Thursday, November 29, 2012

UFAWU, Joy Thorkelson find frustration at Prince George Northern Gateway Hearings

The Joint Review Panel has wrapped up their Prince George sessions, the final presentations taking place on Wednesday afternoon, bringing to an end the nearly two months of sessions around the Prince George area.

Among the presentations and questioners for the final week of hearings in Prince George this week was Joy Thorkelson, who in her role as representative with the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union took part in the Joint Review Panel  sessions on Tuesday.

An experience that seemingly left her just a little frustrated at the process and concerned over the lack of time and ability to ask some key questions that she and UFAWU would like to have answered.

Thorkelson's concerns did however find a forum in Prince George, through the Daily Newspaper the Prince George Citizen, an article on November 27th outlined some of the key points of her concern regarding the Prince George Joint Review Panel session of Tuesday.

Among her concerns:

The limitations on what questions could be asked during the course of the session, particularly the narrow scope of questioning that could only deal with what was on the record and not what may be missing in the government's response to the Enbridge application.

The socio-economic impact on the commercial fishery dealing with freshwater species, as well as the impact on spawning grounds if chemical additives from the project leak into salmon bearing rivers or streams.

What role spill risk analysis played into the report filed to the Joint Review Panel by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

As well, she was disappointed that only "junior staff" were on hand to answer her questions at the Panel sessions, believing that a higher ranking bureaucrat should have been in attendance to the hearings.

The full interview with Thorkelson and an examination of more of the proceedings that she took part in can be found here.

The UFAWU rep will no doubt have another opportunity to discuss issues of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel when the hearings resume in Prince Rupert in December.

The Panel will be in Prince Rupert from December 10 to 17, with sessions scheduled for the North Coast Convention centre below Chances Gaming Centre, the Panel will then break for Christmas and New Year's, returning to Prince Rupert for more sessions in February, March, April and May.

A much anticipated opportunity for local residents to once again offer up their thoughts and seek out further information on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

As she reminded City Council Monday night by telephone, the Joint Review Panel Hearing transcripts are available for the public to review from the Panel's website and she advised council that would be a useful thing for local residents to take advantage of ahead of the Prince Rupert sessions.

You can also review the proceedings thus far from our archive page on the blog, located here.

A win for the Dogs, a draw for the Cats and a warning for the Wolves

Viewers to Prince Rupert City Council's session of Monday night, might be excused if they thought that they had stumbled onto an episode of Animal Planet.

When Council wasn't expressing its thoughts on the required need of proper permits for backyard hockey rinks, they were dealing with a number of issues of interest when it comes to the fur bearing population.

While Council decided that the contentious feral cat issue should best be dealt with by a full council (three members were absent from Chambers on Monday), they had no such concerns when it came to the use of Doug Kerr field at the Civic Centre as a community dog walk park, a topic which received a quick run through before moving forward.

For those looking for some background on the issues we suggest a visit to the City's video and/or audio archives for the November 26th meeting. Featuring a handy reference on the various topics discussed in council chambers (you can review some of that session from our City Council Timeline)

The Dog Walk issue can be found from the 41 minute to 45 minute mark of the Council session, with Council moving forward tentatively with the project to turn the old Doug Kerr ball field into a permanent Dog Park. All that remains to be determined is the financial aspects of the changeover and some of the housekeeping items regarding it, all of which would be put to the 2013 budget. City Manager Gord Howie reviewed the proposal for Council and it was his recommendation to council to give its approval to the site as a favoured location for a Dog Park.

The feral cats of the city didn't quite get as much action on Monday night, with Council deciding defer any discussion on the issue until a later Council session. Thus the request by the Cannery Road Animal Shelter for the City Council to reconsider the SPCA's request for $7,500 dollars for a spay, neuter and release program as well as the Cannery Road quest for feral cat feeding stations, was tabled until a future Council meeting with fuller attendance. The Feral Cat discussion can be found at the 59:30 to 1:02 minute mark.

One final item of note considering animals was brought up on Monday night, (from 1 hour nine minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes)through Councillor Ashley, the absent Councillor Carlick-Pearson asked Council what steps local residents should take, if they are concerned with the growing appearance of a wolf population within the city limits.

Mr. Howie advised that for the most part it is an issue for Conservation Officer Service, advising that residents with concerns should contact that government agency at their toll free number of 1-877-952 -7277, or if of immediate concern to contact the RCMP detachment.

And with that helpful advice, the Animal Planet review was done for November.

Are the first impressions, the lasting impressions?

"OUR TWIN-PROP airplane cut through low cloud and descending darkness, to touch down in Prince Rupert. Having reclaimed our bags from a hole in a wall we boarded a shuttle bus, wound our way along a black forest-lined road, drove onto a slothful ferry, and were finally off-loaded in a deserted street in the middle of town." -- Rupert Potter, Consul General for the UK to British Columbia, reflecting on his first impression upon his arrival in Prince Rupert.

As they say it's how you greet someone that makes a lasting impression. So we found of interest the observations of Prince Rupert from Rupert Potter, the Consul General of the UK to the Vancouver High Commission.

The Consul General offered up some thoughts on his recent trip to Prince Rupert, culled from his attendance at the Northern Ports Symposium of last month.

The early take from the opening paragraph it would seem, is that maybe a few aesthetic refinements might be required at the Prince Rupert Airport and perhaps, if possible, a bit more information for the travelling public on the epic journey ahead just to reach the city.

Beyond the early shock of transportation Prince Rupert style, the Consul General provided a review of sorts of his trip to the Northwest, published in a publication called the Union Jack, a Canadian based newspaper and website that provides news and offers reviews of developments in Canada, with as they say British flair (and accent we imagine).

