Thursday, July 23, 2015

City Council Timeline: Monday, July 20 2015

Monday evening's Prince Rupert Council provided for an opportunity for the Public to offer up a contribution through the Committee of the Whole session which started the evening off.

Following that session, Council turned its attention to the Regular Agenda for the evening which provided for a few presentations and then some fairly lengthy zoning issue reviews on the night.

Those land use issues and additional points related to development dominated much of the evenings discussion, taking hold of almost an hour and a half of the two hour and fifteen minute session.

Other items reviewed on the evening were a presentation from the City's engineering coordinator on a proposed Development Charge process, a review of some of the early findings of the LNG Go Plan survey from the City Planner and a short update from the City's Financial Officer on the city's recently published Annual report.

Council also made some announcements from closed meetings and received a fishing season update from Councillor Thorkelson.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Regular Council Agenda for July 20  here.

Council also had a Special closed Session earlier in the day at 5:00 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 July 20, 2015

Mayor Lee Brain-- Absent
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 July 20, 2015

( 0:00  -- 13:00 )  Introduction of the Committee of the Whole Session for Monday evening -- With Mayor Brain absent on the night, Councillor Mirau introduced the Committee of the Whole Session and outlined the process ahead for it.

Prior to seeking public comment, Councillor Mirau asked that the City's Financial Officer outline the nature of the recently released Annual Report, which Council was scheduled to provide approval for later in the evening.

As for the public participation portion of the session, five local residents took advantage of the opportunity for comment.

One city resident asked questions related to proper notification regarding the Annual Report which was to be approved by Council later in the evening.

Four other participants had concerns related to a proposed lane closure in the Borden Street area and the prospect of potential for a large development that could come to that area and affect property values of existing homes there.

Following the comments on the Borden Street situation, Councillor Mirau asked for clarification from the City's Financial Officer as to what Council would be considering on that theme for the evening.

Councillor Mirau then reinforced for those in the audience that the session for the evening was dedicated only towards the prospect of a lane closure and would not be addressing any zoning items related to future development.

With no other residents coming forward, Councillor Mirau then brought the Committee of the Whole Session to a conclusion.

Regular Session of City Council

( 13:00-15:00 ) Adoption of Pat Minutes and Agenda for the evening. -- Council reviewed a number of past minutes and accepted the Agenda for the evening's session

Petitions and Delegations

15:00 -- 39:00  ) A Presentation from Northern Health on Integrated Health Care and Harm reduction -- Michael Melia and Jane Boutette from Northern Health provided an update on health care initiatives in the North Coast region, delivering a review of some of the key aspects of their Harm Reduction program and what is available through it.

As well, as part of the twenty minute overview, the pair provided an overview of their Integrated Health Care program for the region and some of the community engagement projects that they have taken on in recent months.

Councillor Thorkelon inquired if Northern Health had discussed any housing issues in the community and if there were any models in the North that might be of interest. Mr. Melia commented on recent studies in the Smithers area and what Northern Health is learning from the situation in that community.

He did note that while housing wasn't a core mandate for Health, it was a key determinate of health  and that Northern Health was an active partner in the process. He made comment about the recent survey conducted on housing in the community and how Northern Health would like to be a part of the steering group related to it.

Councillor Cunningham noted  as to some of the expertise that Northern Health could provide to the city's efforts when it comes to housing in the community.

( 39:00 -- 56:30 ) Presentation from the City Planner regarding an update on the GO Plan Survey -- Mr. Zeno Krekic provided some early reviews of the recently completed LNG GO Plan Surveys conducted through the month of June in the city.

From the early results he noted that the population numbers gathered from the Go Plan show that the City counts a higher population of 13,899 which is a slight adjustment higher than those numbers gathered by Stats Canada or the  most recent update from BC Stats.

Other factors outlined from his review included the contrast between rental and ownership with 41 percent renters and 59 per cent owners. With 61 percent of the population sharing the rent, while 39 per cent cover their living costs alone.

