Wednesday, February 25, 2015

City Council Timeline, Monday, February 23, 2015

The second and final council meeting of February was on the calendar for this past Monday, with Prince Rupert Council taking care of a number of items in the lead up to Budget time for the City.

An opportunity for the public to ask questions led off Monday night's Council efforts, as City Council hosted the Committee of the Whole session for the month.

In addition to the public comment opportunity, there were a pair of presentations provided to council from members of the public, one from the Success by Six organization in the community, the other a request for a review of zoning bylaws in the 1st Avenue West area of town.

When Council returned to its regular Agenda for the night Council members considered a number of items on the evening, including a request for support for the Fishermen's Hall Society and the creation of Two Housing committees to review the housing situation in the community.

As well Council reviewed a motion to move the March 9th Council session to the Lester Society to allow for public comment on the City's Budget recommendations.

On that theme, Monday evening's Council session provided a glimpse at the Financial blue print for the year ahead as the City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben delivered her first presentation on the Budget Preparations for the year ahead.

Her review was a late addition to the evening's work load the initial indication of it came by way of this Report posted to the City's website prior to the Council session.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note see the Regular Council Agenda for February 23 here.

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

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 23, 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 23, 2015

( 0:00- 3:00 ) The Mayor started off the evening, by suspending the Regular Council session and reviewing the process ahead for the Committee of the Whole meeting .

That segment of the evening featured two presentations and an opportunity for the Public to ask questions of Council.

( 3:00 -- 5:30   )  A Presentation from Kate Toye Regional Coordinator for Success / Six   -- Ms. Toye provided an overview of upcoming initiatives from the organization as well as an invitation for the City to participate in the organizations steering council. She also asked that the City revisit its proclamation that Prince Rupert is a Child Friendly Community, bringing it back for display at a large public event in July. As well, she advised council of an upcoming City's fit for Children Summit in Vernon and offered that information for Council's consideration.

( 5:30 -- 17:00 )  A Presentation from  David Reeve a resident on 1st Avenue West --  He asked Council to consider the option of rezoning the neighbourhood he lives in, so as to allow for development of basement suites and bed and breakfast options in the area. Council members asked a number of questions of Mr. Reeve regarding his presentation, suggesting that he first consider collecting a petition on the request before any further progress would be taken on the request.

(  17:00 -- 32:30 )  Questions from the Public -- A pair of residents took to the microphone during the session, offering a number of statements on a range of topics. The first participant focused his comments on parking concerns. While the second participant commented on housing issues as well as a collection of observations related to personal issues he is seeking assistance on. 

Return to the Regular Council Session for February 23, 2015

( 32:30 -- 34:00 ) Adoption of the Agenda, Late additions and past minutes of previous minutes.

Reports and Recommendations

( 34:00 -- 34:30 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator recommending a change of location for the upcoming Council Meeting of March 9th. -- The Recommendation being to shift the venue to the Lester Centre to allow for public comment on the 2015 Budget Report Presentation.

The motion was adopted

( 34:30 -- 36:00 )  Report from the Economic Development Officer outlining a request for Council support for the Fisherman's Hall -- Mr. Venditelli outlined the nature of the request for a letter of support from the City. The request is designed to support the Fishermen's Hall Society, as they move forward for a grant request with Northern Development for a grant of up to 30,000 dollars for their Raise the Roof proposal.

Councillor Thorkelson excused herself from the discussion related to this topic.

The motion was adopted.

( 36:00 -- 57:00 ) Report from Councillor Joy Thorkelson on the Terms of Reference for the creation of Two Committees on Housing -- Councillor Thorkelson provided a quick review of her proposal, with Council then dividing the committee work load.

Council members discussed some of the make up of the Committees and the expectations from it, then moved forward to create the process to move the initiative forward.

Mayor Brain will be involved in both Committees

With Councillor Thorkelson leading the Prioritization  Committee, assisting her will be Councillors Kinney and Mirau

While Councillor Cunningham will be in charge of the Identification  Committee, assisting him will be Councillor Niesh and Randhawa

Both Committees will have the power to add members as they see fit as the committee process moves ahead.  It's anticipated that they will provide their first review of their work in April.

( 57:00 -- 1:24:00 )  Report from the City's Chief Financial Officer, providing an overview of the 2015 Budget Preparations -- Ms. Corinne Bomben outlined the progress of the Budget plan for the year ahead, providing background on the various elements required towards the delivery of this years Budget.

Among the items of note outlined during the Presentation:

She reviewed some of the financial challenges that the City faces, particularly related to the ability to tax major industrial sources such as Port related industries in the community.

As part of that portion of her presentation, she provided a break down of taxation resources to the city from all sectors of the local community, from residential to commercial to industrial.  Included in that review, was a comprehensive breakdown of the impact to the taxpayer related to the taxation requirements for civic services.

