- City backs away from 40 per cent cut to tax exemptions for community groups

Sunny skies for local runs

The weekend almost past was a rather busy one for those that pound the pavement, whether in competition or for a good cause.

Saturday's Cannery Road Race, the local marathon of note across the Northwest took place under a bright and sunny Port Edward sky, the road to the Port Edward Cannery Museum filled with runners from Prince Rupert, the Northwest and beyond.

A popular race on the Northwest marathon circuit, the  Cannery run features levels of skill from a 5 k walk or run, a 10 k walk or run or the half marathon in total of 21.1 kilometres.

Results from Saturday's race were posted to the Northern View website

Sunday brought much the same weather pattern to the annual Terry Fox Run, which saw local residents run through the city wrapping up their trot in front of the Northern Savings Credit Union.

For over thirty years,The Terry Fox Run has become a celebration of the life of the Canadian hero, who grabbed the attention of the nation with his Marathon of Hope.

His Cross Canada trek of 1980, a journey cut short by recurrence of the cancer that claimed his life one year later became the rallying point for many Canadians, the memory of his courage and his cause still resonates some three decades later, with crowds taking to the streets from coast to coast to coast and beyond.

Earlier this week, The Northern View had this preview of the run.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Council calls on Port Authority to explain Pinnacle Pellet approval

In a motion introduced into the September 4th session, Prince Rupert City Council has instructed staff to invite members of the Prince Rupert Port Authority to attend council session to explain its recent approval of the Pinnacle Pellet project.

The motion introduced by Councillor Joy Thorkelson who was referencing the recent Port of Prince Rupert press release (see  1:45.20 mark of council recording) will seek to learn more about the project, which was given approval by the Port last week.

The Pinnacle Pellet project has been a contentious issue for council which has heard numerous concerns from residents in the Water Street and Graham Avenue areas, expressing their fears over such a large scale development on the city's west side waterfront.

The Pinnacle Pellet Project will see a storage and shipment terminal built along the waterfront near where the old Prince Rupert Grain Elevator once stood in the 1980's.

Residents of the area, many of whom probably never had to deal with a working Industrial waterfront in that area other than the freight yard, have been trying to stop the project since it was first brought up earlier this year.

Council has weighed in from time to time on the issue, but they are no doubt more than aware that there may be little they could offer up to stop such a development even if they wanted to and thus far council members haven't been forced to make a stand yea or nay on the subject.

The process moves to the front of the line now as the Port issues it's approval notice having conducted its reviews and made what it hopes are arrangements to stem the concern of the residents of the region.

It is no doubt to those points that council will seek more information whenever the Port appears at council session, from there it will be interesting to see how the six councillors and the Mayor move from that session.

Industrial Devleopment -- Pinnacle Pellet Plant

Golf Course Society set to tee off at council

Perhaps as mad as a golfer slicing left into the woods off the number two tee at the Prince Rupert Centennial Golf Course, the Prince Rupert Golf Society is trying to make some sense of the latest developments percolating over their future, with word that the City is giving some thought to selling off the city's public golf course.

The Society which is currently operating the Prince Rupert Golf Course seemingly has been caught by surprise by Mayor Jack Mussallem's trial balloon of selling off the Golf Course to private interests.

Members of the Golf Society seem more than a little annoyed that the Mayor introduced his cash generating idea without the courtesy of a discussion with the group that has been running the place over the last few years.

Mayor Mussallem introduced the golf course option as one of a couple of potential revenue proposals for the city, dropping them into the end of the most recent city council session  (see the last five minutes of the September 4 council broadcast).

The last five minutes of council sessions of late have been where the Mayor introduces whatever has been simmering on his stove top since the last session, in July he expressed concern over the transfer of NWCC's electrical program to Terrace, though in that instance he was perhaps about six months late in trying to effect change and seemed a bit behind the curve and out of touch about developments at the local college.

