Thursday, October 31, 2013

Westview issue addressed, but Housing concerns are still on Councillor Thorkelson's to do list

A good portion of Monday night's council session seemed to focus on the uproar over the proposed development of condominium housing on land bordering the Westview park area, a proposal that made for much controversy, provided for a public forum and seemingly sent a message that resonated clearly with many on City council.

After a fair bit of discussion, including some concerns on the issue expressed by the Mayor as to a rush to decision making, Council voted to abandon the prospect of development in the park area of Westview, putting that proposal down by way of a motion from Councillor Ashley.

You can review the lengthy contributions from a number of councillors on the issue from the Council video archive for October 28th , the Westivew topic comes up for discussion from the 16:30 mark and continues on to the  36 minute mark.

And while that particular idea may be a non starter, the theme of housing requirements in the city will soon come up again for discussion and it would appear that  a much larger review is on the horizon.

While the Mayor counselled his fellow member of City Council as to the increasing work load that they were providing for city staff,  housing would appear to  be one issue that seems destined to be on the day planners for council and staff as the council year moves on.

Following the Westview discussions of Monday night,  Councillor Joy Thorkelson expressed her concerns over the need to develop a comprehensive plan on Housing for the community, something that goes beyond the Official Community Plan.

The first stage it would appear is to have the City Planner compile a listing of land held both by the city and privately, that could be used for development purposes in the city.

From there,  the Councillor would like to see Council and the community engage in a discussion as to what kind of housing they would like to see in place within the community, ranging from condo developments to social and public housing.

You can review her concerns on the issue of housing from the City Council video archive, the Councillor outlines her concerns on the theme from the 36 to 39 minute mark. 

She put forward a motion to move the process forward at council on Monday evening, which Council voted to adopt (with the exception of Councillor Garon), and not without that cautionary advice  on the already heavy workload of city staff from the Mayor.

Once City Council has received its reports, compiled its lists and no doubt held a few more discussions around the council table on the theme, it would appear that the whole issue will be brought to the public. Allowing for a review and discussion of what they would like to see as far as development in all aspects of housing for the community.

Considering the workload already at hand for City Council, that potential forum is more likely one that won't come up for discussion until the new year.

It's Prince Rupert's night for goblins and ghouls, perhaps a bit damp, but always cool!

As Prince Rupert prepares to watch the parade of door to door ghouls and goblins, a cautious eye will be cast on the forecast, hopeful that Environment Canada's weather spells provide good omens for trick or treating.

However, preparations for a wet Halloween might be best for those going out, taking their children door to door tonight.  The  Halloween forecast is for the rain of the morning to continue through the day and most likely into the evening.

So unless the weather patterns change through the afternoon, Prince Rupert could be offering up a damp outing for youngsters for the prime trick or treat hours of 5 until 8.

And while the weather may dictate as to how many youngsters call on your door, the indoor festivities at the Civic Centre should once again attract a fairly large crowd, ready to take in all of the activities of Halloween fest.

The Civic Centre opens its doors to the costumed creatures of the night at 6 PM, with some 20 different games and activities inside for kids to play and collect their treats at.

As well there will be the always popular costume parade and this year a number of raffles for different age categories offering up a wide range of prizes for participants.

The indoor activities wrap up at 8 PM, giving all enough time to head outside and take in the fireworks display, which providing the winds don't pick up drastically, will take place at 8:15.

Prince Rupert's Halloween Fest is put on through the work of volunteers on the Halloween Fest Committee and from donations by local businesses and individuals. You can review some of the work involved in pulling off the yearly festival from the items below.

October 30-- Prince Rupert's Hallowe'en Fest tomorrow night 
October 28-- Prince Rupert prepares for 26th Annual Halloween Festival
October 28-- Prince Rupert Halloween Festival (video)
October 23-- Prince Rupert's Hallowe'en Fest in need of volunteers

The City makes Ms. Bomben's appointment official

While the announcement of Corinne Bomben's permanent placement in the senior management ranks was made public back in September, the City of Prince Rupert made it official on Wednesday with an announcement posted to their website.

As we outlined on the blog last month, Ms. Bomben's appointment as the Chief Financial Officer was made in Council Chambers on September 9th, Ms. Bomben making the announcement at the session herself.

At that same time, the word was delivered that the City Manager, Robert Long had successfully completed his probationary period and would continue on with the duties of his position.

Earlier this month, Council advised that the third position of the senior management team, that of Corporate Administrator had been filled, with Mr. Rory Mandryk announced as the successor to the position vacated in May by Robert Grodecki.

However, the latest addition to staff has yet to make take his place at City council sessions thus far and no notice of his hiring has been posted to the City website.

And while those three senior positions on staff would now appear to have been taken off of the City's to do list, the quest for new talent for Prince Rupert continues on.

Last week we reviewed the pending departure of the City's Economic Development Officer, as Derek Baker wraps up his time in that position this week.  Mr. Baker now destined for the private sector and the city's percolating LNG industry in November.

Details of the requirements for Mr. Baker's old position have yet to be posted to the Career opportunities section of the City's website.

City Council Timeline, October 28, 2013

It was a fairly short workload for City Council on Monday, a public session of municipal governance that took up just sixty minutes of their evening.

The October 28th gathering offered up the  usual items found on the weekly agenda.

In addition to the public forum on the night, October 28th featured another "closed session" of Council, an event that seems of late to be a rather common development with each gathering of Council.

The timeline of all of the council the proceedings can be found in red below, tied in with the City Council video and audio feeds archived below.

Further information such as minutes and permanent placement in the  audio and video archives can be found below as they are posted to the city Website.

In Attendance October 28, 2013

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

Councillor Jennifer Rice-- Resigned her position on June 10th.

Video Archive for October 28, 2013
Audio Archive for October 28, 2013 (not available yet)

(0:00--1:30) Council moved on to it's regular agenda for the night. The Mayor  beginning the session by outlining the usual procedural aspects of the adoption of the agenda and past minutes from September 30th, before carrying on with the agenda items for the evening. From that bit of housekeeping, Council moved right into Reports and Recommendations.

