Friday, February 15, 2013

City Council Timeline: February 12, 2013

A skeleton crew on duty for the first session of February, with two Council members away for the night and one joining the session by phone.

On the night, a few of the topics included were: some guidance on the protocols of seeking higher political office, more presentations from community groups, the topic of downtown parking and a surprise announcement of a reversal on the issue of Snowbirds air show funding, making for a few of the items of note from the February 12, 2013 session of City Council.

The timeline of the proceedings can be found in red below, tied in with the City Council video feed archived below. Further information such as minutes, audio and video archives can be found as they are posted to the city Website.

Minutes from February 12, 2013

In Attendance February 12, 2013

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Present 
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present 
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Present
Councillor Gina Garon-- Absent
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present 
Councillor Jennifer Rice-- Attended by phone (had to depart early from session)
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Absent

Video Archive for February 12, 2013 
Audio Archive for February 12, 2013

The first task of business for Council on the 12th was the usual adoption of minutes from the past sessions of the Regular Council meeting of January 28th, the Special session of January 28th and the Committee of the Whole Meeting for January 28th (0:00-1:30)

Regular City Council Business

Presentations to Council

Just prior to the first presentation of the night, Councillor Rice, who was out of town, joined the meeting by telephone at this time.

Prince Rupert Performing Arts Society (1:30--15:00 )-- The Performing Arts Society provided an update on some of the developments at the Lester Centre, with some renovations taking place with the assistance of a grant from the Prince Rupert Port Authority. They then provided a review of their recent strategic planning session. A breakdown of the financials of the Society was provided, followed by a review of some of the events that have taken place at the Lester Centre in the last year.  As well,  some background as to the community effort required to keep the Centre operating.

The Mayor then asked for questions from Council, with Councillor Kinney opening up the session by asking for some background on the upcoming changes to the selection of the Board of Directors for the Society. Councillor Ashley offered up the opportunity for the Lester Centre representatives to preview some of the upcoming events at the Centre. Councillor Carlick-Pearson asked if the Lester Centre had applied for the Northern Development Fund, which they will do once they reconfigure their board.

The Mayor thanked them for their presentation, and reinforced that in the current economic conditions in the city, that access to civic funding is more limited than in the past, a situation that will continue on into 2013.

Kerrie Kennedy, on the topic of her building on Fraser Street  (15:00--28:30) -- She had questions of council on the nature of C3 zoning and what can and cannot go into her building at that location. She had some confusion on why the industry that was seeking use of her building was denied by the city zoning department when other businesses in the region were allowed to continue in the same area. The Mayor explained that it was part of a grandfathering process in that area, should those businesses close up, the area would then exclude those types of businesses in the future.

The City Planner, went back to his original letter to the building owner, reinforcing the points he made in the letter. The Mayor did suggest that there is an option for a spot re-zoning on the building in question, which would require a public hearing and amendment to the zoning bylaw. Councillor Ashley inquired as to the nature of the business that had hoped to locate in the building in question, Ms. Kennedy explained it was an out of town contractor that wished to use her building, she then asked further about the parameters of the C3 zoning issues in the neighbourhood.

The Mayor again stressed the possibility of a spot rezoning on the property in question and Councillor Ashley asked of staff the process for other owners in the area to approach the city on zoning issues.

Museum of Northern British Columbia Presentation (28:30--55:00) -- Members from the Museum Board provided an update on the previous years activities at the Museum. The presentation is part of the requirements for the application for a Community Enhancement Grant. The Board thanked the City for moving forward the Community Enhancement Grant process, to provide funding earlier in the year for the Museum and other community recipients. A letter from the Board of Directors was read into the record, thanking the City for their support and providing some background on the history of the Museum and the financial details of the purchase of the Museum building on 1st Avenue West.

