Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nothing for the public on Watson Island expenses?

The mystery of the Watson island situation continues to percolate, with little in the way of information forthcoming from the City, the Mayor or Prince Rupert council members.

The Mayor did pop his head out of the office for a short comment to the weekly newspaper earlier this week, advising that he doesn't have the dollar amount at hand regarding the required maintenance costs of the industrial site at the moment.

Unable it seems to outline just how much the city will be required to put up towards upkeep at Watson Island, now that the City is once again responsible for those costs.

A rather shocking thing to hear from City Hall, which hasn't been too shy about sharing some of their other financial struggles during the budget process, making their case for another tax increase, money that is required to keep the city whole as one councillor put it.

Yet, when it comes to the topic of a long running issue, one which once again will require financial contributions from the city and we imagine have an impact on the Financial Officer's financial projections, we apparently are not to be privy to the details.

Whenever it comes to Watson Island, the city's administration, Mayor and Council are one it seems, with no one offering up an expansive comment, review or explanation.

As history has shown they do talk about Watson Island and rather frequently it appears.  Normally in a closed session, of which there have been many in the last year.

Regular readers of the blog will have followed our archive of Council sessions, which in 2013 met in 28 special closed to the public session, a good number of which appear to have been related to the Watson Island issue.

Council in 2014 is well on to the pace of last year, having met six times in three months in some form of closed session, some of which have again featured the industrial site and developments there.

What's most confusing about the latest twist, is that in recent months the Mayor and Council have frequently expressed their desire to move beyond the past and put Watson Island behind them. Indeed this year, Watson Island was one issue that they identified as their number one priority for 2014.

And yet as we pointed out on the blog back in March here we go again, with more drama and the need for municipal financial resources to be spent on the industrial site.

While we wait for further word from the city on the Watson Island situation...
No sunshine after all after Sun Wave settlement - as the court room beckons again

Considering the experience that they have had on the Watson Island file, we imagine it shouldn't be too hard for the Mayor and Council to determine how much the city now has to pay to cover off maintenance issues (and maybe share a bit on the legal bill to go with the latest developments), something they should share with the public as soon as possible.

While they're at it, a public explanation might be helpful for the public, in order to better understand how a seemingly done deal to rid the city of an economic albatross has again fallen through, with the City now apparently having to return to a court room to defend its interests.

In recent weeks Prince Rupert Council has been pretty quick to shift some of the attention on their financial planning issues to the Port and the Province. No doubt those are worthwhile discussion points to be made and in recent years are the main talking point as part of the city's annual financial review.

However, when it comes to the case of recent developments at Watson Island, they are suddenly very quiet, with no opinion to share.

In other communities, questions regarding a surprise demand for maintenance fees, as well as another trip to the courts, would be the kind of thing that would be asked in council chambers by elected officials.

Not in Prince Rupert, where it appears no one at City Hall whether in administration or elected office, has anything of interest to share with the community regarding the one ongoing issue which continues to confound the community on a daily basis.

Council seems to have this representation process a bit backwards.

For most residents, we imagine that when they cast  their vote in the November elections it is to have their Councillors advocate their interests at City Hall.

Instead, more and more of late, it seems that Council members are mostly representing City Hall to the residents.  And with that, keeping a fair amount of their knowledge within their circle of seven.

Transparency, Accountability and all of those neat slogans we heard at the last election and no doubt will hear again in the coming fall campaigns, for the most part it appears that they are just  campaign props.

Apparently campaign platforms that are not actually to be put in motion, nor some might suggest not to be taken very seriously when we hear them.

There is more on the Watson Island file to be found on our Archive page on the topic.

We also have more items on City Council developments available on our anchor page for council discussion points.

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