Thursday, June 29, 2017

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 .

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