Friday, May 31, 2019

Skeena River Relay set for Saturday

With 142 kilometres to run between Prince Rupert and Terrace Highway 16 will be featuring a stream of humanity on Saturday, as teams of five to ten relay members make the scenic journey along the Skeena River, looking to claim the title of Best of the Run in the 18th edition of the Skeena River Relay.

Thirty two teams have entered Saturday's event, ready to tackle the ten stages that will take from the Lester Centre to the finish line at Canadian Tire in Terrace.

Prince Rupert will send the most teams into the competition with nine listed as participating in Saturday's run, Terrace/Thornhill has six teams included as part of the race day line up, with Telkwa/Smithers next in the line a six the majority of them from Telkwa.

Kitimat is also sending six teams to the staring line, followed by New Hazelton with two and Queen Charlotte City and Dease Lake both listed with one team each.

According to the Skeena River Relay Facebook page, the Race Package Pick Up takes place today until 6 PM at the Prince Rupert Racquet Centre on 9th West (beside the golf course) , with a Captains Meeting set for 6 to 6:30 PM followed by a Meet And Greet.

Race Time arrives at 7AM as the first leg of the day's event departs from the Lester Centre, Stage Seven starts at the Kasiks Resort area at Noon.

The Relay comes to an end at Canadian Tire on the west side of Terrace, with the Terrace Curling Rink once again hosting this years Award Dinner and presentations.

If past events are an indication, participants are up for a number of potential awards including:

First, Second and Third in each category
Fastest Team Overall
Fastest Male and Female in each stage
Hidden Times

Runners are looking at the prospect of partly Cloudy skies with a chance of showers through the day, as the leading edge of what promises to be a wet week ahead makes its arrival on the North Coast.

Prince Rupert

Motorists travelling the highway 16 corridor on Saturday are reminded to be cautious as they travel past race participants with RCMP members keeping an eye on the highway for any traffic or other offences.

You can review the notes related to Saturday's event as well as a glimpse at some of the work involved in bringing such a project to the starting line from the Skeena River Relay website.

More background on the Prince Rupert Running scene can be found from the Rupert Runners website and Facebook page.

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

City and partners take a walk as part of annual survey of local business

Prince Rupert's Business sector had a few visitors today as
the City's Economic Development office conducted the annual Business Walk

Today was survey day for the city's business sector, as representatives from the City of Prince Rupert and its Economic Development office conducted the annual business walk around town.

The project an annual event that helps to get a better understanding of the issues that face local business owners and help to form civic policy in the future.

This year the City reps were joined by a number of other walkers, with representatives from the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Pacific Northwest, Province of BC, Ecotrust Canada and Redesign Rupert.

The findings will be collected by the various groups to help develop local programs to help area businesses grow and succeed.

At some point the results of today's work should find their way to the City of Prince Rupert Facebook page or that of the Economic Development office.

For more items of interest related to the city's business sector see our archive page here.

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

Chaotic end to Legislature session, leaves Speaker Darryl Plecas once again the centre of attention!

Speaker Daryl Plecas once agin is the centre of attention in Victoria,
following a week of office drama at the Legislature

I rise pursuant to Standing Order 26 on a matter of personal privilege. I have become aware of behaviour and conduct undertaken by the Speaker with respect to senior officers and employees of this Legislative Assembly that I believe to be improper and compromises the ability of those officers to independently perform their duties. 

 I have further become aware of activities undertaken by the Speaker, including the seizure of records, including electronic records, that I believe constitute improper conduct with respect to my rights as a member of this assembly and impede my personal freedoms as a member of this assembly.  

 Insofar as the Speaker serves as the presiding officer of this assembly, I wish to disassociate myself for all purposes, including any subsequent litigation from these actions, which I believe constitute a breach of the individual and collective privileges of this House and a contempt for this House. -- Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, one of 38 Liberals delivering the exact same message in the House Chamber at the end of the Spring Session of the BC Legislature

The final day of the Spring Session for 2019 at the BC Legislature ended much as the Fall Session for 2018 did, featuring some political deja vu and leaving Speaker Daryl Plecas as the ever present centre of attention.

That all coming as the Liberal opposition raised more concerns about the office machinations of the Speaker of the House, a man who seems to court controversy with every turn of the corridors of the parliament buildings in Victoria.

On Thursday evening in the final minutes before the House adjourned for the foreseeable future, Liberal members, one after another rose to speak, delivering the same statement as that of Mr. Ross featured above.

Collectively the Liberals delivered more towards their ongoing concerns, particularly when it comes to the whirlwind of activities that seem to surround the Speaker at the end of each session.

Mr. Plecas once again grabbed the headlines this week after he had ordered copies of hard drives to be made of Legislature staff members under the call of securing data.

That edict ordered amid reports that were made public of him  referring to the recent investigation by former Supreme Court Judge Beverly McLachlin as "pathetic" and the former judge as "stupid".

For his part, in subsequent interviews on the theme, the Speaker referred to those comments as ridiculous, even though the account of the commentary was relayed from Liberals in the room at the time.

