Saturday, December 31, 2016

Blog Watching 2016: The North Coast Review Top Twelve items by month

The end of the year it seems is all about lists, so we'll join in with that theme by looking back at the top items as selected by our viewers fingers over the course of 2016.

Below find those individual items (archive listings were excluded from review) which received the most views each month.

Taken from our weekly feature Blog Watching, the stories that follow were the one's which most caught the attention of our readers over the last 365 days.


Salmon Nation Summit ends with signing of Lelu Island Declaration -- January's most read item focused on the two day summit hosted by those that are opposing the Pacific NorthWest LNG development proposed for Lelu Island, the participants at the summit included MP Nathan Cullen and MLA Jennifer Rice who signed on to the Lelu Island Declaration  (posted January 25, 2016)


Two Rainmaker Squads hit the road this weekend to seek out a zones title --  As the action on the Northwest basketball courts heated up, our notes on the travels of the Charles Hays Rainmaker teams continued to attract a large readership. (posted February 18, 2016)


Financial Post article on Lelu Island LNG terminal ultimatum creates a Monday tempest  -- The LNG story continued to be one of the most intriguing items of study for the year, with our look at a March article in the National Post's Financial Post section making for much interest for blog readers(posted March 7, 2016)


City of Prince Rupert CEAA submission on Pacific NorthWest LNG now available on agency website -- In April the City of Prince Rupert provided its contribution to the CEAA review of the Lelu Island project, our notes on their submission became the most read item of the month.  (posted April 4, 2016)


Second Cruise ship of the season set to pull in for eight hour stop over -- Judging by the volume of readers that explored our look at the 2016 Cruise Ship season,  the community continues to find much interest in local efforts to rebuild the cruise industry portion of the tourism sector in the region.  (posted May 29, 2016)


Salary and Expenses on the rise from Prince Rupert's 2015 SOFI review -- The middle months of 2016 found readers reviewing many of our notes when it comes to City Council's work on their budget planning, the review of the annual Statement of Financial Information provided for the largest number of views for the month. (posted June 29, 2016)


Regional District paydays put Mayor Lee Brain into the $100,000 club for 2015 -- With the annual salary numbers for Mayors and Civic staff members delivered in July, our comparison of Prince Rupert numbers with those of other BC communities generated strong interest. (posted July 4, 2016)


PRMHA re-launches the Big Assist hockey registration program -- Our notes on the launch of the 2016-17 minor hockey season and how the PRMHA is helping to reduce the cost of playing the game found a large audience.  (posted August 9, 2016)


For Pacific NorthWest LNG project, all roads now lead to Kuala Lumpur! -- The Canadian Environmental  Assessment Association's long awaited announcement of approval with conditions for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project provided for the largest amount of views through September. (posted September 28, 2016)


North Coast MLA Rice adds to chorus of comments on Pacific NorthWest LNG approval -- With the CEAA providing it's conditional approval for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice weighed in on the local discussion, offering up her thoughts on what she would be watching for as the process moved forward (posted October 1, 2016)


If City Council wants to discuss islands ... it may be a timely moment for an update for one named Watson  -- With City Council focusing much of its attention towards LNG development in Port Edward, our reminder of the still unresolved issues of Watson Island found a large audience. (posted November 18, 2016)


City Council's 'LNG conditions Wars' ... The Business Empire Strikes Back -- City Council's ongoing discussions when it comes to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project for Lelu Island brought a large contingent of local business operators to Council chambers, providing their views on how the City was handling the issue. Our review of a public comment session at a late November council session proved to be the most read item of our December news flow (posted December 1, 2016)

You can dig deeper into each week of our Blog Watching feature over the last 52 weeks from our archive page found here.

For a wider overview on political themes we offer up three archives of note:

Prince Rupert and the North Coast Councils
From the Legislature
From the House of Commons

If our sampler of greatest hits from 2016 has caught your attention, a wider overview of a range of categories is easily found on our right hand column area.  You can catch up with much of what happened in the year just ended from the number of archive pages that await further exploration.

As well for those with an interest in both provincial and federal politics, we offer up a companion blog for your review, over at D'arcy McGee we post some of the highlights of our North Coast Review items as well as expand on some of the themes of politics at both levels.

If you have some free time over New Year's Day, we invited you to give it a look over.

To our faithful and growing readership we wish a very Happy and Safe New Year's Eve and all our Best for a most prosperous and enjoyable 2017!

As 2016 ends ... A Council Midterm: Many, many plans, results still to be determined

As we prepare to bid 2016 adieu, we mark the completion of the two year anniversary for this current City Council, a collective which first took office on December 2, 2014.

That inaugural session made for a night where Mayor Lee Brain charted the new journey ahead for the community, delivering  his first address as the City's top elected official.

Since those early days City Council has embarked on a long running course of many, many meetings and has delivered any number of plans to share with the community for review. So with the midway point of their four year mandate now here, we'll look back a bit at some of the themes that caught our attention this year and how those plans are moving along.

