Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winter Storm Warning Issued for North Coast Inland Areas

New Year's travel inland may offer up some challenge with a Winter Storm Warning issued late Wednesday afternoon.

Environment Canada advised that a wintry mix of snowfall and freezing rain could be arriving in areas of the North Coast inland region, with Terrace and Kitimat to begin to feel the effects around the midnight hour.

The Freezing rain will gradually give way to snow by tomorrow afternoon as an Arctic Air Mass establishes itself in the area.

You can find updates on the inland forecast here, with the Prince Rupert forecast found here.

As well, monitor Drive BC for updates on road conditions as the weather system establishes itself in the region.

You can also monitor the Drive BC Twitter feed for further information.

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot... Welcoming 2015!

The North Coast prepares to countdown the seconds to a brand new year, the night's festivities to get underway with our own Harbour showcase of pyrotechnics at 7:30 this evening.

And while the North Coast version may be a tad more humble than some of the other locales of the globe, the flash of light and thunder of the booms will serve to usher in 2015.

To warm you up for tonight's show in Prince Rupert, a short tour of some of the highlights of New Year's Eve to this point.



New Zealand





Hong Kong





New York


San Francisco



. .

Polar Bear Swim at Rushbrook marks the start of 2015

The annual tradition for North Coast residents of hurling themselves into the cold harbour waters of Prince Rupert is close at hand, as the Prince Rupert Rotary Club wraps up the preparations for the 2015 Polar Bear Swim.

This years event is set for 1 PM at the Rushbrook Floats, where those brave souls, costumed or just down to their favourite swim suit will take to the water in a dash of one part bravery / one part madness.

When it comes to taking to the water, the Polar Bear swim is all about the technique to be used and how fast you want to get the task over with.

The most successful approach in the past it seems, belonging to those who just take quickly to the water, leaving those who tentatively approach the task to either change their minds and scurry back up the floats much to the amusement of the crowd along the dock, or to finally after a bit of coaxing drop into the bay, to dip into the New Year on their own timeline.

Regardless of the plan, it all makes for a fair amount of fun to celebrate the year ahead.

Polar Bear Swim 2014, see more
photos on the Rotary Facebook page
Rushbrook Floats, Location for
the 2015 Polar Bear Swim @ 1PM

Free Hot Dogs, Coffee and Hot Chocolate will be available for those that need a bit of warming comforts along the way.

You can learn more about the work of the Rotary Club in Prince Rupert from their website and Facebook page 

Time Running out on Rampage Playoff bid after 9-0 drubbing in Kitimat

Playing with a reduced roster over the holiday period left the Prince Rupert Rampage a tired lot following Saturday night's post holiday return for the CIHL.

With but fourteen skaters for each team in the lineup, the Kitimat Ice Demons put an exclamation point on the push for the playoffs, scoring 9 goals through sixty minutes for what are now two very important points in the CIHL West standings.

Things unravelled for the Rampage at the mid-way point of the first period, when Kitimat picked up four goals in less than four minutes, the first coming at 10:17 of the opening period, with the fourth marker recorded at 13:24.

The burst of scoring taking the Kitimat squad to the dressing room with a four to nothing lead after twenty minutes.

The Ice Demons picked up the pace again midway through period number two, with two goals at near the eight minute mark and a third to follow with two minutes to play in the second, the middle frame marked by a range of interference, slashing and stick calls through the middle twenty.

The frustrations came out again in the third as Jordan Aubree picked up three penalties at the 12 minute mark, a Fighting Major, Instigator and Game Misconduct to bring his night to an end, followed eight minutes later by his team mates, as Kitimat added two more goals to bring their game end total to nine on the night, the worst thumping of the year so far for the Rampage.

Kitimat fired 39 shots on the Prince Rupert net through the night, the duties split almost evenly between Devin Gerrits and Jordan Vanderwiel who both recorded fifteen saves on the evening.

And while many might think that a 9-0 shutout suggests a lack of offence on the part of the Rampage, offensively they were engaged in the evening,  managing to fire 24 shots at the Kitimat net.

However, Brandon Highton rose to the occasion for the home side, turning aside each and every shot over the sixty minutes.

You can review the full scoring summary here.

Considering the importance of the final weeks of the regular season, the CIHL might want to consider a slightly longer holiday break for its teams, the absence of a number of players for both squads an indication as to how hard it is to remain competitive over the Chirstmas/New Years period.

Still, both teams did take to the ice, one team won and the other didn't and for fans of the Rampage it was their team on the wrong end of the scoreboard over the weekend.

That loss however was a costly one for Prince Rupert's playoff hopes for 2014-15, the win providing the Ice Demons with a two point lead with three games to go in the CIHL regular season.  Leaving the Rampage to look for a fair bit of help now, should they wish to play beyond the middle of January.

For Prince Rupert the road will pass through Terrace, with a home and home series on January 2nd and 3rd, the Friday match up in Terrace and then the Rampage host the River Kings at the Jim on Saturday night at 8 PM.

The Rampage then wrap up the regular season on January 16th when Terrace makes one more trek down highway 16 for a Friday night match at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

While the Rampage look to get by the River Kings, the Ice Demons will be looking to build on their lead with two home games against Smithers on January 10 and 11 and then a road trip on the 17th to wrap the regular season on the 17th.

With eighteen days to go to secure a playoff position, the Rampage will be tracking the CIHL scoreboard with a wary eye, hopeful that by the time the River Kings pull into town on the 17th that there is still a playoff spot for the taking.

Tonight however, the Rampage will take the night off when it comes to thinking about the playoff picture, as the squad hosts their New Years Eve Bash at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, with doors opening at 6:30.

You can learn more about that event from their Facebook page here.

You can review the season so far for the Prince Rupert Rampage from our archive page.

As well our Results and the Schedule page can be found here.

