Friday, August 23, 2019

Have Prince Rupert's fish workers been kicked to the curb by area politicians?

Politicians from all three levels of government in the region may want
to pop into Fishermen's Hall and see what support they can offer workers
from what is a disaster of a fishing season

It's been said that the Fishery is a dying industry, and if the results of the last few years and the impact on the local economy are any indication, then indeed someone, somewhere may very well be engraving that tombstone as you read this piece.

However, for the moment, there are still hundreds of North Coast workers and their families who once made a living from that industry and at this moment in time, in a very troubled fishing season they are facing some very tough times. 

And as we put an end to August, it doesn't seem that their plight is making much of an impact on many of those that they may have elected to office.

Yesterday we made note of a letter from Shane Simpson the Provincial Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, responding to a call from UFAWU-Unifor to have the Federal Government provide for some assistance for those that are in dire straits this fishing season.

The Minister's letter was included as part of a Facebook post from the union page, which also seems to indicate the level of their frustration in getting the message across that help is needed as soon as possible..

That last line again:  Thank goodness someone is listening

That does indicate that there is some work to be done from elected officials a little closer to the Fraser Street Union Hall, where as we noted earlier this month, the current campaign to draw attention to what is described as a disastrous fishing season was first issued.

Since that time however, that call to action has not seemingly found much resonance from the MLA's office, the MP's office, or that of Prince Rupert City Council.

Three levels of local representation which seem to have let the summer fishing woes slide off their radars through much of month.

A review of their social media fields, which of late seem to be the main vehicle for political statements on the North Coast, have not offered up much in the way of common cause for the union call for some help from Ottawa.

Ms. Rice did make mention of the Provincial Government's letter today on her Facebook page, but scroll down on her portal and you'll find that the only other comment of the local fishery came on August 3rd, which was a shout out for an ecotrust Canada initiative

A program which while a valuable addition to the dialogue is not part of the current call for urgent assistance from the union.

The immediate issues facing North Coast residents seems to have slipped off the radar of MP Nathan Cullen as well, his social media feed  more of a farewell travelogue this month as opposed to raising the visibility of the fishing community.

For Mayor Lee Brain and the members of Prince Rupert City Council, the plight of the local workers has not made for one comment of concern, or any calls for a show of support through the relaxed summer months of Council sessions.

When it comes to fishery themes, for the most part, with the exit of former Councillor Joy Thorkelson prior to the last election, the once frequent topic of fishery concerns for Council sessions has seemingly headed off towards its own particular sunset around the Council chamber.

At the most recent Council session of Monday evening, Mayor Brain offered up a view of a Prince Rupert looking forward to what will apparently be bountiful days of economic growth through Port development.

That buoyant view of the Port dominated future comes while an industry that once built the city's economic foundation struggles; leaving as its largest casualties those employees (and their families) who once earned an income working the boats of the fleet and in the city's fish plants.

That's not to say that all three levels of government on the North Coast haven't spoken out in the past, or called for some form of Federal action on fishery issues.

The call for adjacency in the fishery has made for a theme from all of them in the past, a common cause that is more of a long term issue, one still awaiting resolution from the Federal government and a Fisheries Minister who has still to visit this community.

That long sought after quest for equal treatment with the Atlantic provinces was part of a Wild Salmon Report delivered in March, some of those elements also made for the recommendations from a Commons Committee review published in May.

But that is all policy work and something still off in the distance, the more immediate concern today, is the disaster that is the 2019 fishing season.

A three month period highlighted by low stocks, few fishery openings and even fewer calls to work; a trilogy of events that has made an already bad situation for local workers even worse.

Earlier this month,  the Mayors of the Highway 16 corridor, along with regional MLA's banded together to demand Federal action for those forestry communities that are facing their own challenging times.

A call echoed by the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

Those who are facing the impact of a fishing season and fishing industry in as much, if not more trouble than that of the forestry, can only wonder why their own political leaders aren't taking charge of a similar initiative closer to home.

For a look back at this fishing season and other notes related to the industry see our archive page here.

Lower Hydro bills may be in the future ... should BCHydro's lower rate request be granted

A break on your Hydro bill could be on the way next year as BC Hydro makes an application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission to seek a decrease in the rate it charges its residential, business and industrial customers.

BC Hydro has based its request from its audited fiscal results for 2019 and the latest financial forecast that anticipates higher than expected income from its trading subsidiary Powerex, as well as lower than anticipated forecast debt financing and lower than anticipated purchases from Independent Power producers.

Chris O'Reilly, BC Hydro's President and CEO notes that if approved by the BC Utilities Commission, the rate decrease would come into effect as of April 1st of 2020.

