Saturday, October 31, 2015

A night of witches, ghouls, ghosts and monsters all of whom need to remember to set their clocks back

With Halloween and the annual fall ritual of turning the clocks back both coming on the same night, those heading out to into the night, might want to do a little preemptive clock changing before they depart.

While the tradition of the past is to turn the clocks back at 2 AM, with a Halloween Saturday we suspect more than a few will be fairly occupied at that particular point, no doubt happy to fit in another hour of party making into the Halloween night agenda.

For those with some party plans for the night perhaps pushing the time pieces back is best done before the chariots turn to pumpkins and Princes back into frogs.

For the rest of us with less exciting lives, remembering to turn the clocks back before retiring will probably do the trick.

With the bonus to go with it of allowing for an extra hour of sleep when Sunday morning arrives.

If inclined to a little research on this ritual of the fall and the spring see some of our items below, before you take to making the rounds of the homestead timepieces:

Daylight saving time ends this Sunday, November 1: Don’t forget to fall back
Myths and truths about Daylight Saving Time
Clocks to fall back this weekend as Daylight Saving Time Ends
Kamloops man launches petition for B. C. to remain on one time year long

Halloween makes for a night of fun, but one with safety in mind

The ghosts, goblins, witches and other creatures of the night will be wandering the streets of the North Coast in just a few short hours, the annual ritual of trick or treating falling on a Saturday, which means more time to travel to more territory in the quest for as much candy as one can collect on this last night of October.

As we noted earlier in the week, the Civic Centre will be the home for a good portion of the city's Halloween seekers, with activities planned from 6 to 8 PM in the Gymnasiums, while the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre will also feature a pair of swims through the evening starting at 8 PM.

The annual Halloween Fireworks frenzy will bring the Civic Centre portion of the night to an end around the 8:15 PM as long as the winds remain calm.

For those that also travel the streets however, there are a number of safety notes to keep in mind to make sure that Halloween evening is as fun and safe as possible.

The British Columbia Children's Hospital has a few things for us to keep in mind tonight.

Stay together, keep costumes bright and easy to see by motorists, create a costume that allows the trick or treaters to see hazards, stay on pathways and don't take shortcuts to houses and have your parents or guardians check all the treats collected on the night.

The full listing of Safety suggestions can be viewed here.

Homeowners have a responsibility tonight as well, making sure that steps and laneways don't provide for any problem areas and that there is some light available for safe trick or treating, while motorists of course should be aware of the large volume of youngsters out and about tonight and drive accordingly during the key trick treat hours of 4-8 when our the North Coast night begins to settle in.

With Halloween arriving on the same night that we turn back the clocks, we imagine  that it allows for an extra hour for potential mischief makers this year.

Though we might suggest that the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP no doubt is more than prepared to deal with those that may take their Halloween observances a little too far and make life an annoyance for the various neighbourhoods of the city.

For those heading off to the Civic Centre, wandering the streets in search of treats or heading out to what should be a fairly fascinating party scene tonight, Have a Happy Halloweeen!

MLA's week October 26-29, 2015

The main focus for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice's work in the Legislature this week was a Monday afternoon question directed towards the Minister of Children and Family Services as well as statement later in the week on the theme of life at Dodge Cove.

Along the way, the MLA also would make note of a number of visitors that she introduced to the Legislature from the gallery on Monday and Wednesday, included in the list of those in attendance on Monday was Michelle Watson the sister of Angie Robinson, Ms. Watson  was in Victoria as part of the efforts of Inclusion BC to seek more involvement of the British Columbia government for the needs of families with special needs.

On Wednesday, Ms. Rice introduced Cayden White a 16 year old resident of Lax Kw'alaams, who was in Victoria as part of the Democracy in Action program.

As we do at the end of each week of the Legislature session, we outline some of the main notes of interest from the North Coast MLA's work week.

Ms Rice was formally listed three times in the archive of participants for the five sessions of the Legislature in the House, or those related to House Committee work listed for the week of October 26-29.

Ms. Rice's main contribution to the Legislature week in Victoria came at the end of the Monday Question Period and involved her questions for the Honourable Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Services.

During her allotted time the North Coast MLA sought out more information on the progress of the government when it comes to the recommendations of the Coroner's Inquest recommendations stemming from the deaths of Angie and Robert Robinson

North Coast MLA seeks follow up on Robinson coroner's jury recommendations

Thursday, Ms. Rice took advantage of the Thursday morning Statements period, to offer up a review of life at Dodge Cove for those in the Legislature.

A Legislature Love Letter to Dodge Cove from Jennifer Rice

The North Coast MLA also offered up a short comment directed towards the Health Minister Terry Lake as part of a lager discussion between NDP MLA Nicholas Simons and the Minister related to Health Services contracts in the Sunshine Coast area  (10:50 of the Thursday morning session minutes)

Ms Rice is also a member of the Committee on Children and Youth, however that Committee did not meet this week.

Members of the Legislature return to their work on Monday morning.

There is more background on the North Coast MLA available from our MLA's Week archive as well as our General Archive on the Legislature.

Lax Kw'alaams releases Science Report related to Lelu Island

The Lax Kw'alaams First Nation has
released the findings from a Report
related to Lelu Island and Flora Bank
A string of documents released this week by the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation provides the latest viewpoint from the community when it comes to the issues of Lelu Island and Pacific NorthWest LNG's plans for it.

And after a quick read through of the flow of information of the last few days, you might get a sense that when it comes to Lelu Island and Flora Bank, officials at Lax Kw'alaams are on a very different page than those at Pacific NorthWest LNG, the proponent of the LNG Terminal near Port Edward.

The week's reading list also offers up some indication that the progress of engagement by the provincial government with Lax Kw'alaams when it come to the giant industrial project, may not be quite as forward moving as that observed by BC LNG Minister Rich Coleman earlier this month.

