Thursday, November 30, 2017

Rainmaker Basketball gets first challenges of the season this weekend

Prince Rupert's hoops fans can finally dig out their cowbells and air horns for another season, with the Charles Hays Rainmaker Basketball program ready to launch the 2017-18 season and make their push towards yet another placement in the Big Dance of Provincials in March.

The path that leads towards Langley will be launched this weekend on the road for both the Junior Boys and the Senior boys squads.

With the Junior Boys facing the longest trek of the two teams, as coach Kevin Sawka's Junior Boys will be in Prince George for some pre season tournament play.

The Rainmakers will be setting up camp at Duchess Park Secondary, with a number of Prince George area schools set to provide the competition as they take to the court through Friday and Saturday.

The Rainmakers will also get a glimpse at one of the top University facilities for sports as part of their trip to Prince George, their first match up of the weekend is Friday morning against their hosts Duchess Park at 11:30 at the UNBC Northern Sports Centre.

All other games over the two days will be at the Duchess Park campus.

The Junior Boys head into December percolating just under the Top Ten rankings from BC Boys Basketball, gaining an honourable mention in the November 27th listing.

The Senior Boys will renew acquaintances with some familiar competitors in the tip off to 2017-18, with the Rainmakers travelling to Terrace and Saturday match ups with Mount Elizabeth and host Caledonia.

As they make ready for the upcoming year, the BC Basketball rankings from November 27th have them slotted in at sixth overall in the very competitive AA Bracket.

The weekend work will provide both teams with a good measuring stick as they head into the start of the season, and offering up some notes for the coaches for those early morning, or late afternoon practice sessions.

Rainmaker fans will be able to head to the Charles Hays Gym and make some noise in December as both the Boys and Girls programs get into full flight, with play days and tournaments all on the horizon.

You can follow all of the Rainmaker squads through the Charles Hays twitter feed.

We also keep an eye on the Rainmakers and other Northwest teams through our archive page here.

Senior Boy's Scoreboard

Rainmakers 123 vs Mount Elizabeth 41
Rainmakers 101 vs Caledonia 61

The start of December brings Prince Rupert it's 22nd Winterfest celebration!

The next sure sign of the fast approaching holiday season arrives tomorrow, with the first of the two days of WINTERFEST on the North Coast, with a number of events for young and old alike that will help put you in the spirit of the season.

Friday features a number of activities to take part in,  starting with the annual CBC Food Bank Day taking place at Java Dot Cup, it's part of the 31st annual event for the public broadcaster. You can drop in from 7:30 to 9:30 AM to take in the atmosphere, sample some of the Daybreak North broadcast for the day and make your contribution to the local food bank.

If you time things right, you might even catch a glimpse of the Jolly Red Elf himself ... George Baker and yes, even Santa will be there as well!

The Rupert Square is host for the Children's Tree Decorating contest from 9:30 to 3 PM, while the Museum of Northern BC will be hosting a free exhibition of the Get Rich Slow photography showing from 1 to 4.

Good Time Games invite you in for some after school Pokemon from 3:30 to 5:30 PM, with Friday Night Magic also on their agenda from 6:30 to 9:30 fees are required for those events, check the Good Times Games Facebook page for details.

As a warm up to the main event of the night, Cowpuccino's is hosting some Gingerbread Decorating fun around 5 PM

All of the early events of Friday are but the prelude to the Night time magic at McBride and 2nd Avenue West, as the Festival of Lights at the Prince Rupert Court House lights up the night from 6:30 to 8 PM. 

Free refreshments will be served at the event, and there will be choirs and bands to provide for the festive soundtrack to the night.

Following the illumination of the Court House lawn, you can head for the shops of the downtown and Cow Bay areas to catch up on some of your Christmas Shopping.

Saturday as well features a number of activities to take if for the day, the full list of hich you can review here.

Among some of the highlight events for the day, Breakfast with Santa at the First United Church from 8 to 11 AM, the Santa Claus Parade at 11AM travelling along Third Avenue West from 1st Street to 8th Street.

The Winterfest Craft Fair takes place at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre from 10 AM to 5 PM

There's a free skate at the Civic Centre from 12:30 to 1:45, all for the donation for the Food Bank, while the swimmers can hit the water for Free at the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre from 2 until 4.

