Friday, February 28, 2014

Pacific Northwest LNG submits Environmental Impact statement to Government Agencies

Heralding the announcement as "a significant milestone in the life of the project," Greg Kist, the President of Pacific Northwest LNG, outlined the background on the Environmental Impact Statement submitted to both the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office.

The filing of the Impact statement to both agencies launches the next stage of consultation and feedback for all interested parties in the project.

Once the Environmental Impact Statement has been accepted by the regulatory agencies and reviewed by their officials and First Nations representatives, a public comment period will get underway starting in the Spring of 2014.

As part of that process, there will be open houses, working group meetings and opportunities for direct comment from the public on the Statement submitted today.

Pacific Northwest LNG has already made some changes  to the design of the proposed facility, having taken into account some of the feedback already received through exchanges with local residents and stakeholders.

Among some of them:

The raising of the height of the proposed Lelu Island bridge and a section of the jetty trestle for marine users

Committed to a 30 m tree and vegetation buffer around most of the island to provide for a natural sound and light barrier

Construction of a materials offloading facility on Lelu Island itself to minimize heavy truck traffic

Changed the location of the proposed main flare stack, so as to decrease the visual impact for residents of the Port Edward area

And removed a bunkering fuel facility and propane storage site from the product design.

You can review the full media release from Pacific Northwest LNG here, the complete Environmental Impact Statement will be made available on their website once approval for it has been obtained from the two Government agencies.

Copies of the Impact statement will also be available for review at the Pacific Northwest LNG offices on Third Avenue in Prince Rupert.

For those looking for more information on LNG developments on the north coast, we have a wide range items available on our LNG Archive page

Petronas makes plans to take on more minority partners on proposed LNG project in Prince Rupert

The development of LNG terminal projects on the North Coast is becoming more and more of a global effort, as Petronas, the Malaysian energy giant with plans for an LNG export terminal on Lelu Island continues to look to Asia for more partners.

As we outlined on the blog on February 13th, Petronas has been discussing potential investment options with Indian Oil, with the potential that the Indian energy player may take on a 10 per cent interest in the project.

In today's Globe and Mail, the expanding nature of those discussions is reviewed, with Petronas also investigating the possibility of a Chinese investor, which could take a fifteen percent share in the project.

As the Globe outlines in their story, that could bring a total of four partners on board with Petronas by March, making for an investment to a total of 38 per cent of the proposed development.

You can review the full Globe article here.

And while Petronas continues to build industrial alliances for its project, the Globe outlines that the Malaysian company still intends to hold majority interest in the project.

However, there may still be room for other investors to claim the remaining 11.9 percent of the minority interest in the development plans.

Next up on the agenda for Pacific Northwest LNG, was the filing of environmental impact statements with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and with the B. C. Environmental Assessment Office.

That procedural effort took place today, with Pacific Northwest outlining the path forward with a media release.

The next stage of the project, which will see more Open Houses held in both Prince Rupert and Port Edward as part of the consultation process.

On Monday night, Mayor Jack Mussallem provided a thumbnail sketch for City Council, on the latest news from Pacific Northwest LNG. Outlining the projected employment numbers that the project could bring to the region, once the final decision to go ahead with the development is made.

With a timeline of construction of 48 to 52 months, the number of construction jobs generated by the Pacific Northwest project would be some 4,000 people from start to finish.

Upon completion of the project , the Mayor quoted numbers that suggest there will be direct employment for 330 people from the export terminal, while the number of indirect jobs related to the development is projected to be around 300.

You can review more of our items of note on the LNG industry in the Northwest from our LNG Archive page.

Both Rainmaker squads look to final day for first win at Junior Provincials

When both the Charles Hays Junior Rainmakers Boys and Girls teams take to the court on Saturday, they will be looking to end their stay in Langley on a winning note.

Both squads have found the competition fierce at the Provincial tournament, ending up with the lower scores on the scoreboard over the first three days of the championships.

For both teams, the early days of the Tournament proved to be a bit of their undoing, as opposing squads took to fast starts, leaving too many points between teams for a comeback bind.  Though as the week moved on, the confidence levels grew for both the boys and the girls once the first game was out of the way.

For the boys, Friday was the best day of the tournament thus far, as they held the lead for good portions of the early morning contest, before falling behind Southern Okanagan for good late in the game.

Results of the Junior Boys tournament action can be found below

Friday, February 28 
Southern Okanagan 44 vs Charles Hays 38  

Thursday, February 27 
Lord Tweedsmuir 53 vs Charles Hays 39 

Wednesday, February 26 
Kelowna 83 vs Charles Hays 30 

The Rainmaker's Boy's squad wrap up their time in Langley on Saturday, when they play the Yale Lions at the Langley Events Centre Field House with a 9:30 start time.

The Girls game improved steadily as well from the first day, with Friday also offering up their best effort of the three days so far, with an entertaining game against Northern BC rival College Heights.

Results from Wednesday through Friday on the Girls side of the Tournament can be found below

Friday, February 28 
College Heights 60 vs Charles Hays 36 

Thursday, February 27 
Mark Isfeld 46 vs Charles Hays 10 

Wednesday February 26 
RA McMath 73 vs Charles Hays 7

The Girl's face Nechako Valley in their Tournament finale, with a 9:30 AM tip off at the Langley Events Centre Gymnasium

We have more on the Tournament, including a link for the video streaming  of Saturday's final games on our Archive Pages.