Some of the snippets of Ms. McLachlin's report, which the government has not yet released in full to the public,  suggest that the retired Justice had offered some criticism of the Speaker for the nature of his secretive investigation of the fall when it came to spending and other staff activities at the Legislature.

In this week's drama, Legislature staff members were clearly feeling the pressure of what seems to at times be a pretty toxic work environment, with one said to have left a meeting in tears and a few others deciding that the time was nigh to make a departure from the work site.

Those who had decided that retirement from their posts as the session came to an end was wise,  earned the praise of the Premier as well as MLA's in attendance from the morning session ringing in their ears as they bade their farewell.

I rise today to give thanks and bid a warm farewell to two people who have been working — and he's already shaking his head — in this institution for a long time: Randy Ennis, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, and Ron Huck, our security operations commander. 

Both of these individuals, outstanding people, will be leaving the Legislature this week. I wanted to bid them farewell.

As the Spring session wrapped up yesterday, the Liberals having no faith in Mr. Plecas (a former Liberal MLA and caucus member) were again suggesting that it was time for a new Speaker to be put in place, an offer of which Premier Horgan has rejected.

Not a moment too soon, the legislature now stands adjourned until House Leader Mike Farnworth indicates that there is government business at hand and a return to the House is issued, something not expected sometime this fall, pending any form of provincial emergency.

That means that, much like the Christmas break provided for at the end of 2018 and a few instances before, the chaos surrounding the Speaker is now set to make for one of the key stories to follow through these dog days of summer politics in British Columbia.

February 2019 -- Quiet week for Northwest MLA's as Legislature returns
January 2019 -- Report from Speaker Plecas makes for page after page of revelations on Legislature spending
November 2018 -- BC Legislature breaks for Christmas with NDP looking to showcase highlights; but trapped by public's view of chaotic end
November 2018 -- Controversy swirls around Legislature Speaker over ousting of officials
September 2017 -- Testy opening for Throne Speech as NDP introduce Liberal Daryl Plecas as Speaker

The bizarre happenings of the week were chronicled by all of the province's heavy hitters of political coverage, some of the notes can be found below.

May 30 -- Premier rejects Liberal offer for a new Speaker
May 30 -- BC Premier rejects Liberal calls to dump legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas
May 30 -- With House adjourned, who is watching Inspector Plecas?
May 30 -- Like a bull in a China Shop, Speaker Plecas can't be controlled
May 30 -- BC speaker sparks uproar in legislature as he copies hard drives of acting top officers for another probe
May 30 -- BC Legislature in an uproar over another investigation by Speaker Daryl Plecas
May 30 -- Crisis meeting held at BC legislature over Plecas's move to 'safeguard data'
May 30 -- BC Liberals raise 'grave concerns' over Speaker's actions in cloning hard drives of senior legislature staff
May 30 -- Speaker Darryl Plecas survives a day of chaos in the legislature

More notes on the Legislature can be found from our archive page, as well as from our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

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

For the first time in many months, it's a case of an almost full roster for all of the North Coast media outlets

Prince Rupert and area can finally expect some full coverage of local events for the next little while, with the city's three main media sources now finally at full staff, something that has been a rare thing in recent months, with the weekly paper in particular resembling the band Fleetwood Mac when it came to an ever changing roster.

This week, the Northern View has introduced us to their newest reporter, Jenna Cocullo, who arrived in mid May and will join the legion of boisterous Habs fans in the community, able to wear her Rouge, Blanc et Bleu with authenticity by way of her home base of Montreal.

She makes for the latest reporter to join the paper from the Masters of journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.

You can review her "hi, pleased to meet you" entry for the paper here.

Her notes already put Ms. Cocullo on the path to longevity, as compared to reporter Gareth Millroy  a two month vet most recently on staff and a rotation of others who have come and gone over the last few months before readers could really get to  know them.

Waiting in the wings for Editor Shannon Lough to let him tell his story, is Alex Kurial, who also arrived this month and has made it as far as the photo array on page A6 of the paper, but has yet to offer up some details on how his travels brought him to the North Coast.

With the paper back to full strength, there is almost a sizeable chapter of a Media Club now found on the North Coast, with the CBC and TV 7 also fully staffed in Prince Rupert.

Something which should make for lively Friday evening's at the Wheelhouse Brewing Company, which seems to serve as the brew house of choice for local media these days.

However, a note from the Bell Media listings suggests that yet more change is ahead for the local scene, with a new morning announcer seemingly set to be revealed at Prince Rupert's EZ Rock Atlin Terminal studios.

For more items of note on the local media scene see our archive page here.

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

AltaGas opening makes for Legislature notes for MLA Rice

Jennifer Rice made note of the opening of the AltaGas
Terminal at Ridley Island this week for the Legislature

With the Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal now in full operation and having already sent its first shipment of propane to Asia last week, North Coast MLA took some time this week to highlight the Grand Opening this week and some of the benefits that the project has delivered to the region.

