Monday, June 30, 2014

Mariner's Park is your Canada Day destination!

The nation celebrates Birthday 147 on Tuesday and the Prince Rupert Special Events Society has issued the birthday invitations to gather around Mariner's Park for Canada Day celebrations.

The day kicks off with a picnic in the park starting at the Noon hour, with a range of activities for young and old alike.

Among the activities of the day:

You opportunity to wave a flag and join in on the singing of the National anthem.

Those heading to Mariners Park can also take in the Live Music, Trivia Testing, Contests and Games, Children's Face Painting, a distribution of Tree Seedlings and a glimpse at the past with some old fashioned games for Children to take part in.

While the supplies last the Girl Guides, Brownies and Cubs will be handing Canadian flags and pins to the public.

In addition to the games and events, TELUS will announce the recipients for their community grants for this year.

Music makes up a good portion of the day, with a wide range of local talent on stage on the Cow Bay side of the park.

As in the past, the cultural mosaic that makes up Prince Rupert will be on display along with a number of food booths to offer the tastes from the various communities that make up Prince Rupert.

And no party is complete without cake and like past years, the Mayor and other politicians and community leaders will be handing out Cake as part of the day's festivities.

Canada Day events run from Noon until 4 PM.

One part of the celebrations will be missing this year however, as organizers have advised that there will be  No Fireworks  display this year.

You can learn more about the plans from the Special Events Society from their website.

BC Ferry issues of concern to Interior tourism officials

As the North Coast moves into the heart of the tourism season for 2014, concerns over the impact of the recent BC Ferry service cutbacks continue to remain high.

With tourism operators from Bella Coola to the North Coast and on to Haida Gwaii keeping an eye on the level of visitors to their regions.

The potential impact however has spread far beyond the Northern and coastal regions, in Williams Lake tourism advocates have offered up their voices in support of a revisit by the Government to their cuts, with the Discovery Coast service in particular of high concern to the interior communities.

Former Prince Rupert journalist Monica Lamb-Yorski, who now writes for the Williams Lake Tribune offers up some background on the impact of the cuts to the Discovery Coast service and how the efforts of those in Williams Lake to address the changes to that service have received little in the way of attention  from officials.

Those in the Tourism industry in the Chilcoltin region have outlined some of their concerns over the nature of the vessels in use on that service and the schedule that is currently in place, which they fear is driving away potential visitors to their region.

The Williams Lake and District chamber of Commerce recently joined the chorus of those across Northern British Columbia and Haida Gwaii, seeking to have BC Ferries reverse their decisions on Service Cuts until an adequate study on the economic impact on them can be done.

That was a theme of the Prince Rupert study from earlier this year, a report that was delivered to provincial officials.

Though much like the situation facing tourism advocates in the Chilcotin, there has been little in the way of movement from the province to be seen on the North Coast since that time.

You can review the full article from Ms. Lamb-Yorski here.

For more items on the theme of BC Ferries see our archive page.

Pssst! Wanna buy a container port?

While the development most likely won't have much impact on the day to day operations of the Fairview Container Port, according to an item in the Wall Street Journal, the German owners of Maher Terminals, the company that operates Fairview have put the entire company on the market.

An article published to the Wall Street Journal website reviews some of the back story on the investment opportunity, with Maher's corporate owner Deutsche Bank AG reportedly having lost a significant amount of money on their 2007 purchase.

While some aspects of the Maher operations may be struggling, the Wall Street Journal item outlined how the Prince Rupert terminal is considered to be the better performing portion of the Maher organization.

The bulk of the trouble for the company appears to stem from lost contracts and lower than expected volumes at their New Jersey operations. Fall out it seems from the effects of the world wide financial crisis of six years ago.

The German bankers have yet to decide if they wish to sell the entire business unit as a whole, or offer up their container ports as individual sales.

Should they sell the larger total investment, it's anticipated that the sale could bring in somewhere between 800 million and 1 billion dollars.

Considering the continued growth of the Prince Rupert operation and the prospect of expansion and increased through put, it would appear that the Fairview Terminal operations might make for an attractive investment.

The notice of potential sale of the major terminal operator highlights the growing attention that Prince Rupert Port operations are gaining in the international business community. And how decisions made in  far off places such as a German board room, could change the dynamic on the local waterfront.

You can review the full item here.

For more items on the Fairview Container Port see our archive page.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blog Watching, Week ending June 29, 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, a quake in the far western reach of Alaska attracted the most attention on the blog, with a large volume of traffic directed to the item in the hours following the quake.

The remainder of the information flow on the week involved plans moving forward on renovations to the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal location, the City's proposed motions for the fall UBCM meetings, the Port Authority donation to North Pacific Cannery Historical site and Councillor Anna Ashley's notice to seek a ban on any oil refinery development within municipal boundaries.

Kicking off the top five items, Monday's 8.0 quake in western Alaska.

Major quake strikes far western reaches of Alaska -- An 8.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the western portion of Alaska, though no tsunami concerns were in place for coastal BC (posted June 23, 2014)

That item was followed by:

Alaska Marine Highway Terminal Plan moves forward with release of Environmental Management Plan -- Alaska starts things rolling regarding their planned renovations to the AMHS Terminal site in Prince Rupert(posted June 23, 2014 )

Council approves draft resolutions for UBCM travels of the fall -- Port related payments and provincial taxation caps on industrial lands will be among some of the wish list items from Prince Rupert City Council for this falls UBCM meetings.  (posted June 26, 2014)

Prince Rupert Port Authority commits $200,000 for North Pacific Cannery restoration project --   Work on the North Pacific Working Dock project received a boost from a donation from the Prince Rupert Port authority (posted June 25, 2014)

Councillor Ashley to seek rezoning of industrial land within Prince Rupert, with an eye towards a ban on oil refinery development in the city  -- Councillor Anna Ashley offers up notice to Council of her intent to introduce a motion to ban any proposed oil refinery development within Municipal boundaries (posted June 26, 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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Prince Rupert Crimestoppers debuts Facebook page

Accessing information and news about the Prince Rupert Crimestoppers organization is going to be an easy to discover and enjoyable experience now, with the debut of a new Facebook page dedicated to the work of local group.