Such topics as the need for a social licence, the nature of Lax Kw'alaams Traditional laws and the importance of the Flora Bank to the fishery were key among the many observations made over the last five days.

The majority of the information from the end of the week, made frequent references to the details of a Science report delivered by team tasked by the Lax Kw'alaams government. With the focus of that report designed to review the nature of Lelu Island and the impact on the eco system of the Flora Bank estuary of development proposed for the immediate area.

The final four concluding comments from the Lax Kw'alaams commissioned Science Report, deliver perhaps the harshest criticism of the plan for an LNG terminal in the area, with the authors stating that there is considerable risk  to Skeena salmon and their fisheries, as well as the observation that the proponent's proposal disregards science, and risks to fish population health and Aboriginal rights.

To get the complete picture however, we have to go to the first a document of the week from Monday, which provided some background into recent events related to the Lelu Island situation when it comes to the proposed development by Pacific NorthWest LNG and the nature of the exploratory work currently under way in the region.

As well, that update included a comment related to the current occupation of Lelu island by some residents of the community.

The update provided four main focus points:

An opening comment stating that the Lax Kw'alaams government is not in active negotiations with Pacific Northwest LNG.

On the theme of the current occupation of Lelu Island, the statement notes it is a legitimate activity that is supported by many in the community.

As for engagement with Pacific Northwest LNG, the statement further notes that Pacific NorthWest LNG did not supply the community with a comprehensive project description or with the scope of their planned work. 

As well Lax Kw'alaams suggests that Pacific NorthWest LNG does not understand the concept of social licence on Lax Kw'alaams' territorty even after two and a half years of dialogue.

The first information statement closed with a call for the Lax Kw'alaams community to show solidarity in the face of external pressure from government and industry.

The full review of Monday's statement can be found here.

Next came some background on Thursday that highlighted the the key results that the Lax Kw'alaams Science team had delivered as a result of their study on the Flora Bank region.

That report was compiled by the Lax Kw'alaams Science Team, with Charmaine Carr-Harris, a biologist with the Kispiox based Skeena Fisheries Commission and Jonathan W. Moore an associate professor at Simon Fraser University the authors of the document.
Some of the background from the
report highlighted the importance
of the Skeena river to the fishery

It focused on the habitat of the Flora Bank area and its importance to the fishery noting that the Flora Bank supports at least 40 salmon populations that come from the traditional territories of at least 10 First Nations.

Their review also noted concerns that the authors have when it comes to risks to salmon that they found through a review of the environmental assessment provided by Pacific NorthWest LNG, with the authors noting that the conclusion of the energy company that the project would have no impacts on salmon, is not the same conclusion that they have determined through their report.

The final four conclusions to that overview include:

Fisheries scientists have known for decades that the Flora Bank region is particularly important habitat for salmon. Federal and provincial fisheries scientists identified the area a critical salmon habitat and industrialization has historically been avoided due to environmental risks.

Our data shows Flora Bank does not represent typical salmon habitat. In fact, the Flora Bank-Lelu Island area consistently had the highest abundances of juvenile salmon across multiple years of sampling. Using the standardized sampling techniques, catch rates for juvenile coho, Chinook and sockeye were more than twice as high in this region.

Eelgrass habitat in Fora Bank supports vastly more salmon than any other eelgrass habitat within this region of the estuary. Based on our data, the proposed destruction of eelgrass habitat by PNW LNG poses huge risks to salmon populations. Furthermore, our research makes it clear that planting eelgrass elsewhere will almost certainly fail to mitigate these impacts.

PNW LNG has stated that juvenile salmon are simply swimming through the Flora Bank area, and not feeding and residing in this habitat.  If this is the case, PNW LNG may be less likely to have adverse impacts on salmon. However, we discovered not only are juvenile salmon actively feeding and residing in the Flora Bank area, some are residing for several weeks in this habitat. What this means is any changes to the Flora Bank ecosystem would likely impact the young salmon feeding there.

The Science Report itself is a five page document, it was released on Friday and explains the methods used by the Lax Kw'alaams Science team and their observations related to the Skeena watershed.

They outline the nature of the regional population patterns of Salmon, their residence in the Flora Bank estuary and the genetics of the marine life in that region as well as a review of some of the pathways of risk associated with the proposed LNG terminal for the region.

The conclusions to the Science Report highlights the four major themes from their review:

The PNW LNG project is proposed for a location (Flora Bank) that is especially important for salmon from throughout the Skeena River.

Because of its poor site choice, the PNW LNG project poses significant and unacceptable risks to Skeena salmon and their fisheries.

The proponent has failed to adequately assess the risks to fish and fisheries and has not presented scientific evidence to support their claims that fish populations will not be harmed.

The proponent's current proposal disregards science and risks to fish population health and Aboriginal rights.

You can review the Key Findings of Flora Bank report here, while the Science Results compiled can be reviewed here.

To this point, there has been no reaction or comment from Pacific NorthWest LNG related to the release of the community update, nor of the key points and full Science report released byv the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation.

Earlier in the week, representatives from Pacific NorthWest LNG had delivered an update on their proposed terminal project to Prince Rupert City council, you can review that presentation here.

There is no indication from any of this week's information from Lax Kw'alaams as to how much, if any, of their study and review of the Lelu Island and Flora Bank area has been submitted as part of the CEAA environmental review of the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal.

That Federal review is expected to deliver its final comments sometime this year, or early in 2016.

The report and associated information released this week may however be of some use when it comes to the current efforts of the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation to seek title over Lelu Island.

What the progress may be when it comes to those efforts, was not part of of the release of information from this week.

For more background on items of note from Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page here.

