Friday, May 26, 2017

City Council Timeline: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

With the month's final council meeting of the month moved forward by a week, seemingly to accommodate a city delegation's visit to Ottawa at the end of the month, Council members made some quick work of their Agenda for Tuesday night.

From start to finish, the session  ran but 44 minutes, with Council members knocking down an agenda package which included a public comment opportunity as part of the Committee of the Whole portion of the night.

Beyond the few comments offered up members of the public, Council heard a presentation on a proposed upgrade to the McClymont Park trail system, a project that would expand the capabilities of the existing trail to offer wheelchair and cycling access.

Council also heard a number of reports from the City's Financial Officer and discussed a motion from Councillor Blair Mirau to review how they handle Closed sessions and the prospect of providing more information to the public from them.

The evening concluded with a number of reports from the Mayor covering his recent trip to Vancouver and his upcoming trip to Ottawa, Mr. Brain also took note of the community voting opportunity to help Transition Prince Rupert gain funding for the McKay Street Park Project through the BCAA Play Here program.

The evening ended with Councillor Cunningham raising a pair of issues for council to consider moving forward.

For some background on the items of note on the evening, the Agenda for the Committee of the Whole and Regular Council session can be reviewed 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 May 23, 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 -- Absent

Video Archive for May 23, 2017

(0:00 -- 10:00) Committee of the Whole Session  -- Two members of the public took advantage of the public comment period of the Committee session, the first was Keri Yee a member of the Roosevelt School community who outlined the nature of a Bike to Work/School program at Roosevelt, with the school seeking donations of bicycles for the initiative. She inquired as to the status of any bikes that had been collected by the City and if the City of Prince Rupert could turn some of that supply over to the program.  Councillor Kinney asked as to how many were required, while the City's CFO outlined the nature of the city collection policy and how the School could approach it for help. Councillor Cunningham also noted that if anyone in the community had bikes to donate they could contact the Roosevelt program.

Larry Golden was the second participant on the evening and he made some inquiries related to the Airport Society and CityWest, making some observations related as to how Board members may be compensated, as well as delivering some suggestions as to how the City could better provide for information related to those two organizations. He also made inquiries and offered some suggestions on how the city approaches Building permits in the community.

He then made some inquiries as to whether Society compensation would be included in the upcoming Statement of Information process. Councillor Cunningham corrected one element of Mr. Golden's commentary, noting that of the members on Council who sat on Boards or Commissions, none were provided compensation for those duties. Mr. Golden then expanded his inquiry to those staff members that would be members of the Board, the Mayor clarified some of the theme of compensation, noting that only he and Mr. Kinney received an extra stipend through their Regional District participation, which he noted was at a level of 11 or 12,000 dollars.

(10::00 -- 11:00) Regular Council Session -- The Mayor reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the Agenda while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

(11:00 -- 18:00 ) Presentation to Council -- Frances Riley and Sean Carlson on the McClymont Trail proposal - The pair from the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society provided council members with a short overview of their plans to upgrade and redevelop the current stretch of pathway from the Civic Centre to George Hills Way into a multi use pathway accessible to bikes and wheelchair users.

They noted that Ducks Unlimited and the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society had approached them as part of their plans to upgrade the trail. Towards that goal, they provided a timeline of how they plan to approach the design process leading into the rejuvenation plans.

As part of their proposal, they are asking Council for a letter of support towards their quest for funding through the BC Rural Dividend Fund.

Following the presentation, Council members, made some inquiries, offered some observations and suggestions on the proposal, with Council Mirau starting of the Question period by seeking more background on the interest from the two stakeholder groups that they had mentioned.

Councillor Randhawa made inquires related to the cost of the proposed development and what kind of timeline that they were looking to entertain as far as moving ahead with the project.

Councillor Cunningham congratulated them on their work on the Rushbrook Trail and  asked if there were any other local organizations that might be able to offer their support for their application for funding. Councillor Niesh echoed many of Councillor Cunningham's thoughts on their work and what they have in mind for the McClymont Proposal.

Mayor Brain asked the City's Financial Officer for some information, asking if this was a similar arrangement as what the city has with the Rushbrook trail. He then thanked the Society for their efforts and outlined his support for the awesome project.

(18:00 -- 20:00 ) Report from City's Financial Officer - April 2017 Variance Report  --  The City's Financial Officer provided some comparisons from this year to last, noting that all departments are on target, with the Roads Budget over budget from last year owing to the snow and ice of this year. She also noted that a number of capital reports are now underway.