Special Events Society to Ring in the New Year with Fireworks this evening

The inclement weather during Winterfest has provided for an opportunity to provide Prince Rupert residents with one final Fireworks show for 2014, with the Special Events Society making plans for an evening of pyrotechnics over the Prince Rupert Harbour for New Years Eve.

The show, which will see the fireworks barge located off shore of the waterfront, should make for a spectacular setting as Rupertites make ready to welcome 2015.

Rotary Waterfront Park and Mariner's Park, offer perhaps two of the best locations for residents and visitors to make camp for the show.

With a reminder that getting downtown is even easier this evening, as Free Transit is being offered by the City of Prince Rupert, District of Port Edward and BC Transit.

The shells take to the air at 7:30 this evening, thanks to the work of the volunteers from Wainwright Marine and the Fireworks experts of the Special Events Society who will be working through the afternoon in preparation to light up the sky tonight, weather permitting.

You can learn more about the work of the Prince Rupert Special Events Society from their website, twitter feed and Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

NorthWest Ski Hills shift into a snow frame of mind through holiday break

While things were looking a little dire in early December, the end of 2014 has provided for enough of a contribution from Mother Nature to feed the needs of those who like to take to the slopes.

Shames Mountain the Northwest option just Northwest of Terrace finally had opportunity to celebrate its Opening Day on December 23rd, a much anticipated mark on the calendars for skiing enthusiasts of the region.

And as the final week of the winter break begins to head towards the home stretch, the conditions continue to make Shames Mountain a go to destination.

The most recent snow report from Shames highlights a 73cm base at the Lodge and 130 cm at Mid-Mountain and while no New Snow fell overnight, the weather remains cold with clear visibility, providing for an opportunity for the Mountain to make up for those days earlier this month when Shames was closed and eyes kept casting towards the sky in search of snow flakes.

Hours of Operation for Shames run from 9 AM to 3:30 PM through the holiday break.

You can find more information on Shames Mountain from their website and Facebook page.

For those looking for a little bit more of a road trip in search of some slopes, Hudson Bay Mountain in Smithers is also welcoming the Northwest.

With 35 of 37 runs open heading towards New Years Eve, the most recent Snow Report for the mountain featuring a base depth of 100 cm, with no new snow reported in the last 24 hours, but like Shames, Good visibility and conditions for a run or two in place.

You can learn more about Hudson Bay Mountain from their Website

Free Transit available for revellers on New Years Eve

Heading across town or into the downtown area for New Years Celebrations will be a little easier this year, as the City of Prince Rupert and BC Transit join forces to offer up FREE TRANSIT on December 31st.

The Free Schedule kicks in at 6:45 on Wednesday evening, with free rides to be offered until 3:30 AM.  With the schedule in effect for routes #51, #52, #53, #54 and #55 in the City of Prince Rupert.

As well, with the help of the District of Port Edward the Free Transit will be in place for residents of Port Edward on Route 60.

Buses will be leaving Prince Rupert bound for Port Edward at 6:10 p.m., 7:10 p.m., 9:30 p.m., 10:10 p.m., 1 a.m., 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.

The Free New Year's Eve Service wraps up the Holiday Service that has seen BC Transit offer later hours and Shoppers Specials leading up to the end of December.

There will be No Transit Service on New Year's Day, the regular schedule resumes on January 2nd.

Full Route and Schedule information can be found here.

For more information on the Transit system offerings on New Year's Eve see their website here.

The New Year starts with a run

Prince Rupert's annual tradition of the Resolution Run is set for the first day of 2015, as the Rupert Runners blaze the path ahead with a Five Kilometre Walk/Run for Fun on January 1st.

Start time is 12 Noon with the first event of the year launching from the Canfisco Cannery on Cow Bay Road.

Canadian Fish Company is the starting point for
The New Years Day Resolution Run
Thursday's event is a fun, non-competitive run for all ages and fitness levels.

If you need more information on the Resolution Run call 250-624-9541 or contact Dale at

Monday, December 29, 2014

Prince Rupert Realty Tracker, Week ending December 28, 2014

Our weekly review of the local listings of the local real estate agents, tracking those properties which appear to be driving the local price structure for the North Coast.

Every Monday, we will review the previous weeks listing prices and outline the Top 10 asking prices in the area, providing a snap shot as to where the Real Estate market may be trending on a week to week basis.

The listings below are purely for informational purposes, for further information on the properties recorded, see our links page for access to the individual real estate listings.

The Archive for our weekly review can be found here.

Our list of the top ten priced homes for the week ending December 28 is below:

Prince Rupert Real Estate
West Side Dec 28
Prince Rupert Real Estate
East Side Dec 28

There was little in the way of change over the Holiday week found from the listings of the last seven days. As we once again find that the West Side of the city hosting five homes on the list, the high end going to Van Arsdol, overlooking Fairview.

The east is home to four spot, including the 10th spot for this week which checks in at the $375,000 mark, belonging to a location on Conrad Street.

There is one property from Port Edward among the top 10 prices in the region this week.

Below our findings as of the Week ending December 28, 2014

160 Van Arsdol Street--      $699,000   -- Royal Lepage
1942-46 2nd Avenue W      $659,000  -- Royal Lepage
1229 Conrad Street ---        $525,000   -- Royal Lepage
1711 Sloan Avenue---         $509,900   -- Royal Lepage
1701 Sloan Avenue ---        $469,000   -- Remax
409 6th Avenue East--         $469,000   -- Remax
306 Spruce (Port Ed) --       $445,000   -- Royal Lepage
226 5th Avenue West --       $439,000   -- Royal Lepage
1015 Frederick Street --       $399,000   -- Royal Lepage
1233 Conrad Street --          $375,000   -- Royal Lepage

For more items related to Real Estate see our archive page here.