“As a result of our updated financial forecast, we’re in the unique position to apply for a rate decrease for our customers that would start on April 1, 2020, if approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission. BC Hydro. We’re committed to continue to work with government and the B.C. Utilities Commission to keep rates affordable while ensuring we continue to provide safe, reliable power to the province.”

If approved by the BC Utilities Commission, the updated rate will reduce the average residential customer's annual electricity costs by up to $16 starting in April 2020

Commercial customers' annual electricity costs will be reduced by up to $715 and industrial customers by up to $230,000

 Over the next five years, the cumulative bill increase is estimated to be 6.2 per cent – 23 per cent lower than the 8.1 per cent net bill increase announced following phase 1 of government's comprehensive review of BC Hydro.

The forecast net bill impacts over the next four years are estimated to be:

April 2020: decrease of 0.99 per cent 
April 2021: increase of 2.7 per cent 
April 2022: decrease of 0.3 per cent
April 2023: increase of 3 per cent

BC Hydro outlined the nature of its rate reduction request through their website.

BC NDP Cabinet Minister, Michelle Mungall got to take on the task of sharing some welcome news for consumers. With the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources outlining some of the notes on the BC Hydro request today.

“For the past two years, our government has been focused on making sure BC Hydro works for people again.I am thrilled that BC Hydro is now able to apply for a rate reduction for the first time in decades. If approved by our independent regulator, lower rates would make life better and more affordable for British Columbians.”

The Provincial government's notes on the announcement can be reviewed here.

The BC Utilities Commission is  not expected to make a final decision on BC Hydros rate request until early in 2020.

At the moment, the Commission is putting together its public review process for BC Hydro's year one evaluation of the Customer Crisis Fund

For more items of interest related to BC Hydro see our archive page.

Friendship House the centre for the Fraser Street Block Party on Saturday

It's become an end of summer/back to school event and this year organizers of the Fraser Street Block Party are offering a wide range of activities tomorrow to help celebrate the 7th anniversary of the Popular event.

Centred around the Friendship House, Saturday's event will feature Live Music, a BBQ, Fry Bread, and a number of games and Crafts.

They also have plans for a Scavenger Hunt, Fish Pod, displays of Art Work and the always popular Bouncy Castle.

There are also a number of Door Prizes to be awarded for those who stop by the event site from 11 AM to 3PM.

The Party is on Fraser Street Saturday, as the neighbourhood around
the Friendship Centre celebrates the 7th anniversary of the
popular Fraser Street Block Party!

You can follow the latest notes on the Block Party from a special Faecbook page set up for Saturday's event

Find out more about Friendship House events from their Facebook page or website.

For more items of note on Community events on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Ridley Terminals sale an example of the rising cost of Social Licence?: National Post article

Social Licence, it was a term first made famous in the Northwest by Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen in 2013, who made it a guiding principle over the years as he spoke to the issues related to resource development in the region.

In a household mailer to constituents at that time, Mr. Cullen described Social Licence as follows:

"A "Social License to operate" means having the support and input that every company needs from the community before and during development. Even though it isn't written into law, companies and communities alike are starting to realize that a "social license" is one of the most important permits they need to achieve before shovels can hit the dirt" 

The talking point of ensuring that Social Licence was considered for regional projects gained wider attention as the list of LNG Terminal and pipeline proposals began to appear, many of them planned  for Prince Rupert, all of them now long since abandoned as the fates would hold.

Since that introduction to the topic from the soon to be departing MP, the concept of Social Licence and the need to address it has become a working element of many of the industrial or resource based projects across the region, mentioned often by federal, provincial and municipal politicians.

The impact of Social Licence is the narrative to a recent National Post article which explored some of the factors related to the recent sale of Ridley Terminals to a pair of American investment firms, with a ten percent stake diverted and to be shared by the Metlakatla First Nation and Lax Kw'alaams Band.

Jesse Snyder is the author of the article and he notes how the move by the Federal Government to deliver the ten percent share of the coal terminal to the First Nations is a possible signal of the "rising cost of winning Indigenous support for natural resource projects"

Seemingly suggesting that the Federal Government initiative is a transfer that is akin to a gift, Mr. Snyder notes that both Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams (the latter after a change of local government) were both set to benefit from a range of agreements that they had reached with the Malaysian energy company Petronas, which had negotiated a number of benefit agreements between Pacific Northwest LNG and both First Nations.

Those benefits however became historical documents with the cancellation of the Pacific Northwest LNG project back in 2017.

At the time of the Petronas decision, Mr. Cullen had highlighted the lack of Social Licence as a key factor towards the cancellation of the project.