Junior Girls Provincial Tournament Archive Page

Junior Boys Provincial Tournament Archive Page

Wind Warning issued for North Coast, Cold temperatures on the way for inland regions

Warning Extended into Saturday night for North Coast.

The overnight period on the North Coast and points inland may be a rather windy affair for the next 24 hours, with Environment Canada issuing a Wind Warning for the region on Friday morning.

The Wind warning advises of increasing northeast outflow winds reaching up to 100 km/h tonight through mainland inlets. The wind will pick up during the overnight period and carry through into Saturday morning.

With the winds will come a strong Arctic ridge of high pressure and considerably colder temperatures, North Coast coastal lows will reach -8 over the next few nights.

While advisories are in place outlining that the temperatures could drop as low as to -25 in inland areas overnight and into Saturday, mainly in the Smithers area and points east.

You Can review the details of the Wind Warning here.

The Weather forecast for Prince Rupert can be found here, while the Terrace forecast with its dropping temperatures can be found here.

The really cold forecast for Smithers can be reviewed here.

Mayor hints to progress on PILT and other items with the Prince Rupert Port Authority

The lines of communication between the City of Prince Rupert and the Prince Rupert Port Authority appear to be open and in frequent use.

During his Mayor's Comments of Monday nights Council session, the Mayor outlined some of the recent conversations that members of Council have had with Port officials, covering a wide range of topics.

While quite short on details, the Mayor advised that among the conversation starters in recent weeks were a look at future of the Port's plans for Export terminal developments, land for future development for port logistic centres, as well as a conversation on the theme of waterfront development.

Of particular interest was his short summary of discussions when it comes to the PILT  (Payments in lieu of Taxes) process. With the Mayor stating that the Port and City are still working through the process and that the Port had offered additional funds as part of the process.

Though he wasn't particularly clear as to whether the city had accepted the funds at this point, nor what amount the financial offer from the Port was.

Considering the importance that the City puts on the PILT monies during the budget forming months, a bit more of a public overview might be required, not only for the six councillors around the Council table but for the public as well..

With the City starting off with its early budget discussions on Monday night and with some of the confusion that a few  of the council members expressed on the path ahead, having the PILT funding included and highlighted for the council members (and public) might be useful.

Providing some background on the process and what impact that it may have in the city's funding requirements and on the tax load that they currently have in place for the city's residents.

The Mayor's short review of the Port discussions can be found from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the 3 hour three minute mark or so and runs for about a minute.

We have more background on city Council developments on our City Council Discussion Points Archive.

2014 Marine Bonspiel fast approaching

One of the main events of the North Coast Curling season is almost upon us, with the final planning for the Prince Rupert Curling Club's Marine Bonspiel now underway.

The annual Bonspiel at the Seal Cove rink, is one of the sure signs that spring is almost upon us and that the curling season is soon to come to an end.

Teams wishing to compete in this years event, have until next week to register their group.

The Bonspiel runs from Friday, March 7th to Sunday 9th.

The Entry fee for  the Bonspiel is 360 dollars per team, which provides for 3 guaranteed games, Friday night appetizers and a catered dinner on Saturday.

For more information on the Bonspiel or to register contact  or call 600-4448

The Prince Rupert Curling Club website offers up a bit of news on local Curling Club developments, you can review what they have here.

With survey in hand the Mayor heads off to the BC Ferries Committee

As part of his closing thoughts at Monday's marathon council session, the Mayor outlined the latest developments in the city's quest to address the upcoming service cuts that BC Ferries is preparing to put in place in April.

The Mayor is to meet with representatives of the Ferry Advisory Committee for the North and Central Coast, as well as with representatives of BC Ferries over the next week, looking to impress on both groups, the concerns of the City of Prince Rupert regarding the planned service cuts.

During his "Mayor's comments" of Monday night, Mayor Mussallem outlined the process ahead and touched briefly on a survey that the city conducted, designed to gauge the impact that those cuts may have on not only the North Coast and Haida Gwaii, but across northern British Columbia.

One interesting note from that survey can be found not from the council minutes or agenda for the night, but from the Information to Council package provided to Council on February 19th, where the actual survey is outlined.  ( Item 10  )

As well as the background on the nature of the survey questions, in a bit of a surprise note, we learn that it was not a member of city staff that conducted the survey for the city.

Instead, those duties were apparently tasked to Bruce Wishart, the one time head of Tourism Prince Rupert, who departed from that post last year, when Tourism Prince Rupert decided to reconfigure its operations.

For his efforts on behalf of the City of Prince Rupert and through letterhead of Northern BC Tourism, he provided an outline of the City's request for assistance in learning more on the impact of service cuts by the Ferry Corporation.

The three questions for respondents to answer being:

1. Will the projected cuts threaten your ability continue your business, or impact your lifestyle as a northern resident?

2. What impact do you feel these cuts will have on your community as a whole?

3. Do you have any further comments?

And while Mr. Wishart no doubt did a fine job of compiling information for the Mayor. There is some background on the survey that should be explained a bit more fully from Council.

Since it does not appear to have been an in house, city staff project.  The Mayor or someone on Council, should probably have been a bit more transparent about some of the background on the study and brought the theme up for discussion in public session.

Mainly so as to provide information as to what, if any, the cost of conducting the survey may have been to the City and whether the City had put the project out to tender. Allowing for a number of proposals from interested local applicants to be considered.

