Thursday, September 1, 2016
City Council Timeline, Monday, August 22, 2016
Our return to blogging gets us back into the swing of things with a review of the only City Council session from August, a look back at the topics and discussion from the August 22nd council session.
Part of that session featured a Public Hearing and further discussion later in the evening on the theme of the City's desire to impose a one kilometre rule when it comes to the city's liquor establishments.
Other items of interest on the Agenda for the August 22nd session included a request for support for the Unemployed Action Centre,
A Committee of the Whole Session was also featured as part of the evening's work, and it was at that time that a user group at the arena expressed a number of concerns over recent increases to ice time rental.
That topic would make for a portion of the Regular Council session, along with a number of other items on the evening that made up the items of consideration in the Regular Session.
Before the evening would come to an end, Council had also discussed a number of variance requests, addressed the topic of moving forward with a one kilometre rule related to liquor establishments in the community and offered condolences on the passing of Dr. Frank Pyde.
For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, the Agenda for the Regular Council session for August 22, 2016 can be viewed here.
Council also had a Closed Session scheduled previous in the evening.
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 August 22, 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 August 22, 2016
(0:00--7:30 ) Public Hearing related to the One Kilometre bylaw -- City Planner Zeno Krekic provided a short overview of the topic, outlining the process of the community engagement that took place and then the steps that the City is looking to take to put in place the one kilometre rule when it comes to local liquor retail stores in the community.
Following the presentation, Susan MacKenzie, representing the Belmont Liquor store outlined her support for the proposed bylaw.
With no other members of the public coming forward to comment, the Public Hearing came to a close.
( 7:30 -- 47:00 ) Committee of the Whole Session for Monday, August 22, 2016 -- The Committee of the Whole Session for the most part featured discussion on the current level of fees for ice rental at the Civic Centre Arena. Representatives of the Adult Hockey league raised the issue of recent increase in rental fees for hourly ice rentals at the arena. Calling attention to their concerns related to the impact that the new fee structure, which they note features a sixty percent increase from last year, will have in their ability to operate with the increased cost now in place.
The Adult Hockey reps inquired of Council if the increase was warranted in the first place, and suggested that some relief be provided for user groups at the Civic Centre.
The Mayor offered up some notes from his research on the issue related to how Prince Rupert handles the rental question, when compared to other communities, finding his figures to be different from those that the league representatives had cited. The City's Financial officer noted that some of the Mayors information was related to youth hockey ice time and not for that of adult recreation hockey usage.
Councillor Cunningham expressed his concerns over how the City had allocated some of the ice time and determined it to be prime time, he also supported the Adult Recreation league in their belief that the increase was too much to absorb all at once.
The Mayor then called for the Recreation Director to provide further background to the issue, Ms. Willa Thorpe reviewed some of the planning that has gone into the current rental rates, as well as how the City allocates the time and rental rates, noting that there is heavy demand for any available ice time that could be made available.
She noted that the current increase is not something that should be considered all at once, providing further information as to where the City rests on its charges, with Prince Rupert still some 42 percent behind other similar sized communities.
Councillor Cunningham offered up a number of observations on the theme, noting that the City had already offered relief for Minor Basketball and Minor Hockey and that he believed they should be fair to all those that are looking to use the city facilities. He noted some of the conversations he has had with residents and user groups in the city who have expressed their concerns over the handling of the rental fees.
Ms. Thorpe returned to the previous research from as far back as 2014 to try to address a balance between user group access and the need for taxpayer subsidization.
Mr. Cunningham noted that the city subsidizes a number of items, and that he believes that it was worth considering a concession or pro rated approach for user groups.
Councillor Randhawa echoed a number of Councillor Cunningham's concerns when it comes to the approach being taken on rental fees.
Councillor Mirau sought some clarification on how the city is setting its rates and how that compares to other communities. He also suggested a subtle change to how the city uses a prime multiplier to set fees.
Councillor Niesh reviewed some of the past history on how the City approached the issue, suggesting that a second look is required to address some of the concerns from residents and user groups.
The Mayor observed that there is an appetite for some form of revision but that this was a discussion that should have taken place through the Recreation Commission and that much of the information had been communicated well in advance to user groups earlier this year.
He also outlined how the rates do have to go up, particularly if the city is determined to keep the facility sustainable and to put in place capital improvements to the facility.
He noted that the City would be addressing youth rates later in the evening and there was the potential to address the recreation users needs in the same fashion.
Ms. Thorpe expressed some confusion as to how the topic of the user rates issue has been brought up again, noting that they had discussed the topic extensively through the spring and in the months previous to that period. She observed that if it is the direction of council to re-configure the adult rates as well, that is something that she would follow through on.
Councillor Thorkelson outlined her concerns over the process and reminded the chamber that she had originally voted against any recreation fee increases and was of the belief that recreation services should be subsidized by the tax payers.
