Thursday, February 12, 2015

City Council Timeline for Tuesday, February 10, 2015

If the New Year's resolution for Prince Rupert Council was for more streamlined (and shorter) council sessions for 2015, there will be a little bit more work required then, as Tuesday's council session ran up past the two and a half hour mark.

Part of the night was taken up by a pair of presentations to Council with the Heritage Committee providing a review of some of its work in recent months, as well Council received another presentation from the proponents of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal project at Lelu Island.

Council also received some background from Richard Pucci, the City's Engineering coordinator, who outlined the nature of a number of grant applications the City will be making in the near future.

A request form School District 52 for a letter of support was reviewed by Council, with the School District looking to seek funding from the Prince Rupert Port Authority as a way to re-open Westview School for use as office space.

The City Planner provided an overview of a proposed re-development of the Old Bethel Baptist Church into housing units.

Council also discussed its plans related to the formation of a Housing Committee this month.

And as they have for most of the year so far, Council also had extensive discussions on matters of procedure and how their Council sessions should flow.

Council also received a report on the upcoming Salmon fishing season from Councillor Thorkelson, who reviewed what the year ahead looks like and how it may have an impact on the community.

Prior to the Regular Council session for Tuesday night, Council held a Special Closed Session at 5 PM.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note see the Regular Council Agenda for February 10 here.

Further information from our overview and permanent placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city Website.

In Attendance February 10, 2015

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present  
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh-- Present 
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Present 

Video Archive for February 10, 2015

( 0:00- 2:00 ) The Mayor started off the evening with the listing of agenda items and past minutes to be adopted.

( 2:00 -- 25:00   )  A Presentation from  Rhoda Witherly of the Prince Rupert Heritage Committee -- Ms. Witherly provided some background on the work of the Committee in recent months as well as to inform City Council that the Heritage Committee members were tendering their resignations from further Committee work, stating that their time has run its course and that new members were needed.

She also provided a number of recommendations to Council on behalf of the Committee, offering up some input as to what direction Council may wish to take towards Heritage concerns in the future.

In addition to the overview of their work, Ms. Witherly took time out to thank each of her Committee partners, with a special mention of the hard work put into the committee over the years by Judy Warren.

Following her presentation, Council members offered up their thanks for the work of the Committee over the years, acknowledging the impact that they have had on Heritage issues.  Council will review what their next steps will be regarding the Heritage issue at future Council sessions.

( 25:30 -- 57:00 )  A Presentation from  Ms. Tessa Gill and Ms. Anna Slubowski from Pacific NorthWest LNG -- Ms. Gill outlined some of the recent developments related to the Lelu Island project, reviewing the plans for the pipeline network from the gas fields to the proposed terminal, as well as highlighting a number of changes that have been made to the project after community consultation.

She also reviewed the employment prospects that the terminal would bring to the region with up to 350 full time jobs to be in place upon completion, with the potential of another 300 jobs for contractors related to terminal operations.

Updates on recent negotiations and revenue arrangements with surrounding communities were reviewed, as was the current status of the Environmental process with the Federal Government.

While Pacific NorthWest awaits further word on the environmental portion of the proposal, they have gone back to their contractors to have them sharpen their pencils on costs for the terminal project which will be used as part of the Final Investment Decision to come.

She observed that they are making preparations to select contractors for the project once they receive the Final Investment Decision.

Council members had a number of questions related to environmental oversight, air shed issues, environmental technology to be used at the site and the impact that the kind of growth that is envisioned for the region will have on Prince Rupert as a Service Centre.

Reports and Recommendations

( 57:00 -- 1:07:00   ) Report from the City's Engineering Coordinator  -- A report on Grant Applications from the Gas Fund and Gas Tax Strategic priorities fund -- Mr. Pucci provided his overview on what the various applications would cover when it comes to infrastructure issues in the community, highlighting his list of five projects that the City plans to seek funding for.

Among the projects that the City is seeking funding for, the list includes: the Raw Water supply, Two Bridges - the Sixth Avenue and Second Avenue Bridges, the Asset Management project Phase 1 and the Landfill Development Project.