That kind of background information and process, is fairly common in other locations. As is the opportunity for council members to discuss the cost, the process involved in completing the job and what they hope to gain from the exercise

None of those basic principles however, appear to have received that much of a work out from Council on this particular item.

Perhaps those are the kind of details that City Council explores in one of the many closed sessions that the city seems to hold. Though one imagines that providing background on an item such as this, is something that should be delivered in the public forum of the regular council session.

As for the Mayor's overview of the City's planned response to the Province's Ferry cutback plans, it can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive

The Mayor's talking points on the subject start up at the 3 hour 6 minute mark and carry him through to the end of the night's session.

As the Mayor prepares to take the findings of his survey to the BC Ferries Committee meetings, perhaps when he returns and delivers his next report to Council on how those meetings turned out, he could offer up a bit more of a back story when it comes to his survey as well.

You can find more background on the Ferry Cuts issue from our Transportation archive page, we have more on items from City Council on our Council Discussion Points Archive page

CBC executives respond to Prince Rupert Council's concerns over local content

When the topic of CBC programming was last discussed, the Mayor and Council were offering up a fairly strident critique of the amount of local content that the CBC's Daybreak North program was providing on the North Coast.

The main tipping point for the Mayor and Council being what they perceived as a lack of interest from the public broadcaster in the recent All Native Basketball tournament.

We outlined some of that frustration with this item from the February 11th council session, which had council decide to fire off a letter to CBC executives on the topic.

City staff followed through on that wish, providing a letter for the Mayor's signature on February 14th, a valentine of sorts we guess, that put the city's concerns on paper (you can review the correspondence here, item 1 of the information for council package of February 19th)

As things turn out, sometimes bureaucracy at the CBC moves quicker than we think, as the CBC offered up a reply to some of the Mayor's points in a fairly fast turn around.

In a letter dated February 18th, Mr. Johnny Michel, the Senior Managing Director for British Columbia and Alberta English Services, offered up some notes on the CBC's efforts in the region.

On the theme of the CBC's Coverage of the All Native Tournament some of the points were:

The CBC provided updates of the scores on their Daybreak morning show

Had an interview previewing the tournament with Jason Alsop of the Skidegate Saints

Used the tournament as a backdrop to hear what fans and organizers think of the controversy taking place over the names like Redskins, Braves and Indians used by professional teams

Spoke with a number of fans as well as All Native Basketball Tournament Hall of Famers; Willis Parnell and Judy Pearson

Ended their coverage with a short sound montage to the final men's senior championship game

In addition Mr. Michel outlined some of the past work of the CBC in years past regarding the All Native Tournament.

As well, he addressed the larger issue of North Coast news content on the morning program, advising the Mayor that the CBC has heard him and council loud and clear.

Vowing to respond quickly to provide more of the stories and voices of the North Coast.

He also suggested that  the return of the CBC's Carolina de Ryke to the airwaves in June, (when she returns to the studios after her maternity leave), may serve to help with the situation.

In wrapping up the reply, Mr. Michel advised the Mayor that the CBC will be dispatching Lorna Haeber, their Director of Programming to Prince Rupert sometime in the next several weeks. Seeking to arrange a meeting with the Mayor and other community leaders to address local concerns.

You can review the entire return correspondence from the CBC, again by way of the Information to council package (The CBC reply can be found as item 2  )

So far however, if the latest additions to the Daybreak North website with its collection of story themes is any indication, the North Coast is still fairly down the list of story board planning at the public broadcaster.

The Mayor and council's concerns with the CBC's local efforts were not the first to be shared in the community. In early February, a group of local CBC listeners got together to share some of their concerns when it comes to local programming in the community, holding  a public forum at the Library.

Whether there will ever be enough coverage of local items from the CBC to satisfy council, or the concerned listeners, remains to be seen.

However, one thing seems pretty certain, for the short term, the CBC can probably count on at least seven regular listeners glued to their radios, taking notes every weekday morning from 6 AM to 8:40.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A BG Delay on a final decision on LNG for Prince Rupert?

As we're quickly learning on the North Coast, the landscape of the still incubating LNG industry on the North Coast can change fairly quickly.

Less than a year ago we were looking at the prospect of two potential projects for the North Coast, now we have four projects in different stages of evolution, with varying estimates of time lines for any kind of decision making.

And now, for one of the more prominent of North Coast proposals, some messages it seem are being sent that there may be a delay on making a final decision on a go ahead.

It's been but four days that have passed since the representatives of the BG Group provided Prince Rupert city council with a bit of an international primer on the LNG industry, with the BG representatives outlining that an investment decision on the North Coast project could be made by 2016.

However, in the fast paced world of the LNG industry, things change fast and that may already be an out of date timeline.

As the Financial Post reported Wednesday, the British energy giant may be considering a delay of at least a year before they make a final decision on whether they will go ahead with their 16 billion dollar Prince Rupert export terminal decision.

The Financial Post suggests that instead of 2016 for a decision date, that  the new target date for a final go ahead could be 2017, with the first shipments of LNG then shifting to the year 2022 at the earliest.

The article also highlights a number of factors that could have an impact on any decision to move forward,  high among them concerns of LNG companies regarding British Columbia's proposed LNG tax.

The province has apparently heard that message pretty clear, with plans to work out a compromise still in development out of Victoria.