She observed that she feels uneasy in approaching the issue in a piece-meal fashion and would like to see the issue referred back to the Recreation Commission for an emergency meeting, to review what impact any changes in fees delivered in an equitable fashion would have on the budget.
She also pointed out that she had spoken to the issue of the need to put in place a tax increase at budget time, in order to address some of the facility concerns that the city has outlined as the main requirement for rental fee increases.
The Mayor followed up on Councillor Thorkelson's points, noting that the jump is comparable and that the city has other challenges that other communities do not have, such as the Airport Ferry, he also noted the city's water infrastructure issues that the city has to consider. Adding how there is a need for balance between taxes and rental fees that are put in place.
Ms. Thorpe noted that the changes went into effect on July 1st, Corinne Bomben the City's Financial Officer weighed in with counsel that the effective date could be changed, noting that the user groups are billed on a monthly basis.
Councillor Kinney offered up the suggestion of a motion that the Recreation Commission get together with the Recreation Director to get the issue cleared up to a half decent amount. The Mayor noted that they could not make a motion during the committee process, however that it could be issued as a recommendation for the regular council meeting.
Councillor Cunningham observed that he understands why the user groups are approaching council at this time, noting that council is looking to address the issues facing minor hockey on the evening and its only fair that other groups have an opportunity to express their concerns. He outlined how the impact of the decision that Council had made earlier in the year has been an eye opener for him.
The Mayor reinforced the concept that if Council doesn't choose to increase rental fees and user charges then the other approach is one of raising taxes, which was something they chose not to do at budget time. He stressed how Council needs to express that process and how the city is trying to approach their budgetary targets to the user groups.
Councillor Thorkelson requested some clarification on the timeline noted by Ms. Bomben and process to move any change to the bylaw forward.
With the topic exhausted, the Mayor called for any comments from the public on other issues of concern.
With no other residents coming forward, the Committee of the Whole session was brought to an end.
( 47:00 -- 50:00 ) Regular Council Session for Monday, August 22, 2016 -- The Mayor reviewed past minutes and the current agenda for the evening, adding an additional item that of the notice of motion from Councillor Kinney from the Committee of the Whole session.
Reports to Council
( 50:00 -- 56:00 ) Report from the Director of Recreation and Community Services regarding Youth Sport Organization's Ice Fees -- Council reviewed some of the territory covered related to the user group rate issue during the course of the Committee of the Whole session, Councillor Niesh called attention to the economic status of the community and the need to ease user groups into the prospect of increased fees.
Councillor Cunningham asked who came up with the formula for Minor Hockey that had not been put forward through the Recreation Commission, the Mayor noted that it was an administration issue.
Councillor Thorkelson suggested that the issue needs to be addressed as a package, expressing concerns that a number of different users would come forward seeking their own rate breaks, noting that Ms. Bomben had outlined that there was no need to push the process through a number of meetings to tackle the concerns.
She observed that the topic needs to be sent back to the Recreation Commission for review.
Council then voted to table the Minor Hockey Ice changes, folding that topic into the larger review for all user groups to take place in September.
( 56:00 -- 59:00 ) Report from the City Financial Officer on the July 2016 Financial Variance report -- Ms. Bomben provided background on the topic observing that most departments were operating within budget, but noting that the water project had been delayed with call for tender to take place soon.
Councillor Cunningham had one observation related to the Cow Bay Marina, asking if the City will be showing a profit on operations. He was advised that it should bring about 100,000 dollars on the year, but won't have a significant impact on the budget.
Councillor Thorkelson sought out further clarification related to the financial aspect of the Marina operations. She followed up that inquiry with a question related to the operation of the Airport Ferry and why revenues were down on the Ferry.
She was advised that Air Canada was not operating a third flight every day and that means that the revenues generated are not the same as when Hawkair was operating a daily flight out of the city.
Council voted to receive the report for information purposes.
( 59:00--1:02:00) Report from the City Planner providing details on the request for a variance permit for a property on Ambrose Avenue -- Mr. Krekic outlined the background related to the request of the variance permit for the property in question.
Council voted to approve the Motion and the process now moves on to final consideration.
( 1:02:00 -- 1:04:30 ) Report from the City Planner providing details on the request for a variance permit for a development on Atlin Avenue -- Mr. Krekic outlined the background to a proposed variance for work on a deck to the property in question.
Council voted to approve the Motion and the process now moves on to final consideration.
Correspondences to Council
(1:04:30 -- 1:06:00 ) Correspondence from the Prince Rupert Unemployed Action Committee seeking a letter in support of their quest for funding applications -- Prior to the discussion of the request, both Councillor Thorkelson and Councillor Cunningham excused themselves from the Chamber owing to their involvement with the Action Committee.
