Wednesday, October 8, 2014

City Council Timeline, Monday, October 7, 2014

Monday evening marked the first gathering of Council since the annual UBCM convention, an event which made for a topic of review in the latter stages of the evenings session.

Before we learned more of their efforts in Whistler however, Council would address a number of other  items from the Agenda of the evening.

Touching on issues of Social Housing in the community, as well as concerns over the city's aging infrastructure, with a particular focus on the situation in the Westview area of the city in recent days.

Council also discussed Community Enhancement Grants, amendments to the Exemption Bylaw and Five Year Financial Plan, while the City Manager provided updates on the status of the Pool closure and offered up comments on the By Law enforcement situation in the city at the moment.

The Mayor brought the session to an end with a review of a number of items as part of his Mayor's report, including a review of the work in Whistler, of those Council members that attended the UBCM convention.

Prior to the Monday night public session, Council once again hosted another in their growing list of  closed sessions with the latest entry taking place 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 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 October 6, 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 October 6, 2014

( 0:00--4:30 ) The Mayor called the meeting to order and commenced with the adoption of the Agenda and past minutes.

Reports and Recommendations

( 4:30- 18:44 ) A Report from the Executive Assistant and the Chief Financial Officer on the topic of Community Enhancement Grants  -- The Mayor observed that as it was the end of this Council's term of office that rather than adopt 65 percent as recommended by the report, that Council adopt a level of 35 percent, leaving it to the council of 2015 to decide further levels of funding for the applicants.

Councillors Thorkelson  and Ashley outlined their concerns over the proposal as outlined by the Mayor.  While Councillor Garon made mention of the "Big Six" grant recipients and how they are always handled separately and may require  a larger share beyond that 35 percent recommendation, owing to the larger scope of their requests.

The Mayor then turned to Ms. Bomben to outline the main points of the report on the Grant process.

Following the overview, Councillor Thorkelson returned to her concerns over the prospect of binding the next Council to funding levels, suggesting that the current Council leave the issue to the new Council to attend to.

Towards that theme, Councillor Thorkelson made a motion to table the issue.

However, Council members still had thoughts to deliver on the topic, so not wanting to cut off discussion of the topic, Councillor Thorkelson then withdrew her motion to table the issue.

From there, Council engaged in a wide ranging review of the topic of the Grant process, with Councillor Ashley expressing concern that a new Council may struggle to make a decision on the issue with little experience on the topic.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson offered up her agreement with Councillor Ashley on the prospect of a new council struggling with the issue and to be able to make a proper decision on grants.  She would prefer to see the current council make some kind of a decision before the new council is elected.

Councillor Cunningham observed that scheduling meetings with the recipients before any grants are approved would be his preference, accepting the prospect of a 35 percent grant approval prior to those meetings, with the follow up sessions in late 2014 to be held to review the levels further.

Council Garon agreed with much of what Mr. Cunningham had observed, though she again called attention to the priority needs of the Big Six applicants. She wasn't sure at what level their first grant should be pegged at, but did believe that they should be given attention owing to their budget requirements.

The Mayor then introduced a motion that the Big Six (Performing Arts Centre, Golf Course, etc) be invited to meet with council in December and that staff provide to the new Council in December what would be an acceptable amount to advance to those organizations, with follow up levels of funding to be determined in the New Year.

The motion was adopted.

Correspondences for Action

( 18:44 --20:30) A Proclamation Request of Council from the Recycling Council of British Columbia -- Council was asked to declare October 20-26 as National Waste Reduction Week in the City of Prince Rupert. Councillor Ashley took the opportunity to remind Council and those viewing at home that the 24/7 Recycling station at the Kaien Road Recycling centre was now open.  The Mayor also called attention to that opening and observed that the facility was already being used a fair amount by residents.

The motion was adopted.

( 20:30-- 24:30 A Proclamation Request of Council from the Kaien Anti Poverty Society -- Council was asked to declare October 17th as International Day for Eradication of poverty in the City of Prince Rupert. Councillor Thorkelson took the opportunity of the proclamation request to offer up some observations from her attendance at the UNIFOR convention and the move by the union to seek out a minimum wage increase to 15 dollars from the current level of ten.