Items related to rental increases and the prospect of changing residences over the next year were also explored as part of his overview. Among the reasons give for potential relocations: a need for more room, desire of change, can't afford rent increases, move closer to work space and unsafe conditions and evictions or renovictions were counted by those who responded to the survey.

The survey also included a look at participation in activities around the community.  Looking at volunteerism, attendance at community events, use of public transportation, use of the library and park facilities in the city.

On the theme of community activities, Councillor Thorkelson offered up some background on the nature of Library usage and how the library gauges usage of its facility.

The survey determined that 42 percent expressed a very strong sense of belonging to the community.

Mr. Krekic observed that it would be worth continuing with the Survey on an ongoing basis, in order to try and develop a trend for the results.

He also offered up some comments on the second survey that was conducted as part of the Go Plan process, that being the Non Market Housing survey.  He observed that the only data he could provide at the moment was that they had received 132 questionnaires to put into the data base.  With the hope that they could have more information by the end of the week, he also suggested that there could be a workshop for Council on the survey results towards the second part of August to review the information and the objectives that the city has.

Councillor Thorkelson inquired if the members of Council might be able to specify items of data for review over the next few weeks.

Upon completion of his report, Councillor Cunningham observed that he had a few frustrations with the nature of the information delivered to this point, noting that he had been hoping to be able to identify what kind of housing that the city needs or doesn't need.

Mr. Krekic suggested that it may take some time, but ultimately they might be able to offer up some information as to what the demand for housing might be in the future.

Councillor Cunningham returned to his theme of the need to learn more about housing needs of the moment and not the future, looking for items related to Seniors Housing and homeless issues.

Mr. Krekic pointed towards the second survey results, which may deliver some information on those themes once the data is fully developed.

Councillor Mirau observed that the inspiration that the City was approaching on the issue was that good data drives good policy and that is what they are hoping to achieve more conclusions from the work developed.

Councillor Thorkelson followed up with an inquiry if the data had provided for a breakdown of how many households could be found in a home, he explained what he believed the city could learn from the data on the issue.

( 56:30 -- 58:30  ) Report from the City Financial Officer regarding the Annual Report -- Ms. Bomben advised Council that as she had just reviewed whether the City had placed notification of the annual report in the local paper and discovered that there had been no such notification made.

With that in mind she recommended that Council postpone its opportunity for public comment until August 17th. She noted that the additional time will provide the public with an opportunity to review the document and offer comment next month.

Council voted to approve the withdrawal of the motion.

( 58:30--59:30 Resolutions from prior closed meetings -- The Corporate Administrator outlined the nature of a resolution from the Closed session of the June 22nd session, announcing the appointment of Brent Patriquin, Helen Moore, Laureen Williams and Tim MacDonald to the Prince Rupert Library Board of Directors for a two year term.

As well on July 6th at the Closed Session of that night, Council approved the awarding of the Airport Master RFP plan to WFSP Canada Inc.

(  59:30 -- 1:21:00 )  Report from the City Planner regarding a Zoning amendment for an application to amend the maximum height for a proposed development on Bill Murray Way. -- Council was asked to consider first reading to the proposed zoning amendment and instruct the application to hold an Information meeting, and staff to conduct referrals.

Mr. Krekic outlined the nature of the request pertaining to a proposed building in the Stiles Place and Bill Murray Way seeking an amendment to existing height allowances in the downtown area. As part of his review Mr. Krekic provided some diagrams related to the site and its placement in the downtown design guidelines.

Mr. Krekic then outlined the process that would follow related to the proposed amendment, which would include a Public Meeting, staff referrals to the various departments.

He then outlined the options that council had related to the amendment.

Councillor Cunningham opened up the discussion phase on the topic, asking as to the timeline for a Public Hearing on the proposed development and wondering if they could provide for first and second reading and then take the issue to a Public Hearing phase.

Councillor Thorkelson outlined a number of her concerns related to the proposed amendment and the application itself.

Among them some thoughts when it came to changing the zoning to allow for this one proposed development.

She then followed that concern up with a larger issue related to the nature of the development itself, offering up her thoughts regarding the land use issues that the project highlights.

