Monday, May 2, 2016

City Council Timeline, Monday, April 25, 2016

The final meeting for April proved to be a lengthy session for City Council members, with a good portion of that engagement consisting of a long review of their new Interim Land Use Policy Framework.

Those discussions providing for the concept of a new cost charges and amenities plan as well as the introduction of a City of Prince Rupert Housing fund which will collect fees for the purpose of established grants for non market housing development.

Council also addressed it's plans for a 1 kilometre rule on liquor sales in the community, the introduction of 311 service in the city and the final adoption of the Five Year Financial Plan and Property Tax Bylaws.

The meeting opened with a Committee of the Whole Session, which for the most part focused on a presentation from the Prince Rupert Port Authority and its plans for developing the Cow Bay area, once the current process related to the purchase of the Atlin lands from the City of Prince Rupert comes to a conclusion.

The evening came to an end with an update on the Housing committee work from the Mayor and a number of items from Council members, as well as the revelation that the City will soon have a new Inspector in Charge in place for the local detachment of the RCMP.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Committee of the Whole Agenda for the night here, the Agenda for the Regular Council session for April 25, 2016 can be reviewed here.

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 25, 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 25, 2016

(0:00-47:00Committee of the Whole -- Mayor Brain, outlined the process ahead for the Committee of the Whole session and then called on representatives of the Prince Rupert Port Authority to provide a presentation on the Cow Bay Development Plans.

Mr. Andrew Mayer, the VP Commercial and Regulatory  Affairs and Port General Counsel, along with Mr. Shaun Stevenson the VP of Trade Development and Public Affairs delivered a walk through of the process in place to redevelop the Prince Rupert waterfront area from the Kwinitsa Station area to the Atlin Terminal building, known as the Central Waterfront Vision.

The pair reviewed the consultation process that they have engaged in over the last four years to develop their plan for waterfront development, improving waterfront access and creating tourism potential for the area.

Key to the development plan is a review of the Cow Bay area by architects from OMB, which examined the area surrounding the Atlin Terminal area.

They led a consultative process with both the City of Prince Rupert and a number of area stakeholders do determine what was desired for that area, calming traffic in the region and to create an area for both daytime and night time use, featuring a focus on local and First Nations history.

The redevelopment will be conducted in a number of phases, providing for a three storey office building and a community pavilion as part of of its first stage. The plan will also create traffic calming initiatives and include public areas, mixed use buildings focused on celebrating Prince Rupert's history.

Towards that vision, the Port outlined the background to their purchase of parcels of land in the immediate area of the Atlin Terminal from the City of Prince Rupert, with a closing date for that purchase to take place on May 12th.

The development for that area will shift the area towards a more pedestrian friendly environment with public spaces and pedestrian corridors.  OMB has reviewed the history of the waterfront and the community to incorporate concepts into their development vision.

The vision for new buildings in the area will feature parking hidden behind the buildings, calming the traffic that passes through the Atlin Terminal area. The first phase of the development plan will see the area adjacent to Atlin Terminal developed first, followed by the triangle property adjacent to that area, with the third area to be developed being the Atlin Parking lot area.

The potential for integration with the City's plans for the Third Avenue expansion were also outlined as part of the presentation, which could create a continuity of pedestrian corridors for the area.

The first phase will feature a new three storey office building on the site of the old Odin dock and a public space concept of a "large scale covered town square" style of development overlooking the harbour, Cruise dock and new Cow Bay Marina.

It was also noted that the covered square could also be used as a staging area for Cruise ship arrivals and could be used for cultural programming, with a focus on First Nations in the region.

Andrew Mayer outlined the nature of the discussions between the City and the Port leading up to the purchase of the Atlin land parcels,  noting that through agreements the Port will be working closely with the City's planning department to remain consistent to the visual aspects of Cow Bay but that the development fits in well with existing public assets.

The arrangement will require the Port to proceed to comply with the Cow Bay development guidelines and features time lines for development that must be met, or the city can purchase the land back at the current price.

The Port is currently in the process of seeking a request for Proposals from local contractors including First Nation communities, with the Port going to the Board of Directors for approval in June, with the first work on the Odin Dock to start before the end of the year.

There will also be work taking place on the parking lot area, to enhance the green space and landscape planning to enhance the visual appeal of that part of the development area. Both of those tasks are expected to take place within the first twelve to eighteen months.

Council members had a number of questions following the presentation, with Councillor Kinney starting things off by inquiring about the height related to the buildings to be developed and any impact on harbour views.

Councillor Mirau commented on his participation as a private citizen during the design process and asked more about the Port's plans to be involved with the City's Cow Bay Development guidelines.

Councillor Cunningham also inquired about the nature of the proposed development and whether any of the structures would be higher than the existing Atlin Terminal development.

