Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Heading down the Easter Trail

With the Easter weekend fast approaching, we're taking a break from the blog for a bit.

With plans to head down the highway today, part of our quest to find the elusive bunny that delivers chocolates and such.

Our target is to return to the cataloguing of current events on the North Coast towards the end of the month, travel arrangements and traffic patterns of course to dictate the speed of that return.

No one go and solve any of our local issues while we're away! That wouldn't be very neighbourly towards your humble blogger.

We wish all our faithful readers a very enjoyable Easter season, should we see Mr. Hare along the road as part of our travels, we of course shall put in a good word for one and all back on the North Coast.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Council takes aim at Regional District Issues as part of their Budget concerns

The always simmering dis-agreements between the City of Prince Rupert and the Regional District of Skeena-Queen Charlotte would appear to be moving to a higher temperature of late, particularly as the City seeks to address its budget concerns.

Monday night the Mayor outlined a string of concerns he has when it comes to the relationship between the Regional District and the City, with the basic takeaway being that the City of Prince Rupert is not happy with the share of the burden that they are expected to take on in the pursuit of Regional issues.

The discussion as part of the Budget discussion, provided the Mayor to again review his desire to see more of a regional approach to such items as Transportation, the Airport and Policing, looking to seek engagement with other communities in the area to pick up some of the cost that the City has for those services.

For Councillor Cunningham, the discussion provided the opportunity to compare the situation between the City and the Regional District to that of the City of the Port, both of which he suggests are leaving the City short changed.

As this year's Budget planning took shape, themes have developed from the Council chamber, with talk  of inadequate PILT payments from the Port to capped taxation levels via the Province.  

And now, after Monday's most recent budget deadlock, we have added the City's concerns over Regional District to the list. 

The situation at the moment, is probably more of a long term discussion topic than of any particular relief to the Budget process. 

With a May deadline starting to stare Council down, adding more to the discussion appears to be taking away from the work that will be required to deliver a budget for this year.

All of the points are valid topics for discussion with the various groups involved, but those discussions perhaps should have taken place well before the deadline approached.

The Budget in the end appears to be a pretty simple thing, you can only put to work the money you have at hand, after that, you have to find a way to make your current financial situation work. 

The background points while important to the discussion, need to be worked on during the summer and fall. That way Council can approach their Spring Budget debate with a bit more focus on the task at hand working with the financial parameters clearly defined.

The Regional District discussion took place as part of the larger Taxation bylaw review of Monday night you can examine the points of concern from the City's Video Archive. The discussion starts at the 57 minute to 1 hour twenty four minute mark.

We have more items on developments at City Hall on our Archive page

Mayor Mussallem provides a brief outline of Watson Island status

The topic of Watson Island was addressed at Monday's council session, though in the public forum the overview was rather short, as Mayor Jack Mussallem offered up few details on the break in the relationship between the City of Prince Rupert and the Watson Island Development Corporation.

As part of the Unfinished Business portion of the Monday Council session, the Mayor outlined some of the City's main talking points on their hopes for the Watson Island industrial site.

Advising that the City has clear title to the property and with the support of other parties involved, is  removing of the chemicals and reducing the monthly maintenance costs.

He then reviewed how in recent months, the City had been working with the Watson Island Development Corporation to take over the property and re-development.

Then as a brief passage, one that read as though it were a briefing note from the lawyers, he outlined the latest  state of developments between the two sides regarding the property:

"It's unfortunate that the Watson Island Development Corporation could not complete their arrangement to purchase Watson Island and was never able to obtain a remediation plan approved by the Government of British Columbia. The City of Prince Rupert is now talking with other interested parties about purchasing the property and re-developing it"

He then returned to the theme of the goal of the City to see the property sold, returned to the tax rolls and to create local employment for the region.

Not mentioned in his short statement to Council was any indication of the ongoing legal issues between the two sides and what impact both short and long term that may have on the City's desire to sell the property.

Also not up for review through his statement, was any dollar amount as to what the cost of ongoing maintenance to the City may be (even if reduced as the Mayor suggested), now that the Watson Island Development Corporation no longer sharing that burden.

Those are questions that the members of City Council might have wished to ask on the behalf of the community, but in the case of the Mayor's statement they remained rather silent. With no follow up discussions on the topic, or  any requests for further background or clarification provided during the public session.

For the most part, the brief mention at Council would seem to have been designed to offer up some for of civic acknowledgment of the issue, without having to deliver much actual information outside of the Mayor's statement.

Of course, we will all have to wait to see how, or indeed if,  the Watco court filing proceeds in the weeks and perhaps months to come. Events which may provide some clarity as to whether the Mayor's interpretation of events, or those of Watson Island Development Corporation will be found to be to the  liking of the Court.

That of course could be a process that perhaps will keep the Watson Island file a rather large folder on the Mayor's desk for the foreseeable future.

The Mayor's statement can be viewed from the City's Video Archive, you can find it at the eighteen minute mark.

You can review more on the Watson Island story from our Archive page on the topic.

Jobs and Community involvement key aspect of Pacific Northwest LNG presentation to Council

Representatives of Pacific Northwest LNG provided a short review of the progress of their proposed development for Prince Rupert Council on Monday evening.  

And for most of those that may have been viewing it from the City's Video feed, the prospect of employment options to come probably was the main takeaway from the presentation.

While Ms. Tessa Gill from Pacific Northwest offered up a bit of a timeline review and some of the changes to design that the company has made after local consultation, the two most intriguing items were related to job opportunities and community involvement.

With Ms. Gill outlining that while a good portion of the jobs will be for trades qualified workers, there will be many opportunities for those with at least a Grade Twelve diploma to take advantage of. 