In her comments, Ms. Rice celebrated the new focus for the Prince Rupert area that the half billion dollar project will bring, as well as the 40 permanent jobs that have been created from the new facility and how it allows North Coast residents to remain in their hometown and find good paying jobs.

AltaGas has been a good partner to work with, contributing about $400,000 in taxes to the city of Prince Rupert last year. They respect our values and local Indigenous communities by treating First Nations as true partners. 

Congratulations to the construction crew, staff and management on the grand opening of the AltaGas Ridley Island propane terminal. 

 The completion of this project reflects the economic progress being made in our region, and ultimately, brings good-paying, family-supporting jobs to Prince Rupert and area.

Ms. Rice shared her review of the news from the North Coast with the Legislature on Thursday morning and has posted a range of photos related to the Grand opening to her Facebook page.

You can learn more about the newest terminal on the North Coast from our archive page here.

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

Add water supply delivery to the growing list of irritants between Port Edward, Prince Rupert

Port Edward may turn off the water taps to
Watson Island as part of their response to recent
moves from Prince Rupert
The ongoing feud between the City of Prince Rupert and District of Port Edward added another chapter this week.

That with word of the District serving notice on the City that water service to the Watson Island Intermodal Trade and Logistics Park may be turned off unless an agreement on mutual aid is reached.

A report from the Northern View yesterday indicated the scope of the latest in a growing list of issues between the two communities which have been at loggerheads for a number of years now, with the cause of the aggravation related to attempts by the City of Prince Rupert re-open and revise the Ridley Island Tax Agreement.

The mutual aid agreement, which would ensure Fire protection services for each community in a time of emergency was suspended earlier this year, when Prince Rupert stated that the District had not responded to a request for a written request.

The suspension of the agreement, was then followed by a request by the City of Prince Rupert to the Provincial government for the de-incorporation of the District or forced amalgamation, something which as we noted last week was a request that has not gained much of the way of traction from the Horgan government in Victoria.

From the recent moves out of the District, it would seem that they won't be easily intimidated by the moves of their larger neighbour and would seem to have a few cards of their own to make use of.

The options for Prince Rupert would seem somewhat limited when it comes to the delivery of water services to the Watson Island site, which will soon see camp activity ramping up significantly as the work on the Pembina LPG project gets started.

The city can either agree to meet with the District on themes of mutual aid, or begin the process of building their own water infrastructure and tie it into the city's own water supply.

Though one would imagine that would be a fairly expensive project and one that would require some kind of interim plan for water service while such a pipeline was constructed if required.

Mayor Brain and City Council members have remained rather silent of late on the range of issues between the two communities and the growing animosity that has evolved, a significant change from the full out social media bombast that marked the flare up of tensions during the October election campaign.

Since that time the Mayor has not provided residents of Prince Rupert with any form of an update on the nature of the dispute between the two sides, nor what steps the city has taken when it comes to addressing the ongoing issues between the two communities.

A look back at some of the recent notes out of both the District of Port Edward and City of Prince Rupert can be found from our archive pages below:

District of Port Edward Discussion points
Discussion points from Prince Rupert City Council

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

Jennifer Rice offers chance for Premier Horgan to highlight infrastructure, internet and cel phone initiatives for Haida Gwaii and North Coast

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice provided a chance Thursday for Premier Horgan
to recount some recent spending by the government in the Northwest

The questions for the most part were that of something from T ball, where MLA Jennifer Rice among many NDP MLA's on the day,  would walk over to the Tee, place the ball atop and stand back ...  providing a few chances for Premier John Horgan to take a few swings for batting practice.

First on themes of investment in infrastructure across the Northwest, where the premier delivered a roll call of communities and shout outs for Mayors including that of Prince Rupert's Lee Brain.

I thank the member for her questions. I know that in a ferry-dependent community like the north coast, those are the areas that are particularly important to her. We have an additional 2,700 round trips to be provided through ten routes. Port Hardy, mid coast Prince Rupert, and of course, Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert as well — these are critical to her community. 

Reinvesting and re-establishing routes that had been terminated by the previous government was vital to that. Rural connectivity. 

When it comes to broadband, 440 communities, 70 of which are Indigenous, have been connected since we started the initiative two years ago. We've been connecting the coast and First Nations through a whole range of other initiatives, whether it be through investments in education, investments in child care, telehealth and so on. 

 But the biggest investment, I think, that the member would be aware of — and the impact on Prince Rupert — was the $100 million infrastructure grant for the northwest or for communities right across the north of British Columbia. Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Smithers, Burns Lake, Mackenzie, all the way through to Valemount, got access to this $100 million grant.

I think of mayor Lee Brain in Prince Rupert, talking — as you have, Member — since we first met, about the wooden pipes in Prince Rupert. It's high time that infrastructure investments were made in rural communities. We've provided the resources so that those infrastructure investments can be made.

Another invitation to offer comment, provided a chance for Mr. Horgan to deliver the NDP government's newest talking points on cel phone and internet service plans for Haida Gwaii and other coastal areas.