Also in the mix of issues that could weigh over any decision, are lower commodity volumes. lower prices and the ability to line up contracts with Asian buyers.

The cautionary note that should give North Coast residents cause to not get too caught up in the LNG euphoria just yet, comes from oil industry observer Robert Desbarats of Calgary. Who provides a bit of balance to the current anticipations of boom times for the region.

“The fact that they’re spending money out there today, which they are, and it’s big money, doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to make an investment decision to go forward with the project.”

Some wise counsel we imagine to keep handy over the next few years, as plans in progress and final decisions come to move forward... or not.

You can review our complete collection of items on the LNG industry on the North Coast from our Archive pages.

City moves forward with Pool renovation plans

The sound of construction may soon be heard around the Earl Mah Aquatic centre, as City Council decided on a contractor for a renovation project that is estimated to cost 164,250 dollars.

After a report from City's Engineering coordinator Richard Pucci and about twenty minutes of discussion, City Council settled on the recommendation from staff and agreed with the selection of Williams Engineering as their contractor for the renovation project.

Giving their nod to the national company which has three British Columbia offices, over  Vancouver based competitor JM Bean and Co. Ltd.

Council agreed with the recommendation of Mr. Pucci, that despite the fact that Williams provided for the higher bid, they had the most experience when it comes to the requirements of a project such as the Pool renovation.

The two bids were fairly close in total cost, with JM Bean and Company submitting a bid of 153,100 dollars, while Williams Engineering offered up a bid that totalled 164,250 dollars.

In his report to Council Mr. Pucci observed that "Williams Engineering illustrated good value for dollar concept, had an excellent understanding of the project, good past performance record and an increased knowledge of the site".

Following his report, Council members asked a number of questions regarding the project and the recommendation to accept the bid from Williams.

For the most part the bulk of the inquiries came from Councillors Cunningham, Garon and Carlick-Pearson, the majority of them seeking clarification on the process of selection and what factors led for City Staff to recommend Williams Engineering.

One question not along the financial theme of the contract overview, was Councillor Carlick-Pearsons' inquiry as to the nature of the planned renovations and whether users of the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre would notice any difference in the pool area or adjacent amenities.

She was advised that for the most part, this is more of a mechanical renovation, with no aesthetic plans in the works for the pool area itself. For the most part the renovation will involve the HVAC system, heating and ventilation systems as well as the building envelope aspects of the Aquatic centre.

You can review Mr. Pucci's report and background on the Request for Proposal from the City Council Agenda page 18 of February 24th session.

A review of the discussion in Council Chambers on Monday can be found on the City Council Video Archive, the contract review and decision to award it to Williams Engineering takes place from the one hour forty three minute mark until the 1 hour 51 minute point.

For those looking for some background on Williams Engineering a compilation of some of their past projects across Canada can be found here.

There is more background on other items that were up for discussion on Monday night available from our Archive of the February 24th session.

As well, more items of note on municipal issues can be found on our Discussion points from Council archive.

Curtain set to go up for Dramafest 2014

For those that enjoy theatre, this weekend will be a bounty of opportunity to see some high end presentations, as Charles Hays Secondary and Prince Rupert play host to the Northwest Zones Drama Festival.

The yearly showcase of theatre arts from Secondary schools across the Northwest travels from community to community each year, a much anticipated and rewarding conclusion to hard work and rehearsal for those that have been selected to participate from their school. 

2014 is Prince Rupert's turn to host the event and starting tonight, Prince Rupert residents have three nights of theatre to take in.

With over 120 students  from high school students from Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers, Houston, Hazelton and Prince Rupert taking part, Dramafest 2014 will feature nine, one act performances for the Lester Centre stage. 

With the first presentations of the three day festival  ready to lift the curtain on Thursday night. 

Followed by performances on Friday and Saturday evening.

School District 52 will be well represented at this years event, as Charles Hays drama students offer up two performances for the Dramafest Judges and audience.

This year, the students of Alison O'Toole's Drama program at Charles Hays Secondary will be presenting Don't You Love Me, as well as Mind Games as their submissions for the festival.

Show time at the Lester Centre for each evening is 7 PM,  with admission to each nights presentations by donation. 

Participants in the zone festival performances over the next three nights, are working towards a berth in the Sears British Columbia Drama Festival.  

The Grand Finale for provincial Drama Students is scheduled for May 1st to 4th at Douglas College in New Westminster.

The Northern View provided this preview of what is ahead for Rupertites over the next three nights.

Senior Boys Rainmakers get Vancouver Province mention heading into Zones finals

The Charles Hays Senior Boys Rainmakers have been bubbling just under the Top Ten Provincial mark for most of 2014, a squad that frequently has received an honourable mention in the Vancouver Province AAA Basketball rankings through this season.

As the Rainmakers make their preparations for the Zone finals in Smithers, they can add one more honourable mention to their clippings.

In Wednesday's rankings, one of the last before the mid March Provincial Championships in Langley, the Rainmakers once again received a nod as a team to watch in British Columbia High School basketball.

It marks the fourth time in 2014 that Mel Bishop's Senior Boys have been recognized by the Province rankings. The three previous mentions came through January, after a pair of Rainmaker appearances at Lower mainland tournaments.

The Charles Hays squad however, won't have much time to look over the paper in the next few days, as there is still work to be done as they travel on to Smithers this weekend.