Suggesting that local residents take advantage of the local office in the Capital Mall on Third Avenue to learn more about what positions they may be able to apply for as the project moves forward.  As well she urged local residents to participate in their Jobs, Education and Training survey.

In addition to the bounty of jobs that could soon arrive, she also reviewed some of the community involvement that the company has taken part in since they arrived on the scene. Advising that they are always seeking more input from the community as to who they could work with to address community needs.

You can take in the full presentation from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the three minute mark and continues on until the nineteen minute mark.

For more on developments with Pacific Northwest LNG see our Archive page

Council defeats taxation bylaw motion; takes the issue to Special session on Wednesday

When it comes to setting their financial plank for 2014 in motion, Prince Rupert City Council will be starting all over again it seems.

That after a split vote on Monday night left Council in the position of having defeated the most recent financial blue print with its 1.2 per cent tax increase.

With Councillor Carlick-Pearson not at Monday's session, Council split 3-3 on the issue, sending the motion to defeat, with Council to try once again to carve out its financial plan in a special session set for Wednesday.

A date where hopefully everyone will be in attendance (with an attempt to reach the vacationing Councillor Carlick-Pearson by phone) and the discussions will finally deliver some kind of decision on what the city plans to bring forward to its taxpayers.

As we have mentioned frequently during this process, when it comes to the Budget planning of recent years, the final decision is never really an easily attainable moment for Council.

The path is more meandering than straight line, with as we have seen this week,  one week's solid decision making and definitive statements giving way to a new shift, which puts all the work of the past on the shelf, as another round of discussion takes place.

Last year it was a surprise labour agreement, (the terms of which were never shared with the public) that seemingly changed the nature of the City's Budget plan, a last minute thing that left all the previous work of the previous months more of a working document, than any kind of a final declaration.

For the moment, the new change in the dynamic would appear to be City Council's concerns with Regional District, a theme introduced on Monday and one which perhaps Wednesday's discussions will carry on with, as Council expresses more of its thoughts on Regional District taxation and the burden that Prince Rupert believes is unjustly held by the largest municipality of the region.

How that issue as well as the Mayor's wish for a larger contribution from the Region on such files as the Airport, Taxation and Policing play out remains to be seen.

Councillors revisited many of their themes of the April 1st meeting which at the time delivered the tax bylaw with its 1.2 percent increase. After about fifteen minutes of back and forth on many of the same themes of the last two months, the Mayor put the bylaw to a vote, which resulted in the split.

With City Manager Robert Long advising that the motion was then defeated and that Council would have to return to work on finding that much desired compromise.

While the larger issues of the Regional District, concerns over the Port and the PILT payments will no doubt make for much of Council's discussions future sessions.

For the moment, the larger issue will be to deliver a budget document before the May deadline arrives, Council returns to that process with a Special Wednesday session, which if they can find some common ground on, they will then put to a vote for first, second and third reading.

If successful, Council will then return in another Special session on Tuesday the 22nd to finish off the process.

Prince Rupert's taxpayers no doubt await the latest chapter in the ongoing drama, wondering if Council can finally nail down the numbers and give them some information on the tax burden that may be theirs this year.

The full review of the latest twist in the Budget saga can be found from the City's Video Archive.

The discussion runs from the 57 minute mark to the 1 hour twenty four minute mark.

We have more items on developments at City Hall available on our archive page.

City Council Timeline, Monday, April 14, 2014

Prince Rupert Council kept the Monday session to just under the two hour mark, as they once again tackled items of Budget planning, which as events would provide for is a process that appears to have put them back at the starting line.

Before the night would come to an end, Council heard a presentation from the Prince Rupert LNG group, outlining the progress and steps ahead for their LNG project for Lelu Island.

As well Council addressed zoning issues and requests for a letter of support among some of their discussions on  the night.

Of note was Council's work on their Budget planning for 2014, with Council defeating the previously approved motion on the Taxation plan for 2014, with a 3-3 split. A result which sends the process on to a Special Council meeting set for Wednesday.

Prior to the Monday night public session, Council continued on with the common theme of the last year  that of the "closed session" of Council.

With Council once again sitting in a closed session earlier in the evening.

The background of  the evening can found on the Regular Council Agenda of the night.

The timeline of the Regular public council the proceedings can be found in red below, tied in with the City Council video feed archived below.

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

In Attendance April 14 , 2014

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Present  
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Absent
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney--  Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present

Video Archive for April 14, 2014 (be warned the audio quality is very poor for this meeting)

( 0:00-3:00 ) The Mayor asked for the Regular Session to be convened and the adoption of the agenda for the session and past minutes of previous council sessions. With a correction made to the minutes of the April 1st Special Council Session

Petitions and Delegations from the Regular Council session

( 3:00--18:30 ) A Presentation from Ms.Tessa Gill and Mr. Derek Baker with an overview of the status of the Petronas Pacific Northwest LNG project for Lelu Island. She outlined the timeline process once final go ahead would be given.

Following that, she offered up a review of the Environmental Process, both Federal and Provincial.

From that there was a brief overview of what the LNG plant would look like and some of the changes they have made after consultation with the community.

On the theme of job opportunities, Ms. Gill outlined that not all of the opportunities available will required a trade, with up to half of the potential jobs to be available would be ones which Pacific Northwest Gas would provide training for.

She reviewed the recent open houses that they have held in the community in recent months and the response that those sessions have received. As for Community involvement, Ms. Gill outlined the past contributions to the community and advised that they were seeking further input from the community as to where they could direct those efforts further.

Councillor Ashley inquired as to how community members could apply for funding, she was advised that they should contact the Pacific Northwest Office to learn more about the process.

Councillor Thorkelson asked about the process of providing comments on the Environmental Assessment and where copies of the document could be found.  She was advised to consult their website for links to the EA documentation and that a copy is also available at the Library.