The Consul General in addition to learning the ways of air travel on the North Coast, found the scenery  stunning, the welcome warm and the streets somewhat subdued, giving him cause for thought as to how the lack of hustle and bustle meshed with the economic prospects he heard that were just on the horizon.

You can review his travelogue and economic review from the Union Jack website

City Council Timeline November 26: Empty seats, a vote deferral, backyard hockey and other tales from Council's session

Monday night's council session might be best remembered for the volume of empty seats around the chamber, with three council members absent and Financial Officer Dan Rodin away ill, the night had the air of a pick up hockey game, as opposed to the full attendance residents might anticipate at the bi- monthly sessions.

And as the night would play out, pick up hockey in a backyard would actually prove to be a theme (along the lines of an episode of Judge Judy) taking up almost half the council session, along with the approval of a dog park and what threatens to be a never ending discussion on feral cats.

With Councillors Kinney, Carlick-Pearson and Thorkelson not sitting in the council chambers (Councillor Thorkelson would follow along with the proceedings from Prince George, via the telephone, allowing for a functional quorum on the night) the Mayor called the cast to order and civic governance in open forum began for another session.

North Coast Review City Council Report November 26 2012

Minutes from November 26 2012 

Readers of the blog can follow along through the City's video and audio archives of the most recent session.

Video Archive for November 26 2012
Audio Archive for November 26 2012

Timeline of discussion on the night can be found in red below.

Committee of the Whole

Mayor explains the purpose of the Committee of the Whole session, which preceded the Regular Council session on the night (0:00--2:04)

Call for questions of the public on matters of civic operations

A West side resident asks questions regarding train idling noise on West side of the city, Councillor Ashley and Councillor Rice asked questions regarding City noise bylaw and what steps the citizen took to seek redress on the issue, steps that provided for no resolution for the resident in his dealings with CN (2:04--7:30)

Committee of Whole was adjourned and Council moved on to Regular Business

Regular City Council Business

Mayor opens regular council session (7:30--9:30)

Presentations to Council

Zoning and permit issue on Montgomery Road
Residents of  Montgomery Road appear at council to discuss the erection of a backyard hockey rink in the neighbourhood, proponents and opponents to the rink discuss in front of council. No building permit was sought for the backyard rink, making the project a zoning issue. Councillor Ashley asked if the residents could do something different to make situation workable in the neighbourhood. The City planners report on the backyard rink, provided his thoughts on the issue. He advised that there were 8 letters received on the issue,  2 expressing dis-satisfaction, 6 that were in support. He then provided an explanation of the property development variance permits process, with the closing statement that City Staff Recommended against the project.  Councillors Ashley and Garon asked questions of Mr. Krekic on zoning issues about the project. Councillor Thorkelson weighed in by telephone asking further questions of the City Planner on the topic. Councillor Ashley asked questions of Gord Howie on the issue of noise bylaws and the impact on the backyard rink. Councillor Rice reminds council that this wouldn't have been such a complicated process had the property owner taken out the proper permits. Councillors Ashley and Garon echoed that thought on permits. Councillor Thorkelson expressed her thoughts on why a compromise had not been brought to Council for examination by the property owner in question. Council then voted on the issue, sending the backyard rink to defeat.  (9:30--41:30)

Council Business

Report from General Manager of Engineering and Public Works on the implementation of an official dog park at Doug Kerr Field at the Civic Centre. Gord Howie reviewed the proposal and offered up the City's recommendation for moving for on approval of the site as a favoured location for a Dog Park. Council approved the project with the cost put to the 2013 budget.  Councillor Garon asked to the costing of the project, Councillor Rice then sought clarification on the designation of the Dog Park, Councillor Ashley spoke in favour of the motion. Council voted to move forward with the project (41:30--45:00)

Report on the City Council schedule for 2013, Council discussed pending approval of the 2013 meeting schedule.  A process which must be completed an published in a local paper by years end. (45:00--46:00)

City Financial Officer's Report, with Mr. Rodin ill on the night, Gord Howie provided the review of the Report. Airport revenue is higher than last year, some of the traffic there is down. Fiscal revenues are down, recreation levels are down, though he added that the city is still in very good shape on the revenue side. Expenditures are within budget, Utilities will come in under budget. Should be in good shape at the end of the year. Councillor Ashley asked a question on a transfer to Capital expenditure. (46:00--49:45)

Community Enhancement Grant requests, Mr. Howie then outlined the request and the options available and how the City handled these requests in the past. Recommendations included; approve the requests to the same level as last year, so applicants will know what they are getting. Advise that there may be a reduction in their grant, schedule meetings with Grant applicants prior to Christmas or the New Year. Councillor Garon asked Council whether they needed to meet with all applicants, instead suggesting, that other than the big six applicants, that they call the other applicants forward should they have questions. The big six are the Golf Course, Museum, Library, Economic Development, Tourism Prince Rupert and the Lester Centre. Councillor Ashley advised that if any applicants wanted to approach council they could. Councillor Thorkelson said that those applicants should come forward with an accounting of their programs, and over the course of the year they should appear at Council to advise as to how the civic donation is working for the community. Councillor Rice asked for a re-read of the motion. Councillor Ashley made a motion that smaller grant applicants come forward through the year to explain their programs. Motions were adopted (49:45--59:30)

Cannery Road Animal Shelter request that Council reconsider the SPCA request for 7,500 dollars for a spay and neuter and release program and the Cannery Road request to allow feral cat feeding stations to be set up around the city. Consider licensing cats. Council Garon asked for the issue to be tabled until   all Councillors were in attendance. Councillor Ashley explained why she recommended the tabling of the issue moving forward (59:30--1:02:00)

Correspondences for Action

Proclamations, Letters of Request:

Adoption Awareness, Figure Skating Club request (1:02--1:04)

City Managers Report ( 1:04:00--1:09:30)

Report geared towards recreation services, patch job on chiller is still working, have received the new chiller and will be able to install the new one should the old one fail. Installation of new chiller to take place at end of season. Infrastructure review including the pool, a prioritization will be provided at budget time as to requirements. Healthy Communities working group review and looking at ways to increase the activity levels of the arena and gymnasium.

