Wednesday, December 12, 2018

City Council Timeline: Monday, December 10, 2018

Cannabis was the theme for much of Monday's Regular Council session as Council members began to bring home the lengthy process of putting in place regulations to govern the sales of cannabis in the community.

Monday night featured a Public Hearing on the topic as well as the introduction and adoption of a civic policy on cannabis, as well as the creation of the zones for the city which will allow for retail operations in the city.

Council also put in motion one final review and vote on the process, set for tonight at 5PM.

Beyond the cannabis issues, Council reviewed the Capital spending plans for 2019 and also appointed two residents to the Board of Tourism Prince Rupert.

The night also featured a Committee of the Whole session, which provided for contributions from two members of the public on the evening.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the December 10th Council session can be reviewed here.

Council also met in a Closed Session with a 5 PM meeting which was closed to the public.

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 Monday, December 10, 2018

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present 
Councillor Nick Adey --  Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present 
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present 
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven --  Present 
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Absent

Video Archive for December 10, 2018

Public Hearing 

( 0:00 -- 20:00 ) Introduction of the Public Hearing into the zoning measures required for the introduction of retail areas for commercial cannabis sales.

Mr. Zeno Krekic, the City Planner provided a review of the land use regulations required for the zoning bylaw under consideration. He outlined some notes on the public meeting of mid November and the recommendations for areas of the city that the Council is considering.

Five members of the public gallery participated in the public comment period, three residents of the city and two representatives (David Shank and Darian Corke ) of the national commercial cannabis organization Hive, the pair appear to have been in the city exploring options for retail operations in the community. 

They outlined the nature of their business and how they approach their business plan and interact with the communities that they currently serve through medicinal marijuana operations, as well as through their expansion plans currently underway.

The main thrust of their contribution was to note that with a more legislated approach to sales the illicit market will be reduced, they also stressed the approach of bringing education to the markets that they wish to locate in.

They also stressed the benefits that their plan would bring to the community and how it offers the city of Prince Rupert a chance to move forward on the issue.

Three residents also spoke at the Public Hearing, with Mr. Terry Sawka and Mr. John Marogna outlining a number of concerns that they have with the city's late addition of Park Avenue as a potential area for commercial operations.  

Mr. Sawka made note of the many changes that he has seen on Park Avenue since 1964, has owned property on the street since 1972 and how he does not believe that the rezoning for commercial cannabis is something that the city should consider for the area. He reminded council of some of the challenges that the area sees, from the issues related to the Raffles Inn which is nearby, as well as the increased traffic that the street has seen. He also expressed concerns about possible depreciation of his property values should the area be rezoned for commercial cannabis sales.

Mr. Marogna who noted he owns a number of properties in the area, also had some strong opinions about the prospect of a cannabis operation, first expressing his opinion on the theme of drug use and his concerns over the introduction of any drug sales into the area. He also called into question the city's approach to sharing information on the nature of changing the zoning, noting that he had not been approached by any city official related to the planned zoning change.

He suggested to Council that just putting an ad in the paper is not enough and how those property in the immediate area should be provided with a better delivery of information from the city.

Dustin Woodman also spoke to the issue and offered up his opinion in favour of the approach that the city is taking towards its zoning plans for the commercial options that will be made available to the community. He observed how the commercial option will provide for a safer environment and how there is a need to take out any moral judgments when it comes to viewing the issue.

With no other members of the gallery coming forward, the Mayor then brought the Public Hearing to an end

*************************************************************************** Committee of the Whole

( 20:00 -- 21:00 )  Adoption of Agenda -- The Mayor called the Committee of the Whole meeting to order.

21:00 -- 30:00  Public comment period of Committee of Whole -- Only two members of the public came forward, with Larry Golden raising concerns related to how many homeless are living in the community and the range of housing options that are available and not being used by them in the city. He offered up anecdotal thoughts on the level of rents in the community and noted how he believes that there has been no reduction in rent around the city, he also inquired about the city's policies towards water fees for those buildings that offer rental accommodation.

Terry Sawka approached the microphone, picking up on a theme from the Public Hearing and John Marogna's comments on a lack of consultation by the city on zoning issues. Sawka observed as to a lack of diligence by the city in providing proper notification when it comes to re-zoning issues, noting for the Council members that while he has property at Five Corners he did not learn of the city's plans for re-zoning until he discovered the notice in the local paper.  He called on the city provide for better notification for property owners in the community.

With no other contributions for the Committee of the Whole session the Mayor then returned the Council to the Regular Council Session.


Regular Council Session

( 27:00 -- 28:00 )   Regular City Council Session for December 10, 2018  --  Adoption of Agenda,  the Mayor called the Regular Council Session to order, with Council adopting the agenda and past minutes of previous minutes.  The Mayor made note of an addition to the Agenda, which would change the timing of an upcoming Special Council meeting required to adopt the cannabis zoning bylaw.

