Friday, June 30, 2017

Mariner's Park the host for Prince Rupert's Canada 150 bash for July 1st

Four hours of fun and patriotic enthusiasm will be on display at the city's Mariner's Park on Saturday as Prince Rupert's Special Events Society hosts the North Coast's Canada 150 celebration as we join fellow Canadians and visitors in the Big 150 Birthday Bash.

And while the Prince Rupert celebration won't have some of the high profile talent that the Big Show in Ottawa will feature, we'll do quite well thanks with some of the best that the North Coast has to offer ready to take to the stage at Mariner's, along with a pretty good lineup of activities planned from Noon to 4 PM.

Live Music is on tap providing Mother Nature plays along for the big day, with a chance for participants to also test out their Canadian trivia knowledge or check out some of the Canadian memorabilia that will be on display.

Face painting and Old fashioned children's games will also help to keep things moving along for the four hour celebration while a range of ethnic food will also be featured at booths spread around the Mariner's Park Site.

Birthday Cake of course will be served up following the singing of O Canada, and in what has now become a tradition for the Canada Day celebration, the City of Prince Rupert's Civic Awards ceremony will take place as part of the Mariner's Park event.

Nominations for those to be awarded were accepted by the City up to June 10th for consideration for this years celebration.

Get to Mariner's Park by the Noon hour tomorrow to get yourself a slice
Canada Day cake courtesy of Prince Rupert Special Events Society

Fireworks will light up the Sky later in the evening, with the traditional send off for the day's celebrations set to take place at 11:10 PM over the Prince Rupert harbour, weather permitting. This years fireworks display has been sponsored by the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

You can learn more about the Canada Day plans from the Special Events website, as well as their Facebook page.

As is the case for any large festival, the organizers at Special Events could always use a few extra hands, you can explore volunteer opportunities with them from their website.

You can keep an eye on the weather conditions leading up to the Noon hour on July 1st, from the Environment Canada website, which at the moment, isn't being particularly optimistic for the
Canada 150 celebration.

More notes on Community events in Prince Rupert can be found from our archive page here

Prince Rupert's COP COOP chickens come home to roost

The need for a new RCMP detachment
for the city is back on the front burner it
would seem, following Monday's Council
Discussions on the theme
By putting off the much needed delivery of a new RCMP detachment for Prince Rupert, the current Prince Rupert Council is learning as we've noted in the past, that kicking a can down the road comes with a cost.

In this case the need for an additional 100,000 dollars for a study, that would examine the cost of just bringing the current jail cells up to current standards, prior to developing any plans for the construction of a new detachment.

The theme of the city's ongoing approach to the now long overdue requirement of a new facility came into public view once again on Monday, as council reviewed their options when it comes to the detachment jail cells concerns.

A discussion that was required with the RCMP in effect serving notice on the City that the current cells are no longer considered to meet national standards, leaving Council to consider a number of different scenarios for a short term fix.

As the City's Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben outlined the city's options, don't really offer up much in the way of any financial relief, should they not move to renovate the current facility to address the immediate request:

The first is to do nothing, in which case the RCMP would condemn the structure and then require the transport of prisoners to other communities at City expense and with a loss of Prince Rupert detachment personnel to be available for local duties.

Construct a temporary facility away from the current detachment location.

Hire more guards for the current location, with other noted modifications to the infrastructure as required.

After analyzing all the options, Staff has offered guidance to Council to proceed with further evaluations of upgrades to the existing cell block, the first phase of which will require a study from a consultant to determine the construction cost for any renovations.

For the most part Ms. Bomben stayed the course with her published report for Council that was available for review prior to the Monday Council session, (see our Preview item from Monday for the full document)

The CFO  did deliver some news related to the city's ongoing relationship with the RCMP, noting that since the City put aside any plans for a new detachment, the City was now in receipt of two more letters from the national police service advising as to the insufficient nature of the local detachment and the need for replacement, with the RCMP now in the position of being able to build one on their own and send the city the bill if they so desire.

That proved to be an underlying theme for Council members who reviewed the request for a study into the jail cell situation, as Council members weighed the option of spending 100,000 dollars on a study for a building that may not be in service much longer, compared to the cost of doing nothing and having to house prisoners in other communities with Prince Rupert paying the bill to a tune that could be over 1 million dollars annually, until the local detachment issues were addressed.

At the end of the near twenty minute discussion, Council voted to seek out the consultants report at the $100,000 cost, though not without some concerns raised by Councillor Thorkelson regarding past studies related to the development of a new detachment, past efforts that now it would seem are destined to gather dust somewhere.

The purpose of Ms. Bomben's report to Council was to seek guidance from Council as to what direction they wished staff to proceed, with staff proposing funding the entire project through short term financing of a loan, which would require an increase of one per cent to the civic mill rate on taxation for the life of the proposed short term loan, though it was noted that would not take place this year.

Ms. Bomben also observed there are no grant opportunities available related to renovation for jail cell infrastructure, as well she noted that staff was advising that making use of Prince Rupert Legacy Corporation funds for the project was not a wise allocation for those resources.

Likewise, she outlined that using accumulated surplus for such a short term requirement, was not a wise course of action to follow.

Once the $100,000 study on the cell block renovation plan is complete, staff will return to Council with a larger overview of the cost for those renovations and to seek further direction on their intentions moving forward.

