Wednesday, March 27, 2013

City Council Timeline, Monday, March 25, 2013

Another night of Full Attendance for the 25th of  March edition of City Council, with all Six Councillors, the Mayor and City Manager all gathered in Council Chambers for what would be another  lengthy review of events.

Communication towers and signs dominated the first hour of the council session, as the Mayor and Council held an extensive examination of a communications tower for the college and the highway pullout development near the Ferry Terminal.

Council also reviewed the Community Funding Agreement with the province and where they plan on spending the revenue from your traffic tickets from the last year, as well as to where they would allocate the small Community grant.

The Sunken Gardens was a topic of interest for discussion, as the City reviewed how they would partner with the Prince Rupert Garden Club to help them gain funding for their project.

The remainder of the council night was taken up with resolutions and discussion on a number of items from the agenda.

No doubt the most interesting topic of the bunch, come in at the 1 hour five minute mark, an extensive review of some of the aspects of the Financial Plan that Council has to consider. With Council discussing such items as potential service cuts, tax increases, potential staff additions and the looming prospect of a new collective agreement with the civic unions.

The timeline of all of the council 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 March 25, 2013

In Attendance March 25, 2013

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

Video Archive for March 25, 2013 
Audio Archive for March 25, 2013

The first task of business for Council on the 11th was the usual adoption of the Agenda sessions of  Council meetings March 25th. (0:00-1:00)

The Mayor then opened the session of the Committee of the Whole and asked for questions from the public gallery. (1:00-17:00)

Larry Golden asked a question on whether the City could fine tune it's budget figure presentations, to better explain the budget process. Looking for more detailed explanation of what is under consideration by Council. The Mayor then had Acting City Manager explain the reasoning behind the current budget process and how it has changed over the years.

The main focus of Mr. Golden's questioning seemed to be on the topic of open and transparent delivery information, in particular on the topic of CityWest.  A process which he expressed the opinion of was one that he didn't feel was particularly open or transparent.

Councillor Ashley took exception to his belief that it wasn't an open and transparent process. Councillor Thorkelson directed Mr. Golden's attention to the calendar of meetings to come that could provide him the opportunity to further question the process.

Next up was Devlin Fernandez of Eco-Trust Canada, who advised City Council of an upcoming trans-border Economic and Stewardship gathering in Prince Rupert on May 14-16 and asked that Council send one or two representatives to the event.

Councillor Ashley asked if people could attend part of the conference, as part of it falls on a workday.

The Mayor inquired as to how far reaching the conference was going to be from where the guests were anticipated to come from.

With No more questions from the public, the Mayor moved on to the Regular City Council business of the day.

Regular City Council Business

Adoption of agenda and additions to it and adoption of Minutes from meetings from previous Council Sessions (17:00-19:30)

Reports and Recommendations (19:30--40:00 )

Recommendation for a Variance Permit for 11th Avenue East be Approved -- Mr. Krekic outlined the background of the request in front of council. The motion was approved

Recommendation for a Variance Permit on 5th Street  (NWCC) to be approved-- Mr. Krekic provided another outline of the property in question and the nature of the communications tower that is in question. Councillor Thorkelson expressed a concern over the possibility of children climbing up that tower.

Peter Freeman of NWCC outlined the safety measures that the college had plans in place for to safeguard over the prospect of people climbing the tower. Councillor Rice outlined the nature of an email she received over possible emissions from the tower and an impact on health. It was explained that the nature of the tower wasn't going to be directing any transmissions.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson also expressed concern over any rays that might be directed from the tower but found the answer to Councillor Rice's question to be sufficient. The motion was then approved.

A number of councillors then weighed in to offer up a variety of amendments to the theme, the end result being that the final motion was that the tower would be approved, providing there were safeguards to ensure that youth could not climb it. As well, should the nature of the tower be changed from its original purpose of receiving data, to transmitting data, then the college must appear at Council again to request that change.

The motion on the tower then was passed.

