The City Manager delivered the City's Annual report for 2017, a twenty minute review of the achievements and some of the challenges for the city over the last year, with Mr Long also offering up an expanded review of the last five years from his time at the helm of the city's administrative offices.
Mayor Lee Brain and Ken Shaw from NWCC and Transition Prince Rupert made the most of their thirty seven minutes, providing a review of their draft plan towards a Sustainable City by 2030 for the community.
Corinne Bomben, the City's Elections Officer brought council up to date on the process ahead towards the October 20th election.
Ms. Bomben also delivered two reports on financial matters, the April variance report and the annual introduction of the Statement of Financial Information from the last year.
The Corporate Administrator relayed the outcome of the conclusion of discussions between the RCMP and Skeena Taxi which will see changes to the vehicle for hire regulations in the city.
And David Geronazzo, the City's Recreation Director announced the successful bid for the Hot Tub rehabilitation project at the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre.
Some background on the items of note on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the June 11th 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 June 11, 2018
Mayor Lee Brain -- Present
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- Participated by telephone
Councillor Nelson Kinney passed away on March 24th
Video Archive for June 11, 2018
(0:00 -- 1:30) City Council Minutes and Agenda review -- Mayor Brain reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, changing the order of the night's presentations to Council, with Council then approving the Agenda, while the past minutes of previous council meetings were adopted.
( 1:30 -- 21:30 ) Report from the City Manager, presenting the 2018 Annual Report -- Mr. Robert Long the City Manager provided a review of the City's Annual Report, taking the Council members, audience in the gallery and those viewing at home on a tour of the last year, though he noted that as he was celebrating his fifth anniversary with the city, he was going to expand the process to look back at some of the key items of the last five years.
The opening to the report took note of the City's population which Statisics Canada states as 11,733 from the last census, though Mr. Long suggested that the City is of the belief that there are more people living in Prince Rupert than that.
He also observed as to how the city's social media engagements are gaining more likes on Facebook.
Mr. Long followed that introduction by providing the narrative to a short video review of some of the recent projects taken on by the City over the last five years, from Watson Island to the water supply replacement, civic centre renovations, to work at the RCMP detachment, Fire Service purchases and a range of infrastructure issues, including park replacement projects, trail construction and other civic initiatives, stressing some of the partnerships that the city has taken on over the last five years.
He then reviewed the 2017 Highlights, noting the CUPE agreement, negotiations on Ridley Island Tax Sharing, Pembina investment, paving projects and other areas of note.
His review of the last five years, noted how the city had been financially challenged when he arrived at CityHall and how his job was to look for ways to increase revenues, which he observed he achieved through a mix of partnerships, grants and donations.
From there he relayed the list of some of the different financial resources that he had accessed.
The City manager highlighted the Lease agreement with WCC LNG and the creation of Legacy Inc. which is where the city is putting the capital it receives from those lease revenues which are transferred as dividends to the city through legacy.
As well he outlined the some of the work done with other community partners such as the District of Port Edward and the Port of Prince Rupert.
The Watson Island overview provided a short history of the City's removal of the old pulp mill infrastructure and the new focus of turning it into a new industrial site, which he believes will generate substantial revenues owing to its water, road and rail access.
He observed that the Watson Island issue has taken up the majority of his time as City Manager and hailed the support of Council, the Mayor and staff to help turn the corner on the issue. Making note of the long hours put in by everyone to make the island a productive element for the community.
The City Manager also shared some thoughts on how the city has attracted and retained staff members, noting how the city has built a supportive work culture and is the single most important thing that the team at City Hall has done to build for the future.
He also observed as to how he has learned from the younger staff members who have brought new and progressive ideas to the city, calling it a fun experience at City Hall where it is a calling more than a job, adding that happy people do more work than unhappy people.
To highlight his thoughts on the level of service that staff is providing, the City Manager read out a letter from someone who had expressed their thanks to civic employees for their help in locating a grave site at the cemetery.
He observed how that it's an approach that the city wants its employees to take when they engage with the public.
The next step for the adoption of the Annual Report, will be an opportunity for comment by the public on June 25th with final consideration of the report to come following that meeting.
The copy of the report can be found from the Agenda for Monday's council session located on page 44 .
Council members had no comments or questions for Mr. Long, with the Mayor thanking him for the report and making note of the culture shift that has taken place at the city.
( 21:30 -- 58:00 ) Presentation from Lee Brain and Ken Shaw on Sustainable City 2030 --
To begin the presentation, Mayor Brain stepped down from his chair and turned over the proceedings to Councillor Mirau, with the Mayor then presenting the Draft Report with Mr. Shaw from Northwest Community College providing for background notes on some of the topics along the way.