For further information on the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG terminal at Lelu Island see our project archive page here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rainmakers have busy volleyball weekend set to launch

The Charles Hays Volleyball teams have a fairly hectic schedule to bring October to a close, with three of the four squads in action this weekend.

The Senior Boys are off to Smithers for what should be a good test with games scheduled against Caledonia, Smithers Secondary and Centennial Christian.

The big test for the Rainmaker Boys will be their match up with Smithers Secondary, their chief rival in the AA tier for Volleyball in the Northwest zone.

The Junior Boys are also in the Bulkley Valley city, with games set with Smithers Secondary.

On the home court advantage, the Rainmaker Senior Girls are hosting a full day of action on Saturday at the Charles Hays Gymnasium, with the first Rainmaker game of the day set for a 10 AM start against Smithers.
Games continue through the day until 4 PM.

We haven't heard much about the rest of the Saturday schedule to this point, but if we do, we'll offer up an update to this post.

Updated Weekend Schedule for Senior Girls Rainmakers:

Teams Participating on Saturday are from Smithers, Terrace, Hazleton, Bulkley Valley and Haida Gwaii

10 AM      Rainmakers vs Smithers Secondary
12:15 PM Rainmakers vs Caledonia
2:45 PM   Rainmakers vs ECRS
4:00 PM   Rainmakers vs Queen Charlotte Secondary

The Junior Girls have the weekend off, which gives them a chance to catch some of the action from the Senior team.

You can follow more of the Rainmaker developments from the CHSS Sports twitter feed.

For more items on Rainmaker sports see our archive page here.

UNBC gets high grades from Maclean's magazine

UNBC claimed first place in
the Small Universities category
from Maclean's Magazine 
They'll be renewing their subscriptions to Maclean's all across Prince George today, with word this week that the annual Universities edition of the Canadian news magazine had delivered  impressive grades for the University of Northern British Columbia.

The Prince George based university, which has attracted growing numbers of post secondary students from the Northwest since it opened twenty five years ago, was rated at the top of the list for Small Universities in Canada, in the Primarily Undergraduate Category.

“This recognition from Maclean’s only supports what the residents of Northern BC already know - that UNBC provides a first-rate education and a foundation for the development of the next generation of leaders for our region, our province and our country,”  ... “The dedication of our faculty and staff, the achievements of our students and alumni, and the generosity of our donors all contributed to this tremendous accomplishment.” -- UNBC President Dr. Daniel Weeks celebrating the Universities achievements from the 2016 Maclean's University rankings

UNBC had top marks in five of the seven categories considered, among them; student awards, total research dollars, library acquisitions, student/faculty ratio, faculty awards, operating budget for full time student and library expenses.

There are however some areas where room for improvement was noted, the universities residences brought a lower mark owing to their age at 25, while the student graduation rates brought the University down a few marks overall. Though in comments for the Prince George Citizen, UNBC officials noted that some students may start their post secondary life in Prince George, but a number do transfer to other universities during the course of their studies.

UNBC acknowledged their success with a media release issued on Wednesday.

Northwest Community College was quick to offer up its congratulations to their partner in education of Northern British Columbia, taking to their twitter feed to salute the achievement.

You can review some of the findings from the 2016 Rankings from Maclean's here.

As might be expected, the good news for UNBC was quickly shared around the region by the various Prince George media outlets, some of their work can be found below:

CKPG TV -- UNBC Takes Number One in Maclean's
Prince George Citizen -- UNBC named No. 1 by Maclean's magazine
Opinion 250 -- Celebration at UNBC
Opinion 250 -- UNBC at Top of its Class
My Prince George -- UNBC celebrates top ranking
My Prince George -- UNBC ranked top undergrad school in Canada by Maclean's
CBC -- Maclean's university rankings pin #1 ranking on UNBC

City's Re:Build Rupert program gets a progress list

With a couple of projects now under way for the City of Prince Rupert's infrastructure program known as Re:Build Rupert, the City has decided the time is here to offer up an update page for the status of some of the investments in the city's roads, sidewalks and other items of note.

The update of projects listings debuted yesterday with a spot on the City Council page of the City's website.

Offering up some notes on some of the current projects taking place, such as the 3rd Avenue Sidewalk rehabilitation program, a sewer project at Seal Cove and Bellis Roads and work on a retaining wall at Seal Cove Circle all getting the spotlight for the month.

And while he doesn't get a shout out in the first edition of the new information plan, a couple of projects that got their start during the final year of Jack Mussallem's term as Mayor get listed as well.

With the Fraser Street renewal project, Rushbrook Launch Improvements and the Landfill expansion project all making the Re:Build Rupert update listings for the end of October.

The addition of the timeline for the projects is a welcome item to the city website, allowing residents to have some idea as to how long it's anticipated for the projects to take place.

And while it's good to see the City keeping its residents up to date on the new era of infrastructure improvements, perhaps adding the cost of each project would give us all and idea as to how much such major projects take out of the civic budget.

Even better would be a chart included on the city website, in order to follow each project, allowing for comparisons of start and completion times and projected cost as opposed to the final bill.

Still, it's a good start to the concept of frequent updates, though there's no indication in the initial edition as to how often those updates will be added to the city's flow of information.

For more items related to City Council developments see our archive page here.

A Legislature Love Letter to Dodge Cove from Jennifer Rice

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
had glowing praise for Dodge Cove
in the Legislature on Thursday
While a lot of the time the commentary of the Legislature can take on a partisan and at times caustic tone, the Members statements portion of the Legislature Day often provides MLA's the opportunity to share some more celebratory thoughts on the areas that they represent.

An aural post card if you will of some of the things that the MLA's find bewitching about their home constituency.

Thursday during the morning Statements opportunity, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided those in the Legislature chamber with a thumbnail sketch of the more relaxed lifestyle of Dodge Cove, tracing some of the events that have marked the history of the community across the harbour from Prince Rupert.