Councillor Thorkelson then inquired about the nature of dredging for the project, stating that it was a concern of many in the community. She was advised of the process involved and the rules that govern it.

Councillor Cunningham inquired about the regulations of marine traffic infrastructure as part of the project.

(18:30--20:15) Unfinished Business -- An update on the circumstances of Watson Island.

The Mayor outlined the city's position on the development of the industrial site and its current status in regard to maintenance issues. He then offered some background on the arrangement with Watson Island Development Company and the circumstances on the recently disclosed end of negotiations for purchase.

The Mayor observed that it was unfortunate that the Watson Island Development Company could not complete their arrangement to purchase Watson Island, and was never able to obtain a remediation plan approved by the Government of British Columbia.

He further advised that the City of Prince Rupert is now talking to other interested parties in purchasing the property and re-developing it.

He went over the City's desire to continue in its objective to sell the property, return it to the tax roll and have it create local employment.

With that he concluded his comments on the theme.

Reports and Recommendations

(20:15--23:45 ) Report from the Engineering Coordinator on an encroachment agreement for a property on Ambrose Avenue-- The City's Engineering coordinator provided a overview of the subject.  Councillor Cunningham inquired if other property owners in the area had an encroachment agreement with the City, he was advised that those are reviewed as they come up. Council passed the motion.

(23:45--26:15 ) Report from the Engineering Coordinator on a request for proposal study on a Raw Water Supply.  With a recommendation to award it to L and M Engineering.  Mr. Pucci, provided some background on the project and the factors that led to staff recommending L and M Engineering for the study.

Councillor Ashley offered some thoughts on the infrastructure involved in the process and the need to move forward on it.  Council passed the motion.

(26:15--28:00 ) Report from the Economic Development Officer on a request for a letter of support for a Dry Dock proposal--  The Mayor outlined the nature of that request and the reason it was back in front of Council, with that explanation provided, and some background on the thoughts of McLeans shipyard on the issue, Council then voted to provide the letter of support.

( 27:45--32:00 ) Report from the City Administrator on the nature of an invitation to attend a celebratory event in Japan from Prince Rupert's sister city of Owase, Japan. -- Council chose to receive and file the request and to write a letter of regret to the Mayor of Owase outlining why in these economic times, Prince Rupert cannot attend. As well it was suggested that the city provide a small gift of acknowledgement of their celebration. Council passed that motion.

(32:00--45:00 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator a request from Lighthouse Ministries for a Grant in Aid-- Mr. Mandryk provided the review of the situation and the steps that Council should take to address it. Advising that there is no provision to add them to the Grant in Aid process for this year, offering up some of the different options that the City has suggested to the organization.

Council members then discussed the process of the Grant in Aid situation and reviewed some scenarios that they could approach to lend assistance to the Ministry. Sending the issue to city staff to offer further guidance to council.

Correspondences for Action

(45:00--49:30) Proclamation request to declare April 28th a Day of Mourning in the City of Prince Rupert. Councillor Thorkelson offered some background on the importance of the day to the Labour movement. Council adopted the motion to make the proclamation.  Councillor Ashely made some suggestions as to how Council might be able to raise awareness to the issue

(49:30--51:30 ) Proclamation that Council declare April 14th as Cemetery Day in the City of Prince Rupert. Council then discussed some of the need for volunteers to help with the Cemetery clean up project.

Resolulions from Closed Meeting

(51:30--53:30) The Corporate Administrator outlined the names of members of the Prince Rupert Airport Board and the length of their terms.

The Corporate Administrator also outlined the names of the members of the City's Recreation Commission.


Council then moved on to By-Laws for consideration on the evening.

( 53:30--57:00 ) Zoning Amendment Bylaw --- A request for an amendment For a property on Sixth 
Avenue West.  -- Mr. Krekic outlined the background the proposal and some of the main points of consideration for council. Councillor Ashley asked questions regarding parking requirements from the revised plan. Councillor Cunningham outlined some of his findings from talking with the neighbours of the proposal. Council adopted the motion and gave first reading to the bylaw and instructed staff to begin the process of notification.

(57:00--1:24:00 ) Property Tax Bylaw 3347,2014 -- The Mayor asked the City's Financial Officer to provide a review of the Bylaw which Council was about to vote on. She outlined some of the other taxation requirements from the bylaw, such as Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District,  The Hospital District and the Northwest Regional Hospital District.

Council members then spoke to the issue of the Tax Bylaw, with a fair amount of discussion taking place about the nature of taxation provided to the three Regional aspects of the bylaw requirements.

As part of the discussion, Councillor Thorkelson observed  how the City has been making strides to hold their costs down, while some of the Regional aspects have benefited from the City's contributions. She also repeated her position in favour of the Tax Bylaw as developed on April 1st.

The Mayor then reviewed some of the City's recent struggles with a drop in population and revenues but infrastructure concerns that must be addressed. He then touched on the Budget Approval Process and some of his concerns regarding Community Enhancement Grants and how they impact on their planning.

From there he outlined his concerns with the reach of Regional District and the amount of money that the City of Prince Rupert is expected to provide to fund its operation.

He then touched on the concerns that he has heard from city residents regarding property taxation.

Councillor Ashley offered up some review on the developments at Regional District and some of the parameters of their work and the nature of the way it is set up.  She offered up some insight as to the nature of the costs that the organization is deal with and how the process of discussion on those issues takes place.

Following up on some comments from Councillor Cunningham, the Mayor then returned to a theme of past council sessions on the nature of a more regional approach to services, such as the Airport, Transportation and even Regional Policing. Stating that the status quo is not satisfactory.

