Friday, June 13, 2014

City Council Timeline, Monday, June 9, 2014

It was another week of delays for the City to post its video account of Monday's session to the newly renovated City Website.

With Monday's Council session not available on the city's portal until Thursday.

Thus, once again our accounts of the work of the Mayor and Council for this week is a tad delayed, from our usual turn around period.

Council opened up Monday's proceedings with the usual administrative duties, followed by a much anticipated presentation from a representative of Pinnacle Renewable Energy, there to provide an update on recent developments at the west side pellet shipment terminal.

Following that presentation, Council received reports from the City Manager and City's Financial Officer and reviewed requests for letters of support.

The session wrapped up with the City's Councillors addressing the closure of the city's flight service station by Nav Canada and a lengthy review of a change to the status of some land in the Westview Park area.

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 9, 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 June 9, 2014 

(0:00--8:00 ) There is a short delay on the video before the The Mayor opened the Evening Session, providing for the adoption of the Agenda and the reading of past minutes into the record.

Presentations to Council

(8:00--1:19:00 ) Mr. Vaughn Bassett, Vice-President Sales and Logistics from Pinnacle Renewable Energy, with a presentation and some background on the opeartion of the west side terminal in the city. 

Pinnacle Vice President Vaughn Bassett, provided the multi media review of Pinnacle's operations across the province, from the forestry lands that they access their product from,  through to the process of creating the pellets, as well as an overview of operations at the Westview Terminal.

As for the notes on the local terminal, he provided a fairly expansive explanation of the process of receiving and then shipping the pellets out of the Terminal site, highlighting some of the features of the plant designed to reduce the impact of the terminal on the community.

He addressed some of the concerns that have been raised in the community, dealing with the issues of noise, dust, wood smell and Pinnacle's community path.  He stressed that Pinnacle was indeed engaged on those issues and offered further explanation as to how they plan to address them.

Some of their fixes have been put in place already with continuous improvement taking place. They continue to explore other potential solutions.

He outlined how the Commissioning phase will continue for the remainder of the year, with Pinnacle hopeful that all issues will be addressed by that time.

Following the presentation, the session was turned over to the Council members to offer comments and ask questions of Mr. Bassett,

The Mayor reminded their guest about the dust and noise concerns that Council has received since the plant opened.

Councillor Kinney inquired about the nature of the testing equipment that is to be in place at the site.

Councillor Garon's question also involved aspects of the monitoring equipment in place, asking for clarification as to how far that monitoring equipment evaluates the conditions asking if they still used mobile units.

She was advised that the mobile units were in place by the port

Councilor Ashley asked as to the issues on dust mitigation and how the situation today differs from what they were told during the Environmental Assessment process, how they were told that there would be no dust from the terminal operations. Outlining her concern over being told one thing and having something different take place. She outlined her own personal observations as to the dust conditions that currently exist at the terminal and offered some suggestions on how to address them.

She and Mr. Bassett examined many items of note on the loading of pellets into the ships and the process that is required in that loading. Also addressed were issues of aeration and the smell of the pellets that has made for discussion in the area in recent months.

Mr. Bassett outlined that the smell and the dust for that matter are not health issues, but he did accept the notion that they have become a nuisance factor.

Councillor Ashley also addressed the question of the waterfront area and the proposed pathway that has since been abandoned as a workable option at the site.  She asked if Council were able to bring CN to Council chambers to discuss the waterfront, would Pinnacle be willing to attend that session as well.

Mr. Bassett outlined to her the relationship between Pinnacle and CN and offered up some caution on how to approach the railway on the issue.

Councillor Cunningham outlined his concerns over wood dust and the dangers that it poses, he also expressed concerns over the schedule in place to load the ships owing to weather conditions.  He particularly expressed his thoughts on the loading of vessels overnight and the noise issues that the loading process is causing to the neighbourhood.

He also outlined the concerns from neighbours regarding wood dust issues on their decks, homes, cars and property.

The response offered up the prospect of more monitoring points in the adjoining area, so as to  test what the dust is and to learn how they could reduce that impact from the terminal point.

Mr. Bassett reviewed the operating window regarding the loading process that the plant works under, with the timeline of operations from 8 AM to 1 AM, noting that the company had voluntarily stopped the train yard operations earlier in the evening.

He advised that the company wasn't making any plans to limit its loading operations to daytime hours only. Stating that he didn't know where that concept came from.

Councillor Cunningham took issue to that declaration suggesting that they had indicated they would operate only during weekday operating hours. The next item on Councillor Cunningham's list was a desire to see Pinnacle Pellet become more engaged in the community, suggesting that they lend assistance to working on trails in Moresby Park, the Rushbrook Trail and other areas that recreation items need to be developed.

On the topic of the testing process in the neighbourhood, Councillor Cunningham suggested that rather than using an independent third party to handle the testing, that Pinnacle should be making those efforts on their own so as to better address the issues in a quicker fashion and seek out solutions to the findings.