She outlined some of the traits of those that call the Dodge Community their home highlighting the varied background of those that have made the trek across the harbour to homestead.

Noting occupations ranging from teachers, artists and loggers to retirees and authors, in the latter category providing a shout out to the popular Prince Rupert area compilation of the Gumboot Girls (no doubt easily accessed through the Prince Rupert Library or at Eddies News)

You can review Ms. Rice's tribute to Dodge Cove through the Legislature Draft minutes for Thursday morning, and view her presentation in the Legislature below.

For more items related to the work of the MLA at the Legislature see our archive page here.

Taking Stock Business Sector Notes Archive for 2015

Our monthly update on the new businesses that we've heard of in town, or those which have closed their doors over the last thirty days.

December 2015
November 2015
October 2015

More items on the North Coast Commercial scene can be found on our archive page.

Taking Stock: North Coast Business Scene -- October 2015

We're test driving a new feature for the blog today, a compilation of business notes taken through the month to compliment our regular Commercial sector features.

Our Taking Stock item will provide a review of the month, listing the business openings and closings that we many have spotted over the previous four weeks, the feature a bit of a thumb nail guide to the months developments.

As we have in the past, from time to time we'll do up a more comprehensive look at some of the business stories in the region, those will continue to be found as part of our regular feed of items and archived on our Commercial sector page.


For the month of October, the restaurant scene provided for the majority of movement in the commercial area of the city, where we saw Naomi's Grill vacate the Rupert Square Mall, relocating to the old Fukasaku location (and Rain before it) on Second Avenue West.

The city also began to talk about the new Malaysian restaurant that recently opened in the city with Wau Cafe taking up the location that once hosted the Fairview Restaurant on Third Avenue West.

And while we may have gained one new restaurant, an old favourite closed its doors, with Herby's at Sixth and Second shutting down, directing their patrons down the street to Bamboo Shoot.

While were walking down that block of Second Ave West, we should note that Trayling's Tackle Shop is in the midst of their Store Closing Sale, winding down their operations in the city after a number of years downtown.

Next month will see yet one more change to the restaurant scene, as we outlined earlier this week, Pizza Hut is looking to a late November opening for their 3rd Avenue West location.

A tour of the Rupert Square Mall shows some change as well, as mentioned Naomi's has moved out, as well as the ice cream shop that was located beside, the equipment and such from the latter soon to debut as part of a new configuration for Eddies News on Second Avenue.

And while the shuttered spaces of the Mall still seem to compete with the open ones, there are some new shopping options at Rupert Square with Angel Automotive Leathers opening on the bottom floor.

On the same level the soon to open Pet Valu shop is in the final stages of stocking the shelves in the space that once was one of our many dollar store locations and well before that had the role as Prince Rupert's airport waiting room. They are currently seeking Part Time sales associates for their Prince Rupert store.

Remax Coast Realty has opened their new offices in the heart of the Third Avenue Commercial area, having constructed their building on a lot in the 500 block of the city's downtown core.

Third Avenue has also seen the debut of the Happy Little Clouds Art Studio, which features arts and crafts supplies as well as hosting an Art School, it's found at 251 3rd Avenue West.

And Further down Third to the east, The Le Blanc Boutique will be opening its doors on November 3rd at 413 3rd Avenue East in the Cow Bay area of the city.

You will be able to find the archive for Taking Stock as a part of our larger page dedicated to the commercial sector of the North Coast found here.

We imagine we probably have missed a few here or there, so if you know of a business having opened, or seen the Going out of business sign appear somewhere in the area, drop us a line at our email account of

Or send us a short message through our twitter feed of @CharlesHays

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Spooky Science Camp set for Saturday

Ghosts, Goblins and Science enthusiasts will be all making their way to the Prince Rupert Campus of Northwest Community College on Saturday, for the latest edition for the Science Venture workshops, this one featuring the theme of Spooky Science.

There are two sessions planned, the first for students from Grades 1 to 3 will take place from 8:30 to 12:3 PM

While those attending school from Grades 4 to 7 are invited to the afternoon session, taking place from 12:30 to 4:30.

A lunch will be provided for both morning and afternoon groups.

Participants for both sessions are invited to wear their Halloween costumes to Saturday's workshops.

To take part, parents should contact Science Venture at 250-624-6054 to pre-register for the event.

Funding for the workshops is provided by Science Venture, BG Canada and Northwest Community College.

Prince Rupert Council takes "neutral" stance on Pacific NorthWest LNG project

An interesting approach to North Coast development came up following Monday's Prince Rupert City Council meeting, with Mayor Lee Brain providing what appears to be the city's guiding focus when it comes to the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG development.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, representatives of the company provided Council with an update on their plans as part of Monday's meeting, offering up some background on the latest environmental work, design modifications and community engagement related to the project.

Noting that they are now within the final 100 days of the CEAA review, with the company awaiting the findings of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and further engagement with the Federal Government.

You can review the background to the Pacific NorthWest LNG presentation to Council here.

Where the discussion for Prince Rupert gets interesting comes following the council meeting. Where as part of a report on the progress to this point for the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline and the Lelu Island Terminal, CFTK television's Christa Dao, noted that the Port Edward Council has offered its support for both of those proposals.

Mayor Brain spoke to the City's
position on Pacific NorthWest LNG to
TV 7's Christa Dao on Monday
However, in the short portion of the story that featured Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain, Ms. Dao  observes that the same level of support that Port Edward has shown for Pacific NorthWest LNG, is not the case at the moment when it comes to Prince Rupert.

With the Mayor noting in his comments on the status of discussions with the company, how the City is still in benefits negotiations with Pacific Northwest LNG and haven't signed on with the company yet, observing that at the moment the city is being a neutral party. 