For background on Housing issues in the region see our past items here.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Blog Watching, Week ending December 28 2014

It was a quiet week  for the most part, as holidays and a lighter than usual news cycle combined for fewer items for review on the week.

However, there were still some items that resonated through the last seven days,  with developments from City Hall, CityWest, LNG and  a potential setback for tourism on the North Coast all making for some interesting headlines over the last seven days.

As well as the issues created locally, Mother Nature offered up a few reminders that the British Columbia coast is an active location when it comes to the seismic sciences, with the last week a fairly energetic period of time for the fault lines of the North Pacific.

Leading it all off this week, The Mayor and his Council move forward on some highly anticipated Capital works projects for 2015.

Council approves Capital Works Projects and Projects, but not without some discussion on the Legacy Corporation -- Landfill site expansion and a road to the Woodsworth Dam site will be among some of the projects for 2015 as reviewed at the December 19th Council session, with Council also discussing the work of the Legacy Corporation   (posted December 22, 2014)

That item was followed by:

Sixth earthquake of weekend rumbles along fault line off of Bella Bella  -- A fairly busy seismic period for an area of the North Pacific off of Bella Bella . (posted December 21, 2014)

CityWest delivers cheque of $400,000 as distribution payment to City of Prince Rupert -- It was a bit of recycled news from earlier this year, as the City owned telecommunication company CityWest delivered its dividend for the year  (posted  December 22, 2014)

Kitselas First Nation and Pacific NorthWest LNG Announce Agreement on LNG  -- Pacific NorthWest LNG outlined the nature of its third agreement in less than a week with a local area government when it comes to LNG benefits  ( posted December 23, 2014)

Tourism Prince Rupert/Chamber of Commerce speak out on Ferry Terminal Dispute  -- As the Alaska Marine Terminal renovation project becomes the middle of a cross border tug of war, two local bodies outline their concern at where it all may end   ( posted  December 24, 2014 )

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 here or 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 information bar, items posted to the blog will be delivered to your e-mail account each day.

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

Our archive of weekly reviews can be found here.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Colder Weather on the way, as Special Weather Statement issued by Environment Canada

The warm temperatures of the Holiday Season are about to see a significant change for the cooler, with a strong ridge from the Yukon about to settle over the British Columbia coast by Sunday morning.

Cold Arctic Air and temperatures some 5 to 10 colder than seasonal norms are anticipated,  bringing with it Northeasterly Arctic outflow winds through valley and inlets of the region.

While skies will remain clear and sunny through til New Years, overnight lows, combined with the winds will make for very cold nights.

Conditions will be even colder in Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers

The freezing temperatures are anticipate to persist for several days.

Further updates will be provided by Environment Canada as the Weather System makes its arrival.

The Week Ahead Forecast can be view below.

Rampage return from Holiday break with playoff push on their mind

With the CIHL's Christmas Break ending tonight, the Prince Rupert Rampage will approach the final three weeks of the regular season with a focus on knocking the Kitimat Ice Demons out of playoff contention.

The Rampage and Ice Demons head into the playoff push tied with five points each in the CIHL West,  and one of them will be on the outside looking in, by the time the last puck drops in the regular season on January 18th.

For Prince Rupert, that push starts tonight, with the Ice Demons the competition as the Rampage head  for Kitimat for an 8 PM start at the Tamitik arena.
The winner of tonight's match up, the last between the two teams of the regular season, will gain the upper hand in the race for the final spot in the West, with each team counting three more games between Sunday and the mid January close to the regular schedule.

From Sunday on, it will be scoreboard watching and rooting for the competition that will decide the fate of the playoff line up for the 2015 CIHL post season.

For the Rampage that will feature three consecutive games against the division leading Terrace River Kings  the first match up on the road on January 2nd, followed by a home date on January 3rd and one final  home game on January 16th.

Kitimat finishes off the year with three against the Smithers Steehleads, two at home January 10th and 11th and then a trip into Smithers on January 17th to put a wrap on the year.

How both the Rampage and Ice Demons fare against the upper tier of the CIHL West, will set the table for the playoffs later next month.

You can follow the season so far from our Results page here, as well as through the items of note on the CIHL season so far from our archive page here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas To All and to all A Good ....

Merry Christmas to those who wander through our items through the year.

We'll be back with new material in a bit, but for now, there are gifts to open, food to eat, and beverages that are there for the consuming.

Enjoy the Holidays to their fullest!

Take some time to enjoy the company of friends and family!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa's Journey underway, with North American approach hours away

For many parts of the world Santa has already landed on the rooftops and slipped down the chimney, presents distributed and in some cases already opened.

For North America, the hours are getting shorter before first landfall in Newfoundland and for those looking to track the progress of the Jolly Old Elf, NORAD Is on the Job.

You can follow along from the Colorado Springs HQ of North America's Air Defences, as members of the RCAF and  USAF track and then prepare to provide a welcome to Santa as he makes his travels across the continent.

More on their work can be found in the NORAD HQ section from the Santa Tracker website.

As for the tracking, click here and you will quickly be taken to NORAD control where, satellite, radar and ground observation are providing the vital information on Santa's travels!

Tourism Prince Rupert/Chamber of Commerce speak out on Ferry Terminal dispute

The growing  concern over a planned renovation of the Alaska Marine Terminal in Prince Rupert has both Tourism Prince Rupert and the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce speaking out regarding the important link that the Ferry Service provides to the region and the impact that the ongoing dispute could have with relationships between British Columbia and Alaska.

In a media release from Tuesday afternoon, the two local organizations highlighted the concerns that both groups have regarding the potential cancellation of the 15 million dollar upgrade.

Focusing on the consequences that the situation could have to not only the local economy and those of communities along the Highway 16 corridor, but to the passenger loads delivered to BC Ferries routes on the North Coast.