2015 made for a flurry of planning as the ambitious group of elected officials provided us with the blue prints of sorts from the Mayor and Council The first year  of office one which saw the Hays 2.0 Vision plan, Planning for Major Projects program, an LNG Go Plan, ReBuild and ReDesign Rupert initiatives to name a few all begin to take shape.

And if 2015 was the year for the planning, 2016 would be the year of community engagement for some of those ideas, with the City launching a string of high profile public sessions to explore some of the long term vision planning that the Mayor and Council began in their first year.

January saw the City participate in the McKay Street Placemaking Conference held at Northwest Community college, offering the first opportunity to move forward with plans from Transition Prince Rupert that would transform the current scrub land of the ball field at McKay and Kootenay into an urban oasis of sorts.

And while details are still few as to how the City plans to move towards that goal, the project seemingly continues to move forward, with Transition Prince Rupert recently announcing it's plans to update the public in late January of 2017.

The Placemaking Conference also provided a venue for the Mayor to outline another initiative for residents to follow, that of the 2030 Sustainable City Select Committee, which was introduced to City Council in late January.

The ongoing work related to a Redesign of Prince Rupert also picked up the pace as the Community Development Institute out of UNBC continued to host community engagement sessions and Open Houses to move that initiative forward.

ReDesign Rupert launched with much more engagement to come
ReDesign Rupert Mapping project continues at PRMS
Update highlights work of Community Development Institute and future plans
Pancakes, Door Prizes and a look to the future for Redesign Rupert Recharge
CDI Housing Study highlights trends for Prince Rupert housing stock, population and pace of development
Community Development Institute outlines findings from Rupert Recharge engagement

In addition to the work of the Community Development Institute, the City, with grant money in hand, also hired on the services of an Ontario based urban planning firm called the Planning Partnership.

They came to town in November and hosted some public information sessions at Northwest Community College, gathering the input of the public and creating a glimpse of a new look for Prince Rupert in the future.

City sets dates for November Planning Sessions
Four days of consultations on civic land use start today in Prince Rupert
Four days of planning sessions deliver many concepts for the Prince Rupert of tomorrow

Community engagement of course also means that the public sometimes pushes back on some of the ideas that the City might put forward.

With Council getting a glimpse of some of that power of the people in early January, a period of time when the public came to the defence of the city's library, forcing City Council to rethink it's funding concepts for the year.

Council to reduce funding for Library and redistribute some of the funds to the Museum and Lester Centre
Library cuts the main focus for public comment portion of Monday's Council Session
Questions on funding issues point to need for easier access to Civic information
Prince Rupert teachers outline their concerns on topic of Library cuts
Few questions from the public for Council at Budget Consultation Forum
Full Library funding restored for year ahead
Renewed appreciation for Prince Rupert Library after recent issues
Final numbers for 2015 show $1.3 million in Community Grants distributed by the City

The lessons of early January seemingly delivered a new approach when it comes to funding for the larger community groups that apply each year, with City Council revealing its plans for a new process when it comes to large scale grant recipients in December.

Though while Council is moving forward with the new initiative, full details on how it will all work have yet to be provided to the public as the year comes to an end.

Councillor Thorkelson calls for more equitable process when it comes to Community Grants and Property Tax Enhancement Grants
Councillor Cunningham raises questions on City's Community Enhancement Grant issues
City makes progress on proposed Funding Agreements with community groups

While 2016 provided for much in the way of information on the forward thinking areas of civic development, City Council continued to follow some of the methods of civic governance of years past.

For all the talk of the 2014 election campaign for the need for more transparency on issues from City Hall, the era of the closed meeting still seems to make for a popular default position down on Third Avenue.

City Council hosted twenty regularly scheduled public council sessions and one Public Forum on the budget in 2016, however, they almost matched the open sessions with closed ones through the year, providing notice that they had sat in a closed door session on eighteen different occasions over the last year.

And while the City has introduced a range of new options for communicating their message to the public. Some in the community are confusing the City's increased use of Facebook posts, twitter tweets and short website updates to be part of a larger transparency program.

However, a review of those frequent social media notes, would show that for the most part those methods appear to have mainly been put to use more to provide for the City's message making on the themes they wish to move forward, as opposed to disclosing any details on potentially controversial topics.

In some instances this council has actually gone backwards from previous ones when it comes to keeping the public up to date on key issues of concern. Less inclined at times  it would seem to share notes on a range of other areas that residents no doubt would like to be more informed about.

Over the last year, there has been little in the way of updates for the city's residents on such areas of note as the long running court battles of Watson Island, or the use of the city's Legacy Fund by Council

Likewise, developments from the City's airport and transportation system, or how the City owned communication company CityWest is faring and if they will ever return to the days of significant dividend deliveries, seldom seem to make for much conversation during the public sessions.