Not so with the Golf Course, or the Airport Ferry, the other item he offered up for discussion as a possible way to reduce some of the public anger over tax issues in the city.

Couching the proposed sales of assets as a way to reduce the tax burden on the tax payers of the city could be the Mayor's one ace in the discussion. The Golf Course is one location that perhaps tax payers would be willing to see sent off to private interests, allowing the marketplace to set the bar for members green fees and maintenance issues at the course itself, without the need to dip into city revenues.

The Golf Course proposal would seem to have the Golf Society members on red alert, suspicious that the Mayor may already have some kind of arrangement on the fast track, at least that's the impression one gets from quotes that Terry Sawka, the Golf Society President, made to the Northern View.

Sawka offered up the thought that he suspected there may have been some discussion on the file already, perhaps in one of the closed council sessions that have taken place over recent sessions.

To learn more about the proposal and put forward their thoughts on the issue, the Golf Society is seeking to appear before council on October 9th where they will ask council to explain their intentions towards the golf course.

All in all it should make for a pretty interesting session of Council, which will be streamed live through the city's website.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

CN expands capacity at Prince George Locomotive shops

The increasing volume of rail traffic to and from the Port of Prince Rupert, is proving an economic benefit to many communities along the Highway 16 corridor, none more than Prince George which clearly has become the railroads main marshalling, transportation and repair hub for Northern BC.

The latest investment into Prince George by Canadian National is a 12 million dollar expansion of its Locomotive Reliability Centre. A facility which services locomotives that transit the CN corridor from Alberta to the Pacific Ocean at Prince Rupert.

The expansion plans will see floor space at the Prince George facility increase by nearly 50 per cent, expanding the site to 50,000 square feet and allowing for the addition of four more repair bays with pits.

It offers up the prospect of more spin off business for Prince George and region businesses and of course the prospect of increased employment for workers in that area.

The investment in Prince George comes after an ambitious 4 million dollar expansion into key sidings north of the city to increase the flow of coal from northeastern coal fields, the majority of which makes its way to the Ridley Terminals Coal shipment Terminal in Prince Rupert.

CN has also been spending money to create and or expand longer sidings along the entire Prince Rupert to Edmonton rail corridor.

Opinion 250-- CN to Expand LRC in Prince George
RailwayAge -- CN identifies locomotive shop investment
Marketwatch-- CN to invest 12 milliond in expansion of Prince George, BC locomotive shop...

A Smithers solution for Highway of Tears fears?

If the City of Smithers can sway other communities along the Highway 16 corridor, the need for hitch hiking between isolated communities on the Highway may soon come to an end.

As part of the answer to the mysterious disappearances  of women over the years on the aptly named Highway of Tears, Smithers has suggested a Shuttle service that would provide an alternative to those who currently use hitch hiking as their mode of transportation.

Smithers will present their proposal to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities at the annual convention to be held later this month.

Few details have been released yet, as to the actual procedure to be put in place to introduce such a service to the Highway corridor, the proposal at the moment seems more of call for support and discussion than an actual blue print.

The consensus however thus far would seem to be that the provision of such a shuttle service would greatly enhance the security of those that travel from town to town along the highway.

The ongoing investigations into the numerous disappearances continue forward, however there has, as of yet been few leads made public, has nor much information as to the progress of those investigations been released.

Beyond the ongoing police investigations, the North District RCMP and the University of Northern British Columbia have combined forces to study further the reasons behind understand just why Northern BC residents hitch hike, an activity that continues on despite the fears of a predator or predators who travel that same road.

Vancouver Province-- Shuttle bus urged for Highway of Tears
Vancouver Province-- Hitchhiking study seeks clues to women lost on Highway of Tears
Vancouver Sun-- Mayors call for shuttle bus along dangerous highway
Opinion 250-- UNBC Working with RCMP on Hitch Hiking Study
CKPG-- UNBC Investigating Hitchhiking (video)
CKPG-- RCMP asks UNBC to Research Hitchhiking
CBC Northern British Columbia-- UNBC Studies Hitchhiking After RCMP Request
CFTK TV 7-- Smithers Mayor Wants Shuttle Bus to Connect Communities Along Highway 16
CFTK TV 7 -- Smithers Shuttle Bus proposal (video)


The prospect of the shuttle service gained a boost at the recent UBCM meetings in Victoria, details of which can be found below.