The Rainmakers will be looking to bring their 2013-14 Northwest zone season to a successful end this weekend and then to make their plans for the BC Senior Boys AAA championships in Langley  from March 12-15.

You can review our past items on the Rainmakers through this season from our Charles Hays sports archive page.

A wide range of events await children of all ages at the Prince Rupert Children's Festival

After 22 years, the volunteers of the Prince Rupert Special Events Society seem to have it figured out as to what children enjoy when it comes to the annual Children's Festival.

This years event, the 23rd annual edition of the Festival takes place on Saturday, running from 11 to 5 at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

The event which makes use of the many volunteers that offer up their help in the community is always an enjoyable experience for young and old alike. 

Each year providing something new, an opportunity not only to have some fun, but in some cases explore a child's creative side or offer up an educational experience outside of a classroom setting.

This year, once again, organizers have provided for a number fun activities for Children and their parents to enjoy during the six hours

Among some of the activities ready to go on Saturday

Crafting and Beading
Children's entertainers
A Teddy Bear and Doll Clinic
A Bouncy Castle 
Wall Climbing
Face paint stations and many more games and activities.

Admission to Saturdays event is two dollars for children and by donation for those parents sharing in the fun. Organizers do advise that every child in attendance should be accompanied by an adult.

For more on Saturday's event you can consult the Special Events website.

The Children's Festival heralds the start of the Prince Rupert Special Events work for 2014, the Society sponsors four major events through the year in the city.

Following Saturday's event, organizers will turn their attention towards the next event on the Prince Rupert calendar, that of the 35th Annual Seafest, which is scheduled for June 13-15.

You can learn more about the many community events on the North Coast from our North Coast Events Archive.

City considers townhouse development for Graham Avenue Area

For the most part, Prince Rupert City Council found much to like about a proposed town house development for the west side of the city.

Monday Council discussed some of the zoning by-law requirements that would be required, in order to set in motion the consultation process for a proposed housing development at the end of Graham Avenue.

As part of Monday's lengthy council proceedings, Council received a report from City Planner Zeno Krekic, which outlined the nature of the development and the steps required to take it to the public consultation stage.

During the course of his presentation on the proposed multi-family housing development he suggested that it would provide economic value to the region and said that the proponents had worked with city staff towards moving the project forward.

The main impression from the proposed development would be that of  a collection of six units in duplex style housing, which would appear to be directed for the most part  towards seniors or the recently or soon to be retired.

Following his review of the proposed town home development, Council members offered up a number of thoughts on the project, with many of the Council members offering up their enthusiasm for the style of development that was being requested.

Councillor Cunningham offered up the development as an opportunity to keep retired residents in the community a little longer, as well as providing a new stock of housing for those that may be returning to the community after being away for awhile.

Mayor Mussallem found much to like from the outline of the housing development and also made comment about the need to provide for new housing, looking to the future of the community

During the discussion on the proposal, Councillor Thorkelson sought out clarification on the process involved in providing for public notification and comment from area residents.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson also offered up support for the project but had concerns regarding any potential increase on the tax load of existing residents in the Graham Avenue Area.

Likewise Councillor Garon found much to like about the proposal. In the early stage of the discussion on the zoning application,  she outlined how she believes it would offer the opportunity for residents to retire here, instead of leaving town and offered up hope that the local residents in the neighbourhood would embrace the proposed development.

She and Council will no doubt learn more about that reaction in the weeks to come, the next steps for the project would see the City take the proposal to the public notification stage.

The last time a multi-unit west side development was brought to Council chambers, local residents in the Westview area provided for a number of reservations, gaining enough support within their community to bring that proposed development to an end.

The city will advertise the public notification phase of the proposal in the days to come, allowing for public comment on the nature of the development.

More on the development can be found from the City Council Agenda from Monday night (page 35) where the documentation provided for Council members can be viewed.

You can review the discussion on the development proposal from the City's Video Archive, the look over the plans and offer their thoughts at the 2 hour forty three minute mark.

We have more background on other items up for discussion on Monday night from our Archive of the February 24th session.

As well, more items of note on municipal issues can be found on our Discussion points from Council archive.

All Native Basketball Tournament receives a Sporstnet Salute

Word continues to spread far beyond the North Coast these days, highlighting the special nature of Prince Rupert's annual winter ritual of the All Native Basketball Tournament.

The event which wrapped up February 16th in the city is well known across British Columbia.

And now with an item on the Sportsnet media portal, the tournament will gain yet more added fame and most likely a bit more interest.

Perhaps from more than a few across the country, that may not have even known of the tournaments existence.

This week, the national sports media giant provided this article on the recent tournament, tracing some of the 55 year history of the premiere sporting and cultural event in Northwestern British Columbia.

The article from Lyndsie Bourgon, captures not only the enthusiasm of the basketball players on the court, but that of those of the fans in the stands as well.

Gathered together through the week, game after game, loudly cheering on their squad in an inter-community rivalry, one that keeps the Russell Gamble Auditorium and Civic Centre as a whole rocking through the entire week.

It's not the first time that the All-Native Basketball Tournament has found itself the object of interest from other parts of Canada.

In recent years, the tournament has been featured on both CBC radio and television and through the articles from local papers, that have found their way onto a national website or two.

The Sportsnet article is just the latest and may be one that offers up the highest profile of the tournament yet.