Launched this week, it is still a bit of a work in progress, but already features a number of photos and some background information on what the volunteer based group is all about.

One item of note just posted to the page is the just announced partnership between Prince Rupert Crimestoppers and the Police/Fire Museum, which will see the two groups working together on the restoration  of the 1947 Mercury Police car that the Museum is in possession of.  Originally in use during the days of the BC Provincial Police, the police version is the  last of its kind in the Province.

The restoration process on the car will continue through the summer and into the fall, with hopes to have the work completed by that time.

Once it has been restored, the vehicle will be put back into service with the current Prince Rupert Detachment.

You can learn more about that project as well as further information on the local Crimestoppers organization from this link to their page.

Those that wish to join the organization can pick up an application form at the local detachment of the RCMP on Sixth Avenue West.

Hecate Strait organization highlights services to Immigrant community

Monday night's Council session provided for a primer on what kind of services are currently available to newcomers to Canada that have settled in the Prince Rupert region.

Mr. Glenn Groulx, who leads a team on Immigrant Settlement Services at Hecate Strait Business Development, spoke to Council providing some background on the program which started in the community in April.

Through his presentation he outlined some of the programs and services that are offered at the 1st Avenue East offices.

Among the programs of note outlined to council were, Computer and Internet access, an English club
in partnership with the public library, field trips into the community and a number of social activities for newcomers to the city.

He further expanded on the Skills Connect for Immigrants Program, the Resource Library for Immigrants and how the organization connects with the immigrant community in the city.

Following the presentation, Council members were offered the opportunity to seek out further information on the services provided.

Councillor Kinney, started the question period by asking as to the number of immigrants that the Centre has provided service for in the last six months, Mr. Groulx outlined that so far in the year they have provided assistance to some 30 to 40 newcomers to the city.  He

Councillor Thorkelson offered up a few observations and questions on the theme of temporary foreign workers and immigrants to the community, asking what kind of guidance that the service provides to workers in the community regarding terms of employment rights and safety concerns.

Mr. Groulx outlined the scope of the mandate for the Organization and what it can provide to any newcomers to the community.

The full presentation can be found on the City's Video Archive starting at the 6 minute thirty second mark.

More background information on the program run through Hecate Strait can be found from their website.

For other items related to City Council see our Council Discussion Archive page.

Council to seek better access to Information on Dangerous Goods movements through the City

With a growing number of trucks travelling to and from the container port and transiting through the city these days, Council heard concerns on the prospect of dangerous goods travelling through the city.

The topic was raised by way of discussion from Councillor Joy Thorkelson, who introduced the issue at Monday's council session.

As she introduced the theme, she outlined how she was seeking some knowledge on whether there is any legislation in place to require disclosure of dangerous goods on city roads.

She also called attention to some concerns regarding both rail traffic coming into the city and the prospect of dangerous goods travelling through the city to and from the container port.

Highlighting a concern that she was made aware of in relation to a recent transit of trucks that were observed carrying some form of wax substance.

She observed that should there have been an accident emergency officials would not have had much information on the nature of that

As part of the discussion, she asked that Council ensure that the Port is providing proper notification of any dangerous goods that may be travelling along city roads.  As part of the discussion, she asked for staff to explore if there was any to have the same kind of notification on truck shipments that is currently in place regarding rail shipments.

The Mayor tasked the City Manager to seek out further information on the issue from the Emergency Services coordinator in the community.

You can review councils discussion on the topic from the Council Video Archive page, the topic starts up at the1 hour thirty minute mark.

We have notes on other developments at City Council available on our archive page.

Council to consider forming a Housing Committee to address housing issues in the community

The topic of social and supportive housing has become a frequent theme of Prince Rupert City Council meetings in recent months, with Councillor Joy Thorkelson spearheading the move to address concerns around the community.

Monday night, she took those concerns to Council once again, with the councillor recounting some of the items of note that she has relayed to Council in past sessions, including the lack of supportive housing for those with addictions and other life challenges.

Towards relieving some of those stresses on supportive housing, Councillor Thorkelson outlined some background on how Vancouver is approaching those issues, working with Vancouver Coastal Health to address the same issues in the lower mainland.

That is a framework that the Councillor believes could work for Prince Rupert, with Northern Health perhaps to be involved in seeking solutions to similar issues in the Prince Rupert area.

She also called attention to the need for improved low cost and social housing for those that are caught in the upward spiral of rental accommodations in the city.

As well, she suggested that City Council seek out a report from staff and give some thought to creating a local Housing Committee, which would be tasked to explore the needs for improved access to housing further and come up some form of guidance for the community as to how to address the issues.

On the theme of land use in the community, the Mayor advised that Council may wish to wait until the City Planner delivers his report on the scope of land allocation in the community, a report that is due to be presented in July.

Councillor Garon echoed the Mayors thoughts on the issue,  while Councillor Ashley suggested that as they wait for that report, that council begin to give some thought as to  who they would like to see involved in those discussions at a committee level and to consider what approach to take to the issue.

Councillor Cunningham brought up the prospect of inviting BC Housing representatives back to Council to explore the situation further, he also inquired as to whether the City could hand over land zoned as P1 and P2 to non profit housing groups.

That suggestion was something that the Mayor said that staff could investigate further and could be a theme that Council could consider in future sessions.

Councillor Thorkelson stayed with her preference for more immediate action, suggesting that the report while helpful for background on housing stock, would not take on the issues of access to the various levels of housing under discussion.

She outlined more thoughts on the need for supportive housing and improved social housing in the community, highlighting her observations on a growing homeless situation in the city.

In the short term, Council will forward a letter of concern on the issue from the Community to Community Forum, directing that it be sent to the appropriate government agencies as well as to Northern Health.