Ms. Rice brought some of the waning moments of Thursday Legislature session to a close with some thoughts towards that topic and another invitation to share some notes from the Premier.

Access to reliable Internet and cell phone service is a modern-day piece of infrastructure that is often taken for granted. Yet, coastal B.C. and many northern and rural, remote First Nations communities lack this access. Can the Premier explain what this government is doing to improve Internet and cell phone infrastructure for rural, remote and First Nations communities in B.C.?

The Premier delivered some observations and shout outs for
issues of the North Coast on the final day of the spring session on Thursday

In reply, Mr. Horgan took advantage of the speaking time to reflect on some of the work the government has already moved forward in the way of the Connected Coast Fibre Link project between Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert.

I thank the member for the question. I talked earlier about the connectivity issues that we've been working on, but specifically, when it comes to Vancouver Island, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, we've been making great strides connecting these communities around the coast and looping that back to exchange with Vancouver. That means that we can keep people in their communities, and they can still access the services that they need, whether it's health care, education, emergency preparedness or preparing for the jobs of the future.

He also made the most of the invitation to comment by reflecting on how the province has moved to protect Indigenous languages across BC.

I've got a comment here from a Haida elder. Of course, you will know that Haida Gwaii is one of the most spectacular places on the planet. It's a jewel of the north coast. Now Haida elders can see their children staying in communities because they're connected by Internet services. Broadband opens up the world to people who have oftentimes felt isolated and alone. 

That has a profound impact on how people look at themselves, look at their culture and look at their community. I mentioned Port Renfrew, on the far end of my constituency, which is at the end of the highway, although there's now a loop through a logging road infrastructure. It was at the end of the road. Get a little bit of rain there, as well, so keeping a positive disposition in November, December and January is sometimes difficult. I know the member for North Coast sees a little bit of rain in her community as well, so being able to access the world through broadband allows all of us to be global citizens. So the notion of being isolated and alone in small rural remote communities, as important as that is to the families and the communities that exist there 

Being able to connect to the rest of the world is so fundamental to who we will be in the future. I think British Columbia has been leading the way, making sure that, as our contribution to Canada, we're connecting all of the disparate groups so they can keep contact with each other. That will also help with protecting and preserving Indigenous languages. 

I know the member has just a plethora of Indigenous communities in her constituency, and protecting Indigenous language is fundamental to culture. 

We oftentimes hear the Quebec question, the two-language question in Canada. I think now, as we look at going into the 2020s, we're no longer talking about two languages in Canada. We're talking about dozens and dozens — in fact, hundreds of languages in Canada. That is, I think, transformative. 

We'll be able to achieve so much, because we can contact people inside communities and, in fact, across the country and across the globe so that we can preserve and record the languages that kept British Columbia moving for millennia. These are powerful investments that don't often make it onto the front pages of the newspapers. 

We invested $50 million in Indigenous languages in our first budget — unprecedented investment. We did so because the keepers of those languages, the elders in communities across B.C., are sadly passing on, and with them goes the language, the knowledge of the culture, and we need to preserve that. Investing in languages is one of the most important things we can do to preserve and maintain the cultures that are so distinct here in British Columbia and particularly in the member's community.

You can explore the Premier's review of the impact of better communication services from the Legislature record here at 16:10PM.

As well as from the House Video for Thursday afternoon starting at the 4:10PM mark.

The Connected Coast project is a partnership between CityWest and the Stratchona Regional District on Vancouver Island, and was first detailed full in 2018.

You can learn more about it here.

The current status for the project has the Stratchona Regional District scheduling a number of consultation sessions to  outline the nature of the project and to hear from residents in that area.

For some background on the CityWest involvement with the Sub Sea Fibre Link see some of our past items below:

August 1, 2018 -- CityWest partner, Stratchona Regional District to put Connected Coast Broadband plans to Alernate Approval process
May 4, 2018 -- CityWest and Strathcona Regional District launch online home for Sub Sea Communication project
March 1, 2018 -- MLA touts CityWest's contribution to Coastal communication links
February 14, 2018 -- Sub Sea Fibre project gets shout out from BC Speech from the Throne
January 18, 2018  -- CityWest outlines the blue print for subsea fibre plans

August 2017 -- CityWest awaits federal funding decision on subsea fibre plans

For more notes related to the work of MLA Rice at the Legislature see our archive page herea wider overview of Provincial issues can be found as part of our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

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

Province approach towards reconciliation, pipeline blockades among questions for Premier from MLA Ellis Ross

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross spoke to a number of Northwest issues
in the final day of the spring session Thursday

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross had opportunity to take a range of topics to the Premier on the final day of the Spring session Thursday, framing much of his early commentary on the issues related to the natural gas pipeline through the territory of the Wet'suwet'en and the appointment of soon to be retiring Member of Parliament Murray Rankin, as the provincial government's emissary when it comes to provincial engagement in the area.

The process under Murray Rankin. Is that absolutely separate from the blockade issue? Or is it a parallel issue? Or is it a related issue? I understand that you want to create the relationship. I understand the issue around reconciliation and then the Delgamuukw case.