CFTK-- UBCM Shuttle Bus (video)
CFTK-- Highway 16 Shuttle Bus Looking More Like a Reality

Mention of Canpotex stirs ambitions anew

The Canpotex file in Prince Rupert goes back as far as the days of Mayor Herb Pond, providing for the mega project version of  the dance of a thousand veils, a process that seems to be travelling along a trail that at times heats up and then suddenly goes very, very cold.

First arriving as a tantalizing bit of economic development back in 2008, Rupertites have been told that the decision is just around the corner for a few years now, with the proposed Ridley Island project becoming kind of a legend all to its own.

Upon the initial introduction to the project, Prince Rupert residents rolled out the welcome mat attending public sessions, weighing in with a welcoming message for the most part, (though there was some blow back on the plans from a few quarters) after those early days many in the city were busy crossing their fingers that the development would spur on the city's lagging economic situation.

However, best thoughts and crossed fingers it seems don't always turn the tide, or a shovel for that matter, at least quickly.

The Saskatoon based potash corporation has been rather quiet of late as far as updates on their plans go, those early days of excitement giving way to wonderment as to just how things are moving along these days.

Economic changes around the world, attempted takeovers in the Potash industry and any other number of factors seemed to have slowed down those giddy days of 2008, placing the project as just another one of the hopeful things that could come our way.

Some progress however may be on the horizon, word last week was that the comprehensive study under way into the proposed terminal in Prince Rupert is moving forward, with the chance for final public comment now upon us.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has compiled a rather lengthy file thus far (87 pages) as they examine the proposal, which is accessible through the Agencies website (click here).

The project also gets an extensive explanation on the Government's Major Projects Management Office website as well as on the provincial website Invest in Northern British Columbia.

Interested participants have until October 5, 2012 to provide their feedback into the proposed project and can submit their thoughts by email to, those inclined can also phone in their interest at 604-666-2431 or by submitting a letter to the following address:

Canpotex Potash Terminal Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
410-701 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V7Y 1C6

Four years down the road, the project is still at least on a burner, whether a back burner or a front one is still to be determined.

As always, word of the latest developments from Canpotex found quick reporting among the local media.

CFTK TV 7-- Canpotex Potash Terminal Comments Invited
The Northern View-- Canpotex terminal in Prince Rupert enters final public comment period

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

With election looming MLA Gary Coons heads for the sunset

While NDP supporters seem anxious for the May election to arrive, the local office will be looking to a new face to carry the colours into electoral battle in 2013.

Gary Coons, the North Coast MLA for two consecutive terms has advised that he is set to retire from provincial politics, clearing the way for a new candidate for the North Coast seat, one that most political  observers suggest is about as safe a seat as the NDP could have in the province.

While there has been little surprise at the volume of Liberal MLA's hanging up their hats with the election (and some suggest electoral defeat) looming, the announcement from NDP MLA's taking their leave from the Legislature does catch the eye as interesting.

Coons, was part of a group of NDP MLA's which worked to remove one time NDP leader Carole James from her post ,  leading to the arrival of the eventual successor Adrian Dix, in an interesting bit of timing, the North Coast MLA takes his leave as the prospects of an NDP government have never seemed better.

Even the lure of a potential cabinet spot should the NDP prove successful in May, was not enough to send the MLA and former long time Prince Rupert School District teacher back to the hustings for one more campaign.

Though there will be a nice financial cushion for the soon to be Ex MLA, for their public service as MLA's, eligible candidates qualify for their rather generous legislative pension plan after but six years of elected service.