The full overview of the jail cell concerns can be reviewed from our City Council Timeline feature.

The renovation of the  jail cells however, will only be a short term measure to address but one small element of the much larger issue, which remains the need for movement by Council on the replacement detachment issue.

"After touring the building, and seeing what the problems are, the building definitely needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, we're in the position of not being able to afford to do any of this. But, if we don't do something, at least a short term fix, we're going to end up putting ourselves in a position where eventually they can just build an RCMP station and send us the bill"  -- Councillor Wade Niesh

"I know that we're in kind of a financial state, but, I agree with Councillor Niesh here and sooner or later we're going to need to bite the bullet and build a new station, and how much time is this (study/uprgade) going to buy us. In every year that we wait to build a new station, the construction costs are getting higher and higher, and it's something that I think we have to take a serious look at. If we keep putting band aids on it, pretty soon the band aids come off too ... I really think that we should concentrate on a new police station as soon as possible and any other frills we've got, cut them and get this done. Because whether we go to a referendum or not, it doesn't mattter, they're just going to build it and here's the bill, it's just that simple" -- Councillor Barry Cunningham

"I was on that tour too, I agree with both Councillors Cunningham and Niesh, this facility needs some improvements urgently, my only concern is if we can save some money on the consultation that would be nice, other than that we need to upgrade that facility" -- Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa

"Well, I think this is a prime example of  something that we're all familiar with, of the can being kicked a little too far down the road, which we've experienced before"-- Councillor Blair Mirau

"I'm concerned that we're spending 100,000 dollars and what I would suggest is that we say to a maximum of 100,000 dollars. It just seems to me that it's a lot of money to spend  and come out of it with nothing but another study. I was on the council in 2011, where we studied it and came up with nothing but an expensive study, that's all we did, and to do that again, just seems to me to be a waste of taxpayers money  -- Councillor Joy Thorkelson

As Council members observed, the time apparently has come to get the issue resolved and there may even be activity happening in the background towards that day when the local officers have a new place to hang their hats and lock up their prisoners.

Last October, we took note of a notice to the public printed in the weekly newspaper that had identified a parcel of land behind the Lester Centre, more or less, across from the foot of 11th Avenue East as the subject land that could be put to use for a new detachment for the RCMP.

The public notice of last October noted that the proposed road closure in the area surrounding the Lester Centre, would created a lot approximately 2.6 hectares to facilitate the construction of an RCMP facility in the City of Prince Rupert, something that suggests that the some form of planning is in motion for the construction of a new home for the city's police force.

How long the wait may be and whether the City of Prince Rupert will be a design participant, or reduced to the status of just paying the construction bills, is something that will be determined by the actions ahead by the current City Council members.

Hopefully, Mayor Brain and the Council six prove to be a little better at keeping the city's residents informed on how the issue is evolving this time around, than has been the practice since the current group took office in 2014.

A journey back into the time machine traces some of the key moments in the city's detachment procrastination process can be reviewed below:

March 2015 -- City looks to pick up RCMP detachment issue where they left off in 2012
February 2015 -- RCMP deliver final letter related to new detachment requirements
March 2013 -- City Council clicks their heels and hopes for the best
March 2013 -- Emergency Services Building Review set for Monday night
December 2012 -- City council kicks the emergency services building debate down the road until March
March 2012 -- The residents are rumbling ...
March 2012 -- Discussion begins on emergency services replacement building

The full discussion from Monday's Council session is available from the City's Video archive, it starts at the 34 minute mark.

More notes related to Monday's City Council session can be found here, While a larger overview o City council discussions can be found on our Council Discussion archive page.

Case files from emergency responders across the Northwest can be found here.

Jennifer Rice hails John Horgan's rise to Power in Victoria

You can call him Mr. Premier now, Thursday night the
Lieutenant Governor of BC, Judith Guichon invited John Horgan
and the NDP to form the next government.

(photo from BC NDP website page)

The digital bytes had barely been transmitted through their twitter stream before reaction came from across British Columbia to the news that BC NDP Leader John Horgan, had been invited to form a government by British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.

And while the Lieutenant Governor herself has so far not issued any formal notification of her request of the NDP leader, the Premier designate and his party were quick to spread the word Thursday night.

Mr. Horgan himself broke the news through the social media news delivery platform, with a short tweet that sets the NDP course ahead towards the government side of the Legislature.

North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice, also wasted no time to take to her Facebook page, ready to share her enthusiasm for the events of the day in Victoria, with two notes for her followers to review in the hours following Mr. Horgan's chat with the Lieutenant-Governor.

Voters from the North Coast Riding will be watching over the next few days to see if Ms. Rice's workload ahead will increase through a cabinet position, or if she'll be tasked with other duties as a member of the Government back bench.

For the immediate focus, the BC NDP issued a statement on Thursday night, that was one part Political Update and one part campaign style slogan making, as Mr. Horgan noted that there was a lot of work ahead for he and his now government side of the Legislature.

One interesting note from the first statement from the Premier-designate, was the lack of any mention of the Green party members who have made the NDP rise to power possible through the arrangement reached between Mr. Horgan and Mr. Weaver in the weeks just passed.

That oversight, intentional or not, may give some of those pundits who suggest that the NDP/Green arrangement may not last very long, cause to say don't go away, the Victoria drama-a-rama may not be over just yet.

