Wednesday, April 11, 2018

City Council Timeline: Monday, April 9, 2018

A light agenda found Council members wrapping up their work for their first session of April in under an hour, with the bulk of the session turned over to the City's Information Manager to provide an update on two new communications initiatives from the City.

Veronika Stewart provided the overview for a new emergency alert system for the community, which will provide key information in the event of a serious situation that may affect Prince Rupert.

The second portion of her review on the night was to introduce Council members and the public viewing at home to a new app for mobile devices that will deliver a range of civic information to Prince Rupert residents.

The remainder of the evening provided for reports on a variance request for a property on Eight Avenue East, a final note on the city's budget process and the approval of the city's new development procedures.

A pair of appointments to local Boards or Societies were announced and the city declared May as Multiple Sclerosis Month in the community.

Council also heard their options related to the seat that had been held by the late Nelson Kinney, while the meeting also offered Councillor Thorkelson her opportunity to provide for her own tribute to the Councillors' life both on Council and in the community.

Some background on the items of note on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the April 9th 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 9, 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 

Councillor Nelson Kinney passed away on March 24th

Video Archive for April 9, 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, while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.

( 1:00 -- 4:00 ) Report from the Community Planner examining a variance request for a property on Eight Avenue East -- The City's Community Planner Caroline Von Schilling outlined the background to the variance request and with no questions from Council it moved forward through the civic process.

4:00 -- 40:00  Report from the Communication Manager, Fire Chief and IT Manager related to the new City of Prince Rupert Information projects   -- Veronika Stewart, the City's Communication Manager provided for the majority of the tutorial for Council and those viewing at home, outlining the range of features that the city is hosting through two information initiatives.

The first was an overview of the Emergency Notification system for mobile devices that the city has introduced, a program which requires residents to sign up through a subscription service and from that point will receive Emergency notification should situations arise that require immediate attention. It will compliment on the recently released program through the provincial EMBC Alert system.

Ms. Stewart noted that owing to privacy laws, the City will not be able to access phone numbers through CityWest, which leaves it up to the public to sign up for the program through either an online form, or by way of paper applications which will be made available around the city.

The City's Notification System will alert residents in case of a local emergency and advise as to the steps that they can take to address the situation.

The second item which Ms. Stewart highlighted on the night was the introduction of a new app service for mobile devices that will provide residents with updates on a range of items related to the municipal government. With the new program, which was created in house by City staff offering a quick link to many departments and sources of civic information.

When it came time for questions, Council members provided for their praise for the work of city staff on the initiative, inquired about how the application had divided the city into sections and asked if residents can access more than one section. As well, they offered a number of suggestions for additional elements that the City may wish to add to the program or other organizations in the community that they could touch base with related to the app.

Councillor Randhawa introduced the often discussed topic of a siren for the community, which led to a fairly vigorous review of the January tsunami warning event, with the City Manager Robert Long outlining his concerns over the calls for a community siren.  The City Manager suggesting that the difficulty with a siren is that it doesn't tell you anything and is not an effective way of alerting the public. He observed how the new app system that has been created as a far superior way to go,  as it explains what the emergency is and what steps the public should take.

Mayor Brain also weighed into the theme, sharing similar notes as Mr. Long, recounting the January event, noting how there had been some confusion in the community at the time, adding that there's a reason the City doesn't sound an alarm right away.

The Mayor asked Fire Chief Dave Mckenzie to offer up some background on how the city emergency response team handles such events, the Fire Chief took Council and those viewing at home through the steps they take. In a look back to the January event, Chief Mckenzie noted that there were fire and police personnel that were mobile around the community in those early morning hours and could have taken action in any areas that may have been affected by the situation.

He also provided an update on the progress of the Tsunami Risk Assessment program, which the City is conducting with a consultant to determine risk areas of the community and how that will also go towards planning for any emergencies.

He observed that the nature of the geography in Prince Rupert makes officials less concerned about a tsunami wave and more focused on a rush of water in a few lower areas of the community.

The Mayor offered up a few suggestions for how they could prepare for those potential events and share that kind of information with the public as part of the notification and emergency response process.