They do however have to wait a wee bit before collecting on those pensions, former MLA's who qualify can collect at age 65 or take a reduced amount at age sixty, regardless it still does provide for some nice financial planning for the future.

The provisions for MLA pensions have been one of the main burrs under the saddle of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which slams MLA's of all parties in the Legislature for the nature of their generous payouts.

With his departure from the provincial scene the names are already being tossed around the North Coast as to who will claim the nomination for the NDP, the apparent front runner at the moment is City Councillor and environmental activist Jenifer Rice.

CFTK-- MLA Gary Coons Won't Run Again
Vancouver Sun-- NDP MLA Gary Coons won't run in the next B. C. election
The Northern View-- North Coast MLA Gary Coons not seeking re-election in 2013

A few trial balloons from City Hall

Mayor Jack Mussallem has been rather busy the last few days, offering up a few trial balloons at how best to reduce the cost of doing business for the City of Prince Rupert.

Among some of the financial thoughts put forward from City Hall include a roll back on property exemptions to community organizations  and the sale of a pair of costly items on the city's books of late, the Prince Rupert Airport Ferry and the City run golf course.

With the Mayor and his council perhaps starting to hear some of the discontent over the city's tax rate, he has recycled some ideas from past administrations, perhaps thinking that the time is now nigh to move forward on them.

The tax exemption program would reduce the exemption to those community groups by 40 percent over two years with a start date in 2013. Those groups will have to find the money to cover those increases, a burden that may be hard to accomplish in challenging economic times.

The potential sale of the Golf Course and the Airport Ferry have been talking points for a number of years, though progress on those files never seems to amount to much.

While the Golf Course may perhaps find a collective group seeking to take ownership, there are some who suggest that the finding a buyer for the Airport Ferry may be a little more ambitious for the city.

The most likely candidate for that file, at least as far as the city is inclined would be the Port of Prince Rupert, though a recent press reports didn't seem to suggest that the concept of a Port takeover has moved much beyond pre dinner conversations at local functions.

While the City may seem anxious to get those discussions into a more formal setting,  it remains to be seen if the Port is on the same timeline for a handover as the Mayor.

Interestingly enough, in the Mayor's laundry list of potential off loading, the always contentious prospect of selling the City owned telephone and cable operation CityWest didn't seem to make the short list this time.

Discussion on the future for CityWest it seems remains a non starter for the members of the Council and any talk of removing it from city ownership never seems to gain much traction.

The Northern View-- City to roll back tax exemptions for community groups by 40%
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority looked into taking over airport ferry
The Northern View-- City thinking of selling golf course to pay for EMS building

Spectra Gas touts Prince Rupert as its LNG destination

Spectra Energy Corp (SE) announced that the company has signed a Project Development Agreement with BG Group plc (BG.L) to jointly develop plans for a new natural gas transportation system from northeast B.C. to serve BG Group's potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Prince Rupert, on the province's northwest coast.  -- From a Press Release from Spectra Energy outlining the latest development plans for the North coast.

 Yet another Natural Gas pipeline project has been announced for the Northwest, with Spectra Gas in partnership with BG Group LNG terminal providing the details that would provide for a natural gas pipeline, running from the northeastern British Columbia gas fields to a terminal planned for Prince Rupert.

The Spectra/BG Group announcement of September 10th marks the second such announcement in recent months, with Malaysian energy giant Petronas having outlined its plans for the north coast over the course of the summer, which would see its own LNG Terminal in place to serve the markets of Asia.

The cost and operation of the pipeline announced by Spectra and the BG Group would be split fifty / fifty between the two companies and would be capable of carrying up to 4.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day to the proposed Prince Rupert Terminal.

And while the two companies thump the tub for LNG development in Prince Rupert, there are some that offer up a cautionary tone that the prospect of a line to Prince Rupert and Terminal is still very much in the conceptual stage.