The Night brings the 36th Annual Christmas Carol Boats, which will transit the Prince Rupert Harbour from 6:30 to 8 PM.

However, festival goers should note that this year there will be no waterfront events, as a bit of volunteer fatigue has set in around the city, leaving the Special Events organizers with few resources this year to put on the waterfront events.

That does offer up the opportunity however for you to learn more about how you can help out with the many festival events that they put on and offer up your assistance for those that are on the schedule for 2018.

Find out more about how you can become involved with their work here.

WINTERFEST will come to an end with the Fireworks display at 8 PM weather permitting, the flashes will take to the sky over the Prince Rupert harbour, allowing for a number of prime viewing spots from Mariner's Park to Rotary Park or along the boardwalk of the Atlin Terminal in Cow Bay.

For more items of interest on the Weekends' event see the Special Events Website or Facebook page

You can review some of our notes on the many Community events that take place on the North Coast from our archive page here.

Information Sessions for UNBC Northwest Social Work and Bachelor of Education Program set for today at NWCC's Prince Rupert campus

Those with an interest in pursuing the field of Social Work will can find out more about the program offered by the University of Northern British Columbia today, when UNBC Northwest and NWCC team up for an information session at the Prince Rupert campus.

Dr. Bruce Bidgood, an Associate Professor at the UNBC School of Social Work will be in the city to provide a presentation on the program and then to answer any questions that prospective students may have about it.

The info session runs today from 1 to 4 PM in Room 155 of the South Block at the Fifth Street campus.

The next intake for the Bachelor of Social Work program is September of 2018.

You can learn more about the program from the UNBC website

For those that have an interest in the UNBC Bachelor of Education program, it will also be in the spotlight today, with the Prince Rupert campus hosting an information session this afternoon from 1:30 to 2:30 in Room 188.

Further information on the Education programs hosted by UNBC can be reviewed here.

You can keep up to date on the UNBC Northwest notes from their Facebook page here.

For more items related to post secondary education at UNBC, see our archive page here.

Port highlights Northern BC's forest sector and its connection to Asia through Prince Rupert

With their Economic impact report of this week telling the story of the economic engine that the Port of Prince Rupert provides across Northern British Columbia, a new video from the Port offers up a further glimpse into just how that inter-connection works from Prince Rupert to Prince George and beyond.

The latest of short video vignettes that Port has produced, puts the focus on the province's forest sector and how communities that are at the heart of the industry are sending their products to market through the Fairview container terminal and other facilities of the Port of Prince Rupert.

The tour of the region takes the viewer to the sawmills and pulp mills of Northern British Columbia rolling along to cover a list of towns and cities like Burns Lake, Prince George, Fraser Lake, Smithers, Houston and Terrace to name a few.

Locations that become more than just stops on the CN Rail mainline map, but communities that provide for jobs and an economic engine for the entire Highway 16 corridor.

Where the products of Northern British Columbia's forest sector come from.
and where they are destined for after the products ship out of the Port of Prince Rupert

(from Port of Prince Rupert video presentation)

Included among some of the featured stops on the video review are the facilities located in Prince Rupert from the Fairview container terminal, to the new loading facility on Ridley Island and the giant lumber yard of Tidal Coast Terminals in the city's Industrial Park.

The theme of the four and half minutes that of how each community of the North is connected to each other, with the Port providing for the heart of the trade from the forests of the province to the markets of Asia.

You can learn more about the economic impact of the Port from our look at their report of this week, available here.

Further notes related to the Port can be found from our archive page here, while a look at the Port's partners in shipping in the region can be reviewed here.

Terrace closest location for public meetings on Greyhound Service Termination request

Residents of the North Coast wishing to appear at a public hearing on the request to terminate Greyhound Service along Highway 16, will ironically have to do a little bit of travelling to do so.

With those seeking to participate required to make their way to Terrace or Smithers in the Northwest to share their thoughts or concerns.

The Passenger Transportation Board has announced a series of meetings for December 11th to 14th in four locations;  starting in Prince George on December 11th and wrapping up in Fort St. John on December 14th.

The two sessions scheduled for the Northwest will take place in Terrace on December 12th and Smithers on December 13th.

The Terrace meeting will take place from 1 to 3 PM on December 12th in the Skeena Room of the Best Western Hotel, those wishing to participate must contact the agency to register by Noon of December 8th. 

