Friday, October 4, 2013

City Council Timeline, September 30, 2013

A lengthy gathering (over two and half hours) of Council for the final day of September, as the Mayor and his Council reviewed a number of items and issues of concerns, many of which featured a fair amount of discussion and debate as the evening moved forward.

The September 30th session offered up the  usual items found on the weekly agenda.

However with this Regular Council Session,  Monday evening also provided for a Committee of the Whole session for Council. A public forum which provided for some heated discussion both from civic participants and members of Council.

In addition to the public forums on the night, September 30th 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 September 30, 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 

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

Video Archive for September 30, 2013 
Audio Archive for September 30, 2013 (not available yet)

(0:00 -- 40:30) The September 30th session of Council started with the Mayor taking the evening to the Committee of the Whole session, included in that was an opportunity for the public to ask questions of Council. One question asked of council came from a delegation of residents from the west side of the city, regarding a development plan for the Westview Park land area of Atlin Avenue.

The Mayor explained the nature of the notice that had been published and received further questions regarding the nature of that land in question and what steps should be taken to provide more information to the public.

The Mayor advised that the process was going to a public meeting on October 22nd, where more information would be provided on the proposed development for that part of town. The delegation then offered up more observations and asked further questions regarding the City's exploration of the land in question.

Councillor Garon asked City Staff what the land in question was currently zoned at, advised that it is now zoned as P1 status, Public institutional.

The delegation wrapped up their presentation with a number of questions regarding the City Planners designation of the land and how in their opinion the issue does not require any public meetings.

The assembled Councillors and Mayor thanked the delegation for their interest and contribution to the discussion. The Council members in particular were thankful that the delegation brought the issue to their attention, advising that they weren't aware of a lot of the issues surrounding the area in question.

Another participant then took to the microphone to discuss the recent UBCM sessions in Vancouver and what the cost to the city of attendance to that week long convention.  Councillor Ashley then expressed her thanks for the question and outlined that in her opinion, attendance to UBCM was an important thing for the City's representatives.

The follow up question on attendance at UBCM provided for a bit of push back from the assembled councillors and Mayor, many of whom took the tone of questioning to task and offered up a broad based reproach at his line of questioning.

Following that universal display from Council, the Mayor returned to the theme of his request for the total expense of the UBCM, the citizen at the desk was asked to submit an FOI request to have his questions answered.

The Mayor, clearly a little agitated, advised for a second time that the citizen file a FOI request to seek out the information he desired, he then brought the public participation session to an end.

(40:30--41:30)  With the Committee of the Whole process complete, Council moved on to the remainder of it's regular agenda for the night. The Mayor  beginning the session by outlining the usual procedural aspect of the adoption of the agenda and past minutes from September 9th, before carrying on with the agenda items for the evening.

(41:30-- 1:17:00A Presentation from the Museum of Northern British Columbia  outlining their thoughts on the permissive tax exemption status for the strata lot aspect of their property and the impact that it has on their finances at the Museum.  Following the presentation, Councillor Ashley offered up a few observations and questions for the delegation. Included in her thoughts, the suggestion that the Museum could consider raising its entrance fee, which the Museum said might receive a fair amount of push back from would be visitors, with even the current price considered high by some visitors to the Museum.

With the Museum one  of the "Big Six" of permissive grant exemptions that the City reviews, Councillor Ashley then offered up her concerns over the lack of say on, or connection to the board, other than when they make presentations. Using the Lester Centre as an example, she inquired as to how the Museum was different to that cultural site in the City, one which the City has board representation on. The Museum delegation then reviewed the nature of their current situation and relationship with the City.

The Mayor then returned to the issue at hand, the request for a tax exemption of the strata lot aspect.  He outlined some of the past complaints from others regarding the request by the Museum. Representatives of the Museum made their case to keep the city from taking away their status, outlining the cost cutting that they have done at the Museum and the concerns that they have over those cuts.

