Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mayor provides review of Council's work at UBCM in Whistler

As part of his Mayor's report at the end of Monday night's City Council session, Mayor Jack Mussallem delivered a review of the items that those attending the UBCM convention addressed on behalf of the city's residents.

A smaller scale delegation was dispatched to the UBCM gathering in Whistler this year, with only Council members Anna Ashley and Barry Cunningham joining the Mayor as the elected segment of our delegation.

Among his highlights of convention week, the Mayor outlined some of the work that the Mayor's caucus tackled prior to the convention, with a string of priorities identified.

Among them: Reviews of the current ad hoc grant process, the Municipal Auditor General, Municipalities aging infrastructure, ambulance service and its delivery, mental health and addictions concerns and how they impact on policing and hospital emergency room services.

As for the workload for the delegation during the week of UBCM the Mayor outlined the nature of a meeting that the City representatives had with Premier Christy Clark, as well as sessions with Provincial government representatives.

The Prince Rupert group also had meetings with officials from BC Hydro, Canadian National Railways and the Northern Health Authority.

Through the week long convention, the Prince Rupert participants attended eleven scheduled meetings, featuring a range of topics such as:

Development of Provincial Government lands on south Kaien Island for port related activities

The process for consideration of more facilities at Acropolis Manor

The Provincial government having a stronger voice with regard to the West coast salmon fishing industry and consideration of ocean ranching opportunities for various salmon species

The mitigation of housing impacts during periods of hyper economic activity, with the Minister advising that the Ministry will provide another 20 assisted housing units in the community as well as one housing support worker

Health care servicing constraints and the need to keep a clear certification process to bring doctors to the Northwest region was discussed, with the Mayor also asking that a third ambulance be stationed in Prince Rupert in the future to attend timely response to emergencies. The Mayor outlined that at the moment, the service is incident prioritized on a case by case basis and patients are wait listed.

In regard to the proposed Tsimshian Access Project, with City requested that Prince Rupert gain more direct  involvement as the project impacts our city which is the main service centre for any economic activity that could impact and the access and egress to the Prince Rupert Airport on Digby Island.

On Advanced Education he reviewed the City's contribution to the discussion on the topic of the Provincial governments involvement in the portability of inter-juridsdictional apprenticeship hours, with the Minister advising the Prince Rupert group that his Ministry will facilitate that request.  The Minister also advised that in our region there will be more training opportunities provided for Liquefied Natural Gas careers.

The Mayor provided details of a session with the Premier on the nature of the City's request for the removal of the Provincial Governments current tax cap on Port Facilities, a request that the Premier declined to consider any further.

The Prince Rupert group also requested consideration of changes to scheduled ferry service on BC Ferries Northern routes, along with  further consideration of the socio and economic impacts as outlined in the City's report  about the service and more recently from a report from the UBCM on the issue.

They also discussed the need for funding consideration for infrastructure and community capacity, with the Provincial government announcing that applications were now available for the Build Canada Fund from the provincial and federal governments.

They discussed the possible subdivision of mitigated lands from Cow Bay to Hays Cove, to re-route Third avenue east which would take load pressure off of the Cow Bay Bridge.

The council delegation spoke to CNR officials on the issue of train engine idling in the Prince Rupert freight yard and asked for some consideration of alternative locations.

They also requested that the Ministry of Environment establish an office in the community, highlighting the large number of provincial lands that are currently under consideration for development.

Also discussed were surplus lands within the City of Prince Rupert held by BC Hydro.

The Mayor's overview of the UBCM can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive starting at the one hour thirty three minute mark and running through to the end of the meeting.

In addition to the Mayor's review of the UBCM experiences, Council members Ashley and Cunningham had provided some observations from their participation at the convention.

Councillor Ashley reviewed that of the City's large list of resolutions brought to the UBCM convention, all but one had been endorsed by the member municipalities of the UBCM, with their resolution on Tax Sale issues returned to them for further work.

However, that enthusiasm at the success on the resolution floor, was tempered earlier in the evening session by accounts of some of the disappointment that council members found from their conversations with Provincial government officials.

With Both Councillor Ashley and Cunningham expressing their frustrations when it came to the lack of interest in their items of concern from those officials.

You can review those conversation points from our City Council Timeline.

For more background on the events of the UBCM meetings of September see our archive page here.

There are further items of interest from Prince Rupert Council available on our Council Discussion archive page.

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