( 28:00 -- 29:30 ) --  Report from the Chief Financial Officer on the October variance notes -- Ms. Corinne Bomben outlined the details of the report for Council members noting how most costs are on track and on budget, as well as to advise that 2018 Capital projects are winding down. Councillor Mirau asked for a clarification on revenue expectations from the Aquatic Centre which were less than last year, Ms. Bomben outlined how the closure of the pool was responsible for the slight decline and that it was taken into account at the time of budgeting.

Council receive the report for information purposes.

(  29:30 -- 36:00  )   Report from the Chief Financial Officer on Capital Spending plans for 2019   --  Ms. Bomben outlined the nature of the planned capital projects and purchases for the year ahead, outlining how the City plans to finance the various elements of their capital spending.

Among the notable projects, the second phase of the City's water supply project with the construction of the Woodworth Lake Dam with financing through a grant, Legacy funding and a loan. Completion of the  expansion of the landfill,  replacement for the boilers at the Civic Centre and installation of chlorine and ammonia ventilation systems. The Airport Ferry will be getting a refit in 2019 and the city will need to provide for alternative transportation to and from the airport during that period. There is also a need to replace the large garbage truck and the city is considering the introduction of curbside recycling which will be part of the review for the truck purchase. Staff is also recommending an increase to the roads budget for paving requirements in the year ahead.

Councillor Adey had a question on the curbside recycling theme, noting that there is a private individual offering such a service in the community at the moment and whether the City has plans to engage with the operator related to the city's plans and to include him in the city's process.

Mr. Adey was advised that the City would consider including the private operator in the discussion.

Councillor Cunningham asked for some further background on the plans for the curbside recycling plan, he was advised that the city is still exploring its plan moving forward.

Councillor Mirau offered up his praise for staff on putting together their capital plan for the year ahead and he also asked to what the operational savings of the boiler replacement would be. Ms. Bomben did not have that information on hand and stated she could bring them to a future council session.

Councillor Niesh asked for more background on the rising cost of the Dam project and why it was two and half times more than previously declared. Ms. Bomben noted that the timeline of grant development provides for challenges on providing financial scope at times, she also noted that the location of the dam complicates the costing. In addition she noted how the city has decided to include the prospect of future electrical generation as part of the dam proposal which required changes to the overall conceptual designs.  She observed how the city does have its Legacy financing to help with the additional costs

You can review some details on the Capital Works plans here.

Council accepted the report and moved the purchasing plans forward for 2019.

(  36:30 -- 38:00  )   Report from the Communications Manger on the Community engagement session on Council's plans for Cannabis regulation   -- Veronika Stewart provided an overview of the proposed policies that the city will implement towards allowing for commercial cannabis operations in the city

You can review those policy elements from the Council agenda package here.

Councillor Mirau asked a question as to how the city would approach any request from any request from a government run operation and whether the city would treat them the same as any private applicant. For the most part Ms. Stewart noted that the same process would taken place, though noting that a government run store would be able to avoid the provincial process.

Council voted to approve the policy.

( 38:00 -- 38:39  ) Report from the Corporate Administrator Resolutions from Closed meetings -- Mr. Rory Mandryk outlined the background to a decision from a closed meeting of November 26th where Council members had voted to appoint Mr. Mike Cote and Ms. Janess Iverson to the Board of Tourism Prince Rupert.

38:30 -42:00 ) Zoning amendment bylaw related to the City's Proposed Cannabis Regulations  --  With no further contributions from staff to be considered, some of the Council members offered up some final thoughts on the topic.

Councillor Niesh led off the discussion to the topic, making note of the public engagement session held in November and how some interest had been shown into adding Park Avenue to the area under consideration for the zoning amendment. He noted how each individual property owner in the city has the option to decide what kind of business that they can host in their building.

Councillor Mirau echoed what Mr. Niesh had said and called attention to some of the concerns of those in the Public Hearing about the gaps in the notification process. He also spoke to the issue of legalization and how the prohibition of the past had failed and observed to the process that the city council and staff have taken to consultation on the introduction of the retail zone in the core area of the city, adding how he was in favour of the amendment as it stands.

Council then voted to adopt the bylaw.

( 42:00 -- 44:00 ) Report from the Director of Operations related to amendments to the Trade and Business Bylaw to establish regulations for cannabis retail stores   -- Council heard from City Manager Robert Long who explained that the bylaws are complimentary to the zoning bylaw.

He observed that they set the fees for business proponents of 5000 dollars and 2500 dollars after that. As well the modifications will provide for the applicable definitions that are needed and will require a public meeting to discuss and then adopt.

Council then voted to approve the bylaw and then to set Wednesday, December 12th as the date for the Public meeting at 5PM and then to host a Special Council meeting following to adopt the bylaw.

Councillor Niesh asked for clarification of the time for  the follow up Special Council meeting.

You can review the full details of the amendment from the Council Agenda on page

( 44:00  -- 44:30 ) Reports and Comments from Council members 

No members of council had any comments or raised any questions on the evening.

The Mayor then brought the Council session to close.

You can access the City Council Review for December 10th 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 December 10, 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 will hold a special session today at 5PM to address its Cannabis zoning plans.

Council members will then get close to one month away from the public spotlight, with the next meeting of a Regularly  Scheduled Session set for Monday, January 14, 2019. 

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

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