Councillor Thorkelson raised some of the recent history of the financial situation of the city and the lack of civic resources to cover all the costs for services and cultural activities that the public seem to want to have in place, the Councillor went on to outline how that is proving to be challenging for the City in the current fiscal climate.

After further questioning and suggestions from Council the Museum delegation brought their presentation to an end. With Council set to discuss and vote on the issue later in the session.

(1:17:00--1:40:00) Presentation from the Heritage Commission regarding Pillsbury House -- Another delegation appeared in front of Council to outline some background on the historical nature of the property and the renovations that have taken place, much of it by way of public and corporate donation. As well they were prepared to answer the Council's concerns regarding the Permissive Tax Exemption on the Heritage Property in question.

Councillor Thorkelson asked for further background on the Heritage Commission and the nature of their work within the community charter. Councillors Garon and Kinney offered up her thanks for their work in the community.

Councillor Ashley then weighed in with some thoughts on how Council should approach these issues of tax exemptions, Councillor Thorkelson then followed up those comments by asking for some clarification on the issue at hand and the time lines required.

The Mayor provided a recap of what process that Council should consider on the exemption status discussion.  He then turned to the City Financial Officer to offer up some background on the situation.

Amid a fair amount of confusion and further discussion on the topic, Council then moved to table the the topic until they had more information on it.

Council accepted that motion and the issue was tabled.

(1:40:30--1:48:30) Council then returned to the topic of the Museum's Property Tax Exemption, Councillors Ashley and Garon then reviewed what impact that granting the exemption to the Museum might have, particularly of concern that other grant holders may also approach for their own exemptions. The Mayor asked for direction from the City Manager on the issue and what requirements might be required.

With that the motion was put forward to consider the Museum of Northern British Columbia at Full exemption, Councillor Thorkelson outlined that she would not support the motion as it currently reads. Offering up her preferences for the motion.

After some discussion on procedure, Council then reviewed Councillor Thorkelson's proposal eventually settling on her template of the discussion approving the tax exemption on the condition of deducting the amount from the community grant by the amount of the tax that they would have paid, which was explained was approximately 6,500 dollars. That amount would not count towards any potential cuts to their grants in the future.

With that Council voted to accept Councillor Thorkelson's amendment and the main motion as amended, with all members of Council, voted in favour of it, with the Mayor opposed to the motion.

Reports and Recommendations

(1:48:30--1:53:00Report from the Chief Financial Officer -- Ms. Bomben outlined the monthly department report findings from July of 2013.  Highlighting he financial details of the Operating budget and what the departments reported for her report.

Council received the report for Informational purposes.

Councillor Thorkelson followed up the report with some questions regarding the drop in income from 911 from land line users and whether the City should be pursuing 911 revenue from cel phone users. Mr. Long outlined what is currently taking place at the moment regarding that issue. Councillor Ashley recounted some of the developments at UBCM regarding the issue of 911 funding.

(1:53:00--2:17:30Report from the Deputy Corporate Administrator Regarding the Loan Bylaw Alternate Approval Process -- Council received the Report from the Deputy Corporate Administrator and discussed the issue further. Ms. Bomben outlined the nature of the report and the process ahead to enable the Loan Bylaw to move forward.

Councillor Ashley said she would not support the Alternate Approval Process and suggested that instead the process go to referendum at the time of the By-election of November.  Councillor Garon outlined that she was against Councillor Ashley's motion and would be voting against it.

From there, Councillor Ashley outlined her concerns over the Alternate Approval Process the timeline of it and whether it was fair and an alternative to the referendum process. Among her fears, a lack of resources in the community to spread the word of the process and a concern that local residents may think that they've been tricked by the City's use of the Alternate Approval process.

Councillor Garon addressed the issue of the required renovations to the Airport and the various concerns over infrastructure there, which if not handled quickly offered the prospect of not having airport service as a very real possibility. With that she advised that she would not be endorsing the referendum proposal.