Council also voted to add Social and supportive housing issues to their list of proposed discussion points for the fall session of the UBCM in Whistler.

You can review the full scope of the Housing discussion from the Council Video Archive page, it starts at the 1 hour 33 minute mark and continues on for twelve minutes or so.

For more items on Housing in the community see our archive page.

We have more Council Coverage available from our Council Discussion archive page.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Friday Port Call for Two cruise ships to Prince Rupert

"All ashore, that's going ashore" will be the call Friday morning on the Prince Rupert waterfront, as two cruise vessels make a port call on the city, marking the busiest day of the 2014 cruise season for Prince Rupert.

And while the vessels making the stopover in the city aren't the largest that we have seen over the years, the arrival of the Silver Shadow and the Caledonian Sky  will offer up a suggestion of what an increased presence in the cruise industry could bring the city once again.

The twin hit of cruise ships should see close to 500 visitors exploring the city and region's attractions, the Caledonian Sky accommodates 114 passengers who will be transported to Prince Rupert from the vessels anchorage in Prince Rupert Harbour, the Caledonian Sky pulls into the harbour at 7:30 AM.

The Silver Shadow receives the Northland Cruise Terminal berth, arriving at 8 AM with a potential 382 guests ready to examine what the North Coast has to offer.

Some may already have some idea as to what they wish to take in, Cruise Prince Rupert has developed a web portal that outlines a fair amount of background on the region and some of the activities and attractions that are available from it.

Prince Rupert will see ten cruise ships in total call on the port this year, with seven vessels still to come following tomorrows port call.  Three of those calls arrive in July, with none scheduled for August and  the remainder in September.

The final cruise call of the year takes place on September 19th when the Silver Shadow makes another visit to the city.

For more items of interest on Cruise related developments see our Archive page.

Port Authority tops off International Seafarers Day with a top up of funding for local Centre

The Prince Rupert Seafarers Centre celebrated the 4th Annual Day of the Seafarer on Wednesday, with a short presentation at the Third Avenue location, highlighted by the announcement of a five thousand dollar donation from the Prince Rupert Port Authority, destined to assist in the delivery of services to mariners from around the world.

The Prince Rupert Centre offers up storefront assistance to visiting crew members from the wide range of vessels that call on Port
Facilities in the city.

You can learn more about Wednesday's announcement and some of the impact that the local service has on visiting seafarers from this item from the Port Authority website.

Those in the community that wish to donate of their time, or services can learn more about the local centre by dropping into their Third Avenue storefront location at 245 3rd Avenue West. They can be reached at 250-624-6724.

More on what International Seafarer's Day is all about can be found from the YouTube video below:

As part of the commemoration of International Seafarer's Day supporters of the program world wide were asked to submit a photo featuring the sentence "Seafarer's brought me ..."

Courtesy of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, the Prince Rupert contribution to the theme can be found above, for a look at the world wide project check out the facebook page and twitter feed that was dedicated to International Seafarer's Day.

Councillor Ashley to seek rezoning of industrial land within Prince Rupert, with an eye towards a ban on oil refinery development in the city

While the talk of oil refineries on the North Coast is still very much a far off idea, proponents may soon learn that any idea of placing one on industrial land within the City of Prince Rupert boundaries just won't be on.

On Monday evening, Councillor Anna Ashley advised Council that she plans to serve a motion of notice at the next Council session.

A discussion point that would seek to have all industrial land within the city's boundaries rezoned, so as to not allow for development of an oil refinery within the city boundaries.

The prospect of such activity in the region, would at the moment seem very much the thing of a far off proposal, rather than fact. Indeed, for many observers of the political and economic scene in British Columbia the prospect of such developments ever getting off the ground is doubtful.

However, with her notice of further discussion to come on the topic, Councillor Ashley is apparently not inclined to wait to see how those proposed developments may or may not progress.

Towards her theme on banning oil terminal development within municipal boundaries, the Mayor tasked the Corporate Administrator, City Manager and City Planner to all put together a report for Council.

An Information package Designed to provide Council Members some guidance as to what steps would be required to provide for such an industrial banishment on city land.

The two most often mentioned proposals for an oil refinery in the Prince Rupert area have been Eagle Spirit Holdings and Pacific Future Energy Corporation , both of which have provided mainly for press releases on the theme, but little else as far as a development plan.

You can review what information we have assembled on both proposals from the links below:

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings
Pacific Future Energy Corporation

Should either of those two proponents ever find some forward momentum on their proposals, it would appear pretty clear that should Councillor Ashley find support among her council partners, that Prince Rupert won't be putting out a welcome mat for developments of that nature.

However, before Council gets around to banning any form of industrial development option, one might wonder if they should not at least investigate a bit just what is being proposed?

The prospect of an outright ban on any kind of industrial development, particularly one at such an early stage of the proposal process seems baffling.

There are two sides to every particular story and without having sought out further information on what either of the two most public proposals are all about, Council runs the risk of making pronouncements without knowing any actual facts about them.

Beyond the added workload that Council has once again suddenly deposited on staff members, a collective that Council admits are already overworked, there's the apparent theme here that the current Council members will somehow know what's best for the larger community.

Something as declarative as an outright ban of the development of any industry, is an issue that perhaps the entire community should have a say on, not just the six elected councillors and their Mayor.

If anything, this might be an issue best settled by a vote by public referendum. And by public vote, we suggest not by using Council's preferred version of consultation of late, that of the Alternate Approval Process.

For the moment, the idea of issuing a ban on any oil refinery proposal (particularly ones which have not  even been earmarked for Prince Rupert) seems to be an attempt to attach Council to a rather a topical item of the news cycle these days.

It's a rather curious move at this point in time, and one that seems to be thing of a spontaneous whim, without making for much thought as to the optics such a decision might deliver for other investors of different proposals beyond those of oil refineries.

Once again, Council seems determined to introduce topics to their Council deliberations seemingly out of far left field,  a path which doesn't appear to give much thought to the larger message that such actions tend to deliver beyond the city's boundaries.