Those in the Smithers area will gather in the Summit Ballroom of the Prestige Hudson Bay Lounge on December 13th, with the Bulkley Valley session to take place from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM

 Those wishing to participate in any of the public hearing sessions must contact the agency to register by Noon of December 8th. 

You can access the registration form here, see the links included in that document for more details on the hearing process.

As we reviewed in August, Greyhound has applied to the PTB to terminate much of its service to Northern BC, including the Prince Rupert to Prince George run.

Since that time, the Agency that oversees Passenger Bus service in the province received over 1,700 email correspondences on the topic, as well as 220 written statements related to the request to terminate the service.

From that feedback, the Passenger Transportation Board decided to hear directly from the public and the impact that any change may have on them.

"Public meetings will allow the Passenger Transportation Board to hear directly from individuals and community representatives about their transportation use and how the proposed changes could affect them ... The Board will also hear directly from Greyhound about its passenger services and business model that relates to the application."  -- Catherine Read, Chair of the Passenger Transportation Board.

The full notification from Wednesday can be reviewed here.

Some background information related to the Greyhound request can be found from our Highway 16 archive page here.

Documentation for the December information sessions can be reviewed below
(click to enlarge)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Pembina approves development of Watson Island LPG terminal

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain was celebrating some welcome news for his Watson Island rejuvenation plans today, with word from Pembina Energy that the company had approved the development of a Liquid Petroleum Gas Export Terminal for the site.

The announcement from Pembina which you can read here, is part of the energy company's 2018 Capital program.

Stuart Taylor, Pembina's Senior Vice President for Natural Gas Facilities noted that with their Final Investment Decision now in place, the company looks forward to moving the development ahead.

"Since our initial announcement of potentially developing the Prince Rupert Terminal, we've worked diligently with municipal and other stakeholders and are now able to move forward with our final investment decision

We are very excited to progress the Prince Rupert Terminal and continue working with the local communities, stakeholders, First Nations and governments in the area.

This Project will provide significant economic benefits to the Prince Rupert area including 150 to 200 construction positions and, once operational, it will create between 20 to 30 full-time positions in addition to generating annual property tax revenue and lease payments."

Once competed and in service, anticipated for mid 2020, the terminal will have capacity to export 25,000 barrels of LPG per day.

As noted in the media release, the project is expected to create up to 200 construction jobs as it is built and then permanently employ 20 to 30 full time workers upon completion.

Mayor Brain shared his excitement for the announcement of today with a number of declarations, the first through the media release from Pembina.

"We are thrilled to work with Pembina to finally get Watson Island back in business ... What was once the story of economic downfall and hardship is now the story of prosperity and renewal. 

Getting Watson Island back on the tax roll has been the key priority of this council, and receiving this final investment decision from Pembina will provide us with additional lease and tax revenues to support community services and infrastructure."

The second call for mission accomplished, came from the Mayor's Facebook page, which highlighted the announcement of the day and debuted a new logo of sorts for Watson Island declaring the Industrial site as being "back in business".

Further background on the City's arrangement with Pembina can be reviewed from the City's Information release on the latest news which was posted to the city website this afternoon.

The statement hails the arrival of Pembina and its plans to begin site preparations immediately and notes that the Mayor and Council are happy to credit Pembina with being the first company willing to write a new chapter in the storied saga of Watson Island.

The statement from the city also declares a new name for the industrial site which will now be known as the Watson Intermodal Trade and Logistics Park.

While the two statements make note that the capital costs are expected to be around 250-270 million dollars, there is no indication from any of today's announcements as to what amount the taxation process, or lease benefits from the site will deliver to the City as part of the development and operation of the terminal project

You can learn more about Pembina's plans for Watson Island as part of the Open House to be hosted by the Mayor and City of Prince Rupert on December 6th.

For more background on the Pembina project see our archive page.

NWCC's Next Brown Bag Lecture to look at our changing oceans

You can grab  a bit of maritime knowledge over the lunch hour on Thursday, as Northwest Community College hosts the next session of its Brown Bag Lecture Series at the Fifth Street campus.

Caitlin Smith, an environmental technician with the Port of Prince Rupert will be on hand over the noon hour event, sharing information about how the changing ocean conditions are having an impact on the blue mussels.

There's no charge for the noon hour session, just bring your own lunch to Room 188 of the Prince Rupert campus of NWCC  and learn more about the marine life of the West Coast of British Columbia.