“The Alaskan marine highway terminal in Prince Rupert has had a tenuous history originating with the ferry blockade of 1997. The tourism industry of Prince Rupert and British Columbia understand the significance of this critical link from British Columbia to Alaska, we have a history of working closely with our neighbours to the North and are hopeful the leadership in Ottawa and Washington can work closely to ensure this investment can proceed to the benefit of both Alaskan and Canadians.” -- Scott Farwell, Board Chair of Tourism Prince Rupert

John Farrell, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, also highlighted the important economic factors that the AMHS provides to the community and the desire to see a solution to the controversy arrive shortly.

“The traffic to Prince Rupert resulting from the Alaskan Marine Ferry is a significant economic generator to our community. The Chamber remains confident the governments of our two nations will be able to mediate their differences to ensure the long term viability of the proposed new terminal.”

Both groups Tuesday observed that outside of the iron and steel issue, there is nothing in place that would stand in the way of Canadian companies supplying the labour and or supplies for the project, beyond the Buy America provisions of the steel requirements.

The full information statement can be viewed below:

As we noted on the blog back in November, the Ferry Terminal issue while part of an ongoing concern for Canadian manufacturers, could provide for larger issues for Prince Rupert's Tourism sector, should the project be cancelled, or the AMHS begin to seek out other options for their Ferry Service.

Tuesday's information release, marks some of the first local commentary on the controversy that has popped up in regard to the Terminal project, offering the first real local perspective to an issue that has become a national story and made for conversation in both countries.

You can review our past items on the AMHS Terminal issue and the more recent international perspective on the whole situation from our Archive page here.

Items of note when it comes to Transportation through both BC Ferries and the Alaska Marine Highway Service can be found on the archive page as well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Alaska Ferry renovations shift from trade issue to political irritant

The prospect of renovations for the Alaska Marine Highway System Terminal at Fairview,  probably at one time seemed like a positive thing.

A long overdue project to modernize the transportation link between Alaska and BC and proposal that finally had gained some traction with an allocation of funding from the Alaska Government.

However in the short months between the announcement of the go ahead and the actual lead up to possible work, politics has not only taken over the story, but could in the end, scuttle the entire project.

Things picked up steam when in a letter, Canada's Ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer, outlined to Alaska Governor Bill Walker, that the Buy America restrictions to a project on Canadian soil is unacceptable.

Buy American restrictions on Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal Unacceptable

That correspondence and the high level of Canadian engagement on the topic would seem to have put the issue on the front burner heading towards the end of the year, gaining attention through the month as commentary and observations crossed back and forth over the borders.

Last week, there was a flurry of action related to the Buy America provisions of the US Government when it comes to materials to be used on the AMHS Terminal in Prince Rupert, a topic which first became a key aspect of the project in November.

Among some of the warning signs of the last seven days can be found in the articles below

Canadian Manufacturing -- Tension between U. S., Canadian officials could bury ferry terminal
Daily Commercial News-- Canadian Steel demands Federal Support
CFTK-- More Canadian Anger Over Buy America Policy at Alaska's Prince Rupert Ferry Dock
Alaska Dispatch News -- Canada and U. S. battle over steel for Alaska Ferry Terminal
ABC News-- Alaska Ferry Project Caught in Flap Over US Steel

Heading towards December 31st, the issue has seemingly gone past the point of a trade item and could end up the thing of a major political irritant between two nations to mark the end of the year reviews.

Such is the nature of the story now, that the issue made it to the editorial pages of the Globe and Mail, where the prospect of American protectionism on Canadian Soil was not appreciated.

U. S. protectionism inside Canada?  Sorry. That's not on.

The National Post's Kelly McParland, who normally keeps his eye on the larger national issues,  made that point on December 17th, with an article reviewing the President's less than cordial shout out to Canadian issues in recent days.

Canada has helped the U. S. in Cuba, Iraq and Ukraine, but gets little respect back from Obama

The key aside when it comes to Alaska Ferry Prince Rupert Terminal project is, the note that the the actual cost of the material that is making for the controversy was described as a pittance, with the triviality of that issue one that needlessly may impact on the cross border relationship between the two countries.

The bid process for the proposed renovation project has now been pushed back to January 6th, with the hope that there will be some form of a possible resolution to the growing controversy and that the issue doesn't in the end damage relations between British Columbia and Alaska, or Canada and the United States.

You can review the start of the entire tempest for our items of late November and Early December

November 28-- Alaska Marine Highway Terminal renovations find a bit of International Controversy
November 25-- AMHS Terminal project on the radar for Canadian Business Group

For more items related to transportation on the North Coast see our Archive page here.

Swarm numbers at six in quakes offshore of Bella Bella

The busy weekend of earthquakes noted off the coast of Bella Bella grew by one more on Monday afternoon, with the latest of quakes in the 4.1 magnitude range striking 185 kilometres SW of Bella Bella, 367 kilometres South of Prince Rupert.

Monday's seismic event was recorded at just after 1 PM, listed at a depth of 20.6 km

In a short period of time from Saturday into Sunday, that same region recorded five similar sized seismic shifts, which you can review here.

For more background on past seismic events off the North Coast and Central Coast see our archive page here.

Kitselas First Nation and Pacific NorthWest LNG Announce Agreement on LNG

Pacific NorthWest LNG picked up this week, where they left off on the last one, signing another agreement, this one with the Kitselas First Nation, highlighting an Agreement on Impact Benefits related to the LNG industry.

The most recent agreement will provide for a range of benefits for the Kitselas First Nation, which will provide for cooperation regarding the permitting, monitoring, construction and operation for the proposed Lelu Island project.

 “Our agreement with Pacific NorthWest LNG addresses the environmental and social safeguards we require in negotiations, as well as the delivery of economic, employment and educational benefits for our community,” ... “These core components mean substantial benefits for our community – now and in years to come.” --  Kitselas Chief Joe Bevan.