Though we suspect that as word continues to be shared across the country, more stories and features on
this celebration of basketball North Coast style will be on assignment desks in the future.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Charles Hays Junior Girls Provincial Tournament underway at Langley

The Charles Hays Junior Girls get their 2014 Provincials run underway in Langley today, looking for the first of what they hope will be a string of victories that take them to Saturday's Championship game.

The Rainmakers take to the court in day one at 4 PM, with a match up with RA McMath at the Langley Events Centre Field house.

You can follow the tournament action from the Langley Events Centre website, which provides updates as the tournament works its way to Saturday's finale.

Video streaming of the Junior Girls tournament is available from the website, click on the PLAY NOW link on each days schedule to start those games that are scheduled to be broadcast.

The full line up of streaming video from Langley can be found here

The Line up for this Years Junior Girls team can be found here

We will offer up details on the fate of the Rainmakers over the next four days, scores and items of note can be found below.

Saturday, March 1 
Langley Events Centre Gymnasium

Nechako Valley 57 vs Charles Hays 28

Friday, February 28 (9:00 AM Start)
Langley Events Centre Gymnasium 

College Heights 60 vs Charles Hays 36 

Thursday, February 27 
Langley Events Centre Gymnasium 

Mark Isfeld 46 vs Charles Hays 10 

Wednesday February 26 
RA McMath 73 vs Charles Hays 7

You can review some of the past items of note on the Rainmakers from our Archive page on Charles Hays Athletics

News items on the Junior Girls Tournament

March 6--
College Heights Cougars picked up lone with over Charles Hays
March 5-- Junior Girls hit the courts in Langley
February 26-- Brookswood finds its Ace in dynamic Grade 10 point guard Aislinn Konig

Charles Hays Junior Boys in Langley for Provincials

The Charles Hays Rainmakers launch their 2014 Provincials run in Langley today, looking for the first of what they hope will be a string of victories that take them to Saturday's Championship game.

The Rainmakers take to the court in day one at 4 PM, with a match up with Kelowna on the South Court of the Langley Events Centre.

You can follow the tournament action from the Langley Events Centre website, which provides updates as the tournament works its way to Saturday's finale.

Video streaming of the Junior Boys tournament is available from the website, click on the PLAY NOW link on each days schedule to start those games that are scheduled to be broadcast.

The full line up of streaming video from Langley can be found here

The Line up for this Years Junior Boys team can be found here

We will offer up details on the fate of the Rainmakers over the next four days, scores and items of note can be found below.

Saturday, March 1 
Langley Events Centre Field House

Yale 48 vs Charles Hays 44

Friday, February 28 
Langley Events Centre Field House

Southern Okanagan 44 vs Charles Hays 38  

Thursday, February 27 

Lord Tweedsmuir 53 vs Charles Hays 39 

Wednesday, February 26 

Kelowna 83 vs Charles Hays 30 

March 5-- Prince Rupert Junior Boys Rainmakers compete at Provincials

You can review some of the past items of note on the Rainmakers from our Archive page on Charles Hays Athletics

Community Foundation puts finishing touches on Celebrity Dinner fundraiser

As organizers head into the final preparations for the Prince Rupert Regional Community Foundation Celebrity Dinner, they've already knocked off much of the to do list for this years major community fundraiser.

The Celebrity Dinner is an event which never disappoints in both attracting inspiring guest speakers, as well as raising funds for a wide range of community projects.

Once again, organizers have delivered an impressive combination as the main attractions for this years event.

With Gloria Macarenko returning to provide emcee duties for the night and former Prince Rupert resident Chris Hebb, making a homecoming for the dinner. Selected by organizers as this years guest speaker.

Ms. Macarenko, of course is well known for her work as an award winning journalist with the CBC, heavily involved in the community in Vancouver and long celebrated on the North Coast for her efforts on behalf of her hometown.

She makes frequent trips back to this community, in order to lend a hand for community functions such as this years Celebrity Dinner.

Mr. Hebb, is another in a growing list of high profile former Rupertites, who is quick to reply for a request from his hometown.

He returns to the North Coast in March, with an accomplished resume of his own.

Much of it in the field of communications, from his past work with the Vancouver Canucks and the Vancouver Grizzlies of one time NBA fame, to his most recent work as Vice-President of content and Communications with Maple Leaf Sport and Entertainment,  one of the largest of media content providers in the country.

Both will be on hand at the Community Foundation Dinner, giving back to a community that remembers them well and welcomes them back in aid of a cause that continues to make its mark to improve the North Coast.

Since it was created in 2003, the Prince Rupert Regional Community Foundation has provided money for a variety of projects and initiatives on the North Coast.

Awarding over 86,466 dollars to some 71 non-profit community groups and projects in the last eleven years.

This years Celebrity Dinner is set for Sunday, March 9th in the Banquet Room of the Crest Hotel, with doors opening at 6 PM. 

Tickets, which go very fast, are available for 100 dollars, with a tax receipt provided for half that amount.

There will be a limited auction following the dinner to wrap up the evening event.

To place an order for tickets contact Doug Kydd at 250-624-2617 or Shane Deinstadt at 250-600-7922.

You can learn more about the work of the Foundation from their website.

It features a fair amount of background on the Foundation as well as a preview of this years dinner

From it, you can also examine the extensive listing of the past projects that have benefited from the assistance of the Community Foundation.