But my concern is the initial process that took over 15 years to accomplish with a law-abiding company that actually achieved all of its certificates, all of its permits and actually carried out the principles of case law, as far as I could tell, to a T. 

That's how we got unanimous consent from all of the band councils — elected band leaders from Prince George to Kitimat and even further down the channel. 

 I'm trying to understand the process that Murray Rankin is actually leading as your emissary. 

What is the objective in relation to the pipeline blockade, if any?

In reply to the line of questions, the Premier noted how engagement continued with both the province and Federal government on addressing the issues in the area.

Again, I thank the member for his questions. They come from a place of deep understanding, and I appreciate that. I acknowledge that, dealing with what has been re-emerging as the long-standing traditional decision-making and governance processes within Indigenous communities, particularly the Wet'suwet'en. 

At the same time, two orders of government, the federal and provincial governments, are working on addressing reconciliation in a genuine way, addressing rights and title as defined by Delgamuukw and also living under the Indian Act band council model. It's not an easy thing, and the member knows this, because he's experienced it firsthand. 

Mr. Ross also offered up some of his own thoughts on reconciliation and asked to what actions the province may take when it comes to ongoing concerns over a blockade of the Coastal Gas Link project,

Reconciliation. I have a different term of reconciliation than most. I'm trying to close the gap in terms of standard of living. This is the very first opportunity in the history of Canada that we've been able to do this, ever since the fur trading days. So this is absolutely critical that we get this right. I understand the sensitivities. 

But I also understand the principle of case law. It got us to this place in the first place. Now, the government is in a pretty awkward, sensitive situation, so I'll take that answer as no, this process under Murray Rankin has got has nothing to do with the blockade. I understand that the objective is mainly towards relationship-building and talking about Delgamuukw, in whatever form that might be.  

Is it my understanding that, then, the Crown will not take any part in resolving the pipeline blockade and actually just leave that up to the company in question, CGL, well as the injunction?

For his part, the Premier noted that at this time, he saw no need for the province to take action at this time.

What we've been trying to do is do more than one thing at a time. We believe that the industrial activity that we all want to see that will flow from the CGL work and culminate with the creation of LNG Canada in Kitimat can and will be achieved in short order. It's happening right now. 

I have no information that shows me that there's any challenges for CGL right now. It's a sensitive question. The member knows that. There will be points of conflict going forward, and we'll address those as they emerge. But as it stands right now, the injunction is being respected.

Beyond the focus on the specific issues related to the Coastal Gas Link pipeline and LNG Canada project for Kitimat, the Premier addressed a wider theme of Indigenous negotiations, a topic that Mr. Ross further explored during his time on Thursday.

Whatever decision the Crown comes to around title, if you choose to go down a road, it would have to be applied to 203 bands in B.C. This will be a precedent, because title has never been decided upon by the Crown. It's always been decided upon through treaty negotiations or through the courts.

Apart from that, it's always a vague conversation around development on territories where rights and title may be infringed. I understand that it's a complicated subject. A lot of people don't understand the concept of title. Many lawyers don't understand it, so I don't expect political leaders, as well as governmental staff, to truly understand what it means.

I've always settled for the idea to go to court to figure it out in the manner of Tsilhqot'in, for example, because I don't understand how it could play out unless the government is deciding to go down a road of discussion of title.

It's unfair for the First Nations to be put in a position where they have to defend the conversations they're having with government when the ink is dry. It's very unfair to put them in that position. And it's very unfair for non–First Nations not to understand what's happening with the land base or the fish and the animals and whatnot. 

 In fact, one of the principles of case law….. I will reiterate what your Attorney General said: that they will view rights and title through the lens of section 35 and the pursuant case law. Now, in terms of everything that I've heard from your ministers, that is the one statement I do agree with. 

It actually provides a way out for the Crown as well as the First Nations. So I just want to know: what will be the process to keep the non–First Nations apprised of what's going on with the talks around the land and the animals and the rights and title associated with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs?

As a point of reference for the House Mr. Horgan highlighted how each Indigenous community has different aspirations when it comes to negotiations and  how they choose to engage with the government.

The member put a lot of stuff on the table. Firstly, with respect to Tsilhqot'in, title exists. There's a map. It exists. That has not led to a rush to the Supreme Court to determine maps in other parts of the province. The member knows Indigenous communities are not homogenous, even within territories. Challenges between the Nisga'a and the Lax Kw'alaams and the Metlakatla and, here in my territory, the Nuu-chah-nulth and the Coast Salish — this has been here predating the Indian Act. These challenges have existed for millennia.

The Premier also made note of past efforts to resolve rights and title by Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell and the lessons the NDP government learned from those days as they look to find what Mr. Horgan described as the way forward.