The Monday announcement, which can be reviewed here, marks the third significant announcement in recent weeks regarding consultation and potential benefits for regional residents.

Last week Pacific NorthWest LNG signed agreements with the Metlakatla Governing Council and the District of Port Edward.

The agreements will come into effect should Petronas, the parent company of Pacific NorthWest LNG make a positive announcement regarding its Final Investment Decision, anticipated sometime in early 2015.

For more items related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project see our archive page here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

WIND WARNING issued for Haida Gwaii and North Coast coastal sections

A fast developing Low over the Pacific is making its move towards the BC coast overnight, with strong SE winds anticipated for Haida Gwaii this evening and in the overnight period for the North Coast.

Winds will be at least 90 - 100 km/h during the arrival of the system to coastal locations.

The wind is anticipated to was below warning conditions by tomorrow morning along the coast and then shift direction to the Southwest, remaining strong through the day.

Late Monday Afternoon Environment Canada issued WIND WARNINGS for Haida Gwaii and the North Coast.

Rain totals will reach near 30 mm over the next 24 hours with the arrival of the system

CityWest delivers cheque of $400,000 as distribution payment to City of Prince Rupert

Mayor Lee Brain receives replica
cheque from CityWest's
CEODon Holkestad
Monday morning, the City owned communication company CityWest announced delivery of their year end payment of 400,000 dollars to the City of Prince Rupert.

Providing for their distribution payment for 2014 to their only shareholder.

In a media release from Monday, CityWest detailed some of the key events of the year, Including the closure of the cellular network that CityWest once operated, as well as investments that have expanded the CityWest brand to communities across the Northwest.

Calling 2014 a "good year" though one seemingly with a few challenges, CityWest CEO Don Holkestad commented on the nature of the Increased revenues from the current portfolio of services, which allowed for the distribution of the 400,000 dollars to the City.

The amount delivered on Friday, is an increase from what CityWest had originally forecast for the year, though that is not a new development.

Earlier this year, during the Budget discussions of April, CityWest had revised its anticipated distribution to the $400,000 level,  a distribution which originally had been listed as a 250,000 dollar allocation.

In recent years, dwindling distribution payments have made for some concern at City Hall, as less than expected financial contributions provided for Budget challenges for the City's Financial department and its Budget considerations.

Along that theme of  declining revenue streams, while today's announcement is no doubt welcome at City Hall, it should be noted, that the 400,000 dollar cheque delivered on Friday, is still significantly less than what CityWest once delivered to its only shareholder on an annual basis.

The City recently announced significant changes to the CityWest corporate structure, installing three Senior Members of City Staff to the Board of Directors of the city owned corporation.

You can review more on CityWest from our archive page.

Council approves Rec Centre Fee increases; Non-Resident Landfill charges for 2015

In less than two minutes on Wednesday evening, Prince Rupert City Council gave final approval to two bylaws, setting in motion fee increases for both the City's recreation facilities and the City's Landfill site on the Ridley Island Access Road.

As we outlined on the blog last week, the two Bylaws received first, second and third reading on Monday, December 15th, with Final adoption provided on Wednesday, which puts the increases in place for January 1st.

The passage of the increases can be viewed from the City's Video Archive, starting at the two hour thirty four minute mark, it makes for the last items of the night from Wednesday's session.

For more items related to developments at Prince Rupert City Council see our archive page here.

Council approves Capital Works Purchases and Projects, but not without some discussion on the Legacy Corporation

Prince Rupert City Council put in motion the process for City staff to move forward a number of Capital works projects and purchases  on Wednesday evening, approval required to allow for proper planning for a number of items for the 2015 schedule.

To provide some background on that process, Council received a Review of the request (not included as part of the Agenda for the night) from the City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben, who outlined the nature of the process for Capital Works Projects and purchases and highlighted two key projects for the year ahead.

One, the need to expand the city's landfill area, a topic that has been under discussion at Council for a number of weeks in the last year.

The second major item of note was work to be conducted on an access road for the Woodworth Dam, the first phase of a project to address the city's water reservoir issue in the years to come.

During the outline for the Woodworth Dam project it was noted that the work there will benefit from some funding coming from grants that the city is applying for, as well as from dividends directed by the Prince Rupert Legacy Corporation.

That second source of funding for the project is through the instrument that City Council has chosen to utilize to make use of money received from the proposed LNG Terminal currently being investigated by Exxon/Mobil for the Tuck Inlet area, across from Seal Cove.

The Legacy Corporation recently made for a conversation topic at the recent Public Hearing into the Lot 444 question. At that hearing, questions were raised regarding the lack of perceived Council oversight when it comes to the Corporation and its operations.

As well, some concerns were expressed over the nature of the set up of the Legacy Corporation, which at the moment is currently led by a trio of Senior City staff members.

You can review that forum and the commentary from December 3rd here.

As part of the discussion of Wednesday evening by Council regarding the Capital Works and Projects request, the topic of a recent workshop held by the City for staff and Councillors was reviewed, a session where it appears some discussion on the Legacy Corporation and its revenue stream was explored.

From those discussions came some concerns from Councillor Blair Mirau regarding the need to allocate a dividend from the Legacy Corporation revenues, towards future renewal of infrastructure concerns, such as the Woodsworth Dam project as it reaches the end of its lifespan.

While that made for a spirited discussion from a number of Council members on the theme, in order to move  the Capital Works Projects and Purchases motion ahead, Council voted in favour of the request as it was outlined by staff, with no reserve policy put in place regarding Mr. Mirau's proposal.

Following that vote, Councillor Mirau then put forward a second motion, one that directs staff to develop a reserve policy regarding Funds from the Prince Rupert Legacy Incorporated, a motion that also was carried as part of the night's discussion.

That process it would seem, will make for future discussion as the Council Budget process moves forward into 2015.

For many residents the mechanisms and purpose of the Legacy Corporation still might seem a bit of  mystery, particularly as it seldom is given much of an overview in public session of Council.