For his last point, Councillor Cunningham had concerns over the venting process, offering up some observations on what he believes could be put in place to improve the process.

The Mayor asked that Mr. Bassett re-attend Council in September to deliver a progress reports of sorts on the issues of concern expressed by Council. Outlining how it's a great amount of inconvenience to community and not something that can go on indefinitely.

Councillor Ashley then returned to her concerns over what Council was told during the EA process in the way of promises and how it has become frustrating to now find out that what they were told at the time is no longer there. She also reinforced the need to have a better indication as to the timeline in place to address the concerns outlined by Council.

Expressing her belief that the people of Prince Rupert have been very patient, but that it is growing thin and how providing an idea as to when the issues will be addressed would be better for all.

Mr. Bassett advised that he would be willing to attend to Council in September to provide an update of the issues of note.

Councillor Thorkelson took to the microphone then to echo the rest of Council's disappointment in Pinnacle, touching on the themes presented by Councillor Ashley regarding promises of no dust and no noise at the time of the proposed development and the reality of what is in place now.

She expressed the sentiment that Pinnacle does need to meet with the Port, having consulted her notes to suggest that the Port had promised a mobile unit to test in various parts of town. Suggesting that if the port does still have that equipment that it be put into use to evaluate the dust and other concerns.

She also directed some of her thoughts to the Vice President asking if he had seen the photos of billowing dust, suggesting that if he hadn't had them forwarded someone at Council would be more than happy to send them to him.

She also made an observation that the Port might not be forwarding those photos to them.

Mr. Bassett advised that he had seen the photos and that they had been forwarded through the process that they had set up for such engagement. He further said that he wasn't happy about those images and that Pinnacle wanted to be good neighbours.

He outlined how they were taking the issue very seriously, that they were sympathetic to the issues, apologetic for them and the message is that they have been and will continue to take strides to get to the bottom of it all.

Councillor Ashley inquired if there was any plan by Pinnacle to meet with the concerned citizens in the future, Mr. Bassett reminded Council of their plan for the Open day in July or August, but did say that it was something that they would try to put together.

Councillor Cunningham suggested that it take place on a Sunday and that they host a BBQ as part of the consultation session.

The Mayor brought the presentation to a close with his thanks for Mr. Bassett's attendance and a note that he was looking forward to seeing him again at the end of September.

 Reports and Recommendations

( 1:19:00-- 1:20:00  ) Report from the City Manager  -- A recommendation to appoint Richard Pucci, the City's Engineering Coordinator  to the Mainland Solid Waste Committee for Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District.

Councillor Garon asked how many people from the city were sitting on that board and was advised that two city staff members sat on the board.

1:20:00-- 1:22:00 Report from the City's Financial Officer   -- Presentation of the Statement of Financial Information for 2013, with assorted schedules on salaries, payments to vendors. Council approved and received the statement.  Councillor Ashley thanked Ms. Bomben for her report and reminded residents that it's another useful tool for obtaining information.
(See our item on the report here)

Councillor Cunningham inquired as to what were considered Council members expenses, he was advised it was such items as expenses from UBCM and other meetings.

The motion was adopted

Correspondences for Action

(1:22:00--1:23:00 ) A request from the Helijet base for Council's support for a flyover and public viewing display during Seafest. Mr. Long outlined the background on the request from Helijet.

The motion was adopted

(1:23:00--1:25:00A Request for a letter of Support for a Dialysis facility for Prince Rupert -- Councillor Cunningham asked that the letter be forwarded to the Northwest Regional Hospital Board as well as having one forwarded to Regional District for their support.

The motion was adopted

(1:25:00--1:46:00 ) Report regarding the Westview Park Property -- Mr. Long provided an overview on the nature of the report and the property in question. Outlining how the parcel of land had been sub-divided  and through the passage of time, the covenant of Chapter 59 that was on other properties was not in place. The neighbours in that area would now like to see covenant put in place on the land in question.

The Mayor  and councillors asked questions of the vacant lot in that location and if they moved forward with this request what options would the City have to consider. Councillor Garon asked for a report from Staff, to provide more information for Council to consider. Councillor Ashley also touched on a note from Mayor Mussallem about the need to discuss the issue with the School District which controls a portion of the land in question.

The Mayor also suggested that the City Manager seek out a legal opinion on the issue. Councillors Cunningham and Thorkelson referenced past work done by Bill Horne on the issue and suggested that he had already delivered the opinion that they need to consider.

Councillor Ashley then outlined some past incidents of school land reverting to the province for other uses, changing her opinion and then throwing her support behind Councillor Thorkelson's thoughts. Councillor Cunningham again reiterated his position that Council should move forward and make the change requested.  Councillor Garon again urged Council to seek a report on the issue.

The Mayor then suggested that the issue be tabled, with a proper report delivered from staff so as to make a proper decision.  The motion to table the issue was defeated, with Councillor Garon and the Mayor in favour, all other council members in attendance were opposed.