You can review Mayor Brain's comments as part of this report from CFTK.

The Mayor's comments on behalf of Prince Rupert are intriguing, offering up as it does the concept of neutrality for the City when it comes to a major project for the region.

Particularly one that at the moment, is the only one of the proposed LNG projects on the North Coast that appears closest to the development stage. A major industrial development which would deliver up to 600 jobs related to plant operations, spur on spin off employment in the region and add billions of dollars of investment into the region.

We wonder however, if that neutral position has the endorsement of the other six members of Prince Rupert City Council, who unfortunately didn't get any camera time as part of the CFTK report to share their thoughts on LNG development.

Considering the impact that the Pacific NorthWest LNG project might have on the community, using the term neutral seems an interesting choice of words for a Mayor and City Council, especially for a group which has been hammering home the message for a year now of the prospect of major economic growth to come for the region.

We imagine that representatives of Pacific NorthWest LNG might have been looking for a slightly stronger declaration of support for the project, which if launched would have significant impact on Prince Rupert.

Though a look back through some of their previous visits to Prince Rupert Council over the last few years, will show at times a rather mixed reaction to their proposed development for Lelu Island from some members of City council.

Beyond any impressions that Pacific NorthWest may have about the lack of declared support from Prince Rupert, the stance of neutrality may catch the attention of Premier Christy Clark.

Who as we all remember from September, had delivered some fairly glowing words about the City's Mayor during the recent UBCM gathering in Vancouver, featuring a closing address where the Premier hailed the Mayors vision and Prince Rupert's future.

We suspect that taking a neutral position on issues related to LNG, is not the kind of vision that the Premier was thinking of, nor will it deliver the kind of future that she probably has in mind.

It's not the first time that the City has remained on the sidelines when it comes to discussions related on the theme of LNG development, other than on their own preference for a terminal development at Tuck Inlet.

There does not appear to have been any official Prince Rupert contribution provided towards the CEAA process for Pacific NorthWest LNG and as we noted on the blog earlier this month, the comment period for the proposed Aurora LNG Digby Terminal passed without any contribution from the City of Prince Rupert.

You can review more background on the Pacific Northwest LNG Project here, for further items related to Prince Rupert City Council developments, see our archive page here.

Haunting season gets a head start tonight at the Nisga'a Hall

Your chance to wander through the mysteries of a haunted house arrive tonight as the Gitmaxmak'ay Nisga'a Youth host a Haunted House at Prince Rupert's Nisga'a Hall.

The event runs from 6:30 to 8:30 and for a two dollar donation you can spend the evening exploring the themes of the pre Halloween night experience.

Those that drop into the Third Avenue West hall will be able to enter and leave as you wish through the two hours of the Haunted House.

The evening will put to work some of the creative minds from the Society, who have put together some spooktacular ideas for the Hall.

Money raised from Thursday's Haunted House will be put towards activities for Gitmaxmak'ay Nisga'a Youth.

Tonight's Haunted House at the Nisga'a Hall is just one of a number of events taking place around the city as Halloween eve gets closer, you can review our notes on the Civic Centre celebrations for Saturday here.

Somewhere on the North Coast, someone is holding a 1 million dollar ticket

Last night's Guaranteed Prize Draw in the Wednesday 649 draw has delivered someone who bought a ticket on the North Coast a cool one million dollars, with the region identified last night as home to the province's newest millionaire.

And while not the Giant Jackpots of recent weeks of the main draw, the 1 million probably works as a handy afterthought for those that check their numbers each Wednesday and Saturday evening.

No indication was provided from the BC Lottery website as to which North Coast community is the destination of luck for Wednesday night's draw.

Shift in the standings for CIHL West following weekend play

Update: Turns out that there is a scheduling mistake on the CIHL website, with the Rampage advising that there is NO Game scheduled for Saturday night in Terrace between the Rampage and River Kings, the next game for the Rampage comes up on November 7th when the Lac La Hache Tomahawks come to town.

Things have become a little more congested in the CIHL West division following last weekend's play, with the Prince Rupert Rampage slipping off their perch atop the tables, after the Terrace River Kings skated into the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre and left with two points.

Saturday night at the Jim was all Terrace in a hard hitting, penalty filled affair, that saw the visiting River Kings jump out to a 1-0 lead in the mid way of the first period and never look back, adding three more goals in the second and a final one for the third on the way to a 5-0 shut out of the home side in front of 749 of the faithful at the Civic Centre.

The main story on the night was an inability for the Rampage to capitalize on the nine power play opportunities that they had through the three periods, letting those chances slip by as the evening worked its way to conclusion. While the River Kings were almost equal to the power shortage with the man advantage, the River Kings did make the best on one of their 9 power play opportunities, a power play marker in the second period.

Even though the River Kings dominated the evening in the goal count, the shots on goal were almost equal on the evening. Over the sixty minutes of play, the River Kings directed 34 pucks the way of Rampage goaltender Jarrod Hildebrandt, while the Rampage offence couldn't crack the armour of Terrace's Patrick Leal, despite the thirty three shots fired at the River King net.

Penalties marked the much of the tone of the night, with an equal amount of penalties and time served recorded on the rather full game sheet. Terrace on the night sat for 37 minutes of time on 18 infractions, while the Rampage players were in the box for 37 minutes as well, serving time for 19 penalty calls.

The officials had their hands full keeping play under control with seven penalty calls in the first period, 18 in the second and 12 in the third, including three game misconducts as the tone of the game got a bit nasty in the final frame.

The full score sheet from Saturday night's match up can be found here.

For Terrace the road win could prove to be a turning point even this early in the season, with the River Kings having struggled through the first month of play, all those frustrations seemed in the past following their trek down Highway 16.