With an Alberta based oil and gas publication suggesting that the partnership is planning a route over a section of British Columbia already dismissed by others as far to costly to work in.

The article outlines the thoughts of Enbrige and other users in the Kitimat area who in the course of their own developments took a pass on any plans to run a pipeline along the Skeena range towards Prince Rupert.

Whether that's just a competitive rebuttal from the folks at the various Kitimat projects or an actual wrench into the plans most likely won't be developed for years down the line, still it shows just how hot the development of LNG properties in the Northwest has become over the last few years.

Not to mention the rivalry it seems to be creating between port facilities in Prince Rupert and Kitimat.

Some background on the latest announcement from Spectra and BG can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- Spectra. BG make big pipeline bet in the race to B. C.'s coast
Vancouver Sun-- Spectra proposes natural gas pipeline across northern British Columbia
Calgary Herald-- Isolated ports compete for business
Calgary Herald-- BG Group inks pipeline deal for LNG Terminal
Calgary Herald-- LNG plants in B. C. spared the ruckus oilsands exports elicit
Global BC-- Spectra proposes natural gas pipeline across northern BC
CBC-- Spectra, BG, plan gas pipeline across northern B. C.
CFTK-- Gas Pipeline Proposed to Prince Rupert
CFTK-- Rustad on Rupert LNG (video)
The Northern View-- LNG pipeline proposed to connect Prince Rupert to northeastern BC SE and BG.L JV for New Natural Gas Transportation System

New signage on the way, but for now some closed doors at Civic Centre complex

Scaffolding and framing is causing for double takes along McBride these days as City workers keep busy near the Civic Centre parking lot, installing the new electronic sign that will advise Rupertites as to the happenings at the Recreation complex.

However, if that sign were to be activated today, there wouldn't be a lot to advise the population about, for the Civic Centre rink and the gym at the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre both remain closed owing to maintenance issues.

The rink in fact will be closed until at least November, as the City seeks to acquire replacement parts for the ice making infrastructure. The breakdown first reported in August has resulted in users such as Prince Rupert Minor Hockey, the Figure Skating Club and the Prince Rupert Rampage to all revise their plans, what with the lack of actual ice to work with.

This week it was announced that the aquatic centre gymnasium space will remain closed, with maintenance work on the site behind schedule, the reopening date now pushed back to at least Sunday.

The disruption to Recreation activities at the complex come just as the City of Prince Rupert releases its Fall Active Living Guide 2012, a document that perhaps should provide for the advisory of all activities subject to change..

There's not much in the way of information available on the maintenance issues from the City's own website, however, some updates have been outlined through the Northern View.

The Northern View-- Prince Rupert aquatic centre gymnasium to remain closed...
The Northern View-- City of Prince Rupert and sports groups try to find solutions...
The Northern View-- Ice not expected in Prince Rupert arena until early November

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

City Council Report, September 4, 2012

City Council Regular session for Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here.

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

Notice of Special Council meeting, September 4 2012
Agenda for Regular Meting September 4, 2012

Info to Council August 29, 2012
Info to Council August 22, 2012
Info to Council August 15, 2012
Info to Council August 1, 2012

Note: Official Attendance and Minutes not posted to City website yet.

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Present
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Present
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Jennifer Rice-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present

Minutes of Regular Meeting September 4, 2012 

Audio Recording of September 4, 2012 

Video Recording of September 4, 2012

News items of items from September 4th Council session

The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Golf Society frustrated about not being consulted
The Northern View-- City to roll back tax exemptions for community groups by 40%
The Northern View-- Council decides to tear down 1044 Alfred Street
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert Port Authority looked into taking over airport ferry
The Northern View-- SPCA asking City for money to help control feral cat population
The Northern View-- City thinking about selling golf course to pay for EMS building

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pinnacle Pellet Plant Project clears a hurdle

"PRPA acknowledges the feedback and concerns expressed by some local residents regarding land use management in the inner harbour adjacent to CN's downtown railyard,... However, we believe we can strike a balance between creating the economic opportunity a growing port represents and enhancing the livability of Prince Rupert through improvements to public access to the waterfront."--The Port of Prince Rupert's Director of Public Affairs Ken Veldman, outlining the Port's position on moving forward with the Pinnacle Pellet Plant proposal.