The sidebar of the latest Ridley Terminals story seems to suggest that the ten percent share of the North Coast industrial site is some kind of consolation gift in the wake of that now dead LNG deal.

You can read the full article here.

It's an interesting look at the Ridley Terminals sale, and in an ironic political twist, while the apparent application of the Social Licence concept is the guiding theme for the National Post story; Mr. Cullen the prime advocate for the initiative in the Northwest has been one of the loudest critics of the sale of the Terminal.

Though much of his commentary is more concerned with the handover of the Canadian asset to the American firms, as opposed to the share of the facility now held by the two First Nations.

You can find more background on Ridley Terminals from our archive page here.

Make it a Cow Bay lunch date with MLA Rice next Tuesday

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice is hosting an informal meet and greet event
on Tuesday at the Atlin Terminal picnic area

Residents of Prince Rupert who may have a few questions or comments on local issues for MLA Jennifer Rice will have an opportunity to catch up with their representative at the Legislature next week, as Ms. Rice hosts a lunch hour get together at the Picnic area near the Atlin Terminals.

The Bring Your Own Lunch event is scheduled for Tuesday, August 27th from 12 to 1:30 PM.

As the summer begins to wind down, there are any number of topics that constituents may want to bring with them for the picnic chat.

With the most topical of them for the moment, the BC public school teacher negotiations that are now underway, as well when it comes to education,  Prince Rupert residents are still awaiting more updates on the progress towards a long promised new Middle School

Health issues are also a frequent concern for residents, something that City Council has made note of recently as they watch the growing commitment towards the new Mills Memorial hospital in Terrace and seek to ensure that Prince Rupert remains on the radar of the provincial government when it comes to medical services in this community

As well, there are the always popular themes of Ferry transportation to and from the community and more housing resources for those that are in the most need.

Ms. Rice has been on a bit of a tour of the riding of late, most recently catching up with residents in Masset where they joined her for a scoop or two of free ice cream while they chatted about issues of note on Haida Gwaii.

You can follow the MLA's summer travels through her social media feeds of Facebook and twitter.

For more items of interest about the provincial political scene see our archive page here.

Metlakatla election campaign nears end with vote Wednesday

After just over two months of hearing from a range of candidates on a number of local issues, voters in Metlakatla will be making their decisions next week; as the campaigning for positions on the First Nation's Council heads into its final weekend, with the voting booths set to open on Wednesday, August 28th.

Twelve candidates put their name into nomination, with two contesting the Chief Councillors position, four standing for office as On Reserve Councillor and six seeking office as In Territory Councillors.

We outlined the names of those seeking office back in June when the nomination period closed and the candidates began to share their thoughts and ambitions for the community as part of the summer long campaign period.

Among the races, Long serving Metlakatla leader Harold Leighton is looking to retain his position and secure another term as Chief Councillor, he is facing a challenge from Randall Cobb.

The On Reserve positions feature four candidates, Alvin Leask, Sharon Morven, James L. Nelson and Robert Nelson.

Six candidates are seeking positions as In Territory Council members, they include Wayne Haldane, Karen Jeffry, Alrita Leask, Miranda Leighton, Darci R. Nelson and Cynthia Smith.

The Current members of the Metlakatla Governing Council.
There could be some new faces taking seats with the
Community Council after the August 28th vote

(photo from MFN website)

A look at the membership of the current governing Council can be explored here.

Election Day Wednesday will see two polling stations available for Metlakatla residents to make use of, the primary polling station at Metlakatla Village and a secondary polling station in Prince Rupert to be set up at the Coastal Training Centre on Dunsmuir Street.

Metlakatla First Nation  members can also vote by electronic voting, a process which began in late June and continues until the close of the polls on Wednesday.

Voters also had opportunity to vote by mail in ballot, with the deadline for that option also prior to the end of the polling period.

More background on the voting options can be found here.

Updates from the community as they head towards election day can be reviewed from the Metlakatla website and Facebook page.

More notes related to the Metlakatla First Nation can be explored on our archive page.

September brings new exhibit to Museum of Northern British Columbia

September will bring a new travelling exhibit to Prince Rupert's
Museum of Northern British Columbia

North Coast residents and visitors to town will have a chance to take in something a little different from the normal offerings of the Museum of Northern British Columbia new month.

That as a new travelling exhibit prepares to start a three month run, the tour to the Northwest coning thanks to close to 10,000 dollars in funding secured to bring Inspiring NATURE, inspired TECHO Biomimicry and Transport to Prince Rupert.

