Wednesday, December 13, 2017

City Council Timeline: Monday, December 11, 2017

Public Presentations provided for just over half of the time of Monday's forty four minute Prince Rupert City Council session, as the City's elected officials heard from two local groups on the evening.

The first came from advocates for public broadcasting through the CBC, with that group providing a report for council on their recent findings on local coverage of issues and stories from the community.

A second group, representing the Prince Rupert Minor Softball Association also delivered a presentation, originally designed to seek greater access to Doug Kerr Field. But with that topic seemingly close to resolution, they then expanded their report to provide a general overview of the league and its future plans for the youth in the city.

The two reports were part of the Committee of the Whole session, which also included a public comment period, which on Monday found only one member of the gallery inclined to participate, providing for some questions related to the city's Watson Island plans.

Monday also had a Public Hearing scheduled, related to the City's plans to extend its current zoning prohibitions for commercial marijuana operations in the city until July of 2018, a topic that didn't seem to generate any public interest on the night, as no one took advantage of the opportunity to speak to the issue on the evening.

As for the Regular Council session, those Council members in attendance received a report from the City's Financial officer that recommended the City move forward with a grant application to assist the the Kaien Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society with its plan for development of the McClymont Trail system.

Council also provided approval for their extension to the Commercial marijuana prohibitions and approved the Amendments to the City's 2017 Five Year Financial plan.

A late addition to the agenda also found Council releasing some background to a decision from Closed Session, related to the new labour agreement with the city's unionized work force.

Some background on the items of note on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the Council session can be reviewed 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 December 11, 2017

Mayor Lee Brain-- Present  
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Absent
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney --  Absent
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson --  Absent

Video Archive for December 11, 2017

( 0:00 -- 4:30 ) Public Hearing -- Related to the Zoning Bylaw extension of the temporary prohibition on the establishment of commercial marijuana operations until July of 2018  -- As things turned out, the instructions on the night  took longer than the actual hearing as no members of the public came forward to offer comment or raise concerns related to the Bylaw. From that point, the Mayor brought the public hearing to an end and moved on to the next item on the night's Agenda.

( 4:30 -- 5:00    )  Committee of the Whole Session -- The Mayor reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the COW Agenda while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

5:00 -- 12:00  ) Presentation to Council from Kathleen Palm and Eveyln Basso with an Update on the CBC in Prince Rupert  -- The two local CBC Advocates, along with two other members of their delegation in the gallery for support, offered up a brief review of how they view the state of public broadcasting in the city.

They first provided an apology for their missed appearance of the fall and then reviewed some of their findings on the level of local content that the CBC provides on the North Coast, highlighting how they had noted a higher community profile on the CBC of late and how they had seen some improvement from their previous concerns after taking some of the areas of note to CBC management.

The pair observed for Council how they had been provided with reassurance that quality radio would be maintained and improved and how they hope that will remain the policy moving forward.

They recounted some of the past incidents that they had flagged as cause for those concerns, and noted of a change in the management ranks that oversee the local Northern Service.

They also relayed some of their thoughts on the CBC's plans for digital expansion and how they have advised CBC management that those plans should not take place at the expense of the regular radio service that is offered to the community.

Ms. Palm outlined how she hopes the City of Prince Rupert will remain committed to encouraging the CBC to continue to provide help with their advocacy group to continue to press for local programming and expand on some of the areas of the North Coast that the local CBC feature.

They were particularly pleased to take note of the CBC's work during the recent forest fire season, where they provided in depth information and guidance for residents in many communities that were affected, with Ms. Palm suggesting that if this is the kind of service that the City of Prince Rupert wishes to see the CBC provide to the community they should participate in an upcoming review by MLA Doug Donaldson.

To highlight how the new approach is valuable to communities, she offered up the quality of programming from the fire season this summer, in contrast to the time of the Tsunami warning in Prince Rupert a number of years ago, where they said it took a fair bit of time for CBC to provide proper information to the community.

They then asked that the City invite Shiral Tobin, the current Program Director for the CBC in British Columbia to appear at a future Prince Rupert City Council session so their group could provide impress upon her the importance of the CBC service to the community.

Ms. Palm thanked the City for their help in the past and observed that through the efforts of their group and the City of Prince Rupert the studios in the community are still open, offering a particular shout out for the CBC's George Baker, who was in the audience for the night, a salute that was echoed by Mayor Brain.

12:00 -- 25:00   ) Presentation to Council the Prince Rupert Minor Softball Association -- Ralph Wieck and Lisa Pirillo, members of the Executive from the Softball Assocation had a presentation on youth Softball in the community to deliver to Council.

But before they did, they made note that a recent announcement from the City had addressed some of their concerns related to field allocation and to seek funding for the rehabilitation and use of Doug Kerr Field.