For more notes related to Northwest Community College see our archive page here.

Dismantling of City Hall Tent City, gives birth to new community based Society for the homeless

With the end of the Tent City camp at Prince Rupert City Hall over the weekend, some of the organizers of that community based protest in support of the homeless have expanded on their theme, forming a new collective known as Unity City Society of Prince Rupert.

The group debuted a Facebook page November 26th noting that the concept had been formed coming out of the Tent City group and that organizers were in the process of forming a Society to work towards permanent, emergency, supportive and affordable housing.

Among some of the early followers for the new group include a range of current politicians and potential politicians for the 2018 municipal election cycle.

Though so far, the names of those following the group as observers are significantly higher than those actively participating in the discussion, or commentary on themes related to affordable housing and homelessness.

As for the current status of those that had been staying at the encampment at City Hall during the two weeks of its existence,  the majority of those  have since shifted to the recently opened Winter Shelter facility at the old McLean and Rudderham building.

However, as you explore the commentary through social media of late, those advocates for the homeless do note that some of those from the tent city continue to live out in the elements in various locations around the city.

And while the Extreme Winter Shelter does address the overnight period, with hours of 8 PM to 8 AM, one of the original issues that seem to have sparked some of the recent events remains unresolved.

In October, Councillor Joy Thorkelson made a passionate plea for the establishment of some form of a daytime warming centre for those that were homeless, something that remains elusive as we continue through the cold and wet of November and on to the winter months.

There has been an unofficial daytime option offered by the owner/operator of the Coastal Cafe, but a permanent option to address some of the Councillors concerns has not as of yet materialized.

Councillor Thorkelson's comments of last month, were just the latest that she and fellow councillor Barry Cunningham had offered up to their City Council counterparts as they look to seek solutions to the affordability situation in the city.

Shortly after her council remarks on November 8th, the first of the tents began to go up at City Hall, sparking the sudden rush to ensure that some form of suitable accommodation could be provided for the short term, with an eye towards a larger solution.

Earlier this month, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice appeared at City Council to outline the support the province would be providing for both the short term shelter option and to arrange for the arrival of modular units in March to try to alleviate the housing concerns.

From that Council session, the Mayor and the Transition House Society would later expand on how the winter shelter program would operate, announcing its location on November 17th.

The focus now outlined by the Unity City group would seem to suggest that they'll take up the torch as advocates for the homeless and those in need.

As well perhaps they may serve as a community watchdog of sorts, to watch over the local efforts to make sure that the promises made over the last few weeks are lived up to and that now that the tents have disappeared from City Hall that the homeless situation doesn't fall off the civic radar.

You can follow the group's work from their Facebook page here.

A look back at the Tent City protest is available here, while a larger overview of housing across the Northwest can be found on our archive page.

Hudson Bay Mountain has launched the 2017-18 ski season

One benefit of the volume of snow to fall in the Bulkley Valley over the last two weeks has been the opening of a popular weekend destination of Hudson Bay Mountin, with the popular location opening up for the season last weekend.

The opening day for the skiers of the Northwest was Friday and a good number of residents of the Smithers area and beyond took advantage of the opportunity to put their skis and snowboards back to the test of another season on the slopes.

So far the Mountain is reporting 14 cm of new snow overnight, with a total snowfall of 150 cm over the last few weeks. The base is 135cm and the Alpine depth 150cm.

You can access the latest conditions from the Bulkley Valley here.

Winter hours for Hudson Bay Mountain see the lifts opening at 10 AM daily (9:30 AM on weekends and holidays) while the last chair lift is at 3:30, the final t bar at 4.

The runs at Hudson Bay Mountain and ready for the skiers of the Northwest

A quick peek at the latest conditions from the peak can be found from the Hudson Bay Mountain web cams.

For more notes related to what's available at Hudson Bay Mountain see their website or Facebook page.

More background on the Northwest Ski season can be found on our archive page here.

Ministry of Transportation reminder to "Think Winter Driving"

We're not yet even into December and already those travelling east bound have had to put their winter driving skills to work, particularly as the Terrace/Kitimat to Smithers corridor has seen significant accumulation of snow over the last two weeks.

Towards proper winter driving, the Ministry of Transportation and RCMP were on the roads in the Skeena District, conducing a winter tire check, ensuring that those who are travelling the highways have equipped their vehicles with the proper tires.