A quick review of the Museum operations and its contributions to the community was then provided for Council. The Museum Board then advised that they were facing financial struggles of their own, cutting back on a number of functions at the Museum in the wake of the budget shortfall. An update on the operation of the Prince Rupert Visitors Centre through the Museum was then provided. To wrap up the presentation, a review of the highlights of the year past and a look ahead to 2013 was provided. As part of the review, the assistance of community partners such as Ridley Terminals was acknowledged. To wrap up the presentation, a review of the highlights of the year past, a look at some of the past exhibits and tours offered through the Museum and a look ahead to 2013 was provided.

The Board also advised that the Museum is considered the number one attraction in the city by those that offer up items on the Trip Advisor website.The Mayor then opened up the conversation to Council Members, with Councillor Ashley inquiring as to the rates of admission to the Museum. The presentation concluded with the Board thanking the City for their assistance and expressing their understanding of the financial situation that the city is in at the moment.

Reports and Recommendations

(55:00--1:04:00A report from the Acting City Manager on the City's Financial plan so far. Dan Rodin provided a review of some of the approvals of the Community Enhancement Grants for 2013 and explained the process of the City Financial plan moving forward this year. He reiterated the financial constraints facing the city, as they consider the financial plan and budget requirements. He also reviewed some of the expenses the city faces and the nature of the cash flow situation that the city has at the moment.  Mr. Rodin also touched on property assessments and how it impacts on the City's financials, as well as those of the taxpayer. He concluded by stating that it's going to be interesting in making the City budget balance this year. The motion to accept the report was passed by Council.

(1:04:00--1:10:00) A report from the Acting City Manager on the Five Year Financial Bylaw plan, as well an advisory of two public meetings to come in March and April to discuss the public consultation on the financial plan, with an adoption of the plan in May.  Councillor Ashley expressed concerns over the scheduling of the overviews of the financial planning on the same nights as regular council meetings, and wondered if some of them could be scheduled on alternating Mondays. Mr. Rodin recommended moving the February 25th Council information session to March 4th with a second meeting for March 11th be moved to the 18th.  The scheduling issue was to be examined further on March 4th.

(1:10:00--1:17:00) A Report for Information purposes from the Acting City manager on the Implications of council member candidacy in Provincial Election, Mr. Rodin outlined some of the public interest in the status of Councillor Rice as both a Councillor and NDP candidate for provincial office. He explained there is nothing currently in place that says a Councillor cannot be on council and run a provincial campaign while in municipal office. The only problem that could come up, being that if a councillor missed enough meetings they could be disqualified from office. Another interesting item relayed in the report, was that Legal Counsel could not find anything that could stop a sitting councillor from remaining on council while sitting in Victoria.

Further explanations were also provided as to the various options available to Council should a Councillor resign. Councillor Ashley asked a question of Mr. Rodin, as to what is considered a regularly scheduled meeting, as opposed to a special meeting of council. His explanation was that the regular council meetings are those circulated by the Corporate Officer at the start of the year, special meetings are not applicable in this situation under discussion tonight.

Councillor Rice jumped into the discussion at this point, once again by phone, to advise that she could no longer participate in the remainder of this session, as she had to depart to catch her flight. The Mayor thanked her for her participation and Council returned to the business at hand.

(1:17:00--1:19:00) Report for Information purposes from the Executive Assistant on the Social Assistance Meetings-- Mr. Rodin outlined the details of the initiative of Council to try to bring the various social services groups together in one room, to determine what is working well and what isn't working at this time. The project planning started early last year, but a meeting has yet to take place.

(1:19:00--1:20:00) Report from Corporate Administrator on the topic of the North Central Government Association convention in Quesnel, Mr. Grodecki advised that the deadline for resolutions is fast approaching and suggestions for that session has been requested, with staff looking for advice from Council.

Resolutions from the Closed Council Meeting

(1:20:00--1:21:00) Mr. Grodecki announced that Council had information to release to the public, that they are issuing a Grant for 7,000 dollars to the 2013 Snowbirds Organizing committee and also that the Council has directed staff to issue issue tax receipts to people who make cash donations in support of the 2013 Snowbirds event.