Councillor Randhawa had questions related to bus transportation options in the newly configured area as it is developed.

The plans for the development of the Atlin parking lot made for the focus of comments from Councillor Thorkelson who was looking for a timeline for development of that aspect of the third phase for the project. She also had concerns related to viewscapes and access to the waterfront and dock areas of the Atlin area.

Councillor Cunningham asked if there were any plans to close down the road through the Atlin Terminal area, with the Port representatives noting that the road remains the property of the City of Prince Rupert.

Councillor Thorkelson noted that this was the second or third time that the Port has appeared in front of Council related to the proposed development and wondered if anything related to it had changed, the Port officials observed that it was much the same as when it was originally reviewed.

As the presentation took place during the Committee of the Whole session, a pair of residents in the gallery had observations on the issue.

The first question was related to zoning of the area, the City Manager noted the City has no authority to zone over federal lands, however as part of the sales agreement the Port has agreed to follow the Cow Bay Design guidelines.

The second participant took note of the timeline when it came to the arrangement between the Port and the City, which stretches back to the previous council.

Then asking Why, after years of complaining about domination in the area by the Port or CN, the city would sell the land, other than to put money in the City's pockets.

He also urged that any other land that may that the current council may have in mind of selling remain in City hands rather than be sold to the Port corporation or any other entity.  He offered up an example of how Nanaimo has developed it's waterfront area and suggested it was something that the city should examine as how a waterfront should be developed.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up some history on the process, noting that the development concepts date back to 2005,  when the City took out a loan for the Cruise Ship terminal and how they had put the parcels of land in the area out for sale, but with few inquiries received at that time over the course of a year.  She observed that as the city didn't want to see "Ketchikan style" development in that area, the conditions that they put in place on the land in question found few takers.

She recounted how from that point the Port entered the picture and offered up a trade of land, which the City wasn't interested in, with the City sitting down to negotiate the deal with a number of constraints to make sure that there was development in the look and style that the City desires.

The community member offered up a suggestion that the Port's plans don't look very Prince Ruperty, and that if he remembered correctly there was one other local resident that had expressed an interest in the land at the time.

Councillor Kinney observed that it does offer up more access to the waterfront than in the past, adding that it's time to look ahead and that he is tired of saying No to everything that we want to see done in Prince Rupert.

A third participant offered up observations related to the process involved in the development of the area and commended the Port for what they have in mind to provide for more public access to the City's waterfront, hoping that they are successful in attracting new tenants to the waterfront area.

He also offered some background on how the Port is restricted by federal regulations in offering access for the public to waterfront areas and how the local Port Authority at times gets blamed for those restrictions.

With no other members of the public coming forward, the Committee of the Whole was adjourned.

(47:00-51:00) Regular Council Session for Monday, April 25, 2016  -- The Mayor reviewed past minutes and the current agenda for the evening. Councillor Thorkelson pointed out an error in one of the accounts under review, noting that the minutes from a Special session of Council on April 7th did not reflect her thoughts and observations on the issue of the city budget.  

She also observed that the video presentation for that April 7th meeting is not available on the City's Video Archive. She provided a statement for the city to use to reflect her thinking during the course of that session. Council voted to amend the record to reflect her statement.


(51:00--2:03:00) Report from the City Planner on the City's Land Use framework  -- Mr. Zeno Krekic noted the result of the work of a committee put together by the Mayor to address land use in the scope of potential major development on the City's doorstep.

The Mayor then took over the presentation, leaving Mr. Krekic to work the computer keyboard, providing the visual aids for the mayors talking points.

Mayor Brain provided the background to what was achieved through the work related to the planning for Major projects initiative, with the suite of polices to provide greater certainty for the community and Council.

Mayor Brain noted that the policy would reflect issues related to shadow population, affordable housing and other socio economic effects related to major development, with the Mayor noting that the city hopes that the city's planning policy becomes a model for other communities.

When it comes to housing, the city will ensure that when new residential development takes place it will follow a residential clustering philosophy, that will meet the needs of developers and the community. The committee is recommending that new multi family or mixed used development related to over one acre of land incorporate varied designs and densities to ensure a high quality of life in any new or existing neighbourhood.

In addition to that the city will introduce a new cost charges and amenities bylaw, to ensure that developers pay a fair share to the city's infrastructure and amenities needs.

One aspect of the framework has been the issue of non market housing, with the City having identified city lots in the community for use non market housing proposals and will consider the provision of municipal land for that purpose.

As well, the City a Prince Rupert Housing fund which will collect fees per unit on new development of over three units, for the purpose of establishing grants for non market housing development.