From Wednesday, we have received a glimpse when it comes to the direction that the Legacy Corporation may be heading, particularly that of funding major infrastructure projects.

However, there still seems to be a lack of information for the public on the process as to how those decisions are being made, or a listing of where any money received to this point, may have been allocated.

As Council discusses some of the potential benefits of the Legacy Corporation through workshops and by seeking out further initiatives from staff regarding a reserve policy, it might suggest for some in the community, that the Legacy Corporation initiative is still a bit of a work in progress.

Considering that much of that ongoing conversation  at Council on the Legacy Corporation remains the thing of in house discussion and not as part of a more detailed public overview during Council sessions, the mystery for many residents regarding the purpose and process of the Corporation will seemingly remain in place for now.

Those impressions are a topic that Council might wish to address sometime in 2015.

You can review more on the entire discussion on the Major Projects and Works theme from our City Council Timeline here, it runs from the two hour twenty four minute mark, until the two hour thirty four minute mark

As well, the entire conversation can be reviewed from the City Council Video Archive.

Fore more items related to City Council see our Discussion points archive here.

Council changes Community Enhancement Grant Formula for 2015, with further review on the process to come in May.

Wednesday night was presentation night for Prince Rupert City Council, with the five largest Community Enhancement Grant Applicants providing an overview of their organizations and the work they do and outlining the blue print of their year ahead.

For the first hour and a bit of Wednesday's meeting, council heard from the Prince Rupert/Port Edward Economic Development Corporation, Prince Rupert Library, Prince Rupert Tourism, Lester Centre of the Arts and Museum of Northern British Columbia.

Each offering up a glimpse of some of the service that their organizations provide to the community, as well as an overview as to some of their particular ongoing concerns.

Following those presentations, Council received a report from the City's Financial Office Corinne Bomben who outlined the options ahead for Council when it comes to Funding for 2015. (see Page Three  of Agenda for Report  overview )

Towards the discussion on the night, Ms. Bomben provided an overview of a proposed change to the process that the Finance Department was recommending, which would see the City approve grants based on a funding formula that provides for a 65/35 split.

With the five main grant recipients receiving 65 per cent of their funding in January, while the remaining 35 percent would be provided after Council reviews its Budget situation in the Spring

Ms. Bomben presented the case for that split, outlining how Council's Budget process works and making note that by holding back on the 35 percent until May, Council could have options to consider other than program or service cuts as the Budget numbers become more firm during the process.

Three different scenarios were offered up to Council for consideration.

Approve the grants at the 100 percent amount requested.

Approve the Grants at percentages recommended by the Finance Department.

Advise some or all of the Grant recipients that Grant Funding for 2015 will be reduced by a percentage deemed by Council.

With those three suggestions at hand, Council engaged in discussion on the topic, with Councillor Mirau outlining his concerns that without the 100 per cent funding of January, the five large Grant recipients which as he put it, were more or less delegated by the City to provide some core municipal functions, would need to have some certainty to their funding.

Council members went back and forth over that concept, as well as to try to re-work the formula to better provide for some funding security, as well as to address issues related to more stable funding for the core group of Grant recipients.

The City Manager offered an option for Council to consider, once they had moved on the motion of the Grant Funding of 2015, suggesting that a report from City staff could provide direction for future years, which might provide for more certainty for the groups as well as accountability for the taxpayer.

From that shift in the conversation, the Mayor called for the vote on the motion to accept the 65/25 split and to move on the City Manager's recommendation for the report before the Budget process is considered in May.

Councillor Cunningham added an amendment to the motion, outlining how if any groups require any further funding before May, that they could approach Council to address the issue.

Council then voted on the motion, putting in place the 65/35 split, with Councillor Cunningham's amendment to go with it.

Staff will now put together a report on the issue of future funding, with City Manager Robert Long to seek out more information from the Grant recipients as to what would work best for them as far as a longer term of funding, providing that as part of the overall review for Council to consider towards the spring.

The overall goal of the proposal it would seem is to provide for a foundation for future years, to provide more certainty for the groups and reduce the impact on the City's budget process.

You can review more on the entire discussion from our City Council Timeline here, it runs from the one minute mark to the 2 hour fifty minute point.

As well, the entire conversation can be reviewed from the City Council Video Archive.

The Enhancement Grants get their review starting with the Presentations from the one minute to on hour fifty minute mark. The listing of presentations is as follows:

( 1:00 -- 6:30 ) Paul Vendittelli -- Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation

6:30 -- 29:00 ) Ms. Crystal Lorette and a delegation from the Lester Centre of the Arts (the Mayor excused himself from this presentation citing a conflict of interest, owing to the fact that at this time he is technically still a member of the Board. Mayor returned to his seat as Mayor following the presentation)

29:00-- 46:00) Joe Zelwietro and a group from the Prince Rupert Library

46:00 -- 1:28:00 ) Scott Farwell and a delegation representing Tourism Prince Rupert

1:28:00 -- 1:50:00 ) Susan Marsden and a representatives from the Museum of Northern British Columbia

Council discusses the Report and reviews its options, starting from the 1 hour fifty minute mark and continuing on towards the two hour seventeen minute point.

For more items related to City Council see our Discussion points archive here.

City Council Timeline, Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Prince Rupert City Council held it's second Special Council Session of the week on Wednesday, a two part evening, the first featuring presentations from the "Big Five" of Community Grant Recipients.

With The Prince Rupert-Port Edward Economic Development Corporation, Prince Rupert Library, Lester Centre for the Arts, Museum of Northern British Columbia and Tourism Prince Rupert all providing an update on developments and short overview of their financial needs for the year ahead.

It was unfortunate that Councillor Joy Thorkelson was unavailable for the session, in the past she has been an active participant in that process, providing observations and asking questions of the Grant Recipients during the Overview period.