As well, where Council once upon a time would receive a regular public presentation offering an update from the City's Fire Department and RCMP detachment on issues of note, and despite the financial reality that both of those services account for a large share of the yearly budget requirements for the City, 2016 has passed by without any items of interest brought up for discussion during those regular public council sessions.

Beyond the information on issues of policing or fire protection, an item that remains on the City's "to do list" is the still unresolved issue of a new detachment for the RCMP, or a Fire Station for the Fire Department.

Neither of those large scale investments made for much discussion in public session in 2016.

And while there are some indications in the community that in the case of the RCMP detachment there is some forward motion in play for 2017 on the issue,  over the last year City Council remained mute when it came to any form of update on how that situation is evolving for its residents.

Infrastructure did make for a focus for much of 2016 for City Council however, with plans announced related to the Woodworth Dam and the issues related to the city's water supply system frequently on the mind of council members.

Along with the video presentation on the current concern, the city also offered up the prospect of more grant applications to come in 2017 for additional elements of the city's water supply.

UBCM convention comes to an end as municipal leaders wrap up week of networking
Mayor Brain takes issue with Northern View item on infrastructure funding
City's Water Grant proposal applications are in the pipeline
Federal infrastructure funding proves elusive for Prince Rupert
City Council poised to approve utility fee increases; looks to find way on asset management planning

Road work also became a feature of City council's attention through the year, with the city as part of their 2017 Capital Works preview of late December  announcing that it will be paving Third Avenue from Five Corners to Cow Bay a plan they intend to put in place around the province's paving program for McBride Street, Second Avenue and Park Avenue.

Council also has plans to address concerns related to the Second Avenue Bridge and to provide for some additional work at the Civic Centre.

The need to address the infrastructure problems however, became pretty clear as the year progressed with a number of water line issues providing the evidence that after 100 years, the city's aging infrastructure elements are clearly well beyond their best before dates.

One job complete, it's on to the next for city's infrastructure issues
City to launch remediation project for retaining wall at 6th and Ambrose
Alfred Street residents to face water disruptions starting Monday
Delays ahead for completion of Frederick Street water lines

To address some of those concerns, City Council voted in late December to create a number of funds as part of their increase to utility fees in 2017, of the five percent increase destined to start on January 1st, two percent will be put into separate funds dedicated to asset replacement in the years ahead.

Earlier in the year, City Council did highlight their decision to hold the line on property taxes for the year, though with property assessments increasing for many residents in 2016 the city still probably fared pretty well when it came to collecting revenue on tax payment day in July.

City charts financial course for 2016 adopting Financial Plan and Property Tax Bylaws
The Taxman cometh! City Property Tax notices arriving  in this week's mail delivery

2016 also provided the city's residents with the first glimpse of some of he impact of some of the measures adopted in 2015, with the City's Financial disclosure of the Spring outlining the financial totals related to the move towards full time status for Mayor Lee Brain, along with a number of salary increases that were put in place for a range of civic officials this year.

Salary and Expenses on the rise from Prince Rupert's 2015 SOFI Review
Regional District paydays put Mayor Lee Brain into the $100,000 club for 2015

City hall also continued to be a good place to find a job in 2016, as the City continued on with its aggressive hiring plans that started in 2015, filling previously dormant positions and creating new ones as the year progressed.

Housing has been a key theme for City Council since this contingent took office in late 2014, whether it be the need to address the affordable housing issues of the community, or the need to build up the housing stock, Council found housing discussions taking up more and more of their time over the last year.

While there was much discussion and more than a fair amount of differing opinions on the theme of housing, Council did manage to approve a number of large scale housing proposals in 2015 and 2016.

Though it should also be noted that as the year comes to its end, there has been little, to no work done by developers that suggests that any of the proposed housing developments are any closer at hand as to when they were approved.

Drake Crescent Housing development gains Council approval
City set to move on land issue off Graham after AAP results released
City Council adds Seniors Housing requirements and development timeline covenants to Graham Avenue land sale
Graham Avenue land sale gains a bit of out of town attention

The full overview of housing discussions through the year can be found here.

One area where Council failed to find common ground with developers involved the Kanata School lands, where Council's vision for the area and that of the developers failed to come to any kind of a resolution, something which left School District 52 in a form of realty limbo, as they continued to try to sell off their land assets to return the revenue gained to School District use.

Zoning delay on Kanata lands has School District seeking answers from City of Prince Rupert
Kanata School land question back in front of Council tonight
Kanata School land zoning question is deferred once again, set to return for March 21st session

The land issues related to the Kanata area were not the only irritant between the City and the School District in the last year.

As the prospect of a long delayed School District by-election, required to replace the long since resigned trustee Judy Carlick-Pearson would still appear to be unresolved as we head into 2017.

When it comes to the ongoing theme of affordable housing in Prince Rupert, the local situation remained focused on discussions for most of the year.

