Wednesday, April 13, 2016
City Council Timeline: Monday, April 11, 2016
The first scheduled Council session of the month opened up with a presentation from AltaGas, as representatives from the Alberta energy company outlined their proposed propane export terminal for Ridley Island.
Following that, Council heard of changes to the City's Fire Control and Protection bylaw as consideration of a pair of road closure requests.
The City's financial plan for the year ahead gained some momentum as Council began the process of adopting both the Five Year Financial Plan and Property Tax Bylaw provisions for 2016.
The evening came to an end with a number of Reports from the Mayor and Councillor Mirau, as well as the review of a number of items of interest or concern from Council members.
For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Regular Council Agenda for April 11, 2016
Council also had a Closed Session scheduled for the night.
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 April 11, 2016
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 April 11, 2016
(0:00-44:00) Regular Council Session for Monday, April 11, 2016 -- The Mayor reviewed past minutes and the current agenda for the evening.
( 46:00 -- 29:30 ) Presentation to Council -- Alta Gas -- Mr. David Markham and Ms. Jennifer Osmar, representing the Alberta energy company AltaGas provided an overview of their proposed Propane Export Terminal for Ridley Island. They outlined the nature of the company and the process of community engagement that they plan to make use of to provide more background on the project as they move forward.
Among the points they covered for City Council was a review of the international demand that there is for propane, noting that there is an over supply of propane at the moment and with their usual customer of the USA now self sufficient in the industry, AltaGas is turning its attention towards Asia and wants to make Prince Rupert an important part of their distribution plans.
Some background on the how the export facility would work was offered up, including notes as to where the propane is coming, as well as to how it will be transported by way of CN rail lines across Northern BC and into Alberta.
Council was told that Ridley Island was selected because of its strategic location, access to the rail line and with the area already developed previously for a sulphur shipment facility and the access that the location offers makes a good fit for the company.
The two representatives made note of a similar facility that they operate in Washington State and invited Council members to explore that facility to get an understanding of what the Prince Rupert terminal may look like.
As for investment, they noted that it would the first of its kind propane shipping facility in Canada, with job creation of 200-250 construction jobs and full time jobs number at around 50 upon completion. They also noted that their terminal would help to diversify some of the exports that are shipped out of Prince Rupert.
The regulatory process will be handled by Ridley Terminals Incorporated as the project is to be sub leased from RTI, with final details as to a timeline to be determined shortly. There will be further opportunities for more information, Open Houses and public comment as that process moves forward.
Council members Niesh and Kinney took advantage of the opportunity to discuss the project, asking a number of questions related to the proposed development. Some of the inquiries related to the project involved the nature of the jobs to be created, dangers related to shipments of propane.
On the issue of safety, the AltaGas representatives noted that there has been a significant tightening of the rules for shipment by rail of dangerous goods, noting that the design of rail cars for shipment are regulated by Transport Canada. They estimated fifty cars a day arriving at the Prince Rupert terminal, reminding Council that shipments of Propane already arrive in Prince Rupert, shipped to Alaska.
They also called attention to their safety record and experience when it comes to the shipment of their product.
Councillor Cunningham inquired as to the time frame for the project and the nature of the safety record while transporting propane across country.
The timeline sees much of this year taken up with the environmental review process and consultation with the community, with hopes for a final investment decision to be considered by the end of this year.
If a positive decision is reached, construction to start in 2017 with the first shipments to be made in 2018.
On his safety concerns, the pair from AltaGas reiterated the safety record of the company and advised that they would be using equipment that meets the standards for safety in place.
Councillor Randhawa inquired if the construction work would be local based or if outside contractors would be used. He was told that the preference is to use local labour if possible.
Councillor Thorkelson returned to the issues of Safety for transporting the propane, asking about worst case scenarios in case of derailment and dangers to the Skeena and Bulkley Rivers. She was advised that issues of rail safety would be addressed by CN, on the theme of toxicity and clean up provisions, the AltaGas reps noted that propane is non toxic, and in the event of a spill or leak it would dissolve into the air and would not contaminate air or soil.
Councillor Thorkelson also had questions of safety and emergency response at the terminal facility, asking what procedures the company had in mind for the site.
The response from the AltaGas reps outlined how they were still working on the Emergency Response Studies, though noting that the tank facility itself would be double walled, as well as featuring a state of the art leak protection system as part of the terminal.