The win from Saturday night and the two points now move the River Kings closer to the pack in the very tight West Division with but four points separating the now division leading Smithers Steelheads from the River Kings at the bottom of the standings

The Rampage will be looking for a bounce back win on Saturday night, when they spend Halloween evening in Terrace with a return match up with the River Kings, puck drop at the Terrace Ice Arena is at 8 PM.

You can keep up to date on how the Rampage have done from our schedule and results page here, while our notes and items from around the CIHL can be found on our Rampage Archive page.

Just in time for Halloween the ghosts of Watson Island return

It's baaaack ... in the news!
A surprising name from the past for
Watson Island  appeared this week

"We certainly did what we could, I don't think we ever backed away from anything. And now we have a new group that is going to realize when local government legislation forces something upon you, what a hell hole it can be, and I'm talking about Watson Island, the thing never ends ... " -- Former Mayor Jack Mussallem speaking at his final Council session in November 2014, offering the incoming Council a cautionary word on the nature of the City's Watson Island file.  

That long running tale of  the place that the past Mayor described as a hell hole for Prince Rupert returns to the forefront of our civic discussion this week, surely to make the rounds of the coffee shops and bars as something from the tales of Believe it or Not Prince Rupert style.

The discussion to be launched, coming from a notice published yesterday in the weekly newspaper that outlines the latest points of discussion from a former official of the Sun Wave group Mr. Ni Ritao, a key participant from the  days of the Sun Wave company, and apparently someone who has some comments to make on how the past legal negotiations between the city and his former company evolved.

Noting in his published four point notification through the weekly paper, that he declares that the agreement entered on behalf of Sun Wave Forest Products in August of 2013 was made without his legal authorization and he considers it to be null and void with no legal effect.  

Adding that the arbitration order made two years later was based on an invalid settlement agreement and that he considers that to be null and void as well.

All of which makes for a swirl of events which we can now add to the always expanding list of issues related to the never ending saga of the industrial site.

For those who may be getting confused, and who could blame you, what with all the various players that have passed through those Watson Island gates in over the years, Mr. Ni Ritao has a fairly colourful history from his time in the BC spotlight.

When we had last heard of his story, it included some names from the BC Liberal's past and a bit of involvement for Ni Ritao with the Chinese legal system.

Lobbyist fine upheld for former BC Liberal MLA
Beijing investigates high official tied to B.C. pulp mill fraud
Push to invest with man suing B.C. town irks NDP
B.C. Liberals tied to controversy in China
Watson Island becomes the backdrop for a Chinese legal thriller
An email chain that leads right to the gates of the Old Skeena Cel mill

Apparently free now from whatever limitations he faced over the previous two years, it seems that Mr. Ni Ritao from his Shanghai base is back, more than a little annoyed and perhaps it appears ready to rumble.

Where these latest developments may take us is the thing of fortune tellers, or in the spirit of Halloween, spell casting witches.  Though the sudden reappearance of Ni Ritao and his declaration that the previous agreement and arbitrations are "null and void" certainly takes us further into the way back machine when it comes to the long running story of Watson Island.

Following the publication of the notice, and a follow up story in the Northern View, an item which basically recreated the "declaration" quote for quote, the Mayor logged onto the paper's comments section and directed residents to the City's media release, which offered up the city's side of the renewed debate over their interaction with the Sun Wave group.

The information statement addressed some of the points from Ni Ritao's Wednesday's notification and outlined the string of events that have taken place related to the Sun Wave issue over the last two years.

The latest in developments would seem to be adding on to the city's woes when it comes to Watson Island. Earlier in the summer we made note of another legal issue, that involved the Watson Island Development Company and its efforts in the courts with the City of Prince Rupert over the site.

As we outlined on the blog in August,  WATCO found some success in the courts from the most recent proceedings of July and August, setting the calendar for further legal work heading on into February of 2017.

Should Ni Ritao follow up the prospect of further legal action himself, Prince Rupert residents could see the fascinating situation of duelling lawsuits over the same industrial lands that continue to haunt the community.

With all of this renewed focus on a topic that few at City Hall it seems ever really want to discuss in public, it surely is now time for the Mayor and Council to provide the residents of the city with a more comprehensive update than just a media release.

Delivering as much information as their legal representatives might allow for, as to where the City is with these two participants in their legal travels. As well, any update for the public should offer up information as to the current cost to the city of maintaining the industrial site, background on any outstanding issues related to the site and  details as to just how much the legal requirements of the Watson Island file are costing the community.

In previous years, while the topic was a challenge, the city did deliver occasional updates on such things as "burn rates" and the occasional hopeful indication that the long nightmare may soon end.

Mayor Brain even took on that same sunny outlook earlier this year, speaking to the CBC's Carolyn de Ryk in May,  at that time he observed that the residents of Prince Rupert would see the City move forward with Watson Island, expressing that belief that the situation was going to end this year, or as he put it in May "very soon".

As the events noted above with WATCO have illustrated, that perhaps was at best a bit of an optimistic overview.

Since that time, with the exception of an announcement that some decommissioning work was taking place at Watson Island, the Mayor or Council members have not discussed Watson Island in a public forum since, with the topic rarely  brought up during public Council sessions.

Nor since the new team at City hall took office one year ago, has the City provided residents with any kind of status report on when there may be closure on the situation.

Considering the events of yesterday and the ongoing issues with the WATCO file, closure for Watson Island may be something that for Rupertites remains as elusive as ever and still apparently somewhere far down a road, one that seemingly has no end of twists and turns.

Leaving us to think back to just over a year ago and those final comments on his way out the door and the now prescient forecast of what may come from a former Mayor.

