Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Victory speech he won't have to make: Mayor Brain's Northern View podcast moments

Mayor Brain shared his
plans for the future as
part of a Northern View
podcast today
Having found himself at the head of the City Council table for another four years through acclamation, Mayor Lee Brain doesn't have much in the way of campaigning to do this October, with the City Council race set to take up the bulk of the attention on the way to October 20th.

Still, if you have all those campaign notes at hand and are chomping at the bit to share some of the plans for the future, getting an opportunity to take part in the weekly podcast of the Northern View was a forum that Mr. Brain wasn't going to let slip by.

The Mayor is the only guest and his commentary the only focus for the twenty four minute presentation on the paper's online video project for this week, the early part of the appearance for the most part a Hays 2.0 lite review, with Mr. Brain recapping many of the elements of the Spring time presentation at the Lester Centre.

However, there were a few updates on recent themes to be shared with the Northern View's Shannon Lough, with Mayor Brain relaying his talking points towards issues of infrastructure, Watson Island, the ongoing concerns of the Port Tax Caps and the Ridley Island tax sharing agreement with Port Edward among the main items of focus.

 A new RCMP detachment is still
on the city's to do list
for the years ahead
The infrastructure review featured many of the elements from the Lester Centre presentation, the various water projects, the road concerns, plans for sustainability and environmental issues as well as the need for an RCMP building, Mr Brain noting that the city has two sites in mind for the future detachment.

As for finding the resources to address all of those many challenging items, the Mayor called attention to the approach that City Council has taken towards Watson Island and its redevelopment, with the Mayor noting that they hope to attract both capital and operating funds through the industrial site, in order to not put those funding burdens on the taxpayer.

As part of his review of the pulp mill site, he reflects on the past legal issues related to it, as well as making note of the cost of 90,000 dollars a month that the city faced at the time. Though he didn't expand on themes of the current cost to the city, if any, that may be required from the civic treasury for the sites operation and expansion plans.

Mr. Brain also notes that much of the time and focus of city staff over the last few years had been directed towards the strategy of hanging on to Watson Island, rather than towards the idea of selling it for a one time payment, with the path forward seemingly one of hopefully collecting on leasing payments from proponents.

He also observes that the city hopes to get more proponents to the site, but didn't elaborate too much, nor was he asked, as to whether there have been any other expressions of interest beyond the current Pembina proposal.

Rethinking what makes for the
downtown core is a project
that the city will tackle
in the year ahead
The theme of the state of the city's downtown area also makes for some of the Mayor's presentation, with the Mayor observing that with the decline in the city's population and shrinking commercial sector, it is time to reconsider what is actually thought of as the downtown core, pointing to the Redesign Rupert program as the vehicle for that initiative.

Among the ideas being approached is to condense the downtown core, with council to rethink how they and we view the downtown section of the city. The work on those elements set to take place with local partners, it is also an issue that the Mayor noted that Councillor Mirau's Small Business committee has been exploring.

The issues of the Port Taxation Cap remain a priority for the City, with the Mayor observing on his talks at UBCM with the Province, which he is hopeful of seeing some  positive movement towards, the resolution of the issue one which he describes as something that would be a transformational thing.

As for the state of the negotiations with Port Edward on the Ridley Island Tax Sharing agreement, the talks apparently are still ongoing, managed through the services of the Province of British Columbia. The Mayor recapped many of the city's concerns when it comes to contributing to twenty five percent of the Port Edward budget, observing that this year it made for a 900 thousand dollar cheque.

Beyond the amount of money that the city has to transfer each year, the issue that seems to be of most concern to the city is how Port Edward does not contribute to any of the city's shared services, with the mayor listing off the Airport, Library, Museum and Lester Centre as the shared services that make for Prince Rupert's argument.

Towards the city's goal on the issue, what the Mayor wants is what he describes as a fairer arrangement between the two communities.

The City would like to see a renegotiated deal when it comes to the amount of money that the city forwards to the district, as well as for Port Edward to sign onto a shared service agreement, something he says will allow both communities to move forward together.

The Mayor also observed as to the kind of council he is hoping to share the Council chamber with after the October 20th vote. With Mr. Brain suggesting that what City Council really needs are people that may have different and diverse views, but are also willing to collaborate.

He offers up his opinion that people who just see things their way, bang a desk and can't compromise or see things another way, are people who never really accomplish much as they become a one man, or one woman show.

How commonly held concepts of vigorous open public debate on the issues, or expression of alternative views on civic initiatives at Council sessions meshes with this desire for consensus and collaboration, will be something that that the next council collective will have to try to navigate one imagines.

If the last four years are any indication, much of that discussion will take place in the closed sessions and workshops outside of the public council sessions.

In recent years, the Regular sessions of the Council chamber have been a place where council members rarely debated the pros and cons of the large issues facing the community, for the most part leaving those discussions outside of the public meeting format held every two weeks.

When it comes to the formation of Council for the next four years ahead, the Mayor is hoping to see collaborators on council who will work for the common good of the community, something he states the current council has done.

He further offers up the view that voters should be looking for those same traits in the current list of candidates, looking for people who want to collaborate, listen and do things, as well as see the reality of the situation and build partnerships.

The frequent use of the word collaborator makes for an interesting choice, one that seems to suggest that those that may find themselves elected to office, as well as those who cast a vote on October 20th, will want to shape their decisions in line with much of the Hays 2.0 plan that seems to be the Mayor's guiding document for the years ahead.

The podcast appearance also makes a little news on the upcoming plans of Council to address the legalization of marijuana, and while he didn't disclose all that much on what the future may hold for Prince Rupert, the Mayor noted that Council will discuss the topic and outline the city's framework on the issue at its upcoming council session in October.

You can settle in here for the full twenty four minutes of what probably would have been his campaign stump speech from the Northern View website.

With the Mayor scheduled to be part of Monday night's City Council Candidate Forum, some of the themes of the podcast appearance may also make for some of the discussion to come, as Prince Rupert's residents head for the Lester Centre to learn more about those seeking office.

For some background on the Council year that is coming to its end next month, see our Council Discussion archive here.

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

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