And just in case the summer romance for the NDP and Greens goes all wrong, Elections BC is reportedly already on the job to be prepared, just in case the first NDP government in 16 years is not a long lasting fixture on B.C.'s political scene.

For now however, Mr. Horgan has claimed the title, and he now sets to work to build a cabinet. A task that will no doubt see him reward the MLA's that defeated the Liberal Cabinet power players in the Lower Mainland and elsewhere, as well as to check off the boxes on the NDP cabinet making template.

Some of the longer serving NDP MLA's may find that some disappointment comes their way in the days to come as Mr. Horgan looks to strike the right balance for his shot at governance. 

When it is all over and the new ministers have been sworn in and the Lieutenant Governor returns to the Legislature for an encore Throne Speech, some areas of the province may wonder if having a Government back bench MLA is any more of a reward, than the days of having one from the opposition.

In politics, careers ebb and flow as the situation dictates, the next few weeks will chart the political course for many in the NDP, where the North Coast may find itself will make for an interesting aside to the ongoing political theatre to come through the summer.

While we all wait to see what the next twist in British Columbia's political scene has to show us, here's an opportunity to meet your new Premier, courtesy of the BC NDP profile page.

A review of one of the most fascinating days from the Legislature in a long, long time can be found through our Political portal D'Arcy McGee, where we tracked the flow of events from the non-confidence vote of the afternoon to the call to the Premier designate to come on over to see the Lieutenant Governor. 

To keep up with notes from the North Coast MLA's work in Victoria see our Legislature Archive here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nisga'a Nation postpones Nass River Sale Fisheries until further notice

The summer of woe for the salmon fishing season continues to unfold, with the Nisga'a Lisims government posting a notice to their website today advising that the current outlook for Sockeye salmon returns for the Nass River for this year are looking grim.

In the Public notice, the Nisga'a Fisheries and Wildlife Department notes that original estimates of 454,000 Sockeye for this year have now been reduced to less than 250,000.

Adding that the return of Chinook to date has been poor as well, while it is too early to estimate run sizes for Pink, Chum and Coho.

The estimates were compiled after 15 percent of the Sockeye run had passed by the fish wheels at Gitwinksihlkw and Grease Harbour, allowing Nisga'a Fishery biologists to review the information related to their season run estimates.

The current forecast mirrors the conditions that are being found along the Skeena system which is now in reach of historic low returns, while it's also observed in today's notice that the Fraser System may also be finding similar returns in place as the summer progresses.

As a result of their findings from yesterday, the Nisga'a Fisheries and Wildlife Department has announced that they have had to postpone any Nass River Sale fisheries until further notice, in support of reaching escapement and domestic fishery goals.

You can review more information on the Salmon concerns on the Nass from the Nisga'a Lisims website.

More notes on the evolving  concerns related to this summers salmon fishery on the North Coast fishery can be reviewed from our archive page here.

City Council votes Sky Lantern Ban into Bylaw

Can't fly here ... Prince Rupert City
Council has approved a ban 

on the launching of 
Sky Lanterns within city limits
(photo from website)
Following the advice of and request from Fire Chief Dave McKenzie, Prince Rupert City Council has voted to include the launching of Sky Lanterns as part of the prohibited portion of their fireworks bylaw process.

The lanterns which have become popular at weddings, anniversary parties and other social events have raised concerns from emergency service personnel across North America for the fire danger that they pose for communities.

The final reading of the proposed ban came at Monday evening's City council session, with Councillor Barry Cunningham also reversing his previous position on the colourful, but in some cases dangerous flaming floating lanterns.

As we noted on the blog earlier this month, Council reviewed the Fire Chief's report and request for the ban at the June 12th Council session, at which time Councillor Cunningham had suggested that considering a permit process related to them might be the better approach to manage the issue.

You can review our notes and the Fire Chief's report from the June 12th Council session here.

However, as he noted at Monday night's Council session, he had done some further research on the Sky Lanterns and the concerns about them that have been raised in other communities and now was fully on board with a local ban.

Council then voted to pass the motion, moving forward the ability to add them to the current fireworks prohibitions.

One group that is happy with City Council's decision is the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 64, which outlined their concerns related to Sky Lanterns in a Facebook post following Monday's Council session, noting that often the floating lanterns have been mistaken for emergency flares.

The short discussion related to Council's decision can be viewed from the City's Video archive starting at the 53:30 minute mark.

For more items related to Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline here.

Further background on Council issues can be examined on our Council Discussion page.

For some of the files of Northwest Emergency Responders see our monthly archive here.

City appoints three to Prince Rupert Library Board

On Monday evening, Prince Rupert City Council members delivered some news from one of their Closed Council sessions from April, outlining their selections for new City appointees as Board Members for the Prince Rupert Library Society Board.

Rory Mandryk, the City's Corporate Administrator relayed the news from the closed session of April 24th, where Council members approved the appointments of  Mr. Cary Dalton, Mr. Brent Patriquin and Ms. Stephanie Lysyk to a two year term on the Library Board.

Councillor Mirau, in his role of Acting Mayor for the night, congratulated the new appointees on their selection and thanked them for their contribution to the community, adding that Council was looking forward to working with them.

You can learn more about the work of the Library Board from the Prince Rupert Library website.

More background on events and items of interest from the Library can be found on their Facebook page.

For more items related to Monday's City Council session, see our Council Timeline feature here.