You can review Councillor Ashley's heads up to Council through the City's Video Archive, her discussion points start at the 1 hour 26 minute mark.

For more items of note from City Council see our Archive page.

Watson Island "Burn Rate" estimated at 50 to 60 thousand per month

The public comment portion regarding the City's 2013 Annual Report of Monday's Council meeting provided for a brief glimpse into some of the financial obligation of the city when it comes to maintenance issues at Watson Island.

The review of recent developments at the industrial site and disclosure of the cost of ongoing maintenance costs came as part of Council's Open Forum section of Monday nights session, which saw  Mr. Larry Golden once again take to the microphone.

This time he asked Council members how much money was currently being spent on maintenance issues at the Watson island industrial site and how the city planned to cover those costs.

As part of the answer to Mr. Golden's question, Mayor Mussallem provided some background on the nature of those costs, highlighting how they had been reduced from their previous totals of 80 to 100 thousand dollars per month.

Those costs apparently reduced after Council had tasked City Manager Robert Long to reduce some of the ongoing burden from the industrial site, mainly through the removal of some of the monitoring concerns from the site.

As for the current "burn rate" on Watson Island maintenance, the Mayor turned the proceedings over to the City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben.

She explained that the current rate of maintenance costs were in the 50 to 60 thousand dollar range and that it was hoped by the City that those costs would be addressed by way of rental income from the site.

While it's quite helpful of Mr. Golden to seek out such information from the city, questions of this nature should actually be the domain of the Council members, who collectively should be more proactive on behalf of the city's residents.

Not only should the city's council members be raising those kinds of questions of staff in public forum as part of their duties on Council, but they should also be seeking out ways to have such details made more accessible to the city's residents, perhaps making better use of the city's website.

Through the trials and tribulations that have been the Watson Island file through the years, few if any details have ever really been delivered in public forum by council members. For many residents developments both past and current remain very much a mystery.

Instead it seems that we have to wait for someone to take advantage of a public question period, in this case, a comment on the Annual report to seek a little clarity on events.

Clearly the flow of information on Watson Island could use a little improvement from Council.

You can review this short review of the Watson island file of Monday night from the City's Video Archive, the discussion starts at the 43 minute mark and continues on for five minutes or so.

For more background on developments at Watson Island see our archive page for the industrial site.

More background on items of note from City council can be found on  our archive page.

Council approve draft resolutions for UBCM travels of the fall

As we outlined on the blog on Monday, Prince Rupert Council has put together a list of seven potential discussion points for their travels to Whistler at this years UBCM conference. Among those issues of concern to Council were items on port taxation, tax caps and other items related to industrial development on the North Coast.

Council provided for some tweaking of the wording on a few of their suggestions, but for the most part approved the list of draft resolutions as part of their Monday evening session.

After a short review from the City's Corporate Administrator, Council voted on each individual resolution and added them to their wish list of topics to be forwarded to the UBCM convention planners.

Later in the Council session, they also added on other item, one not  previously highlighted in the Council agenda for Monday.

With Council deciding to add concerns over Social Housing to the list of items that could be considered by UBCM members

From the City Council Video Archive you can review the full discussion on those resolutions they will submit to UBCM, the discussion starts at the 1 hour 16 minute portion and continues on until the 1 hour thirty eight minute mark.

Draft resolutions are only suggestions for discussion however and whether any of the eight prospective Prince Rupert resolutions make it to the final Agenda for the fall gathering will be determined later this summer by UBCM conference organizers.

For more items on Prince Rupert City Council discussion points see our archive page.

Woodside LNG looking at two options for Grassy Point LNG development

Monday night was presentation night for the Australian based energy company Woodside, as John Litchfield, the Manager of Indigenous Affairs for the company outlined at what stage their proposed LNG development for Grassy Point is at and what kind of timeline the company was looking to follow in their early stages of review.

He opened his review of the company by providing some background on the work of Woodside in Australia where the company has been operating for over 60 years and operating LNG facilities across the country for over 25 years.

During the course of his twenty minute presentation, Mr. Litchfield provided a glimpse of the two options that the Australian company is considering for their parcel of land at Grassy Point that they are examining on land north of Prince Rupert near Lax Kw'alaams.

He outlined the nature of the agreement between Woodside and the Provincial Government, providing for a three year window to investigate the feasibility of developing any terminal project in the region.

The main focus of their initial review is to determine if it makes financial sense for the company to move forward with the project and that any decision to move on that prospect is a few years in the future.

As for the actual proposals for Terminal development, Mr. Litchfield highlighted the two concepts that Woodside is reviewing for the site, should the project prove feasible.

One a on onshore facility and the other one which would be a floating terminal located offshore of Grassy Point. He offered up a bit of background on the differences between the two options.

The floating proposal would be constructed offshore and floated to the North Coast, requiring less of a construction work force to put it in place. Litchfield estimated that number of workers required on that proposal would only be in the range of 1,000 workers.

The onshore proposal would have a much larger impact on the region, requiring a much larger construction work force, numbering near 6,000 workers.

Both proposals would provide full time operational jobs numbering around 300 over the minimum 25 years of operation for the terminal. He also outlined some of the indirect employment opportunities associated to the operations of the terminal.

The theme of engagement in social investment was also reviewed, with Woodside using their work in Australia with aboriginal people as a template as to a potential path they would follow in British Columbia.

The timeline of the process moving forward was outlined, with the first of the Environmental Assessment engagement to be put in motion as early as July of this year, with a final Project Description to be delivered in the second half of 2014.

In closing he stressed their desire to engage in extensive consultation with First Nations, Governments and the public in the region.

Following the presentation, three Council members offered up some thoughts on the project with questions and suggestions for the Woodside representative.

Councillor Ashley led off the queries, outlining the nature of these developments tend to be those of development outside of the municipal boundaries, but impacting communities that act as service centres, wihtout tax benefits to the communities that host those services.