The Pinnacle Pellet Plant, the much discussed project for Prince Rupert's waterfront has cleared its first major hurdle, with the announcement last week that the Prince Rupert Port Authority had approved the Westview Terminal Redevelopment Project.

Better known to Rupertites as the Pinnacle Pellet Plant Project, the Renewable Energy company based out of Quesnel will create a storage and shipment facility at the old Westview Grain Elevator site on Prince Rupert's waterfront, located midway between the current container port and the Kwinitsa Station/Waterfront Park area.

The proposal, galvanized a segment of West side residents who expressed their opposition to the plans both to the Port and the City of Prince Rupert, through petitions, a website and appearances at public functions.

The Port Authority made a nod towards those concerns in their press release of Friday.

However by their announcement moving the project forward, the Port it would seem feels that they have addressed those issues, publishing the findings of the environmental assessment to their website for further examination.

Among the recommendations of the environmental assessment were commitments to Air Quality and Noise, with conditions and remediation to be put in place governing those two key issues of concern.

Air Quality: Pinnacle will be required to carry out continuous air quality monitoring by qualified environmental monitors throughout construction, operation and potential decommissioning of the project. Pinnacle will work with the BC Ministry of Environment to develop a plan that will achieve the required monitoring, ensure adherence to current regulatory standards, and determine corrective steps to be taken in the event that limits are exceeded.

 Noise: Pinnacle will be required to carry out continuous noise monitoring during terminal operations. Furthermore a plan will be designed to confirm the accuracy of the Baseline Noise Assessment, confirm that the proposed noise mitigation measures are effective, and determine corrective steps to be taken in the event that limits are exceeded.

Upon completion, the Terminal will have represented a capital investment estimated at 42 million dollars in the Prince Rupert region, provide for over 90,000 hours of construction work and created up to 24 new direct jobs in terminal operations, as well as contribute to the municipal tax base.

Previous Items from the North Coast Review:

July 14, 2012-- Pinnacle Pellet Plant plans move forward slowly

Other items on the latest developments:

Northern View-- Pellet terminal will be constantly monitored, residents and City need convincing
Northern View-- Pinnacle Pellet Terminal proposed for Prince Rupert receives approval
Globe and Mail-- B. C. Port authority approves terminal for wood pellet exports
Woodworking Network-- Wood Pellet Firm to Invest $42 M on Export Terminal

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labour Issues of the North Coast

Our archives of items of interest on Labour issues on the North Coast.


December 6-- Northwest Unemployment rate falls to five per cent

November 1-- Scheduling conflicts force Nathan Cullen to reschedule Prince Rupert LNG session NCR

October 30-- Prince Rupert Hospital ordered to reinstate IUOE power engineers
October 11-- Northwestern BC jobs picture brightens

August 19-- NWCC Prince Rupert to host regional forum on immigrant employment  NCR
August 13-- Potential Labour trouble as BC Schools prepare for September  NCR
August 12-- Merged Union ahead for local union memberships  NCR
August 11-- Jobs picture brightens in northwest BC
August 7-- Union seeks answers over arbitrators ruling on Air Canada Jazz Staffing  NCR

July 31-- Changes planned for Air Canada Jazz station positions in Prince Rupert  NCR
July 5-- Unemployment rate drops below seven per cent
July 3-- Fairview coverup? B.C. government agency terminates Prince Rupert caregiver's $2million contract amid allegations of abuse, threats
June 13-- Labour Relations Board issues compensation decision over union battle at PRRH NCR
June 12-- Prince Rupert hospital to pay for anti-union actions
June 6-- Clock ticking down towards possible VIA Rail disruption  NCR
June 4-- Unions protest arrival of ship loaded by 'scab labour' to Prince Rupert (video)
June 3-- Prince Rupert ILWU members to protest use of 'scab labour' at Vancouver terminal