On the Financing side, the banking services will be put out for proposal, a review of insurance proposals is underway as well. Mr. Krekic is putting forward his final report, and Mr. Rodin will have a report on the options for Council on the Emergency Services Building project.

Discussion on his report followed, Councillor Garon asked about monitors installed at the Civic Centre and the status of the of the Civic Centre signage on McBride Street,

Items of Interest to Council Members (1:09:30-- 1:11:30)

Councillor Ashley provided an item of concern from Councillor Carlick-Pearson over the issue of wolves in the city over the last few weeks and what the City should do about the issue. Mr. Howie advised that was  a Conservation Officer issue

Councillor Thorkelson advised she was absent at Council owing to her attendance at the Northern Gateway Hearings in Prince George, advised as to some of the progress of them and suggested that local residents examine the transcripts prior to the hearings arrival in Prince Rupert.

Mayor's Report  ( 1:11:30-- 1:14:44 )

The Mayor participated in a meeting regarding development of a compressed Natural Gas export facility in the Prince Rupert, Port Edward area.

Participated in a British Columbia Chamber of Commerce sponsored Northwest Energy Summit on the benefits of Liquefied Natural Gas to Northwest BC.

Attended the Western Transportation Advisory Council Board of Directors Meeting and General Meeting, on such transportation topics as Asian Economies and North American commodities.

Met with the President and Executive Vice President of the Canadian Fishing Company, the Prince Rupert Oceanside cannery is the company's only cannery. Indications for Alaska and British Columbia are that the next fishing season should be a very strong year for the cannery.

Met with representatives of Pacific Northern Gas, a long standing corporate entity in the Northwest, PNG is interested in expanding their throughput of gas as the region grows.

Met with representatives of the Pattison Group of companies providing an overview of the economic development in the region and discussing their holdings in the community and their plans going forward.

Attended a meeting with other community representatives and met with the President of UNBC on their outreach programs and current activities.

Attended a meeting on an itinerant vessel marina, which could involve various community partners.

Called for an adjournment of the November 26th session and to reconvene in closed session.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Can't we all just get along?

Nathan Cullen has weighed into the little spat between Prince Rupert City Council and the Prince Rupert Port Authority, suggesting that he would like to see more people sitting around the table when it comes to developing the Prince Rupert waterfront.

The NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley made his comments during a recent media conference call, where he offered up the idea of an overseeing body consisting of media stakeholders to examine the use of the waterfront.

It's a process that he feels would help to reduce the appearance of a power struggle over the waterfront issues of late.

He did however appear to dismiss the City of Prince Rupert's latest suggestion of a conflict of interest over the expansion of the Fairview Terminal Project, expressing his belief that while there may be a grey area to deal with, there was no inappropriate operation on the port's part on that expansion plan.

Northern View-- MP wants more cooperation in Prince Rupert Waterfront Development

The debate over the waterfront boiled over last week when the Northern View released a letter from City Council that criticized the Prince Rupert Port Authority and their handling of waterfront issues, in particular their process on the Phase Two expansion project.

We examined the sudden flare up of frustration a few weeks back with this item on the City's letter and Council's recent question session with the Port over the Pinnacle Pellet Plant project.

Chances rolls snake eyes at Terrace Council

Terrace residents looking for an available  video gambling machine may have to make the ninety minute drive to Prince Rupert for the foreseeable future, the quest from the Terrace Chances to add more machines was shot down by Terrace Council by a slim majority.

With a vote tally of 4-3 Terrace Council said No to an additional 25 machines for the Terrace Chances, the vote against,  one which would appear to be at odds with a public forum last week, where community group supporters seemed to put the odds in favour of the local gambling parlour.

Citing concerns over the social cost of adding machines, the four who voted against the proposal suggested their main concern was the enabling of financially desperate gambling addicts, a group which  is seemingly at risk by providing them with an additional 25 machines to gamble at.

It was an argument, not particularly shared by the three against who outlined their opinion that it was not up to Terrace Council to tell the public how to spend their money, highlighting the number of charities in the Terrace area that received funding from the Terrace Chances.

A few points were brought up during the debate over the last few weeks that Terrace council of the day did approve the construction of the Gaming Centre in the first place, making the argument against the extra 25 machines somewhat puzzling.

At the initial council meeting when the proposal first came up, the Terrace Chances representative, outlined that the current level of machines was not meeting the demand, with some Terrace residents apparently willing to travel to Prince Rupert to play on different machines and with less of a crowd surrounding them.

For the near term it would seem they'll be making that trek for a little bit longer.

Terrace Standard-- Terrace council turns down bid for more slot machines
CFTK TV-- Slot Machines Rejected (video)
CFTK TV-- Terrace Council Denies Request for More Slot Machines

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cariboo teams conquer the North Coast

The homecoming for the Prince Rupert Rampage continued on this weekend past, with a pair of games which brought large crowds to the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, but didn't provide for any points in the standings as two guests from the Cariboo came to the North Coast and claimed victory.