Councillor Ashley then put forward the motion to put Chapter 59 in place on the lots in question. She also provided a more expansive answer as to why she had changed her mind on the topic and what Council should consider regarding it.

Councillor Garon once again raised her concerns about doing the process properly.

Councillor Thorkelson suggested that to her it is a very clear issue offering her thoughts on how Council should proceed.

With the discussion at an end, Council voted on the motion with Councillors Ashley, Cunningham and Thorkelson in favour, while Councillors Garon and the Mayor were opposed on a procedural basis.

Additional Items for Council

(1:46:00--2:03:00  ) Nav Canada decision to close the Flight Services Station in the City.

The Mayor outlined the background on the decision and advised that the Airport Authority had first learned of the change in service level about a month ago. He observed that the timing of the decision is questionable, with expectations that air traffic in the community could be expected to increase in the next six months.

He also made comment as how it was another example of yet another reduction in service to a key aspect of requirements of North Coast .

Council then discussed the issue, with Councillor Ashley explaining that she first heard of the closure through an article in the weekly newspaper, outlining why she had requested that it be considered at the Council session.  Highlighting her concerns over safety for the community.

She recommended that the City launch a letter writing campaign to government officials, MPs and the MLA for the region.

The Mayor asked for an overview of the purpose of Flight Services in the region. Following his thumbnail sketch of what services they provide, Council returned to their discussion on the Nav Canada decision.

Councillors Garon and Cunningham both offered their thoughts on the topic, with Councillor Cunningham outlining the nature of the flight movements at the Seal Cove airbase and his understanding of the planned expansion of flight offerings from it for the future.

He also urged the City to embark on a letter writing campaign to as many agencies as possible, to make their concerns known on the issue of the closure of the station.

Councillor Thorkelson joined in on the call to send letters adding a number of potential destinations for the correspondences to be directed, including the Senate which she believes would find the issue of interest as part of their past work regarding lighthouse de-staffing across Canada. She also recounted an interview from the CBC of earlier in the day with former Councillor Ken Cote, a pilot who offered up his thoughts on the closure and the impact that it would have on the community.

Councillor Garon recounted her attendance to the Senate hearings on lighthouses and how former Councillor Cote's comments on aviation were of particular interest to them, she then suggested that any letter also be forwarded to the Senate.

Councillors Cunningham and Ashley added a few more points and potential destinations for the City's letter of concern. With Councillor Garon suggesting that stake holders such as the LNG proponents and the Port also be included in the letter writing campaign.

The Corporate Administrator outlined the scope of the letter to be sent out and the list of potential recipients.

Councillor Thorkelson then suggested a two tiered approach, with one letter to be sent out right away and a second one to seek the support of surrounding communities.

Council adopted the motion to forward the letter of concern.

Reports Questions and Inquiries from Council

(2:03:00--2:04:30 ) Councillor Ashley made note of an item on Legacy Grants from Northern Health and suggested that it be forwarded to the Recreation Commission. The Mayor advised the City Manager to make sure that the Recreation Coordinator was aware of the program.

(2:04:30--2:06:00 ) Councillor Thorkelson provided an overview of the expectations from the 2014 Salmon Season.

( 1:29:00-1:38:00 The Mayor's Report

The Mayor outlined recent conversations with Canadian National Railway and outlined their support for Seafest.

He advised as to his participation in discussion on LNG with Minister Rustad, as well as opportunities for First Nations in the region and the nature of treaty negotiations in the province.

He participated in a North and Central Coast Ferries Advisory meeting and advised council as to some of the findings of that meeting.

The Mayor attended the Graduation ceremony for Charles Hays Secondary School, providing congratulations on behalf of the council and community.

He met with Federal Minister of Natural Resources Rickford to discuss LNG opportunities and the city's concerns regarding a black liquor spill at Watson Island last year involving the Federal Government Ministry, as well as the increasing nature of vessel traffic at the port in the region and the upcoming closure of the city's flight service station.

He relayed that passenger numbers at the Prince Rupert airport are up by five per cent from last January.

He and Councillor Carlick-Pearson ended the opening of the Eco Trust Canada Fisheries Observer program.

The Mayor attended the Spectra Gas Open House regarding their West Coast connector project.

He also attended and provided a welcome to the Rising Above healing conference.

The Mayor met with the Royal Canadian Navy commander for the region who advised that the Navy dive tender will participate in Seafest.

He outlined that the Recreation Department Guide is about to be delivered to homes across the region.

He advised that the Recycling centre is about to commence construction of its 24 hour recylcing station.

And the Mayor advised as to the nature Red Serge march from the RCMP detachment as part of their commemoration of the slain officers in New Brunswick.

Councillor Kinney outlined his attendance at the opening of an electronics shop on behalf of the Mayor, in attendance with him were Councillors Cunningham and Garon.

The Mayor then outlined that a new hearing clinic is about to set up in town.

With that the Monday session of Council to an end.

You can access the City Council Review page for June 9th 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 9, 2014 

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