Reports and Recommendations

(1:00--5:00Report from the Deputy Corporate Administrator on a Recommendation from Staff  on a liquor licence application from Java Dot Cup-- Mr. Long reviewed the particulars of the recommendation that Council not provide comments or recommendations on this application. That was a suggestion that Councillor Thorkelson took exception to, outlining her thoughts on the process involved and how she believes the city should make its thoughts known on liquor licence issues. Councillor Ashley inquired of staff whether they had any concerns over the application in question.
The motion was passed, with Councillor Thorkelson offering her opposition.

(5:00--5:30Report from the Deputy Corporate Administrator  on the Curling Club lease -- Ms.Bomben outlined the terms of the lease provision with the Curling Club. The motion of approval was passed.

Correspondences for Action

(5:00:30--8:30Request for a Proclamation from the Restorative Justice Division--  Council was asked to proclaim November 17-24th as Restorative Justice Week. Mr. Long outlined the particulars of the proclamation request. Councillor Carlick-Pearson spoke in favour of the motion. The motion was then adopted.

(8:30--10:00Request for a Proclamation from the Prince Rupert Early Childhood Education Leadership team- seeking that Prince Rupert be declared a Child Friendly city. Councillor Kinney spoke in favour of the motion, Councillor Ashley questioned as to why it was appearing again, since Prince Rupert had already issued the proclamation in the past. However, she did second the motion, which was the adopted by Council.


(10:00--10:302013 - 2015 Permissive Property Tax Bylaw Exemption Amendment 3315-2013 -- A recommendation that council adopt  the Bylaw Exemption Amendment.  It would provide the Museum of Northern British Columbia the 100 per cent exemption on the entire building, including the rental property.

(10:30--11:30 ) Mayor and Council Indemnity Bylaw 3316-2013 -- A recommendation that Council introduce and give three readings to the Bylaw. Councillor Ashley outlined the review of the bylaw, which freezes Council's wages for 2013.

The motion was then adopted.

(11:30--15:30Report from the City Manager -- Mr. Long touched on a number of items of interest to council. He outlined the progress of the City initiatives files as well as the progress now underway for the City's Capital Budget and preparations for the 2014 Operational Budget. The Finance Dept will hold a public information meeting in February.

Paving for the year will be complete by October 31st, the seasonal banners have been taken down around the city and repairs have been made to vandalized bus shelters. Preparations are being made should sanding and salting of roads be required this year.

Final landscaping is underway on the 9th Avenue East project, preparations are underway for the fall and winter rainy season and the landfill development contracts have been awarded. Staff is working on a layout for a new section at the cemetery, as well a design for the Dam spillway has been awarded.

New projects for the winter include:  Water line replacement for Seventh Avenue East and King Edward School area, fabrication for replacement  of a portion of the railing at City Hall, Sewer line replacement at Brett Place. The Duncan Road Pump station has been ordered and carrier pipe is ready to be installed.

Engineering is conducting an ongoing review of development permits, staff is making preparations for airport ferry ramp upgrades, investigating vandalism at City Hall and at bus shelters and making plans to install more LED lighting at City hall park to discourage vandalism. And the city is working with Annunciation parish for the Annunciation land swap.

Development services business licence prep is to be deployed on November 1st.

Following the report, the Mayor asked if there were any questions for the City Manager from his report.

Councillor Ashley inquired as to the status of retaining walls on Graham Avenue and passed on information from the Westview public meeting that some residents had concerns on regarding those walls.

Councillor Garon inquired as to what the Annunciation Land swap was, she was advised that it involved a past agreement to exchange property for servicing between the city and the parish, with the city now working to bring the process to a conclusion.

Reports, Questions and Inquires from members of Council

(15:30--16:30) Councillor Kinney raised the issue of winter preparations for snow removal -- He inquired as to whether the city was giving some thought to plowing the snow to the middle of the road and removing it in the evening.  Mr. Long advised that the request would be investigated advising as to what if any additional cost could be incurred from such procedures.

(16:30--36:00) Councillor Ashley raised a motion on the Westview development proposal -- Outlining that she believes that the City should stop the process of looking at that land for development. Seeking out further guidance from staff so as how to protect it from development in the future.  The Mayor then offered his counsel on the issue. Advising that if they stop the process now, they may have only heard from one segment of the community on the issue of development there.

Mr. Long was then asked to offer his advice to the situation. He outlined that  the process involved would be to determine where they would like to have further development.  He would like to see further civic engagement on the issue, with council to determine which areas could best be developed.

The Mayor then asked for specific guidance on the Westview property, asking if Council could stop the process as it owns the property. Mr. Long advised as to the process regarding property rights, but in this case, the City is capable of saying that they are not going to move forward with this proposal.

Councillor Ashley then outlined her reasoning behind her motion, which was based on what council members heard from the public meeting earlier in the month. She recounted some of the points that the residents provided regarding the proposal and that she believes that council now had enough of a sense of what the public feels about the proposal to move to stop the proposed development.

The Mayor outlined his hesitations at stopping the proposed development at this stage, returning to his theme that there had not been a full consultation with all that may have something to contribute to the discussion.

He also inquired of council and staff what they would then have done with the lots that don't encroach on the green space in question.  Mr. Long advised that they Council could divest themselves of those lots for development.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson, offered up her thoughts on the proposal of the transition house land area and echoed many of Councillor Ashley's concerns on the topic regarding the participation at the forum. She recounted her concerns over the loss of green space in the community and expressed her opposition in developing in the park area in question.

Councillor Garon spoke out against the development of the proposed condo project, but is in favour of developing the land in the old transition house section of the land in question.

Councillor Thorkelson asked for the motion to be read once again, she then offered her support to stop the development of the green space aspect of the land in question. And then added that she had a number of concerns, which she has expressed previously.

She then asked asked for a clarification on the legislation that ties up the CN properties that were given to the city. Stating that the city needs to be clear as to what that legislation means.

She also wants to be clear if the City can sell the land that the transition house was located, wondering if they did not fall under property for the public good. Advising that the city needs clarity on that issue as well.