It was the kind of weekend that Don Cherry might have found useful for a new collection of the Rock Em',  Sock Em' series. And a weekend where at least one team called Stampeders had an impressive performance.

The weekend of play got underway Saturday night as the Rampage faced off against the Williams Lake Stampeders in a penalty filled game in front of 650 Rampage faithful.

Prince Rupert got off to an early lead with a Josh Kierce goal at 5:24 of the first, however, as the Stampeders gained their skating legs that would be the only marker of the night for the Red, White and Black.

Williams lake took advantage of a number of power play opportunities in the second period to fill the net rattling off five consecutive goals to cruise to the 5-1 victory, the second  and third periods a penalty filled affair which saw a number of misconducts called in the course of the nastiness.

When the refs had finished with their paper work on the night, the Rampage would be assessed 37 minutes of penalties on 14 infractions, while the Stampeders could claim 34 minutes on 13 penalty calls.

When the actual hockey was taking place Blake Buckham was face with 33 shots in the Rampage goal, while Prince Rupert had their chances in the Williams Lake end of the rink taking 34 shots on Justin Foote, however the Stampeder goaltender was up to the challenge on the night, turning away all but one of them.

Sunday the Rampage had a closer result but a late third period goal by the visiting Quesnel Kangaroos proved the difference in the Sunday matinee, which saw the visitors edge the home side by a score of 4-3.

Prince Rupert, perhaps feeling some of the after effects of Saturday night got off to a rough start, surrendering three goals in the first period to the visiting Kangaroos, however they turned that around quickly in the second period, answering each of the Quesnel goals with markers from Jared Davis, Jean Luc Fournier and Kory Movold.

For the 550 in attendance on a Grey Cup Sunday, the Rampage comeback was an impressive thing, especially considering the physical toll that the weekend seems to have taken on the local team. Like Saturday night, the Sunday game featured much in the hitting and after the whistle happenings, another penalty filled game kept the officials busy in making notes in the game journal.

By the time the final whistle had been blown the Kangaroos had been assessed 48 minutes of penalties on 21 infractions, while the Rampage spent 22 minutes in the penalty box on 11 infractions.

Making the weekend of play the kind of thing that Don Cherry might find useful for a new installment of the Rock Em',  Sock Em' series.

Blake Buckham was in the net again for the Rampage facing 22 shots on the day, Josh Levesque claimed the victory for Quesnel turning away 28 of 31 shots through the three periods of play.

With the twin losses on the weekend, the Rampage record for 2012-13 drops to 1 win, 8 losses and 1 OT shoot out loss.

The Rampage have the week to rest up, but the task ahead doesn't get any easier, the West Division and league leading Kitimat Ice Demons are in town on Saturday for 7:30 face off at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

You can review all of our Rampage coverage here.

More threats at Northwest Community College in Terrace

The Terrace campus of Northwest community College continues to be a little unnerved, as the RCMP investigate more threats that have been received at the college.

While the Terrace RCMP continue to investigate the October 2nd bomb threat that closed the Terrace campus of College, they now have added two more threats files to the list, the most recent one being Monday, November 26th, which followed a November 22nd threat.

In both those instances the college was not evacuated as it had been on October 2nd,  Sergeant Mike Robinson of the Terrace RCMP reviewed the three threats on Monday, advising that the college had put in place extra security measures at the college to ensure the safety of staff and students at NWCC.

Terrace RCMP asks that if anyone notices any suspicious behaviour at the college campus to contact 911 immediately, if they have information on the threats they can contact the detachment, or if they wish to remain anonymous they can use Crimestoppers through the phone, text or the Internet.

The RCMP's Terrace General  Investigation Unit continues to investigate the threats, receiving assistance from the E Division Behavioral Analysis Unit.

CFTK TV-- NWCC More Threats (video)
CFTK-- More Threats received at NWCC Terrace Campus
Terrace Standard-- Threats continue at Northwestern BC college

Sunday, November 25, 2012

City Council Report, November 26, 2012

City Council Sessions for Monday, November 26, 2012

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

Notice of Special Council Meeting   November 26, 2012 
(resolution to exclude the public)

Regular Council Meeting Agenda November 26, 2012

Committee of the Whole Meeting Agenda November 26, 2012

Info to Council

November 14 2012

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

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

Minutes of Regular Meeting November 26 2012  

Audio Recording of November 26 2012   

Video Recording of November 26 2012   

North Coast Review City Council Timeline November 26 2012

News items from November 13th Council session

CFTK TV-- Rupert Idling Trains (video)
CBC Daybreak North-- Backyard rink at risk of being shut down in Prince Rupert (audio)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Rampage look for turn around in friendly confines

For the Prince Rupert Rampage the lengthy road trips have come to an end for now and tonight starts a stretch of games that take place in the friendly confines of the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, offering the Rampage a chance to get back on track in their 2012-13 season.

The road treks have taken their toll on the Rampage, with just 1 win to show for their 8 game so far in the season, the Rampage have suffered 6 losses and an OT Shoot loss along the way for a total of three points on the year thus far.

So they no doubt are looking forward to the extended stay at home to work out some of the items of concern that have popped up over the first half of the CIHL season.

Among those things to work on, a league low Goals For rating, so far in 2012-13 the Rampage have scored but 21 goals in the course of their 8 games, surrendering 44 along the way.

Saturday night at the Jim features the Williams Lake Stampeders making the trek from the Central Interior to the coast and a rendezvous with the Rampage, the Stampeders are currently in second place in the Eastern Division with a 5-2-1 record good for 11 points, three behind division leading Lac La Heche.