(40:00 - 54:00Report from the Engineering coordinator on the Highway pullout on Highway 16 near the Ferries terminal. Mr Rodin outlined the details on the project  (already in place) which would provides for an information billboard and highway pullout . The City will provide the province with the required three metres of land for the project.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson had a couple of concerns on the topic,  the location of the pullout and safety concerns of that particular spot.

Councillor Ashley inquired as to the cost of the signage to the City considering its current budget concerns. The Mayor suggested that perhaps a way of providing for its cost through community involvement.

Councillor Garon expressed her shock at the fact that it was already developed, wondering why the City didn't have any more input into the process.

Councillor Ashley then asked that since it was a provincial project, why the province was not footing the bill for the sign. Mr. Rodin then provided some background on the situation and suggested that the City could bring forward its concerns over the development. The province will pay for its sign, the City doesn't have to construct its sign at this time.

Councillor Thorkelson then asked for a friendly amendment to have signage constructed to advise that the pull out is up ahead.

The motion then was approved.

Council  then discussed where to direct any potential tender for the community portion of the highway pullout sign, Councillor Garon suggested that Tourism Prince Rupert perhaps could be approached,  she also reinforced her disappointment in how the city had no say in the pull out construction.

Councillor Ashley echoed some of the frustration over the nature of the province's handling of the situation but did make a motion to direct city staff to seek out possible public supporters for the construction of the city's portion of the pull out sign. Suggesting the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Prince Rupert or Community Futures be consulted for possible options.

Councillor Thorkelson then expressed her thoughts on what the sign might look like, suggesting that some of the local industrial groups such as the Prince Rupert Port Authority or Ridley Terminals could be approached to be asked to contribute to a sign. Her preference is for one with a nice design with community information and one that avoided featuring a number of advertising blocks.

Councillor Rice then sought out some clarification on the nature of the sign and to make sure that the City wasn't planning to pay for it. Preferring to have a community sponsor come forward to provide it.

After the lengthy discussion on the topic, Mr. Rodin then advised that staff understood Council's concerns and would do some research on the topic.

The motion was passed, with Councillor Garon opposed.

(54:00-- 56:00) Report from Acting City Manager on the Strategic Community Investment Funding Agreement -- Mr. Rodin outlined the background on the Agreement with the province, which provides funding to the city through the small community grant and traffic. The City includes these revenues in the budget and outlines what they plan to use the money for.  The Small Community grant is destined to be directed towards a reduction of any possible tax increase, while the Traffic fine monies would be directed to the RCMP.

The motion was adopted

(56:00- 57:00) Report from Acting City Manager on a request regarding the Sunken Gardens-- Mr. Rodin explained how the City would partner with the local Garden Society to gain grant funding for their sunken Garden project. It's the same process that the City used in partnership with Hecate Strait Development in the past, with city issuing tax receipts on behalf of the Sunken Gardens group, as they sought further funding for their plans.

The motion was adopted.

(57:00- 1:04:00) Report from the Acting City Manager on the December 2012 Monthly Department Report --  Mr. Rodin reviewed his report, outlining a number of aspects of the report on the various City departments.  Advising that it was available for a leisurely review.

The motion to receive the report was adopted.

Councillor Ashley asked a question on the purchase of the new ice chiller and whether it was costed out for this years budget. The problems from the old chiller were costed to the 2013 budget.

Councillor Carlick Pearson also had a question regarding the chiller and the nature of the rinks shutdown and timeline for a return of ice.

Councillor Thorkelson raised a question regarding the Watson Island revenue and the nature of the money received. She also inquired as to the nature of the property taxes that the city owes itself on that property and how they are accounted for with the City.

(1:04:00-- 1:05:00) Report from  the Acting City Manager on the 2013 Financial Plan Process-- Mr. Rodin reviewed the schedule ahead for the consideration of the City's Financial Plan and what will be considered at each session.

(1:05:00-- 1:42:00) Report from the Acting City Manager on the 2013 Financial Plan options-- Mr. Rodin reviewed the different options that the City could consider regarding its Financial situation and what impact those options may have on their final Financial plan.