She then suggested that when Mr. Krekic brings forward his report on the listing of all the property that the city owns around the city, that the city develop a plan that is more specific than the OCP, and where council wants to have things like condos and such for development.

She also suggested that the city needs to have a discussion on such things as social housing needs, public housing and all items of similar concern.

The Mayor advised that he believes that staff is looking into the issues between CN and that city land.

Councillor Garon asked that the motion be tabled, but that bid was turned down.

The main motion to stop this particular proposed development of the Atlin Avenue land was then voted on and adopted.

(36:00--39:00) Councillor Thorkelson then moved that the City set up a process to look at the inventory of lots in Prince Rupert. -- Asking for a list of those lots owned by the city and privately, so as to inform the public as to what kind of development that they want to see in the city. The Councillor outlined her thinking on the need for such an inventory and the process that she sees moving ahead on development issues for the city.  Councillor Ashley seconded that motion, the Mayor then weighed in on the theme and expressed his concerns that the council was adding on more and more duties to a staff that doesn't have the resources available to perform all of these requests from council.

Councillor Thorkelson's motion was then voted on and approved by Council, with Councillor Garon opposed.

(39:00--40:00)  Councillor Garon then returned to the Westview issue, asking if the city was still going to seek out clarification on the status of the land in question on Atlin, asking if they intend to seek out more details from the land registry. The Mayor advised that staff was still investigating that and it was something that they need to have clarified.

Reports, Questions and Inquiries

(40:00--48:00) Councillor Thorkelson had one other issue of note for council, regarding a liquor licence review currently under way by the province, which is asking for input on possible changes to liquor licensing regulations in British Columbia.

The review is set to close for comment on the 31st of October. She expressed her concern on the oversight of council on the issue, providing some background on statistics from the rest of the province. The Mayor then asked what she would like Council to do on the issue.

She then suggested that if at all possible, that someone on staff could make up a report on the city's concerns on the theme of liquor consumption and its disruptive nature to the community.

Her motion was that staff should write a short report by the 31st, to the relevant Ministry expressing council's concerns that liquor laws not be loosened to permit easier access for juveniles.

The motion was seconded by councillor Ashley, who then spoke to the topic.

She then suggested that Council members provide their thoughts by email to staff, who then could turn that into the letter requested by Councillor Thorkelson.

Councillor Garon then made a few observations on the topic, suggesting that they may be a little late in the process to submit a report. Suggesting that if councillors wanted, they could always approach the ministry in question on an individual basis.

With discussion complete, the motion to have staff draft a report to forward to the Ministry in question was voted down by council.

(48:00-49:00) The Mayor then relayed some background on a project from the information package, highlighting the Life Skills program being hosted by NWCC and the Friendship House. A program which features free tuition and offers a workshop on a number of themes on life skills for the community.

(49:00-60:00The Mayor's Report

The Mayor outlined some of the meetings and gatherings that he attended in the last two weeks, among them; a meeting with the President and CEO of the Knowledge Network, he also attended the Chamber of Commerce meeting for October, which featured the announcement of the rising stars participants and their sponsors.

He reviewed the most recent statistics from Prince Rupert airport, advising that passenger traffic was up by 3.8 per cent from January to September.

He participated in a meeting with representatives of the BG Group regarding the development plans for their proposed LNG terminal at Ridley Island. In attendance with him were Councillors Ashley and Kinney.  He advised that the representatives from BG plan to make a presentation after the by-election and if any councillors have any questions on the theme of LNG development, that they should forward them to BG for further discussion.

Councillor Ashley then inquired as to whether this process was something that members of the public could become involved with as well. The Mayor then advised that the public could email their questions to members of council, who could then present them to BG at the meeting.

The Mayor then outlined some background on a recent meeting with members of the trucking industry and the RCMP,  where the heavy load truck issues in the city were discussed. With an emphasis on safety and the sharing of the roads.  The trucking representatives would take the discussion points back to share with their drivers. Also in attendance at the meeting were Councillors Ashley, Garon and Kinney.

The Mayor attended the opening of the Coastal Business Resource Centre.

He and Councillor Garon met with representatives of the Sundance Canyon Building corporation, who are interested in sites for modular housing development opportunities in the community.

He participated in a gathering for the Prince Rupert Self Advocacy Group, as well as attended the graduation ceremonies for 14 students of the first cohort of the Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs program, in attendance with him were Councillor Carlick-Pearson, who is one of the mentors for the program.

He attended the Prince Rupert Marina Stakeholders meeting to review proposed marina designs and placement.

He also attended the Prince Rupert Airport Authority Board of Directors meeting, outlining some of the discussion points from that session. Reviewing how the airport is looking forward to much needed renovation work getting underway and has made application for needed repairs for the runway. He also outlined the variety of aircraft that the airport can currently accept, with anticipation of larger aircraft using the facility as growth in the community is experienced.

He attended an Open House  in support of Foster Parenting in British Columbia.

He, Councillors Kinney and Ashley were in attendance at the Public Information session on the Airport Bylaw Authorization process, available to provide further information to members of the public on the topic.

He participated in a task force to seek governance changes to a Western Transportation Council Act.

The Mayor attended the first in a number of trade talks hosted by the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Quickload.

He attended the Prince Rupert Rotary Club Dinner meeting.

As well he and Councillor Thorkelson attended a BG Group meeting on a variety of aspects of LNG development and its impact on the region.

The Mayor attended the 2013 Ridley Terminals Northern Art Initiative exhibit held at the Museum of Northern British Columbia, it runs until the middle of November.

He also participated in the University of Northern British Columbia Northwest Regional Advisory Council Meeting, where the need for educational courses in specific occupations for the region was discussed and the topic of expanding the options closer to home was reviewed, with the possibility of the University expanding its presence in Terrace.

And with that final bit of discussion the Council session was brought to an end, with Council then adjourned to other items of discussion, which would be held in an in-camera session.

You can access the City Council Review page for October 28th here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including media coverage of it can be found.

As always, consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to the website for further review.

Minutes Regular Council Session from October 28, 2013 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

RCMP seek public assistance on case file

The Prince Rupert RCMP are looking for some help from the public on a case that they have been investigating for a month now.