Sunday afternoon it's the Quesnel Kangaroos in town, they will arrive in Rupert after a Saturday evening match up with the Kitimat Ice Demons, looking to gain some ground on both Williams Lake and Lac La Heche.  Quesnell heads into Kitimat tonight, with a record of 3-4-1 and 7 points.

The weekend doubleheader launches a four game home stand for the Rampage, next week they face the  Kitimat Ice Demons on Saturday night, while Terrace will be in town on December 8th.

The four games are a pivotal stretch for the Rampage, as they look to get back in the win column in the CIHL Eastern division.

Game time Saturday night is 7:30 PM, Sunday's match with Quesnel has puck drop scheduled for 1:30.

You can review all our items on the Rampage from our Rampage Archives page

Friday, November 23, 2012

NDP North Coast race stands at two heading towards December

Back to back announcements came out this week, setting the stage for a competitive race for the North Coast New Democratic Party nomination.

The winner of which will no doubt hope to turn into electoral success in the Spring and the chance to claim the seat at the British Columbia Legislature of departing NDP MLA Gary Coons.

That race grew to two on Thursday, as City of Prince Rupert Councillor Jennifer Rice officially announced her candidacy for the nomination, making official, what had been hinted at since September around the city.

She joins Prince Rupert District Teachers Union President Joanna Larson, who announced her bid for the nomination on Wednesday.

As we reviewed in the blog at that time, the two candidates will offer up much to the competition, but perhaps will require the delegates to the nomination process to decide which stream is more to the riding's liking. While both clearly endorse much of the NDP agenda and seem to share many similar thoughts on man issues, they appear to be approaching the nomination from different wings of the party if you will.

Ms. Larson from that of the union movement  and Ms. Rice from the environmental side.

It also could be a nomination race that plays out to a degree over social media, both candidates have in the past made use of an online presence.

Councillor Rice in her most recent successful bid for Municipal office in Prince Rupert and Ms. Larson in her successful quest for elected office with the BCTF.

A prospect that could make for a fairly informative race and a most interesting two months leading up to the January 26th nomination convention.

Some of the media previews of the pending race for the nomination can be found below.

The Northern View-- Individuals seeking NDP nomination revealed
CFTK TV-- Rice North Coast NDP (video)
CFTK TV-- Race set to succeed Gary Coons and the new NDP candidate for May's Provincial Election
CFTK TV-- NDP Nomination race set on the North Coast

Transportation services affected most by Thursday's wind

For Prince Rupert, the windstorm never quite measured up to the prognostications of the weather service on Thursday, however in other parts of Northwestern British Columbia the weather system did make for an eventful day.

While Haida Gwaii felt the full force of the windstorm as it raced eastbound towards the North coast, the impact of note for the most part was felt in Terrace, Kitimat and Stewart. Three communities which seem to have borne the brunt of the storm developments of Thursday.

Snow fell through the day in all three communities, making transit along highways east, north and south a little tricky for motorists, with the road advisory north to Stewart recommended as  "travel only if necessary" for the majority of the afternoon and evening.

For the most part the major inconvenience to the Northwest was in the form of flight cancellations, flights into and out of Terrace, Smithers, Sandspit and Prince Rupert were either cancelled or delayed through the day, with Air Canada bearing the brunt of the scheduled cancellations on the day.

In Prince Rupert the 1035 AM flight Thursday ended up cancelled, while the 8 PM flight arrived more than hour behind schedule arriving at 9:06 PM.

As we outlined on the blog earlier, the strong winds also provided for a little bit of drama south of Kitimat as a bulk ship destined for Portland, Oregon ran into a bit of trouble, requiring the attendance of the Coast Guard on stand by, while the vessel Tern Arrow worked to regain its power.

British Columbia Ferries has also had to make amendments to their schedule, with the Northern Expedition now sailing out of Prince Rupert at 6 PM on Friday night after more than 24 hours of weather delays for both the Haida Gwaii and Port Hardy runs.

Terrace Standard-- How about that wind?

More shipping troubles in North coast waters

There has been a second marine incident affecting transportation along the North coast, this one near Laredo  Sound south of Kitimat on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon, the Bahamian registered deep sea cargo ship Tern Arrow, outbound from the Alcan dock in Kitimat  and destined for Portland, Oregon, lost engine power in heavy seas and 40 knot winds.

The incident was reported at 2:17 pm, in the midst of a strong winter storm in the region, it was severe enough, that the Tern Arrow was left drifting for three hours in the sound.

A situation that resulted in the Canadian Coast Guard  tasking the Gordon Reid to head towards the Tern Arrow. However, the Gordon Reid was allowed to stand down after the Term Arrow restored its propulsion, regaining emergency power three hours after it was left drifting in the Laredo Sound region.

The Tern Arrow then traveled to open sea on its emergency power, finally regaining its full propulsion at 3:07 am.

The Vancouver Sun was the first to report on the second incident, posting an item to its website on Friday afternoon.

It was the second incident in less than 48 hours for the North Coast, Tuesday night the German registered Hanjin Geneva, seeking to avoid a fishing boat, grounded on a sand bar on approach to Prince Rupert harbour.

At high tide, it was able to transit to Fairview Terminal for further inspection.

The twin incidents, have provided opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline and terminal project,  with some talking points to further their goal of eliminating the prospect of oil tanker traffic along the north coast's waterways.

A number of British Columbia media outlets are framing the incidents in those terms, their recent items of note on the shipping industry highlighting the potential for trouble when it comes to the shipment of oil and bitumen out of north coast ports.