Councillor Thorkelson asked for some clarification on the amount of money that could be accessed and then suggested that Council make note of the Raw Water supply application as its highest priority.

With that suggestion accepted, Council voted to pass the motion to move forward with the requested Grant Applications, making the Raw Water Supply Application as the one they consider their main focus above the others.

( 1:07:00 -- 1:07:30 ) Report from the City Manager on the Terms of Reference for the Housing Commission  -- The Mayor advised that the item has been replaced, with the topic to be discussed later in the session.

Correspondences for Action

( 1:07:30 -- 1:07:45   ) Request from Skeena Taxi for an amendment to the Vehicle for Hire Bylaw  -- The Mayor advised that Skeena Taxi had withdrawn their request.

( 1:07:45 -- 1:17:00  ) Request for a Letter of Support from School District 52 in regards to the School District's application for the Port Community Investment Fund -- The City's financial Officer provided some background on the request, reviewing the background of the School District's plan to seek out funding from the Port Authority.

Following that overview  Councillor Thorkelson led off the discussion, with a number of questions related to the request and how it may impact on land use in the area.

Both the Mayor and Councillor Cunningham reviewed their understanding of the request and outlined that it is designed to seek funding to reopen the now closed Westview School and use the facility as offices for the School District and provide for public space in the neighbourhood.

Councillor Thorkelson  then expanded further on her thoughts related to the plans that the School District might have for their existing buildings, should they move to the Westview site. More discussion on the theme continued with the Mayor and Councillor Niesh providing more background on the nature of the maintenance requirements of the closed and the potential future of the existing  buildings.

Councillor Thorkelson explained that the issue was more complicated that the City might think at this time and suggested that Council should set up a meeting with the School District to learn more about their intentions  moving forward, as well as to re-establish a connection between the City and The School District.

Council will provide the letter of support, but seek to set up a meeting with the School District

1:17:00--1:44:30 ) Report from the City Planner, regarding a proposed zoning change for a property on India Avenue-- Mr. Krekic outlined some background of a proposed re-development of the old Bethel Baptist Church on India Avenue, with the developer proposing to turn the former church into multi-person use housing.

The nature of the housing would be one bedroom and one room housing in self contained units, possibly in the form of a boarding house structure, with a longer term plan to redevelop it into Seniors housing.

As part of his report, Mr. Krekic did not believe that the project offered up traffic concerns, but did state that it would be handed to the Engineering and Public works department for further analysis.

He noted that Council has passed previous applications for planned densification and that these types of residential developments were considered desirable in the current rental market situation.

Mr. Krekic outlined that it would require the usual range of permits and Civic review.

He also recommended that there should be  a two step approach towards the project before it goes to public hearing. With the proponent to hold an information meeting at his own cost with notice provided to neighbours in the radius of the proposed development.

As well City Staff will conduct their own internal referral into the project.

Council members offered up a range of questions and concerns related to the proposal, Councillor Niesh had questions related to parking for a project that would be home to 18 units.

Councillor Thorkelson had concerns on the nature of the boarding house aspect of the development, asking if the City had any zoning issues between the categories of apartment and boarding house.

While supporting the concept of an apartment development, she suggested caution in relation to any form of a boarding house concept, which could result in such wear and tear that Seniors would not wish to move in following its short term use.

Councillor Cunningham reviewed some of the comments he had received from those in the area, as well as observations that he made while looking at the site.  He also had some commentary related to the eventual use of the building for Seniors, which he says would require more enhancements for that use.

Councillor Niesh returned to the Boarding House concept under consideration, wondering what might happen to the project should the many proposed industrial projects don't materialize.

Mr. Krekic observed it was hard to predict which or how many projects would be moving forward, but suggested those are concerns related to the housing proposal that could be discussed at the Public information meeting.

Councillor Mirau outlined his thoughts on the nature of the zoning issue under consideration, as opposed to what may be ahead in three years time.

After a few more questions related to the proposal Council gave the motion first reading, moving the process forward with the proponent to begin his plans for his information session.