An expanded view of discussion topics from Council can be found on our Council Discussion page.

Councillor Thorkelson promotes prospect of Sm'algyax to be included in future naming projects for the city

The process of naming local streets
and landmarks after Charles Hays
and other white males may soon be under
review by a City Committee
Councillor Joy Thorkelson introduced a notice of motion of sorts at Monday's City Council session, setting the path ahead for council members to review their plans when it comes to a Naming committee that is to be tasked to address such areas as naming of new street names and public buildings in the community.

The thrust of Ms. Thorkelson thoughts on the topic for Monday was her desire to see the City better reflect the First Nations of the region, and one of the first areas that she believes can assist to that goal is to incorporate Sm'algyax into future naming opportunities in Prince Rupert.

As part of her presentation to Council members, she explained how she was seeking a discussion to develop a policy for the Community Naming committee that would give recognition that Prince Rupert is situated on the traditional territory of the Tsimshian First Nations and how a large majority of place and street names already established within the city do not reflect Tsimshian culture or heritage.

Adding that she would like to see at least 75 per cent of the new names that may come in the future to reflect Tsimshian culture or heritage and written in Sm'algyax and English.

Council will be looking at a proposal
from Councillor Thorkelson to begin
to introduce Sm'algyax and Tsimshian
place names to future street sign replacements
As to how she would like to see the Committee operate moving forward, the Councillor offered up the concept that would see a list of  proposed names submitted to  the First Nations of Metlakatla, Lax Kw'alaams, Kitkatla, Gitga'at and Kitsumkalum to ensure that there no objections, or historical inaccuracies or divisive names.

She also suggested that the city may wish to have those communities become active in the naming process and suggest the names that could be used in the future.

As for the addition of Sm'algyax to the street signs, she noted that when any present street signs are in need of replacement and if a street name in English is translatable, the Sm'algyax name should also be added to the sign.

The main thrust of her presentation to Council was to create a policy to address what she described as the prominence of white upper class male names that currently make for the street names across the city.

"It's a policy, not just having a naming committee deciding on what kind of, what I would consider white upper class male names we could add to the streets of Prince Rupert, or how many more Charles Hays' that we could have. I would suggest that we need a policy and I think that in recognition that almost fifty percent of our community is First Nations and that we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Tsimshian, that I would suggest that we develop some kind of a policy to refelct that"

Councillor Mirau offered up the suggestion that her comments should be treated as a notice of motion and that she should work out some of the details for her proposal and then inform the Corporate Administrator when it the topic would be ready for further discussion by Council.

More on her presentation can be reviewed fro our Council Timeline Feature.

You can review some of her talking points on the theme from the City's Video Archive page starting at the one hour, thirteen minute mark.

To get a look at what some of the translations from English to Sm'algyax might look like for the future, a helpful learning tool is available through the SD52 website and the Sm'algayax Living Legacy Talking Dictionary.

The resource was created to assist students who were taking language courses with UNBC.

More notes related to Monday's City council session can be found on our archive page here.

A wider overview of some of the key discussion topics from Council sessions can be reviewed on our Council Discussion Page.

MLA pays tribute to Lax Kw'alaams Graduating class at Legislature

The honour roll for the grads of Lax Kw'alaams continues into the end of June, as North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice shared with the members of the BC Legislature the success of the first ever graduating class at Coast Tsimshian Academy.

Wednesday, Ms. Rice recounted for the legislature how previous to this year, students would have to leave the community to finish their secondary education, providing the timeline for the MLA's from the expansion of the Coast Tsimshian Academy and how the community now offers Pre-School to 12 education for residents of Lax Kw'alaams.

"Honourable Speaker, I had the pleasure of attending Lax Kw'alaams first ever Grade Twelve convocation of high school graduates last weekend, the Coast Tsimshian Academy which previously went from pre school to only Grade 10 has been housed in a stunning new building since 2015. Last year they implemented Grade 11 and this year Grade 12"

Ms. Rice also expanded on some of the support that has been made available to the students in the community as they took on their studies and how that will build on the future for those that will follow them on to their own graduations.

You can review the MLA's full statement to the Legislature here.

We've been following the excitement related to the history making convocation in Lax Kw'alaams through the last few months, some of our notes and the observations from near and far can be found here.

Further notes on Ms. Rice's work in the Legislature can be reviewed on our Legislature Archive page.

Council praises Metlakatla Development Corporation's Elders/Seniors Housing initiative as a template for other developers

It's all systems Go as far as Prince Rupert city Council is concerned, with
Council giving its approval for an Elders/Seniors residential complex
on the site of the Old King Edward School

Prince Rupert City Council had only strong words of support and praise for a proposed Elders/Seniors Village planned for the old King Edward School site on the city's east side, with Council passing a motion to move forward with the project that will add to the number of available units in the community for those over the age of 65.

With a Public Hearing receiving no commentary in opposition to the project and what few concerns that Council members may have had cleared up early in the council session, the only real issue coming from Councillor Randhawa who had wondered why the age limit for the Metlakatla proposal had been raised to 65, when a previous one, the Hill Top Lodge in the Yellowhead Centre area had an age limit of 55 and above.

Mr. Krekic noted that the proponent had outlined its plans to address the need of Seniors ages 65 and over and that Council should not be seeking a covenant to change that aspect of the project, noting that the option was in the hands of the proponent to decide how they wish to attract tenants.