She reviewed some of the struggles that those working at ten dollars an hour are having at the low wage. She also touched on some of the issues that the Unemployed Action Centre is handling of late, with a particular focus on housing concerns in the community.

Councillor Ashley also observed that one of the city's contributions to the recent UBCM convention was a resolution to create a Poverty Reduction Strategy which was adopted by the UBCM.

Councillor Thorkelson wrapped up the conversation by outlining the process that the City of Seattle has adopted by creating their own minimum wage in that community suggesting that it would be an interesting topic for the next Prince Rupert Council to follow.

The motion was adopted.

( 24:30--32:00 A Letter from the Reverend Jason Haggstrom of the PRAMA on Social Housing -- The Mayor reviewed the theme of Mr. Haggstrom's letter which addressed concerns of the Prince Rupert Ministerial Association on the theme of Social Housing issues, requesting a meeting with the Mayor on the topic. The Mayor outlined how he would not be able to attend that group's next meeting, but would make contact with them to listen to their concerns.

Councillor Ashley offered her observations on the topic, reviewing the recent UBCM convention and her disappointment at the lack of interest from provincial officials regarding the city's concerns over Social housing issues.

Councillor Carlick-Pearson also reminded Council members that there are local groups such as the Anti Poverty Society and the Salvation Army that are working to lend assistance on those concerns.

Councillor Cunningham also touched on the concerns that Councillor Ashley expressed about the apathy from the provincial government on the topic and how their approach to the topic was sickening to him.

Councillor Thorkelson also offered up her thoughts, suggesting that city staff make a note that they want to engage in the issue of Housing, and if the city sets up a City Housing Commission or committee that Reverend Haggstrom be urged to put his name forward for such a post.

Councillor Kinney also had comments to add on the theme, with his focus not he need for more seniors housing.

Councillor Garon reminded Council that they did have the topic of housing up for discussion later as part of a review of the prospects for the creation of a Housing Commission or Committee and if they put together some kind of a plan towards that issue, then they may get more support at the provincial level.

Bylaws and Development Permits

( 32:00-- 33:00 ) A memorandum from the City Manager regarding an application for a Development variance permit for a property on Atlin Avenue --  The Mayor outlined the recommendation that the process move to public notification to determine how the neighbours feel about the proposal.

Councillor Ashley offered up some observations on the nature of the application and how the city was considering it, a view which was shared by Councillor Garon.

Council adopted the recommendation

( 33:00--55:00 ) A Report from the City Planner on the Housing Community Engagement -- Mr. Long provided the details on the report provided by the City Planner (see the copy here) which offered up a number of recommendations, a key component being the recommendation of the creation of a Housing Commission, with definitive scope to deal with the issues of housing in the community, directed to approach the issue with a specific task and dedicated period of time.

Mr. Long observed that the Housing engagement was chosen as the first segment of the Major Projects review as housing most likely will be impacted the most should major economic growth be seen in the city in the immediate future.

Councillor Ashley praised the nature of the report and asked if there was still funding available through the Northwest Readiness Fund to continue with the work.  Mr. Long stated that there still were resources available,  but that the city continues to press for more resources to continue with the work.

He observed that some community stake holders such as Pacific NorthWest LNG contributed to the funding of the report.

Councillor Ashley then turned her attention towards the city's infrastructure and what efforts are underway to try and approach that issue. Mr. Long noted the aging nature of the city's infrastructure, as the recent boil water order highlighted, he stated that infrastructure issues  will be among those items of the next focus of their review.

Councillor Thorkelson's concerns on the report involved those of land use policies and regulations.  She outlines some oversights she believes need to be included, among them a parks strategy that should be in place.

She also called attention to a lack of a Green Building Code for the city, something that she believes is required for the community with potential growth on the horizon.

Councillor Cunningham's observations started out with a question on the protection of trails such as the Butze Rapids trail and whether the other individual trail projects underway have any level of protection.

The Mayor recounted some of the past history of the trails in the community,

Councillor Cunningham stressed the need to protect the trails should development come along.

Councillor Garon, recounted her conversations with those that are involved in the trail making project in the community and how they are approaching the issue. She recommended that they be invited to Council to provide a presentation on their work and what their plans may be.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his support for their work and urged Council to make sure that the City can help them in any way that it can.