Councillor Thorkelson echoed many of Councillor Ashley's thoughts on the issue, lending her support towards the referendum proposal, as opposed to the Alternate Approval Process. She stressed that she was in favour of the loan agreement with the Airport, but as she had serious concerns over the Alternate Approval Process she would rather support the referendum approach.

Councillor Kinney, had concerns over the need to move forward with the airport renovations and that he was supporting the Alternate Approval Process.

Councillor Ashley stressed that she was not against the loan, but the process the City was using to approve it, suggesting that there was only four days difference between the Alternate Approval Process and a possible referendum on the issue.

Ms. Bomben provided Council with some background on the nature of both the Alternate Approval Process and the timeline with a referendum option.

The Mayor expressed his hesitations over the Referendum process, the question of taking the issue to referendum went to a vote, with the motion failing.

With Councillor Ashley's motion going down to defeat, Council then voted to move forward with the Alternate Approval Process, Councillor Ashley then stressed the need to make sure that more information was delivered to the public regarding the Process and how it works.

With their concerns recorded, Councillors Ashley and Thorkelson cast their votes against the motion.

Following the passing of the motion on the Alternate Approval Process, Councillor Ashley moved a motion that the City have a Public Information session and provide more information regarding the process, with copies made available at both the Airport Library and Civic Centre.

Correspondences for Action

(2:17:30--2:19:00Proclamation request for a letter of support to designate the North Pacific Cannery Historical site as a UNESCO site. -- Council advised staff to write a letter of support of North Pacific Cannery's request.

The motion was passed

Resolutions from Closed Council Meetings

(2:19:00--2:20:00) Mr. Long advised that there were two resolutions from the Closed meeting.  Ms. Bomben released details on both of those items, the first an announcement that a new Corporate Administrator had been appointed.  The second that Council had approved the transfer of the Doug Kerr name to the Roosevelt Field

Report from the City Manager on Outstanding City Initiatives

(2:20:00-2:25:00)  Mr. Long provided a review of the work of the Public Works and Engineering department over the course of the last few months. Among the list of projects, he advised that the 9th Avenue East repairs had moved into the paving process on that project.

Reports, Questions and Inquires from members of Council

(2:25:00--2:25:30) Councillor Garon inquired as to the timeline for placement of the bench at the hospital.

(2:25:30--2:27:00) The Mayor then called on Mr. Long to outline some background on a recent grant received by the City from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Culture. The money will be put towards a review of the city's water system.

(The final twelve minutes of the Council session can be found on the second segment of the Video Archive for September 30th.)

(0:00:00--00:00:44) Councillor Ashley reviewed her attendance at the Annual Filipino Night in the community.

(00:00:44--00:6:00 ) Councillor Thorkelson then spoke to the need for the City to develop a list of priorities for the City to consider from the last year and develop a Strategic Planning Process. One item she would like to see examined is where the City owns property and where development may be best suited. She also suggested that the rental situation in the city should be something that Council will want to address.

Councillor Ashley added her thoughts to the proposal from Councillor Thorkelson.

(00:6:30--11:51The Mayor's Report

The Mayor reviewed his schedule over the last two weeks, touching on the various meetings he attended, the arrival of the final cruise ship in the community and he provided a quick recap on the Council's conversations at the UBCM gathering in Vancouver in September.

The Mayor announced that the City would receive 10 cruise ships in 2014 and asked that Mr. Long seek out a meeting with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and other various stakeholders in the industry to enhance next years cruise ship visits.

He touched on the coming 100th anniversary of the railroad in Prince Rupert and asked if City Council wished to facilitate some form of commemoration of the railway in the community.

He outlined the results of a recent economic development collaboration meeting in Terrace.

And with that final bit of discussion the Council session was brought to an end.

You can access the City Council Review page for September 30th 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 September 30, 2013 

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