To refresh your memory on the Fables of Watson Island, see our archive page on the topic here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Council hears of request for extended transit hours in community

Prince Rupert City Council discussed the
possibility of seeking longer transit hours
from Prince Rupert Transit
Prince Rupert City Council may soon be approaching BC Transit to consider extending the hours of service for the city's transit system, a topic that became part of the discussion at Monday's City Council session.

The prospect of increasing the hours of operation for bus service in the city was tied into discussions that came out of  a recent session of the City's recreation commission, which noted that increasing access and use of the city's facilities is something that could be boosted with a longer schedule into the evening.

At the moment, the four regular Prince Rupert routes all feature a schedule which stops for the night sometime towards the  6:30 mark from Monday to Thursday and on Saturdays, with service extended to the 10 PM mark on Fridays.

Prince Rupert Transit website

No indication as to how much longer that the City might wish to see the transit hours extended to was provided during the course of the discussion at Council on Monday night.

Mayor Brain noted that the proposal from the recreation commission was something that the city's corporate administrator should follow up on.

You can review the  two minute conversation on Transit from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the one hour seventeen minute point.

For more items related to City Council Discussions see our archive page here.

No slides, no notes and nary a Facebook post from Council when it comes to LNG conference

Monday's council session wandered through a number of items both on the Agenda and of a free form style, yet by the time the evening came to an end, there was nothing to share from our municipal representatives when it came to a recent LNG conference in Vancouver.

The City it seems was represented at that conference, Councillor Kinney providing the travel notice at last Friday's Regional District meeting, with the Councillor noting, but not listing for the SQCRD officials, that a number of  council members from Prince Rupert were in Vancouver for the event.

The LNG in BC Conference, which was the third annual event, highlighted the state of the LNG industry in 2015 with the Liberal Government of Premier Clark still anticipating strong results from their efforts to build an industry from the ground up.

The gathering brought together a range of municipal and provincial officials, as well as key industry players, with a number of workshops and information sessions designed to showcase the progress of the industry, with a number of key announcements made and information sessions taking place during the three days.

The province outlined some of  background to the events at the end of the conference.

Third annual conference breaks new ground for LNG future

Considering the investment that the North Coast would seem to have in the proposed LNG industry, it's puzzling that those that may have been in attendance, did not share any of their findings from the three days in Vancouver.

In previous years, when Council members would travel on city business out of town, they would following their return (though not always) provide a short update at the next available public session of Council, eager it seemed to inform the Council members and those at home as to what they had learned from their travels.

Council Members reportedly
were in attendance at the
LNG in BC conference in
Vancouver Oct 14-16 
That at times proved to be part of the focus of then Mayor Mussallem's session ending Mayor's Report, which featured a thumbnail sketch if you will of his travels on behalf of the city.

In the case of this month's LNG conference however, despite a fairly active Social media engagement on a number of topics from City Hall and the recent hiring of a Communications Manager by the City, the only indication that Council members were even out of town, comes by way of the minutes of a Regional District Council session, not a document that we imagine gets a lot of reading.

This highlights what appears to be a few policy shortcomings of late when it comes to what the City and City Council as a whole considers information that may be of interest to the public.

While the City offers up notes on community events and the some of the latest spending initiatives of the Mayor and Council as part of a frequent stream of information through its range of media options.

For the most part when it comes to updates on key issues that would surely be of interest to the public (Watson Island, CityWest, labour issues and Lot 444 developments, to name a few) those larger and potentially more controversial topics are left out of the flow of regular information from City Hall.

As for the theme of road trips on city business, when it comes to transparency on travel issues, residents of the City shouldn't have to read the fine print of another body of government's meeting minutes to learn what their municipal officials have been up to.

That it would seem, is the kind of information that should be made available on the city's own website, advising residents when their elected officials are away on business on behalf of the city.

In larger cities, updates on the work of their Council members and their travel is fairly easy to find, with those larger communities even providing an easy to access review of expenses claimed during those kinds of trips.

It's really not too much to expect that we be told in a timely fashion that council members and senior staff may be travelling on our dime and when Council members return, we should also receive some form of a report from those that were away, advising us as to what information they have brought back with them from their journey.

For more items related to City Council developments see our archive page here.

Housing Update highlights funding issues and cross subsidization concepts

As they have at the end of many City council sessions previous, housing issues once again dominated the conversation on Monday evening, as council members took stock of where they are at on a file that they've been engaged with pretty well since they took office last December.

To start the discussion off on Monday, the Mayor provided a short overview of the latest developments between the City and the various stakeholders in their housing committee. Noting that they haven't made much progress from the last Council session, but that they are hopeful of moving the process forward in the weeks to come.

He also advised that they had assessed a list of  city properties that they had identified from their recent tour of the city and created an internal city report as to which lots might be accessed when it comes to housing issues or other uses.

Councillor Thorkelson then took charge of the majority of the discussion, sharing some of her recent discussions in the community regarding housing concerns, noting that the Mission of the Good Shepherd is looking to find partners to create some affordable housing in the community.

However, she also outlined that the group is looking to address needs ranging from housing for families, to the need for just overnight beds for in town residents who may be homeless for a short period of time.

As Ms. Thorkelson recounted, like many other groups, the Mission of the Good Shepherd is running into problems in trying to access funding for their proposal to purchase and renovated a building for that purpose.

With that as the background to the current situation, Councillor Thorkelson then offered up a concept that may soon become part of the discussion for Council members on how best to tackle the issue of housing need in the community.

Making note of one approach to the situation may be through what is called cross subsidization, which would see rental properties scale their revenue from rentals, with some rents higher than others in the same building, a process which would provide for subsidized accommodations for those that may not have the means for higher rents.

As part of her presentation to council members on Monday, Councillor Thorkelson observed that it could be the quickest way for the city to address the current situation and to access some affordable housing int he community.