Mr. Litchfield outlined that it was an issue that Woodside would have to consider further, but that he was aware of the nature of the question of service agreements and that they are familiar with the idea of general land use agreements and how benefits need to be spread more broadly.

Councillor Thorkelson followed up on the theme of development of the project and where Woodside would see workers living during both the construction and permanent operational periods.

Mr. Litchfield returned to the two options they are considering and how they may factor into those numbers. He also highlighted the engagement that Woodside intends to develop with Aboriginal communities in the region.

Councillor Garon offered up some observations on the near shore version of the LNG terminal, calling attention to the nature of our occasional severe weather of the North Coast and the impact that may have on such a structure located off shore.

The Mayor closed the presentation with an inquiry as to whether Woodside would be setting up an office in the community to provide further review of their proposals as they move forward.

It all made for an interesting review,  Woodside however, would appear to be more of a long game proponent.

As Mr. Litchfield outlined for Council, that Woodside anticipates a three year window to examine the feasibility of their proposal, while any announcement of moving forward would appear to be a few years down the line just yet.

You can review more on their proposal from the City Council Video Archive, Mr. Litchfield starts his presentation at the twenty six minute mark, it continues through until the 

For more background on the Woodside proposal, see our Industrial Development archive page for the project.

Those looking for more items of note from City Council can find them posted to our City Council Discussion Points page here.

Lot 444 becomes a talking point at Council

Monday's public comment opportunity as part of the City Council session, provided for an interesting review of how Prince Rupert Council believes they are handling the issue of potential development of a parcel of land along Tuck inlet.

As we outlined on the blog last month, Part of Lot 444, features a section of land that is adjacent to the City's Watershed and was recently proposed as a potential site for an LNG terminal development.

That prospect became the theme of of discussion as part of the Public Comments portion of the Committee of the Whole session of Monday evening. With Larry Golden, a frequent observer of much of Council's work approaching the microphone to make a few inquiries of council over their plans for
the land in question.

The first being a note that so far in the process, there has been no outline of public meetings and other features of public overview of the proposal.

During the course of his questions of council it seemed that at times, some Council and staff members were approaching Mr. Golden's efforts with something a little less than with enthusiasm.

Though through the course of the discussion, he finally seemed to break through to gain some insight into the process ahead for the proposed development of the parcel of land around Tuck Inlet.

One of the more interesting observations on the theme came from City Manager Robert Long, who provided Mr. Golden with a bit of a backgrounder on the nature of the wholly owned Legacy company that the city will operate regarding the land in question.

Suggesting that the nature of the company's operations could be considered similar to the way that CityWest has been created, something that may or many not provide much in the way of reassurance for some in the community.

Particularly when you consider some of the more recent discussion points from Council when it comes to the City owned tele-communication company and the financial return to the city that it has provided for in recent years.

Councillor Thorkelson observed that she wasn't quite sure what Mr. Golden was trying to get at through his line of questioning.

She then however did offer up some comments on the topic of the proposed project and stated that Council is dealing with that, explaining that there would be a zoning meeting put in place to rezone the land to LNG only.

She also outlined up her thoughts on the nature of the wholly owned company and its role in the process ahead, with money gained from any land sale to be allocated towards public use such community infrastructure such as streets, fixing the dam and such.

She reinforced that the whole process would be thorough and public.

The Mayor also highlighted the city's plan to hold public meetings, and introduction of the rezoning process and the public comment that goes with it.

He also reviewed the intention of the city to hire a third party, who will be tasked with a  review of the proposed project and to do an analysis as to how the development may impact the surrounding water, surrounding land and the air shed

Councillor Ashley outlined her talking points on the theme, advising that while dates have not been set up as of yet, all the stages of the process ahead would be made public and council would be seeking as much public engagement as possible.

Councillor Cunningham provided his take on Mr. Golden's points of concern, a outlining that Council wants this to be totally transparent to the community.

Highlighting how the city owns the land and that the community will have a big say with what the City does with it, adding that it will not be like any other land on the waterfront.

Councillors Garon, Kinney and Carlick-Pearson offered up no thoughts or comments on the nature of Mr. Golden's questions, or on the process ahead for the question of Lot 444 development.

As a whole Council seems to be reacting with a bit of consternation as to why some residents may be more concerned about the process than Council members appear to be.

For the most part there is some basis for such concern, beginning with how the land became available for development.

As we remember, Lot 444 came to be placed within the municipal boundary after Council sought  approval to expand the boundary, outlined at the time as a way to bring the watershed to be within the civic boundary.

At that time and during the process in place to seek comment from the public, no mention of developing the land into an LNG terminal location was declared.

Then there's the nature of that process Council used to secure that approval, using the Alternate Approval Process to seek the comment from the public.

That consultation process is one that both Councillors Ashley and Thorkelson had expressed concerns over in the past. So to use that method to expand the municipal boundary and then to also turn around and announce that the land will be offered out for development certainly raised a few eyes in the community.

Perhaps much of the concern over the city's plans for the Tuck Inlet land parcel stems from the lack of information that the City and Council delivers on issues of this type.

They have been slow to provide any public notices on their plan ahead when it comes to Lot 444 and have not made much of an effort to provide background information on the proposal on the city website. A portal that should be used to much more effect by Council, so as to avoid some of these controversies.

Beyond that, the frequent use of special closed sessions by this Council, (12 so far in 2014) doesn't provide the community with the impression that much information is to be expected from Council in their twice a month public sessions.

And if one goes through the archives of past Council sessions, there's really little in the way of discussion between councillors and staff on issues such as this one that take place in those public sessions.

The fact that a resident had to raise questions in one of the few public opportunities available to discuss issues with Council, should be an indication that the City and Council needs to be more engaged with the community on such issues.

Through their talking points at Monday's public session, Council members seem to be floating the always popular theme of transparency, a very much over used word by politicians.

Mr. Golden's comments weren't particularly critical, more to the point he was simply seeking some basic information on a topic of which little information has been provided.