Though some welcome news came from the Provincial government in November, with an announcement that affordable housing units are on the way.

The Mayor followed up on that provincial development with his own update on housing issues in December, offering up some notes on his priority list and suggesting that progress will be found in in the year ahead.

The start to 2017 will resemble much of how 2016 came to an end, with the larger economic picture for the community still to be determined. And while the promise of further Port development continues to fuel the city's economic engine, the potential of LNG development still remains very much of an unknown factor at this time.

City Council found itself in the spotlight of the LNG debate late in the year as Council members discussed a number of themes related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal.

Making for a number of sessions which offered up a glimpse into what appears to be a bit of a split on council on how to approach the giant LNG company and also brought out a number of the city's residents to share their opinions on how the City should handle those files.

City of Prince Rupert CEAA submission on Pacific NorthWest LNG now available on agency website
Metlakatla and Prince Rupert offer up reaction to Pacific NorthWest LNG announcement
Lelu Island project to be a theme for tonight's Council Session
City's LNG resolution discussion deferred until November
Council sends it's Pacific NorthWest LNG motion back to committee for review and rewording
City Council''s "LNG conditions Wars' ... The Business Empire Strikes Back!

As well, while they have not discussed the proposed Digby Island Aurora LNG project much in public session, some notes from a recent Regional District meeting would seem to suggest that it too, may soon find its way onto a City Council agenda in the New Year.

Federal funding provided for Indigenous participation in Aurora LNG CEAA process

For the most part the City has no control over any of those major developments, many of which are outside of the city's boundaries and most of which are at the mercy of international factors and varying financial winds. However, the fate of many of them could have a significant impact on the range of plans that the Mayor and  City Council have put forward through the last two years.

There's no guarantee that any of the proposed LNG developments will go ahead and while the Port's long range plans for expansion do offer the promise of an expanded industrial base, until there are shovels in the ground and people at work, much of the future still seems unknown.

The bottom line is however, that without that influx of economic development and with it a growing  population, many of the vision plans, housing studies and other documents predicting the future over the last few years, will at some point be left on a shelf.

In their place will be the balance sheets of today and the more mundane tasks of running a city which may have even further reduced financial options, along with a weary residential base that continues to pay the bills.

They make for a group who one suspects at some point may ask of their elected officials that they sharpen some pencils and review their ever growing plans and priorities, so that some of the financial burden currently in place will be lifted from their shoulders.

Should some of the current economic prospects not come to pass in 2017, the final year of this council's mandate leading up to election day in November of 2018 will be one of trying to address a growing list of issues.

Scrambling to find ways to finance all of their goals and ambitions of the years previous, while keeping an eye on the political weather vane and how the public may be viewing the way that Council has addressed the issues.

To gain a perspective on the year just past for City Council, a helpful starting place might be our notes on the Council Discussions of 2016.

You can also explore our archive pages that highlight areas of note from a range of Civic Departments and Issues over the course of the last year.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Overdue vessel found by fishing vessel near Kincolith

The Royal Canadian Marine Rescue unit]
out of Prince Rupert was called to action
earlier this week
A marine incident off the coast near Kincolith came to a happy ending on December 28th, after a fishing vessel found an overdue vessel in waters near the North Coast community.

A combined search for both the Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Marine Rescue had just commenced when the welcome news was delivered, with both the CCG Cape Dauphin and RCM-SAR 64 making their way to the Kincolith area at the time.

The missing vessel, a 27 foot herring skiff with four occupants aboard had been reported as over due at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, at which time the Rupert based vessels were dispatched to start their search.

With word of the successful end to the search, the Victoria Rescue Coordination Centre stood down the transiting Prince Rupert assets which returned to port.

All passengers were reported to be good condition.

Barring any further call outs through the weekend, the local Rescue group will  next see action this weekend when they lend a hand with the Rotary Club's Polar Bear Swim on New Years Day.

An update on the work of the Rupert based SAR station can be found on their Facebook page.

More items of interest related to the work of Northwest Emergency Responders can be found on our archive page.

Northwest Avalanche status listed as Considerable/Moderate

If exploring the back country of the Northwest Coastal or Inland region is on your To Do list over the New Year's weekend, Avalanche Canada is advising that you be cautious in your travels, listing the latest conditions to be found in the two areas of the coastal and inland regions.

The Friday forecast has placed the two Northwest regions in the Considerable/Moderate risk category with the weekend ahead.

Those two ranking are at the lower to mid range part of the five level system that Avalanche Canada uses, described as noted below:

Moderate -- Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern.  Natural Avalanches unlikely; human triggered avalanches possible.

Considerable -- Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snow pack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential. Natural Avalanches likely, human triggered avalanches likely.

You can access the latest information bulletins from the Avalanche Canada website.

Notes on other weather related items around the Northwest can be found on our archive page.