Still Council moved forward without her contributions this year, listening with interest to the reviews from those organizations which receive the largest amounts when it comes to Enhancement Grants.

The second portion of the evening provided for a discussion by Council members on the theme of the Community Enhancement Grant process.

Council also reviewed and moved forward the process ahead for Capital Works Projects and Purchases for 2015, with some lengthy discussions on the role of the Legacy Corporation when it comes to infrastructure funding.

Council the provided for a fast paced final reading and set in motion the process of Fee increases at the Recreation Centre and for increased fees for Non Prince Rupert residents who make use of the City's Landfill site.

Below, our review of the night's topics, the timeline tied into the video archive, with the times of discussion per segment found in red.

For some background on the evening's items of note see the Council Agenda for December 17th here.

The City's official minutes will be below as they are provided to the city Website.

In Attendance December 17, 2014

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present  
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh-- Present 
Councillor Nelson Kinney--Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhwawa-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Absent

Video Archive for December 17, 2014

( 0:00- 1:00 ) The Mayor called the meeting to order reviewing Agenda items and past minutes,  With that accomplished, the past minutes and Agenda items were adopted.

Presentations to Council

Five groups made their presentations to Council on Wednesday evening, providing and overview of their work in the community, what the year looks like ahead and how they approach the process of the Community Enhancement Grants.

( 1:00 -- 6:30 ) Paul Vendittelli -- Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation

( 6:30 -- 29:00 ) Ms. Crystal Lorette and a delegation from the Lester Centre of the Arts (the Mayor excused himself from this presentation citing a conflict of interest, owing to the fact that at this time he is technically still a member of the Board. Mayor returned to his seat as Mayor following the presentation)

( 29:00-- 46:00) Joe Zelwietro and a group from the Prince Rupert Library

( 46:00 -- 1:28:00 ) Scott Farwell and a delegation representing Tourism Prince Rupert

( 1:28:00 -- 1:50:00 ) Susan Marsden and a representatives from the Museum of Northern British Columbia

Report from the Chief Financial Officer --- Seeking Direction from Council on the amounts to be awarded through the 2015 Community Enhancement Grants 

( 1:50:00 -- 2:17:00 ) The City's Chief Financial Officer, Ms. Corinne Bomben outlined the various financial options available to the City, providing an update in regard to Operating Fund capabilities, current financial considerations, including potential wage increases and the ability to fund the Grant process.

From that review, the Finance Department outlined a change in the normal process  from years past. With a split in the Grant award suggested, with the Finance Department proposing that 65 per cent of the Grant total be awarded initially in January, with the remainder to be considered as part of the completion of the Budget process in the Spring.

To bring her presentation to an end, Ms. Bomben provided Council with three options.

1) Approve grants at the amounts requested.

2) Approve Grants at percentages recommended by Finance Department

3) Advise some or all of Grant recipients that Grant Funding for 2015 will be reduced by a percentage deemed by Council

She also made note of some of the changes in the Grant requests as reduced by some of the applicants  through their presentations on the night.

Council then discussed those options presented to them, providing observations on the importance of the work that the groups provide and the need for certainty for their operations.

Councillor Mirau led off the conversation on the topic, highlighting how the City has more or less delegated  some core municipal functions to the big five organizations, which rely heavily on volunteer workers. With that in mind, he proposed that the full grants at 100 per cent be awarded in January, so those groups could go forward with certainty for their plans for the year ahead.

Mayor Brain, offered up his agreement with Councillor Mirau regarding some of his observations when it involved the main five organizations that appear in front of Council each year. He then offered up the suggestion that perhaps the City needs to review how they approach the topic of Grant requests.

The Mayor then called on the City Manager to outline further how the motion of the night might impact on the five main organizations under discussion. Mr. Long offered up his observations on the prospect of a five year contract approach, but highlighted some of the concerns that the City needs to keep in mind with that form of approach.

He also offered up some thoughts on the benefits of using the 65/35 split for grant allocations and how it could benefit the City.

Councillor Cunningham also offered up his thoughts and support towards Councillor Mirau's suggestion of full funding for the five main organizations, considering them to be core components of the city. Suggesting that the City should help to provide stability to those groups and if the City is inclined to the 65 / 35 split, that the 35 per cent be guaranteed to the organizations.

The Mayor then offered up the impact that a decision to fully fund the five large organizations, may pose problems for others such as the Special Events Society, with the City ending up playing favourites, with the others getting scraps.

Towards that theme, he outlined how he was inclined to go along with the recommendation from the Finance Department for this year, while they review how they wish to move forward on the Grant process in the future.

Councillor Niesh made a number of observations on the nature of the big five grants, suggesting a change in the percentages that are being considered on the evening. Looking towards an 80/20 split.

Councillor Cunningham then returned to the presentations of the evening, highlighting how some had reduced their request amounts. He also didn't like the term scraps as related to the other groups that apply for funding.

His main thrust was that the five, six or seven groups that provide core service to the community need better certainty by way of Council's decisions on funding. He also worried that without proper funding, those groups  may begin to lose their base of volunteers.

Councillor Randhawa was more inclined to go along with recommendation from the Finance Department for the 65/35 split, which he believes offers the city the best approach to the funding issue.

Councillor Kinney said he was in agreement with the proposal of 65/35 to a point, however he had concerns over the impact on the operations of some of the groups involved, highlighting his concerns for the Lester Centre in particular.

The City Manager, outlined how the City staff is looking for the best approach that allows for money to be delivered to the groups, as the City has access to it coming in. Reminding Council that the City doesn't receive money until the middle of the year, with the City looking to minimize the amount of money going out until they get money in through taxes.

The Mayor also observed that he would consider the 80/20 option as a possible course. Returning to his desire to approach more long term funding concepts for the Grant process, with the 65/35 option of the moment offering the best flexibility.

