Wednesday, May 15, 2019

City Council Timeline: Monday, May 13, 2019

A Public Hearing, a review of the Audited Financial Statements and a new Policy for Allocation of recreation facilities and fields in the community were the main events for Monday's City Council session.

Also attended to on the evening were some housekeeping items of variance permit request, request for letters of support and some civic appointments local Society Boards.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the Agenda elements for the May 13th Council session can be reviewed here.

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, May 13, 2019

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

Video Archive for May 13, 2019

( 0:00 -- 7:30 ) Public Hearing for Chamberlin Avenue property --Mr. Brain opened the session by outlining the nature of the process and the review of the change in zoning for the property.

Following his opening comment, the Mayor then called on City Planner Zeno Krekic to deliver his report on the subject property on the night.

Mr. Krekic reviewed much of the past material that Council has heard in relation to the request for the zoning change, noting how the property had previously hosted a hotel and restaurant in the form of the Neptune Inn, but had been rezoned to allow for a Seniors Housing.

As those plans have changed, the owner Macro Properties wishes to sell it to James and Corinne Warburton who would then return the property to use for hotel like tourist accommodation and restaurant facilities if approved.

The City planner noted that there had been no any over the counter inquiries or comments related to the application.

One member of the public came forward to comment, with Brian Musgrave of Rainbow Chrysler which is also on Chamberlin Avenue, with the auto dealer speaking in favour of the zoning change, observing how it would be a benefit to the businesses that are located in the same area.

With no other participation from the public, the hearing was adjourned and Council would further consider the topic later in the Regular council session.


 Regular Council Session

( 7:30 -- 9:00 )   Regular City Council Session for April 8, 2019 --  Mayor Brain called the Regular Council Session to order, with Council adopting the agenda and past minutes of previous minutes. 

Reports and Recommendations

9:00  --  18:30  )   Report from the Director of Recreation and Community Services on a new Recreation Policy    -- David Geronazzo provided council with an overview of the work of a policy commission that examined the best way to allocate space at civic facilities and fields.

Councillor Niesh provided some further background on the policy work, noting that the group from the Recreation Commission had met a number of times during the study period to determine what he called a good and fair allocation of the city's recreation options.

Councillor Adey made note of an element of the prioritization list and inquired about how they determined criteria for local events, he was advised that the city would continue to use the existing definition of existing events, with Councillor Niesh adding that the focus would be on such groups as the Craft Fair, All Native Basketball Tournament and such, what he called the big groups that use the facility for a day or more.

Councillor Cunningham noted the ranking of priorities and inquired as to where the Senior Men's Hockey team and Women's hockey would fit into the scheduling. Bookings for civic centre facilties will be based on the category of the group such as youth or adult.

Mr. Cunningham followed up by noting how some groups are being pushed back further and further in the prioritization, observing how both of the hockey users have been in existence for a number of years and how there could be room for another category for the priority list.

Mr. Geronazzo tried to reassure the Councillor that the new policy won't have an impact on how they assign time, while Councillor Niesh added that youth have a priority in the case of the Arena so as to support them with the best of the times available.

Council then voted to approve the new policy.

( 18:30-- 20:30 Report from the City Planner related to a request for a development variance for a property on First Avenue West --  Mr. Krekic outlined the nature of the request which is address issues related to the retention of a deck for the property.

Council then moved forward with the request for the variance, which will now head towards public notification.

(  20:30 - 28:50 )   Report from the  Chief Financial Officer on the Audited Financial Statements   --  Ms. Bomben outlined the review of the background to Audited Financial process which came to a conclusion at the end of 2018. The CFO referred to the update as a Snapshot in time representing the end of the fiscal year, as part of the report she reviewed the range of material provided by the city's auditors.

The city's financial position in cash and cash equivalents has increased by 3.8 million from the prior year owing to grant funding for phase one of the water replacement project completed in 2018, while General Receivables decreased by 3.5 million given most of the provincial grant for phase one was recorded as receivable at December of 2017.

The deferred revenue increased by 1.1 million primarily due to the early receipt of lease payments to fund development costs on City owned lands.

