Wednesday, October 28, 2015

City Council Timeline, Monday, October 26,2015

Some house cleaning on variance permits, contract awards and Permissive tax exemption issues made for a portion of the work for Prince Rupert City Council on Monday evening.

As well, a presentation from representatives of Pacific NorthWest LNG and another update when it comes to the ongoing work from the city's housing committees kept council members engaged through the final meeting for the month of October.

LNG issues provided for the focus of the Committee of the Whole portion of the night, with one resident taking the monthly opportunity to raise items with Council, in this case sharing his thoughts on a number of concerns when it comes to the development of the industry in the region.

As for the Regular Council session on the night, following a short presentation and update on the plans for the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal Council turned to its agenda, exploring the range of variance issues in front of them on the night, approving two while tabling a third.

Council members also reviewed background on some recent decisions to award contracts for work around the city, receiving reports on the Third Avenue Sidewalk rehabilitation program and for some work on the Seal Cove retaining wall.

They also finally approved the long delayed Permissive Property Exemptions for the next four years.

The evening wrapped up with a wide ranging discussion on how to approach housing issues in the community. With Councillor Thorkelson offering up a potential solution that would see subsidized options included as part of new housing development proposals in the city.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Regular Council Agenda for October 26  here.

Council also had took part in the latest of their Special closed Sessions which was held 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 October 26, 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 September 26, 2015

0:00 -- 13:30 )  Committee of the Whole Session for October 26, 2015 -- The main focus of the Committee of the Whole Session was an opportunity for members of the public to offer comments for Council on issues of concern, or items of interest to them.

On Monday, only one resident took advantage of that opportunity, providing for a ten minute overview related to a number of concerns he has when it comes to LNG development in the region.

Two projects were on his mind, the first the Tuck Inlet proposal from Exxon in the Lot 444 area, with the resident urging caution over the proximity of that proposed terminal to residential areas of the Seal Cove and other neighbourhoods of the East side of the city. Calling attention to not only the dangers from potential explosion, but of the amount of noise that the project could generate.

He also had some thoughts on the nature of the proposed LNG terminal for Lelu Island, noting his some of his personal concerns relate to that project.

( 13:30 -- 15:00 )  Regular Council Session  -- Adoption of Past Minutes and Agenda for the evening. -- Council reviewed a number of past minutes and accepted the Agenda for the evening's Regular Council session.

Petitions and Delegations

( 15:00 -- 33:00 ) Presentation from representatives of Pacific NorthWest LNG   --  Council received an update on the latest developments when it comes to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, with Ms. Tessa Gill and Mr. Derek Baker providing a slide show discussion on where the project sits at the moment and what approach the company plans to take moving forward.

Noting that the company is currently at the conditional stage for their plans, while they await Federal approval for their development.

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 how the facility is not 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 nature 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.

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

The Mayor asked for an outline as to any agreements that Pacific NorthWest LNG has signed with Lax Kw'alaams. And Ms. Gill, did not offer up any specific details on any engagement with the Lax Kw'laaams First Nation government, she did note the varying levels of engagement with all area First Nations regarding 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 their submission was accepted , there would still be a need for consultation and Ministerial review, with the potential for further requirements to be outlined.

In an answer on potential employment numbers form Councillor Kinney and Councillor Randhawa, it was noted  that 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 added 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.

With that contribution serving as the final question and comment, the presentation came to an end.

( 33:00 -- 47:00  ) Report from the City Planner related to a property on Prince Rupert Boulevard  --  With Councillor Randhawa excusing himself from the Chamber owing to a conflict, Mr. Krekic provided a review of the proposed plan related to a property on Prince Rupert Boulevard. Highlighting some of the factors that are to be considered with the development variance application under consideration.

Councillors Cunningham, Niesh and Thorkelson offered up some comments and observations related to the proposed variance and any impact on the neighbourhood and area homes.

Council then voted to carry the motion and moved the process forward.

( 47:00 -- 49:00   ) Report from the City Planner related to a property on Ambrose Avenue   --  With Councillor Randhawa back in the council chamber, the City planner provided the review of the specifics behind the application for a property on Ambrose Avenue. Highlighting some of the factors that are to be considered with the development variance application under consideration.

There were no comments or questions from Council members, Council then voted to carry the motion and moved the process forward.

49:00 -- 55:00 Report from the City Planner related to a property on 6th Avenue East   --  Councillor Thorkelson excused herself from the Chamber for this application owing to a conflict related to the property in question.

The City planner provided the review of the specifics behind the application for a property on 6th Avenue East. Highlighting some of the factors that are to be considered with the development variance application under consideration.

Councillor Niesh noted that of the information currently provided for Council on the application, some of it appears to conflict with previous information and that before council moves forward on the application it should be tabled until that information is provided. Going further, Mr. Niesh asked for a survey of the property and all the paperwork involved on it before Council deals with it any further.

Council then tabled the motion pending further information.

