Wednesday, February 22, 2017

City Council Timeline: Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday evening made for another quick get together for the Mayor and the city's six council members as they worked their way through a very light agenda in just thirty seven minutes.

The bulk of the Regular work involving quick approval of a zoning issue and a bylaw motion, along with the request for the City's support for a number of correspondences for support.

The Committee of the Whole session however did provide for some interesting commentary as Mayor Brain took exception to the comments from a local resident who had inquired about how the city holds its closed council sessions.

The exchange making for a few moments of angry discussion as the Mayor warned about the language that had been used regarding the work of city council.

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 February 20, 2017

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 February 20, 2017

( 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 - 15:00 ) Public Comment Period from Community of the Whole  -- During the course of the Public Comment opportunity two speakers offered comments or questions for City Council.

The first speaker, a regular contributor to Council open comment periods was Larry Golden, who had three questions for the City Council members.

He opened his commentary by suggesting that Council was mis-using their in camera meetings, noting that there is no information provided to the public as to the length of those sessions or any expansive detail to the topics covered.

He then turned his attention towards Watson Island and asked about the transfer of lots at that site over to Legacy Inc., which was advertised in December, inquiring about expenses related to the industrial site and asking for an update from Council on the progress or status of development there.

He added a number of questions related to how Legacy and what the status was related to the proposed LNG development at lot 444 on Tuck inlet.

His third question was related to the city's Dog Bylaws and raised concerns about certain restrictive breeds of dogs, asking as to how Council has addressed the issue.

The Mayor consulted with a staff member and then spoke for Council on the theme of Watson Island advising that the City would prepare a response for Mr. Golden and get back to him on that theme, though the Mayor did not provide any kind of timeline as to when an answer could be expected.

Mr. Golden followed up with a second request for information on Lot 444, he was again advised that would be part of the response that the Mayor had mentioned earlier. Mr. Golden the put forward a request for some guidance as to what would be the best way for him to frame his questions to better gain the information he was looking to receive.

The topic of the city's closed sessions was raised once again, with Mr. Golden returning to his belief that the city was misusing that process, something that the Mayor challenged by stating that everything the city was doing was within legal bounds and that Mr. Golden's perceptions were his opinion and not fact.

Mr. Golden expanded on his theme by asking about the closed session from earlier in the day, inquiring as to what time it came to an end, the Mayor observed that he it was a matter of an in camera conversation and that he didn't have to explain it at this moment.

Going further, the Mayor went on to say that it was all within the minutes and within legal bounds and that he didn't know what he (Mr. Golden) was referring to.

The suggestion from Mr. Golden that Council was doing things illegally and not in an open or transparent process appeared to raise the ire of the Mayor further, who then asked if Mr. Golden had any other questions, adding that all Mr. Golden was doing at this point was making accusatory claims.

The Mayor then reinforced his earlier statement that everything the city does is in legal bounds.

At that point Mr. Golden stood up from the speaker's table and withdrew from further conversation with the Council members.

The second participant on the night was Shelly Starr who noted for the Council members that she was preparing to depart the community and that Monday would be the last time that she would be appearing at Council.

She followed that introduction up with some thoughts of her time in Prince Rupert and called attention to some of her concerns related to the McKay Street area, opening her questions with one on the status of the proposed McKay Street park project.

The Mayor noted that the final designs are just coming back to Transition Prince Rupert at the moment and that the group will review the designs and figure out the next steps from there.

She also had concerns related to traffic and in the McKay street area, expressing her fears for pedestrians in the area, expanding her comments to areas of the downtown core.

Her comments referencing a private meeting with the Mayor on a topic about McKay Street, brought out a jocular warning from Mr. Brain that she should be careful, with the Mayor observing that Mr. Golden may think that they were having a private, secret, illegal meeting.

It made for an observation which provided some amusement for some of the council members.

As she was leaving the community, the Mayor thanked her for all her work in the community and wished her well on her travels.

