Wednesday, January 13, 2016

City Council Timeline, Monday, January 11, 2016

Prince Rupert City Council launched the second full year of their four year mandate with a Monday evening public session which ran close to two hours, with Council members reviewing a number of items from the night's agenda. Some of them carry overs from the year before, others topics new to the discussion table.

Through the course of the 120 minutes, Council members received a review from the City Planner on some of the planning for Major Projects that took place in 2015. Council also considered a number of concerns related to the ongoing discussion on affordable housing in the community, a topic which provided for a vigorous review of progress to this point.

Council members also received a report on a proposed memorial plaque for the City's Rotary waterfront Park to honour the life of a well known Rupertite Colonel Cyrus Peck, discussed the funding levels for Community Grant recipients in the city, making a significant change to the allotment of funding

During the Bylaws portion of the evening Council reviewed a bylaw plan for shipping container usage in the city and discussed the closure of road access to an area near the Digby Towers.

Towards the end of the evening, Council members outlined some of the items of note that they had for Council while the Mayor provided a review of the latest developments from the Housing committee and reviewed a weekend conference held in the city related to urban planning.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Regular Council Agenda for January 11, 2016.

Council also the year off with the first Special Closed Session of the year 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 January 11, 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 -- Absent

Video Archive for January 11, 2016

( 0:00--1:30 )  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

( 1:30 -- 43:00 ) Report from the City Planner on Major Projects from 2015 -- Council took in a presentation from City Planner Zeno Krekic, who provided an overview of some of the past items reviewed through the planning for Major Projects of last year. Offering up some background on the number of surveys such as the LNG GO Plan, Population and Housing studies and workshops for Council that have taken place, as well as notes on other ongoing initiatives through the last few years.

As for what's ahead in 2016 Mr. Krekic noted that high on the to do list are such things as: complete the land base and population projection models, energize the way of housing competition, affordable housing policy and to coordinate the work of planning for major projects, incorporating long term planning such as Hays 2.0 vision, Rebuild Rupert and core planning and such as housing policies.

The Mayor noted that a public engagement process related to some of those concepts would get underway shortly in 2016 and that as Mr. Krekic noted there now was a need for policy integration as a key part of moving things forward.

Towards that, the Mayor then put forward a notice of motion to create terms of reference for a working group to integrate planning for major projects, OCP and affordable housing policy development that is required to take things to the next stage.

The Mayor followed up his notice by advising Council members that he would be having further discussion with the City Manager and City Planner on the proposal before bringing it back to the next Council session.

Following Mr. Krekic's look back at some of efforts of the past few years and the response to Councillor Mirau's question on time lines for affordable housing data, Councillor Cunningham expressed a bit of frustration at the pace of delivery of key information when it came to the city's affordable housing concerns.

Picking out a few items from the previous talking points, he noted how Council has been discussing the topic for over a year and still has yet to find much movement on the issue.

On the theme of the past studies Mr. Cunningham was particularly concerned how after close to twelve months of work on housing issues, the City was still looking to determine information and how that is a long time to be waiting for more statistics. Going further to highlight some of the issues related to housing in the community that continue to get worse while the City still looks to get more information.

To try and address some of Councillor Cunningham's concerns, the Mayor provided his synopsis on the theme, providing some background on the items that the Housing committees have been working on and where their work is at to this point. Noting that it's an issue that is going to require some patience in the community and that he believes that it will get done this year.

The Mayor's overview and Mr. Krekic's follow up thoughts on the statistical items however still left Councillor Cunningham with a number of questions and concerns on the issue.

( 43:00 -- 44:30 Report from the Director of Operations on a Memorial Plaque for Colonel Peck -- The City's Director of Operations provided some background on a request from the Rotary Club for the City's support in providing for a Memorial Plaque for a well known Rupertite of the past, with the Memorial plaque to be placed at the Rotary Waterfront Park to commemorate the life of Colonel Cyrus Peck.

Council voted to approve the motion

( 44:30 -- 1:15:00  ) Report from the City's Financial Officer related to Community Enhancement Grants -- The City Manager delivered the report for the CFO who was absent on the evening, noting some of the changes to be made to the final funding requests to those Grant recipients for 2016.

