Friday, January 18, 2019

Time for council to put the focus on the major priorities for the city

As Prince Rupert residents head towards week number six of their Boil Water Notice, the need to better understand just what the city can deliver and what perhaps will have to wait a little farther down the line has never been clearer.

Monday night Council members reviewed what has led to the current Boil Water Notice and the challenges that are to be found towards securing the third phase of the city's water supply program.

And as we lift another pot of water onto the stove to be boiled, one would hope that the need for safe and accessible water from the city's plumbing systems will be Priority Number One.

The Monday meeting however indicated that at the moment the city is looking to go ahead with other elements of its long term vision for Prince Rupert, with the city's waterfront part of the focus before some of the other infrastructure challenges that lay ahead of us.

As we outlined earlier this week,  council approved (without much in the way of discussion) a request that would see the City navigate the infrastructure grant process to leverage 90 percent of the cost for a ferry dock and breakwater, the project destined for an area near Kwinitsa to be known as Rupert's Landing, the first step towards a larger project to open up the waterfront.

While Councillor Niesh is correct in his observation of Monday, that there is a desire from the community for more access to the waterfront area. Should the city find success in their grant request, the timing at the moment and the cost of a 12 million dollar project with its required share of 1.26 million dollars from the city, suggests that maybe that's a project for the "some other day files".

Its introduction as a late entry to the Monday night agenda, seemed at times to be offered up as a bit of a distraction for the public to the current theme of the month, that of the water woes from Shawatlan Lake.

As Council has previously outlined for the public, the cost of a water treatment plant is going to require towards thirty million dollars, and with over a hundred million more required for other elements of the full water supply project, the financial challenge is indeed daunting.

So, to then potentially allocate 1.2 million dollars of that much needed municipal funding towards a dock infrastructure for transportation to an airport that gets two flights a day, seems kind of like missing your own financially prudent message.

Until the City has found a solution to its Boil Water problems that should be the sole focus for their spending, rather than on the large scale  projects from the Fun stuff files of the Hays 2.0 plan.

Even after the water issues are eventually resolved either by nature, or through some kind of civic required response, there are other projects that should have a much higher priority for Council to spend money on and to access grant funding for.

The top of that list is a new detachment for the RCMP, a can that has been kicked down the road by successive city council's over the last ten years.

As Council noted last year as they scraped together the money for a jail cell refit, we are now at the stage of that delayed project that the RCMP has the right to go ahead and build a new building wherever they wish and to send the bill to the City.

It's simply a case of being a good community partner and what seems like never ending patience, that Mounties haven't followed through with that option to find some kind of action from City Hall.

Sparky the Fire Dog
from the

PR Firefighters FB Page
Likewise, anyone who has walked by the city's Fire Station on First Avenue West realizes that the building is well past its best before date, yet like the RCMP building file, that particular can has been kicked down the road many times over the years.

In fact the Fire Station can has been kicked so far off into the distance, that Fire Chief Dave Mackenzie might have to ask Sparky the Fire Dog to go see if he can go chase it down and return it to City Hall.

There are many other major projects that need to be addressed, the Mayor said so in his Hay's 2.0 redux presentation last Spring.

The City needs to decide and then state for the public which of those projects are the realistic priority and spend what limited monies that they have to knock them off the to do  list.

Those core civic requirements should be addressed  well before the Mayor and Council get to the legacy building pieces that have made for many a presentation over the last four years.

If they need a reminder as to how their decisions will resonate in the community, they need only go to the kitchen sink and turn on a tap; until they can safely say let's have a drink, they probably have an idea as to where they should and shouldn't be spending the money.

For more notes related to Monday's City Council session see our Council Timeline feature here.

A wider overview of Council discussion themes can be explored here.

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

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