On the theme of fire protection, Councillor Thorkelson had concerns over the cost of any additional training or equipment that would be required by the Prince Rupert Fire Department.
She then followed up her talking points with a look at the topic of housing, noting that in her opinion any major proponent should be considering the socio economic impact that their development may have on the community.
She added to those observations by asking if AltaGas had any plans to assist with the city's housing situation, either by committing to developing affordable housing or by way of a financial contribution.
Towards that they noted that would appreciate the opportunity to create a dialogue as to how they could contribute to the housing situation.
The line of questions and comments came to an end with Councillor Cunningham, following up on Councillor Thorkelson's theme on how Alta Gas may be able to assist the city, while Mayor Brain called attention to the City's Planning for Major Projects initiatives and how it has identified projects such as this as one which would see some investment in pressure points towards contributing to a sustainable community.
With one final question from the Mayor as to where AltaGas is sourcing its gas supply from the presentation came to an end.
(29:30--35:30 ) Council received a review of a Report on the Fire Control and Protection Bylaw -- Councillor Thorkelson asked questions related to why the Bylaw was required at this time, with the City Manager providing some background on the document and noting that there have been some changes put in place by the Province related to standards expected for communities and the bylaw changes reflect that policy.
He observed for Council that the Prince Rupert Department has been meeting these standards for years and exceed many of the requirements of the document. Fire Chief Dave McKenzie provided further clarification for council on the nature of the details to the Bylaw.
Councillor Cunningham noted that the nature of the work required by Prince Rupert Fire Rescue could change with the arrival of larger scale industrial development.
Council voted to approve the motion.
(35:30--37:00) Road Closure Bylaw for a roadway section on Chamberlain Avenue -- The City's Director of Operations provided a report and some background on the nature of the request for the road closure on Chamberlain Avenue.
Council provided its first three readings on the motion.
(37:00--54:30) Road Closure Bylaw for a roadway section on Park, and Five Corners -- The Director of Operations provided background on the road closure request for that area of the city, noting that there had been some small opposition to the plan from some residents of the area.
The discussion of the proposed road closure provided for differing points of view, as Council members reviewed some of the past history related to the development proposals of the past for the property and how few of them ever came to pass.
Council members also had concerns over access to the road that leads up Biggar place to the side of the property in question and how that may impact area residents.
Councillor Mirau noted that consolidating the lots may provide enough incentive to the owner to develop something in that area that Council might find favour with, while Councillor Niesh observed that the discussion at this point was simply one of deciding to close a road.
Councillor Cunningham also noted that the lots that are being landlocked are part of an existing apartment complex that is already zoned for potential expansion.
Councillor Thorkelson expressed concerns that Council wasn't considering larger issues than just the closure of a road, expressing her belief that some kind of clause should be added to ensure that the developer can't just sit on the land.
Councillor Niesh offered up the view that the proponent has been trying to accumulate the lots in the area over the last twenty years to work towards some form of development, noting that Council frequently talks about the issue but never makes any decision on it.
The Director of Operations offered to come back to staff with answers for Council, as well as to revisit the issues raised on the topic.
Councillor Thorkelson moved to table the motion until that report is delivered by staff.
Council then voted to defeat that motion, returning to the motion to close the road in question and voting to carry it forward providing second and third reading to the motion, with Councillor Thorkelson in opposition.
( 54:30 -- 1:03:30 ) -- Report from the Chief Financial Officer on the City's Five Year Financial Plan and Property Tax Bylaw -- Ms. Corinne Bomben offered up the background to the Five Year Financial plan and noted that at a Special Council Session on Thursday, April 7th, Council directed staff to incorporate a zero percent tax increase into the five year financial plan and related property tax bylaws. Both bylaws have been prepared with no increase to the mill rate as none was necessary to balance the budget.
Councillor Thorkelson called attention to the use of the community general operating surplus and the removal of 505,000 dollars from that account, asking what amount was now left in that surplus following that transfer.
While the CFO looked up the information, the City Manager Robert Long observed that it was important for the community to recognize that the expenditures have not increased from last year, which is Council's definition of a zero percent tax increase. Adding that as assessed values go up in the city, they can reduce the weight of which they collect taxes so that they only collect the fifteen million dollars noted in the Budget. Something that they have accomplished by using the changes in the actual number and amount of assessed values in the community this year compared to last year.