Councillor Mirau inquired about the timing of Community Grants and how the City will manage the cash flow for distribution of the Community Grants.

Council received the report

(20:00 -- 21:00 Report from the City's Financial Officer regarding Insurance premiums for Tourism Prince Rupert --  Ms. Bomben provided some background on the nature of the city's process of providing insurance for Tourism Prince Rupert which provides a service for the city, noting that Council must approve the service provider agreement, in this case the additional cost will be 250 dollars, which Tourism Prince Rupert will pay back. The insurance is required so Tourism Prince Rupert can provide mobile information services on Prince Rupert Port Authority property and at other community events.

Council voted to approve the motion.

(20:00 -- 24:00 Report from the City's Financial Officer regarding  the BC Rural Dividend Program and its use for Redesign Rupert -- Ms. Bomben noted that last year the city had found success in receiving a grant in support of the Redesign Rupert initiative, which she noted was part of the Hays 2.0 plan. She observed that a new intake of applicants is underway and that the city would like to apply for another rural dividend program grant, once again to be directed towards the continuation of the Redesign Rupert program, she noted that the deadline for applications was coming up at the end of the month.  Councillor Randhawa inquired as to what plans that the City were looking to develop as part of the redesign Rupert program.

Ms. Bomben provided a short overview of some of the elements of the program currently in place.

Council then voted to approve the motion to see the grant.

 ( 24:30-25:30) Correspondences for Action 

Council reviewed a request of support for two items from the North Coast Immigrant and Multicultural Society.

The first a request for a proclamation declaring June 1st as International Day in the City of Prince Rupert, the second was a request for a proclamation declaring June 15th as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in the City of Prince Rupert.

Council voted to approve both proclamations.


 ( 25:30 -- 26:00  Report from the Corporate Administrator regarding the park dedication removal bylaw for a property on Graham Avenue -- Mr. Mandryk noted that this was just part of the adoption of the Alternative Approval Process for the piece of land, noting that the city can have it sit in parkland, but that it can be rezoned in future time for other uses.

Council moved forward with the motion.

 Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

 ( 25:30 -- 32:00  ) Report from Councillor Mirau regarding council meetings -- As a follow up to his notice of motion from the last Council session, Councillor Mirau made note of how his desire was to be proactive when it comes to how Council approaches its use of Closed Council sessions,

For Council's consideration he offered up a policy that would incorporate ten points from the Ombudsperson's office, noting that they will do more than just the legislated minimum.

He observed as to some of the unique issues that the city has to deal with from Watson Island to LNG development and how the circumstances are unique with so many land and legal issues  to be dealt with on a regular basis.

He offered up an approach that would give the community faith that they are conducting closed meetings only as necessary and that when it comes to reporting, that they do more than what the legislated minimum is, providing assurance to the public that they are being proactive in their disclosure.

He suggested that it was in their best interests as elected officials and in the best interest of the city of Prince Rupert that they can answer those questions that residents have as quickly as they can and release information that doesn't harm the interest of the municipality.

Mayor Brain called for comments from council and with none offered, he then provided his own observations towards the topic.

He echoed some of what Mr. Mirau was saying, noting that they didn't want to be in the position that they are always having closed meetings so to speak. Mr. Brain pointed to such legal challenges such as Watson Island in particular, which require confidential meetings, stating it's part of the role that they have at the city of Prince Rupert and is unique to them.

He also made note of areas such as negotiations, or labour issues that are standard practice that communities have to have in closed meetings.

On Watson Island, Mr. Brain observed that at one time or another, when things are getting resolved with Watson there will be a book written on the saga of Watson Island, but at the moment they are doing what they can within their jurisdiction. He added that he did agree that they could communicate much more effectively to the best of their ability to make sure that they are putting as much as they possibly can to the public, so that everyone feels confident that they are managing the communities affairs within the legal boundaries.

Mayor Brain then commended Councillor Mirau for bringing forward the motion, adding that being proactive is a good thing, as is making sure where they are at as Council.

Council then voted to approve the motion.

( 32:00 -35:00 ) Mayor's Report

Mayor Brain provided some background the Transition Prince Rupert application to the BCAA Play Here competition, noting that the McKay Street Park proposal is now in competition with a number of other communities in the province for funding for their project. He then outlined how residents of the city could participate in the voting process to try and help the McKay Street Project  gain the most votes.

He also provided a short overview of an upcoming trip that he, Councillor Niesh and the City Manager will be taking to Ottawa as part of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference next week. He observed that only he and Councillor Niesh would be attending as the other Council members had other commitments and could not attend the session during this time period. From their time in Ottawa, the Mayor noted that they will be talking with a number of federal ministers to discuss a range of topics related to infrastructure and community growth.