Opinion 250-- Coastal First Nation Responds to Ship Failures

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Environment Canada issues Wind Warning for North Coast

While Wednesday afternoon has remained rather calm, if a little cool, towards the midnight hours a change will come to the North Coast.

Environment Canada has issued a Wind Warning for the overnight period for the North Coast, with winds increasing in the early morning periods to gusting from the southeast to 30 to 50 km/h, increasing to 90 to 110 through the morning towards afternoon.

The winds will then diminish in the early evening of Thursday, reducing in speed to 30 km/h.

Rain will arrive on the North Coast with the landfall of the weather system. Anticipated rainfall will measure at 30 mm for Thursday, 15 mm for Friday, 20 mm Saturday and 15 mm Sunday, the winds will continue into Friday but with a reduced intensity.

The weather system is part of a rapidly deepening low pressure system approaching the British Columbia coast, once the frontal system passes the coast it will move inland and then give way to outflow winds on inland sections of the North Coast.

The shift in the winds will reduce temperatures significantly in the inland regions and bring heavy snow to the Stewart area, with accumulations of around 20 cm.

You can review the forecast for from Environment Canada here.

Storm reports can also be found on Twitter at #bcstorm

Update: 8:30 AM Thursday... Storm had not arrived on the North Coast by Thursday morning, however Sandspit on Haida Gwaii was reporting sustained winds from the Southeast at 91km/h gusting to 117 km/h, Snowfall warning has been extended to the Kitimat area where 25 cm of snow are expected today.

Terrace Standard-- How about that wind?

West Jet Encore hopes to "liberate" Canadians from the high cost of air travel

West Jet has yet to announce the destinations for the debut of their "Encore" service, but when they do, it's anticipated that consumers will be the biggest of winners with added service to under served communities and lower airfares that could spur on some long desired competition.

In a speech in Montreal last week, West Jet's Chief Executive, Gregg Saretsky suggested that airfares at half the cost of the current charge could be in the future for communities that make the Encore cut.

As we outlined on the blog back in October, Prince Rupert was among a number of Western Canadian communities that lobbied the airline to set up shop in the community, Terrace as well sent a delegation to Calgary to meet with West Jet official in a hope to bring the airline to the Northwest.

Prince Rupert is currently served by Air Canada Express and Hawkair, both airlines fly out of the Digby Island Airport. The prospect of more flights and lower charges, will be a welcome part of the travel agenda for Northwest residents and would be a major boost to the airport(s) that host the West Jet's northwest flights.

West Jet is taking the approach of growing markets rather than engaging in a price war with the competition, citing the service that they set up in Comox BC as an example, where upon the introduction of West Jet service, travel to the Central part of Vancouver Island has increased significantly.

It's a process that the airline hopes to replicate in communities across the country.

The airline recently introduced Ferio Pugliese as West Jet Encore's President, he joined West Jet in 2007 and has been heavily involved in the run up to the launch of the new airline next year.

When they take to the air in the second quarter of 2013, West Jet Encore will be based out of Calgary and use Q400 turbojets as the only airplane in the fleet, once up and running at full strength, it's anticipated that West Jet Encore will employ about 1,800 workers.

The West Jet Encore destination board is expected to be revealed on January 21st, 2013.

Some reviews of the West Jet blue print can be found below.

Montreal Gazette-- West Jet's new regional carrier will drive airfares down, CEO Saretsky says
National Post-- WestJet's new regional carrier Encore aims for mid-June takeoff
Vancouver Sun-- WestJet keeps Encore at home
CBC-- WestJet regional carrier will lower airfares, CEO says

C is for candidate, which Ms. Larson will be

The race to perhaps take Gary Coon's seat at the Legislature in the Spring now has a new name offered up for consideration, as Prince Rupert and District Teacher's Union head Joanna Larson put forward her name as a potential standard bearer for the NDP on the North Coast.

Ms. Larson announced her candidacy on Tuesday, outlining her 20 years of service in both the labour movement and the community as the foundation for her bid for the NDP nomination.

She is currently on her fourth term as PRDTU President and is in her second term on the executive of the BC Teacher's Federation.

Hers is the first official candidacy for the departing Mr. Coons position at the Legislature, City Councillor Jennifer Rice had previously been tagged as a potential candidate, but so far no official announcement has been made by the Councillor as to her future political ambitions.

If she does make the leap from municipal to provincial politics, it will offer up an interesting debate within the local NDP.

Ms. Rice being more from the environmental side of the NDP ledger, while Ms. Larson has already gained her bona fides in the labour movement on the local scene.

With Mr. Coons retiring from provincial politics after two terms in office, the nomination on the North Coast may be a much coveted thing, for the most part the North Coast has traditionally been a relatively safe seat for the NDP.

The Liberal Party of BC and other provincial parties have yet to announce any candidates for the North Coast riding for the election in the Spring of 2013.

For those looking for more information on possible platform positions for the potential candidate, Ms. Larson maintains a twitter page, which offers up a bit of a glimpse in her political thoughts.

Some background on the NDP developments can be found below.

The Northern View-- Head of Prince Rupert teacher's union seeking NDP nomination
The Northern View-- Jennifer Rice picked by NDP as possible candidate for next election
CFTK TV 7-- MLA Gary Coons Won't Run Again
The Northern View-- North Coast MLA Gary Coons not seeking re-election in 2013
The Northern View-- MLA expected to announce intentions for 2013 election this week

In the end, Mr. Treliving held onto his wallet!

Prince Rupert's Inland Air had their moment in the national spotlight on Tuesday night, the local seaplane company was one of the two featured businesses examined on the CBC's Big Decision.