Councillor Niesh led off the discussion on the theme noting how hard these decisions are to make and offering up that he had a few comments and a motion related on how to distribute the funding that he noted would remain at the $850,000 level.

As for his numbers for Council, the councillor put forward a recommendation that the City reduce the amount of funding for the Library and redistribute a portion of that money to the Museum of Northern British Columbia and the Lester Centre.

Under his plan, the Library would see their grant reduced by $66,0000 dollars and a cap put on that institution at $500,000. From that redistribution he would  add 15,000 dollars for the Museum and $15,000 for the Performing Arts Centre.

His thinking on reducing the amount for the Library being that they receive the largest amount from the City's grant process and he believes that they are the one organization that could best reduce hours and services and still remain in business.

The recommendation spurred on a wide ranging discussion on the nature of funding Community Enhancement grants, with Councillor Cunningham and Randhawa recommending that the City make use of funding from the city's Legacy Corporation Fund to cover off some of the Funding requests for this years cycle.

The issue of how to make use of the Legacy Fund proved to be one which Councillor Cunningham had much to comment on, noting that the Legacy Fund is owned by the people of this town and is the residents money, as well as Council's money, adding that the City has previously taken money out of that Fund for major projects and in his opinion now this is not the time to be cutting back on local groups and that part of major projects are such things as the library, theatre, museum and the areas that are the corner stone of the community.

That was an approach to the issue that met a fair bit of resistance from Councillor Mirau who stressed his desire to see the Legacy Funding not be used for anything other than planning for Major Projects, reinforcing the view to Council that the fund should not be used for Operations budget concerns.

Councillor Mirau followed up those thoughts with an amendment to the motion under discussion, noting that Council doesn't want to keep having these funding discussions each year and haggling over amounts, asking that staff develop a standardized multi year funding agreement with the major grant recipients that would come into effect before the next round of Community enhancement grants in September.

Councillor Cunningham countered that suggestion recommending that it be made into a separate motion, preferring to deal with the motion at hand at the moment.

For his contribution to the discussion the Mayor found no problems with the way that Councillor Mirau had introduced his amendment and then further echoed many of Councillor Mirau's thoughts on the nature of the Legacy Fund. Sharing much of the same resistance when it came into dipping into the Legacy Fund for purposes other than major project planning.

Councillor Cunningham returned to his thoughts when it comes to the city having dipped into the Legacy Fund for other things, observing for council that he did not see any problem with using the fund for the grant process for this year and he did not believe that any precedent would be set.

The discussion came to an end with another recommendation from Councillor Mirau that Council hold to the current process when it comes to how they handle the Community Enhancement Funding and what they should remain focused on when it comes to the Legacy Fund.

With Councillor Cunningham noting that they were clearly at a stalemate in the discussion, he then called for the Mayor to hold the vote on the motion.

Council voted in approval to the motion on Community Enhancement Grants as provided by Councillor Niesh.

Correspondences for Action

1:15:00 -- 1:16:00  ) Request for a letter of support from Council for the Prince Rupert Crime Stoppers Anti Gang  initiative grant application -- The Mayor provided some background on the request and noted that he had already written a letter in December to let the organization know that he didn't believe there would be a problem in gaining support of council for the initiative.

The motion was approved to provide the letter of support.


( 1:16:00 -- 1:41:00 )  Proposed Zoning Amendment to Permit the use of Shipping containers in P1 and M1 Zones  -- The City Planner provided the background to the proposed bylaw change to allow for the use of shipping containers in various locations in the city. Highlighting in his report some of the positives and negatives when it comes to the use of the shipping containers and how expanding the use of them may impact on the community. City Staff conducted some research into the use of containers in other communities and provided those reports for council to review.

The main focus of the bylaw would see restrictions on the containers for storage only and in support of main business operations, as well as creating special provisions related to use in public facility zones the container are required to be uniformly painted the same as the principal building.

The Mayor, and Councillors Niesh, Cunningham and Randhawa all followed up the presentation with a number of questions related to the provisions to the Bylaw under consideration.