May 10-- Little change in northwest B. C. jobless rate

April 10-- Major work camp planned for Port Edward (N View e edition pg A14)
April 7-- Northwest jobless rate dips in March
April 5-- Northwest BC jobless rate inches up
April 1-- Port Ed Land Sale (video)
April 1-- Port Edward sells 40 Acres of Land

March 27-- Projects hunting hotel rooms for workers (Northern View e edition pgs 1 & 2)
March 25-- "If you're on income assistance, we want to get you trained up" MP Bob Zimmer
March 21-- Job Fair Caravan arrives Friday NCR
March  7-- Northwestern B. C. Jobs tally remains steady
February 20-- Provincial Budget Doesn't Assist Prince Rupert for Skills Training Programs
February 20--
February 13-- For the BC Job Fair Caravan, the road does go west after all! NCR
February 13-- Prince Rupert workers needed (Northern View e edition page 5)
February 8-- Northwest BC jobs picture brightens
February 6-- Trades employment program seeking unemployed (Northern View e edition page 12)
February 4-- School District T shirt controversy catches the eye of the BC Civil Liberties Association NCR
January 28-- More discord between Union and School Board? NCR
January 4-- Northwest BC Job rate improves 


December 31-- The BC Jobs Fair roadmap seemingly ends in Terrace NCR

December 18-- Glad Tidings to you wherever you are (except perhaps the SD52 office) NCR
December 7-- Northwest BC Jobless rate drops
November 13-- BC Jobs Fair Caravan skips Prince Rupert NCR
November 5-- Labour Relations Board rules against Prince Rupert Regional Hospital Management...
November 2-- Northwest B. C. jobless rate dips slightly
November 2-- Labour Relations Board issues Decision on Maintenance issues at PRRH NCR

October 9-- A once vibrant industry suffers further declines on the North Coast NCR
October 7-- Northwest jobless rate holds steady
October 6-- Northwest BC's jobless rate still in double digits, but showing slight improvement NCR
October 5-- Northwest BC Jobless rate improves a touch

September 7-- Northwest BC's jobless rate remains high

August 9-- Jobless rate edges up

May 6-- Regional jobless rate drops

April 14-- Jobless rate inches up in March
April 2-- CityWest dispute delayed? NCR
April 2-- CityWest union responds to company and relations board

March 30-- Labour Relations Board says CityWest workers can't go on strike
March 30-- CityWest addressess negotiations with the IBEW workers
March 30-- CityWest Strike Stalled Over Essential Services
March 20-- Northwest B. C. unemployment spikes

February 15-- Layoffs loom for NWCC
February 15 -- MLA questions college cuts
February 15-- College plans to axe more than 30 jobs
February 13-- Emotions Run High at NWCC Education Council Meeting
February 10-- More than 30 jobs on the cutting block at NWCC
February 9-- College determines laayoff numbers
February 8-- Union wants college layoff plans stopped
February 7-- Job cuts looming at NWCC
February 6-- College cuts: Layoffs happening to restore college's financial health
February 5-- Students rallying against cuts at the college
February 2-- NWCC Says 31.5 Positions Need to Be Cut To Balance Budget
February 1-- College layoff notices coming this month

January 30-- Northern Colleges struggle with budgets
January 30-- NWCC President Warns of Tough Decisions Ahead
January 28-- Union, students want gov't to protect college
January 27-- Union Leader Visits Terrace to Discuss NWCC Budget Crisis
January 25-- College layoffs on the horizon
January 19-- College deficit could now be $2 million
January 13-- College faces budget crunch


Labour Relations Board of British Columbia Decisions

October 31-- Northern Health Authority and International Union of Operating Engineers