Bruce MacDonald and his team had approached Big Decision host Jim Treliving seeking advice and perhaps a bit of financial support for an ambitious re-branding of the local airline to seek out opportunity in the tourism sector.

Inland Air was showcased along with an Edmonton sporting goods store in the Tuesday edition.  Both businesses were examined by Treliving for their business plan, future focus and offered up a number of suggestions to remake their business.

In the case of Inland Air, they were put in contact with a marketing team in Vancouver which helped to recreate the image of the airline, with a new focus on the tourism sector.

It was all part of a process that then brought both business back to Mr. Treliving for the Big Decision.

As things turned out for both featured businesses on the night, Mr. Treliving held onto his wallet, deciding that neither of the two ventures were where he wished to insert his venture capital at this time.

Though he did have good things to say both of the night's participants, in particular he was impressed with the progress that Inland Air had made on their application and offered up the thought that he believed that they were on the right path.

And while they are no doubt a little disappointed that the cheque won't be in the mail from the financial guru, the local airline did receive some valuable exposure on national television, as well as a remake of their image and presentation.

Re-branded as Spirit Wind Airways and with at least one catchy marketing slogan of "Catch the Spirit". 

Beyond the chance to review their business plan, refocus on the future and seek out advice from a number of resources, the Airline now has a new presence on the Internet which should resonate in the tourism sector as they approach the 2013 season.

You can review the Tuesday night show online at the Big Decision Website, Tuesday's show was Episode Five of the season.

The website also features a number of other items about the show and the participants through the season.

The appearance of MacDonald and his team was a much anticipated event on the North Coast some of the previews of their time in the spotlight can be found below.

The Northern View-- Prince Rupert business Inland Air does not receive funding from CBC Series the BIG Decision
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert business Inland Air will be featured on CBC's The BIG Decision tonight
CFTK TV-- Rupert Inland Air (video)
CBC Daybreak North-- Prince Rupert business owner tries his luck on CBC's The Big Decision (audio)
The Northern View-- Inland Air owner Bruce MacDonald waiting to hear what the BIG Decision is
The Northern View-- Prince Rupert business Inland Air will be featured on the BIG Decision

Container ship grounded on approach to Prince Rupert Harbour

An incident at the approach to Prince Rupert Harbour has left the container vessel Hanjin Geneva awaiting high tide, after the container ship became grounded after trying to avoid a fishing boat when entering the harbour.

The incident took place at 10:30 Tuesday evening, no injuries were reported as a result of the grounding and at first review it does not appear that the vessel suffered any damage.

The Port and its various partners assessed the situation as it developed and continued to monitor developments into Wednesday morning.

The Hanjin Geneva, a German flagged container vessel, will be brought alongside Fairview once high tide arrives at 7:50 AM, at which time an inspection of the vessel is to take place.

The Port reviewed the incident through this press release.

Local and national media outlets began to report on the grounding as Wednesday moved on.

CFTK TV -- Grounded Container ship (video)
CFTK TV-- Container Ship Runs Aground in Prince Rupert Harbour
CBC Daybreak North-- Container vessel grounded south of Prince Rupert (audio)
The Northern View-- Container ship run aground in Prince Rupert now at Fairview Terminal

Vancouver Sun-- Giant 279 metre long container ship runs aground in Prince Rupert Harbour
Vancouver Province-- Ship runs aground in Prince Rupert
Global BC-- Container ship runs aground in Prince Rupert
CBC-- Ship refloated after hitting land near Prince Rupert
Globe and Mail-- Freighter runs aground off Prince Rupert, stoking oil spill fears
National Post-- Massive container ship runs aground in Prince Rupert harbour

Updated info from the Prince Rupert Port Authority

November 21-- Grounded Vessel Returns Safely to Deep Water

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Road woes continue for Rampage

They've been on the road for much of the CIHL season so far, and the frequent trips out of town haven't been particularly rewarding in the Standings for the Prince Rupert Rampage.

This weekend sent the Rampage off to Houston and Smithers and in both instances the Rampage ended up on the short side of the score sheet at games end.

Saturday the Rampage took on the Houston Luckies, a team that like the Rampage has struggled so far in the CIHL year. However on Saturday night it would be the Luckies who escaped with the points in the standings, on the strength of a 4-3 victory, with Houston turning on the heat in the third with three consecutive goals to secure the win.

Prince Rupert's goal scorers in regulation time on Friday included Derek Baker with the game opener at 7:38 and Justin Fontaine with two goals, one at 15:59 of the first, the second a period 2 marker at 18:51.

Keano Wilson faced 34 shots in the Rampage net.  Details from the game can be found from the scoresheet from Houston here.

Sunday, the weary Rampage went into Smithers to take on one of the top teams of the league in the Steelheads and it again proved to be a long sixty minutes of hockey for the Rupertites. Smithers scored five unanswered goals in periods one and two, before Jared Meers collected the only marker for the Rampage on the day, scoring at 8:43 of the third.

The Steelheads found the net behind Blake Buckham one more time on their way to the 6-1 victory, Buckham faced 35 Steelhead shots on Sunday.

The Steelheads win improves their record to 10 wins and 0 losses, making the Steelheads once again clearly the Best in the CIHL this year.

You can review the scoresheet from the Steelheads match up here.

With the twin losses on the road this weekend, the Rampage record falls to 1 win, 6 losses and 1 Overtime loss.

The Ramage can finally keep the suitcases in the closet for the foreseeable future.