Ms. Bomben returned to the discussion and noted that the unaudited amount that was left in the surplus was 3.9 million dollars.
Councillor Thorkelson observed that they hadn't had a chance to go over the budget and followed up with a question on whether the amounts included the new property taxes.
From that comment, Mayor Brain and Councillor Thorkelson engaged in a vigorous exchange over how much time Council members had spent reviewing the budget process and what form of information they examined in recent weeks.
With Councillor Thorkelson taking issue with some of the Mayor's observations on that theme, noting that those discussions involved a form of the budget that is not part of the budget now being considered.
From there she followed up with some inquires related to Legacy Items going past 2016.
Council then voted to approve the motion on the Five Year Financial Plan and the Property Tax Bylaw.
The Mayor then observed that this was a great day for the City, asking staff to research for Council when the last time that a City Council did not have to raise taxes.
Councillor Thorkelson offered up the answer for the Mayor, observing that it was in former Mayor Jack Mussallem's first term, as it is the Mayor's first term
( 1:03:30--1:25:30 ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council
The Mayor provided an update on the Housing Committee noting that there had been a change of leadership at the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society, with a new Director in place which means that the Report on Housing has been delayed. He then outlined his timeline when it comes to process for the Housing committee, with plans to bring Council together in the next couple of weeks.
Councillor Mirau provided an overview of the proposed City's Children's Bill of Rights and asked that the motion be approved so as to deliver it during the upcoming Children's Day in the Park.
Council voted to approve the motion.
Councillor Mirau also recounted some of the work in a recent workshop and delivered his report on the Terms of Reference for the Small Business Advisory Committee, Council then voted to approve the motion.
Councillor Cunningham had a number of items for consideration, first acknowledging the talent and effort required to put on the recent Rock of Ages show at the Lester Centre. He also took note of the success of the opening of the Cow Bay Marina project and observed at how the work of all the partners involved in the project brought it all together.
He then turned his attention to an ongoing concern he has about the residents engaging in burn activities in their backyards, seeking to develop either a community burn pit or to allow some of the material that residents are burning to be taken to the dump.
He also outlined his concerns over the lack of bylaw enforcement in a number of areas, calling attention to abandoned vehicles, dogs running loose, unsightly premises and other issues, noting that its too much for one bylaw officer. Suggesting that Council give consideration to hiring a second bylaw officer for next year.
Councillor Thorkelson offered up some background on the issues of burning material in the community and what does and doesn't require a permit. Councillor Cunningham countered that those requirements are leading to the Fire Department having to run around time to inform residents on those matters and that the issue is becoming a problem in the community and how its impacting on the quality of life for some residents and how it all comes back to bylaw issues and the need for enforcement.
On a different theme, Councillor Thorkelson called attention to an upcoming Committee process hosted by Transport Canada related to shipping issues, suggesting that Council may want to put someone on that committee, noting that she's attending as part of her regular job requirements, but that having a City point of view on the committee would be something worth considering.
The Mayor suggested that it would be a committee that he would be interested in sitting on, while Councillor Cunningham also noted that he might be interested but would have to check to see if there are any conflicts related to his regular job with the Coast Guard.
Following up on Councillor Thorkelson's notes on preparing for any potential spills, Councillor Cunningham observed that the resources currently in place through the Port Authority, Port Ed Harbour Authority and West Coast Marine Response are all providing good service to the region.
Councillor Randhawa inquired about upgrading the bus service on the Airport Ferry, the Mayor noted that due to the limitations of the Airport Ferry, the ability to change the nature of the bus transportation is very limited. The City's Financial Officer also provided further background on the issue and the factors that have limited the city's options.
Councillor Niesh provided some background on the ongoing issue of wolves in the community and urged residents to contact the Terrace Conservation Office to take care of the issue of nuisance animals in the community. Councillor Thorkelson noted some past instances as to how the issue had been handled and suggested that the city should have the conservation officer attend a future Council session to provide some information on the issue and how they plan to address the issue.
You can access the City Council Review for April 12, 2016 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.
Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from April 12 (not available yet)
Council next meets in Regular session on April 25th in Council Chambers at City Hall.