The former Premier, Premier Campbell, made a concerted effort to resolve some rights and title issues in one fell swoop. That was met with resistance from nations right around the province, so we learned a lesson from that as well. And I believe the course we are on now is a result of failed and successful exercises over many decades of Indigenous, non-Indigenous relationships with respect to the land, Crown-to-nation discussions, two orders of government — federal-provincial — as well as a multitude of nations throughout British Columbia. Hard work, and work that needs to be done — progress being made when leadership steps up in non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities and finds a way forward. 

 He made reference to the caribou question. I had a good exchange with the member for Peace River South in estimates. We talked about this, in some detail, in his community, as well as before I got there. It is difficult to put, in that case, West Moberly in soto in the position of having to defend their rights to talk to government about issues that are relevant in their territory. 

But negotiating in public is also very difficult, so we have to find a way to ensure that all members of the community are included in the discussion so that we don't have that tension and acrimony between Indigenous and non-Indigenous. 

 We're doing our level best to try and find that way forward. It will be difficult. There will be points of friction within communities and outside of communities. But we want to do our level best to reduce that and make sure that everyone can realize their full potential on territories, in the case of Indigenous people that have been there for millennia, and also for those newcomers to British Columbia, who have been here for generations or even just for days. That's the nature of our dynamic community, and I'm very excited about the prospects going forward. I know that you are as well.

The full exchange between the Skeena MLA and the Premier is well worth a review as it provides a fair amount of background on the ongoing efforts towards reconciliation and negotiation across the Northwest.

You can review  the discussion from the minutes of the Thursday session here, starting at the  14:50 minute mark.

The video presentation of the House proceedings can be found here, with Mr. Ross's contributions and the Premier's replies again starting at the 2:52 point.

For more items of interest related to the work of Mr. Ross at the Legislature see our archive page here, a wider overview of Provincial issues can be found as part of our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

As short lived lockout ends, trade flows again through Fairview Terminal

Container Trucks lined up outside of the Scott Road gate
shortly after 11:30 this morning

The hum of machinery makes for the sound of business on the Prince Rupert waterfront and container trucks continue to roll through the downtown core,.

That after a short lived lockout by the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association came to an end by mid-morning, with all night bargaining delivering a tentative deal between the BCMEA and ILWU members up and down the coast of British Columbia.

Locally Prince Rupert workers reported for work for the 8AM shift at Fairvew as normal and by late  morning Container trucks were lined up outside the Scott Road Gate waiting for their entry as word of the lifting of the lockout spread.

The giant cranes that lift containers on and off the vessels began to ramp up their efforts significantly by about mid afternoon when the noise from the waterfront indicated that operations were well underway to work the Gerda Maersk which is scheduled to depart Prince Rupert later today.

The notice of success at the bargaining table came through a range of methods including social media, with the ILWU noting that no terms of the tentative deal will be released until the tentative agreement is voted on by ILWU members.

Patty Hajdu, the Federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour also issued a statement related to today's announcement saof labour peace on the BC waterfront, noting the involvement of mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Should the deal be ratified by union workers, indications from Vancouver where the negotiations took  place suggest that the deal will signify a positive long-term outlook for operations at the BCMEA operated terminals.

May 30 -- Port of Vancouver lockout lifted after longshore workers and BC Maritime Employers Association read tentative deal 
May 30 -- Vancouver port workers, association reach agreement
May 30 -- BC Port employers, union reach tentative agreement
May 30 -- Tentative 'give and take' agreement re-opens BC ports
May 30 -- Lockout ends for 6,500 port workers after tentative deal reached
May 30 -- Tentative deal reached to end BC Port lockout

For more notes related to the labour dispute see our archive page here, a wider overview of Port related news can be found from our Port of Prince Rupert Archive page here.

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Spring Cleaning at City Hall

A city work crew was making the most of the sunshine this morning as Prince Rupert's City Hall received a spring touch up. Such was the nature of the work, that a Genie Lift Truck was required to help workers access those hard to reach places as part of the day's efforts.

City Hall is not the only location getting some maintenance today, city crews were spread out around the city with lawn mowing and weed removal and gardening work among some of the duties that were underway.

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Legislature's Police Complaint Committee seeking public feedback on complaint process

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross is one of five members of BC Legislature committee
currently exploring potential changes to the Province's Police complaint process

A Legislature committee that has been created to study issues of the Police complaint process in the province is in the midst of a public consultation period, with residents of British Columbia offered the opportunity to share their thoughts until June 28th.

As we outlined on the blog in February, the committee includes Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, with their work now reaching the public consultation phase. 

The members will be looking for feedback on how the current process works and what improvements need to be made to improve it.

To participate in the current consultation process see the consultation page here and follow the instructions that are listed.

The committee most recently held discussions on May 21st, for more background on the work that they have done so far as well as the consultation period currently underway, see the Committee website here.

For more items of note related to the Skeena MLA's work in Victoria see our archive page here.

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Prince Rupert to join the list of Healthy Living Communities on the Move in British Columbia

It took an extra month before City Council made their decision, but at Monday's City Council session the City of Prince Rupert joined the list of some 130 plus communities or organizations that have signed on to the BC Alliance for Healthy Living Communities On the Move Declaration.