He reviewed some of the revenue streams and provided a few items that staff might wish to add to the budget, among them a night time clerk for the RCMP, an additional manager for the Civic Centre complex as well as the prospect of more money for the Recreation Centre.

Mr. Rodin then reviewed some of the options; reduce the paving budget somewhat, perhaps by as much as $150,000, increase property taxes by about 1 percent to fund existing costs, with the possibility of cutbacks and service reductions.

He also suggested that the City could pull some money out of the surplus to fund some of the deficit.

He said Council could consider increasing fees, some of which have not been increased in a number of years.

He advised that Council could direct staff to do any or all of the above or hold off for further public consultation on the topic.

Councillor Ashley inquired as to the topic of an infrastructure priority list and whether city was addressing any of them, Mr. Rodin outlined the streetlight replacement project, the Duncan Road sewer extension and the Moresby Creek sewer project.

She also inquired as to the nature of any work on Shawatlans Dam and whether anything is planned for this year, Mr. Rodin advised that they are looking for grants for that and the Mayor added they were waiting for further criteria on the Federal Governments infrastructure plans.

Councillor Ashley asked if the head of engineering could attend a council session to provide further information on the city engineering requirements.

Councillor Garon expressed the thought that she wanted to hear from the public as to what they think of the possible options.

Councillor Thorkelson inquired on the status of the CUPE agreement, and asked for an estimate that the impact of any potential wage increase would have on the budget. The current contract ended in 2012, the next set of negotiations is set to take place in the second or third quarter of this year, the contract if settled could be effective January of 2013. Councillor Thorkelson requested some kind of projections for council to consider with the various wage provisions in place.

Mr. Rodin estimated that the CUPE aspect of wages takes about 7 million out of the budget.

Councillor Thorkelson inquired as to the prospect of the part time clerk for the RCMP and if the RCMP had asked for any other increase in staff. She then outlined her thoughts on the request for the clerk for the RCMP, the additional rec centre manager and other recreation centre financial options.

The two new positions would be incremental costs, as would be the additional spending on the rec centre.

Councillor Ashley asked if there was any tax revenue included in the financial plan stemming from Pinnacle Pellet.

He reviewed some of the properties that would no longer be taxed, the fish plants that have closed recently and the shut down of the Houston Pellet plant at Ridley, which reduces the city's industrial taxation prospects.

She also inquired as to the status of the now paid off Museum mortgage. She, like other councillors wanted to see more information and ideas and what the possibilities are and the impact they might have on the budget and the community. Such as fee increases, service reductions.

Councillor Thorkelson expressed concerns over the prospect of a huge tax increase, while at the same time didn't want to see service reductions that may drive civic employees out of town. Her main concern is over the prospect of wage increases and the impact of them on the budget.

She counselled for patience as the City waits for better times to come to the community, before exploring the larger issues at hand.

Councillor Ashley returned to the theme of infrastructure concerns and that the city should maximize its funds.

Councillor Kinney joined in on the conversation, calling on the promise of the future and how the City should make things presentable so that those arriving in the community may wish to remain here.

The motion to receive the report for informational purposes was adopted.

(1:42:00--1:57:00 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator on the topic of a Nuisance property on 7th Avenue East-- Mr. Grodecki outlined the details of his report, recommending that the property and items upon it in question  and items upon it be demolished.

Councillor Ashley asked about property valuations and the procedure of recovering cost from the tax sale provisions.

Mr. Rodin then delivered a review of some of the accounting procedures of the city both in regard to these property demolitions and other facets of civic accounting.

The motion was adopted.

(1:57:00--1:58:00 Correspondence for Action -- Request for a letter of support for Northwest Community College regarding an application for a Community Enhancement grant from the Port to enhance their marine courses at the college.

The motion was adopted

(1:58:00--2:01:00) Proclamation Request from Community Social Service

The motion was adopted

Councillor Thorkelson also added to the motion that they write a letter to the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition expressing the city's support for Community Social Services.