As well as the notes on the age for those that might wish to live there, Council also had some comments related to a requested height variance, with the roofing plans of interest and some discussion but eventually receiving smooth passage on Monday

Along with the vote of confidence for the project, Council members also saluted the work of the proponents as something that other developers could take note of.

Councillors Niesh and Kinney both spoke in favour of the project, with Mr. Kinney noting that it was a much needed housing option for the community and could see a number of Seniors choose to stay in Prince Rupert rather than leave the community.

Councillor Thorkelson in particular had high praise for how the Metlakatla proposal was put together and the community had been consulted.

She observed that the one letter of opposition, which commented at to how "low cost housing usually deteriorates and doesn't match in with the neighbourhood" was not a sentiment that she believed was a valid concern related to the proposal

The Councillor further noted how it was the kind of development that the city should strive to attract to the community, comparing the efforts put in by the Metlakatla group to some of the other proposals which did not address many of the city's concerns over community engagement and amenities that they would like to see included in housing proposals.

She also offered up the observation that the Green Street project is one that other developers should look towards in the future as to how they should approach housing initiatives in the community.

"I think that this is going to be a real addition to the neighbourhood and I'm really pleased that Metlakatla has decided to take this spot and use it for the advantage of the whole community" -- Councillor Joy Thorkelson offering her support for the Metlakatla Elders/Seniors housing proposal

Likewise, Councillor Cunningham who called the concept a great project and one that would enhance the neighbourhood, reviewed some of the lengthy community engagement that the Metlkatla Development Corporation had taken on as part of the process and noted that they had listened very carefully to the range of commentary that they had received through their Open Houses and consultation events.

A larger overview of the discussion from Monday can be found on our Council Timeline.

The conversation can also be reviewed through the City's Video Archive feature, the Public Hearing segment starts at the very beginning of the evening, while the Council Discussion related to the Metlakatla Development proposal starts at the 54 minute point.

You can review some of the background to the proposed development here.

More notes on Housing issues in the Northwest can be examined here.

For more items related to Monday's City Council session see our archive page here, while more detailed review of Council Discussion topics can be found here.

Council to have staff review Aurora LNG air shed concerns raised at Monday's council presentation

Luanne Roth providing the findings from a report she has worked on
reviewing some of the air shed concerns that the report has noted from
the proposed Aurora LNG project.

The proposed Aurora LNG terminal project was the subject of a presentation from a local environmental activist on Monday evening, as Luanne Roth, representing the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation, The Prince Rupert Environmental Society, as well as the local Fish workers union Unifor-UFAWU, provided some background information from their findings on the theme of air shed concerns related to the large scale development proposed for Digby Island.

Appearing as part of the Presentations to Council portion of Monday's Council session, Ms. Roth noted that she is assisting the Dodge Cove Improvement District in reviewing air quality issues as part of a working group with residents who live on Digby Island.

The bulk of her presentation involved her concerns over air quality should the Aurora facility be built as proposed, the findings of her review which she observed would see particulate levels exceed allowable objectives to protect human health for the urban area of the west side of the city.

To get the attention of those at Council and viewing at home, she highlighted the impact that she believes the project might have on the Graham Avenue Daycare facility, as well as to make note of the potential impact for residents of the Graham/Atlin areas of the west side.

In addition to the comments on the residential areas, she observed that workers at the Fairview Container Terminal would also fall into the area which her organization has raised their concerns over.

To bring her presentation to a close, Ms. Roth asked that the City look over the data that her group had assembled and then make comment to the assessment process for the Aurora LNG project. As well she also asked that City Council advocate that more time be provided for that assessment process, so more information can be collected and presented.

Ms. Luanne Roth outlined some of the concerns that the T Buck Suzuki Foundation
has highlighted when it comes to the proposed Aurora LNG terminal.
Ms. Roth reviewed her report for Prince Rupert Council on Monday evening.

Following the twenty minute overview, Council members offered up some observations on the themes presented from her report.

Councillor Thorkelson, who also serves as the head of the fish workers union in Prince Rupert that was among those commissioning the study led off the discussion, inquiring if Ms. Roth had shared her work with Hans Seidemann, the city City's Manager of Community Development who has been tasked to address environmental issues for the city related to the Aurora LNG application.

Ms. Roth noted that beyond some early correspondences, she had not been in recent contact with Mr. Seidemann regarding her review of the air shed concerns.

Councillor Cunningham then asked that Ms. Roth provide her report to Mr. Seidemann to review as part of his advice for council related to the Aurora LNG assessment process.

A larger overview of the discussion from Monday can be found on our Council Timeline.

You can review the full report for Council as part of the Agenda for the Monday Committee of the Whole session, it is found starting on Page 2.

The full presentation is also available from the City's Video Archive, starting at eight minute point.

More background on the Aurora LNG proposal can be found on our archive page here.

For more notes on Monday's City Council session, see our Council archive here, discussion points from past Council sessions can be found on our Council Discussion page here.

City Council Timeline: Monday, June 26, 2017

Despite a fairly ambitious agenda for the final meeting of June, Council members were able to knock off the to do list in less than an hour and twenty minutes on Monday evening, as they tackled a range of items on three agendas.

Among the main themes for the night was a Public Hearing and final review for the proposed Metlakatla Elders/Seniors project.