The City Manager also noted that they have to proceed with caution when it comes to information that they receive, and noted that while they can't compete with social media contributions, with the city having to take care to only offer up what they can confirm as official legitimate information.

Councillor Thorkelson also covered a few points related to the January event noting the areas where potential evacuations may be required and how it was a fairly small sample of the city and how in the past residents in large numbers would panic and head for higher ground, in the case of Prince Rupert up by the hospital, which creates a number of other issues for access to that facility.

She observed that the city is handling the approach of notifying the public properly, with the app an excellent device and addition to that work, she also called on the media in the community to help spread word of the app and to help reinforce the idea that there are only a certain number of parts of the city that are in any potential risk.

The copy of the report can be found from the Agenda for Monday's council session on page 23.

( 38:00--40:00 ) Report from the City Financial Officer seeking guidance on the direction that City Council wishes the finance department to follow related to Budget Process -- Ms. Bomben provided an update on the Budget process, and noted there were no changes to the plan to report.  Councillor Mirau paid tribute to the work of City staff to deliver a balanced budget considering the challenges that the city faces

Council then voted to move forward with the Budget bylaw process.

( 40:00- 41:00) Request for proclamation from the Multiple Sclerosis Society -- Council reviewed a letter from the Society and then proclaimed the month of May 2018 as Multiple Sclerosis Month in Prince Rupert.

( 41:00 -- 42:00 ) Announcements from Closed Meetings related to Board appointments -- Rory Mandryk the City's Corporate Administrator outlined the result of a Council discussion from the closed meeting of March 26th, announcing that John Farrell had been re-appointed to the Prince Rupert Authority Board for a second term of three years. As well as to appoint Ms. Alison O'Toole to the Lester Centre of the Arts Society Board for a two year term.

( 42:00 - 43:00 City of Prince Rupert Development procedure bylaw -- With the Mayor recounting the robust discussion of the last meeting related to the terms of the update, Council then voted to move forward with it, with the Mayor noting that it will be great step forward for the development process in Prince Rupert.

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

Acting in her role as the city's Chief Election Officer, Ms Corinne Bomben reviewed the city's options related to the seat on council that was held by the late Nelson Kinney. She observed that in the wake of the terrible news with respect to Councillor Kinney, many had inquired as to what the city's plans are moving forward. She noted that according to the rules for elected office, the city is in the position to allow the seat to remain vacant until the October election, making that course of action her respectful recommendation to Council.

The Mayor moved the motion forward and Council approved the recommendation.

The McKay Street park project made for much of the Mayor's contribution to the final portion of the Council session on the night, with the Mayor thanking those that had attended on Saturday and Sunday to help put the park together, he also pointed out the work on the project that had been taken on by Veronika Stewart.

He also offered up his tribute and paid respects on the anniversary of Vimy Ridge, noting that his grandfather had fought in World War Two and that he wanted to pay his respects to those who had served in all Canadian wars.

Councillor Thorkelson spoke in tribute to the late Councillor Kinney, noting how it was her first opportunity to do so since his passing. Her heartfelt comments recounted his health troubles, his popularity with the community who trusted him on council year in and out and how he frequently had cautioned Council members to think of what was best for Prince Rupert. She made note of his standing in the Gay community and his bravery in facing the issues of the time, adding she had great respect as he wasn't afraid and didn't care what anyone may say and was a shining example for his generation and the community.

Councillor Randhawa inquired if there were any plans in motion for a memorial ceremony, with the Mayor noting that nothing has been planned for this time.

Councillor Cunningham added that it had been Mr. Kinney's wish that no service take place, but he also noted that there was a move afoot in the community to remember Mr. Kinney's life in the future.

Councillor Cunningham also put forward an initiative that Mr. Kinney had championed, that of the creation of a COPD clinic for the community, with the Councillor observing that such a facility is something that Council and staff may wish to pursue and help put in motion.

He promised to bring back some more information to Council on how that initiative could serve as a good tribute to his memory and his work in the community.

With that as the final note on the night, Council brought their first session for April to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for April 9th 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.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from April 9, 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, April 23.

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

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