Council then voted to give the bylaw first reading, with further discussion on the issue to take place at the next meeting.

( 1:41:00 --  1:42:00 )  Report from the Director of Operations on a Road Closure and Removal of Highway Dedication Bylaw  -- The City's Operations Director outlined the nature of the proposed Bylaw change to allow for development of a site owned by Macro Properties in the Prince Rupert Boulevard area at Digby Towers.

Council voted to approve the motion

( 1:42:00 -- 1:43:30  ) Report on the Housing Committee -- The Mayor updated Council on the latest developments, providing three notes on the progress of the Housing Committee in recent weeks.

Highlighting for Council that the Housing Innovation Group will have a draft report ready by March with Shauna Wouters hired as a consultant and acting as the leader of the group.

Hew also noted that Council will be required to engage in a workshop environment with the planner to hone in on a site location appropriate for Affordable housing and then to work with the Housing  Group to figure out what the proposal would be.

The third point was a review of his points from earlier in the evening of the need to act on his notice of motion for a policy group to develop those affordable housing policies.

He wrapped up his short review by expressing satisfaction with the traction that housing concerns are gaining at the Council level.

( 1:43:30 --2:00:00 ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillor Niesh highlighted some background over some of the needs of the local Gymnastics Club and his concerns related to the treatment they have been receiving from the Civic Centre, with the club recently advised that they would be losing their  current storage space at the Civic Centre complex.

The Councillor asked that City Staff investigate the issue further to see if there could be some kind of resolution to the problem and allowing the city to keep a tenant at the civic facility. Noting that if they do decide to find an alternative venue, the city would be losing a valuable stream of revenue.

Councillor Cunningham noted that the Recreation Commission would be meeting at the end of the month and suggested that they appear in front of that group to share more on the issue.

Councillor Randhawa raised the issue of high gas prices in the community which are particularly high in Prince Rupert and inquired if the City could do anything to alleviate that burden on local residents, the Mayor noted that it wasn't really something that the City had any control over but that he would see if he could ask around to see what he could find out.

Councillor Cunningham asked as to the status of Councillor Mirau's Revenue Growth Strategy from early 2015. The Mayor took the lead on that question, outlining how the process was more about figuring out how the City was going to make money and embedding a culture of how everything that is done in the city is designed to bring revenue into the community, rather than just spending money.

Councillor Mirau followed up on those thoughts, noting that he had held discussions with the CFO and City Manager and that it was very much something that is a living document and reiterated the Mayors comment as to how it requires embedding a culture of entrepreneurship in local government.

Councillor Cunningham also asked as to the status of the Small Business Task Force and when they would be getting back to discussing some of the issues on that file.

The Mayor wrapped up the meeting by highlighting the nature of the recent Placemaking workshop featuring Portland Oregon's Community Repair held in the city, where some 45 participants including Council members and city staff joined other city residents in learning about some of the innovative public space developments taking place in Portland, Oregon.

The Mayor observed how some of the discussion also involved what the future of the McKay Street park area might look like and other neighbourhood redesign ideas from the bottom up and neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

He followed up his review by putting forward a notice of motion for  the next Council  meeting for the city to start a 2030 Sustainable City Policy Working Group that will discuss policies around placemaking, green policies such as renewable energy, local food production, social enterprises and  items of that nature, as well as some of the items that Councillor Mirau learned at the Communities fit for Children meeting of last year.

He also noted how the 2030 Sustainable City Working Group could be tied into such city functions as the Official Community Plan, affordable housing issues and planning for Major Projects issues as well as such concepts as composting, backyard hens, zero waste strategies that would make the city a more sustainable community and to help move the vision of the City's Hays 2.0 plan forward.

The Mayor also noted for the public that the City has published a list of Council's achievements from 2015 to the city website. Noting how he believes that 2015 was a very productive year and that he expects 2016 to provide even more traction on many fronts.

You can access the City Council Review for January 11th , 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.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from January 11th

Council next meets in Regular session on January 25th  in Council Chambers at City Hall.

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