( 1:44:30 -- 2:12:00 ) Review of the City's Housing Committee plans -- The Mayor outlined that after further review of information provided by Councillor Thorkelson, the original Terms of Reference that was to be examined would be put aside, with Councillor Thorkelson to provide an overview of how she would see the Committee structure set up.

She reviewed some of her observations from a recent trip to the Lower Mainland where she examined some of the options that are in place to meet housing needs there. She further outlined how the City should prioritize the housing needs in the community.

She provided her thoughts on the need to get moving on the City's efforts towards housing, recommending that two separate committees be formed to address the situation.

One Committee to review and prioritize the needs in the community regarding housing while the second committee would examine and identify housing in the community.

She outlined the timeline that she had in mind for the two Committees and also suggested that City Staff could put together a report related to Housing issues for Council to study.

The Mayor provided an update on some of the measures that the Council will be engaged in towards the housing theme, with workshops and meetings to take place in the next week.

Council discussed some of the factors involved in setting up those two committee structures, looking to take advantage of the next two weeks before the next Council session to better digest all of her proposals for the two committees.

The Mayor offered up his support for her suggestions and recommended that they could formally adopt the proposal at the February 23rd Council session and have the list of names of potential committee members ready by that time as well.

As for the Committee Structure, the Mayor suggested that Councillor Thorkelson take charge of one committee, while he would be willing to offer up support to that effort.

She chose the first one to prioritize the needs of Housing in the Community, while Councillor Cunningham recommended that councillor Mirau take charge of the second committee.

Councillor Mirau offered up some of his observations on the subject, seeking the extra time to review Councillor Thorkelson's proposal further and to look for specific terms of reference for any committee planning.

Councillor Cunningham relayed some of his thoughts on how to engage the public in a housing forum, suggesting that the City might wish to approach the Prince Rupert Port Authority for Community funding to host such a session.

With a few more minutes of discussion, Council decided to table the proposal for the moment, allowing Council to review the proposal and discuss it further at the February 23rd Council session and then move forward on the initiative from there.

Reports, Questions, or Inquiries from Council

( 2:15: -- 2:31:44 ) Councillor Cunningham once again raised issues related to the unequal nature of parking regulations between the Atlin Parking Lot and that at Rushbrook Lot.  Recounting many of his past issues with the way the City enforces the regulations at both lots.

The conversation at times shifted towards a nature of process at City council and the nature of raising items such as these, with the Mayor preferring that they be placed on the Agenda prior to the meetings. Explaining further his thoughts on the need to stick to a process, as part of the procedural bylaw in place.

He then recommended that Councillor Cunningham place it on the agenda for the next meeting,  a suggestion that Councillor Cunningham took some issues with, outlining how this period of the council session is the only opportunity for the council members to raise issues and concerns.

Councillor Thorkelson also offered up some observations on the Mayor's approach towards how the  Council meetings should move forward. Suggesting that Council may have to review the procedural bylaw concerns, highlighting as Councillor Cunningham did, that this part of the council session is usually considered to be the time for council members to comment and outline concerns and how they don't want to see that opportunity restricted.

She also provided some background to Council on developments in the fishery for the year ahead with a good run anticipated for the North Coast and how it will provide an economic boost to the community this summer.

As well she highlighted some of the issues facing the fishery owing to DFO decisions and also suggested that Council might wish to have DFO appear at council to discuss the socio-economic impacts that the fishery has on the community.

Councillor Mirau also had a few comments to make on the procedural aspects of the Council sessions, suggesting that council may wish to review the procedural bylaw and how they approach the agenda making.

The Mayor had one final comment on the night, taking a moment to address the concerns over procedure, outlining how he wasn't trying to limit any kind of discussion at Council, but was looking to follow the guidelines as they are in place at the moment.

Councillor Randhawa called attention to an issue with the Welcome sign located in the area of BC Ferries on the west side of the city being in a state of dis-repair and requiring attention.

With that, the Mayor brought the Council session to an end.

You can access the City Council Review page for February 10th 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 of the Regular Council Session from February 10, 2015 

Council next meets in Regular session on February 23, 2015

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