The exhibit will arrive on the North Coast in the second week of September, with the display scheduled to open to the public on September 14th and remain at the Museum of Northern British Columbia until January 6th of 2020.

The interactive displays and exhibits will provide access to thirty natural specimens and technological objects and offers a range of material to educate and captivate both young and old visitors to the museum.

A look at some of the hands on exhibits that will make up a new
temporary exhibition at the Museum of Northern British Columbia
the new exhibit will be in Prince Rupert from September 14, 2019 to January 6th 2020

The display which is normally based in Quebec, has been on a tour of British Columbia since May of this year. It currently is set up in Prince George, Following its stopover in Prince Rupert. the exhibit will travel to the Okanagan Heritage Museum in Kelowna in January.

The British Columbia travels for the exhibition has been supported by the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) of the Department of Canadian Heritage

You can learn about more about the travelling exhibit here.

Travelling exhibits have been well received in the past at the Museum, in January of 2018 a large number of North Coast residents explored the history of The Clovis People, when that exhibit arrived in Prince Rupert for a three month run.

Updates on events from the Museum can be explored through their website and Facebook page

For more items of interest on Community events see our archive page here.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Disaster for the Lester Centre!

Now that we have your attention, take a breath and a moment to consider your plans for April of 2020; as the Lester Centre makes their plans to bring DISASTER to the stage of the city's home for the Arts.

Michael Gurney the General Manager of the Lester Centre of the Arts revealed the identity of the next big community musical today, a much anticipated event which will feature a battalion of local actors, musicians, dancers and technicians all looking forward to bring the Broadway musical to life for Prince Rupert audience.

The Lester Centre information release from today highlights some of the background notes on the upcoming 2020 production.

Musical direction will be provided by Kristy Tillman, who in 2018 led the orchestra for the Lester Centre’s production of SPAMALOT and the Charles Hays Secondary School performances of 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL, in addition to her ongoing leadership of concert, jazz and marching bands of School District 52.

Veteran Lester Centre Technical Director Dwain Harrison will oversee the show’s design, while RUMORS directorial alumnus Scott Langille will serve as Stage Manager

Artistic director Hans Seidemann appeared recently as the singing-dancing sensation Sir Robin in SPAMALOT; he also directed the Lester Centre’s spring 2019 production of Neil Simon’s farce RUMORS.

The musical’s book was written by three-time Emmy Award nominee and SiriusXM Broadway host Seth Rudetsky in conjunction with Jack Plotnick. 

The score features classic songs of the 1970s like “Knock on Wood," "Hooked on a Feeling," "Sky High," "I Am Woman" and "Hot Stuff” festooned around a laugh-out-loud storyline set in a floating casino and discotheque. 

Even in advance of its Broadway run, the New York Daily News named DISASTER! as one of its top ten must-see musicals .

Both the local Musical and Artistic Director offered up some thoughts on what awaits audiences next Spring.

 “We chose this production to appeal not only to audiences, but artists as well. We’ll be searching for performers and instrumentalists with a wide range of specialties and talents. The light-hearted script and the infectious rhythms of the score guarantee this will be fun for everyone -- Musical Director Kristy Tilman 

 “The comedic chops of Prince Rupert’s artistic community will get a thorough workout. The bell-bottomed A-listers who are outrageously lampooned in this story are going to infect our city with disco fever, whose side effects include dancing in the aisles.” -- Artistic Director Hans Seidemann

Auditions for the production will be held October 26 & 27, with details related to the audition process to be provided through the Lester Centre website in September.

The show takes to the stage April 2, 3 and 4 with tickets set to go on sale on September 1st.

Learn more about what the Lester Centre has planned here.

Some notes on the Broadway version of the musical can be explored below

A look back at Seth Rudetsky's Disaster!
Disaster! Original Broadway Musical
Disaster Broadway site

You can follow the production through its incubation period and on to showtime through the Lester Centre's Facebook page.

For more items of note related to Community Events see our archive page here.

Our archive page for Arts and Culture Events can be found here.

Provincial Minister Simpson writes to Federal Employment Minister to seek assistance for Commercial fishers

It has been a quiet time on the docks and at the fish plants of the North Coast
as the summer fishing season delivers some poor results, leaving UFAWU-Unifor
to call for assistance for those who work in the 

The call from UFAWU-Unifor for some form of assistance for those working in the commercial fishery has received a boost from the provincial government, with Shane Simpson the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction taking the cause of the commercial fishery to his federal counterpart in Ottawa.

Mr. Simpson directed an August 20th correspondence to Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour with the Federal Liberal Government, in his letter, Mr. Simpson encourages the Federal government to consider providing targeted assistance for the Commercial Fishing sector which is experiencing a very difficult year this salmon season.