Political ad sparks some interest in the race for BC Liberal nomination on North Coast

With less than a month to go before North Coast Liberals decide on their candidate for the 2017 British Columbia Provincial election, one candidate is taking a multi media approach to seek the support of the party membership.

Rodney Proskiw made his case for their confidence through a post to the North Coast Liberal Facebook page this week, as well as with a full page ad in the Northern View, with his introduction to the Liberal faithful highlighting some of his background in the community.

In his call for the support of North Coast Liberals, Mr. Proskiw also outlines a brief history of his family's twelve years in the region, noting his efforts to start a Charter Boat business here, as well as through his work with the Prince Rupert Lions Club and on the Board of Tourism Prince Rupert,.

He also offers up some thoughts on how he approaches the issues of the North Coast.

Among his themes:

A long time member of UFCW-1518, who is hard working, dedicated and committed to helping our community. 

An active community volunteer and leader who is approachable and eager to listen and to advocate for.

He also notes that he is free thinking, inclusive and innovative, motivated to improve our lives with fresh and new ideas, with no attachments to a specific special interest group.

As part of his presentation to local Liberals he also outlines that for supporters to be able to vote for him at the nomination in late January they must register, asking them to call or email him prior to the deadline of January 4th.

He can be reached at 250-627-1853 or by email at

Those interested in becoming members of the BC Liberal Party can find out more about that process here.

So far the only other candidate to indicate interest in the nomination is Herb Pond who launched his exploratory moves back in November.

As we noted on the blog earlier this month, the North Coast Liberals will hold their nomination meeting on January 21st.

Updates on their plans can be found on the North Coast Liberal Facebook page.

More notes on the upcoming race for the North Coast seat in the British Columbia Legislature can be found on our archive page here.

City looks to turn portion of Rushbrook Trail over to Trail Enhancement Society

Those that are hoping to see a once popular east side trail put back into public use will find some welcome news in a public notice from the City of Prince Rupert.

Tucked way in the back pages of the weekly newspaper from Wednesday is an announcement from the City noting that the city intends to enter a Licence Agreement with Prince Rupert Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society for a portion of the land known as the Rushbrook Trail.

The stretch in question would start at the Bob's on the Rocks location at Rushbrook Floats and run from parallel to Overlook Street on the cliffs above the trail .

The City of Prince Rupert is setting in motion plans to turn over a stretch of
Rushbrook Trail parallel to Overlook Street to the Prince Rupert Trail
Enhancement Society for development for a period of up to ten years

According to the Notice, the nature of the arrangement is for the purpose of public redevelopment over the course of a five year term, with an option of a renewal for another five year period. 

The fee for the term will be one dollar per year.

The Rushbrook trail is currently listed as Closed to the Public, owing to concerns about safety along the waterfront pathways, remediation work on the trail has been a frequent topic of interest around the community in recent years, with much talk directed to finding a way to reopen it to the public.

While there has been no discussion of the trail plans in public session of Council this year, the prospect of turning it over to the Society does bode well for outdoor enthusiasts who have hoped to see the trail reopened to public use.

The Society recently teamed up with Pacific NorthWest LNG to bring back to life the Tall Trees Trail off of Highway 16, turning the little used wilderness trail into a popular hiking experience for local residents, with the line of cars along Highway 16 a testimony to the popularity of the new outdoor option for the area.

With that Tall Trees renovation project complete, the Society noted at the time that they hoped to turn their attention to other challenges when it comes to trail remediation, with recent fundraising efforts launched to help move some of their plans forward.

While no plans have been outlined as of yet from the Society as to what they have in mind, bringing back even a portion of the once popular Rushbrook Trail will be a welcome addition to the network of trails that they hope to one day deliver to the North Coast area.

The project would also appear to be one that could be attractive to local groups, organizations or industries looking to give back to the community and help in bringing the popular east side trail back to a safe and usable status.

Should you have an any inquiries related to the proposed license arrangement you are asked to contact Rory Mandryk, the city's Corporate Administrator at, the deadline for comments or inquiries is no later than 4 PM on January 6th of 2017.

More notes on items that come out of City Hall can be found on our archive page here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alaska Marine Terminal may soon be back on the front burner with the era of President Trump set to arrive

With a new Administration set to take power in Washington DC
the National Post  has put a focus on the dispute over the Alaska
Marine Highway Terminal in Prince Rupert

As 2016 comes to an end and the dawn of a seismic shift in US politics about to take place, the National Post is taking a look at the long running issue on the North Coast of the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal.

In an item published today, the National newspaper puts a renewed focus on the fate of the transportation link to the north and how pressures to bend to the Buy America process from the United States may increase with the start of the Administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

John Ivison, one of the Post's main political columnists puts the AMHS terminal at the start of a list of what could be a larger problem for Canadian trade officials.  He calls attention to the potential shift in Canada/US relations as the U. S. embraces a more pronounced Buy America approach, with the Post columnist calling the small ferry terminal at Fairview Bay one of the first potential flash points on the new bilateral universe between the two nations.