On the topic of Parks and Open Spaces, the City will also establish a new Parks and Placemaking Committee to help design a new plan to create new parks and open spaces that have high quality, unique and professional designs that  encourage social interactions of users. In addition the committee will explore the opportunity for the public to engage during the design process.

When it comes to any major Industrial Development, the City has developed a new major projects camps policy related to work camps, the Committee has identified six potential temporary site locations. With those developing the temporary camps required to hook up to city services and roads at their site with the land returning to the City as a new flat and serviced area for development.

The scarcity of industrial land in the area is also addressed with six new tracts of land identified for potential use in the future for light and heavy industrial use.

The process ahead for the new Land Use provisions will see the next step of amending the Quality of Life Official Community Plan to integrate these policies this year, with a new Quality of Life Official Community Plan process to be launched in late 2017.

Following the Mayor's presentation, Council members offered up some of their thoughts on the framework.

Leading off the commentary was Councillor Thorkelson, who outlined her desire to see some additions included to the Overall plan on residential land policies, looking for a definition of how a complete community is considered, with a particular note on mixed use of land and offering up some suggestions on how to proceed on that topic.

On a different note, she outlined her thoughts on parks and recreation issues related to the document, outlining her preference of having developers of any proposed development to create a place for the residents to enjoy, one that mirrors the kind of residents that the development is designed for.

The Mayor noted that those kinds of approaches would fall under the guidelines as outlined, with Mr. Krekic noting that those kind of items could be included in the guidelines.

On the theme of the Major projects camp policy, Ms. Thorkelson suggested that Council might wish to be a little bit greener in its policy. Offering up examples of recycling sewage water and other aspects of potential development.

The Mayor offered up his thought that while he would normally agree with that kind of concept, in the case of the six proposed work camp zones, to better make use of them after the camp is finished the city's approach to have those locations connected to city services is the preferred course to follow.

He noted that Council had engaged in much discussion on those issues over the last ten weeks.

Councillor Cunningham observed that some of the concerns would be addressed during the Parks and Placemaking Committee planning.

Councillor Mirau spoke out in favour of the plan, noting that it reinforces for those that may wish to locate in the community that Prince Rupert is open for business and satisfies many of its objectives.

Councillor Randhawa had a question related to the Prince Rupert Housing Fund and asked about any comparisons to other communities, Mr. Krekic outlined that there are two different options in place in Terrace and Kitimat.

Mr. Krekic noted in the Prince Rupert plan, that every camp would be required to contribute $2,000 per bed and every multi-family residential development over three units to contribute 1,000 dollars.

He used the example of Kitimat and how it uses density bonuses and an additional fees, as opposed to the development fund approach.

Councillor Cunningham asked if the Fund cost per unit might chase out potential developers to other areas such as Port Edward removing a competitive edge, Mr. Krekic offered up the explanation that any potential developer might try to whittle down the cost, but that he didn't think that there would be a shift to Port Edward. The Mayor noted that other communities have these cost charge and amenities bylaws in place and how developers are experienced in dealing with such provisions.

Councillor Thorkelson then offered up a number of amendments to the language of the motion, which Council further discussed. She outlined that she was feeling a push back from some on requiring developers to do things, noting that she believes that developers need to be providing for, further raising some of her other concerns related to amenities for neighbourhoods.

Councillor Niesh expressed some frustration at the timing of Councillor Thorkelson's interjections, noting that the process evolved over ten weeks and that she should have raised some of her concerns at that time, noting that she had not participated in all of the sessions involved in the development process.

The Mayor cautioned on that line of commentary noting that Councillor Thorkelson has the option of raising her concerns at this time, Councillor Cunningham also spoke to the issues that she had raised noting that many communities include such things as walk ways and parks as part of their development policies.

The Mayor observed that he believes that Council was getting too much into the details and that they should address the motion under consideration, adding that the larger issues could be dealt with other layers of the process through another committee.

Council then voted to approve the motion.

Councillor Thorkelson then raised a motion to add an amendment to include a density bonus as one option, which would see developers provided the option of receiving a density bonus from the city should they include affordable housing as part of their complex. Councillor Cunningham also spoke in favour of the density bonus motion, noting the success that it has found in other communities.

Councillor Niesh once again raised his concerns over the introduction of such policy plans at this point and noted that those kinds of issues should have been included during the ten weeks of meetings and that the City should be addressing the policy that is in front of it.

Councillor Thorkelson recounted her timeline on her initiatives, while Councillor Cunningham noted again that if Council members wish to raise such items and concerns that is what the council should be receptive to those items.

Mr. Krekic provided his overview of the Density Bonus concept which he observed offered some complexities, while Councillor Thorkelson questioned why the concept of having the initiative in place would be considered repugnant by Council members.

The City Manager provided further background into how the Council may wish to approach the topic and how some of the proposed changes might provide for consequences on final planning decisions.

