Thursday, August 20, 2015

Re:Think, Re:Build, Re:Design ... new mantras for a new Prince Rupert?

Mayor Brain offered a glimpse Monday
into a proposed new city initiative
to review what the city may look
like in the future
When Councillor Joy Thorkelson introduced her failed attempt to add an item on to Monday night's agenda topics, she appears it seems to have spurred on discussion regarding the delivery of yet one new initiative from Mayor Brain when it comes to community engagement and study of land use issues.

And we imagine that the Mayor might have wished for the details of the project to be sorted out before he had to break the news of his latest community engagement plan, through the discussion related to Councillor Thorkelson's moves of Monday it seems that Mayor was pushed towards an early introduction for the program

During the course of the rather animated and at times heated discussion on the Councillor's agenda request, Mayor Brain offered up the first glimpse of what he has planned in association with the University of Northern British Columbia's Community Development Institute.

The function, focus and mission of the CDI which is based in Prince George, is to support the research, information and development needs of Northern British Columbia's rural and small town communities as they adjust to change in the new economies of the region.

Mayor Brain is looking to bring in the
UNBC based CDI to assist
with community engagement on
a number of land use and housing issues
Mayor Brain provided council with a short synopsis of the engagement of the city to this point with the CDI, outlining what he believes the Institute has to offer Prince Rupert and advising that negotiations to start up an eighteen month engagement project with the institute are now underway.

He provided a review of a process that would see the UNBC institute examining and helping to create a vision for the future that would take on many of the topics such as land use and housing that have been of concern to council over the last six months or so.

As part of his presentation, the Mayor noted that the project would carry a mission statement, suggesting something along the lines of Re:Design Prince Rupert.

That suggestion would seem follow the same path of some of his previous concepts over the last nine months.

The first of which was through the Mayor's election campaign as he offered his vision for the future asking Rupertites to Re-Think Prince Rupert, most recently the city's new infrastructure program has been given the mission statement or slogan of Re:Build Prince Rupert.

The Mayor observed how the project with the Community Development Institute would be an all encompassing approach which makes use of a professional facilitator and staff to address some of the unprecedented challenges that change in Prince Rupert may bring. With the City just one stakeholder in the process, "making it a community wide initiative that has an independent, honest broker, not run by the City particularly, not run by proponents, not run by different organizations that actually builds a vision for this community."

Councillor Cunningham provided for most of the commentary from Council members when it came to questions about the new UNBC initiative, inquiring as to cost and how the city planned to pay for the project.

On those themes, Mayor Brain outlined that the budget of the project with UNBC was set to be around the 150,000 dollar mark, which the Mayor says has already been allocated through the City's funding for Major Projects.

Mr. Cunningham also questioned whether an eighteen month project  would not address the immediate concerns facing Council and also wondered whether it would not also require the use of staff time. He would later in the discussion add the observation that like Councillor Thorkelson, he believes that Council should be engaging the public in discussion on land issues and in his opinion not taking the process to outside interests such as UNBC.

Councillor Mirau also spoke to the proposed initiative with the UNBC institute, highlighting the key aspects of what the City could realize from the project.

"This Community Development Institute process that we are engaging in as stakeholders, like you were saying Mr. Mayor, will be the largest consultation process that the city of Prince Rupert has ever taken part in and I think that will go a long way in informing and updating our vision of what we want the community to look like after this construction boom ...  " -- Councillor Blair Mirau looking to what the City hopes to achieve with its consultation process with UNBC

Later in the evening towards the end of the council session, during a wide ranging and once again charged discussion on housing issue, both Mayor Brain and Councillor Mirau would also offer up further comments on the nature of the project with UNBC and what they hoped it would accomplish towards some of the current discussion on both land and housing issues.

More on the back and forth of commentary between the Mayor and Council members over the initiative can be reviewed from our Council Timeline feature.

The introduction of sorts to the new Re:Design Prince Rupert concept can also be found as part of the discussion at the very start of the Regular Council session, from the 12:30 minute mark to 27 minutes, more on the  proposed partnership with UNBC is examined during the housing conversation from the one hour twenty six minute mark.

For more background on City Council discussions see our archive page here.

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