Noting that the Federal government has provided for such assistance in the past for the Atlantic fishery, he seeks out specific Employment Insurance actions to assist those in the BC Fishery.

UFAWU-Unifor shared word of Mr. Simpson's notes for the Federal government as part of their Facebook page feed, which has been highlighting many of the ongoing issues facing those in the industry this summer.

BC NDP Minister Shane Simpson has taken the cause of 
Commercial fishers to Ottawa seeking federal assistance
 for those who work in the industry
(click to enlarge)

As we outlined on the blog earlier this month, UFAWU-Unifor launched an information campaign to try to impress on the Federal government the dire nature of things for those on the North Coast which has seen horrid returns on area waters and a significant impact on those who work in the local industry.

You can find more background on the issues facing the North Coast fishery from our archive page here.

Cooler Weather, Rain assisting Northwest Firefighters this week

While many of us may be grumbling a bit about summer's sudden interruption, the cooler temperatures and precipitation have been quite beneficial for those on the fire lines around Northwest British Columbia this week.

Four fires in the Cassiar Fire Zone around Telegraph Creek have all bee deemed to be either under control or being monitored with no indications that they pose any problems for communities in the area.

The latest conditions for four NW fires this week
(click to enlarge)

Another fire west of Atlin in the far northwest corner of the province has also provided for some positive news, with an evacuation order for Southwest Tagish Lake now rescinded.

You can review the details from all of the updates here.

The Weather Gods will continue to provide for their assistance for the remainder of the week, with more of the same wet weather of recent days set to carry forward through to the weekend.

More background on the recent work of the BC Wildfire service can be found from our archive page here.

Liberals optics on ethics seek to have the SNC-Lavalin issue fade to black

An attempt yesterday to have Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion provide further background to his ruling of last week on Justin Trudeau's handling of the SNC-Lavalin file came to a pretty fast end,  as the request from Opposition members was shut down by the majority of the government members on the committee panel Wednesday.

During the course of the two and half hour session of the Ethics Committee, a large number of Opposition members spoke to the importance of hearing from the Ethics Commissioner, with all of them calling for the Committee to allow the Ethics Commissioner to speak to the forum.

The opposition were hoping to hear from the Commissioner as part of the delivery of what is known as the Trudeau II report, which was released last week and held the Prime Minister guilty of ethics violations in his handling of the SNC-Lavalin situation.

However, the collective of  government MP's in effect seemed to take on the narrative that "there's nothing to see here, move along, move along" voting during the course of the emergency session of the committee to refuse to issue the invitation to the Commissioner.

The full ethics committee session of Wednesday afternoon can be viewed above.

Following the end of the session, a number of opposition and government members were quick to the television cameras outside of the conference hall; as well as to take to their Social Media feeds.

Some to defend the Liberal move, others  to express their outrage to the Government's successful attempt to shut down yet another element of their work on the SNC-Lavalin issues.

Steve MacKinnon

Elizabeth May

Peter Kent

Charlie Angus

Indeed as Mr. Angus notes, it is quite rare to deny the author of a report for any Parliamentary committee an opportunity to speak to their work, adding to the cloud of controversy that has been generated by the entire SNC-Lavalin Affair.

Much of that theme as well as some background towards the controversy can be found from our Ottawa Observations Archive from our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

Early Departure for Northern Adventure as next storm approaches

The Northern Adventure will get a head start on some oncoming weather
with BC Ferries moving up the Skidegate departure by one hour tonight

Travellers heading for Prince Rupert this evening out of Skidegate will need to be at the ferry terminal a bit earlier than usual, as BC Ferries announces an early departure for the Northern Adventure, that as  another marine storm makes its way towards the waters of Hecate Strait.

In a Service notice posted today, the original timetable of a 10PM sailing has been moved ahead one hour, with the Northern Adventure expected to depart Skidegate at 9 tonight.

The current marine forecast for Hecate Strait has a GALE Warning in effect, with 45 knot winds expected this evening with seas building to 3 metres during the overnight period.

Any updates for the Service Notice can be found here.

For more items of interest related to BC Ferries see our archive page here.

Coast Mountain College set for Orientation Sessions for 2019-20 college year

A new academic year is just a few days away for the students at the
Prince Rupert campus of Coast Mountain College

The pages on the calendar are flipping by pretty fast these days, with the end of summer vacation now but eleven days away. With the arrival of September will come the start of the 2019-2020 College year on the North Coast and Coast Mountain College is making preparations to welcome the incoming students for this year, with some Orientation Sessions.