Council also received a presentation from a representative of the T Buck Suzuki organization, as Luanne Roth provided some background on the organizations concerns over air quality levels associated with the Aurora LNG project at Digby Island.

The Annual Report for 2016 was approved following a public comment period.

Council also discussed the need for urgent renovations to the city's cells at the RCMP detachment, as well as passing a motion to ban Sky Lanterns.

Councillor Thorkelson also served notice of motion to discuss the work of the City's Naming Committee and how they should approach the issue of future street naming in the community.

For some background on the items of note on the evening, the Agendas for the Regular Council session, Committee of the Whole and Public Hearing can be reviewed here.

Prior to the 7 PM meeting, Council also had a Closed Session Scheduled for 5 PM, 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 June 26, 2017

Mayor Lee Brain-- Absent 
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 June 26, 2017

(0:00 -- 8:00) Public Hearing   -- The City hosted a public hearing related to the proposed development of an Elders/Seniors Housing facility by the Metlakatla Development Corporation for a property on Green Street.  The location for the housing development is the old King Edward School site, which is now owned by the the Metlakatla Development Corporation.

Councillor Blair Mirau, in the role of Acting Mayor for the night opened the Hearing with some background information on how the process for the night would work and then turned the floor over to City Planner Zeno Krekic who provided a review of the project status to this point and what the proponents have in mind for the development.

Representatives of the development offered up some background on the nature of the engagement that they conducted with the public as part of their planning for the housing option for the community.

With no residents of the community coming forward to speak the topic, Council adjourned the Public Hearing for the Green Street proposal, sending the topic to the Regular Council session for further action.

( 8:00 -- 22:30 )  Committee of the Whole Session -- City Council received a presentation from Luanne Roth, representing the T. Buck Suzuki Organization who outlined her work for that organization related to the proposed Aurora LNG Terminal project.

Ms. Roth provided some background on the range of other groups that were assisting in the review of the project and concerns that her work had raised related to air quality for both Dodge Cove and residential areas of Prince Rupert, with particular concerns noted for the area surrounding the Graham Avenue Child Care Facility should the project move forward towards development.

Her review of the range of concerns over air shed issues stayed pretty close to the documentation provided to Council prior to the meeting and made available for the public through the Agenda Package for the night (Pages 2-14 of the Committee of the Whole Agenda)

Other areas that she suggested could be compromised by air shed concerns were the Atlin and Graham Avenue residential sections as well as the Fairview Container Terminal. As part of her commentary, she outlined some of her frustrations in raising the issues with the project proponent and how they have not taken note of their work.

She also asked that the City look over the data that her group had assembled and then make comment to the assessment process. She also asked that City council advocate for more time for the assessment to take place so more information can be collected and presented.

As her presentation came to a close, Council members raised a number of questions for her contribution on.

Councillor Thorkelson inquired if Ms. Roth's group had taken their concerns to Hans Seidemann who as the City's Manager of Community Development, is handling the City of Prince Rupert's environmental assessment input, she was advised that she had not engaged with his work other than an initial conversation.

Councillor Cunningham then asked that Ms. Roth provide her information to Mr. Seidemann for further review and opinion for Council on the findings.

Councillor Mirau offered up a clarification on the process of making such requests, noting that those questions should be raised in the Regular Council session.

(22:30 -- 31:00 )  Committee of the Whole -- Public Comment Period -- Mr. Mirau then turned to the public access portion of the Committee session, outlining the guidelines for comment and then opening the discussion related to the City of Prince Rupert's Annual Report Comment opportunity.

Only one participant came forward with comments, with Larry Golden raising a questions related to the city's utility accounts and the city's population estimates, noting from the latter some discrepancies in official numbers compared to what the City had published.

He also offered up some thoughts on how the City should approach its future financials and revenue generation, he also outlined some comments on how the City could be more engaged in climate change activities, looking towards opportunities for hydro generation, solar and wind options.

Councillor Thorkelson asked for some clarification on the utility accounts and how the City handles the financial elements related to them, with Corinne Bomben the City's Financial Officer noting that each fund is designed to fund each element such as sewer and water, with no funding rolled over into other funds, with any borrowing that may take place being required to be paid back.

Mr. Golden returned to the microphone to ask as to where he could find that information, with Ms. Bomben offering to show him after the council session.

With no other members of the public coming forward, Council then moved on to the Regular Council session.

(31::00 -- 32:30) Regular Council Session -- The Acting 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.

(32:30 -- 33:30 ) Presentation to Council -- Report from the City's Communication Manager presenting the 2016 Annual Report -- As Ms. Veronika Stewart was absent from the meeting on the night, Mr. Mirau asked if the City Manager had any comments related to the Report, he noted that he had none and as the public comment period was now complete, Council could move forward to adopt the Report, which council did.

( 33:30 -- 34:30 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer regarding the May Financial Variance Report -- Ms. Bomben noted that all departments continued to be on budget, with the exception of the Roads which still is dealing with the situation generated by the snowfall earlier in the year. Adding that utility funds were on track as well.

Councillor Randhawa inquired as to how the City was doing with the Cow Bay Marina, Ms. Bomben advised that the City was doing quite well now that the Marina is in its full operational season, she added that its been reported that the Marina is pretty well full.

