Friday, October 24, 2014

City hires local oceanographer to conduct LNG study

A late in the evening comment from Councillor Joy Thorkelson at the most recent City Council session has revealed that the City of Prince Rupert has hired on Dr. Barb Faggetter to conduct a study on LNG issues on behalf of the City.

Councillor Thorkelson commented on the hiring as part of the closing moments of the Monday evening session, though she, nor anyone else on Council provided much background as to what Dr. Faggetter's duties may, be or how the city plans to make use of her research.

Dr. Faggetter became prominent in the local LNG discussion through her work regarding the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal proposal, with her research used by such groups as UFAWU and local environmental groups to put forward their concerns over the proposed terminal development.

You can review some of her work on that topic from our item which focused on her appearance at City Council in July.

At that time, there was some discussion at Council sessions as to how they may wish take advantage of her expertise, though it seems no firm commitment or announcement had been delivered on the theme until the most recent Council session.

The surprise announcement from Councillor Thorkelson of Monday, might raise a few eyes considering Dr. Faggetter's work and stance on that Pacific NorthWest project, as well as through further review of her contribution to the discussion on Wednesday night at the CBC's LNG forum.

It would seem that she would be approaching whatever her mission is for the City, with an already developed message in place.

Perhaps of more interest to local residents however, is the fact that the City has hired on a consultant without near as we've been able to find any previous notice in public forum, or discussion in Council as to what the focus of her work should be.

A decision which is something that should be of a concern for local residents, regardless of which side of the LNG discussion that they may find themselves on.

As she moves forward with her work on behalf of the city, surely Dr. Faggetter's hiring requires a bit more information to be delivered by City Council.

Firstly with an explanation as to why the hiring was not announced publicly and through the City's growing list of information options and secondly, whether her hiring was that of a unanimous decision by those on Council.

As well, Council needs to explain to the City's residents, what they hope to learn from her work and how they plan to make use of her report when completed.

While it's commendable to seek out knowledgeable persons and have all the facts available on the topic. For some in the community, the concept of not disclosing the hiring, or making use of someone who appears to  be closely aligned to one side of the ongoing discussion of the topic of LNG, is an oversight that Council should have addressed. 

If nothing else, the failure to disclose the hiring, beyond a mention in the dying moments of one of the final council sessions for this group of Councillors, doesn't work the theme of a Council engaged in communication with its residents very well.

You can review Councillor Thorkelson's commentary on the issue from the City's Video Archive, it is short, found at the 2 hour, six minute mark.

For more items of note on City Council discussions see our Archive page here

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