Noting that the proposal calls for a mix of commercial and residential buildings and that Council is now considering many land development deals and proposals without having decided what they want the city to look like.

She observed that there is a chance to leave a Legacy from this period of expansion and wondered what Council wants the city to look like, she asked if Council wanted to have all the wealthy living in the downtown area.

As well she wondered what the City plans to do with subsidized housing and whether the City may end up with ghettos around the community, whether they will end up moving the poor people out of the downtown core.

As for the proposed development for Bill Murray Drive, Councillor Thorkelson noted that it would be designed for those with above average incomes and the City may wish to put in place a requirement that the second building proposed for the site, that features a commercial component should instead have the proponent provide  for some form of affordable housing in place there.

She suggested to Council that there is a need for that kind of a discussion.

On the issue of larger land issues in the community and with the proposed lane closure for Borden Street on her mind, Councillor Thorkelson suggested that perhaps the City should buy the land at Park Avenue and Five Corners and make it a park, or put it to use towards the Emergency Services building required for the city, suggestions that elicited some applause from members of the public gallery.

She noted that she could see that some in the community will be saying that "Thorkelson is anti development" something she said she wasn't against development, but instead she said she was big on planned development and recounted some of her work over the last four years in providing for a land development plan and ways to control development to reflect what the people want the community to look like.

She advised that she wan't planning to vote in favour of any amendment that will move development ahead until the city has a public discussion with the community as to what they want to see as far as development in the city.

Comments that again found some support among those that were sitting in the public gallery during the discussion.

Councillor Mirau then tried to return the discussion to the motion on the table that of recommendation for the zoning amendment up for discussion, seeking for Council's vote on the issue.

Councillor Cunningham in turn spoke in favour of Councillor Thorkelson comments, but observed that attempts in the past to gain input from the city's residents did not provide for much direction from the city's residents. He urged residents to become more involved in the process and provide Council with what they want to see as far as development issues.

When it came time to vote, Council members with the exception of Councillor Thorkelson, voted to adopt the First reading of zoning amendment, sending the topic to a public information meeting and to provide staff to develop more analysis on the issue.

( 1:21:00 --  1:38:00  ) Report from the City Planner for a zoning amendment for a property on Ottawa Avenue, rezoning the current zone use from public to residential -- Mr. Krekic provided a short synopsis of the land in question, which is the old Kanata School property. With the applicant seeking a zoning change so as to convert it to residential, allowing the School District to be able to sell the land to a property developer.

Mr Krekic noted that any development of the property is contingent on LNG development and should there be no positive announcement that the land would be developed in phases.

Councillor Cunningham asked about the nature of the zoning and what kind of housing could end up being placed on the site, he offered up concerns over handing over control of the land use for that area of the city, he also had concerns over the lack of green space designated for the area.

Councillor Thorkelson agreed with Councillor Cunningham's analysis of the situation, she called attention to the notations related to whether there would be a positive LNG announcement, which provided her with another opportunity to express her concerns over how the city can lose control over land use issues.

She noted that Council continues to have these one off discussions and that the City needs to have a consultation with the city's residents to try and address some of the concerns when it comes to land use and what the City wants to see when it comes to how land is developed in the city.

Councillor Niesh observed on how Council has been discussing the need for housing in the community through its Go Plan study, recounting the volume of housing that has been lost in recent years in the city,

He then suggested that the development in question could help replace some of that lost housing of the last few years, observing that it is on public transit and that the decision to move forward would seem to be a simple one to make.

Councillor Cunningham reiterated his concerns over what form of housing that the land could provide for, fearing that just allowing for apartment blocks could create a ghetto effect to the area.

At the end of the discussion, Councillor Mirua reviewed what the motion was specifying advising that it was similar to the previous motion considered and then called for the vote.

When it came to the vote, the motion in the end was adopted with Councillor Thorkelson voting against the motion.

( 1:38:00 -- 1:54:00 ) Report from the Director of Operations regarding the Development Cost Charges Bylaw -- Mr. Richard Pucci provided background on the proposed cost charges to be recommended for future development. His report was for information purposes at this time only.