( 34:30 -- 52:30 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer regarding RCMP cell block upgrades -- Ms. Bomben outlined the nature of the issue of deficiencies in the local cell block and traced some of the past work of City Council on the issue of an RCMP detachment replacement program, with Council deciding to put the issue aside over the last few years.

Since that time the City has received two further letters from the RCMP advising that the issue needs to be dealt with, particularly the cell block concerns, with the RCMP no longer willing to postpone modifications to the cell block which they consider the highest risk.

She observed that the City has once again begun to investigate the options for a new detachment even though the financial circumstances of the city is not much different than they were in 2012. She added that the RCMP understand that, and have brought in a team that have made some recommendations on modifications to the current cell block facility that would address their concerns on prisoner safety and their concerns in the short term.

Towards that the City has engaged an architect to evaluated some preliminary drawings provided by the RCMP provincial team to address the short term issue of the cell block concerns. Which she called the best alternative for the moment.

In light of a potential new detachment being constructed at some time in the future, Staff noted that there were three alternative options for Council to consider instead of the proposed cell block upgrade, included on her list were:

Doing nothing, using a temporary facility or increasing the use of more guards.

Doing nothing would see the RCMP condemn the facility and with that begin a  process of transporting prisoners out of town at the City's expense and would have to pay to take care of those prisoners in other cities, the estimated cost of that would be one  million dollars a year.

A temporary facility option was not considered feasible by staff owing to the high cost required to develop that proposal.

The Third option of adding to the Guard staff was also considered an expensive alternative, with staff noting the high cost of putting that plan in motion and that it still would not address all the safety concerns noted.

From that review, Ms. Bomben noted that Staff was recommending that Council further evaluate upgrades to the current cell block, with Council asked to approve the expenditure of close to $100,000 to do a professional study on the upgrade.

As for any facility upgrade, the CFO outlined the range of options for financing the report and any upgrades that they might move forward with, noting that staff did not believe that using the City's Legacy Inc. Fund, or taking any accumulated surplus would be a wise allocation of financial resources for the study.

Councillor Randhawa asked if the City had the 100,000 dollars available and was advised that staff was recommending short term financing to support it.

Councillor Niesh offered up some observations on a recent tour he took of the building and relayed a number of his concerns, and how the facility needs to be replaced, noting that the RCMP does have an option to build a new detachment and send the city the bill, and how he would rather that the city be part of a consultation on the building rather than have the RCMP build one on their own.

Councillor Thorkelson, noting that the ask from staff was for $100,000 for another study, inquired about the previous consultation reports that had been conducted and then asked what staff was hoping to achieve with the new study.

She was advised that some of those documents were now out of date and would not work to mitigate the cost as best as possible.

Council Cunningham also spoke to the issue, noting that at some time the City has to bite the bullet and build a new detachment and suggested that Council needs to take a serious look at and move forward, adding that the $100,000 cost of the study seems quite high, wondering if the RCMP has consultants that could help reduce that cost.

Councillor Niesh returned to a review of his tour of the building and noted that should someone die in that facility the liability to the city would be an extremely costly situation for the city to deal with.

Councillor Cunningham concurred with Councillor Niesh's comments, adding that at whatever cost it has to be done, adding that Council needs to move on the issue soon.

Councillor Randhawa also agreed that the city needs to move on the upgrade issue, though he was concerned about the cost of the study.

Council then moved to pass the motion to conduct the study, with Councillor Thorkelson once again calling to look at the past studies and to put a limit on the any new study to be at a maximum of 100,000 dollars.

Councillor Niesh observed that the previous study wasn't a wasted one, it was more a case of inaction by the City at the time that created the situation that the current council faces today.

A copy of Ms. Bomben's report to Council is available from our preview article of Monday.

( 52:30 -- 53:30  ) Resolution from Closed Meetings -- Mr. Rory Mandryk, the City's Corporate Administrator released information from the April 24th Closed Council session, announcing the names of Cary Dalton, Brent Patriquin and Ms. Stephanie Lysyk  as the newest members of the Prince Rupert Library Society Board. Mr. Mirau congratulated them for their appointments.


( 53:30 -- 54:30 )  Report from the Fire Chief regarding the banning of Sky Lanterns -- With the Fire Chief not in attendance for the meeting, the City Manager outlined the background to the topic and noted that Council had discussed it at the last council session. Councillor Cunningham took a moment to note that he had done some research on the topic and had a change of opinion from the previous session and was now in favour of the ban. Council then voted to approve the motion.

(54:30 -- 1:15:30  ) Report from City Planner related to a proposed Seniors complex to be developed at 700 Green Street  -- Council provided its final review of the Seniors Housing proposal, hearing some final thoughts from the City Planner related to the two bylaw concerns in front of council. Councillor Randhawa inquired as to age parameters for those that will live in the residences, noting that the recent discussion on the Neptune Seniors proposal was to be for those 55 and above, Mr. Krekic observed that the proponents for the Metlakatla proposal would be for over 65 and above.

Councillors Niesh, Kinney, Cunningham and Thorkelson offered up their support for the proposed development, noting that there was little to no opposition for the development from the public and that it will be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

Councillor Thorkelson also commended the Metlakatla Development Corporation for their community minded project and for the amount of work that they put into engaging with the public, those were sentiments that Councillor Cunningham followed up on, noting the personal engagement that representatives from the Corporation took on related to their proposal.

Councillor Mirau echoed those comments, calling for the vote on the overall proposal which was then passed by Council.