Northwest RCMP and Ministry of Highways personnel were busy over the
weekend checking motorists vehicles to ensure that they were winter ready

Motorists that travel the highways of the Northwest, should have had their tire changeover complete as of October 1st, which was the date that those driving east of the Port Edward turn off were to take care of their winter duties.

Towards the driving in winter theme, the Ministry has provided for some Winter Driving guidelines to follow to provide for a safe transit to and from your destination. Among their notes is a look at Five of the things travellers could do without as they set about to their trips down the highway.

Black ice
Dead batteries
Reduced visibility
Sudden weather changes
Slush… cold, nasty slush

The full overview of winter driving notes can be reviewed here.

Earlier this month, Darrell Gunn the Terrace based manager of the Skeena District for the Ministry spoke at Prince Rupert City Council to provide a review of the winter plan from the Ministry and to introduce residents of the North Coast to the Shift to Winter program.

You can review his presentation to Council from our blog item of November here.

The background to the Shift to Winter program is available here.

For those travelling the highways, the latest conditions are available through the Drive BC website and twitter feed.

We also host a link to the Northwest highway cams for Highway 16, 37 South to Kitimat and into the Nass Valley, which is available here, for a quick glimpse into conditions at any time.

Our Highway 16 archive also offers up a range of items of interest related to transportation along the corridor between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

Rainmaker Girls on the road to Vanderhoof for Provincials

The Charles Hays Senior Girls Rainmakers are on the road
for one final time  for the 2017 Volleyball season,
with a destination of Vanderhoof and the
Provincial Championships Thursday through Saturday

The reward for a long season of Senior Girls Volleyball came by way of an early morning bus call for the Charles Hays Rainmakers, as the Senior Girls boarded the bus this morning for the long trek east to Vanderhoof and their shot at a Provincial championship.

The Charles Hays squad qualified for the finale to the vollyeball season ten days ago with victories over Smithers at the Northwest Zones championship held at the CHSS Gymansium

While most of today will be spent on the bus, Wednesday night is given over to the social events of the four day tournament, with Banquet for Athletes and Coaches set for 5 PM at Vanderhood's Nechako Seniors Friendship Centre.

Thursday brings the Opening Ceremonies at 10 AM and then the start of Round Robin play through the day.

The Rainmakers open the tournament up on Thursday as they take to the Pool B schedule, with some tough competition ahead from Pacific Academy, Fulton and Brentwood.

The playoffs begin on the Friday, with teams looking to keep their momentum moving along towards the Medal Games of Saturday afternoon and evening.

The Tournament comes to an end following the Gold Medal game, with the ceremony set for an 8:30 start.

You can review some of the background to the AA championships here.

For updates on how the Senior Girls are moving along at Provincials keep checking the Charles Hays Twitter feed, which is always a good spot to stay informed on how the school's teams are doing.

You can also explore some more items of note related to Charles Hays athletics from our archive page here.

Live Feed of action from Vanderhoof available here.



Langley Christian vs Charles Hays 11 AM


Brentwood over Charles Hays  25-10, 25-13

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Port of Prince Rupert: A billion dollar Northern BC industry that passes through Prince Rupert each and every day

The Port of Prince Rupert released a report on Tuesday that highlights the massive footprint that the terminal facilities around Prince Rupert harbour are playing in making for an engine for the British Columbia economy.

An information release from the Port makes note of the strong results that have been delivered to the region from Port Operations from the period of review of 2016.

Towards those results, Interim Port President and CEO Joe Rektor pays tribute to the workforce that has been assembled to help to build the port's growing reputation for efficient movement of product through the Northwest Gateway in Prince Rupert.

“The Port of Prince Rupert’s success is built on the hard work of the women and men that contribute to safely moving cargo through the Gateway every day,” ... “We’re proud of the economic contribution we’ve been able to make over the past decade. We know we need to keep working hard to stay competitive and sustain that into the future.”

All of that hard work of those who work for the Port is best examined through the annual review.

A document which explores the economic impact that the port has had across the region, brought to life through the roll call of statistics that the report delivers.

Among some of the highlights are:

3,100 women and men in Northern British Columbia work directly on operations moving international trade through the Port of Prince Rupert in 2016

That direct employment injected $260 million in annual earnings into the regional economy.