Councillor Cunningham expressed his regret at not being able to attend, noting that he thinks it's important that the city is represented and is front and centre and has a presence in Ottawa to get its message out. Adding that he thinks it's important to let the federal officials know how important Prince Rupert is to the economy of Canada as a gateway to the pacific, and how much this port and the country needs to support this town is a message that needs to get out. He observed that he fully supports this trip and believes that it is a very significant trip.

Mayor Brain also advised that they would be meeting with the US Embassy to address the Ferry issue, as the city looks to keep it on the radar. He also observed that he also would be meeting with members of the FCM and that the city will be discussing the needs of the City of Prince Rupert for any grant funding that they will be distributing.

(35:00 -- 44:00 ) Report from Council

Councillor Cunningham provided two topics for consideration by Council members, the first following up on Councillor Mirau's thoughts on closed meetings, with Mr. Cunningham once again calling for department heads, RCMP and Fire Department provide reports to Council. He noted for Council that he had asked for that process to be put in place previously, but that Council had not moved forward on the proposal to this point. He added that Council could also expand on that theme of reports to council, by bringing in the Airport Society.

To make his case for more information, Mr. Cunningham observed that it would provide an opportunity to let the public know what was going on. He reminded Council members that the meetings made for a venue that gets reported in many ways, through social media, the newspaper, or people watching at home and that its important to the residents of this town to know what they are doing and that its something that Council owes the people to do.

The Mayor observed that he thought that it was a great idea, adding that now that Mr. Cunningham mentions it, he did remember the proposal being presented before , noting that sometimes council gets so busy that they forget to enable some of those things, adding that they could work out some regular reporting.

Mr. Cunningham's second commentary involved raising awareness of some upcoming Golf tournaments and cruise visitors to the city and how the appearance of some residences in the city need to be addressed. Suggesting that the City should send a letter to those home owners to start looking after their premises.

Mayor Brain delivered one final report, providing a short outline of his time in Vancouver last week when he was in attendance at the renewable cities conference, an event that attracted participants from communities as far away as Rio de Janeiro, Japan and Germany. From his observations the Mayor relayed how had he learned quite a bit from his time there, particularly as to what other communities are doing.  He noted that as a rural community looking at renewable energy can be a challenge and how he had explored some of the Green funds that are available to the community.

The Mayor put his focus on how the theme is a global issue and how he would like to enable Prince Rupert to become leaders in this world and called towards the City's 2030 sustainable cities policies which will be delivered to Council shortly. Asking that if Council  finds those policies suitable that they take those policies to the public to seek their engagement towards the goals of more sustainability.

Mr. Brain observed as to the passion he has for the topic and noted some of contacts with global representatives that he had made at the conference and how he intends to stay tied to that network and try to draw some global support.

Councillor Randhawa had one final topic for discussion on the night, asking the Mayor for an update on the Seafest Waterfront issues. Mayor Brain then outlined some of the city's frustrations in dealing with CN Rail when it comes to access to the old beach area on the waterfront. He noted that the City had been in consistent negotiations with CN about the fence and how they have noted for the railway that the area should be a public access beach, however he observed for council that it will be a difficult road to negotiate CN into a position where they would see it that way.

As for this years' Seafest, in the immediate term the fence the Mayor advised that the fence won't be coming down in time for the festival, noting that it will be the first time in the 39 year history of the event that the public won't have access to that area.

He stated that this was something that the public needs to become engaged with, calling for residents to contact CN and express their concerns over the stance that CN has taken. Asking that they help the City make their concerns known to CN and how this is a community issue, how this is the last beach that people could access in the community prior to the fence going up.

For this years event, a barge will be brought in off the lightering dock to allow the waterfront events to continue on, but he vowed not to give up on the issue noting it is a longer term plan that he will continue to follow up on.

He also outlined that when he an Councillor Niesh are in Ottawa next week they will be raising the issue with CN Officials during the FCM and how he will bring the issue straight to top so they can be more aware of the issue and noted with some irony how CN"s motto is "partnering with your neighbours" which he suggested is a good motto to bring to Ottawa and how he believes that there is a solution to be found and through partnering he believes it could be a well developed public access beach.

And with those contributions complete, the evening's session came to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for May 23 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 May 23, 2017 (not available yet)

The next regularly scheduled Council session,  takes place on Monday, June 12, 2017 .

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