Providing the suggestion that the city could talk to the developers coming to town to adopt the concept voluntarily, or if required, to put some bylaw changes in place for current developers that are looking at housing proposals in the city at the moment.

That would introduce a process which would make it a requirement to either build the cross subsidized accommodation concept as a stand alone structure, or have part the concept incorporated into their current proposals for the community setting aside a number of units for subsidized housing.

She noted that this is the process that takes place in parts of Vancouver, with subsidized housing on one side and high rent housing on the other side of the same building, something that is called corridor housing.

A look at the Vancouver approach can be found here from the City of Vancouver website, which explains that city's focus on social and market rental housing. Whether concepts designed to answer the needs of a metropolitan area of over 1 million residents can be delivered to a community of less than 13,000 is perhaps something however that might require a little further study.

It's not the first time that the Councillor has brought that theme up at Council session, most recently she introduced the idea of cross subsidization back in July, when City Council reviewed the proposed of the waterfront view condo development proposed for Stiles Place/Bill Murray Way area near the Chances Entertainment complex.

Councillor Cunningham also had a few thoughts on the topic, addressing the theme of funding for housing options. Making note of one current funding program in place and suggesting that with the change of the Federal Government there may be additional money provided towards housing issue, suggesting that city staff should be keeping track of any changes or new grants when it comes to housing opportunities.

For his part of the conversation, Mayor Brain noted that the City does have someone on staff that is actively keeping track of any grant opportunities that may be available to the community. He did suggest that while the city doesn't traditionally seek out housing grants, that the City could pass on that information to community groups that could make use of that process.

Councillor Niesh offered up an alternative to Councillor Thorkelson's suggestion, observing that developers in the region that might not wish to adopt the model that she suggested, could instead provide funding towards an affordable housing fund, that could be directed towards addressing housing issues in the community. He suggested that city staff investigate that process further to see how other communities handle the issue.

Before staff might get too bogged down in exploring housing strategies in other communities, Councillor Mirau noted that there is a draft report available for study on the topic from Urban Systems, a document which did offer a range of policy options for the city to take a look at.

Councillor Thorkelson also observed that there have been similar studies delivered for Terrace and Kitimat as well, but remained determined to move forward some discussion on her initial theme, reinforcing her belief that having developers buy into the cross subsidization model is the best approach at the moment to address the housing issues in Prince Rupert.

The full discussion on housing concerns can be found from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the one hour seven minute mark.

You can review our notes on the housing files from our archive page here.

A full review of Monday's Council session can be found here.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page here.

Pacific NorthWest LNG provides update for City Council on project planning

Prior to the start of review of the regular agenda for Monday's Regular Council Session, representatives from Pacific NorthWest LNG provided Council members with a short update on the latest information related to their proposed LNG development for Lelu Island.

Ms. Tessa Gill and Mr. Derek Baker delivered a short slide show presentation to go along with their project review, offering up some background when it comes to the ongoing work to prepare for development should the company receive Federal approval at the end of their CEAA evaluation process.

Pacific NorthWest LNG outlined
the timeline that they are
working under when it comes
to the Lelu Island project
As part of the update, the Pacific NorthWest reps outlined the process to this point, noting that the company had moved forward with their plans on a conditional stage, while they await Federal approval for their development.

As part of the slide show presentation, the path to this point was provided, with the process now nearing the end of the CEAA review stage, should they receive the required approval, the final step would appear to be a final review by the company as to the financial viability of the project.

She also updated council on some of the approaches that the company has made with area First Nations as part of their engagement process.

Ms. Gill also reviewed the nature of the construction process and reinforced the design of the facility and how it is not located on Flora Bank, but adjacent to it and that they have removed the need for a major dredge in the area. Highlighting the suspension bridge as one of the ways that they have responded to community feedback.

As well she provided some further background on the results of the habitat studies that they have taken on as part of their planning for the project.

She observed that their studies have provided them with modelling data that suggests that there will be no significant impact on the marine environment or on Flora Bank, as well as offering up some details on the nature of their studies into the eel grass of the Flora Bank region.

Some of the work to this point
on the proposed terminal project was
outlined for Council on Monday evening
Pacific NorthWest LNG reps provided
a look at some of the environmental
work that they have done to date

In addition to the environmental items discussed, the Pacific NorthWest reps reminded Council of the upcoming educational opportunities available through NWCC for November offering residents of the community to prepare for potential jobs associated with the operation of the terminal.

Mayor Brain offered up the first of some questions from Council members,  asking for an outline as to any agreements that Pacific NorthWest LNG has signed with Lax Kw'alaams. While Ms. Gill did not offer up any specific details on any engagement with the Lax Kw'alaams First Nations government, she did note that the company has varying levels of engagement with all area First Nations regarding the investigative works related to the project.

Councillor Mirau asked if they had a timeline in mind for moving forward with the project. Ms. Gill noted that the situation was up to the regulator and that there were 100 days left on the regulatory clock. Noting if they accept their submission, there would be a need for consultation and Ministerial review, with the potential for further requirements.

In an answer on potential employment numbers form Councillor Kinney and Councillor Randhawa, the approximate number would be 300 full time employees of Pacific NorthWest, while another 300 full time positions through other contractors that could be created as part of other services required for the terminal complex.

Ms. Gill also noted that it was the preference of the company to hire local workers, though there would be the need for some experienced workers from outside of the city. When it comes to the construction aspect of the project, while the preference again is to hire local, there will be a requirement larger than the local workforce can provide.

Councillor Thorkelson followed up on the environmental modelling aspect of their work and seeking clarification  on what the process is in delivering that to CEAA and providing comments related to their previously submitted information.

More on the presentation can be found on our City Council Timeline feature.

The full presentation can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the fifteen minute point of the proceedings from Monday evening.

More items related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal can be found on our archive page.

While discussion points from City Council sessions can be reviewed here.