He noted that the charges are designed to assist in funding the costs of upgrading, providing infrastructure services and acquiring or developing parkland. Other areas that they could be allocated towards are sanitary treatment facilities, Fire protection upgrades, landfill expansion and water distribution upgrades.

Mr. Pucci also provided a breakdown as to what any DCC Rates might look like, as well as a comparison to other Municipalities.  He also provided a look at the process ahead to consider the proposal.

Councillor Niesh outlined some of his concerns related to the proposed charges and the impact that it may have on future development.  Councillor Cunningham echoed some of the same concerns as Councillor Niesh had observed.

Councillor Randhawa inquired as to what the neighbouring communities of Terrace and Kitimat were charging for Development charges, Mr. Pucci advised that he had not been able to determine if either of those communities currently have charges in place or what they are.

Councillor Thorkelson had questions related as to how DCC's are directed towards infrastructure concerns.

Council received the report for further study.

( 1:54:00 -- 2:05:00 )  Recommendation for First, Second and Third reading for a Road closure and Removal of Road Dedication for Park Avenue and Five Corners area. -- Councillor Thorkelson suggested an amendment to the motion to provide for only First Reading of the recommendation.

Suggesting that as it is with the previous times of the evening, the issue also requires further engagement with the public.

Mr. Pucci outlined the nature of the recommendation and what the purpose of it is.

Councillor Cunningham outlined how he believed it was important for the area residents and the developer to have a dialogue on the topic.

Councillor Niesh noted some of his previous impressions of where Council stood on the topic, and that by proceeding forward Council wasn't agreeing to anything other than to having a proponent to consolidate some property and move towards some development.

He observed that the future development of the property had nothing to do with the nature of the road closure aspect of the motion on the night.

Councillor Cunningham also noted that the process does provide for future engagement between the public and the developer when the time for a rezoning and development permit phase which require public hearings.

Mr. Mandryk observed that the motion on the evening could be modified by a friendly amendment.

Councillor Thorkelson stayed with her original suggestion that Council only provide for a First reading.

Council then voted to approve the motion on the floor for a First reading of the closure Bylaw.

That motion carried.

( 2:05:00 -- 2:12:59   ) Reports Questions and Inquiries from Members of Council

Councillor Thorkelson returned to her many concerns related to land use of the evening, giving notice to Council that she would be providing a proposal for a motion that Council at the next meeting in August stating that the City should hold a workshop and Public consultation session in September regarding land use and how the city wants the face of the city to change recognizing that development is going to occur.

Councillor Cunningham offered his support to her planned resolution, calling back to his past observations that in the past residents of the city have not been inclined in the past to provide much guidance to Council on such issues, suggesting tongue in cheek, that perhaps a penalty on taxation for non-attendees might motivate more public participation.

Councillor Thorkelson provided an update for Council on the status of the current Salmon Fishing season.

Offering up a dire forecast for the remainder of the salmon season, noting the algae issues of the Nass River and the lack of fishing opportunities on at the Skeena River fishery to this point.

She noted that the Canfisco Cannery did not start until July 9th the latest that the cannery has opened in her memory, those lack of job opportunities at the cannery will provide for a tough situation for shore workers in the community, with many not able to qualify for unemployment insurance and will have to rely on welfare.

Something that she says will impact on the housing concerns in the community and could have an impact on the local retail sector as well, with less money in the community to be spent in local stores.

Calling it a disastrous situation for the region, with local fishermen looking to find ways to try and address failures like this year in the future.

She suggested that the changing nature of the climate has had an impact on what was supposed to be a very good year for fishing, with conditions of this summer leaving the fishery in the state that it currently finds itself in.

While some fish arrived at the Canadian Fish plant from the Alaska Fishery, she fears that the processing plant may not have much more product coming in to provide for work for shore workers in the community.

In closing Councillor Mirau offered up the regrets of Mayor Lee Brain, who was in Victoria attending to City business with the provincial government.

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

You can access the City Council Review for July 20 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 July 20 2015

Council next meets in Regular session on August 17th  in Council Chambers at City Hall.

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