Councillor Cunningham asked for clarity on how the City distributes the money that the City gives out in grants and if the 100 percent funding at the start of the year poses a hardship to the City.

She outlined that the 100 percent at the start poses challenges for City staff as they seek to bring the budget in at mid year, as they look to make up for shortfalls that may rise as the year moves forward.

Councillor Cunningham then said that he would be in favour of the 65/35 split, but if any organization was in a true hardship situation, they could approach the City and outline their concerns.

Councillor Mirau, then asked for some clarification on the revised funding request totals.

From that review, he outlined how in his mind, there wasn't that large a difference between the City providing 100 percent and the 65/35 split. Then taking the discussion further in seeking to find out how they could change the process, broader than a year to year approach and to make it a three or four year process.

Ms. Bomben then outlined for information purposes, that the nature of what a one per cent mill rate increase would translate into 115,000 dollars.

Mr. Long offered up the overview that once Council had dispensed with the motion on the floor, that Council may want to ask staff to provide a report on the theme.

With staff then moving forward to gain more information from the groups regarding what would be best for them, as well as to provide accountability to the taxpayers and a process which could provide certainty for both groups.

Staff  could then look further into the issue for Council, regarding how things might be done differently when it comes to the core group of those making grant requests.

The Mayor then suggested that council vote on the motion on the floor and move on the City Managers recommendation to compile a report before the Budget Process is considered, so Council can sort things all out and could have some foundation in place for the grant funding process in the years to come.

Councillor Cunningham then asked if an amendment could be in place that if any of the groups require any further funding before May they can approach Council to address the issue.

Council then voted on the recommendation of the 65/35 split including Councillor Cunningham's amendment, with the motion being carried.

Report from the Chief Financial Officer recommending approval of Service Provider Agreements with the Special Events Society and Lester Centre of the Arts.

( 2:17:30-- 2:19:00  ) Ms. Bomben outlined the nature of the Agreements which involve Liability Insurance Coverage requirements for both organizations.

Council voted to adopt the Service Provider Agreement.

Report from the  Building Inspector regarding a property on 7th Avenue West be declared a nuisance and demolished.

( 2:19:00-- 2:21:00  )  The Mayor outlined some background upon his own personal inspection of the property and then called on the City Manager to provide further guidance on the topic.  Councillor Cunningham then offered up some observations regarding  the material that will be taken away to the landfill site.

Council carried the motion

Report from the Corporate Administrator Transfer of Alternative Director for the NorthWest Regional Hospital District Board from Councillor Niesh, to Mayor Brain, as well as to name Councillor Mirau as a second alternate NorthWest Regional Hospital District Board.

( 2:21:00 -- 2:24:00) The Mayor outlined the nature of the required changes, to fit into the guidelines of that Board. After some discussion regarding ongoing responsibilities of Council members, with a bit of clarification on the theme from Councillor Cunningham, the motion was carried.

Business Report from the City's Financial Officer,  regarding a recommendation to approve by resolution the proposed scheduled of Capital Works and Capital Purchase requirements for 2015 Fiscal period.

 ( 2:24:00 -- 2:34:00 ) Ms. Bomben provided the overview on the recommendation in front of council, providing the background to the process and the requirements for Capital Works and Purchases. Highlighting some of the projects for 2015 including, the Landfill expansion requirement. As well as plans for a large water works project, the first stage being construction of an access road to the Woodworth dam and lowering of supply lines, that project is to be funded through dividends from Legacy Inc and through grants.

Following her report, Council discussed the nature of the approvals, with Councillor Mirau recounting some of the discussion at a  recent workshop that Council members attended, asking a question regarding the Legacy Inc. aspect of that funding, discussing the need to allocate a percentage of dividend income from Legacy Inc and to develop a reserve policy for future issues.

Ms. Bomben outlined that as part of the Budget Process, she was planning to provide a review of policy for Council as to how they could approach reserve fund concerns.

Councillor Cunningham recounted some of the discussion from that workshop, outlining how Council may be mandated by the province to do such a process soon. Suggesting this could be an opportunity to get ahead of those requirements.

The Mayor asked for further background on Councillor Mirau's recommendation, with the Councillor asking that council have a cohesive reserve policy in place, when it comes to building up a reserve fund. Adding that if the city is receiving a specific amount by dividend from Legacy Incorporated, that there be a portion allocated towards renewal of that infrastructure when it reaches its lifespan.

The Mayor agreed with that concept and asked Ms. Bomben, if that was something that Council could review during the Budget process.

She provided a review of how that process would move forward in preparing the Budget.

Councillor Niesh supported the concept as outlined by Councillor Mirau, but suggested that the best timing for its momentum is during the budge process itself.

Councillor Randhawa agreed with the staff proposal.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his observations on the proposal.

Councillor Mirau outlined his hesitancy on voting for a motion knowing that there is no reserve policy in place.

From there, Council voted in favour of the Capital Works and Purchases recommendation'

Following that vote, Council Mirau introduced his motion, calling for Council to direct staff to develop a reserve policy regarding Funds from Prince Rupert Legacy Inc., with no further discussion on the motion, it went to vote and was carried.

Report from Chief Financial Officer a Recommendation that Council Adopt Prince Rupert Fee Setting Amendment Bylaw

( 2:34:00 -- 2:34:30 ) Council voted to adopt the Bylaw that will increase the Fees at the Recreation Centre.

Report from the Chief Financial Officer a Recommendation that Council Adopt the Solid Waste Management Bylaw

( 2:34:30-- 2:35:54 ) Council voted to adopt the Bylaw that will increase the Fees for Non Resident use of the Landfill Site.

With that Council adjourned from the public session of the night.

You can access the City Council Review page for December 17th here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to 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 of the Special Council Session from December 17, 2014 (not available as of yet)

Council next meets in Regular Session on January 12, 2015