Considering the tone and content of their commentary and follow up remarks to Mr. Golden's very basic questions, the community no doubt will be looking for Council and the City to provide prompt notification, frequent updates and much more in the way of information on any proposed developments that involve Lot 444.

You can review the full discussion from the Committee of the Whole session through the City's Video Archive page, the conversation starts at 14:30 and continues on until 23:30 .

For further items of note from Prince Rupert City Council see our archive page.

City Council Timeline, Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday  provided for a fairly lengthy council session to bring the public sessions of June to an end.

Council opened up Monday's proceedings with the usual administrative duties, followed by a Committee of the Whole session, providing for a presentation from an immigrant services group at Hecate Strait Development and an opportunity for public comment on items of note about City Operations.

The main focus of that discussion was the nature of the City's plans for Lot 444 across from Seal Cove along Tuck Inlet.

From there Council returned to its Regular Agenda, which on Monday featured a presentation from Australia's Woodside Energy, who outlined their plans for development of an LNG terminal at Grassy Point.

Following that presentation, Council received a number of reports on bylaw and zoning issues, put together a list of resolutions for the fall UBCM session in Whistler and again opened the floor for comments from the public, this time on the topic of their 2013 Annual Report.

Council Members provided some topics of their own on the night, among them a notice from Councillor Ashley that she would like to seek out a zoning change to ban oil refinery development within municipal boundaries. Parking issues and Social Housing concerns were among some of the other items of interest to City Council on the evening.

Prior to the Monday night public session, Council continued on with what is a rather common theme of the last year, 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 June 23, 2014

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

Video Archive for June 23, 2014 

(0:00--5:00 ) The evening session starts off with Committee of the Whole session and the adoption of the Committee of the Whole Agenda.

(5:00 -- 14:30 ) A presentation from the Prince Rupert Resource Centre for Immigrants followed, with Glenn Groulx from the the organization outlining the scope of the program's work in the community. The program which is run through Hecate Strait Development provides a number of services and engagement opportunities for new comers to Canada.

Councillor Kinney inquired as to the number of people that have made use of the Centre's services so far.

Councillor Thorkelson asked for a bit of background on the work that the Centre provides for workers that are new to the country and what kind of guidance they provide to them on working conditions and their rights on the themes of that note.

( 14:30 -- 23:30 ) Following the presentation, Council asked for Comments from the Public Gallery regarding any items of interest they might have on City Operations.

Larry Golden, a frequent observer of much of Council's work asked questions of Council on the plans for Lot 444, seeking more information on public input regarding the plans for land on the edge of the city's watershed.

Mr. Long provided a review of the City's plans regarding creation of a wholly owned subsidiary company of the city and its purpose regarding the land in question.

Councillor Thorkelson followed up on the line of Mr. Golden's question, providing her observations on when and how the public is going to be allowed to talk about the proposed project for Lot 444. She outlined some of the steps that the city will have to take to move the project forward, as well as what kind of uses that the city may put any money received by the city towards.

Mr. Golden then followed up Councillor Thorkelson's points with a question on whether the land will be subdivided, the Mayor observed that it was a little early to decide that, but again referenced the need for public hearings regarding any plans for that region.

Councillor Ashley followed up with a reminder that a schedule will be made public as to the steps required to move the process forward.

Councillor Cunningham stressed that this process will be a transparent process.

( 23:30 - 25:00 )  Review of the Agenda for the Regular Council session and adoption of minutes from previous meetings.

Presentations to Council

25:00 -- 43:00 )  Mr. John Litchfield from Woodside Energy with a presentation and some background on the proposed LNG terminal for Grassy Point.

Mr. Litchfield outlined some background of the sixty year old Australian energy company and their work in the LNG industry over the last twenty five years.  He provided an overview of their work in Australia.

He offered up a review of the nature of their Grassy Point proposal so far, with Woodside currently examining the various factors involved in moving forward with any plans towards developing an LNG facility at Grassy Point.

He outlined that it will be a three year process to review the feasibility of the project dynamics, stating that they were a long way from making a final decision just yet.

He went over a conceptual Project description for council, which provided the two concepts that Woodside is considering for the Grassy Point site, one which would be an onshore facility and the other floating near shore propose, each featuring four trains for LNG development.

He outlined the project benefits of the two proposals, with the offshore project providing for 1,000 construction jobs, the onshore one significantly more at 6,000 jobs.  Full time Terminal jobs would number around 300 over a minimum twenty five years of operation, with indirect spin off jobs from the development.

Mr. Litchfield also highlighted the social investment they have in place for Aboriginal people in Australia, which would appear to be the model they would use if the Grassy Point project were to move forward.

The timeline to begin the Environmental Assessment process is expected to start in early July, with a filing of the Project Description expected in the second half of 2014, which would initiate the environmental process.

Woodside anticipates a wide range of consultation with First Nations, governments and the public in the region regarding their project.

From there Mr. Litchfield took questions from Council.

Councillor Ashley led off the question period for the night, making note that many of these projects are taking place outside of the community, while the city will be  the service centre for much of the developments. She asked what process Woodside has in place in other areas where they develop LNG projects.

Councillor Thorkelson, followed up that theme with a question as to where Woodside sees people living should their project move forward and how he sees the permanent work force operating.

Councillor Garon inquired as to the nature of the near shore facility and how common that proposal is, she was advised that at the moment the near shore option is newer technology.

Those were the only three questions from Council for Mr. Litchfield, the Mayor thanked him for his presentation and asked as to a timeline for setting up an office in the community to access further information on the project.

( 43:00-- 47:30 ) Opportunity for Public Comment on the City's 2013 Annual Report -- Larry Golden took advantage of the opportunity for comment,  seeking more information about issues surrounding Watson Island and how the city is planning to address some of the financial issues at the site.

The Mayor offered up further background on the financial aspect of the City's costs at Watson Island, highlighting how it at one time was at 80 to 100 thousand dollars a month, but that Mr. Long had been tasked to reduce some of that burden.

