Friday, June 12, 2015

City Council Timeline, Monday, June 8, 2015

Prince Rupert Council tackled a number of items for their first meeting of June, with the topics of housing related issues, a change of use for the Masonic Lodge and the Park Avenue development taking up the bulk of the one hour twenty minute session.

Other topics covered by Council included approval of the proposed Rainbow Crosswalk for CowBay, a review of the Audited Financial Statements, the awarding of a contract for the expansion of the Landfill site and an introduction of the prospect of service charges for future lot development.

As well, the City Planner and Mayor  provided a short update on the plans ahead for the City's housing data survey to be held in the community in the coming weeks ahead.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Regular Council Agenda for June 8  here.

Council also had a Special closed Session earlier in the day at 5 PM.

Further information from our overview and 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 June 8, 2015

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

Video Archive for June 8, 2015

( 0:00  -- 1:00 )  Introduction of the Regular Council Session for Monday evening -- The Mayor provided the listing of Agenda and past Minutes of council sessions for approval by Council members.

( 1:000 -- 6:30 ) Report from the City Manager regarding the proposed Rainbow Crosswalk at Cow Bay -- Council reviewed the report that recommended approval of the proposed crosswalk, which will come with a cost of 1,800 dollars.

Councillor Thorkelson opened the discussion speaking to the nature of an inclusive community that the crosswalk would provide for and noting some of the backlash against the crosswalk that had been found on such social platforms as Facebook.

Councillor Niesh had concerns related to the cost of the crosswalk, while noting that he had no issue with the idea of the crosswalk itself, he did outline that it was a project that would require constant maintenance each year and would prefer that fundraising efforts be used to provide for the crosswalk.

Councillor Mirau spoke in favour of the crosswalk as well, suggesting that a call out into the community to provide for fundraising for the work to be done.

Councillor Thorkelson asked the City Manager if the crosswalk would be required to be painted each year, Mr, Long advised that would probably be the case.

Councillor Randhawa offered up some safety concerns about the crosswalk at night, the Mayor observed that there would be white borders making the crosswalk visible.

Councillor Cunningham asked if the crosswalk would have any impact on the future Atlin project, he was advised that it would not.

With the discussion at an end, Council voted to approve the motion for the proposed crosswalk project, though no timeline was announced as to when it would be installed in the Cow Bay area.

( 6:30 --7:00 ) Report from the City Engineering Coordinator recommending that the contract for the Landfill Expansion project be awarded --    Council reviewed the report that recommended that the contract for the project be awarded to Coast Industrial Construction, that company had provided a bid of $1,045,554.36  to deliver the project.

You can review the details of the report from page 11of the Agenda

There was no discussion on the topic, with Council approved the awarding of the contract.

( 7:00--10:30 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer recommending acceptance of the 2014 Audited Financial Statements --   The Mayor outlined the nature of the report, following which Councillor Thorkelson provided a few observations on its overview.

Among her points of interest on the document, the thoroughness of the notes and how it reflects the City's financial position, as part of her review of the audit, she highlighted the importance that she believes CityWest and the Legacy Corporation have provided to the community.

She did caution that while it offers a better reflection of the city's position, the city needs to  continue to "bite the bullet" on their operating capital issues.  She compared the findings of the work of Carlyle and Sheppard from this review, to some of their concerns of previous audits when she first arrived on council.

You can review the financial statements from the City's Agenda from pages 13 - 47.

Council voted to accept the report.


( 10:30 -- 16:30 ) Report from the City Planner to allow for office space in all multiple family residential zones particularly for non market and non profit facilities.  -- Mr. Krekic provided a short overview of the proposed amendment which has been introduced in response to a request from Transition House which wishes to install a separate unit from the main building to provide counselling services for those in the community with housing needs.

His recommendation is that 20 per cent of the available floor space area allocated for such initiatives on non market and non profit facilities, adding that it should go to Public hearing on June 22nd.

Councillors Mirau and Thorkelson offered up some observations related to the recommended percentage to be allocated for office use.

Mr. Krekic then outlined that the he determined the amount from surveys of other communities and what they may provide.

Council then voted to approve the motion

( 16:30 -- 39:00 ) Report from the City Planner regarding a zoning amendment for property on Park Avenue -- Mr. Krekic outlined some background on the proposal, highlighting some of the challenges that the property development plan offers up.

Among one of the points he outlined was the need for property acquisition to develop a roadway towards Graham Avenue in Section Two.

He recommended that the process move to Public Hearing on June 22nd.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up a number of questions related to the proposed amendment, seeking further clarification on the property acquisition aspect of his presentation, asking why so many residential properties needed to be acquired from the City of Prince Rupert.

Mr. Krekic noted the roadway requirements into Section Two and how the developer wishes to gain further benefits from that parcel of land in lieu of creating the roadway.

Mr. Long offered up some further background to the development in question, outlining the benefit the city would receive from the access to Section Two, with the Developer willing to accept the cost of creating that roadway.