The average annual wage for those associated with employment in the Northwest BC gateway in 2016 was $83,480

A total of 5,200 jobs are associated when those businesses that provide services and suppliers to the Port operations are considered. 

Of the total number of jobs that make for the Port's supply chain across Northern BC, 54 percent are found in the rail and trucking sector.

Almost half the direct employment with the Port is located in Prince Rupert, with Terrace, Smithers and Prince George also benefiting from the port's supply chain presence.

Since 2009, the amount of direct employment related to the Port has grown by 1,800 jobs, making for an increase of 138%

The Port estimates that over the next decade an additional 5,400 jobs will be created as the port expands its economic footprint on the North coast.

Other elements of the Report make note of the contribution the Port makes to the revenue stream of local communities, delivering more than 7 million dollars to local municipal governments through Port taxation revenue.

When it comes to the day to day activity on the waterfront, from their report, the Port notes that 35 billion dollars of trade was shipped through Port facilities in Prince Rupert in 2016.

And while not quite the same stunning figures of the industrial trade, the rebounding Cruise industry on the North Coast generated 500,000 in local visitor revenue over 15 cruise ship days, which attracted 7,100 cruise passengers to the Northland Cruise terminal in 2016.

As for the shipments that arrive or depart from port facilities, a number of graphical presentations provides for the snap shot of what rolls in and out of Prince Rupert each day.

That success in part comes with the port's partner of Canadian National Railway providing the transportation arteries that keep that flow of trade moving to and from points across North America and delivers much of the product that is destined for port facilities around the world.

What we're shipping out of the Fairview Container Terminal every day

What's coming ashore at the Fairview facility

The story of exports in 2016 from Prince Rupert Grain,
Ridley Terminals, Westview Terminal and through lumber shipments
(all of the images above from the Port of Prince Rupert report)

You can get the full overview of the Port's impact on the economy of the Northwest from two segments of their presentation released today.

For more notes of interest related to the Port of Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

MP Nathan Cullen to propose name change for federal riding

See update to story at bottom of page

Skeena-Bulkley Valley may be a historical footnote for the next time voters of the Northwest head for the polls, that should Nathan Cullen have success with a proposal introduced today, as the MP submits his riding name change suggestion for the consideration of Parliament.

In a notice on his twitter feed on Tuesday, the Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP offered up "Skeena-Pacific Northwest" as the name to be submitted.

Providing with it, a short note (not even  using up the new 240 character limit) as to how it respects the history and vast geography of the region.

The MP notes that the decision to seek a name change came after a number of conversations and consultations.

The change if approved would make for the latest metamorphosis for the Federal riding, which has been known as Skeena, then Skeena-Bulkley Valley in recent years.

And going way back in time, our corner of the province had at one point been part of the riding of New Westminster as BC joined confederation in 1871, represented at the time by an Irish immigrant Hugh Nelson from County Antrim.

The name of the riding once again changed in 1896 to be part of the newly created riding of Burrard, followed by another re-draw of the borders to reflect the latest change in the territory covered from Comox-Atlin in 1904.

The now more familiar Skeena took hold in 1917, the Bulkley Valley added to the name as the turn of this century arrived into the 2000's.

The riding remains one of the largest in land mass that there is for election to the House of Commons, making for a wide and diverse population base and one which requires extensive travel to address constituents concerns for whomever is elected to hold the office.

The history of the riding is a fairly entertaining item to dig into courtesy of the website which traces some of the name changes, colourful history and personalities that won elected office through the century.

The First MP for the Northwest Conservative Hugh Nelson
serving from 1871 to 1874

(photo from

The NDP's Nathan Cullen the current MP for the riding
of Skeena-Bulkley Valley since 2004

(photo from House of Commons video)

Mr. Cullen did not indicate in his tweet of today, what the process towards renaming might be, or how long such a project will take to put in place.

For more items related to his work at the House of Commons see our archive page

Update: On December 1st, the MP took to his social media options to announce a secondary consultation to the Name Change proposal, seeking further opinion from those living in the Skeena- Bulkley Valley riding.

You can weigh in with your thoughts through Nathan Cullen's Facebook page or twitter feed.

Voting will continue through until noon of Tuesday of next week.

City of Prince Rupert drops video trailer for upcoming Watson Island showcase

The studios of Producer Mayor Lee Brain were busy over the last few days, putting the finishing touches on the second of what may be the start of a Watson Island anthology of short films.