The Mayor offered up the observation that the "burn rate" on Watson Island had been significantly reduced in recent months, with the removal of some of the monitoring concerns from the site, which are now no longer the concern of the city.

The City's Financial Officer, Corinne Bomben outlined that the monthly maintenance at the moment is some 50 to 60 thousand dollars a month, the plan would be to address the maintenance costs by way of rental income from the site.

That was the only question regarding the 2013 Financial Report.

 Reports and Recommendations

( 47:30 -- 48:30  ) Report from the Engineering Coordinator  -- Encroachment Agreement for a property on First Avenue East -- Mr. Richard Pucci, the City's Engineering coordinator provided a short overview of what the agreement was about and whether there were any issues for consideration.

The motion to approve was adopted

( 48:30 -- 53:00Report from the City's Engineering Coordinator   -- Mr. Pucci provided some background on the stratification proposal for the Inn on the Harbour on First Avenue West.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up some observations and inquired as to the nature of the request at this time and the lengthy timeline of the process.

The motion to approve the proposal was adopted.

( 50:00 -- 53:30 ) Report from the City's Financial Officer on the 2013 Annual Report -- The motion to approve the Annual report was adopted.

( 53:30 -- 55:30 ) Report from the City Administrator regarding an appointment to the Municipal Insurance Association  -- Mr. Mandryk outlined the background on his report.

Councillor Ashley offered some thoughts on the process, with Councillor Carlick-Pearson offering her name as the second alternate as per the requirement.

The motion was adopted.

Bylaws and Development Permits

55:30 -- 58:00 ) An application for a Development Variance Permit for a property on Eighth Avenue East -- After some discussion to clarify what Council was taking under consideration, Council moved to adopt the motion to grant the Permit.

( 58:00 -- 1:01:30  ) Rezoning and Development Permit Application for a property on Ambrose Avenue -- Before council considered the motion, Councillor Cunningham excused himself from the conversation.

Mr. Krekic then provided some background on what the Application was about and what Council needed to know about its particulars.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson offered up some observations as to the nature of the project and made comment as something that Council should be in favour of.

The motion was adopted.

( 1:01:30-- 1:16:00 )  Zoning Bylaw Adjustments to adjust the downtown area boundary -- As Councillor Thorkelson is a manager of one of the properties involved in the review, she excused herself from further discussion on the topic.

Mr. Krekic provided some background on why the Bylaw adjustment was required and the nature of the changes that would come from it. Bringing in some properties that had been inadvertently left out of the Downtown Development Permit area.

Councillor Cunningham inquired as to whether there would be charges for those living in residences in the affected area. Mr. Krekic advised that those residents would be grandfathered into the bylaw.

Councillor Ashley had questions regarding current businesses in the region and the impact that the change might have on them today and in the future.

Councillor Cunningham asked as to the impact on Fisherman's Hall and whether there would be any change to the parking situation there. Mr. Krekic advised that he would explore that issue further.

Councillor Cunningham highlighted the nature of the service that they provide there and wondered if the change would make for a harder burden for them.

Councillor Garon offered up her observations on the theme, seeking further clarification on the map providing the new boundaries for the area in question.

With that background information provided,  Council then voted to adopt the motion.

Additional Items for Council

(1:16:00-- 1:25:30 ) Union of British Columbia Municipalities 2014 Draft Resolutions -- The Corporate Administrator outlined the nature of Council's recommendations for Resolutions to take to Whistler this fall. (We outlined the list for consideration with  this item from the blog for Monday)

Council then voted on each particular item up for resolution, approving the majority of the list provided.

They did add one further item to the list, highlighting the growing

Reports Questions and Inquiries from Council

( 1:25:30--1:26:30 ) Councillor Kinney advised that he is leaving for holidays in July and Council will require someone to step in and take on the duties of Acting Mayor in his absence. Councillor Garon stepped forward to take up the task as required.

( 1:26:30-- 1:28:30 )  Councillor Ashley outlined some thoughts on some of the discussion in recent months on the nature of the Enbrdige announcement of last week and the ongoing talk regarding the potential of an oil refinery on the North Coast. She served notice to Council of her intention at the next Council session to to provide a Notice of Mention to put in place a change in zoning that would not permit any land in the City of Prince Rupert to be used for oil refinery development.

The Mayor asked city staff to put together background information on how Council would approach such a motion when it is presented to Council.

1:28:30--1:30:00 ) Councillor Cunningham offered up some observations regarding a stretch on 2nd Avenue West across from the Ocean Centre, advising that he had received a number of complaints from residents on the need for a loading and unloading zone for patients of the medical and dental clinics on that block. The Mayor tasked council to investigate the issue further.  Councillor Garon advised that there are a number of zones within that block just, not directly in front of those clinics.

( 1:30:00--1:30:30 ) Councillor Carlick-Pearson also had her own parking issues to pass along, recommending that the Bylaw enforcement officer be more vigilant in enforcing parking issues related to handicapped parking, suggesting that too many people are taking advantage of those spots who have no right to  park there.

( 1:30:30-- 1:33:00 ) Councillor Thorkelson offered up some observations on the topic of potential shipments of dangerous goods through the community. Asking for staff to investigate further as to what kind of information the Port needs to provide to the community when those goods transit the city. The Mayor advised that Mr. Long would investigate the issue further.

( 1:33:00-- 1:44:30) For her second point, Councillor Thorkelson returned to recent theme on housing in the community. Focusing on her thoughts on the need for Supportive, Low Cost and social housing for the community. She would like to see a report provided for Council on the prospect of putting together a Housing Committee for the community.

She offered up an outline of some of the procedures in place in Vancouver and their relation to the Vancouver Coastal Health Housing framework, suggesting that could be a path that Prince Rupert could use to tackle the challenge of housing needs. She would like Council to discuss the issue further in future sessions, owing to the growing concern over housing availability.  The Mayor made mention of a current study being compiled by Mr. Krekic the city planner into land use in the city, suggesting that Council wait until that report is finished and then perhaps adding onto his findings with their concerns.