Councillor Cunningham compared the Regional District situation to that of the Port, which he said was a case of Prince Rupert getting short changed.

Councillor Thorkelson then provided some background an information sheet on access for tax deferments and assistance. It was suggested that the website be included in the city's tax package that is delivered to homes.

Councillor Garon outlined why she was in favour of the current tax bylaw as outlined previous.

With that the vote was taken, with a split of 3-3.

From there Mr. Long advised that the motion did not pass and that Council would have to reconvene in session to find a compromise by the deadline.

The issue would be revisited on Wednesday, where first, second and third reading would take place. That would then require a subsequent meeting to take place to pass the Bylaw.

Councillor Ashley suggested that staff make contact with the vacationing Councillor Carlick-Pearson to try and attend by phone for Wednesday's meeting, offering up the opinion that it would be best if all seven council members were to participate in the session.

Reports, Questions and Inquiries from Members of Council

(1:24:00--1:30:00 ) Councillor Thorkelson offered up some more background on Housing grants that could be available to the community and asked that the information be posted to the city's website.

(1:30:00--1:30:30 ) Councillor Cunningham requested that a representative of CityWest come to Council to address some concerns he has heard about Internet service in the community.

(1:30:30--1:31:00 )  Councillor Cunningham then asked if staff had made any progress on his request for information on the Seal Cove Apartments.

(1:31:00--1:33:00 ) Councillor Garon inquired about work to be done on 17th Street and what the timeline may be for completion.

(1:33:00--1:34:00 )  Councillor Cunningham asked if Staff could keep Council informed on the nature of these large scale civic projects.

(1:34:00--1:34:30) Councillor Ashley asked if the Outdoor Tennis courts were in operation now.

( 1:34:30--1:37:00 ) Councillor Garon echoed Councillor Cunningham's request for more information regarding city projects and the progress of them. Mr. Long outlined that they are hoping to have a computer based program in place to help Council members stay up to date on projects. Councillor Cunningham suggested that it is a case of the transparency that council hears so much about and that it would be an assist to council to have more access to project development timelines.

(1:37:00--1:38:00 ) Councillor Ashley then returned to the theme of their Budget Planning ahead following the Wednesday session,  with the second opportunity to be Tuesday the 22nd for the follow up session.

( 1:38:00-- 1:47:00 The Mayor's Report

The Mayor attended a meeting with Consul General of Japan and other representatives, who were visiting the city.

The Mayor outlined that Transport Canada has approved a 10 million dollar runway improvement project for the Airport. He also outlined that passenger numbers have increased from last year.

He attended a Western Transportation Advisory Council meeting.

He attended a meeting forecasting marine use of Prince Rupert Harbour and other issues regarding transportation issues in the harbour.

He attended an Open House held by BG Group on their proposed development in the city and the Environmental Assessment issues process that is ahead for it.

He attended a recognition service for the Princess Patricia Light Infantry Regiment.

He outlined that the Airport had received approval for their 7 million dollar improvement project loan.

The Mayor advised that residents will be able to use their Spring Clean up coupon for landfill tipping as of May 1st. The access to the landfill with the coupon is good until mid June.

The Mayor met with representatives of Woodside Energy who are considering development of an LNG facility, they were visiting the region to look over their recently acquired property at Grassy Point.

The Mayor attended an Alaska Marine Highway Scheduling meeting.

He attended another LNG Open House, this one hosted by Pacific Northwest LNG.

H hosted a tour group of 100 railway hobbyists who were here to commemorate the completion of the the Grand Trunk Railroad.

He attended a tour of Lelu Island hosted by Pacific Northwest LNG, as well as taking a tour of the Railroad Utility corridor on Ridley Island.

He attended the opening of a business Central office facility, which offers business facilities on a rental basis.

He provided a greeting to the City of Terrace celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of railway trains in the region.

The Mayor outlined how the City of Prince Rupert Recreation Department is looking to partner with local businesses with advertising opportunities through their recreation guide.

The Mayor then outlined how Pacific Northwest LNG is seeking local residents to register with their office for potential job opportunities with their organization.

You can access the City Council Review page for April 14th 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 Regular Council Session from April 14, 2014 

RCMP issue final overview of Eberts Street incident

The Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP provided one final update on a suspicious death case of last week on the east side of the city. Sadly, on Monday the RCMP confirmed that the incident of April 3rd on Eberts street was the result of a murder suicide.

At the time of their investigation, the RCMP indicated that the public had no need to be concerned about the incident.

Members of both the Prince Rupert General Investigation Service and North District Major Crime Unit were in attendance to the scene following the discovery of the two bodies.

Their report of Monday, provides the final word on the file from the RCMP, with no other details regarding the circumstances of the incident to be released out of respect for the family.

You can review their media release here

Items on past events in the Northwest can be found on our archive page

Destination Prince Rupert? As Northern Gateway stalls, Eagle Spirit Energy proposal is reintroduced

While the District of Kitimat works to decide what to do with their results of Saturday nights plebiscite (and mend relations in the now divided community) those with an alternate vision for energy development in the Northwest are seizing the moment to put forward their plans.

Saturday nights results provided both David Black of Kitimat Clean fame and Eagle Spirit Energy Holding proponents of an energy pipeline and shipment terminal to once again put forward their proposals, though with little in the way of background material for now.

Mr. Black, the publishing baron behind the string of weekly newspapers in the region, heralded the vote in Kitimat as a positive thing for his plan for an oil refinery in the community. There hasn't been much heard about that project in recent months; other than the occasional mention of it by Mr. Black, usually in one of his papers.

Terrace Standard-- Ship crude by sea? Dangerous nonsense
Victoria Times Colonist-- Kitimat refinery would benefit environment, David Black says
CKNW-- Businessman behind proposed Kitimat oil refinery welcomes pipeline referendum result

You can review our archive items on the proposal here.

