The brief gathering to bring their September work to an end makes for the fifth time that City Council members have managed to be done with their public duties in under thirty minutes this year.
The Agenda for the evening offered up three reports for consideration, a review from the City Planner related to a variance request for Shawatlans Road, the June Variance report from the City's Finance Department and a request to allow for Free transit in Prince Rupert on the Municipal election day of October 20th.
To wrap up the night, the Mayor offered up a short update on plans from the Ministry of Highways to address some safety concerns along Second Avenue West as well as a brief review of some of his highlight moments from the UBCM session in Whistler last week.
The Council session came to an end with a number of themes explored by Councillors Cunningham and Randhawa.
Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the September 17th 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 Tuesday, September 17, 2018
Mayor Lee Brain -- Present
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- Absent
Councillor Nelson Kinney passed away on March 24th
Video Archive for September 17, 2018
(0:00 -- 1:00 ) Regular City Council Session for September 17, 2018 -- Mayor Brain reviewed the list of minutes and agenda items to be noted by Council members, including one late addition, with Council then approving the Agenda.
( 1:00 -- 3:30 ) Report from City Planner Zeno Krekic, related to a Variance Development request for a property on Shawatlan's Road -- Mr. Krekic provided some background related to the variance request, which is asking for a height amendment for a structure on the property which hosts the O'Brien's Highway Maintenance Yard on the city's east side. With no comments received from the public and no concerns or objections expressed by other agencies, Council then moved forward to consider the application.
From that Council members voted to approve the variance application, with the process now to go to final consideration.
( 3:30 - 5:00 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer - re: July 2018 Financial variance report -- Corinne Bomben, the City's Chief Financial Officer outlined the details of the report.
She noted that most operating and utility revenues and expenses are on track for the year and are within budget. She outlined that the interim agreement with Port Edward ended on December 31st, and as projected in the 2018 budget the city shared the taxes received from Ridley Island with Port Edward, without any contribution back from that community to Prince Rupert.
From that, fiscal expenditures are higher this year than last year, which the CFO noted are the actual figures not the budget, Ms. Bomben further observed that the city had budgeted for this.
Ms Bomben observed as to how Capital projects are ongoing and as costs continue to come in will be reported on monthly.
She also advised that the new Woodworth Dam project will not begin construction, so the majority of this portion of the water budget will be carried over to 2019.
Councillor Cunningham inquired about the portion of that water utility fund moving forward and what it will be used for. Ms. Bomben noted that the unexpended amount that had been budgeted for the water dam will be proposed to council to be rolled forward into 2019.
Council then received the report for consideration.
( 5:00 -- 6:30 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer - re: 2018 Electing Day voting -- Ms. Bomben provided background on the proposal to provide for free transit services to all residents of Prince Rupert on Saturday, October 20th the Municipal election day in the city, the initiative designed to encourage residents to vote in this years election.
Councillor Randhawa offered his support to the initiative, with Council then voting to approve the request and to direct staff to notify BC Transit
Reports and Comments from Council members
( 6:30 - 9:00 ) Mayor Brain provided an update from the Ministry of Highways related to planned upgrades on Safety measures along Second Avenue West in the downtown area.
Among the improvements to take place:
Upgrades to 89 street lights from conventional bulbs to LED, which will provide for more effective light in low light conditions. They will be located on McBride and Second Avenue.
The installation of pedestrian crossing countdown timers and audible at all intersections
Replacement of all street name signs on signal poles and providing for more durable long line painting along the arterial so it does not rub out as easily and will last longer.
Later this fall, or in the spring of 2019, the Ministry will also be reconfiguring the Second Avenue and Third Street Crosswalks removing the downhill crosswalk and improving signage at the uphill crosswalk, which the Mayor observed was the Chevron crosswalk.
As well they will be completing a design study for the McBride Street/Second Avenue intersection
that will look to complete designs to improve the intersection, which could include a roundabout and signalization.
The Mayor noted that any questions on those projects should be addressed to Darrell Gunn who is the District manager, based out of Terrace.
Mr. Brain observed that the work indicates that Highways has heard the community loud and clear and will be working on the improvements to the areas of concern.
The Mayors second update, was related to the recent UBCM convention in Whistler last week, with the Mayor and Councillor Niesh in attendance at the sessions, while the Mayor noted that owing to work commitments, many of the Council members were not able to join the delegation of staff members in attendance at UBCM this year.
From the conference Mr. Brain made note of three areas of interest:
The first related to the Port Property Tax Act, with mayor reminding the audience of his work in organizing the mayors of seven other communities on the issue and how they have drafted and delivered a letter to Finance Minister Carole James requesting a review of the Tax Act. As well he noted that there were discussions on the issue with the Minister and the other communities who have concerns with the tax. While he would not speak for the Ministry, he felt that the discussions were positive. Mr. Brain also advised that he was hopeful of more traction on the issue in the next year.
The second note of his review examined some of his discussions with provincial Municipal affairs and Finance officials on the theme of the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement, with the Mayor stating how he had expressed the Prince Rupert view that it is currently unfair to the community and how an agreement that dates back to 1981 no longer makes sense. He also noted that the City believes that there is a need for a review of it, as well as ongoing negotiations related to it. He also flagged the need for a shared service agreement with Port Edward to contribute to the services that they rely on in Prince rupert that they do not contribute towards at this moment. From those discussions the Mayor said that the city will continue to discuss the issues with the province to find resolutions and how he believes that there were positive discussions on those themes.
His third highlight of the UBCM event was related to the discussions on infrastructure issues in the community, with the Mayor making note of the phase three plans for the water project which involves the submarine line and the need for a water treatment system. Mr. Brain observed how the city is currently seeking out grant opportunities for that element of the water works planning and complete the water works project completely .
He also noted that he anticipates that some provincial bureaucrats and administrators may be coming to the community to get a larger picture of events in Prince Rupert and how the City can continue with its strategy to redevelop the community and bring some new income and capital to the town.
The Mayor stated that he found the week a very positive one and that city staff members had their own meetings with provincial officials on a number of themes and how the week was very favourable for Prince Rupert.
To wrap up the Monday session, Councillor Randhawa paid tribute to Northern Savings for their organization of the Terry Fox Run and to the efforts of Jim Terrion and his fundraising work in the community. He also thanked those in the community who took part in the run and supported the fundraising related to it.
Councillor Cunningham inquired if there was any money in the Park budget to help to upgrade other community parks. He noted that while the city has seen success with such parks as Mariner's and McKay Street park, there are a number of other parks that are in need of equipment upgrades around the city.
The Mayor observed that those issues could be raised as part of the 2019 Capital Budget process which Council will be starting work on later this year.
Councillor Cunningham then turned his attention to the upcoming civic election period and how Councillor Thorkelson will not be running for office. He paid tribute to her passion for the community and haled her service to the city and the region. He offered up the suggestion to Council that they should do something to pay recognition to her long work and advocacy for the community.
The Mayor noted that there is a plan in motion to show Council's appreciation to her at the October 22nd meeting, which will be her final Council session.
As a final comment, Mr. Cunningham suggested that the City may want to follow up on the road paint plans of the Ministry of Highways and see if the paint that they will be using can be acquired by the contractor that the city hires for work on local streets.
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 September 17 here, where 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 September 17, 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, October, 2018. That session will be the final public session prior to the October 20th Municipal election.
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