Councillor Ashley then offered up a few amendments to the motion, to address the concerns of Councillors Cunningham and Thorkelson regarding their thoughts on the trails issue and the sustainable growth policy such as the Green Buidling code concept.

Council then voted to adopt the motion.

The Mayor asked Mr. Long speak to Mr. Krekic, the City Planner  to expand on the theme of the Housing Commission, for the new council when they take office.

Councillor Ashley then thanked Mr. Krekic and staff for their work on the report.

Councillor Thorkelson then raised one more issue on housing, calling attention to an item from the City's information package for the session and a notice of a conference on Non Profit Housing that is scheduled for November 16 and 17 right after the Municipal election.

And while she expressed wonderment at the date selected by the conference organizers,  she recommended that the City send a member of staff not involved in the election to attend the conference inn Vancouver.

She then put forward a motion addressing that thought, with council then voting to adopt it.

55:00--58:00 A Report from the City's Financial Officer regarding an amendment to the Permissive Property Tax Exemption Bylaw- Ms. Bomben then reviewed the details of her report, which explains the deletion of two properties, regarding land and improvements of the United Pentecostal Church and from the North Coast Transition Society, which no longer qualify for the Exemptions.

Councillor Ashley if there were any new properties on the lists and was advised that there were not.

The motion was adopted.

Councillor Ashley then reminded the audience of the time constraints on the Exemption process that the Council was facing, which required action by October 31st.

( 58:00--1:03 ) Report from the City's Financial Officer regarding the 2014 Five Year Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw-- Ms. Bomben reviewed the background on the amendment. The Mayor explained a subtle change he made to the recommendation in front of Council, which provided a slight revision of the wording to the amendment.

Councillor Cunningham had a question on items from the Utility Fund, regarding the Fraser Street area. He wanted confirmation that the project would be addressed in 2015 and called attention to the number of postponements that the project has faced in the past.

The Mayor then asked Ms. Bomben to outline the funding aspects and tax revenue provisions of the Financial plan.

Following her review, council then voted to adopt the motion.

Additional Items

1:03--1:22 ) The Mayor called on Mr. Long to update council and the audience at home on the nature of the Boil Water Advisory on the West side of the city as well as the ongoing nature of the work on the 17th Street project.

Mr. Long advised that the Boil Water Advisory was now lifted, after a vigorous flushing of the lines and he thanked the residents there for their patience.

He outlined how it's a nature of the aging infrastructure concerns and that the Westview situation was a symptom of that condition, with the possibility for future disruptions possible.

For the moment he advised that the best course of action to address the issues is through their heavy flushing procedure.

The Mayor then provided his observations on the 17th Street project, asking as to the paving schedule for that stretch of road on the west side.  Mr. Long advised that with delays through the summer, the city's paving program is behind schedule, owing to difficulties in accessing the availability of the private contractors equipment. He was hopeful for a stretch of cooperative weather to address a number of projects still to be addressed.

Councillor Ashley offered her thoughts on issues of infrastructure and relayed some concerns of the public regarding the Westview situation which included:

Why did the City not know about the low flow issue as McMillan Fish had closed down years ago?

Mr. Long explained how this was the first time that they had recorded the numbers of chloroform that led to the need for the Boil Water advisory.  He offered up that there is a thought that perhaps when they shut down the water lines on 17th Street that may have caused less through flow, which may have contributed to the issue of last week. He then provided more background on the steps that were requited to address the situation.

Councillor Ashley's second question was if total replacement of the water lines isn't feasible at the moment, what can the City do to address the issue? Providing one suggestion from a citizen involving
the prospect of using something called flow stations to increase the flow in the area of concern.

He said that it could be a temporary measure, but reminded council of their work on the 17th Street project and that any increase in the flow at the moment might cause more problems in other sections of the Westview area at the moment.

He suggested that the current course of the flushing program and attention to maintenance is probably the best option for the moment.

Her final question involved a concern as to the timetable for testing of the water in the area.

She was advised that the City and Northern Health work on a day to day basis to review the water situation, but he did not provide any formal schedule of testing taking place at the moment. He recounted the efforts that the city made to notify residents, both through social media and by way of door to door conversations as to nature of the situation and the measures required to address them.