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings also took advantage of the interest in the plebiscite to return to the media spotlight on Monday morning, reviewing some of their talking points on their proposal , which would be First Nations led with support from Vancouver's Aquilini family.

Among their main points to take to the media of Monday:

Eagle Spirit Energy's proposal: The Eagle Spirit Energy proposal would involve a state-of-the-art pipeline connected to an upgrader in Northern Alberta or North Eastern B.C.; 

Represents a commitment to minimize any impacts on the coastal and inland waters, wildlife, and neighboring communities; 

Under Eagle Spirit Energy's proposal, the pipeline would transport synthetic crude rather than bitumen. Synthetic crude oil is an amber coloured product and one of the lighter forms of crude oil; and 

Collectively, this project would provide investment, training and employment, business and contracting opportunities, and resource revenue sharing opportunities in Northern British Columbia where communities are largely dependent upon the environmentally responsible development of natural resources.

Like the Kitimat Clean proposal, key to the Eagle Spirit option would be the construction of an oil shipment terminal.

With the upgrader aspect of the refining process in Northeastern BC or Northwest Alberta, a feature of their plan that would take out the seemingly toxic discussion point of raw bitumen shipments, something that has so haunted Enbridge through their process.

We first made mention of their interest in the energy sector and in the region back in October with this item, which included a number of links to some reviews of their background and future plans.

Monday's press conference from Eagle Spirit officials clearly served its purpose, judging by the many articles in the media of Monday.

National Post-- First Nations propose Northern Gateway pipeline alternative following plebiscite setback
CBC-- Eagle Spirit pipeline proposal faces First Nations opposition
Global Post-- Canucks owners join aboriginal businessman to pitch their own pipeline for BC
Business in Vancouver-- First Nations, Aquilinis propose Enbridge alternative
Vancouver Province-- Aquilini Group's pipeline project gains support as First Nations group abandon Northern Gateway camp
Globe and Mail-- Rival pipeline proponent touts First Nations support in wake of Kitimat vote

The last item from the Globe offers up some interesting notes for the North Coast with Mark Hume outlining that the Eagle Spirit project would be routed to Prince Rupert, making the North Coast the new topic for discussion we imagine for the next round of oil shipments from British Columbia.

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings appears to be holding their plans fairly close to this point, not providing much background on where they might place any terminal, nor what route the pipeline they are proposing may travel, or whether there has been any opposition made to their plans from communities across Northern British Columbia.

One thing seems fairly certain however, from their comments it appears that they won't be making a shipment point in the Kitimat region. Leaving us to grab a map and try to figure out our own routes between Alberta and the Northwest coast of British Columbia.

Considering the links to Lax Kw'alaams through Mr. Helin, one would have to think that Grassy Point north of Prince Rupert, may one day factor into one of their proposed locations.

With the the Eagle Spirit proposal back in the spotlight, we will be adding a page to the blog, in our archive of Industrial Development. From there we will continue to follow the project as more of it is made available.

You can find that archive page here. It's permanent placement will be on our Industrial Archive page

Industrial Development 2014-- Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings

Our Archive of items on the proposals being put forward for pipeline and oil refinery development by Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings, possibly to include a refinery and shipment terminal in Prince Rupert.



May 28-- No open door to oil for Lax Kw'alaams  NCR
May 23-- Calvin Helin reviews his Eagle Spirit Energy project for VICE  NCR
May 21-- This First Nation-Backed Pipeline is a Sensible Alternative to Enbridge's Northern Gateway
May 9-- Oil is coming so let's do it right says Helin of pipeline proposal
May 6-- Eagle Spirit Energy's President Says Company respects Haida Nations Rejection to Oil Project
May 2-- Haida Nation rejects Eagle Spirit Energy Oil project


April 23-- Eagle Spirit Energy proposes crude oil pipeline for the North Coast
April 16-- Pipeline Proposal Raises More Questions Than Answers
April 15-- Eagle Spirit pipeline proposal faces First Nations opposition
April 15-- First Nations/Aquilini pipeline plan gets lukewarm response from oil opponents
April 15-- Destination Prince Rupert? As Northern Gateway stalls, Eagle Spirit Energy proposal is reintroduced. NCR
April 14-- Northern Gateway setback could mean opportunity for aboriginal energy proposal
April 14-- Burns Lake First Nation band pulls Northern Gateway pipeline Support
April 14-- First Nations, Aquilinis propose Enbridge alternative
April 14-- Canucks owners, aboriginal businessmen pitch alternative pipeline
April 14-- Rival pipeline proponent touts First Nations stupport in wake of Kitimat vote


October 7-- An Oil refinery for Grassy Point?  NCR

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nathan Cullen has rural concerns over CBC cuts

The announcement last week by the CBC, which outlined the scope of the 657 positions eliminated at the national broadcaster, has given NDP MP Nathan Cullen cause to raise his concerns over the possible impact on rural communities across Canada.

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP expressed his belief that as it is now, rural communities which he believes are already under-serviced, that will suffer the most and that any further cuts to the service reduces the ability of rural communities to remain connected.

“The CBC plays an important role in keeping rural communities such as ours connected to the national conversation with local programs and stations.”  ...  “We do not know the locations of the cuts yet, but regional services will be losing 48 positions. These cuts will further penalize francophone communities in rural areas.” -- Nathan Cullen on recent job cuts at the CBC and the impact from them to rural Canada.

Of the 657 job cuts, 100 are expected to come from various regions of the CBC.

In British Columbia, the cuts were not as drastic as in the east, with as of yet, no mention of any cuts to such services as the Daybreak North programming which serves Northern British Columbia from the Peace through to Haida Gwaii.