Councillor Garon echoed that thought, suggesting that council wait for his presentation.

Councillor Ashley also provided some thoughts on the topic, suggesting Council members put together a list of who in the community they would like to see involved in those discussions.

Councillor Cunningham recommended that BC Housing be invited back to Council to hear of their concerns on the issue. He also wondered aloud as whether the P1 and P2 property zoned for public use could be handed over to a non profit housing group, the Mayor suggested that might be something for council to consider.

Councillor Thorkelson also outlined some points from the Community to Community forum and introduced that topic for further conversation as to how to proceed with the findings of that forum.

She then expanded on the what supportive housing is and what she believes is the need for it to be put provided in the city. She stressed her desire to have the Community to Community letter forwarded to appropriate government departments as well as to be considered at the UBCM sessions in the fall.  The Mayor outlined what steps Council could take to move forward her initiative.

Councillors Garon and Ashley offered up further background on the topic.

Council voted to adopt that motion to follow the steps as outlined by the Mayor.

( 1:44:30--1:52:30 The Mayor's Report

The Mayor outlined his and Councillor Kinney's participation with the Seniors Seafest Tea and 75/50 Club presentations.

He also outlined his participation in the Seafest parade and activities.

He outlined his and members of Council attendance to a Futures Visioning workshop. He provided a brief overview of the activities of the session.

The Mayor recounted his attendance, along with Councillor Gina Garon at the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce meeting, where it was announced that Hawkair would be offering an early morning flight out of Prince Rupert.

He attended an Emergency Management of British Columbia consultation, outlining some of the findings of the Emergency Earthquake and Tsunami Preparation program. A final report is expected to be delivered by the end of 2014.  He outlined how it was stressed that emergency response supplies should be located within the North Coast Region in case of an emergency event.

He met with a group from a company called KBR along with consultants from McElhanney  regarding a potential LNG export terminal on Lelu Island.

He attended the Graduation ceremonies of the Pacific Coast School and provided greetings on behalf of the City.

He attended the Community to Community Forum held in Port Edward

He and Councillor Cunningham were in attendance at the Annual General meeting of the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

He provided a greeting on behalf of the City of Prince Rupert City Council at the Opening of the Pacific Northwest LNG office in Port Edward.

He, Councillor Carlick-Pearson and Councillor Thorkelson were in attendance and provided a greeting on behalf of the City, at National Aboriginal Day Celebrations in the city.

The Mayor also attended the 125th celebrations of the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site.

He provided a short update on the upcoming visit of two cruise ships to the city later in the week.

He also outlined the nature of a Community Day sponsored by Ridley Terminals at the Civic Centre, that will take place on July 5th.  As a follow up to his notes on the Community Day, Councillor Ashley put forward a motion to have the City write a letter of thanks to the company.

That motion was adopted.

And with that final bit of business the Monday session of Council to an end.

You can access the City Council Review page for June 23rd 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 June 23, 2014 

Minutes of Committee of the Whole Session June 23, 2014

Port Highlights both physical and financial growth in Annual Report

Last week, the Prince Rupert Port Authority outlined the year that was for Port related developments, hosting a Public Meeting and releasing details of their 2013 Annual report.

Key among the review from Port of Prince Rupert President and CEO Don Krusel was the connection that Prince Rupert is providing not only in British Columbia, but across the continent and towards Asia.

The focus of the last weeks Annual meeting as a look at the progress of the Port in the last twelve months. From its financial momentum through the volume of existing products such as coal, lumber and containers that pass through the Port, to the introduction of the Westview Terminal production to the Port's exports listings.

From those efforts the total port volume of Cargo for 2013 was recorded at 23 million tonnes, with the Prince Rupert Port Authority reporting an annual profit of over 16 million dollars.

As well as those ongoing ventures for the Port, the future is still very much on their mind.

As they outlined the progress of such projects as the Rail and Utility corridor and planned expansion of the Fairview Terminal, providing some background into the impact such developments continue to have on the community.

The Annual report provides for projections of increased capacity should future projects such as an off dock Container Yard and Logistics Park and the proposed LNG Terminal developments reach the completion phase of their planning.

All of those items are tied into the Port's Gateway 2020 vision plan.

Previously mentioned in the media last week, were plans of the Port Authority to create a bulk break port facility near Prince Rupert Grain on Ridley Island, break bulk is what the Fairview port was originally designed for, prior to its conversion for the import and export of container shipments.

The return of a break bulk option highlights the growing nature of industrial development of Northern British Columbia, making the Port of Prince Rupert a logistical receiving point for many of the major projects proposed for the Northern half of the province.

To gain a good understanding of what break bulk is and what may be ahead for the Port of Prince Rupert, this 2013 item from Canadian Shipping provides some helpful background into the service it could provide.

Of interest is the mention on page 11 of the Canadian Shipping item, which focuses on the potential for growth in break bulk options for Prince Rupert.

The announcement last week of the Ridley project, would seem to address some of that interest in re-establishing the break bulk options for the port for the first time since 2007.

One final note from the Annual report will be of interest to those that continue to wait for an announcement on the theme of the Canpotex terminal.

That much discussed, but yet to be delivered proposal is still on the Port Authority radar, with a mention in the Annual Report as still under consideration, with an estimated completion date still listed as sometime in 2017.

Though, a glance over towards Saskatchewan and the Canpotex website, doesn't suggest that any decision is imminent. Still the fact that it's included in the published Port report should help keep that particular industrial dream for Prince Rupert alive for a while yet.

Beyond the facts and figures of Transportation and Logistics, the Annual report also highlighted the Port's contributions to the community. Offering up a listing of some of the Port's involvement through its Community Investment Fund.

That program has delivered over 1.5 million dollars in capital funds for local projects over the last four years.

You can review the full report from this link from the Port Authority website.

For more items on Port related developments see our Archive page for recent and past items of interest.