Wednesday, March 14, 2018

City Council Timeline: Monday, March 12, 2018

If not for a video presentation on the Budget process and a rather lengthy introduction to a motion of support for the North Coast Fishery by Councillor Thorkelson, City Council members could have been out of their Monday night session within twenty minutes this week.

As things turned out,  they still managed to wrap up the night just before the three quarter point of the hour, as the Council members tackled but two items for the Agenda on the night.

The Regular public council session featured a short public comment period related to the Budget plans for 2018, as well as Ms. Thorkelson's expansive review of the fishing concerns of the union of which she is the head.

From her work on fishery issues in recent months, City Council was asked  on Monday night to provide their support for a letter to be forwarded to the Minister of Fisheries, calling for the North Coast to receive the same level of fishery policy as that which is found on the Atlantic Coast.

Following those two items, Council members brought the evening to an end by providing for a few comments, observations and suggestions on a range of topics for further action by the City.

Some background on the items of note on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the March 12th Council session can be reviewed here.

Council also met in a closed session earlier in the day, the notice closing that meeting to the public 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 March 12, 2018

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present 
Councillor Blair Mirau --  Present 
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney -- Absent 
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson --  Present (participated by telephone)

Video Archive for March 12, 2018

(0:00 -- 1:00)  City Council Minutes and Agenda review --  Mayor Brain reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the Agenda, with one late addition to the night, while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

1:00 -- 23:00 Budget Presentation Report from the Chief Financial Officer   -- Ms. Corinne Bomben, the City's CFO provided a short overview of the Budget process and Five Year Financial Plan for the Council members, public gallery and those viewing the meeting at home.

In addition to a short synopsis of her previous notes on the Budget, the CFO presented two videos for viewing.

The first a highlight reel of the city's accomplishments through the year. While the second video provided background for residents on how the municipal tax rate is set by the Finance Department and City Council.

As for the public comment period associated to the Budget Consultation, other than two reporters on hand for the night, only one member of the public was in attendance for the session.

Larry Golden, a frequent contributor to public comment opportunities at Council session, spoke to the Budget document, raising his concerns over how the City may approach the building of a new RCMP detachment over the next few years.

He also outlined some of his thoughts on crime stats in the city and staffing levels of the RCMP in Prince Rupert.

On the theme of the potential for a new RCMP detachment in the city, he also offered some comments as to whether the City as part of their planning for a new building would be considering a larger, or reduced work place to fill the need.

He also offered up comment to suggest that the RCMP funding issue should be more of a Regional concern, expressing a belief that if other communities don't wish to share in the funding of the detachment's operations that those communities should be billed by the City for having to provide policing/jailing services for residents of those communities.

With no other participants in the public gallery, the Mayor brought the public comment period for the Budget Consultation to an end.  The public will have one more opportunity for comment, that as part of the March 26th Council session.

23:00 - 33.00Fisheries resolution from Councillor Thorkelson seeking support of City Council to forward a letter to Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, seeking adjacency provisions for the North Coast Fishing industry. -- Council Joy Thorkelson, who was participating in the night's proceedings by telephone, provided for a lengthy overview of her motion that calls attention to discrepancies in how the East and West Coast fisheries in Canada are handled by the federal government.

As part of her presentation in support of the resolution, she outlined the impact that the North Coast fishery has for the economic health of the community and the employment and income that it provides for all those involved in the industry.

Previous to the introduction of the resolution, Councillor Blair Mirau had excused himself from the chamber, citing conflicts on the issue, noting that he has family members working in the commercial industry on the North Coast.

The thrust of Ms. Thorkelson's resolution was that the City of Prince Rupert write the minister of Fisheries asking that the changes to the Fisheries Act apply to the Pacific coast, so our working fishermen and BC coastal communities benefit from these fisheries; and be it further resolved, that the City of Prince Rupert forward this resolution to the provincial government asking for their support for this resolution; and be it finally resolved that the city of Prince Rupert forward this resolution to the Regional District and ask for its support and the support of its member communities.

The Mayor offered a friendly amendment that the resolution also be forwarded to other Cosatl Regional Districts for consideration as well.

Mr. Brain along with Councillors Cunningham, Niesh and Randhawa offered up their strong support for Councillor Thorkelson's resolution and shared their thoughts on the importance of the fishery to the community.

With Councillor Mirau recused from the topic and Councillor Kinney absent on the  night, the remainder of Council then unanimously endorsed the resolution.

( 33:00 to 47:00 Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

The Mayor began the review of notes by sending a shout out the Rupert Rubbish Round up  participants, noting their efforts from over the weekend.

Councillor Randhawa raised the topic of the end of the Greyhound service in the Northwest, with the Mayor noting of his recent meeting in Victoria of last week.

With the Mayor advising that at that time he had met with the Transportation Minister  who had indicated that a regional meeting on the issue was being planned for Smithers this spring, as well as for more discussions at the NCLGA in Fort Nelson.

Councillor Niesh asked of staff about the nature of the paint work done on crosswalks last year and how the paint has disappeared, asking if the paint was chosen by the city, or forced on the city by the province.

The CFO advised that she would look into the issue.

Mr. Niesh followed up with a request that the city return to its efforts on what to do with empty properties around the city and look into some policy work to try and sell the lots to residents of the community and generate some tax revenue for the city.

Councillor Mirau inquired as to whether City Council members were prepared to move forward with the new City communication policy, Council members noted that they were prepared to bring the proposal back for consideration.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his agreement to Councillor Niesh's commentary on empty lots suggesting that the city should be trying to get some revenue from those properities.

He also followed up on his frequent request of the status of his Fish Market plan for the Cow Bay Marina and asking for an update on it.

The Mayor delivered an update on that theme, noting that the North Coast Innovation Lab, part of the EcoTrust office in the city is examining that proposal for a fish market at the marina, the Mayor noting that they are working with city staff and the Marina manager to move the concept forward.

Mr. Cunningham noted that he'd like to see the project developed before this tourist season gets underway.

For a final comment, Councillor Cunningham asked if the city could include a motion at the upcoming NCLGA in Fort Nelson, seeking a way to put forward a resolution to take fine options from property fines and put them onto  taxes.

The councillor suggested that one way to make use of that proposal would be in the case of unsightly premises and have difficulty in collecting the fines, then they could then transfer the fine to the annual collection of property taxes.

With no other comments offered up for the final portion of the evening, Council then voted to adjourn the meeting.

Of note from the attendance list on the night was the absence of Councillor Nelson Kinney, who so far this year has been away for three of the five Council meetings held to date.

You can access the City Council Review for March 26th 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 March12, 2018 (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.

Council members next meet on Monday, March 26th.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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