This month, August 30th has been marked as the date for the Fall 2019 Orientation session for the Prince Rupert Campus on Fifth Street, with the mandatory session for all new students set to take place from 9 AM to 2 PM.

Some further background on what Orientation is all about can be reviewed here.

Students at the Terrace Campus will also have their Orientation session on August 30th, with that session taking place from 9 until 4 PM.

A large number of the courses that are being offered for the Fall semester at the Prince Rupert campus get underway during the first few weeks of September.

You can keep up with some of the events at all of the Coast Mountain College campus locations through their Facebook PageTwitter Feed and Instagram Feed.

More items of interest on Coast Mountain College can be found from our archive page here.

City's landfill expansion plans expected to move forward in 2020

The prospect of dwindling space at the Prince Rupert landfill site on the Ridley Island Access road made for a theme for part of the Council members question period on Monday evening, as Councillor Barry Cunningham sought out some updated information on the plan to add an additional cell to the landfill footprint.

"What's happening with our cell for the garbage dump, we've known for two or three years   that we need a new cell and now we're forcing people to take bigger loads to Terrace, so what's the delay why are we not progressing on this ..."-- Councillor Barry Cunningham on the need for expansion of cells at the Ridley Island Access Road landfill site

Fielding the Question was  the City's Chief Financial Officer, Corinne Bomben who noted that the landfill expansion was part of the five year plan recently adopted by Council and how the City would require a loan to take on the project.

She observed that first step in the process would be to provide for a detailed design study first to determine the cost of the project and how that will inform Council as to how much of a loan would be required. With Council then to go to the public to access the required funding.

The CFO observed that it was anticipated that much of that work would be ready for the process to start next year.

You can review the discussion on the progress of the proposed expansion from the City's Video Archive starting at the 55 minute mark.

Councillor Cunningham previously raised the issue of the need to move on the expansion issue in June, when he noted that the with the current site near capacity, some of the contractors engaged in  large scale demolition work in the community are having to cart their items to Terrace for disposal, something which he noted was costing the City of Prince Rupert some valuable revenue.

For more items of note related to Monday's City Council Session, see our Council Timeline Feature here, as well as our Council Session archive page.

A wider overview of past Council Discussion themes can be found from our Council Discussion Archive.

Weather, Course Conditions force Vic Marion Seniors Tourney to the sidelines until Mid September

The November like weather marking this third week of August has given the Prince Rupert Golf Course cause to make a change to their summer tournament schedule, making for a delay in the annual Vic Marion Seniors Tournament this year.

Tournament Organizers having checked the course conditions and reviewed the weather forecast for the next five days, made the call on Wednesday, announcing that this weekends Tournament will be postponed by eighteen days, with the popular annual event now set to tee off on September 14th and 15th.

That will see the Vic Marion share the course with the Duffers Golf Tournament, Prince Rupert Gold Course organizers will have more details on those logistics in the days ahead.

The Decision appears to be a wise one, the forecast for Prince Rupert through into the weekend is for much of the same weather system that has drenched the North Coast since Tuesday.

You can keep up to date on course information from the Prince Rupert Golf Course Facebook Page.

For more items of note on the Golf season across the Northwest see our archive page here.

Biggar Place Rezoning request moves one step closer to success

The prospect of change for zoning on Biggar place is in the final
stages after Monday's City Council Session

With a Public Hearing out of the way and third reading for the Bylaw request for a zoning change complete, the process of changing a number of lots along Biggar Place from residential to commercial is almost complete.

On Monday, Prince Rupert City Council hosted their public consultation on the request, with the Public Hearing related to the zoning change taking place prior to the Monday Council session.

City Planner Zeno Krekic provided for the first indication that there seems to be little concern over the rezoning request from the public, noting that during the lead up to the Public Hearing, the city had received no inquiries over the counter at City Hall, or correspondences to the Planning Department Office.

Following the City Planner's short review of the key elements of the zoning request, Mayor Lee Brain called for public comment on the topic, a request for contributions from the public which found no interested parties, bringing a rather quick end to the Public hearing portion of the night.

No members of the public came forward on Monday to offer comment
or concern over proposed zoning changes for lots on Biggar Place

The process then was brought forward during the Regular Council session, with no Council members raising items of interest or concern, the required bylaws then cruised through third reading.

The final approval process will come at a future Council session, with all indications suggesting that the land will soon be put into the Commercial category, though not much will happen to it in the short term.

As we learned from previous Council sessions, the owners, Marogna Enterprises have not yet outline any plans so far as to the fate of the land and any development planned for it.

You can review Mr. Krekic's final comments as part of the Public hearing from the City's Video Archive starting at the very start of Monday's Council Session.