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

( 14:00 -- 15:00 ) Regular Council Session -- The Mayor outlined that there were a few additions to the correspondences portion of the Regular Council Agenda. Council then approved the Agenda while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

(15:00 -- 19:00) Report from the Community Planner for a variance on a property on Kootenay Place -- The City's Community Planner Caroline von Schilling provided the background to the application to seek an increase in the allowable height of a structure on the property.

Council members had a few questions related to the application, Councillor Cunningham asked about the process of advising neighbours for public notice of the public meeting, while Councillor Thorkelson inquired about the access to the structure in question.

Councillor Niesh noted that he had no issue with the application at all and recommended that council should move the process forward.

With that, Council voted to approve the motion sending it to the public notification stage.

19:00 -- 29:00 ) Correspondences for Action -- The City had four requests for correspondences on the night they included:

The first letter is a request from the Northwest Community College Students Association for a letter of support to reinstate funding for Adult Basic Education and to abolish tuition fees. The letter would be forwarded to the Advanced Education Minister.

Councillor Thorkelson spoke for close to three minutes towards the importance of the motion and noted some of the local concerns that she has been made aware of to access more education and training for local residents.

Councillors Randhawa and Cunningham echoed many of Councillor Thorkelson's comments on the theme.

Council approved the writing of the letter

The second request was from the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement Society, the Mayor began the introduction of their request by stating that as everyone knows the City has entered a lease agreement with the Organization for their work to rehabilitate the Rushbrook Trail.

As for their request for a letter of support, the Mayor observed that the request was to help in their quest for funding for two projects a race tracking system for the Mount Hays Quick Climb race and the other for the Kaien Island Trail Network Interpretive sign project.

Councillor Thorkelson offered up the observation that not many people may know what the tracking system consists of and how it may work.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his excitement over the prospect of more signage for local trails and how it would help to enhance the city.

The Mayor then noted that with the city having done some design work on the downtown core  would be combined as one template for the entire area.

Council then voted to approve the letter.

The third request for a letter came from the North Coast Transition Society and their Housing First Coordinator James McNish, he is looking for a letter of support from the city to help create a new transitional shelter project in the Prince Rupert area.

Council expressed their interest in bringing more housing resources to the community and approved the writing of the letter of support.

The fourth letter request came from the North Pacific Cannery Historical society which is looking for a letter of support towards their funding requests for a number of projects at the Cannery Museum site including work on such areas as the boat lifts, a working dock, the main cannery building along with a number of other projects that they have plans for.

Councillor Cunningham noted that the program that they have in place has proven helpful to build the workforce in the community through apprenticeships in the trades.

Council approved the writing of the letter of support.

( 29:00 -- 29:30    ) Recommendation that Council adopt a road closure bylaw for a section of Third Avenue West -- Council approved the bylaw

 ( 29:30  -- 33:00  ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillor Niesh provided a report of his participation in the graduation event for the Northwest Aboriginal Canadian entrepreneurs, providing some background for council as to what the program is all about.

Councillor Randhawa offered up his thanks and congratulations to those who organized and participated in the All Native Basketball Tournament.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his observations on the state of some of the buildings in the downtown core, noting that the topic had been raised by the Chair of Tourism Prince Rupert at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting.  

He noted that he believes that the city has bylaws in place to address the issue of unsightly buildings and they should be enforced and that letters should be sent to those building owners in question.

Mayor Brain returned to the events from the Committee of the Whole session and observed for Council that theirs is an organization and place of integrity and that when people come and make accusations to us that they are acting illegally it actually bothers him, noting that there is a lot of work done by staff to make sure that they meet all guidelines and standards and that everything is above board.

He further added that he would not tolerate that type of behaviour of people coming forward, noting that council will absolutely work with and talk to the community and working with the community in a very collaborative way and answering questions.

Expanding on his theme, the Mayor further stated that when people come with those types of accusations he considers it an attack on the staff and an attack on this council which is working very hard and in the future he just won't tolerate it, adding that he hopes that people won't come forward with that kind of demeanour again.

With that advisory for the public delivered the Mayor then brought the session to an end.

You can access the City Council Review for February 20th 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 February 20, 2017 (not available yet)

The next regularly scheduled Council session, takes place on March 6th .

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