The incident in question took place  on September 28th at the Skee-Ann Apartments on Park Avenue on the city's west side.

On that date and in the early hours of that morning, Prince Rupert First responders answered a call to the parking lot of the apartment building, at which time they found an unconscious male with a significant head injury lying near a truck.

He was taken to Prince Rupert Regional Hospital for treatment, but the RCMP have no further information on how he was injured, or what they may be dealing with.

With that background, the RCMP now turn to the public, asking that anyone that may have been in that area on September 28th, or who may have information on the incident to contact them at the Prince Rupert detachment.

The number locally to contact the RCMP is 250-627-0700, you can also make use of the Crimestoppers line of 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)  to provide assistance on this file.

Alberta research foundation puts BC on the clock in its quest for LNG

An Alberta think tank has outlined that time is off the essence for the Province of British Columbia when it comes to move on it's plans for LNG development.

Otherwise global developments may reduce potential revenues and the need for the large scale of development that has been put forward so far.

The Canada West Foundation released their findings on Tuesday, with a review of current global LNG development and British Columbia's potential place in that world LNG marketplace.

The title of the report compiled by Pawel Mirski and Len Coad is: Managing Expectations: Assessing the Potential of BC's Liquid Natural Gas Industry

(see report here)

It is a twenty one page report that highlights the competitive nature of the LNG industry. Highlightin how the timing of the British Columbia projects could impact on it's projected revenue stream and the infrastructure in Northwest British Columbia that will be required to deliver the resource to world markets.

Looking at the proposed industry infrastructure for British Columbia the report observes that the province is coming late to the party and that the large number of proposed terminal projects that have been mentioned for the Northwest may not be a realistic expectation.

Their review anticipates that owing to a number of factors, a shorter list of projects than that now put forward will be constructed as the BC industry moves forward.

The main case for that reduction in proposed terminal development may come from competition in Asia, Australia and in the USA, with Russia as well making inroads in delivering their natural gas reserves to Asian markets.

Add into the mix, the fact that China is exploring its own territories for gas reserves, with some experts suggesting those may be the largest in the world.

A resource which when developed, would no doubt change the nature of the LNG industry in a very significant fashion.

A prime example of some those challenges ahead for BC comes from the listings of LNG plants that are already under construction around the world, the majority of them at the moment found in Australia and other Southeast Asian locations.

More competition can be found in the United States, as there are currently over 16 terminals proposed for American locations, though for the most part  LNG observers suggest that they are designed to service the European continent .

The full listing of the projects underway or planned can be found on Pages 16-19 of the report.

And while the report stresses that British Columbia has an unprecedented opportunity to develop its shale gas resources, construct pipelines and terminal development; time they say is of great importance.

The authors suggest that the expectations outlined by the Province just one year ago, may be tough deliver in the long term.

Particularly with the impact that global competition may have not only on supplies to markets, but from downward pressures on the price available for the resource and in the revenues to be returned to British Columbia.

As a conclusion to their report, the Foundation issued four key recommendations:

The BC Government and industry need to move fast to out maneuver their competition

The BC Government should be prepared for a more modest natural gas boom in the event that projected production and revenues build more slowly

Greater attention needs to be paid to the risks facing the industry to ensure that price competitiveness is maintained

Notwithstanding the economic boost expected from natural gas production, efforts to grow the natural gas industry should not crowd out other natural resource opportunities.

The call to move quickly will most likely have more resonance with the provincial government and industry officials, than it will with those that may have hesitations over such large scale development on a fast track timeline.

The prospect of widespread shale gas development and pipeline projects does have some opposition in the province and those that want more information, or wish to see a slower time frame in place, most likely won't be holding the Canada West Foundation's report up in the air as their template.

It will be worth watching to see how the Provincial government balances those two competing themes, while keeping an eye on the competition as they seek to move their Natural Gas program forward at an advanced timeline.

The release of the report provided for a number of media reviews yesterday, some of them can be found below.

Financial Post-- "Destructive competition" a disadvantage for B. C. LNG players: report
Globe and Mail-- Think tank tempers B.C.'s LNG dreams
Calgary Herald-- LNG race still full of unknown variables

You can review more on the proposed LNG projects for the Northwest from our archive page.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

By-election advance polling opportunities start next week

The race to claim Jennifer Rice's council seat comes to an end on November 16, a time frame which has left would be Prince Rupert voters with less than three weeks to learn more about the six candidates looking to fill in the vacant spot.

For those that have already made up their mind, the first opportunity to cast a vote comes with the Advance polls of November 6th, 8th and 13th, with City Hall the location for casting a ballot in the by-election. Voters can cast a ballot on those days from 8 AM to 8 PM

In addition to the advance poll, a number of special polls are taking place at two locations in the city. With voting stations to be set up at Acropolis Manor and the Prince Rupert Hospital.

Allowing those at those locations, who may be unable to make it to the Civic Centre on voting day, to make their choice in a more convenient setting.

There are also Additional General Voting Opportunities for those who cannot leave their residence on voting day, where the ballots can be brought to those residents who have medical or other issues impacting on their ability to vote at the main voting locations.

You can review more information on the advance and special voting options from this notice posted to the City website.

The General vote takes place at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on November 16th, with the voting booths open from 8 AM to 8 PM on that day.

So far the only indication that there is a municipal by-election underway is the appearance of candidate signs, which have started to pop up at high visibility locations around the city.

Other than that visual reminder, we have yet to hear much, if anything as to what the candidates may wish to contribute to the debate at City hall every two weeks.

By-elections traditionally don't resonate quite as much with the voting public as a general election may and no better indication of that issue can be found, than that of Coquitlam last week.

Like Prince Rupert, Coquitlam found the need to go the by-election route after two of their councillors found electoral success in the recent provincial collection.

However, the lack of interest in the campaign around that community, provided for a paltry 9.2 per cent turnout, which means that in a city of 87,064 eligible voters, only 8,036 bothered to cast a ballot.