The nature of CBC Radio program was an issue for Prince Rupert City Council earlier this year, though a meeting with CBC executives last month (before the latest cuts) appears to have provided some answers to Council's questions.

You can review more of Mr. Cullen's concerns for the National broadcaster from this NDP press release, that was distributed last Friday.

We have more on media developments in the Northwest on our archive page.

City Council Session, Monday, April 14 2014

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

Regular session of City Council For Monday, April 14, 2014

Home page and archive of sessions can be found here.

Live Broadcast of session can be found here

North Coast Review Preview of Regular Session for April 14, 2014

Agenda for the Regular Session of City Council for April  14, 2014

Notice of Special Council Meeting for April 14, 2014
(Resolution to Exclude the Public)

Info to Council 

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Present 
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Present 
Councillor Judy Carlick-Pearson-- Absent
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present 
Councillor Gina Garon-- Present 
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present 

Minutes of Regular Session of Council April 14, 2014 

Video Recording of April 14, 2014 

North Coast Review City Council Timeline April 14 , 2014   

North Coast Review Items on the April 14, 2014 Session of Council

Council defeats taxation bylaw motion; takes the issue to Special Session on Wednesday
Jobs and Community involvement key aspect of Pacific Northwest LNG presentation to Council
Mayor Mussallem provides brief outline of Watson Island Status
Council takes aim at Regional District Issues as part of their Budget concerns

Media items from other sources for the April 14, 2014 Council session can be found in our Discussion Points from City Council feature

City Council Preview, Monday, April 14, 2014

As they head towards Easter weekend, Prince Rupert City Council has a fairly full agenda of work to review for Monday evening.

The Regular council session features a presentation on LNG from Pacific Northwest LNG, as well as the regular items of council work, this week including a number of reports from City staff.

Ahead for Council on the evening a review of the Raw Water Supply Replacement study. Council will also Introduce and provide First, Second and Third readings to the 2014 Property Tax Bylaw, part of the process of moving forward the Tax Bylaw requirements.

Before they take to the Monday night session however, there is another of what is now a given at almost every Council session, that of the Closed Session.

The notice for the April 14th version of the Closed Session provides for a topic which offers up little as to the nature up for discussion, but provides for an item which Council feels cannot be discussed in open session.

That the meeting be closed to the public under Section 90 of the Community Charter to consider items relating to one or more of the following: 

90.1 (e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.

When Council is finished with its Closed Session business, they will then reconvene at 7 PM for the Regular Session of Council

The Monday night Agenda for their Regular session can be found here.

A guide to the night's content can be found below, the corresponding page number listed in red.

As usual the public part of the evening begins with Council reviewing the minutes of past meetings and then receiving any Petitions and Delegations, which provides for the first bit of City Business on the night. An update on LNG developments with Pacific Northwest LNG, with Ms. Tessa Gill and Mr. Derek Baker from the company at Council to provide the overview.

Any Unfinished Business that Council has follows the public commentary session.

With Reports and Recommendations next on the night's to do list.

The first being a Report from the Engineering Coordinator - regarding an Encroachment Agreement for Ambrose Avenue (page 16 of the Agenda)

The Engineering Coordinator will also provide an overview of a Request for Proposal Award, regarding the Raw Water Supply Replacement Study (see page 26 of the Agenda)

Paul Vendittelli,  the City's Economic Development Officer, having consulted with McLean's Shipyard, will make another pitch for approval of a letter of support for a Dry Dock project proposed for the city by Spiller Marine Services. With McLean's apparently not having offered up any concerns on the theme. (See page 28 of the Agenda)

Council will hear a report from the Corporate Administrator, regarding the planned 60th Anniversary Ceremony for Prince Rupert's sister city of Owase City, Japan (See page 33 of the Agenda)

Council will also hear a report from the Corporate Administrator regarding a request for a Grant in Aid from the Lighthouse Harbour Ministries (See page 39 of the Agenda)

Requests and then Correspondences for Action are next on the Agenda for Monday.

The Prince Rupert Labour Council is seeking a Proclamation request for their Day of Mourning on April 28th (See page 47 of the Agenda)

The Prince Rupert Cemetery Committee would also like a Proclamation, declaring May 1st as Cemetery Day in the City of Prince Rupert (See page 48 of the Agenda)

Any resolutions from Closed Meetings will be reviewed next.

Followed by a review of the Bylaws and Development Permits for the evening.

In that portion of the evening's work, Council will be asked to address a Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. (3346,2014) which involves a property on 6th Avenue West (See page 49 of the Agenda)

The next item is the 2014 Property Tax Bylaw No. 3347,2014) With council to give the Bylaw  First, Second and Third reading as part of the process of moving the bylaw forward (See page 64 of the Agenda)

Any additional items for the night then will then be discussed.

The evening then wraps up with Reports, Questions and inquiries from Members of Council, as well as the Mayor's Report, which is then followed by adjournment.

Council next meets in Regular public session on April 28.

The Live broadcast of the City Council session can be found here, a video archive of past sessions is available here.

Our Archive of the April 14th session can be found here, While our archive of all sessions of council this year is available here.

LNG by rail prospect outlined at Prince George speech

It would seem that Prince George wants a share of all of the LNG excitement, with Rich Coleman the Minister of Natural Gas outlining some talking points that most likely have residents there ready to claim a stake in the ever changing landscape.

One item from last weeks Prince George appearance that might be of interest to Prince Rupert residents, is Coleman's suggestion that one potential LNG proponent is proposing that their shipments of LNG would travel by rail to terminal facilities at Prince Rupert.

Coleman didn't offer up much in the way of specifics on that plan, other than  suggesting that the placement of Prince George as a key transit area for the LNG by rail plan, offers that community the chance to capitalize on the ongoing LNG planning in the province.