Acting City Manager's Report

(1:21:00--1:24:30Outstanding City Initiatives -- Mr. Rodin advised this would probably be the final report on this chart, with pretty well everything that Council had requested staff to accomplish had been accomplished. He advised that the City was still active on the Tsimshian Access Project proposal as well as the ongoing attempts to sell the Watson Island property. Those are the two remaining items of note from Council's requests of last year.

He also updated the financial cost of the Marina project that Council has been interested in over the year, which at the moment is at 3.6 million, with 1.3 million dollars in confirmed funding secured, with other grant requests still be confirmed in order to get the project underway.

The LED street lighting project continues on into the spring. The RCMP has been successful in securing funding for a bike patrol unit for the city. Councillor Ashley had a comment on recycling developments at SQCRD with plans for an unmanned transfer station to be installed at the recycling centre. Councillor Kinney advised he had spoken to the Economic Development Officer and that a letter is to be sent soon to the Coast Sustainable Trust.

Questions and Inquiries from City Council

(1:24:30-- 1:25:00)

No members of Council had comments or questions to submit to the session on this night.

Mayor's Report 

The Mayor participated in the acknowledgment of 50 years of service of the Alaska Marine Highway System  from the communities of Southeast Alaska coast and in this community.

He attended an open house at the Skills Trade Employment Office which connects employers with job ready workers in the area.

Members of Prince Rupert City Council took the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Prince Rupert Port Authority to obtain an overview of port related activities currently underway and to discuss future opportunities, City Council on behalf of city residents is interested in waterfront access and future developments. All members of council were in attendance with the exception of Councillor Kinney who was away from the city.

The Mayor attended a meeting with the Asia-Pacific Gateway Skills representative who reviewed the results of a survey that provided labour market information and possible labour shortages considering mining, power generation and port development in the Northwest part of British Columbia.

He hosted the Prince Rupert Self Advocacy Group on a tour of the City Hall Council chambers and discussed the city's functions, services and operations they also participated in a mock city council meeting.

The Prince Rupert Airport Authority advises that there has been an increase in passenger levels in January 2013, with the airport seeing a 4.48 per cent increase in passengers.

The Mayor attended a gathering at Northwest Community College's Prince Rupert Campus to learn more of the college's strategic plan. Which involves an assessment of employment activities in the Northwest region and the provision of education suited to the regional employment opportunities, some of which include additional foundation trades programming.

The Mayor participated in the opening of the 2013 All Native Basketball Tournament and provided a greeting on behalf of the City Council and residents of Prince Rupert.

The Mayor then asked Mr. Rodin to contact the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to inquire about the intersections at McBride and Third Avenue and the intersection at Second Avenue West and Sixth street and whether those intersections will be resurfaced with asphalt. The wear and tear of the container truck traffic is taking its toll on the road.

The Mayor then outlined his thoughts on the parking situation in the downtown area especially on the Third Avenue  West stretch, asking council to give some thought to reducing the time limits for street parking to one hour on Third Avenue West and leave Second Avenue West at two hours. He relayed some concerns from local restaurant owners and barber shops over customer parking availability. Councillor Ashley said that it was something that Council should look at and expressed regret that Councillor Garon was not available tonight to speak on the topic, which she is familiar with. Councillor Carlick-Pearson expressed her thoughts on the lack of parking availability, combined with our weather conditions.

Councillor Ashley wondered about the impact that any changes may have on the current levels of bylaw enforcement in the city.

The Mayor's final item of note was again to Mr. Rodin asking that Public Works check into the traffic lights at Fulton and Third Avenue, which apparently don't provide enough time for pedestrians to cross the street. He also asked that if staff had any items on parking to bring them to council for the next meeting.

And with that, council's session came to an end for February 12th.

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