We explored much of the background and past Council sessions related to the zoning change as part of our preview of Council on Monday.

For more items of note related to the City Council Session, see our Timeline Feature here, as well as our archive of notes from the August 19th Session.

For further items related to Council Discussions see our Council Archive page here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cafe plans the latest addition for new Rupert Lawn and Garden Centre expansion

Rupert Lawn and Garden hosted a Thank You celebration for their customers at their Seal Cove location on Wednesday, with Gitmaxmak'ay  Nisga'a Economic Development CEO Blair Mirau taking the opportunity to share some of the plans ahead for the popular Garden centre.

In his address for those attending today's celebration he outlined the scope of the work ahead for Rupert Wood and Steel Construction which recently signed a contract with the Society for the work ahead.

As part of his comments, Mirau noted that the existing structure will be demolished starting this coming Monday, turning the current site into an active construction zone.

He then provided a preview of some of the new features for the new location, upon its completed by the Spring of 2020. With a larger selection of indoor plants and the opportunity to provide for bulk sales of top soil, the first time that will be available locally.

They also plan to introduce a new cafe based along the concept found in Smithers at Bugwood Bean, which inspired Rupert and Lawn and Garden to incorporate the cafe concept for its new Seal Cove footprint. With the local version set to offer coffee, juices, salads, soups and sandwiches all to be available when the new location opens in the spring.

Hiring for that addition will take place in April with the Grand Opening set for May, with Rupert Lawn and Garden looking for suggestions for a name for the cafe.

As Seal Cove becomes a construction zone,  the Rupert Lawn and Garden is set to take over some space in the downtown area, setting up in some temporary digs at the old Four Seasons Flower shop on Third Avenue West, directly across from City Hall.

They are calling the downtown venture the Pop Up Plant Shoppe, making for a form of a  miniature Garden centre with houseplants, fertilizer and other accessories.

That location will open up with a Traditional Blessing Ceremony taking place on Friday, September 6th.

Rupert Lawn and Garden posted some of his update to their Facebook page

For more items of note related to the city's Commercial Sector see our archive page here.

Child care the theme for latest City of Prince Rupert consultation

The City of Prince Rupert is looking to hear the opinions of those who are interested in access to affordable and quality Child care in the community, with the City launching a Survey today and looking for both parents and child care providers to provide feedback for it.

 The survey is available through the City’s Rupert Talks online consultation platform, as well as from various community locations, including the Prince Rupert Library, Recreation Complex, City Hall, Friendship Centre, and Northern Savings Credit Union.

Parents completing the survey are eligible to win passes for the Prince Rupert Recreation Complex and a $500 RESP from Northern Savings Credit Union for participating.

The survey will be open for participation until September 30th, 2019.

To launch the city's community engagement process Mayor Lee Brain made note of the importance of child care services for families in the city.

“We know from speaking with residents that child care is something that many families in Prince Rupert struggle with, especially those working shift work. This study will help us to quantify those anecdotal stories, and provide a basis for local child care providers to apply for the new funds available through the Province.”-- Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain

The project comes after the city received $25,000 in grant funding from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

The topic was first introduced to Council in December of last year, followed up with some notes on its progress in May.

Information received from child care providers and parents will inform the development of the draft plan, which will be available for public review in February 2020.

You can learn more about the project through the Rupert Talks portal

The Parents survey (available here) features nineteen questions and an opportunity for expanded commentary.

A Sample of one of the questions from the City of Prince Rupert's
Child Care survey launched today

The Care Providers survey (available here) features seventeen questions.

The project also features a Child Participation Activity exercise, described as follows:

The purpose of this exercise is to hear directly from children about what they value in respect their care environment. To participate download the toolkit for your child (or children you care for) to complete.

Note that parent permission forms are included in the kits. Completed kits can be returned to the City of Prince Rupert (Attention: Veronika Stewart) by September 30th, 2019.

To participate download the Child Participation activity in the Resources and Documents section to your right and return it to the front desk at City Hall, or download it directly, here.

The Rupert Talks page notes that at some point in February the public will be invited to a drop in session to allow for further community review and feedback of the drat plan. 

Once completed the City's Child Care Assessment and Action plan will also make for a valuable resource for the City, child care operators, employers and community partners to use to proactively address local child care needs.

In addition, it will be a key document to assist local applications for the recently announced Childcare BC New Spaces Fund, where Prince Rupert is eligible for up to $3 million in space creation funding.

The announcement of the project can be reviewed here.

Those taking part in the process can find updates along the way from the Survey home page.

For more items of note on City Council initiatives see our archive page here.