Beyond that, Mr. Coleman provided a fairly enthusiastic review of what impact LNG could have on Prince George in the way of spin off benefits to local industry, as well as increased investment in the Central Interior.

The Natural Gas Minister also outlined some of the aspects of the LNG Buy BC Program, which is designed to bring the business community together to learn more about opportunities that could be available as the LNG industry begins to take shape in the province.

The LNG-Buy BC Program will be introduced to the Northwest later this week, with sessions planned for Kitimat (April 15)  and Terrace April 16.

Prince Rupert is scheduled to host one of these "boot camp" sessions, but no date for the three hour information program for local service providers has been confirmed for the North Coast as of yet.

You can learn more about what that program is all about here.

The Prince George media has much on Mr. Coleman's LNG information session, the main reviews can be found below.

CKPG-- Minister Rich Coleman speaks to local Chamber (video)
CKPG-- Minister Coleman Talks LNG for PG
Opinion 250-- P. G. in Plan for LNG plant
Prince George Citizen-- Minister touts LNG development
Prince George Free Press-- Coleman touts LNG to Prince George crowd

For more on LNG developments on the North Coast see our archive page.

MLA Rice raises issues on rural health requirements

Health issues in rural communities was topic of concern for the NDP last week in Victoria.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, working in her capacity as critic for Rural and Northern Health sent out a press release las Thursday, outlining some of the concerns of rural communities when it comes to health care funding across the province.

In her media release of April 10th, Ms. Rice highlighted the provincial governments struggles with rural health issues as an indication that they aren' preparing properly for the needs of growing economies.

 “Accessing medical services in the North is already a challenge. Many communities are faced with severe doctor shortages, long wait times for medical specialists, and inadequate mental health programs, yet the B.C. Liberal government has failed to address the uneven playing field when it comes to what’s available in the North versus the Lower Mainland.”

She called attention to ongoing issues in Fort St. John, where a walk in clinic option has had to suspend operations owing to a doctor's shortage in the community.

In addition to current concerns, she outlined how the growing issues of health care in the North could pose problems for the Premier's overall plan of LNG development for Northern British Columbia.

“If the Premier plans to invest in liquefied natural gas to the extent she claims, she had better start investing in growing our communities and ensuring services are available. No one is going to want to work in a community where their family can’t even get a doctor.”

You can review the full scope of the NDP MLA's talking points from this media release from the BC NDP caucus.

For more items of interest from the British Columbia Legislature can be found on our Archive page.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In Kitimat, 1,793 say NO to Northern Gateway

The results came in roughly an hour  after the voting had closed, the Kitimat District office website, perhaps the most viewed portal of the night.

And when Kitimat officials had finished tallying up the 3,071 votes cast in Saturday's plebiscite on the Northern Gateway project, those with hesitations or concerns, over the controversial project had prevailed on the day.

Those who cast a No vote totalled 1,793 or 58.4 percent of the voters, while those in the affirmative on the question accounted for 41.6 percent of the vote, with 1,278 expressing their belief that the project would be beneficial to the community.

The result handing the issue back to Kitimat City Council for their consideration on Monday evening.

 “The people have spoken. That’s what we wanted - it’s a democratic process,” ...“We’ll be talking about this Monday night at Council, and then we’ll go from there with whatever Council decides.”-- Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan on the results of Saturday's plebiscite.

After the results were released, Enbridge Northern Gateway officials were seeking to put the best face on their disappointment on Saturday evening, suggesting that they had more work to do to provide more information and ease the concerns of local residents.

The pipeline proponents did find a positive to take away from the vote,  with the views of the 1,278 who appear to be on their side of the debate, though the verdict on the No side is clearly a setback.

A success last night would have been clearly helpful to the Enbridge campaign to win over residents not only in Kitimat, but across the province.

Especially after a rather badly handled run up to the Joint Review Process by the company, what with mistake laden maps, conflicting studies and a lack of constructive engagement with the communities across Northern BC.

Denied a Public relations victory on Saturday, the company will now apparently wait for the remainder of the Joint Review Process to play out and allow the Federal Government to announce where the project goes from here.

The Federal Government is expected to provide its review of the process sometime in June.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen was quick to herald the results as a substantial victory for those opposed to Northern Gateway, taking to his facebook page and  twitter feed on Saturday night to deliver the news of the No vote and his plans to take the results back to Ottawa.

The results of the non-binding referendum now go to Kitimat's city council for discussion on Monday night, though it's hard to see how the council would offer any kind of public endorsement of the project now, considering the results from Saturday's vote.

Kitimat's municipal government for the most part sat on the fence during the Joint Review Panel process, in the latter stages pointing towards their own planned plebiscite as to where their focus was to be directed.

What they do with that direction from their residents makes for an interesting study of municipal politics and the uncertainty that referendums and plebiscites may deliver to the work of local politicians.

There were a few unusual aspects of the plebiscite that were different from your regular election process.  Key among them, the residency requirement for the vote was only thirty days in the community prior to the vote and unlike municipal, provincial or federal elections, there was no requirement that voters hold Canadian citizenship in order to participate.

Kitimat is already facing a backlash from the neighbouring Haisla community, which had concerns over the nature of the vote and the exclusion of their participation in it. A valid complaint,  considering that Northern Gateway was a project that would have an impact on their people as well.

In a recent article in the Tyee, Haisla Chief Councillor Ellis Ross reviewed the concerns of the First Nation about the late in the game nature of the Kitimat plebiscite.

Beyond that relationship to now be repaired, there is the obvious split of opinion in Ms. Monaghan's own city. Where regardless of City Council's decision moving forward,  there is now a fairly visible amount of the population which is going to be annoyed whichever way Council decides to go, if indeed it makes an announcement one way or the other.