That low turnout, has provided for no shortage of controversy from the results, much of it based on the obvious apathy of the voting public and the impact that the lack of interest may have had on their council.

Tri-City News-- Wilson, Zarillo win Coquitlam council by-election
Tri-Cities Now-- Coquitlam voters elect rookies to council
Vancouver 24 Hours-- Coquitlam councillor raises red flag on union influence

It will be interesting to see if on November 16th, the rather quiet Prince Rupert campaign of today, has provided for any sparks and  discussion.

And more importantly perhaps, for just a little more interest in the democratic process than what the residents of Coquitlam provided.

Update: The date for the City Council by-election All Candidates Forum has been set, the six candidates will gather at the Lester Centre of the Arts on Wednesday, November 6th, the forum is scheduled to start at 7 PM. The All Candidates Forum is sponsored by the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce.

Rough road trip for the Rampage

A weekend trip to Houston may have offered the Prince Rupert Rampage some colourful fall scenery, but when it came to points in the CIHL Standings, the home town Luckies claimed all that were up for grabs.

The Rampage, playing with a short bench owing to injuries and penalties could not overcome an impressive offensive output from the Luckies, dropping both games of their weekend double header to Houston.

Saturday, the Rampage were on the wrong end of a 6-4 score, an entertaining and hard hitting match up viewed by 543, that saw three Rampage scorers make their mark in the losing effort.

Rampage goal scorers on Saturday night were Justin Fotnaine with a first period marker assisted by Jeff Stromdahl and Brad Deshane.

Jared Meers picked up a goal in the second with helping hand from Craig Munro.

While Munro tallied two goals for himself in the third, the first came from assists from Jared Meers and Marcus Atchison, while the second one was a penalty shot marker,  rounding out the Rampage offence on the night.

Keano Wilson faced 31 shots on the night making, 26 saves in the Rampage nets. Prince Rupert directed 40 shots in the direction of the Luckies David Little, who made 36 saves over the sixty minutes.

The second period proved to be a fairly wild affair with two of the Rampage receiving Game Misconducts. The first, at the five minute mark when Jared Davis and the Luckies Brandon West were involved in an altercation, resulting in Game Misconducts. Then at the twenty minute mark, Jared Andresson was assessed a Game Misconduct, for a fight with Houston's Blair Dinelle.

The Rampage bench would get a little shorter in the third when Brad Deshane was assessed a Game Misconduct on a Head Contact call.

Even with the misconducts however, the Rampage spent less time in the penalty box than the Luckies.

By the games end, Houston had been assessed 42 minutes of penalties on 20 infractions, compared to the 13 infractions given to the Rampage for a total of 26 minutes.

With a 1 PM puck drop the next day rest and recuperation time would be short for the Rampage, providing for a short turn around heading into the final game of their October road schedule.

Sunday, the Rampage  got a quick jump on the Luckies with Justin Fontaine scoring the opening goal on a set up from Jordan Weir at the 7 minute mark of the first.

That goal held the lead for Prince Rupert into the first minute of the second period when the Luckies tied the game up. The tie however would be a short lived thing, as the Rampage with the man advantage, grabbed the lead back two minutes later on a goal from Kendal Stace-Smith, with Justin Fontaine and Marcus Atchison gaining assists on the power play marker.

The second period however was not to be for the Rampage, as Houston scored four quick goals in a seven minute span to take a 5-2 lead towards the end of the period.

Prince Rupert shaved one goal off that late in period, with a goal from Brad Deshane, his marker coming with an assist going to Kendal Stace-Smith.

The Rampage came out of the dressing room in the third looking to launch a third period comeback,  and got a little bit closer to the Luckies at the 3 minute mark with another power play goal, this one from Brock Ward with a helper from Marcus Atchison.

With a bit of momentum on their side and down just one goal, the Rampage pushed hard, but the Luckies would surrender no more ice and no more goals.

Adding two more of their own on the night, the final one an empty netter to claim the 7-4 victory and the final two points of the four available from the weekend.

Colby Hagman  was in the nets for the Rampage in the afternoon game, the Prince Rupert goaltender making 36 saves on 43 shots, while the Luckies Colton Wardrop turned aside 43 of the 47 Rampage shots that came his way.

The Sunday match didn't get particularly physical until the third period when the Luckies turned up a bit of the nasty,  overall Houston picked up 41 minutes in penalties on 12 infractions, while the Rampage spent less time in the penalty box on Sunday, receiving 15 minutes of penalties on 7 infractions.

Sunday's game attracted a significantly smaller crowd, with only 183 in attendance to bid farewell to the Rampage in the back end of the double header.

The Summary for the Saturday game can be found here, while Sunday's official review can be found here.

With the loss, the Rampage record now sits at 1 and 4, leaving them tied with Terrace for last place in the West division and making for a bit of a gap to close between the Rampage and the upper reaches of the CIHL west.

The Rampage will attempt to get back on the winning side of the ledger with a Saturday night matchup with Kitimat. Puck drop at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre is at 8 PM.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mr. Mussallem's travelogue

As part of their preparation for tonight's council session, when the city's councillors settle into their information to Council package, they will find the promised overview of the Mayor's recent trip to the Caribbean.  

That was the whirlwind trip from October 6-11where Mayor Mussallem, BG Group representative Herb Pond and a delegation of First Nations leaders from the Northwest toured the BG Group LNG facility Atlantic LNG at Point Fortin, Trinidad and Tobago.

As we reviewed on the blog earlier this month, the Mayor mentioned the trip with a short review as part of his Mayor's notes at the close of the October 15th Council session, advising council that he would circulate some of the information that he had brought back with him from the Caribbean.

City staff delivered that material on October 23rd, though a quick scan of the document would suggest that some of the Councillors may want more details. Looking perhaps, to receive a more detailed briefing from BG officials on what impact the planned project may have on the region.

Council explored that possibility at their October 15th session and we imagine that while informative, the handout the Mayor has provided probably won't answer many of the questions that some of the Councillors may have regarding the proposed development.

The after the fact announcement of the trip came as a bit of a surprise to many and was one that apparently has left a few hard feelings with Port Edward officials.