For groups or organizations that may with to make a submission for the Foundation to consider, the deadline for applications is March 31st.

You can learn more about that process and review some of the past organizations to be awarded grants here.

Helmet By-law faces delay owing to wording

The City's proposed Helmet By-law will take a little longer to go into effect, after Council made a change to the wording, or to be more precise, to a word, in the bylaw. A decision that now will require the City to wait until the next Council session for final adoption.

The topic of a helmet bylaw and other safety concerns over skateboarders, long boarders and cyclists first appeared on the city's radar in July of last year.

It is a theme that has provided for almost nine months of discussion through a number of council sessions.  Now seemingly in its home stretch, the prospect of it going into effect will be delay at least until March 10th.

The troublesome word was the term "may" which Councillor Cunningham feared provided for trouble for his desire to see a rebate provision in place for those that purchase their helmets after a first offence.

He recommended that the word "shall" be inserted in the place of "may", a request that gave the Mayor cause to remind council of the steps that Council would be required to take to make the substitution.

After some discussion with the City Manager on the semantics of the word, Mr. Cunningham stayed with his original request, opening up the process for more discussion on the theme of the helmet bylaw.

Much of the sixteen minute discussion on the topic sounded fairly familiar, with many of the Councillors recounting some of their previous talking points on the issue (see herehere and here)

One new item that came through the return to debate on the issue was the concept of somehow approaching a restorative Justice process one day, instead of the financial fine process that will be in place one the Bylaw eventually goes into effect.

Both Councillors Thorkelson and Cunningham offered up some thoughts on the theme of how restorative justice might make for a better option in the future, however both admitted that at the moment the community is not set up to engage that process at the moment.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson offered up another suggestion for future review, that of perhaps putting in place a helmet drop off at the Civic Centre and at local sporting goods stores, where those that own old helmets could donate them for others to use.

There were concerns over expiry dates on helmets that could arise from that proposal and the prospect of that initiative would appear to have left to another day.

With the discussion coming to a close, the previous bylaw with the original wording was repealed, with  the new wording of "shall" introduced into its replacement.

When the vote came the motion as amended was passed, with Councillor Garon who was opposed to the original bylaw, still in opposition.

The process now moves forward to the next council session of March 10th, when Council will provide final approval on the bylaw and enforcement of it will be put in place.

You can follow along with the entire By-law discussion from the City's Video Archive the conversation and amendment arrives at the 2 hour 27 minute mark.

We have background on more items up for discussion on Monday night from our Archive of the February 24th session as well more items of note on municipal issues can be found on our Discussion Points from Council archive.

Two for the road?

With the prospect of some Caribbean travel on the agenda for Council members, two city councillors were quick to outline that they were interested in taking up the offer of the BG Group for a visit to their LNG facility in Trinidad and Tobago.

The topic was introduced to council on Monday night by City Manager Robert Long, who advised Council that the BG Group had issued an invitation for one Council member to make the trek to the Caribbean.

A journey to the Caribbean Islands that would be paid by the BG Group and as the Mayor put it, not  cost the city any money.

Councillor Garon was the first to advise that she had responded positively to that request, an announcement that appeared to come as a surprise to Councillor Carlick-Pearson, who inquired as to how the process of selection had taken place.

That made for a rather uncomfortable silence in the Council chamber, the first true moment silence of the three hours to that point. Leaving viewers of the council session to hear nothing but the hum of the air circulation unit, all be it for a few seconds, before Councillor Garon tentatively outlined her timeline of interest regarding the proposed trip.

The Mayor then weighed in with a potential solution to the Trinidad standoff, wondering if perhaps two councillors could be dispatched to visit the BG site, going so far as to suggest  to City Staff that they investigate that possibility further.

During the course of her review as to how she came to be the selected councillor for the trip, Councillor Garon mentioned the trip which the Mayor made to the same facility last fall.

A reference to the surprise announcement from the Mayor, who reported back to Council on his trip which was also paid for by the BG Group, offering observations which we reviewed for the blog back in October here and here.

Interestingly enough, as the conversation between Councillors Garon and Carlick-Pearson continued on the over theme of the proposed trip, courtesy of the BG group, none of the other Councillors around the council chamber offered up any thoughts on what Council might hope to learn from another trip.

Particularly from a journey that would take place so soon after the Mayor provided his background report from his visit to Trinidad and Tobago.

It was a lack of discussion, which could leave casual observers to wonder if another such trip is even required at this time at all.

It is worth noting that the subject of communities in British Columbia accepting these travel opportunities has become something of a bit of controversy in recent months.

With more than a few observers suggesting that it places council members into areas of perception problems and according to some academics, into a potential conflict of interest situation.

The best review of that theme coming from Gordon Hoekstra of the Vancouver Sun, who in December outlined some of those perception problems that come from these trips, using the trips of the fall of Mayor Mussallem and Port Edward officials as part of his theme.

We offered up our some background on his piece for the Sun here.

You can review the short discussion on the theme of Council travel from the City's Video Archive, the conversation starts at the 2 hour 57 minute mark and lasts but two minutes.

We have background on more items up for discussion on Monday night from our Archive of the February 24th session.

As well more items of note on municipal issues can be found on our Discussion Points from Council archive.

Council Budget discussions offer up flashes of anger, a bit of confusion and the desire for a workshop!