This latest effort, which was released Monday, takes the Mayor back to the industrial site offering a sneak peek at what will be the topic of a public presentation on December 6th.

That's the afternoon/evening that the City of Prince Rupert has put aside to host an Open House at the North Coast Convention Centre from 4 to 7 PM to share the latest of details that they can release on Watson.

The short travelogue has the Mayor standing on the site of what could be the Pembina Liquid Propane Terminal, currently the focus of a number of corporate studies to determine if they will go ahead with the project to ship Liquid Propane to export markets from the city owned island.

Released on the Mayor's Facebook page, as well as the City of Prince Rupert page, Mr. Brain advises that the city is getting closer each day to putting Watson Island on the tax roll.

Some of the themes the Mayor explores in the video include the decommissioning work on site which has been a two year process and of which the Mayor advises is now nearly 90 percent complete.

The mayor notes in his presentation that all of the chemicals that were on the site have been removed from Watson Island and it now is ready to host new partners for industrial development.

He offers up some background to the Pembina proposal and how it offers the opportunity to generate more revenue through leases and taxes for the City of Prince Rupert.

The final segment of his update of the 97 video is a reminder for the public that the City will explain more on the latest news from Watson at the December 6th public Open House.

Over the weekend, the Mayor also had led a group of former pulp mill workers on an expedition to explore the Watson Island site that once was their workplace.

You can compare the most recent short video presentation above with the original walk around the site that was produced in March (below).

It offers up a chance to make some comparisons on the progress and take some notes to bring with you for the Open House.

For a wider overview of the long running Watson Island , including a number of themes not explored in the video shorts so far, see our Watson Island Archive page.

Jennifer Rice, Nathan Cullen weigh in on Jake Shearer and barge situation off Bella Bella

The Tug Jake Shearer, a Marine fuel barge and a host
of Marines response vessels are all sheltered off of
Campbell Island to wait out marine weather system
(Map from Marine

Northwest politicians both Federal and provincial have provided their first commentary on the ongoing situation off of the Central Coast, which saw a tug and fuel transport barge run into some difficulties in heavy seas on Sunday evening.

MP Nathan Cullen posted his thoughts on the incident through his Facebook page early Monday morning, noting that it had appeared that disaster had been avoided once again.

Later in the day, the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley and who serves as the federal MP for the Central Coast region spoke to the issue in the House of Commons addressing his comments to Transportation Minister Marc Garneau.

As part of his participation in Question Period, Mr. Cullen asked for the Liberals to support the proposal from the Heiltsuk Tribal Council for an Indigenous based marine response program.

On the provincial side of the day's review, for her part, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, offered the Heiltsuk her support through a Facebook post and recounted the Nathan E Stewart incident of a year ago.

The current incident appears to have stabilized for the moment, with the tug, barge and responding vessels all taking shelter in a bay off the Central Coast, you can review the latest notes from the scene from our post of earlier this morning.

Having Cancelled their Monday Public meeting; Council set to host closed council session this afternoon

The Doors to the Council chamber close tonight,
as Prince Rupert City Council hold a closed session at 5 PM

When it comes to keeping track of when Prince Rupert City Council is holding a meeting or taking a break from their scheduled appointments with the public, the process is becoming a bit like watching the Prince Rupert Rampage make line changes on the fly ... you never really know who is going to come over the boards next.

While they apparently couldn't meet for the regularly scheduled Public Council session of last night, along with its public comment period of the Committee of the Whole process that it would have come with it. Prince Rupert's elected council will be back to the burdens of their duties today, hosting a Closed session at 5 PM at City Hall.

The notice for the Closed session was posted to the City's website on Monday, making note of the following criteria for the closing of the doors to the public.

"the basis of this closure is that the item(s) on the agenda of this meeting comply with the following closed meeting criteria specified in Section 90 of the Community Charter: 90.1 (e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality."

The Closed session for this afternoon, marks the eighteenth such closed session since January.

As we outlined on Friday, the November 27th Regular Council session was cancelled last week, with little indication as to why the city's representatives had decided to toss away the schedule which left November with only one Public session, as opposed to the regular two sessions held most months.

Council will return to a public session on December 4th for a meeting that will address the agenda items lost with the November 27th cancellation.