That motion was adopted

Councillor Rice asked if they could include a copy to Regional District on the letter.

(2:01:00--2:01:30 ) Resolutions from the Closed Meeting

Announcement of appointments to the Board of Variance

(2:01:30-- 2:14:00 ) An internship proposal from Northern Development Initiative Trust -- Mr. Rodin outlined the concept of the proposal from NDIT, offering further education for those interested in civic governance issues. The City would be required to provide some of the money towards the project, the Mayor offering up a potential three way split with Port Edward and Regional District. The only concern that Mr. Rodin has is that the City may not have the proper amount of staff on hand at the moment to take advantage of the internship.

Councillor Ashley asked as to the timeline of the application process for the project.

Councillor Garon outlined her conversation with NDIT on the costing of the project to the city, which she believes to be around 8,000 dollars. She spoke in favour of moving forward with the proposal.

Councillor Ashley again returned to the theme of the timeline and the ability to contact other potential partners with Prince Rupert.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up the thought that they only received this tonight, so it's hard to know all of the details of it. She followed up on the theme of Mr. Rodin's about what we might be able to offer any potential intern and how the City needs to be fair to them at this time.

Councillor Garon returned to the theme of the project and again spoke strongly in favour of the program.

The motion was adopted, providing that the approval is received from Port Edward and SQCRD.

( 2:14:00- 2:14:30Report from the City Manager on Outstanding City Initiatives-- Mr. Rodin reviewed the current projects that the city is working on, including a number of Capital Works projects.

Reports, Questions and Inquiries for Council
(2:15:00-- 2:29:30 )

Councillor Garon advised Council as to the nature of the NDI website and the programs that they offer to communities.

Councillor Rice reviewed four items of interest to her, inquiring about a share shed at the landfill, Mr. Rodin said he would look further into the topic. Councillor Rice then followed that up with a request of clarification on the backyard hens proposal and if there has been any progress on it. Mr. Rodin advised that staff was advised that it was a low priority on the agenda for workload purposes. He wasn't sure if it would be addressed in 2013.  Councillor Rice then turned to the Information package of March 20th and the Port Authority planning for the Waterfront East, asking that the City take the next step towards its vision of the development in that area.

Councillor Ashley wondered where that fits into their top five priorities at the moment, the Mayor asked Mr. Rodin to consult with Mr. Krekic on the status of the plans priority. Councillor Thorkelson also weighed into the discussion, suggesting that the boundary expansion project probably knocks the Waterfront East planning down the list of priorities. Councillor Thorkelson also offered up that she would like to talk to the Port about the Kwinitsa west portion of the waterfront.

Councillor Rice had one final item of interest, regarding the Welcoming Committee for new immigrants to the community and wondered if anyone was going to participate in that April 10th meeting.

Councillor Thorkelson raised an item from the last Mayor's report, asking that the City send a letter to the Provincial parties to seeking their development of a BC commercial fisheries program and accompanying policies, to promote the growth and development of a commercial fisheries and processing sectors in coastal communities, including serious consideration of the State of Alaska style of regional salmon aquaculture.

Councillor Garon then asked about the nature of disappearing garbage cans in the downtown area.

Councillor Garon also wondered if the planters were being removed on Second and Third Avenues, they were removed at the request of Civic Pride owing to the deteriorating condition that they were in.

Mayor's Report


The Mayor received a note from Air Canada Express, advising that they will be operating a flight on Saturday afternoons as of May 4th, to compliment their morning flights of Saturday.

The Mayor also advised that the Prince Rupert Airport reported that passenger figures for January and February of 2013 show an increase in passengers of 4.14 per cent from last year at this time.

The Mayor participated in the City of Prince Rupert Awards of Appreciation ceremony. Councillors Carlick-Pearson and Garon were also in attendance at that ceremony.

The Mayor also took part in an interview with Bill Good discussing the development of port facilities in the community.

He advised that there is currently some upgrading of the Butze Rapids trail at this time.

The session then came to a close.

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