Before they moved forward with their presentation, the Mayor outlined how the City had approached their review of the topic, with the group's original request of a year ago, combined with the 100,000 dollars that the McKay Street Park project had received allowing the city to move forward with the Doug Kerr field remediation, with the current use of the field as a Dog Park to be shifted to the work to be done at the McKay site.

With that background provided for the gallery, the Softball group began their presentation providing a glimpse into the formation of the PRMSA in March of 2016, a follow up to their initial exploration period of the year before.

Mr. Wieck outlined how they have a seven member board and in their first two years have seen 124 registered participants form ages 6 to 18 years of age take to the field. Adding that as they launched their new league that they have spent around 25,000 dollars with local businesses to set up their operations, using local suppliers to provide for much of their requirements.

He also recounted their past work with the Recreation Council to start the dialogue related to gaining access to the Doug Kerr field, which because of its dimensions, which is of a minor league level of play provide for the best option for developing the sport in the community.

A review of the current fields that they make use of was then explored, with the group playing at Roosevelt, Crestview and the two main fields at the Civic Centre, all of which provide for a few challenges for the level of play that is focused on young people, or provide for limited availability.

They outlined their plans for the Spring, with a number of player development clinics planned from Mid March to Mid April as well as the potential for the introduction of the Tim Horton's Learn to Play program, they also have an eye towards participation in the BC summer Games program in 2018.

The presentation ended with the group offering their thanks to the Council, the Recreation Committee and the Public works staff for their engagement over the last year.

As a follow up to their presentation, the Mayor provided his own thanks for their work in the community and recounted his own years of playing baseball and how it was a sad time when baseball and other sports were reduced as the community faced the impact of the closure of the Pulp Mill.

( 25:00 -- 30:00 ) Comments from the Public 

Only one participant took advantage of the public comment period that comes from the Committee of the Whole, with Larry Golden, a frequent contributor to the session, making inquiries related to the recent Pembina/Watson Island Open House at the North Coast Convention Centre.

He outlined some concerns he has when it comes to the city's  transparency and responsibilities related to both the parcel of land that is to be occupied by Pembina and the larger Watson Island site.

His first concern was related as to why the City had decided to keep the land and lease it out as opposed to the original plan to sell it, and how in his opinion, that has made the City liable for any clean up  that may be required in the future.

He also had a number of concerns over the use of the Legacy Corporation to handle much of the day to day operations on the site, as opposed to having those elements of operation reviewed through City Council.

In addition to the actual land of the Industrial site, he had questions related to the proposed dock facility that he believes will have to be rebuilt, asking who will be responsible for that work.

He also raised some questions as to the nature of the power supply requirements for the site,  that he suggested that Pembina officials had said would have to be delivered by the City.

In response the Mayor observed that they have plans to provide more information on the City's Watson Plans in the New Year, as for the 750,000 dollars associated to the site, it has essentially been related to a shift of land to asset and comes from the previously unpaid taxes for the site.

On the themes of the environmental clean up issues, the Mayor noted that they have a schedule of activities required by the Ministry of Environment, with the model moving forward one where the Ministry will identify areas to be remediated, on a site to site basis.

Using the Pembina proposal as the example, the Mayor observed that Pembina will come and do an assessment of their site and will conduct any remediation work and pay for the work, with the city then to pay them back over time through lease hold improvement agreements, with that schedule still to be determined by the Ministry of Environment.

Mr. Golden then noted that he believes that the dock will require a fair bit of work, and how there may be some significant cost to the city to reimburse Pembina for any work required.

To gain further clarification on the Tax Sale aspect of the 750,000 dollars, the mayor called on Corinne Bomben, the City's Financial Officer to further explain some of the details related to the topic.

With no other members of the gallery coming forward with other questions, or items of note, the Mayor then brought the Committee of the Whole Session to a conclusion.

( 30:00 -- 32:00 )   Regular City Council Session --  The Mayor reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the Agenda while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted. As part of the preamble to the Regular Session the mayor added two items to the night's agenda, one related to an grant application on behalf of the Kaien Island Trails Society and the other an announcement from a recent closed session of Council.

( 32:00 -- 35:00 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer, related to an application to the Rural Dividend Funding program for the McClymont Park Trail design and engineering proposal -- Ms. Bomben recounted some of the history related to the topic from a presentation by the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement and Recreation Society at the  December 4th Council session.

At that time City staff had been directed by Council to see if they could investigate if they could apply for a provincial  grant for the trail work, in lieu of the Society,  as the group had not been able to apply for one at this time.