He also called attention to the challenges that the road would provide and how he on behalf of the city and the developer are currently in discussions related to offsetting some of the obligation related to off site services that are benefiting the city.

He added that he hopes to have those negotiations concluded before the Public hearing in order to provide more details for the public.

Councillor Thorkelson then followed up her inquiry by asking about a proposed condo development that was under consideration for the end of Graham and what had happened to that proposal, she was advised that the development lots in question had been purchased, or are in the process of being purchased by the Park Avenue proposal developer.

Ms. Thorkelson  further outlined some of her concerns related to the Park Avenue proponent's plans, calling attention to the City's policy on densification and how she does not want to rezone the land unless there is some accommodation made for a condo, or apartment unit to be included in the area.

Adding that she was hoping that some of those lots in question would be dedicated towards higher density options such as Seniors Apartments or Seniors Condos, adding that the creation of such a housing option should be a requirement of the Park Avenue development.

 Mr. Long made note of her comments and advised that he would take them to the developer and explore the themes that she had outlined as part of the current conversation that he is having with the developers.

He advised that Council could have a special meeting prior to the Public Hearing to examine where everyone is on the topic before taking it to the hearing process.

He observed how it typically you would want to allow the developer to determine what they wish to do with the land they have purchased, saying that's a marketing issue, though he noted that in this case with a number of the properties associated with it owned by the city that Council could use some of the City owned properties to meet some of their OCP objectives.

Mr. Long further outlined the process of approval that would be required by Council, reviewing how Council would not be approving any aspect of the motion until after the Public Hearing after receiving comment from the public.

Councillor Thorkelson then observed to her dedication towards the need for Seniors housing and that she wants to ensure that the City holds a hammer and that it should not remove the teeth before they can receive assurances related to their densification ambitions.

Council then voted to move the process forward in order to provide for public notification of the Public Hearing of the 22nd.

( 39:00 -- 45:00  ) Report from the City Engineer coordinator regarding a Prince Rupert Development Cost Bylaw -- Mr. Long stepped in to provide the report for the ailing Mr. Pucci, highlighting some of the key aspects of the recommended bylaw that would put in place fees for servicing issues related to development.

He noted how such a bylaw is common in many communities, with the recommendation that the City put in place a charges for fees for new developments moving forward for required civic services, with the money to be put aside into a reserve account that can't be spent on other purposes.

The charges which have not been set as of yet, would only be in effect for those developments of four  lots or more.

Mr. Long outlined the nature of the city's current infrastructure and how this measure would serve to address some of the issues, with the bylaw designed to get the ball rolling on the initiative. The nature of the proposed level of the rate charges would be determined at future meetings.

Councillor Mirau asked for clarification on the process and whether it sets the rate levels in stone, Mr. Long advised that they could amend those numbers, he advised that they determined their working numbers through examining other communities in the Northwest.

Mr. Mirau then asked that city staff provide a report outlining those rates in the other communities before Council decides on the rates for Prince Rupert.

Mr. Long explained that would be part of the process, adding that the bylaw would also have to be approved by the province.

Councillor Randhawa also asked that the report also include property tax rates in each community for comparison purposes.

You can review the outline of the proposed bylaw including the initial charge rate recommendations from the Agenda pages ( 93-100 )

Council then voted to move forward with the first reading of the motion.

( 45:00 -- 1:01:00   )  Report from the City Planner regarding a proposal to use a portion of the Masonic Lodge for storage purposes -- Mr. Krekic provided an overview of a request for a zoning change for the area of the Masonic Hall, which would allow the Lodge owners to use a portion of their building for storage of furniture.

Mr. Krekic observed how he had made clear to the building owner that the proposal was moving forward without City staff support, offering up his concerns related to the plan as far as zoning concerns.

He outlined how the City has land zoned for industrial use and he was hesitant to move into residential areas for repurposing as light industrial use.  He also recalled some of the history of service organizations as the Masonic Lodge and how their membership is decreasing, as is the use of their buildings, something leads to requests for change of use.

From there Mr. Krekic reviewed the application for rezoning, advising that the proponent had expressed an interest in signing a covenant that would limit the storage provisions for the Lodge area to be only for furniture storage for a local business.

He outlined the process ahead that will require an information meeting for the surrounding area adjacent to the Lodge and for staff to conduct internal and external referrals related to the proposed change of use plan.

Councillor Thorkelson asked for clarification on the work that staff would have to conduct when it comes to the proposed amendment.

Councillor Niesh asked for more background on the concerns that Mr. Krekic has with the plans for the Lodge area.

Concerns such as how it would impact on the adjacent neighbourhood were the main focus of his hesitations. Councillor Niesh agreed with his review of the situation adding that he didn't believe that a residential area is an area where large transport rigs should be unloading into a storage area.