Mayor Monaghan outlined the process ahead to Vancouver's News 1130 on Sunday morning, reviewing the background on the vote and the impact that it had on the community.

Still be learned from the plebiscite, is a firm number as to what percentage of eligible voters in the community participated in Saturday's vote. A statistic which may be hard to divine, owing to those unusual conditions for the Saturday vote.

In the last census numbers available for the community from 2011, the total population aged 20 and over in Kitimat was 6,360. (there is no breakdown available for those of 18 and 19 years of age, so the total would be slightly higher)

That number could be flexible of course, depending on how much the population has started to bounce back from the days of the Kitimat exodus.

But using that benchmark from the most recently available snapshot, the prospect of over 3,200 potential voters not accounted for, could put the 3,071 votes cast on Saturday into a bit of perspective, as to its actual value for the topic at hand.

In the end, Kitimat Council may just hold the results as for what they were; a public opinion poll, one to be delivered to the Federal government for its consideration.

Which to borrow a football term for politics, would be called punting the ball.

The Kitimat vote attracted a fair bit of attention from the provincial and national media on Saturday evening and into Sunday morning, some of the reviews can be found below:

CBC-- Kitimat, B. C., votes 'no' to Northern Gateway in plebiscite
CFTK-- Kitimat votes "No" in Northern Gateway plebiscite
Terrace Standard-- Kitimat votes "No" to Enbridge pipeline in plebiscite
Globe and Mail-- Kitimat residents vote 'no' in pipeline plebiscite
Vancouver Observer-- Enbridge loses the Kitimat plebiscite on Northern Gateway
Vancouver Sun-- Kitimat residents vote no on Northern Gateway
Vancouver Province-- Kitimat rejects Northern Gateway pipeline in non-binding plebiscite
Edmonton Sun-- Kitimat plebiscite says No to Northern Gateway

For more background on the entire journey of the Northern Gateway project see our archive page.

Blog Watching, Week ending April 13, 2014

As part of a weekly feature on the blog, every Sunday we offer up this weeks recap of the top five items viewed over the course of the last seven days.

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

This week, the announcement of an agreement between local First Nations and the provincial government on Grassy Point topped the review of the last seven days.

From there, developments at the grocery store, as well as a review of NWCC's decision to turn down bursary money from Enbridge/Northern Gateway gained some interest in from readers.

Likewise our reviews of the latest with the teachers negotiations with the province and Nathan Cullen's announcement of support for John Horgan for the BCNDP leadership found a healthy readership, rounding out the top five of the week.

Kicking off the review, our top item of the week:

North Coast First Nations sign agreement with Province on LNG --  An agreement which Premier Christy Clark called a milestone for British Columbia highlights our most read item of the week. (posted April 9, 2014)

That item was followed by:

Safeway - Sobeys switchover starting to speed up --  The subtle signs of the shift from Safeway to Sobeys in Prince Rupert found an interested audience this week.   ( posted April 7, 2014 )

While NWCC says No, others put Enbridge money to work  -- Our follow up item on the decision of NWCC to turn down bursary money from Enbridge attracted a few readers in the last seven days. (posted April 7, 2014)

New elements introduced to Provincial Education negotiations last week -- Some background on the latest developments in provincial education negotiations  (posted April 7, 2014)

Nathan Cullen puts his support behind John Horgan for BC NDP leadership -- The one time prospective contender for the BC NDP leadership signed on with Team Horgan this week   (posted April 11, 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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Warmer weather brings Avalanche Warnings for Northwest

A combination of rising temperatures and last weeks deluge of rainfall have made for unstable conditions in the back country of the Northwest for this weekend.

On Friday, the Canadian Avalanche Centre issued an Avalanche Warning for Back country users of the region.

For the Northwest Coastal regions the Rating for all three sectors, Alpine, Treeline and Below Treeline is listed as High for Saturday and Considerable for Sunday and Monday.

For Northwest Inland sections the Rating is listed as Considerable for today and Sunday, Moderate for Monday.

Some instructive background on the changing nature of Alpine environments can be found from the CAC's Forecaster Blog, this item from Thursday gives a fairly expansive review to the situation in the Northwest Region.

You can access the latest bulletins from the Avalanche Centre from their website.

You can find past reviews of environmental and seismic events from our Archive pages.

MLA's Week, April 7 -11, 2014

A snapshot of some of the talking points from North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, during this week's proceedings of the Legislature.

The second week of April was another quiet one when it came to appearances from the North Coast MLA in the House or Committee rooms in Victoria.

Through the thirteen sessions of the Legislature in House or Committee work listed for the week of April 7-11, MLA Rice appears in the index for the Legislature week session just once.

A Wednesday appearance, where Ms. Rice makes mention of the presence in the Legislature Gallery of members of the delegation from Lax Kw'alaams and Metlaktla.

Other than that short greeting, she spoke to no other topics during the four days of Legislature sessions of this week.

As for committee work, MLA Rice is a member of the Standing Committee on Children and Youth, that Committee however did not meet during the past week.

Issues of interest to the North Coast were reviewed in Victoria this week, with both the MLA's of Skeena and Stikine taking up some of the topics of interest to the region. Some of our items of note from the week in Victoria can be found below:

Austin presses Natural Gas Minister Coleman for details on tax issues and other key items for Northwest
Nathan Cullen puts his support behind John HOrgan for BC NDP Leadership
North Coast First Nations sign agreement with Province on LNG

You can examine our reviews of past weeks of the Legislature session from our Legislature Sessions archive page.

We have more background on the North Coast MLA from our General Archive on Legislature issues as well.

The Legislature now takes a two week break, resuming its work on April 28th at 10 AM.