The positive reaction to the request came following a presentation from Chris Lightfoot, the organizer of the local group Complete Streets for Prince Rupert.

At Monday's Council session, Mr. Lightfoot outlined some of the goals and ambitions for the program and how it would provide for a positive impact for Prince Rupert.

Mr. Lightfoot's original date for appearance was to be at the April Committee of the Whole session, but as council members noted following his presentation that had to be rescheduled owing to a mix up last month.

Among the themes the Complete Streets For Prince Rupert founder explored were the shared goals that his group and the BC Alliance for Healthy Living have when it comes to development of smart, fair and health safe transportation and mobility options in the community.

Towards delivery of such initiatives the declaration calls for increased support and funding for transit in communities across the province, development of a transportation strategy, commitments towards equity, acknowledgement of regional concerns and a commitment for safety and safe streets for those communities that sign on.

Mr. Lightfoot also made note as to how the declaration fits in well with the City of Prince Rupert's Official Community Plan, pointing towards the elements of commitment to community health and a sustainable approach to connecting various segments to the community.

Among the areas where the declaration mirrors some of the city's goals are in areas such as fostering opportunities for non vehicular transportation and integration with cycling trails and pedestrian links.

He also observed as to how as there are no cost or budget implications for the City with signing onto the declaration, that  it aligns well with the City's budget ambitions.

Following his presentation, City Council members made some inquires of the proposal, with Councillor Adey making the first commentary, first noting how he was thankful that Mr. Lightfoot did return to deliver his presentation following last months mix up on the arrangements for the Committee of the Whole.

He added that having had an opportunity to review the document and how he found many of the aspirational objectives fantastic opportunities to explore.

As for questions, the councillor asked if he had any idea as to what kind of level of interest the province has shown towards the initiative, as well as to ask from Mr. Lighfoot's perspective what are the two or three most doable projects that could be taken on.

As for the provincial interest Mr. Lightfoot noted that the province has opened up discsussion on their active transportation strategy, he thought it was a positive step, though he did not have any details as to how far along the province may be on acting on the declaration, adding that he was cautiously optimistic.

When it comes to local issues, he noted that from the Complete Streets initiative they have called for a complete pathway from East to West, through Third Avenue West, one which he notes would be safe, accessible and enjoyable for people in wheelchairs, bicycles and cars.

To reinforce that theme he posed a few questions for council to consider.

"Would you feel comfortable letting your eight year old ride across town along Third Avenue?  Would an elderly person feel comfortable crossing the street, or get through downtown on a power chair or wheelchair?"

He observed how a good first step for the city would be to review the intersections of the city where there are problems and work to remedy those issues. He also noted that many parents drive their children to school and the City may wish to examine why that is and what it will take to get youngsters more active.

Councillor Skelton-Morven  also spoke following Mr. Lightfoot's notes,  thanking him for his presentation on the evening.

Later in the Regular Council session Council members would adopt the declaration, with Councillor Mirau speaking in favour of the motion. With Mr. Mirau making note that despite the snafu of a month ago, it was a happy coincidence that it came up on the agenda during Bike to Work Week

He also pointed to cross section of consensus that the declaration offers, including those of mobility challenges, businesses, environmental outcomes and human health and safety all coming together.

You can review Mr. Lightfoot's presentation to Council from the City's Video archive starting at the beginning of the City's Committee of the Whole session.

To view the Declaration for Communities on the Move see the BC Alliance for Healthy Living website.

You can explore more about Complete Streets for Prince Rupert from their website, Facebook page or twitter feed.

Further notes from the City's Monday Council session can be found from our Council Timeline, while a wider overview of council's work can be reviewed on our Council Discussion points archive.

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CN Rail set to commence with annual Vegetation Management Program

CN Rail is about to launch its annual attack on vegetation along the
CN Northern line from Prince George to Prince Rupert

With summer just over the horizon now, Canadian National Railway is about to launch its annual Vegetation Management program, with workers set to get to work on a three month program of clearing the railway's right of way between Prince Rupert and Prince George.

This years program starts on June 1st and will continue through until mid September, with a certified applicator applying herbicides on and around the railways tracks, mainly in areas of the gravelled areas and ballast segments of the rail line.

The areas of most concern to the railway when it comes to
vegetation control along the Northern BC line

In an advisory to the public, CN notes that all product requirements for setbacks in the vicinity of dwellings, aquatic environments and municipal water supplies will be met.

The need to address the vegetation is one of safety, with the railway noting how if left un-controlled the vegetation can contribute to track side fires and impair proper inspection of railway track infrastructure.

In the Northwest, the timeline for delivery of the program will see the work carried out between June 7th and 27th.

More on the program and the list of dates for work across Northern BC can be explored here.

Local environmental groups have found much to fault with CN's previous approaches to their spraying program and have raised a number of concerns about how they may plan to do their Pest management program in the future.