In addition to the challenges, she made mention of the sources of revenue that the City makes use of, as well as the potential of the Legacy Corporation to provide financial benefit to the community should Major projects associated with it move forward.

Ms. Bomben also advised that CityWest has advised that it expects to be able to forward a dividend of $400,000 to the City in 2015, the same amount as they forwarded in 2014.

Among some of the expenses the City faces

The Operations Budget will include $310,000 in Capital Purchases

The Airport Ferry will require a subsidy of $925,000 in 2015

Community Grants will mirror much of the same amounts at those of 2014

Upcoming Salary requirements and benefit rate increases as part of contract provisions will provide an additional cost of $400,000 in 2015.

Increased energy costs of $35,000 will also contribute to the City's expenses.

Staffing succession planning and increase in needs will provide for an increase of $100,000

The Anticipated Budget shortfall for 2015 will be $220,000 

Towards that shortfall the Finance Department is recommending a mill rate increase of 1.9 percent an average making for an increase of 37 dollars per taxpayer for this year.

She also suggested that Council give consideration to development of a Reserve Policy to replenish reserves and replace infrastructure concerns. That part of her presentation provided the benefits to the community that such a fund would provide. The recommended rate to fund any establishment of a  Reserve Fund would be set at a 2 percent mill rate to be put in place perpetually, listed as a separate line item on the tax bill.

Ms. Bomben also advised Council that the City had received a final letter of notice from the RCMP regarding the need for a replacement building for the local detachment. Should the City not move forward on the long delayed proposal of replacement, the RCMP is now in the position to build their own building of their own design and bill the city for the construction.  Council will soon engage with the public on the need for the new building and the proposal to move ahead.

There will be two public consultation periods regarding the overall Budget proposals for 2015 before Council will decide on the path it wishes to take.

The first scheduled for March 9th at the Lester Centre as part of that evening's Regular Council session, the second engagement session will take place at City Hall as part of the Regular Council session for March 23rd.

Council will delay any direction to staff regarding the Budget Proposals until after those public engagement sessions take place.

Her Report to Council can be reviewed here.

Correspondences for Action

( 1:24:00 -- 1:35:00 )  Reports, Questions, or Inquiries from Council

Councillor Niesh outlined a concern he had received regarding access to the Civic Centre and Earl Mah Aquatic Centre during the All Native Tournament, with the City's Transit service not delivering passengers to the Civic Centre owing to traffic concerns.  With the bus letting its passengers off at Spero's Market.  Councillor Niesh recommended that Council approach the organizers of the Committee to address the issue for future years.

Councillor Cunningham had some comments on the state of Fraser Street and the need for some immediate action to provide for a temporary fix before the larger project of repairs takes place.

Councillor Randhawa asked that the City seek out some information regarding initiatives to bring back the Cruise Industry to the community. The Mayor provided some background on the nature of the Ports intentions towards that theme.

The Mayor also advised that he will be travelling to Alaska in the next few weeks to discuss issues related to tourism and the Alaska Marine Terminal project.

Councillor Thorkelson took advantage of that observation to offer up the suggestion that the Mayor remind Alaska officials that the City of Prince Rupert recently voted to send the Airport Ferry to Ketchikan for repairs. As part of her review of that period, she added that she was against that decision, Councillor Niesh observed that the decision was made by the previous Council and that he was in agreement with Councillor Thorkelson in being against that decision of the time.

Councillor Cunningham asked if anyone from the City was sitting on the Cruise Ship committee, Councillor Mirau advised that he was invited to the first planning session as a member of the Nisga'a Society.  Councillor Cunningham suggested that a member of City Council should be invited to sit on the Committee, recommending that it might be of interest to Councillor Randhawa.

The Mayor provided a short review of his recent trip to Victoria, advising of a meeting with Minister Coralee Oakes as he and Mayor MacDonald of Port Edward outlined some of the challenges that the two communities are facing with the prospect of LNG development on the horizon.

He also observed as to the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year's celebrations in the city over the weekend.

The Mayor also provided some background on a recent fundraising event for the Okala foundation that provides medical assistance for an African village. He also outlined that there is a proposal being floated in the community, with a presentation that may be made to Council, that the City of Prince Rupert and surrounding communities twin with the community in Cameroon where Prince Rupert's fundraising has been directed.

He also made mention of the Chamber of Commerce Awards Ceremony coming up at the end of the month.

The Mayor also advised that a report has been compiled on the issue of the Rushbrook Parking concerns raised last week, with Council to receive that report for review in the days ahead.

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

You can access the City Council Review page for February 23rd 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 23, 2015

Council next meets in Regular session on March 9, 2015, that session takes place at the Lester Centre of the Arts.

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