Thursday, December 1, 2016

City Council Timeline, Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday night's Council meeting for the most part was turned over the public, as Council members heard a range of comments from residents and business owners in the community, with the majority of the discussion related to the City's approach to negotiations with Pacific NorthWest LNG.

The instant forum on LNG came as part of the Committee of the Whole Forum portion of the evening and took up thirty of Monday's thirty seven minute meeting.

The comments from the public offered some clear frustration from a number of participants, who had many concerns related to a motion from the last session by Councillor Joy Thorkelson which outlined a number of conditions that the city should put in place regarding its engagement with the LNG company, with particular disappointment directed towards the prospect of the City withholding any support for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.

The comment period provide for speaker after speaker taking to the microphone to provide some guidance for Council members on what approach they should take when it comes to large industrial terminal planned for Port Edward.

As for the Regular session, with Council members having little in the way of City Business to attend to and no motions to consider, or reports to receive, the final seven minutes for the most part featured updates from Mayor Brain on the recent planning consultations in the city and an update on housing issues.

Councillors Cunningham and Mirau also had some short observations on housing and small business respectively.

For some background on the items of note on the evening, the Agendas for both the Regular Council session and the Committee of the Whole Session are available here.

Prior to the 7 PM meeting, Council also had a Closed Session Scheduled for earlier in the day, the notice to close it to the public can be examined here.

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 November 28, 2016

Mayor Lee Brain-- Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present  
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney --  Absent
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- Present 

Video Archive for November 28, 2016

( 0:00 -- 1:30  Committee of the Whole Session -- The Mayor reviewed past minutes and outlined the instructions to the gallery related to their participation in the commentary period.

(1:30 - 30:00 ) Public Comment Period from Community of the Whole  -- During the course of the Public Comment opportunity a number of members of the public came forward to speak on issues of concern, the majority on the theme of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project and the city's negotiations with the company:

Keith Lambourne -- Representing the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce -- Mr. Lambourne spoke to the issue of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project and reinforced the Chamber's support for the project. Noting that the project had been subject to three years of extensive review, and that the Chamber did not offer its support until the Draft Review had been delivered. He added that the Chamber believes that the process had been thorough and that the legal pieces are in place for the project to proceed. He wished the council well with their negotiations with the company.

John Farrell -- Small Business operator, community volunteer, father of two -- Mr. Farrell outlined that he was speaking to the issue of Pacific NorthWest LNG and to speak up for his community, making note of the protest of last week in the Council chamber which he called appalling. He also noted that the project was not in the jurisdiction of the City of Prince Rupert, adding that he was actively in support of the project and the jobs it will bring to the community. He also pointed towards the need for Council to consider natural gas as a transition fuel and how it can reduce the impact of coal and diesel sources.

Mr. Farrell also touched on the protest of the last council session and added that he had faith in the ability of the neighbours of the surrounding First Nations communities who will be monitoring the progress of the project and ensuring that environmental concerns are addressed.

He suggested to Council that he believes he represents the silent majority in the town which views the LNG project as a needed piece for the community as a booster of the economy and one that would bring jobs for our young people.

With some applause heard from the gallery following that presentation, Mayor Brain commented on the events of the last council session and how he would be striving to keep the clapping and other demonstrations to a minimum.

Chris Sankey -- Lax Kw'alaams Government -- Mr Sankey provided an overview of the Lax Kw'alaams position on the proposed LNG project by Pacific NorthWest LNG. He also outlined the nature of the extensive process of review that the community has taken to get to the current state of  review where they are today. He noted that Lax Kw'allams will continue to move forward with that process with the information that they have been provided.

He further observed that the Lax Kw'alaams government and their Mayor John Helin and Council has been respectful of other peoples opinions, while at the same time have elected not to get involved in other people's opinions.

Mr. Sankey did note for City Council that Lax Kw'alaams was not going to be dictated by other communities, individuals, or groups that may think otherwise, adding that they would never do it to them and respectfully asked that they not to it to the Lax Kw'alaams community.  He also offered up some understanding on the impact of the project on other communities and what they have taken under consideration, reminding Council of the history of First Nations on the North Coast and concluding that Lax Kw'alaams, would continue to watch for the environment, but do it on their terms, in a productive and efficient manner.