The presentation began with a review of the formation of the Mayor's Select committee, a small group of four people with expertise in sustainable policy development who have explored some of the themes over the last four years.
Mr. Brain noted how he has been interested in the topic of sustainable development from before his time as Mayor and then highlighted the range of activities he has been involved with across the province during his time as Mayor, in order to pursue those sustainability themes further.
He listed off the range of conferences and other events that he has attended while Mayor to follow up on that interest in Sustainable issues, reviewing some of the grant opportunities that may be available for the community to look to access some of those funding options.
Mr. Shaw provided a short overview of how other communities have been addressing their approach to sustainable city issues, noting such places as Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and Victoria, as well as how some of the communities of Northwest BC have been looking towards the topic and what might fit the Prince Rupert model.
The Mayor then outlined how their framework development came about, looking at local food development, local energy, transportation, waste and place-making.
On Energy he highlighted how energy production could provide for jobs and industry as well as energy efficiency. He also made note of some plans for energy production through a wind farm proposal on Mount Hays and the city's plans to generate production through the City of Prince Rupert's water supply dam.
As for Food, Mr. Shaw provided a glimpse at some of the policy objectives which he says went beyond backyard hens and community gardens, with the goal that of economic development and building on partnerships, and exploring some of the economics involved in local food production and how it could impact on the economy and change how residents of the region view their grocery shopping options.
He made note of some of the local approaches already in place such as the Charles Hays garden, the plans for similar options for Overlook Street, McKay Street and at Annunciation school.
The Mayor highlighted the prospect of creating incubators that would help to develop new industries, and create new jobs, noting how they could tie in with Councillor Mirau's Small Business objectives and create a new economy.
When it comes to vehicle emissions the Mayor made note of his hopes of establishing an electric vehicle charging network along Highway 16 and to electrify some of the civic vehicle fleet, as well as initiatives for public transit, bike options and other areas to reduce emissions in the community.
Waste also made for a segment of the presentation, with Mayor Brain noting the current need for expanded space at the city's landfill, he observe on some of his waste diversion concepts such as organics and community composting and curb side recycling, though he did note that the city's quest for grant funding to introduce that to the community fell through, with hopes to introduce it in 2019.
He also briefly looked at the need for the city's waste treatment issues an the need to move forward on a sustainable long term plan on how to manage waste.
Mr. Shaw then looked at how neighbourhoods factor into their draft plan, calling Prince Rupert a city of villages where there is pride in local neighbourhoods, he outlined some areas where community spaces could be encouraged to foster further pride in those areas.
The Mayor made note of how the McKay Street Park project is a prime example as to how that works, recounting the work on that hard hit neighbourhood and the process they developed to deliver the McKay Street Park, which he said was created by the bottom up and was supported by Council and the city unions and benefited from the BCAA Play here contest.
He added that he hopes that the safety regulatory issues that have kept the park from opening will soon be addressed. The Mayor also called on the spirit found across clusters of neighbourhoods in the city and how it could bring back that neighbourhood space feeling through placemaking and other initiatives.
He also highlighted the work of Councillor Mirau's downtown business committee and how they have begun the process of exploring downtown beautification policies which were provided to council last week.
The Mayor noted that the report will be available online through the city website and then explored the steps ahead for the initiative, asking Council to see the report as a draft and then to design a public engagement strategy for 2019 with round table discussions on each policy segment, to build on the plan with the community, council and city staff to enable a new culture and new economy to emerge in Prince Rupert.
He noted that it doesn't mean a civic funded program but one that may develop the right policies to allow the community to start doing things themselves.
Mayor Brain also acknowledged a previous Green Task Force from 2009 and 2010, and some of the work that they took on, offering up his plan as more of a framework for further discussion.
He also tied his draft plan into the larger overview of the Official Community Plan and how that process will take about a year and a half, with his draft report leading to a City Council workshop to move forward on how to deliver it.
Councillor Cunningham had praise for the report and noted that he project is the kind of thing that could be a Legacy for the city and then addressed some issues he wants to address when it comes to recycling in the community and areas of engaging the community.
Council Niesh also commended the pair for their work and added his own thoughts on areas where the city could address sustainability issues and take the pressure off the city's landfill situation.
Councillor Randahwa also thanked the pair for their presentation and inquired about what kind of grants may be available when it comes to some of the themes explored, which gave the Mayor an opportunity to outline the nature of a grant program with the Federation of Canadian muncipalities.
Towards that program he has approached Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers and the Hazeltons to explore their interest in the funding opportunity.