The Mayor noted that the discussion was something that should have taken place earlier in the process as part of the committee structure, adding that he wasn't necessarily in favour of the proposal as outlined and raised some of his concerns related to.  He also observed that with the amenities bylaw process there would be money collected for a fund that could be distributed.

Councillor Thorkelson returned to her theme of seeking ways to attract affordable housing for the community and that the City needs to ensure that there are a number of ways towards that, using her Density Bonus suggestion as her preferred approach.

The Mayor noted that it's not the City's responsibility to provide the housing, adding that the city can provide land, but it's not their mandate as it's a provincial responsibility. He also raised concerns over the mechanics of Councillor Thorkelson Density Bonus plan and how the city could manage it.

Councillor Cunningham reiterated his support for Councillor Thorkelson's concept, suggesting that it offers up just another tool for the City to use.

The Mayor closed his comments by stating that they have a very good program in front of them that can move the town forward and that it addresses many of the items that Council has been considering.

Council then voted and defeated Councillor Thorkelson's motion.

Councillor Thorkelson then raised a second amendment to create a General policy on encouraging Developers to use Green Practices.

Council voted to approve that motion to be included in the overall policy of the bylaw.

Councillor Thorkelson then suggested that the City may want to create a bylaw that will require that monthly vacancy rates be provided to the city.

The Mayor inquired if the City has the authority to make that kind of demand, Mr. Krekic noted that they didn't have a tool in their local government options to enforce such a regulation. The Mayor observed that the city could look into that issue further and if possible revisit it.

Council then voted to approve the three amendments that had been raised as part of the discussion.

Mayor Brain then outlined the timeline and process ahead to bring he new policies into place as part of the Quality of Life Official Community Plan.

2:03:00--2:16:30 Report from the City Planner on the 1 kilometre rule related to liquor sales --  Mr. Krekic provided some background into the nature of the regulations in place in Prince Rupert and the status of bylaws in other communities. After a vigorous discussion on a range of issues related to liquor sales in the Community among Council members and questions to Mr. Krekic, Council provided staff with direction to draft a bylaw, specifying that all existing liquor retailers be grandfathered in to any new regulation.

2:16:30--2:17:00 )  Recommendation on the implementation of a 311 service in Prince Rupert --  Council voted in favour of the recommendation.


2:17:00--2:17:30 ) Report on the Fire Control and Protection Amendment Bylaw -- Council provided final reading for the bylaw.

2:17:30--2:18:00 Report on the Five Year Financial Plan and Property Tax Bylaws -- 
 Council provided final reading for the bylaws, with Councillor Thorkelson opposed to the Five Year Financial Plan provisions.

2:18:00--2:25:00  ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

The Mayor provided an overview of the latest developments with the Housing Committee observing that BC Housing after hearing concerns from Council and other community representatives sent a representative to Prince Rupert to examine some of the facilities has started to address maintenance and repair issues at are housing facilities.

He also advised that representatives from BC Housing would be visiting the City in the near future to review some of the City lots that have been identified as potential locations for future non-market housing proposals.  He added that BC Housing would be helping the city with a grant application and that a city staff member will be assigned to oversee that application.

Councillor Thorkelson noted that residents of Wayne Place have expressed their interest in having issues related to their residence addressed and suggested that their concerns be added to the list of those for consideration.

Councillor Randhawa highlighted concerns related to road repairs and when the City would be addressing some of the pothole and other issues on road issues.

Councillor Cunningham suggested that the City should be looking to get back into the practice of receiving reports from the City's RCMP detachment, on that theme the Mayor noted that the City is in the process of hiring a new District Inspector for the local detachment and once that person is in place they will look to receiving more frequent updates.

Councillor Thorkelson picked up on that theme, and recounted how in the past all of Council was involved in the final choice of the Inspector, asking questions related to the type of policing that would be promoted in the community and what their priorities were. She wondered if that process is going to take place this time.

The Mayor noted that they had put out a call and created a committee as part of the hiring process and that they have already reviewed the applications and made their choice, with the RCMP to make the announcement at some point in the future.

That comment appears to have been a surprise to Councillor Thorkelson who inquired how that committee was created and who was part of it.

She was advised that the Call for Committee was made during an in camera session and that the Mayor and Councillor Cunningham were on the committee along with the Human Resources Manager.

The Mayor noted that he could not outline any further background on the hiring until the RCMP made the official announcement. Councillor Thorkelson observed that she has concerns related to policing in the community and would like to know what direction they would be following under a new leader, the Mayor suggested that those items could be addressed once the announcement is made.

You can access the City Council Review for April 25 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.

In addition to the city's official minutes, the City's Video archive provides a helpful record of the events from each public council session.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from April 25 (not available yet)

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

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