It would appear that Port Ed representation was overlooked when the invites were issued, a rather strange oversight considering that  any LNG development in the region would have some effect on Port Edward. Though post trip, it does appear that some fence mending is already in place on those concerns from the community.

For those who may have an interest (hello Port Edward!) in what the Mayor and the delegation were provided with for reading material, the BG Briefing notes are available on the city website, as part of the Information for Council package of October 23rd. (click on the number 14 item in the table of contents to access the information)

You can review more on the variety of LNG proposals for the Northwest from our archive pages, we have two sections for your research, a project by project archive and a larger file outlining all of the issues regarding LNG development on the North Coast.

Northwest students receive bursaries from Northwest Community College

Last week was a fairly rewarding week for six students of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art at Northwest Community College, as NWCC announced the names of six Northwest students who have been awarded bursaries towards their studies.

Receiving Bursaries from NWCC to a total of 30,000 dollars were:

Kristy Bell, Old Massett
Mike Bolton, Gingolx
Stacey Calder, Gitsegukla
Kelli Clifton, Gitga'at
Ed Spencer, Lax Kw'alaams
Nakkita Trimble, Gingolx

The Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art opened its doors at NWCC in 2006, and celebrates the legacy of the Haida artist, traditional carver and teacher.

Ms. Diesing passed away in 2002, the school named in her honour continues to keep traditional Northwest Coast art alive for future generations of artists and carvers.

It is the only school of its kind in Canada, focusing on First Nations Pacific Northwest Coast art, with a curriculum designed to develop skills into fine art.

You can learn more about the Bursary award here, further information about the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art can be found here.

Another restaurant option may soon be set to arrive on the North Coast

The last few months have certainly been bountiful ones for Rupertites who like to dine out, with a number of new dining establishments either opening their doors, or making plans to do so in the very near future.

This weekend we learn of one more establishment soon to be added to your "let's check this place out" list, as Cargo, began an early information program, helping to build a bit of buzz about their plans.

The new restaurant is to be situated in the ole Pegleg's location at Mariner's Park on 1st Avenue East, though not without a fairly intensive overhaul of that location, a process that has been underway in the last few months, with still some work ahead before the doors open.

Updates on the progress of developments and what plans that Executive Chef Avi Sternberg may have for the menu can be found on their Facebook page.

No timeline is yet listed on that page, as to when we may expect the Cargo doors to open, but one imagine's that with Christmas parties and New Years Eve celebrations not too far away, the proprieters will be looking to open up sooner, rather than later.

You can review some of the new arrivals in the Prince Rupert Commercial sector from our openings, closures and relocations page, for a more widespread review of the Commercial scene across the Northwest you can review our archive page.

City Council Preview for Monday, October 28, 2013

A rather light work load is once again on the agenda for Prince Rupert City Council, as their final meeting for October offers up only a few general housekeeping matters for discussion on Monday night.

However, Monday's work will start with another special session of Council, one closed to the public  a session set to discuss the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements to land.  As well, in closed session Council will review and discuss with municipal officials objectives, measures and progress on items leading up to the annual municipal report.

Once those items have been checked off the to do list, Council will reconvene at 7 PM for it's Public session, the full Agenda for which can be viewed here.

Following the usual adoption of agenda and past minutes, Council will receive any petitions and delegations and tackle any unfinished business.

They will receive reports from the Deputy Corporate Administrator regarding whether the city should provide comment or recommendations regarding a Liquor Licence modification for Java Dot Cup on 3rd Avenue West. That establishment is seeking to be allowed to host special theme nights. (particulars can be found on page 8 of the Agenda package)

Council will also receive a report from the Corporate Administrator regarding lease arrangements with the Prince Rupert curling Club. (Details on the lease and the recommendations can be found on page 30 of the Agenda package)

Council will receive correspondences asking for proclamations, asking that November 17-24 be declared Restorative Justice Week (A review can be examined on page 48 of the agenda),  as well as to declare Prince Rupert a Child Friendly City. (more background can be reviewed on page 50 of the agenda)

Council then moves on to Amendment Bylaws with the recommendation of approval to adopt the 2015 Permissive Property Tax Exemption Bylaw No. 3335,2013. (The details on the bylaw are available on page 52 of the Agenda package)

Council then will introduce and give First, Second and Third reading to the Mayor and Council Indemnity Amendment Bylaw No. 3336, 2013 which would freeze the pay for Council and the Mayor  at 2012 levels for the year 2013. (More information on this bylaw can be found on page 54 of the Agenda)

Any additional items will then be up for review, followed by a report from the City manager.

The evening wraps up with Reports, Questions and Inquiries from Members of Council.

The next public session of Council will take place on November 12.

Our Archive of the October 28th session can be found here.

City Council Session for Monday, October 28

The final gathering of October for Prince Rupert City Council.

Our archive of items from the session can be found below.

Regular session of City Council For Monday, October 28, 2013

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here.

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

North Coast Review Preview of Regular Session for October 28, 2013

Agenda for Regular Session of City Council for October 28, 2013

Notice of Special Council Meeting for October 28, 2013
(Resolution to Exclude the Public)

Info to Council

October 23, 2013

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Present
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Present
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present (participated by telephone)
Councillor Jennifer Rice-- (Resigned position on Council June 10)

Minutes of Regular Session of Council October 28, 2013 

Minutes of Special Meeting of Council October 28, 2013 (not available yet)

Video Recording of October 28, 2013 

North Coast Review City Council Timeline October 28, 2013  

North Coast Reviews Items on October 28, 2013 Session of Council

November 5-- Provincial Liquor Policy review deadline passes without Prince Rupert Council contribution
November 4-- RCMP deliver quarterly crime statistics report to City Council
October 31-- Westview issue addressed, but Housing concerns are still on Councillor Thorkelson's to do list

News items from the October 28, 2013 Council session

November 6-- City of Prince Rupert seeking legal clarity on land development
October 29-- Westview Land Decision (video)
October 28-- Prince Rupert City Council stops plans for development at Westview Park

"A year to forget" for the Potash Industry

The returns for the Canadian potash industry continue to provide for a less than robust picture, as a number of reviews from the last few days highlight.