The start of the budget process for 2014 got off to a rocky start in Prince Rupert City Council on Monday evening, as Council discussed some of what appears to have been an information overload that was presented to them in the middle of a lengthy Monday night session.

Prior to the discussion on the path ahead for Budget Considerations, Ms. Corinne Bomben, the City's Financial Officer offered up a review of some of the process involved in providing the Budget Preview.

Outlining for council that the city would be considering a status quo budget, one which has been prepared with only those initiatives included that are deemed as necessary.

Ms. Bomben advised that it is estimated that it will require 30 Million dollars to operate the city services, with an additional 7 million dollars for Utilities Fund for a total of 37 million.

Among some of the main takeaways from the presentation on noticeable differences between 2013 and 2014 were:

All Capital purchases and works are to be funded through grants or operating surplus carried forward from 2013.

CityWest will commit to a dividend to the City of $250,000 for the city this year.

Assessment change has resulted in an increase in property tax of almost 1.4 million dollars, with a freeze of the municipal mil rate.

Contractual wage increases  and benefit increases will result in an increased cost of 605,000 dollars.

Costs associated with the Airport Ferry and Bus Operations are projected to increase by 145,000 dollars.

Staffing changes and increase in complement will account for 315,000 dollars

RCMP costs will increase from the 2013 budget by 190,000 dollars.

Energy costs are projected to increase by 41,000 dollars.

Increases in utilities funds will cover off any anticipated increases this year as they are self funding.

She then provided some breakdowns on where funding was allocated to various civic departments.

Advising that with assessment values from BC Assessments having gone up approximately 8 per cent, with that the city anticipates a hold on the municipal mil rate stemming from that assessment.

Following her presentation, two of the city's council members made their attempts to get a bit of a handle on the information flow that had been provided.

Councillor Thorkelson led off the questions for Ms. Bomben, seeking clarification on the difference between the 2013 budget with 2014.  She was advised that the figures used in the presentation were outlining property tax allocations.

She followed up that question with an inquiry on tax revenue change, and wondered what the tax rate increases would look like for homeowners in the community.  She was advised that the tax rate would not increase in the property tax bylaw, but that potential tax revenue would increase owing to the property assessment increases.

Mr. Long offered up the observation that the city will obtain more tax revenue, owing to the increased assessment value of houses from BC Assessment. With each resident finding their taxes increasing or decreasing dependent on their assessment of January.

The Mayor also advised that there could be changes owing to property assessment appeals.

Councillor Thorkelson then suggested that this would be a useful topic for a future workshop for Council, so as to clear up any confusion that council may have on the issue.

Ms. Bomben offered to bring in a review of some of the different assessed value changes on market changes and other scenarios related to the community property values and the changes to their taxable values.

At this point of the lengthy discussion on the topic, Councillor Garon advised that there was a fair bit of confusion on the issue, a term that the Mayor took exception with, advising that she could speak for herself, but that he wasn't confused.

Undaunted and perhaps taken aback a bit, Councillor Garon, said that she believed others around the council table perhaps were having a problem understanding the issues under discussion and that a workshop would be beneficial towards a better understanding of it.

Councillor Cunningham tried to put the discussion into brief understandable terms, suggesting that even with the mil rate remaining the same, taxes will be going up for taxpayers in the community, owing to the property assessments.  He did offer his agreement to the concept of a workshop on the topic.

Mr. Long suggested March the 10th for the workshop. The Mayor asked if that was a date acceptable for Councillor Garon. She advised that she wasn't available on that date, showing a flash of anger in tossing back the Mayor's comments regarding her stated confusion on the issue pervious.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up a one more question on the Budget discussion, asking as to the nature of the Major industry increases and what accounts for that.

She wrapped up her thoughts on the subject, asking for clarification and providing observations on what portion of the total budget is run on taxes and of the large cost attributed to RCMP expenses.

Ms. Bomben explained that of the 30 million dollars required to run the city, only fifteen million of that comes from taxes.

Following that discussion, the Mayor advised all council members that they could always approach members of the Financial staff for clarification on anything that they have concerns over.

Councillor Thorkelson then re-inforced her desire to have a workshop session to help clear up any confusion on the discussion, which provided Councillor Garon one more opportunity to agree with the workshop concept and again express her disappointment in the Mayor's approach and his attitude towards her questions on the budget issues.

It is worth noting that, beyond Councillors Thorkelson and Garon, none of the other members in attendance on Monday, weighed in with much in the way of comments or questions on the topic for the night.

With both Councillors Carlick-Pearson and Kinney keeping a fairly low profile on the topic and Councillor Cunningham offering up only his short synopsis opinion, that with assessments having gone up so too would be the taxes for those residents so assessed by BC Assessments.

Councillor Ashley, was not available for the Council session and not in attendance for the marathon meeting of Monday night.

Considering how the entire process seemed to evolve,  the prospect of a workshop to review in detail some of the Budget planing might be a fairly welcome portion of the entire process.

Providing for a dedicated review of the information and providing for a bit of clarity, offering the opportunity for Council members to report back to the public with a better understanding of the financial prospects for the year ahead.

You can follow along with the entire financial review as presented to Council from the City's Video Archive the Financial proposals arrive at the one hour fifty five minute mark and continues through to the 2 hour 20 minute mark.

We have background on more items up for discussion on Monday night from our Archive of the February 24th session as well more items of note on municipal issues can be found on our Discussion Points from Council archive.