The Mayor then asked for an update on the situation with Swimming Pool and when the facility will reopen to the public.

Mr. Long reviewed the nature of the closure involving the availability of a required exhaust fan, advising that through Northern Health the decision to remain closed is still in place.  With a tentative opening date now set for November 3rd. City workers will continue to address other issues at the facility while it remains closed.

Councillor Cunningham asked as to the process that city crews are working with as they discover small leaks around the city and how they plan to move on those issues.

Mr. Long outlined that in cases of having to make repetitive patches they work towards replacement at that point.

Further Questions from Members of Council

( 1:22:00 -1:31:00 Councillor Garon relayed a number of comments from residents who use the approach to the Galloway Rapids bridge about the accumulation of debris that is being found there, suggesting that the City contact the province to advise of the growing issue there. The Mayor suggested that the City Manager advise in his letter that the city is considering cleaning up the area and then forwarding the bill to the province, which may spur the Provincial government to action sooner.

The motion was adopted

Councillor Kinney reviewed his attendance on behalf of the City at the annual Filipino Night celebrations.

Councillor Carlick Pearson offered up a community concern over a derelict vehicle on Sixth Avenue West and asked if the City would investigate the issue further.

Councillor Thorkelson brought up the topic of the Boat Floats found within the City of Prince Rupert and again stressed her observation that they are the worst of those to be found up or down the coast. Suggesting that this edition of Council, or the one that takes office in November should address the issue once again with the Port Edward Harbour Authority.

Councillor Cunningham followed up on those concerns advising that the City should also send a letter to Small Crafts and Harbours to address the issues that Councillor Thorkelson noted.

Councillor Ashley then asked if Councillor Thorkelson wished for the City to issue a letter of concern over the issue.

The motion was adopted

Councillor Garon then relayed a number of inquiries she has received as to the status of a By-Law officer for the community and asked for an update on the situation, she was advised by Mr. Long that the City continues to work on the By-Law enforcement matter.

( 1:31:00--1:40:00  The Mayor's Report

The Mayor met with MLA's Jennifer Rice and Clair Trevena on the issue of BC Ferries and the impact that service reductions has had on coastal communities.

He, along with Councillors Ashley, Garon and Kinney attended a presentation from the of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers on the topic of Natural Gas Industry in British Columbia.

The Mayor provided a presentation to a delegation of Financial Bond facilitators touring the region,   outlining community activity and various projects as they relate to civic development.

He met with representatives of the Avanti Kitsault Mine who are considering shipping product through the Port of Prince Rupert.

The Mayor was in attendance at the Welcoming Event for the participants in the 2014 Cops for Cancer Ride which wrapped up in the City.

He along with members of the Prince Rupert RCMP detachment welcomed visitors from the Cruise ship MV Silver Shadow , it was the final port call of the 2014 Cruise Season.

The Mayor attended the Graduation ceremonies of the Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs program, which honoured 17 graduates of the program.

Prior to the UBCM gathering in Whistler, the Mayor met with the BC Mayors caucus to discuss a number of issues of interest to municipalities in the province.

The Mayor along with Councillors Ashley and Cunningham attended the 2014 UBCM conference, on behalf of the city's residents, they met with individual provincial government Cabinet ministers, the Premier and officials from BC Hydro, CNR and the Northern Health Authority.

He outlined some of the meetings that they attended as part of their time at the convention and some of the issues that they raised with the government ministers and officials.

The Mayor and Councillor Ashley attended the opening of the Recycling Transfer Station on Kaien Road, he advised that facility is now open on a 24 hour 7 day a week basis to receive household recycling items from the public.

He also attended the Weekly Pancake Breakfast put on by the Prince Rupert Seniors Centre.

As he wrapped up his report, he returned to the hectic nature of the UBCM gathering and how despite the small number of Prince Rupert delegation to this years convention, they managed to meet their schedule commitments.

Councillor Ashley also had some thoughts on the UBCM gathering advising that all of the City's resolutions that they had put forward at the convention passed with the exception of their resolution on Tax Sales which may require a bit more work to move it forward.

With that the Council session came to an end, with the next public session scheduled for October 20th.

You can access the City Council Review page for October 6 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 October 6, 2014 (not available as of yet)

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