Ivison recounts some of the history of the dispute between the USA and Canada, a cross border spat that has seen a significant delay for the plans dating back to 2014 to overhaul the ferry terminal in Prince Rupert.

In October, Mayor Lee Brain provided a review of his September trip to Alaska for the Southeast Conference in Petersburg, offering both a current update to the AMHS situation, along with his longer term vision for transportation between the North Coast and Alaska.

You can review that item from the blog here, our October blog post also provides some background to the long trail of delays related to the AMHS facilities in Prince Rupert.

According to the National Post story, a threat to cut the service to Prince Rupert was delivered to Mayor Lee Brain through a letter provided by the State Deputy Commission of Transport Michael Neussel, with the Alaskan official noting that with Alaska considering reductions in its fleet and route structure, the lack of a suitable dock in Prince Rupert would be a factor when it comes to consideration of those changes.

The review of events from the Post also notes that the Alaskans still are holding to a goal of having the Prince Rupert dock to be rebuilt at a cost of 10 to 20 million dollars, calling on Mayor Brain to lobby both the Provincial and Federal Government to revoke or amend the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act which was put in place last January.

The Post states that they had attempted to seek clarification on how the Alaskan plan would work around the current Buy American rules (let alone any new push from a Trump administration we imagine) but could not reach either Mayor Brain, or the Alaska representatives for comment prior to the publishing of their article.

While the Alaskan official seems to indicate that there is some form of movement in play to address the issue of the AMHS terminal, according to the Post, Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has stated that the Federal government is unaware of any formal proposal to move the project forward.

The remainder of the Post article explores how the Federal government is making plans on trade when it comes to the approaching new Trump administration, with the prospect of potential trade flare ups among the main concern when it comes to a new mantra of America First from the USA.

Should the US Government turn its focus on delivering on the new President's declaration to put American interests first, the Alaska Ferry Terminal may not be the only Prince Rupert facility to become a flash point between the two nations.

With much of the movement of arriving cargo through the Port of Prince Rupert destined for American destinations, cross border transit could also be on the radar for a more insular United States that is determined to protect American jobs.

That could be another issue that the National Post may want to keep an eye on for any follow up articles when it comes to the impact on the Canadian economy of the approaching Trump years.

The Port of Prince Rupert is a shipment point that delivers product
deep into the United States through the CN Rail network

While we might think that we are far from any potential International political fray tucked up as we are just under the Alaska panhandle, the arrival of the new President and his four year term could provide for a range of trade concerns that may have a significant impact on the Northwest in any number of ways.

The full National Post article can be reviewed here.

You can find the latest information on Ferry transportation to and from the North Coast from our archive page here.

Rushbrook once again where the Polar Bears (Swimmers) will roam on New Years Day

It will be a call of Everyone Into the Harbour on Sunday morning, as the Prince Rupert Rotary Club hosts its annual Polar Bear Swim at the Boat Launch at the City's Rushbrook Floats facility.

The Quick Dip into the waters of Prince Rupert Harbour will take place at 1 PM with the Rotary Club and Tim Horton's ready to warm up participants and those there to watch the action, while supplies last they will be offering up free hot dogs, coffee and hot chocolate.

The annual swim features a range of participants from young to old and often features some very creative costumes as the swimmers make their dash into the water (followed by a quicker dash back to shore in some cases)

Polar Bear Swim participants have an opportunity to received some Tim Horton's gift cards during the course of the New Years Day event, how you can claim one for your own will be announced during the day's festivities.

Last year close to 150 took the plunge into the waters and with Sunny Skies anticipated for New Years Day another strong turnout is expected for the 2017 edition.

Exiting almost as fast as they entered ... participants of a
past Rotary Club Polar Bear Swim at Rushbrook Floats
This years event launches at 1 PM Sunday
(Photo from the Rotary website)
Rushbrook Floats on the city's east side is the venue for
the New Years Day Polar Bear Swim in Prince Rupert

(click to expand)
The Prince Rupert Rotary Club Facebook page is the place to check for updates on the days events. More items of interest about Rotary Club activities in the region can be found on their website.

The Polar Bear Swim is the second  half of a double header of family fun for the day, the Rupert Runners are hosting their annual New Years Day Resolution Run, the short run along the city's waterfront starts at the Noon hour you can learn more about that event here.

The Resolution Run starts and finishes just up the road at the gates of the Canadian Fish plant.

More background on Community Events can be found here.

Prince Rupert/Port Edward Transit offers you a ride on New Years Eve

Need a lift? If you're travelling around the city to see 2016 out and to herald the arrival of 2017 Prince Rupert and Port Edward Transit have the transportation for you, with the region's two transportation services offering Free Transit Service on New Years Eve continuting on into the early hours of January 1st.