Ms. Bomben noted that the review of the situation after meeting with representatives of the Trail Society, both they and the City have agreed that the best course forward is for the City to apply for the grant, under the basis that the property is owned by the City and any design work should have significant input and oversight by the city considering that there are city utilities running along side the trail.

She further provided some background on how the city's diminished financial situation in the last fifteen years had resulted in an inability by the City to maintain, or improve the trail system and that it had not been a priority for revitalization.

Ms. Bomben observed that with the opportunity of the availability of the grant and with the forward movement from the Kaien Trail Society has generated in the community for the revitalization of trails in the community is something that would help the City to explore the renewal of the trails that have been expressed through the city's Redesign project.

Should the City receive grant approval, the City would manage the project and select a consultant to conduct the design and engineering work, the consultation process would include engaging with the public and stakeholder groups.

After completion of the design the next step would be the implementation of the plan with council's approval, the grant the City will seek is under the Rural Dividend Program part of the Destination Trails program with a deadline of December 15th for applications.

The application is for a project budget of 100,000 dollars with $20,000 required by the City with a maximum of ten percent to be in kind. The Trail Society has agreed to fund 15,000 dollars of the City's contribution, with Ducks Unlimited to provide for the remaining 5,000 dollars by way of in kind contribution.

That would mean that the City's cost to the design project is staff administration and oversight time.

Council then voted to approve the recommendation to submit the application to the Rural Dividend Fund, with Councillor Randhawa speaking in favour of the project.

Mayor Brain then thanked staff for putting together the proposal and noted that the Trail Society which is relatively new to the scene, appreciated the assistance of staff as they are new to the process and still not quite ready to take on the funding request aspects related to grants.

( 35:00 -- 36:00 ) Resolution from Closed meeting -- Mayor Brain outlined that the city had reached a resolution from their December 4th closed session to approve a new 4 year collective agreement with the civic union CUPE 105, he advised that the details of the agreement would be released in a press release on Tuesday.

36:00 - 40:00 Report from the City's Community Development and Civic Innovation Manager, Re: Interim Zoning Amendment to extend the commercial marijuana operations prohibition in all zones until July of 2018 -- -- Councillor Niesh called on the media to help explain the issue to the public that this is an interim bylaw until the federal and provincial rules are in place. He noted that the established media as well as social media at times has provided discussion on the topic, he also noted that no one had appeared at the Public hearing earlier in the night to address the topic.

Councillor Cunningham then inquired as to what might happen if the Federal and Provincial issues were addressed prior to July 1st, hoping to avoid a gold rush like quest for applications. He also asked that staff make an inquiry of the province as to what the provincial government will do with any tax revenue and expressed his belief as to how the City should receive a fair share of that revenue for local requirements.

The Mayor noted that the City could start preparing for the issues in the Spring, in order to have proper time for consultation and planning to make for a seamless transition with the senior levels of government.

Council then voted to approve the prohibition extension.

40:00 -  40:30 ) Report from the City's Financial Officer on the 2017  Five year Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw --   With no further comment to the topic, council voted to adopt the motion.

40:30 - 44:00 Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillors Cunningham and Niesh returned to the theme of road safety in the community.

Councillor Niesh recounted an incident following the Festival of Lights where poor lighting in the area of the Longhouse on 1st Avenue West  has raised another issue of concern, which saw his wife advising him of some safety issues in the area.

The councillor noted how it is only every second pole that features a street light and asked for staff to investigate the potential for adding more lighting to the area. He made note that there are few parking spots available in the area, he also highlighted for Council that a lot of young people are making use of the Longhouse for the local gymnastics club.

The Mayor followed up on that theme with some observations from a conversation he recently had with Transportation officials based in Terrace, with Darrell Gunn committing to a meeting with council and staff to investigate  safety measure options for the entire thoroughfare along Second Avenue West. He hopes to see more information related to that in person meeting in the new Year.

Councillor Cunningham called attention to some safety measures that are being used in Lower Mainland communities, where small LED lights, the size of a hockey puck are embedded on the streets as an alternative form of safety lighting worth investigating, though he added he would like to see additional overhead lighting put in place at a number of the cross walk locations along Second Avenue and Third Avenue West.

He asked to be included in any discussions that the city holds with the Ministry officials.

The Councillor also wished everyone a Merry Christmas, as the Monday session was the last public session scheduled for the year. The Mayor echoed those thoughts and wished everyone a Happy New Year as well

That was the last of the comments for the final portion of the evening, with Council then voting to adjourn the meeting.

You can access the City Council Review for December 11th herewhere a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, if any, can be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from December 11, 2017 (not available yet)

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.

Monday's Council Session was the last scheduled Public session for 2017, Council will return to their fixed schedule of public sessions in January, the new schedule will be posted to the City's website in the New Year.

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