A look back at some of the fall out from the program in years past can be found below:

June 2018 -- Concerns of Environmental groups for CN Vegetation plan gain increased media attention across the Northwest
November 2017 -- Province continues investigation into CN Rail spraying program of fall
October 2017 -- CN Rail facing question following NW fall vegetation control program

For more items of note related to CN Rail operations in the Northwest see our archive page here.

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Civic Recognition Nominations to be received until June 7

The City of Prince Rupert has opened a one week window for nominations for this years Civic Recognition Awards, with the public invited to review the categories and submit a nomination should they have someone in mind that fills the qualifications

Towards that process, the City of Prince Rupert is now accepting nominations for the range of Awards that the City presents, some of which are a little harder to qualify for than others, with categories ranging from Appreciation to the Freedom of the City, the latter, the highest honour the city has to offer.

Over the years numerous Prince Rupert residents have been honoured for their contribution to the community, a mix of those well known for their frequent volunteer activities or achievements around the city and others who perhaps made one lasting impression on someone for their kindness or efforts.

All have contributed to the betterment of Prince Rupert, with many of those that find their names in nominations providing for community leadership at its most grassroots level.

There seven categories for award nominations for this year include:

Freedom of the City -- The highest honour that the City has, it's not often that it is bestowed, generally reserved for an individual of high achievement or one who has had an impact on the community, it can also be awarded to a unit of the armed forces of Canada or another country.

Civic Merit Award -- Bestowed to an individual  who has brought distinction to the community through outstanding achievement in one or more areas of consideration: business and entrepreneurship, arts and entertainment, science and academics, health and education, sports and youth leadership and volunteer and community service.

Civic Appreciation Award -- An expression of civic appreciation to an individual and/or group for their services and contributions that have benefited the community.

Certificate of Appreciation -- For those who have made a contribution to a Council established committee or task force to which they have been appointed to.

Appreciation Pin -- Presented to those in the community who have volunteered for a committee.

Achievement Award -- Acknowledgement from the community for those individuals, teams or groups of persons who have achieved Provincial, National or International honours in various areas of endeavour, or have performed a noteworthy deed.

Sergeant William Booth Award -- Presented to an individual who, acting on their own initiative or as members of volunteer organizations, demonstrate unusual humanitarian effort in order to help and protect their fellow citizens, sometimes placing themselves at great personal risk.

The deadline for consideration for this years cycle of nominations is 4:30 PM on Friday, June 7th, 2019.

Only those nominations that are submitted on the city's nomination form will be considered for awards.

Nomination forms can be picked up at City Hall or downloaded here.

The full overview of the criteria for the Award nominations can be reviewed from the Civic Recognition page on the City of Prince Rupert website.

Prince Rupert, will once again celebrate the best of the community at this years Canada Day celebrations, with the annual Civic Recognition Awards Ceremony now firmly in place as part of our national day day celebrations at Mariner's Park, an event that is hosted by the Prince Rupert Special Events Society.

For more information drop or contact City Hall:

424-3rd Avenue West,  
Prince Rupert, BC 
V8J 1L7 
 Phone Number: 250-627-0934

More items of note related to the work of City Council can be found on our Council Discussion page, while a larger archive of civic notes can be found here.

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

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Familiar name from days of education in Prince Rupert set to retire, as Lynn Hauptman bids farewell to Kootenay region schools

Lynn Hauptman, a long time fixture in education with School District 52 prior to her departure for the Kootenays six years ago, is set to retire at the end of this school year, with School District 5 officials praising her work and achievements for education in the region since arriving in 2013.

Ms. Hauptman had two periods of work on the North Coast before taking her position in the Kootenay region, having worked with SD52 in a range of positions from 1981-1995.

She then returned to the Prince Rupert District in 2009 to take up the responsibilities as Superintendent of Education, that after serving for a number of years in the Okanagan Skaha School District.

Her time at the helm of SD52 came amidst some challenging moments for the board, including the great Yertle the Turtle debate related to freedom of expression by District teachers.

Some of our past notes of Ms. Hauptman's time with SD52 can be reviewed below.

April 2013 -- Now the School District really does need a succession plan
February 2013 -- School District T shirt controversy catches the eye of the BC Civil Liberties Association
January 2013 -- More discord between Union and School Board
December 2012 -- Glad tidings to you wherever you are (except perhaps the SD52 office)
December  2012 -- At SD52 when it comes to consultants, everything old is new again ...

A statement from SD5 officials observed how the educator and superintendent had 'nourished a strong culture of inquiry based teaching and learning that encouraged positive, inclusive, safe and caring classrooms and improved learning outcomes for students in the the District'.

As they wished her well in her retirement it was noted that 'she leaves the field of education with a great legacy of achievement'.

The farewell to the Kootenay School District has been chronicled by a number of media organizations this week as word was released of her pending retirement

May 24 -- SD5 Superintendent Lynn Hauptman retiring at end of school year
May 24 -- SD5 superintendent heads to retirement
May 24 -- School District 5 superintendent announces retirement
May 24 -- Lynn Hauptman retiring as School District 5 Superintendent

For more notes related to education on the North Coast see our archive page here.

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