Some Sandspit residents currently under Water Quality Advisory

Today marks a one week anniversary for a Water Quality advisory for some Sandspit residents, with North Coast Regional District having issued the advisory last week for a limited number of residences in the Sandspit water service area.

It was put in place on August 14th due to an increased level of arsenic found in water samples collected from well PW00-5 in the Sandspit community water system. 

This water quality advisory affects those residences located south of the Park Rd. and Dover Rd. intersection.

The Regional District advisory further outlines the nature of the Sandspit water supply system and notes how the well in question supplies 16 percent of the community water systems's total production.

Water in the Sandspit community water system is provided from 3 well sources, identified as wells PW00-5, PW00-7, and PW00-9. These wells were installed as part of the water system in 2000. Well Pw00-5 supplies approximately 16% of the community water system’s total water production. Well Pw00-5 is located in the community water system’s lower aquifer just to the north of the Sandspit Golf Course.

The nature of the advisory also explores what options that the residents have, though it makes a point of noting that Boiling water may actually increase the concentration of arsenic.

The Full advisory for that area of Sandspit can be reviewed here.

Northern Health has listed the current hazard as low, with a list of past inspection reports included with their notice of the Water Quality Advisory

The Park Road area water advisory is not the sole warning in place for the community a longer standing Boil Water Notice has been in place for a number of years now for the Sandspit Airport Water System

For more items of note from North Coast Regional District see our archive page here.

Questions on structure of Redesign Rupert raised at Council session

The public comment period from Monday's Council session brought
Larry Golden forward with questions on Redesign Rupert

With the city council still speaking of the success of their four day retreat last month to explore elements of civic design through the Redesign Rupert program, one resident spoke to Council Monday evening seeking some clarification on how the whole Redesign Rupert initiative works.

Larry Golden, a frequent contributor the public comment period of the city's Committee of the Whole sessions, approached the microphone on Monday, looking to explore some themes when it comes to transparency and accountability of the civic improvement project.

Noting how he had been advised by City staff that Prince Rupert's contribution towards the recent redesign initiative had come at a cost of $200,000 from last years budget; the main thrust of his questions for Council were to  seek some clarification on the structure of Redesign Rupert and City Council's relationship to it.

"What kind of entity is Redesign Rupert ... what's Councils relationship to it, is it a product of Council?"

In reply, Mayor Brain explained that the relationship is through a contract arrangement with Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest and they are responsible for any hirings.

"I can explain the structure to you, Redesign is actually a contract with Community Futures, so Community Futures actually is the holder of Redesign Rupert, anyone who is hired to manage the project is hired through Community Futures. 

We actually have a partnership with Community Futures through an MOU which we do our contributions from. We also have applied for grants through the rural dividend fund which is paying for our project manager."

Mayor Brain also made note as to how some Industrial partners that have joined in have directed funds towards Community Futures for the program administration.

"The partnership of the industrial partners that have come together on that, all of those funds go to Community Futures and we administer Redesign through that"

The Mayor observed that the program is not that of a top down approach but more of a collaboration between all of the participants.

That theme was prominent a few weeks ago as City Council reviewed the recent four day workshop that was hosted by Redesign Rupert, a session which highlighted those partnerships and shared goals and found many of the Council members quite enthused for the new blueprint it may offer.

July 26 -- Council members share their enthusiasm for Prince Rupert's future, following four day planning session
July 18 -- Partnerships will blaze the trail towards a new look as part of the 2030 Prince Rupert Plan

Mr. Golden followed up with a few other questions related to accountability of the program and whether the access of grant money for the program was conducted through Council resolutions.

His observations do seem to highlight how Council has embarked on its Redesign mission, with the project one which tends to fly under the radar at the public council sessions, with few discussions of its mechanics and structure, or explanation of cost to the city to move the initiative forward.

A look at our archive of notes on the Redesign initiative  does seem to indicate that much of its work tends to take place outside of the scope of City Council's public commentary.

Since Council is currently on a bit of a roll when it comes providing for public presentations at Council sessions, perhaps inviting representatives from the program to Council at a future public session to offer an outline of the project may be helpful for the public.

It would also offer up a chance for Council members to ask the kind of questions that Mr. Golden introduced on Monday evening, providing for a public overview as to how the Redesign program works and how the growing collection of partners that are coming aboard and the city will be working to develop the latest new vision for the community.

You can review the discussion between Mr. Golden and Mayor Brain from the City's video archive starting at the forty minute mark.

For more items of interest from the Monday Council session see our Council Timeline feature, as well as our Council Archive page.

A wider overview of past Council Discussion themes can be explored from our Council Discussion page.