Rodney Proskiw -- Charter Operator/Potential BC Liberal candidate -- Mr. Proskiw outlined some background of his family business, as well as his thoughts on the Pacific NorthWest LNG project. Noting for council of his involvement in the work related to the environmental assessment for the project, adding that he believes in it 100 per cent and is convinced that everything that could be done has been done. He observed for council that as long as the conditions are met, he doesn't see why this project doesn't go forward. He also commented on what he called the attempt at the 11th hour by people in the community to submarine or torpedo the project, particularly after the work that has been put into the process by all levels of government.

He called those attempts to quash the project as a hijacking by those interests and something he wished someone could explain to him.  He added that the due diligence has been done and the process is moving forward, with the people having spoken. He expressed his concern over what he saw from the Council Chamber from last week  and the demands by some for the City to take a position of No on the project and how he thought that made no sense to him on any perspective, further advising that he hoped the City would never, ever consider such a move with too much at stake for the City and the region.

Mr. Proskiw further observed that the city needs to be mindful of what is at stake and make sure that they look after not just one little specific special interest group, which while important to the community, should not overtake the common good. He also observed that there are a number of industries that have suffered in the past and that there is a need for the community to move forward. He offered up to Council that he would becoming very public in the near future on those issues, to work towards making sure that people get what they deserve in this community and what they've been working hard for over many years.

Scott Farwell -- Long time resident of the community -- Mr. Farwell's turn at the microphone also addressed the events of the last Council session which he called a disappointing event that had been hijacked by a number of outspoken individuals and that manner did not provide Council with the respect that it is due as elected officials.  He added that the council chamber is one where people should be allowed to speak their mind without fear of retribution or intimidation from others and that anything that doesn't allow that is dis-respectful and should not be allowed in this community.

As for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project he noted the three year process of assessment for the project which involved a number of levels of government and First Nations and how the idea of Prince Rupert considering any motion that goes against the project is outside of its mandate, as it's not in the city's jurisdiction and is providing a distraction from what the City should be doing, which is to continue to negotiate an agreement to the benefits of the citizens of Prince Rupert.  He urged Council to handedly defeat that motion and to let that segment of bullies know that Council is not going to be hijacked any more.

Mr. Farwell further outlined how he supports the industrial development that has been approved by senior levels of government and is supported by local First Nation leaders, adding that it's fortunate that PNW is interested in negotiating or entering in a benefit agreement with the City of Prince Rupert as truthfully they probably don't have to and we should remember that. Mr. Farwell also pointed to the lack of attention to the issue from the previous council, which he called a Council of No, which had chosen not to be involved in the process and has now left this council with the remnants of that did not act.

Brian Musgrave -- Local resident, taxpayer and owner of Rainbow Chrysler -- Mr. Musgrave stated that he wasn't here to speak directly to the Pacific NorthWest event, but  chose to examine how Council has approached the process of making tough business decisions, calling on his own experiences and what he weighs when he makes decisions for his business. He noted his respect for those that have chosen to sit on Council  and how as a group they and staff are responsible for 14,000 plus families and with the city suffering from an infrastructure deficit, there are two ways to deal with such things you either increase revenue, or reduce expenses.

He noted that over the last ten to fifteen years the City and its Councils have done nothing but reduce expenses to the point where there is no reducing left, which means that the only
way to correct that not counting the infrastructure deficit is to increase revenue.

He also observed that he is pro development as long as its sustainable manner  and all he is asking Council to do is to remember that you have made a commitment to the people of Prince Rupert which is 14,000 strong not thirty strong and that any decisions should be made in the best possible light for the citizens that they represent.

Larry Golden -- Local resident -- Mr. Golden reviewed some of the various conditions that have not been met on the theme of LNG, he then moved on to other topics related to child poverty and how Prince Rupert is considered amongst the highest rates in the province, asking that Council investigate the issue further. He also offered up some thoughts related to the recent community consultation on planning and how the City should also consider climate change as part of any planning to come.

Leona Peterson -- Resident of Metlakatla --  Ms. Peterson provided her thoughts on issues related to methane extraction and the various projects proposed for Prince Rupert, adding that beyond her concerns related to the salmon, she has concerns related to pollution in the community and how the residents of Prince Rupert have a right to clean air. She further outlined some of her thoughts when it comes to the Federal government efforts on industrial development and the environment. On a more local note she offered up her thoughts related to the negotiations that Metlakatla have been involved with when it comes to LNG development in the region, adding that as she understands it, Metlakatla will be offered Digby Island back as reserve land and asked how Council feels about losing that tax base.