The free service on all regular Prince Rupert Transit routes will start at 6:45 PM with the bus service coming to a stop at 3:30 AM on New Years Day.

There will be No Service for Prince Rupert Transit through the remainder of New Years Day with the service returning to its regular schedule on January 2nd.

You can find out more information about Prince Rupert Transit from their website page.

Port Edward Transit is also offering Free Evening service on New Years Eve

The first bus leaves Prince Rupert for Port Edward at 6:10 PM, with further runs through the evening taking place at 7:10 PM, 9:30 PM, 10:10 PM, 1 AM and 2 AM.

The last bus leaving Prince Rupert at 3:00 AM

There is No Service to Port Edward through the remainder of New Years Day with service returning to its regular schedule on January 2nd.

Notes from Port Edward Transit can be reviewed here.

NWCC to offer Marine Programs at Prince Rupert Campus in 2017

Those looking to brush up on their boating safety in the New Year will want to explore a pair of programs to be offered at the Prince Rupert Campus of Northwest Community College in January.

The First is the Small Vessel Operator Proficiency Program which provides basic theoretical knowledge to people with specific practical skills and experience in commercial power driven vessels. Upon completion of the 24 hours of instruction, students will have the skills and knowledge to take charge of a non-commercial vessel up to 5 tonnes operating in designated waters. Successful completion will provide the participants with the Small Vessel Operator Proficiency Certificate which is valid for the operation of a small non-passenger commercial vessel.

The Course which costs 895 dollars will be offered and runs from January 11th to 14th 8:30 to 5:30.

All Participants should take note of the pre-requisite for the program which is the requirement of a Transport Canada Candidate Document Number prior to the course.

More background on the Small Vessel Operator Proficiency program can be found here.

NWCC is also  hosting an eight hour Marine Emergency Duties Course, offering a basic personal safety training certificate upon completion, something which is mandatory for persons working as crew members of fishing vessels or small commercial vessels shorter than 12 metres in length and operating no more than 25 miles off shore.

The Course which costs 288 dollars will be offered January 9th and runs from 8:30 to 5:30 PM.

All Participants should take note of the pre-requisite for the program which is the requirement of a Transport Canada Candidate Document Number prior to the course.

You can learn more about the program from the NWCC Website here.

Further background on education on the North Coast can be found here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Blue Knuckle Derby participants reel in the three big winners for 2016

The 2017 Blue Knuckle Derby had relatively bright skies and only occasional bouts with the elements as North Coast fishermen took to the water Tuesday for the annual Prince Rupert tradition.

Sponsored by the Prince Rupert Lions Club, the 24th Annual Marc (Dez) Desautels Memorial Derby once again sent many enthusiastic participants to the water and delivered three winners for 2016.

The winners of the 24th Annual Marc (Dezi) Desautels Memorial
Blue Knuckle Derby for 2016

(Mike Pottle, Henry Clifton and Chris Ekeli -- photo from Lions Club Facebook page)

First Prize $1,200 -- Mike Pottle ---  15.544 lbs.
Second Prize $800 -- Henry Clifton --- 15.44 lbs. 
Third Prize $500 -- Chris Ekeli --- 14.866 lbs

Winner of the Trip for Two anywhere that Central Mountain Air flies was Val Whiley

A look at the prizes and sponsors of the event can be found here.

The size or weight of the prize winning fish caught during the course of the day have yet to be released, when that information is updated we'll provide the details above.

The Blue Knuckle Derby once again benefited from support from the community with a number of sponsors participating in the Lions Club event, with three putting up the prize money for Tuesday's wrap up ceremony.

The Derby also received some valuable assistance from the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 64 in Prince Rupert. With members of the local group out on the water through the day, ready to lend assistance if trouble had popped up.

Among the good work in the community that the Blue Knuckle Derby supports is the Lions Club Bursary program for Graduating students at Charles Hays Secondary School. The Lions provided a reminder this week, celebrating the five successful Bursary recipients for this year.

You can find more items of interest about the work of the Lions Club in the Prince Rupert region from their Facebook page here.

More background on community events on the North Coast can be found on our archive page.

Book on Queen of the North sinking proves to be a popular item for North Coast readers

A new book on the sinking of the Queen of the North became somewhat of a North Coast best seller this holiday season, with the local book store Eddie's News having to bring in numerous shipments to keep up with demand for the account of March 21st and 22nd of 2006.

The book, The Queen of the North Disaster is authored by Colin Henthorne who was captain of the vessel on what would be its final journey.

Through the 224 pages, Henthorne explores the events of the transit from Prince Rupert towards Port Hardy, a journey which was interrupted during the course of that early morning off of Gil Island when the vessel struck an underwater reef and sank. A tragedy which claimed the lives of Shirley Rosette and Gerald Foisy who were among the 101 listed as aboard the vessel when it departed from the Fairview Ferry Terminal.

