Wednesday, April 25, 2018

City Council Timeline: Monday, April 23, 2018

The release of the Small Business Advisory Committee report made for the marquee event of a short thirty eight minute Prince Rupert City Council session on Monday evening, with Councillor Blair Mirau providing for a slide show presentation on some of the themes from the work compiled over the last year.

Some housekeeping items related to a zoning variance request and the city's Financial Plan and Tax Bylaw made for some of the light workload on the night, with Council setting in motion the final few elements towards the city's tax collection process for July.

Two late additions to the Regular Council Agenda also were reviewed, with the City hearing the details of a contract award for the renovation of the City's Jail facility to meet Federal standards, while advocates for English as a Second Language asked the city for their assistance in a matter with Northwest Community College.

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.

Monday was also a Committee of the Whole session, which did offer the opportunity for the public to ask questions of Council or raise concerns, but no residents took advantage of that public comment period.

Some background on the items of note on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the April 23rd 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 April 23, 2018

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

Councillor Nelson Kinney passed away on March 24th

Video Archive for April 23, 2018

(0:00 -- 1:30)  Committee of the Whole Session for April 23, 2018  --  Mayor Brain reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, with Council then approving the Agenda.

With No items for the Agenda and no members of the public coming forward to speak on any topics of concern to them, the Committee session came to an end after ninety seconds.


(1:30 -- 2:30 )   Regular City Council Session for April 23, 2018  --  Mayor Brain reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, including two late addistions, with Council then approving the Agenda

2:30 - 23:00Presentation from Councillor Blair Mirau, providing a review of the Report from the Small Business Committee  -- Councillor Mirau traced the early history of the Committee and the process that the City used to appoint members to it, a panel which included; Charmayne Carlson, Irene Mills, Marc Page, James Warburton, Brian Musgrave, Craig Outhet and one member of the Chamber of Commerce executive.

The group worked on the project over the last fifteen months leading towards the Final Draft, with Mr. Mirau providing some background on the key features of the Small Business Development Action Plan that they were asking City Council to take to workshop before the end of May to pre-empt the Summer break.

He observed as to the Goals and Objectives that the plan addresses, highlighting how they hope to ease the tax burden, encourage growth and reduce restrictions on business through bylaw changes and other options.

Through the slideshow presentation, Councillor Mirau observed on some of the major elements of their report, with each of the Goals and Objectives featuring a range of action items that provide some guidance for City Council, much of it following along with some of the current themes that Council has explored during the course of its four year term in office.

As for feedback from the Council members, the Mayor opened the conversation with praise for the  work of the committee and commented as to how they had taken a lot of the initiatives that are currently underway by Council  and how it was brilliant as to how they had made it coherent as to fit into their plan.

The Mayor observed that he didn't want to comment too much on the individual recommendations at this time, but agreed with taking the element provided to a workshop adding how he  loved the direction that the project is heading.

Councillor Cunningham also had high praise for the work of the committee and offered his admiration to the work that they brought to Council, he took note of the cohesive nature of their efforts to bring change to the city.

Mr. Cunningham further noted that the report is something that he says the city needs, calling it a fantastic start and something that they need to continue with, adding that this kind of project is something that is needed in the community.

Councillor Niesh also congratulated the committee on their work and noted he was looking forward to the workshop to see what council can do to make things better.

With no further comments, the Mayor thanked them for their time, and noted how it was great to see the City, Chamber, Community Futures and Business leaders in the community all coming together to work on the process.

Mayor Brain also observed the group had acknowledged such issues as the Port Tax Cap and the Ridley Island Tax Sharing agreement as financial pressures facing the city, something that he called very helpful to the city.

Council then received the report for information and that it be referred to a future council workshop before the end of May.

You can review the text of the report from the City's Agenda package from the April 23rd session, the document can be found on page 8.

( 23:00 -- 27:00 ) Report from the Community Planner: An Application for a Development Variance Permit for a property on 8th Avenue East--  With the City having updated its procedure bylaw, it now offers the public an opportunity to provide comment on development variances, in the case of this property, no member of the public came forward on the night to offer comment.

Following the comment period, the Community Planner provided some background to the variance request. With no comments or questions from Council, the application was moved forward to final consideration.

