Wednesday, January 16, 2019

City Council Timeline: Monday, January 14, 2019

Water, water everywhere, but only the boiled drops to drink.

It was back to work for City Council members on Monday evening, approaching a brand new year with a front burner issue of boiling water to deal with as their main focus on the evening.

Without the Boil Water Notice and the public commentary related to it, one wonders if the Council members may not have set a new record for shortest council sessions in Prince Rupert history.

From the 29 minutes put forward towards the first session of the year from Monday, the remaining 25 minutes were mostly directed towards notes related to the water situation in the city, with four minutes delivering but two other items of note.

With Council reviewing grant applications for another round of business facade funding, as well as a request to seek a grant towards development of part of the Rupert's Landing project near Kwinitsa Station.

As both Mayor Lee Brain and Councillor Blair Mirau were both absent from Mondays' council session, something not noted in the opening moments, the task of hosting the session fell to Councillor Wade Niesh, who served as Acting Mayor.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Agenda elements for the January 14th 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, January 14, 2019

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

Video Archive for January 14, 2019

Regular Council Session

( 0:00 -- 1:00 )   Regular City Council Session for January 14, 2019 --  Adoption of Agenda,  the Acting Mayor Wade Niesh  called the Regular Council Session to order, with Council adopting the agenda and past minutes of previous minutes. Mr. Niesh made note of one change  to the Agenda, which removed one of the presentations up for review on the night.

Reports and Recommendations

1:00 -- 2:30  )   Report from the Manager of Transportation and Economic Development on a Funding program through NDIT    --  Ms. Bomben sat in for Manager Paul Venditelli and outlined the nature of the Business Facade program, which will see those business owners which improve the facade of their business eligible for a grant towards a refund towards some of the cots of their facade renovations. The grant program would be offered through the Northern Development Initiative Trust with funding available up to 20,000 dollars.

Council voted to move forward with the grant application.

( 2:30 -- 4:00 ) --  Report from Manger of Communications in regard to investing in the Canada Infrastructure program for funding for Rupert's Landing  -- Veronika Stewart, provided the short overview of the ISIP infrastructure program that the city is looking to apply for. With the infrastructure program designed to cover 90 percent of the cost towards a project on the Prince Rupert waterfront. 

Ms. Stewart noted how if successful the city would use the money towards development of the Rupert's Landing proposal, with a focus on relocating the airport ferry terminal near the Kwinitsa Station at Rotary Park. The project would also include a roll on, roll off ferry access to the shore as well as a breakwater asset.

Councillor Randhawa inquired as to how much the grant would be, Ms. Stewart outlined how the current grant estimate is 12.6 million , with the city's portion of the expenditure to be 1.26 million dollars.

Councillor Niesh observed how he believes the proposal would be a great project for the City of Prince Rupert to help revitalize the waterfront at Kwinitsa and how many residents have been waiting for that. He offered up his hope that the City would be successful in another grant application.

With no further discussion on the topic, Council then voted to move forward with the grant application.

( 4:00  -- 29:30 ) Reports and Comments from Council members 

Acting Mayor Wade Niesh then spoke to the issue of the city's Boil Water Notice which has been in effect for the last four weeks and counting.

As part of his preamble prior to the presentation, he observed for the audience in Council chamber that there would be no questions or comments received on the night, as the evening was not a Committee of the Whole session, which is the instrument that the city uses to receive comments or questions.

He did note that the Council members would be available after the evening's session to answer any questions outside of the council process.

His presentation was two part in nature, with a review of the situation to this point and how it came to take place, along with some notes on the steps the city has taken during the course of the Boil Order notice.

He also provided another extensive review of City Council's planning for water infrastructure in the community, recounting the three phases that the city has taken on as part of their approach to creating for new elements to the water supply.

As to the current Boil Water Notice, Mr. Niesh further reviewed many of the Mayor's past information notes related to the order since it went into effect on December 14th.

Council members would speak to the issue as well during the course of his presentation, with Councillor Nick Adey offering up the observation that he had heard a number of concerns from residents and stressed how they had been heard by Council and how they were hoping that the city is closer to the end of the situation than they are to the beginning.

He also added that when the Boil order is done and Council has time to reflect on it, that they develop a contingency plan for any future occurrences similar to the current situation, so the city can address some of the very legitimate concerns that people have had. He pointed to such things as providing for the most vulnerable in the community and around issues related to testing and testing procedures. He added he would be compelled to push for that once the current situation is over.

Councillor Cunningham followed up on that by asking that city staff create an After Action report on any actions  that can be taken in the future to improve on any similar situations that may arise, so the city will have a plan in place

He also made note of the importance of the order of development for the three phases of the water supply project.  With the water treatment facility plans to take place last, noting how that order were put together as Council believed that was the sequence that made the most sense to the Council members. He observed how that was the process recommended by city staff and the experts that they had consulted on the issue.

The latter half of Mr. Niesh's overview tended to focus more on his frustrations over the social media conversations that have taken place over the course of the four week boil order, along with a call for the public to send letters to the MLA and MP for the region to help the City in its quest to develop a water treatment facility.

Yesterday we provided for a fairly thorough overview of Mr. Niesh's comments on the situation and the approach that City Council is taking to this point when it comes to the water situation.

Rather than repeating much of that material as part of the timeline, you can explore the full scope of the Water presentation here.

Making for a bit of a disjointed end to the council session, in amidst the conversation on the water issue, the council members would inject other topics as an aside, raising a few items of note to the community among those notes were:

(19:00) Councillor Cunningham asked for the City to send a letter to the Department of Highways expressing concern over the intersection of Highway 16 and Smithers Street. He observed that now that there is an increase of low cost housing being developed along Park Avenue there is a growing danger for those living in the area crossing the street to reach the convenience store in the area.

He added that with a growing number of people being housed in that area that it will continue to be a problem that needs to be addressed.

Councillor Niesh added to the inquiries list for the Ministry of Transportation asking City Staff if they had any ideas as to when the planned improvements along Second Avenue West would take place, a project which was supposed to have been underway by now.

The City's Financial Officer advised that inquiries had been made just before Christmas and indications were that the Ministry was having difficulties in securing contractors and parts for the work creating a delay. She added that since we were now into the New Year staff would check to see what the status of the project was.

(26:00) Councillor Cunningham drew Council's attention to a motor vehicle incident on Sloan in recent weeks resulting in a fair bit of  damage. He asked that Engineering staff take a look at that corner and see if some form of am more expanded barrier system might be required at that location.

Councillor Niesh also offered up some comments on the incident that Mr. Cunningham spoke to and added his voice to the call for Engineering to look at the situation, with the City Manager Robert Long adding that some work has already taken place to address the issue.

With no other comments from Council members, Mr. Niesh then brought the Council session to close.

You can access the City Council Review for January 14th 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 January 14, 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 return to the Council Chamber for their meeting of a Regularly  Scheduled Session on Monday, January 28, 2019. That evening will feature an opportunity for the public to speak on issues or comments for council members through the Committee of the Whole Process.

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

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