With concerns over pricing and the recent turmoil spurred on by the dissolution of a Russian cartel, the fall has made for a turbulent period of time for the providers of the commodity leaving one financial observer for the Business News Network to describe 2013 as a year to forget for the Potash industry.

In amidst all of that turmoil, is the North Coast, waiting patiently to learn more about the prospects of moving the proposed Canpotex potash terminal forward. Though considering the nature of the financial news of late, that we imagine might seem to be the thing of the back burner for the immediate future.

As we outlined on the blog two weeks ago, City Council recently issued a request for Canpotex officials to make the trip west to update the community on their plans for that terminal. A proposed get together that consider the company's more immediate worries,  most likely won't require the City to book a hall for any gatherings in the short term.

Council outlined it's desires for that meeting back on September 9th, so perhaps we shall hear an update from the Mayor on the status of those plans at an upcoming council session, maybe even at the one scheduled for tonight.

While we wait, a few more reviews of the potash picture.

Saskatchewan's Potash Corporation offered a quick glimpse in the third quarter results, with this media release issued last week.

The key takeaway from it of lower share prices for investors and lower than anticipated sales volumes from the first three quarters, though the company is hoping to see improvement in the fourth quarter numbers.

Some background on the most recent reporting on the state of the potash industry can be found below.

October 25-- Cartel collapse hits Potash Corp., prompting mining giant to cut outlook
October 24-- Potash Corp profit plunges on weaker prices, sales
October 24-- Potash Corp. posts 28% price drop as Uralkali raises output
October 24-- Potash Corp. earnings plunge lower on lower prices, market uncertainty
October 24-- Postash Corp. chief rips into Russian producer Uralkali for cartel break up

Our full review of the Canpotex project and news developments surrounding it can be found on our archive page.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

One year ago, Haida Gwaii and the North Coast rumbled and a reminder was sent

It was one year ago today, October 27th, 2012 that the North Coast, Haida Gwaii and Southeast Alaska received a fairly significant reminder of the active nature of our seismic lines along the Pacific coast.

It was on a Saturday evening,  at four minutes after 8 to be precise, that the strongest earthquake to rattle Canada in sixty years struck 139 kilometres south of Masset, on Haida Gwaii.

A 7.7 shaker that sent residents of the Island seeking higher ground, fears of a tsunami washing ashore moving them quickly to a more secure location.

That same fear of tsunami, set in motion a string of events in communities up and down the North Coast, as residents assessed their own situations and took the required measures to make their communities as safe as possible.

In Prince Rupert on October 27th, 2012, that meant a door to door  request of those living close to the waterfront and in marina areas to head for higher ground, the city opening up its Command Centre at City Hall shortly after the quake had struck to coordinate the response and required action.

Activities at the city's main industrial terminals on the waterfront came to a standstill as officials awaited word on the prospect of a tsunami for North Coast and Alaskan communities, as the evening moved forward, that threat diminished significantly, the all clear being issued by 11 PM and the emergency command centre shut down it's operations.

A hearty reminder, but not much more than that, but an event  that definitely added to the excitement for a North coast weekend night.

Significant after shocks would rattle the region, mostly on Haida Gwaii over the following months, a reminder of the major event and an indication to make preparations for if, or more likely, for when the earth should shake again.

One rather significant follow up seismic event took place in January of this year when a 7.5 quake rattled South East Alaska, once again putting Prince Rupert under a brief tsunami watch.

With last year's quake still fresh in many minds, the information awareness campaign continues on.

Earlier this month BC hosted a province wide preparation drill called the Great BC Shakeout, designed to better inform the public as to the steps required to be properly prepared

Locally, Prince Rupert is set to hold a Tsunami Information meeting on Thursday, November 7th. A two hour session from 6:30-8:30 at Northwest Community College, which will offer up information and advice for local residents, offering up suggestions and advice on  how best to prepare for when the next incident may strike.

To learn more about the November 8th information session on Tsunami preparation, you can review our item from October 21st here.

As part of their information program, Emergency Measures BC has provided an online map of Tsunami Notification Zones in BC and for the  North Coast and Haida Gwaii.

For a larger map of any other area of British Columbia, click on the notification zone of interest to you.

You can review our items of note from October 27, 2012 here, further items regarding the seismic activity in the region through the year can be found on our archive page.

Blog Watching --- Week ending October 27 2013

For your Sunday review, this weeks review of the top five items viewed over the course of the last seven days.

As part of the countdown, we will provide links to the articles in question, offering up with one click of the mouse, those items of the week that you may have missed.

This week, the prospect of new business opportunities in the city, the weather and a career change highlighted the top five.

The top item of the week:

Knit One, pearl two? Coastal Fibres has something for you... proved to be our most popular item of the last seven days, with Prince Rupert's residents clearly welcoming our yarn about yarn and the news of a new business for the commercial sector (posted October 22)

That top item was followed by:

Sobeys One Step Closer to closing Canada Safeway purchase, our review of the latest developments in the Canada Safeway purchase by the Atlantic based Sobeys chain claimed the number two spot this week (posted October 24)

Vancouver weather creates headaches for air travel to Northwest , first posted to the blog on (October 20th), the review of the foggy weather of Vancouver and Northern BC and its impact on travel found a fair bit of interest from readers (posted October 20)

New Dining experience for Prince Rupert soon to arrive on Second Avenue,  plans to open a new restaurant in the downtown area caught the attention of readers last week. (posted October 17)

Prince Rupert's Economic Officer to shift to new challenges in private sector, the career change for Derek Baker marks the final instalment of our top five stories of the week, his shift from civic employment to the private sector with the LNG industry of interest to many it appears (posted October 23)

You can find our Blog watching featured posted every Sunday morning by 9AM, a handy way to catch up to the week that was, at a leisurely weekend pace.

The Permanent link to the feature can be found above our Blog Archive section, found on the right hand side of the title page.

For those looking for updates to items as they are posted to the blog, don't forget about our email alert access.

A daily review of the latest items on the blog can be delivered to your email in box, simply by entering your email address into the application.