Councillor Cunningham pointed out that this was only first reading and he believe the City should let the neighbours decide as its their neighbourhood, he called council's attention to a recent discussion council held on a similar issue.  Adding that Council should pass first reading and let the process run its course.

Councillor Randhawa reminded council that many of them ran in the last election on a theme of support for small and local business and that he was in favour of the proposal.

Councillor Kinney also offered up his support for the proposed use of a portion of the Masonic Lodge site, adding that they had put a lot of effort into their plans, he also advised that those in the area that he had talk with had expressed no concerns related to the idea.

Councillor Mirau asked for clarification on the nature of the covenant that the proponent had discussed with the City, he added that such items as frequency of use and other issues could be examined further.

Councillor Thorkelson inquired as to whether a process of split zoning could be put in place for the property in question, Mr. Krekic advised that there is a process in place for such a thing but that he's hesitant to adopt that kind of strategy of pocket zoning.

Councillor Thorkelson noted that she was interested in a specific use to be designated for this proposed development and that she also had concerns over a larger rezoning of assembly hall and the concerns that might provide for the city in other areas of the community.

Mr. Krekic advised that he would address the prospect of split zoning in a more concentrated manner at the June 22nd council session, reinforcing the nature of the covenant that would be in place regarding use of the Masonic Hall property.

He also expressed a concern over the erosion of industrial land, suggesting that the rules should be as simple as possible and not complicated.

Council then moved to give first reading to the motion, advising that the proponent should hold an information meeting to seek the input of area residents.

( 1:01 -- 1:19 ) Presentation from the City Planner regarding the City's Go Plan Survey --  Mr. Krekic provided some background on the Survey project which started on Monday, with residents of the city being asked to provide information by way of the online survey or by speaking to enumerators as they come to their door,

Mr. Krekic introduced Michael Dewar to Council, he is an intern working for the city through the Northern Development Trust, among his work for the City he has been tasked with duties associated with the Go Plan survey.

Anyone wishing to seek out more information about the survey can drop into their offices in the Ocean Centre Mall, located beside the Bank of Montreal.

Mayor Brain then picked up the theme of the survey and its importance to the city's housing initiatives, outlining what the city hopes to achieve from the data collected by way of the Go Plan Survey.

He then asked Councillor Thorkelson to provide a review of the pilot project regarding housing in the community.

Ms. Thorkelson outlined the progress reached on Monday in the proposal to develop services for housing issues in Prince Rupert, by the end of the day however, those involved in the housing committees had determined that what was needed at the moment was for a central hub to allow for all agencies to provide information and assistance for those with housing issues in the community.

She added that the proposal would require a project manager and that a number of meetings are planned with Provincial ministry officials to seek out ways to fund some of the initiative.

She outlined that there would be a design group, two focus groups and other measures in place to have a design in place within two months.

The Mayor then added a few of his observations on the work that the City is taking on related to housing issues, noting that while Housing is not a City responsibility, it is an issue that this Council has decided to take on.

He also outlined how the current Survey taking place will be of much importance to the process, taking time to thank the work of City Council, management and staff. And that he believes the community should be excited that Council is this proactive on the issue and engaged with other agencies.

Reports and Recommendations from Council

( 1:11 -- 1:19) Councillor Thorkelson followed up on the theme of housing, by reviewing how a crisis issue had been temporarily resolved in the community, advising how through the work of City Council, the Mayor and Aboriginal Housing Services that BC Housing had helped to relocate those who had been forced out of the Neptune Inn, with some already placed in permanent housing options while others had been provided with another month of accommodation at the Moby Dick Inn.

She credited the efforts of the Mayor and Council in making sure that BC Housing became aware of the situation in the community and the need to address it and that it highlighted the caring nature of the City to support the poorest in our community.

Councillor Thorkelson noted that BC Housing had also indicated that they are currently in the market to purchase hotels, motels or apartment buildings in the community for housing needs and if anyone in the city has a property they wish to sell they should contact BC Housing for more details to explore that opportunity.

She also outlined how an anonymous donor had provided a sizeable donation to the Aboriginal Housing Service to provide assistance towards their work in the community.

On the theme of the housing survey she advised that the City would be offering up the opportunity to take the survey during Seafest, as well on June 25th Fisherman's Hall would be hosting a block party where a number of agencies will be in attendance to outline what they have to offer to those in need, as well the block party will be used to gain more information through homeless survey.

Councillor Cunningham also provided a few of his thoughts on the developments related to the Housing committee work of recent days and stressed the importance of residents taking the Go Plan survey.

Councillor Thorkelson also added that the City owed a great deal of thanks to Theresa Wesley at Aboriginal Housing Services for her efforts in helping to provide assistance during the recent housing crisis.

And with that, the Monday night session came to an end.

You can access the City Council Review for June 8 here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to media coverage of it can be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

Minutes of the Regular Council Session from June 8

Council next meets in Regular session on June 22nd  in Council Chambers at City Hall.

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