He also noted how the FCM had reached out to him to outline some of the programs that could be of interest to the community.
Councillor Thorkelson called the presentation an excellent report and then offered some background on what happened to the last Green Task Force initiative from 2009-10, noting that if the Mayor hopes to avoid having the report become something that will end up on a shelf gathering dust, the city may need to hire on a dedicated employee towards sustainability issues or find an enthusiastic volunteer committee to oversee the program.
The Mayor noted on that theme, that there is a grant soon to be available to cover 80 percent of such a salary for two years, fore just such a position.
She also explored the nature of the Prince Rupert rental market with multiple properties owned by individuals or corporations and how the city needs to find a way to have them become involved in sustainable programs.
The Mayor also noted that there could be some bylaw enforcement put in place to ensure that the initiatives are followed up on and acted on in the community/
Councillor Mirau echoed the praise for the work of Mr. Brain and Shaw and noted that judging by the number of people in the gallery for the presentation finding community engagement should not pose a problem.
Council then voted to accept the recommendation to accept the report and to begin the consultation process with staff and to explore the associated budget cost to be approved by Council at a future council meeting and to take part in a Council workshop.
A copy of the Draft report can be found on page 8 of the Agenda for Monday's council session.
Mr. Mirau introduced the next element of the Council session, with the Mayor then taking his seat and advising the public could leave now following his presentation.
( 59:00--1:03:00 ) Report from the Recreation Director on a contract award at the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre -- Council heard some background on the contract award from David Geronazzo the Recreation Director, who outlined the nature of the renovation work ahead for the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre as part of the the hot tub rehabilitation project, along with a recommendation to award the contact to Rupert Wood and Steel.
Council members Mirau, Niesh and Cunningham all hailed the decision to award the contract to a local contractor as a positive thing for the community.
Council Niesh also took some time to explain the reasoning behind the decision to close the pool over the summer and into the fall for a total of three months, making note of the scope of the work that is beyond that of a maintenance shutdown and required that the pool to be closed.
Councillor Cunningham also called attention to the safety issues related to the construction process ahead at the Ear Mah Aquatic centre.
Council then voted to accept the recommendation.
( 1:03:00 -- 1:04:00 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer, providing the 2018 Monthly variance Report -- Council heard a report from Ms. Corinne Bomben for the end of April, making note of the strong windstorm that struck the community and impacted on additional expense for the parks department.
Council then accepted the report.
( 1:04:00 --1:05:00 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer, Statement of Financial Information -- Council heard from Ms. Bomben as to the requirement to deliver to Council the Statement of Financial Information, which outlines council salaries, civic staff and union salaries and municipal expenses for 2017.
No details of the report were highlighted during the presentation and Council members had no questions or comments related to it.
Following her short introduction of the report, Council members voted to accepted it.
You can review the details from the document from the Agenda for June 11th starting on page 112 .
( 1:05:00 -- 1:08:30 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator on the Vehicle for Hire regulations amendment -- As he is a taxi driver in the community, Councillor Randhawa excused himself from the proceedings. Mr. Rory Mandryk outlined the nature of the change which will see the issuance of Chauffer's permit checks to take place every two years as opposed to an annual basis. Noting that both the RCMP and Skeena Taxi approved of the change
Staff checked across the province and noted that most communities now use the two year process.
The Mayor took note of the cooperation between the RCMP and Skeena taxi and voted to give First and Second readings to the new bylaw.
( 1:08:30 -- 1:16:00 ) Report from the Chief Elections Officer, providing details on the Electoral process for the 2018 Municipal and School District election -- Council heard a report from Ms. Corinne Bomben, who serves as the City's Chief Electoral officer, she provided a review of the process ahead towards the community voting day of October 20th when residents will vote for a mayor, Council members and members of School District.
She offered up some background from the province as well as short video on the theme and noted that as this marks a change in the date of the voting from previous elections there is a need to repeal the existing bylaw and approve a new bylaw which will introduce the new date and other elements related to the October vote.
Council followed those recommendations.
More background on her report can be found on page 178 of the Agenda for the June 11th Council session.
Councillor Randhawa thanked the volunteers that put on this years Seafest over the weekend.
Councillor Cunningham called attention to the deteriorating condition of the old VIA station on the waterfront and noted that there is a real estate agent looking into investing in the building but that city staff have not gotten back to her. He asked that staff investigate that situation and to see the issue addressed, adding how he would like to see an investor take the building over and bring it back to life.
With that as the final note on the night, Council brought their first session for June to a close.
You can access the City Council Review for June 11th 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 June 11, 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, June 25th.
To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.