As we have since discovered through the many news articles dedicated to the story and the subsequent court testimony of trial, it was in the early hours of March 22nd that the vessel struck those underwater rocks near Gil Island and began to sink, launching an extensive rescue mission which featured the response of many of the residents of Hartley Bay, as well as through the work from the Canadian Coast Guard.

When that operation had come to its end the rescuers had safely retrieved 99 of the 101 on board the vessel, with neither Mr. Foisy and Ms. Rosette ever found and still listed as presumed drowned and now officially declared dead.

From his view of events Captain Henthorne recounts much of journey with a significant amount of his attention directed towards the early morning period, while at the same time offering his own thoughts on what may have happened during that trip, discounting many of the rumours that came out of the sinking, while making note of equipment changes that had been put in place on the vessel.

As well, Henthorne challenges much of the way that BC Ferries handled the sinking and is particularly strong in opinion when it comes to how the Ferry Corporation treated both himself and the employees who had been on watch that night.

In the period that followed the sinking, BC Ferries helmswoman Karen Briker was fired, while Fourth Mate Karl Lilgert was charged with criminal negligence causing death and sentenced to four years in prison.

Captain Henthorne, who was not on watch at the time of the incident, engaged in a lengthy fight to keep his job with BC Ferries but subsequently was dismissed, in a preview to his book he notes that it took him six years to recover his career.

His account of March 22nd highlights how many of the questions related to the disaster still remain unanswered and from his point of view, notes that BC Ferries had for the most part abandoned their on-board employees and how management has not examined its role in the events both prior to and following the sinking of the ship.

The former BC Ferries captain remains involved in the maritime world, currently employed at the Coast Guard Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria BC.

You can stop in at Eddie's to put your name on the list for the next shipment, or make use of any number of online shopping options to secure a copy of a book that seems to have captured the imagination of the North Coast.

A look at how Captain Henthorne put together his book as well as some reviews of the work can be found below:

Queen of the North Captain makes case for what caused disaster
Queen of the North a mystery unsolved
Captain of Queen of the North recounts 'heartbreaking' night ship went down (audio)
The Sinking of the Queen of the North
Queen of the North, the captain's story
Queen of the North tragedy haunts captain, wants to set record straight
Captain of B.C. Ferry that sank after crew allegedly had sex on bridge makes case for what caused disaster
The Queen of the North Disaster (podcast discussion from the
A captain's story of a B.C. marine disaster
A captain's story finally told

A shift in shipping plans for Pacific NorthWest LNG?

An item first published yesterday and updated today on the Financial News site Bloomberg Markets is suggesting that Petronas, the parent company for Pacific NorthWest is giving some consideration to shifting the shipment point for it's proposed Lelu Island terminal complex.

According to the Bloomberg report the Pacific NorthWest LNG project would still build its liquefaction plant at Lelu Island, however the actual shipment of the LNG would take place from a docking facility at the former Canpotex property located on Ridley Island, making use of a pipeline to the site recently opened up by the departure of the Saskatchewan based potash company.

A report in Bloomberg Markets is suggesting that
Pacific NorthWest LNG is considering use of the former site
allocated to Canpotex for a shipment dock while its main
liquefaction plant would remain on Lelu Island

The Bloomberg report also notes that the new proposal could save Petronas as much as 1 billion dollars through the elimination of the suspension bridge proposed for Lelu Island and would shift the focus of the Lelu Island project away from the Flora Bank and any impact on the eel grass beds and other environmentally sensitive conditions in the estuary.

The need for a costly suspension bridge over Flora Bank would be eliminated
should Pacific NorthWest's LNG project make use of a shipment dock at
Ridley Island as suggested in a recent Bloomberg article

Petronas is reported to be in talks with government and stakeholders to determine if the proposed modification to its plans could take place without sparking any fresh regulatory delays.

The plans however appear to be more in the exploratory phase than those of any firm commitment, with the CEAA noting for Bloomberg Markets that they have not received any information to this point related to any proposed changes to the project.

Petronas is currently conducting a total project review on the proposed 27 billion dollar development with indications to this point suggesting a decision by the summer of 2017 on the fate of the proposed development.

The change to the project as it has been described, is seen as one way that the company could reduce its costs on the development, while addressing some of the issues raised by opponents to the Terminal project.

You can review the full Bloomberg article here.

Whether the proposed shift of shipment facilities to Ridley Island will quell some of the controversy related to the project with its opponents remains to be seen.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen has frequently called for the proposed development to be moved to Ridley Island, it will be interesting to hear his thoughts, as well as those of NDP MLA Jennifer Rice on the theme.

Of particular note will be how both view any kind of hybrid version of the project when it comes to their past concerns over the project and whether the split concept of a plant on Lelu Island and shipment facilities at Ridley would be acceptable to both.

So far there is no confirmation of any shift in plans to be found on either the Petronas or Pacific NorthWest LNG information streams.

A review of the Pacific NorthWest LNG file can be found on our archive page here.