They will then shift the Committee of the Whole and its community comment period opportunity as part of the December 11th session, which at this point, is the last regularly scheduled Council session for the year.

Those looking for a trip back through the year, can review the trail of cancelled, closed and scheduled council sessions from our archive page here.

Tug Jake Shearer and barge take shelter, to be anchored for short term before next moves explored

The Jake Shearer in waters near
Bella Bella Monday

(photo from Bella Bella Airport
by way of provincial environmental
response program
Harley Marine the Seattle based marine transportation company that is the owner/operator of the Jake Shearer Tug which was towing the Zidell marine 277 fuel barge have issued their first complete statement on the nature of a incident on Sunday night .

With the company providing some further details related to the circumstances that had left the barge disabled off of Goose Island near Bella Bella.

That Sunday night marine incident resulted in a significant response effort, led by the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Gordon Reid which was the first to be on station to lend assistance and observe for any evidence of pollutants escaping into area waters.

Additional Canadian Coast Guard and Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) resources were also deployed to staging areas near the incident site. The response also included the deployment of the National Area Surveillance Program (NASP) plane from Vancouver Monday morning to perform an aerial surveillance of the incident site.

In their statement issued just before 6 PM on Monday evening, Harley Marine provided some background on the weather conditions at the time and how extreme waves hitting the vessels broadside had caused the tug to become dis-engaged from the barge.

The Ziddell Marine 277  a double hulled fuel barge is loaded with approximately 67,000 barrels of diesel and 11,000 barrels of regular gasoline. The Jake Shearer is loaded with approximately 2,500 barrels of diesel fuel.

The Ziddell Marine 277 fuel barge
(photo from Harley marine website)

Captain Rich Softye, Deputy Incident Commander for Harley Marine explained the relationship currently in motion to bring the incident to a close

"Harley Marine is working in cooperation with the Canadian Coast Guard, the Heiltsuk First Nation and provincial and federal government agencies to safely address the incident involving the JAKE SHEARER and barge. We are committed to successfully resolving this incident,"

The latest  information from the provincial government agency tracking the developments came at 5:30 on Monday, noting that an additional tug had arrived from the United States, however poor weather conditions had meant a change in the choice for a place of refuge.

Due to poor weather conditions, the Gulf Cajun tug and the fuel barge have turned north, away from the original designated place of refuge. Federal agencies, Harley Marine Services Inc., and the Heiltsuk Nation discussed options, and a new place of refuge was chosen. 

 The barge is now en route through Seaforth Channel to Norman Morrison Bay, which is located at the north end of Campbell Island. The Gordon Reid, a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, continues to escort the tug and barge. At this time, there are no visible signs of fuel release from either the Jake Shearer tug or its fuel barge which is now being towed by the Gulf Cajun. The tow is going well and the vessels are approximately 1.5 hours from anchoring.

The Tug Jake Shearer, a Marine fuel barge and a host
of Marines response vessels are all sheltered off of
Campbell Island to wait out marine weather system
Map from Marine

In a separate information release from the Heiltsuk Tribal Council on Monday evening, residents of the area were advised that the barge had reached its destination for the night and was being boomed off as a precaution, with the latest reports advising that no fuel had been spilled.

Marilyn Slett, the Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council was in Ottawa on Monday for meetings related to reconciliation and met with Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, seeking to reinforce their call for an indigenous led marine centre to be established in the area.

No further timeline has been offered by Harley Marine as to how long the barge will remain anchored and whether it will be resuming its journey northbound to Skagway,  Alaska

The province's incident report on the situation can be reviewed here.

As the concerns related to the incident began to ebb, the news flow related to the situation also took on a more relaxed pace, with less articles and updates delivered through the day. Some of those that were posted can be found below:

November 27, 2017

B. C. Indigenous leader calls for better marine emergency response after barge goes adrift
Stranded barge safe and under tow heading north from Bella Bella
Fuel-laden barge now being towed after it was adrift off B.C.'s central coast
Stranded fuel barge near Bella Bella now safely under tow
Rescue tug pulls away stranded fuel barge near Bella Bella
Jake Shearer barge recovered from B.C. waters with coast guard reporting no environment damage
Loose fuel barge near Bella Bella being towed south
Rescue tow has reached fuel barge in distress off B.C. coast near Bella Bella
Rescue vessels race to waters near Bella Bella as fuel barge breaks free from tug