After a season blocked full with road games owing to the troubles at the Civic Centre in September, the Rampage now will spend most of November and December at home, with weekly games through till mid December at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

They're next action is this weekend, when Williams Lake comes to town Saturday night, followed by an afternoon match up with Quesnel on Sunday.

You can review all our Rampage coverage from our archives.

College labour dispute gets closer to the Northwest

The ongoing labour troubles of the province's colleges and universities has inched a little closer to the Northwest today, as support staff at the College of New Caledonia, represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees walked off the job.

Picket lines went up this morning at the college's main campus in Prince George and it's satellite campuses across Northern BC, the start of a two day strike that union members hope will spur on negotiations towards a settlement.

Contract talks at CNC broke down a earlier this month, the workers at the college have been without a contract since 2010.

Today's job action at CNC, which resulted in the cancellation of classes, is just the latest in a list of similar job actions across the province, as support staff workers at the province's colleges seek to reach an agreement on a new contract.

Northwest Community College, like colleges across the province, are involved in their own contract negotiations at the moment, however, to date no job action has taken place at any of the campuses of NWCC.

Background items about NWCC  can be found in our archives.

Reports on today's action out of Prince George can be found below.

Prince George Citizen-- Striking CNC staff going back to work
CKPG TV-- College resumes Thursday
CKPG TV-- Second Day of Pickets at CNC (video)
CKPG TV-- CUPE Strike Continues
CKPG TV Pickets at CNC Underway for next two days (video)
Prince George Citizen-- CNC Strike closes college campuses
CBC-- Strikes affect classes at 6 B. C. colleges
Opinion 250-- Picket Lines Up at CNC
Prince George Citizen-- Support staff strike closing CNC
Prince George Free Press-- Job action underway at CNC
CKPG TV-- CNC strike action gets underway tomorrow (video)
CKPG TV-- Two day strike planned for CNC

48 Hours Highway of Tears review focused on Vanderhoof incidents

The much anticipated review of the Highway of Tears cases from the CBS program 48 Hours has come and gone, the Saturday night news magazine program focusing much of the hour on  a pair of incidents in the Vanderhoof area.

The one hour program offered up a fairly well documented review of the disappearance of Madison Scott, the murder of Loren Leslie and the  gruesome as yet unsolved death of Fribjon Bjornson.

While the focus of the 48 hours program was not quite the overall review of the case files of the Highway of Tears that many might have hoped for, there was a bit of background on the files that have marked the disappearances along Highway 16 over the last forty years.

Included in the review on the program was the disappearance of Tamara Chipman, who went missing  seven years ago from Prince Rupert while hitch hiking, 48 Hours interviewed her father Tom for background on her case and on the larger issue of the Highway of Tears victims.

The prospect of condensing such a large investigation into a sixty minute program was no doubt a daunting one for the 48 Hours team, in the end, they seem to have decided that the Vanderhoof incidents offered the best narrative to the overall scope of the Highway of Tears investigations.

The program did create a bit of controversy,  the first was in regard to the background into Madison Scott's disappearance and an acquaintance of hers (Bjornson) who subsequently was murdered, a parallel attachment that Ms. Scott's family has taken issue with.

As well, the description of Prince George as a crime riddled city was something that isn't particularly sitting well with some in that community, who suggest that 48 Hours was using old data to come to that conclusion.

While the case files of Ms. Scott and Ms. Leslie are not considered part of the overall scope of the Highway of Tears cases and were not part of the E-Pana investigations that are currently ongoing, the RCMP is hopeful that exposure to those cases in the United States, may assist in providing information into the larger investigation of the E-pana cases.

The leader of the RCMP task force,  Staff Sergeant Wayne Clary  says that a few tips have been generated from that exposure, though not quite as much interest as was generated in September, when the RCMP announced that an American man was believed to be responsible for a few of the older cases in the E-pana case load.

The Staff Sergeant intends to make contact with a counterpart in Oregon to compare notes on the feedback from the Saturday night program.

For the moment, the program can be viewed through the CBS portal, which also features some web extras for the program.

CBS News--- 48 Hours explores the mysteries and murders along the Highway of Tears

Some of the local background before and after the program, can be found below.

Opinion 250-- No Flood of Tips in wake of 48 Hours
PG Citizen-- 48 Hours show produces some tips for police
PG Citizen-- 48 Hours turns cameras on Highway of Tears
CBC-- Highway of Tears murders probed by CBS '48 Hours'
CBS-- CBC Producer's personal connection to Highway of Tears victims
Huffington Post-- Highway of Tears Featured on CBS '48 Hours'
Daybreak North--  Highway of Tears to be featured on CBS mega program 48 Hours
Global BC-- Highway of Tears update (video)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lottery winner makes like Santa Claus in Terrace

Terrace resident, Bob Erb it seems is going to re-distribute some of that 25 million dollar winfall he claimed recently and he appears to be doing his re-distribution one person at a time.

While he is in the process of setting up ways of providing funding for a number of local projects in the Terrace area, he has also reportedly been busy dropping in on neighbours and providing for early Christmas presents. With such offers as to repave driveways on his street and fix roofs apparently on his mind. With word of his generosity spreading quickly, a more complete listing of reported good deeds has made it to the pages of the Vancouver Sun.

The Sun took to the telephone on the weekend, making random calls to Terrace residents seeking to find details of contact with the newest multi millionaire of the Northwest. Their efforts were apparently quickly rewarded, as locals recounted tales of what they have heard about Erb's generosity throughout the community, though the Sun also pointed out some of those could not be confirmed.

Still, it makes for a fairly interesting angle to the story, with Mr. Erb playing the role of a Terrace Santa Claus, distributing glad tidings a month before Christmas.