( 27:00 -- 28:00  ) Report from the City's Financial Officer, providing details on the contract award for the RCMP Jail Cells -- CFO Corinne Bomben outlined the recent history related to the need for the renovations to bring the jail cell back up to federal compliance, as well as to note that one bid was received towards the projects.

That bid, from Marcan Construction Limited came to a total of 456,800 dollars plus GST.  Ms. Bomben observed that the amount is within budget, however, if any change orders are required as part of the project an amendment to the City's Financial plan may be required. The project is expected to start in May and be completed in ten weeks.

With no discussion on the topic,  Council then voted to award the bid to Marcan Construction.

( 28:00 -- 32:00  ) Correspondence for Action from the North Coast Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society, asking Council to consider a request for a letter in support of the Society related to their concerns over the discontinuation of an ESL program by NWCC. -- Councillor Randhawa introduced the topic to Council, noting that the Society had contacted him about the issue,  adding that there were fears that without English upgrading options, the community may not see more immigrants to the region.

He then asked the City to provide a letter to support the Society on their instruction concerns.

The Mayor then introduced the motion proposed by Councillor Randhawa, that would have the Council direct staff to draft a letter requesting that NWCC reconsider the decision regarding the discontinuation of the  ESL program offered by NWCC.

The discussion on the theme provided a few council members an opportunity to express their disappointment at the situation, with Councillor Cunningham calling the situation ridiculous and suggesting that the Council also send a letter to MLA Jennifer Rice.

He observed on his past experience of the program and the importance of English language instruction in assisting those that live in the community to find jobs.

Councillor Thorkelson also offered up her concerns on the situation, reviewing some of the past history in the community when it comes to such instruction and finding it hard to believe that we can't get some kind of a contribution towards an ESL teacher.

She also made note that while the volume of immigrants to the community today is not as large as it was in the 80's, that those numbers could increase again as port development continues.

The Mayor also offered up an amendment to the motion, looking to add the Provincial Ministers involved in those areas to the letter from the City.

( 32:00 - 34:30 ) Final consideration for the 2018  Five Year Financial Plan  Bylaw and the 2018 Tax Property Tax Bylaw -- With council having given both bylaws first, second and third readings for the bylaw, the moved the forward process.

Councillor Thorkelson asked that an explanation as to what the Tax Bylaw says, with the Mayor then observing that it will provide a recommendation for a Tax Freeze in place for this year, though Ms. Thorkelson noted that would be the case unless someones property has gone up above the median valuation.

The Mayor added that when it comes to this tax year's tax collection, the majority of people's taxes will remain the same or go down.

Councillor Randhawa called the tax freeze as good news and observed that he hopes that with new investment such as AltaGas and Pembina that other rates can be frozen in the future.

The Mayor took advantage of that comment to remind the public that he would be going over more of the city's financial news as part of his Town Hall on Wednesday evening.

With that Council then approved the motion.

34:30 -- 38:00 Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillor Cunningham led off the segment with two items, the first related to a property that has been paying taxes but has not conducted any maintenance around the house asking if there was nay action that the city could take on the situation.

City Manager Robert Long advised that there is the unsightly premises bylaw that could potentially be used in relation to the maintenance issues.

The second concern from the councillor involved some parking issues that residents of the Crestview area had brought to his attention, with the Council member having taken a tour of the street he noted that there were many boats, trailers and such parked in the area. He suggested that perhaps council may wish to consider turning the street into a one way as a potential way to address the issue.

The Mayor observed that the topic should be turned over to Operations for further investigation.

To bring the evening to a close, the Mayor once again reminded the community about the Town Hall style presentation taking place at the Lester Centre on Wednesday evening. Noting that among the topics for the night will be infrastructure, financial issues, a vision for the future over the next twenty years as well as more on the themes of the problems of the community.

He also highlighted that the event will be recorded and hopefully posted on line or presented on Channel Ten at some point. He explained that in addition to the presentation inside the theatre, the lobby area will be used to showcase a range of information on such topics as Watson Island as well as the various design projects that the city has to share.

Also taking part in the lobby presentations will be contributions from the North Coast Innovation Lab, Kaien Trails and CityWest.

The Lester Centre  doors open at 7, the event starts at 7:30 PM

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

You can access the City Council Review for April 23rd herewhere a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, can also 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 April 23, 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, May 14th .

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

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