She offered her praise to the one council member who has outlined some of the pollution risks related to acid rain in the community, adding that if the LNG facility goes forward there will be a significant impact on the environment not just in Prince Rupert, but the world, adding that she will become more involved to stop the Lelu island project if required to ensure her voice is heard. Calling further attention to her concerns on the environment she made note of the City's Hays 2.0 plan and wondered how we can plan for a future when there is no Prince Rupert.

John Marogna -- Local resident/business owner -- Mr. Marogna called on his knowledge of the community over the last fifty five years and how he's seen the ups and downs of the region in that time, and how there are many people in the area who are negative and who talk about knowledge, but how they don't have any knowledge.

On the theme of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project he also made note of the three year review process and how the Federal government and the Minster of Environment has embraced the project, which if built properly will be a viable operation despite what the negative people will say. He recalled some of the past projects that have been proposed and never came to be developed in the region and how without this project Prince Rupert would continue to go backwards. He asked Council to embrace the project, to not be negative and to make it a viable opportunity for the area.

Tom Chang -- Resident of Prince Rupert -- Mr. Chang echoed the comments of Brian Musgrave on the theme of the need to support responsible development, noting that he believes that the amount of time that has been invested by the companies in the region have show that they are responsible developers. Adding that he was in support of responsible development and how they will generate the jobs and investment that is needed in the region, stating that without industries there will be no jobs.

With no further commentary from the public the Committee of the Whole Session was adjourned and Council moved to the Regular Council Session

( 30:00 -- 31:00 ) Regular Council Session -- The Mayor outlined that the Regular Council Agenda was light and that there were no motions to consider on the evening. He read out the minutes of previous meetings and adopted the Agenda for the evening.

Prior to moving straight to the Reports, Questions and Inquiries from Council portion of the night, the Mayor observed that while there was not much in the way of business to deal with tonight, the December 12th session will one which has a variety of issues and items to be considered.

( 32:00  -- 37:00  ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Mayor Brain provided a short synopsis of the four day consultation process in the community with the Toronto based Planning Partnership, highlighting a number of the outcomes from those meetings. 

He observed that the event had provided results that went above and beyond what he thought would be delivered, highlighting some of the ideas generated, with a brand new vision for Third Avenue and connecting to the waterfront to Rushbrook Trail and Seal Cove. 

He also noted some of the brand new design that they created and how some of them were "quick win" opportunities that aren't going to cost the municipality an arm and a leg to move forward on. 

The Mayor outlined that the next step in the process will be to provide an 18 foot print out of some of the plans that can be taken around town for people to view, which will explain some of the re-branding in mind and some of the waterfront stuff which he called absolutely amazing and how the city hopes to move forward on a couple of the items in 2017. He called the planning sessions "a really great event" and noted that "the Planning Partnership totally understood the flavour of Prince Rupert" and how he hopes to see it come to fruition in 2017.

The Mayor also outlined some comments related to a recent housing announcement by the Provincial Housing which will see 60 affordable housing units coming to the community. Mayor Brain provided a snapshot of some of the work that the City has taken on with BC Housing in September and October, noting that the City doesn't do housing intake units, but was able to direct housing initiatives to Metlakatla and Kitkatla. 

He observed how Metlakatla is planning to build a seniors housing facility, while Kitkatla will also be developing affordable housing for singles and families, noting that both proposed developments could also see increases made to the planned number of units that will be available for those two housing options.

The Mayor noted that the city is also working on the next level of a provincial housing fund, looking to address areas of concern such as a men's shelter or an alcohol treatment centre which both have been identified as a big need for Prince Rupert, calling the progress found in recent weeks a positive development for the community suggesting "that 2017 could be a very fantastic year for us".

Councillor Cunningham shared his observations from his attendance at the BC Northern Housing Conference in Prince George, which he described as an eye opening experience. Noting that even with the plans for the thirty Senior units that the mayor mentioned, would not even take care of the waiting list for Seniors in the community. 

He noted that the information he had reviewed in Prince George revealed that the largest increase ahead in the demographics for Prince Rupert will be that of Seniors and how that reinforces the need the City to not let up on the work towards more seniors housing and affordable housing in the community.

Councillor Mirau provided a short update on the status of the Small Business Advisory Committee, noting that the City is accepting resumes, with hopes to start up in the new year. Asking that anyone who may be interested to deliver their resumes to City Hall.

You can access the City Council Review for November 28th herewhere 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 November 28, 2016 (not available yet)

The next regularly scheduled Council session, the last public session for 2016 takes place takes place on December 12th .

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