You can find the link to that feature on the upper, right hand side of the blog,

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nathan Cullen announces dates of his "Let's Talk LNG" sessions

Following on the format of his Renewal Northwest tour of February, Nathan Cullen, the NDP MP for Skeena-BulkleyValley is making preparations for a similar style of forum for the region.

This one  to address the topic of LNG development in the Northwest.

Mr. Cullen outlined the dates so far and a bit of background on his tour of the Northwest, which will see him hold sessions in a number of locations in November.

Marked on the calendar so far, are the following dates and locations for the LNG forums.

Smithers, November 12, 7 PM, Della Herman Theatre

Terrace, November 13, 7 PM, R E M Lee Theatre

Kitimat, November 14, 7 PM, Mount Elizabeth Theatre

Prince Rupert, November 15, 7 PM, Highliner Hotel

Among some of the topics that the MP will be offering up for discussion, the kind of opportunity that LNG might bring to the local economy and workforce. What if any impact that the industry may have on the environment and whether companies involved in the industry will act upon what they hear from First Nations and communities during consultations.

The announcement for the planned sessions advises that a number of other participants will be joining the MP as he travels across the Northwest.

With contributions to be made from the environmental group Friends of Wild Salmon, as well as proponents of LNG development and local First Nations of the Northwest.

Also on the itinerary for the discussions, will be the participation of economic development groups and other partners.

The information sharing sessions are described as seeking to provide for open and educational conversation about what LNG development could mean for Northwest communities.

Also on tap for the tour,  an examination as to what kind of legacy that LNG development may leave for the region.

You can learn more about the November forums from the NDP MP's website.

Ferry Advisory Committee calls Ferry funding issue an "unnecessary crisis"

With the British Columbia Government collecting opinion and observations as part of its 2014 Budget consultation process, the advocates for coastal ferry transportation have offered up their thoughts on the current status of the ferry system.

The main takeaway of their presentation being a request, that the provincial government adjust its plans for the coastal ferry service and increase funding towards it.

Their overview of the current situation facing the coastal ferry system, comes following a review of the consultation and engagement process which was released  in the fall of 2012.

Those conversations and findings, in part were steered by the January 2012 report from the BC Ferry Commissioner.

A document which has made for much in the way of discussion, as well as a fair amount of concern for those in smaller coastal communities that are served by the ferry system.

Reflecting much of that background on the issue, the Chairs of the Ferry Advisory Committee have provided a fifteen page submission for the Budget consultation.

A review which calls the current scenario facing the ferry system as an "unnecessary crisis" and delivers a number of points towards making the Ferry Services along the British Columbia coast sustainable.

Key among those items:

Sustainability starts with affordability, highlighting the current level of fares to travel on the ferry system and how it provides for an "affordability death spiral". They also outlined how in their opinion, the user fee principle is working against higher traffic levels on the system.

The Committee offered up three scenarios to stimulate more traffic for the Ferry fleet, calling for a freeze or even a roll back on Ferry fares, which they believe will deliver more traffic and more revenues to the system.

They recommended that the province provide more capital funding for the Ferry system, particularly for those vessels that serve the minor routes of the coastal system.  Towards that funding, they suggested that the province should go over its history and learn some useful lessons on funding gaps that have been building through the decades.

They also highlighted the theme, that if the province were to treat coastal ferries like other forms of provincial transportation, then the crisis in the system would be eliminated.

Towards that theme they draw comparisons to other infrastructure in the province, such as roads, bridges, airports, transit and inland ferries all of which require government support. Asking why there is a distinction between the coastal ferries and that provincial infrastructure.

The conclusion to their presentation to the government highlights how they believe the ferry system is a deal for taxpayers and that any vision moving forward for the Ferry system should involve a vision for coastal communities.

The closing points perhaps designed to remind the government of the integral role that the Ferry system plays in many communities up and down the British Columbia coast.

The final line of the summation, providing what appears to have been the guiding principle of their presentation.

"In order to develop a long-term vision for that service, we need to hear what is the provincial government's vision for our communities and their needs, and whether our communities have a place in the government's vision for jobs and growth."

You can review their participation in the Budget consultation process from this link to their submission.

A full review of the past work and items of interest from the Ferry Advisory Committee Chairs is available on their website.

City posts travel guidelines to website, but no details on travel spending

City staff has responded quickly to a request from Councillor Ashley for more information on the city's travel policies.

At the October 15th  council session, the councillor had asked staff to provide a little bit of background on the city's travel policy, so as to give residents an idea as to what guidelines the city's elected representatives operate under when they travel.

The information flow was posted to the City website this week and featured two items for our review, the Travel and Per Diem Guide and the City's Policy page on Travel and Per Diem Rates.

Information which basically explains the city's travel policy, the remuneration rates and delivers other ancillary information regarding travel by Council members on city business.

However, if residents were hoping to find itemized accounts, providing background as to how much was spent and on what particular item, they will be rather disappointed. As at this time, it appears that any kind of data base of expenses is not to be part of this phase of the information delivery process.

As we examined on the blog last week, some communities in British Columbia and Canada are moving towards more transparent accounting on spending by their civic councils.

In particular we highlighted the City of Toronto's helpful website which provides comprehensive review of municipal spending. The Toronto site, perhaps the Cadillac of information delivery for municipalities in the country. One that many other communities may wish to review for some suggestions.

The theme of more transparency and towards providing more information to the public has found some proponents in British Columbia as well.

This week Port Coquitlam City Council outlined some of the changes it is considering when it comes to expense disclosures, a shift in direction that may soon allow residents in that community to review it's council members expenses every month.

That community would it seem be planning on modelling their approach somewhat to that already in place in Vancouver, where the City of Vancouver features what it calls an Open Data Catalogue, which features a number of options for residents to review.

While the posting of travel guidelines is a good first step for the City of Prince Rupert, there is clearly much work ahead for a truly transparent and readily accessible format to review spending from council.

Checking in with the elected officials in Port Coquitlam on their progress towards that goal, may help provide Prince Rupert with a template for use in the not too distant future.