Councillor Cunningham then inquired and offered comments on a few of the items noted by the City Planner during his presentation. At that point, the Mayor brought the topic to a close noting that it had been tabled by Council.

Councillor Thorkelson then returned to the Council Chamber, with proceedings then moving forward.

( 55:00 -- 57:00  Report from the Director of Operations regarding the Third Avenue Sidewalk Rehabilitation Award -- The City's Financial Officer outlined the details from the report, noting that the project had been awarded to Rupert Woodn' Steel, which has already started its work, advising that the work of the five year project will take place from McBride to 8th Street.

The Mayor followed up her report, by explaining how the project was part of the city's Re:Build Prince Rupert infrastructure strategy, as well as part of their plan to rebuild the downtown core. Noting that Fraser Street is currently in the process of its first phase, with a second phase to take place next year and that once the Third Avenue sidewalks are addressed, the City also hopes to replace the street surface of Third Avenue in the future. He also observed that while there are other areas that will be addressed when it comes to infrastructure, it was decided to make Third Avenue the main focus at the moment.

Council then voted to accept the report for information purposes.

57:00 -- 57:30  ) The August Financial Report from the City's Financial Office -- Ms. Bomben provided the review of the City's financial notes from the month of August, finding no significant variances from the report of July. Noting that many of the capital works and purchases were underway through August and would be reflected in the September report.

Council then voted to accept the report for information purposes.

57:30 -- 1:01:00  Correspondence from the Special Events Society related to the City's Annual Civic Recognition Awards  -- The Mayor outlined the details of a letter from the Special Events Suggesting, which suggests that the City move its annual Civic Recognition Awards to Canada Day, so as to provide for more recognition for those that are being honoured and to provide incentive for other residents to become more involved in community activities.

Following a short discussion related to the request and the timeline impact that it might provide, Council voted to accept the recommendation.

1:01:00 -- 1:02:00 Resolution from Closed Session -- Mr. Mandryk, the Corporate Administrator outlined the nature of a recently approved contract award from a recent closed session of council, which will see Broadwater Industries commence work on the Seal Cove retaining wall. The motion was carried unanimously

 (  1:02:00 -- 1:06:00   ) Report from the City Financial Officer on Permissive Property exemptions -- Ms. Bomben provided a short overview on the topic highlighting a number of background items as requested by Council from previous council sessions and noting the financial aspects of the exemption process under consideration which would last for a total of four years.

After  her overview Council had a few questions related to the impact of the proposed changes and then held a short discussion on the process to be adopted, they then moved to carry the motion and move the process forward.

( 1:07:00 -- 1:18:00   ) An update on the Housing Committee -- 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 they are hopeful of moving the process forward in the weeks to come.

He also advised that they would be assessing what properties that they had identified from their recent tour and created an internal city report as to which lots might be accessed of use for housing issues or other uses.

Councillor Thorkelson shared 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. 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. She observed that they, like many other groups, are running into problems in trying to access funding for their proposal to purchase and renovated a building for that purpose.

She offered up the concept of one approach to that type of housing may be through cross subsidization, which would see some rents higher than others in the same building, so as to provide for subsidized accommodations for those that may not have the means for high rents.

Councillor Thorkelson observed that the cross subsidization concept could be the quickest way for the city to address the current situation and to access some affordable housing int he community. Suggesting that the city could talk to the developers coming to town, or to put some bylaw changes in place for current developers looking at housing proposals in the city, seeking to put in place the requirement to either build as a stand alone, or have part of their proposed buildings set aside 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.

She suggested that the concept may be something that the Council might want to think about.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his thoughts on the topic, making note of one current program in place and suggesting that with the change of the Federal Government there may be additional money provided towards housing issues and that city staff should be keeping track of any changes or new grants when it comes to housing opportunities.

The Mayor 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.

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. Returning to her initial theme, that she believes the best approach at the moment would be to explore the concept of developers buying into the cross subsidization model as the most likely one to address the issues in Prince Rupert.

( 1:18:00 -- 1:20:00   ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillor Cunningham had some thoughts on increasing access to community facilities, with the Mayor making note of one suggestion of increasing Transit hours in the night time, something that Council asked staff to follow up on.

Councillor Randhawa called attention to some work required on sidewalks in the Seventh Street and Third Avenue East area.

Councillor Niesh provided a review of the recent community event of the Mz. Judged pageant, with 35,000 dollars raised for the Transition House in the city.

And with that, the council session came to an end for the evening.

Surprisingly none of the Council members outlined some background on their recent travels to the LNG Conference in Vancouver from October 14-16.

At Friday's Regional District meeting, Councillor Kinney had noted that a number of Prince Rupert representatives had made the journey to Vancouver.

However, none of those members of the Prince Rupert delegation that attended the three day event seemed to have had much to report on to Council, or  for those viewing at home during Monday's public session of the Council session.

You can access the City Council Review for October 26 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 October 26, 2015

Council next meets in Regular session on November 9th in Council Chambers at City Hall.

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