Council members then moved on to the variance permit aspect of the proposed development, which would change the height requirements for the project.

Councillor Niesh had one observation related to the proposal and the height provisions requested, expressing a concern that the city be able to protect itself related to future use of the land should the Metlakatla proposal not move forward.

Mr. Krekic noted that the development permit process would address those issues.

Councillor Cunningham inquired as to what material was to be used on the roof design, he was advised that it would be copper.

Council then reviewed the development permit process for the housing project and then voted to approve the development.

Councillor Thorkelson noted how the Metlakatla proposal was the kind of development that the city should strive to attract to the community, comparing the efforts put in by the Metlakatla group to some of the other proposals which did not address any of the city's concerns over community engagement. She suggested that the Green Street project is one that other developers should look towards in the future as to how they should approach housing initiatives in the community

Councillor Mirau thanked staff for their work on the project and congratulated the developers on their successful application.

( 1:15:00 -1:05:00Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillor Cunningham took note of the success of the recent BCAA Play Here competition and thanked those in the community for their votes to put Prince Rupert to the top of the list, he also noted that there is Go Fund Me page currently available to help the cause.

Councillor Thorkelson called attention to a topic that she would like to see Council pursue, that of Community naming. Making a notice for discussion to develop a policy for the Community Naming committee that would give recognition that Prince Rupert is situated on the traditional territory of the Tsimshian First Nations and how a large majority of place and street names already established within the city do not reflect Tsimshian culture or heritage; at least 75 per cent of the new names will be of Tsimshian culture or heritage and written in Sm'algyax and English.

She also noted that the Committee would in the future submit a list of  proposed names to  the First Nations of Metlakatla, Lax Kw'alaams, Kitkatla, Gitga'at and Kitsumkalum to ensure that there no objections, or historical inaccuracies or divisive names. She also suggested that the city may wish to have those communities suggest the names that could be used in the future.

As for the addition of Sm'algyax to the street signs, she noted that when any present street signs are in need of replacement and if a street name in English is translatable, the Sm'algyax name should be added to the sign.

The main thrust of her presentation to Council was to create a policy to address what she described as the prominence of white upper class male names that currently make for the street names. Noting that almost fifty percent of the community is First Nations and to recognize that the city was located on unceded territory of the Tsimshian.

Councillor Mirau noted that the request should be treated as a Notice of Motion for future discussion, Ms. Thorkelson observed that she would further work on her request and then deliver it to the City Administrator for a future Council session agenda.

Councillor Niesh returned to the topic of the McKay Street Park success, adding that he wanted to give a big thanks to Mayor Lee Brain for his efforts to push the community to voting for the park on the BCAA Site.

Councillor Mirau echoed those thoughts and added his thanks to the Mayor as well for leading the local efforts, for his part Councillor Kinney offered up his praise for the community spirit in the community.

And with those final thoughts, the evening's session came to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for June 26 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 June 26, 2017 (not available yet)

Council now shifts onto the more leisurely path of their Summer Schedule, with just one Regular Meeting scheduled through until the start of October. 

The next regularly scheduled Council session,  takes place on Monday, July 24, 2017 .

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Local Toastmasters achieve milestone moment for Prince Rupert Club

The final speeches of the current Toastmaster season have been delivered and as the local collection of Toastmaster make for their summer plans, they are taking some time out to celebrate their newest achievement, that of the designation by Toastmasters International as a President's Distinguished Club.

The significant level of recognition for the local club  from the International organization  comes after local Toastmasters delivered over 70 speeches and presentations over the last year, as well as completing and documenting over 100 individual leadership assignments, that brought benefit to both the club and the community.

Prince Rupert Toastmasters President Michal Sluka made note of the club's many achievements this year and how they continue to contribute to the growth of the Toastmaster initiative on the North Coast.

'This is a pivotal milestone ... It means that a critical number of our members set goals for personal development in communication and leadership, and they reached those goals. I’m proud to be associated with people who can so clearly define and so strongly pursue personal success. Meanwhile, it proves that a little club in northwest BC can be among the best in the world, which challenges us to sustain our upward trajectory.”

The recent success marks an impressive turn around for the local group which as recently as 2014 was in hibernation, brought back to current status by a core group in 2015, it continues to attract new members and develop leadership skills for those that have joined over the last two years.

Over that period, the local organization has seen 110 unique individuals participate in Toastmasters meetings, cultivating public speaking and leadership skills. That number includes the Rising Star business mentorship program of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce.

This year, all graduates of the Rising Star Speech craft workshops joined the club as full-fledged Toastmasters.

A Milestone Moment for Prince Rupert Toastmasters!
The local toastmasters club recently celebrated a year 

of achievement at their final meeting for 2016-17. 

Erik Langille, (left) celebrated his certification as a Competent communicator.
Club President  Michal Sluka (right) also received designation as a Competent Leader.

Mr. Langille, Mr. Sluka and Vice President of Education, Krista Edgier (centre)  
show off the cake that proclaims the local club's status 
as a President's Distinguished Club

Once the summer break is over, the Prince Rupert Toastmasters will reconvene at their usual meeting space at Northwest Community College.

The first meeting for the next Toastmaster season takes place on September 12th at 7:30 PM.

You can find out more background on the local Club from their website here or from their Facebook page.

More notes on Community events can be reviewed here.