Council members then reviewed the background of the request and voted to provide their support to the Committee and to offer a letter of support to them.
( 1:06:00 -- 1:10:00 ) Report from the City Planner related to the One Kilometre rule on Liquor establishments -- With Council having hosted a Public hearing on the issue earlier in the evening, they turned their attention towards further discussion related to the proposed rule to regulate the distance between liquor establishments in the community to one kilometre from door to door.
Councillor Cunningham offered up his observations on information conveyed by the Provincial Minister Coralee Oakes on the issue.
Councillor Thorkelson noted that she had long been advocating for the rule under consideration dating back to the previous City council which she observed had not wanted to take a position on the issue.
She offered up some background notes that she had taken from a recent story item from the CBC's George Baker, which highlighted how Prince Rupert currently has one liquor outlet for every 2,500 people, using that information to suggest that the city has enough establishments in place at this time.
She also highlighted some research from the University of Victoria on addiction issues and how Prince Rupert compared to other communities when it comes to liquor consumption in the province. She used that data in support of her opposition towards opening up any more liquor outlets in the community.
She also observed that the RCMP frequently cites alcohol when it comes to issues such as major crimes, vandalism and other areas of enforcement and that the city should be careful when it comes to making alcohol more available in Prince Rupert.
Councillor Mirau offered up some thoughts on the issue, noting that his argument was not one of supporting a call for making alcohol more available in the community, but rather one of suggesting that the city should not be in the business of restricting the free market and picking winners and losers.
On the theme of using the bylaw approach to impact on social behaviour, He offered up a comparison for council of how some people believe fast food has negative social impacts and how he doesn't believe that putting in place a one kilometre bylaw approach would be something council would consider in that example.
Councillor Niesh outlined his thoughts on the topic, noting that his major rationale in support of the bylaw was to support local business and to keep Big Business out of the distribution of liquor in the community. He reminded Council of some of the support that the smaller establishments provide to community sports and activities, calling the measure one of support for the local business community.
Councillor Cunningham echoed those comments, noting that he wanted to protect local jobs in the community and feared that if larger establishments such as Safeway were to enter the market then there could be job losses in the community.
Councillor Mirau offered up one final point on the issue, offering up an example of how Kamloops had addressed the issue by proposing to offer local wines as part of their selection, in effect promoting local employment.
To bring his contribution to the discussion to an end he suggested that the move being considered by Council was restricting free enterprise in the community.
Councillor Thorkelson offered up her own response to Councillor Mirau's opinions on Free enterprise, calling on her experiences with the Canadian Fish Company and how the community needs to protect its community assets and businesses as best as they can.
The motion was carried with Councillor Mirau voting in opposition to it.
The new bylaw will not apply to existing liquor sales establishments, however due to their proximity in the downtown area, no further establishments will be permitted.
( 1:18:00 -- 1:21:00 ) Motion to send the Civic Centre Ice Fee Review to the Recreation Commission for further clarification and study -- With the topic explored during the Committee of the Whole session, Council members offered up some final thoughts on the issue. Councillor Niesh suggesting that the template in place for Minor Hockey on ice rental costs be applied to all other users at the Civic Centre. Observing that while increases will be required, the a more favourable schedule of increases should be considered.
The Mayor noted that as chair of the Recreation Commission, if the motion under consideration was approved, he could call a meeting of the Commission for September to discuss the issue further, with Council to vote on the findings of the Recreation Commission at some point in September.
Councillor Randhawa and Councillor Mirau both noted their support for a special council meeting to address the issue in September.
Councillor Cunningham requested that the CFO be in attendance at the Recreation Commission meeting.
Council then voted to carry the motion, sending the issue back to the Recreation Commission for further study.
( 1:21:00 -- 1:23:00 ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council
Councillor Niesh offered his condolences to the family of Doctor Frank Pyde, the long time dentist and local supporter of community activities and sports, particularly hockey who passed away in August.
Councillor Kinney offered his congratulations to Broadwater Industries for the work that they have done on the Second Avenue West bridge, noting that their work has not impacted on the community and the traffic flow to the west side neighbourhood.
The Mayor returned to the passing of Dr. Pyde, offering up his own remembrance of the Doctor and noting that Prince Rupert Minor Hockey, through Rosa Miller, had approached the city to suggest that the arena part of the Civic Centre complex be renamed in his memory. Mayor Brain put forward a notice of motion to consider that request at the next City Council session.
Council then voted to conclude their Regular Council session and returned to an in camera session that had been suspended earlier in the day.
You can access the City Council Review for August 22 here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, if any, 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 August 22, 2016 (not available yet)
Council members continue with their summer schedule for Regular Council sessions, featuring only one session for the month of September, the next regularly scheduled Council session takes place on September 12th.