Among the Debenture debts the balance on the Cruise Ship Dock is 1.3 million dollars due in 2025, with the Airport upgrade balance owing is listed as 5.9 million due in 2034.

Tangible capital assets through infrastructure included the West Berm expansion and phase one of the water project were the most significant with other assets such as the work done on McBride and other budgeted road paving made up the balance.  As well, the RCMP Detachment Cell block upgrade and the acquisition of the public works modular building on Wantage road made up the remainder of the increase to city assets.

Ms. Bomben observed how the working capital of the city to service current liabilities is good, with the City ratio listed at 2.4 to 1.

Revenues were close to budget with only significant notes, the non receipt for the Water Grant fund as the project had not yet started in 2018. The increase in Building Permit fees received and the lease income from Prince Rupert Legacy sublease on Watson Island.

Expenses were also close to budget with ongoing Watson Island development costs being higher and utilities expenses and road maintenance coming in lower than budgeted. This all contributed towards the excess of revenue over expenditure.

The Operating Surplus increase experienced is mainly due to funds advanced through dividends from Legacy for road work in 2019 and un-budgeted building permit fees and penalties and interest on late taxes.

The utility funds ended the year with a surplus due to expenses being less that anticipated. The surpluses in each of the funds will go towards ongoing capital projects in the future.

The most significant of variances in fiscal revenues to the approved budgets included dividends from Legacy and building permit fees received in development services.

In the expenditures some capital projects were either not completed or not undertaken and rolled over until 2019. Projects such as a retaining wall, boiler replacement, completion of the West Berm expansion and Phase Two of the water project all contributed in a surplus.

Ms. Bomben noted that as in the past included in the report were the financial statements for Prince Rupert Legacy Inc., observing that the working capital is good meaning that there is sufficient cash to discharge immediate liabilities.

She also outlined how the company has received rent in advance to assist with land preparation costs for current and future lease opportunities.  The year concluded with the company net income increasing by three million as a result of leases on company owned and leased land.

Overall Ms. Bomben noted how the city has kept in line with its budget, proceeded to take on infrastructure projects through grant opportunities and continued to deliver services for the community to thrive.

Council members offered their praise of the work of the financial department, Councillor Randhawa asked for some clarification on the Legacy Inc information related to expense recoveries on reclamation costs by a tenant as well as developmental costs on Watson Island.

Councillor Mirau offered his commendation to staff for their delivery of the financial plan for the year, along with a follow inquiry on the decline in revenue from the pool.

Council then voted to accept the Audited Financial Statements.

The full documentation from the audited Financial statements should be posted to the City's Financial page in the weeks ahead.

( 28:50 -- 30:00 Report from the Chief Financial Officer on the March Financial Variance Report -- Ms Bomben outlined the details of the March Variance report noting that operating and utility revenues and expenses are on track for this year and within budget. While there are two variances of note compared to the this year with expenses at the cemetery ( replacement of storage equipment) and Fire Department Overtime costs were required to boost those numbers.

The report was accepted by Council

30:00 - 30:50)  Correspondence for Action

Request from Child Find BC -- Mayor Brain outlined the nature of the request for a letter the proclamation of National Missing Children's Month and Day. Council then voted to approve the motion.

Request from the Prince Rupert Port Authority -- The Port requested the city's support in their work towards development of a National Trade corridor, the Council approved the motion.

(30:50 -- 31:50 ) Announcements from Closed Meetings -- The City's Deputy Corporate Administrator outlined two appointments to community Boards.

Carolina de Ryk appointed to the Prince Rupert Library Board

Margaret Cavin appointed to the Performing Arts Society Board

( 31:50 -- 33:50 Recommendation from Public Hearing on Chamberlin Avenue Property -- Council reviewed the findings from the Public Hearing held previously in the evening, with Councillors  Niesh and Mirau speaking strongly in support to return the building to use.

Council gave third and final readings to the required bylaws.

( 33:50  -- 39:15  ) Reports Questions and Comments from Council members 

Councillor Adey raised questions related to the city's approach towards funding of community organizations and the previously announced plan to restructure how that grant funding is delivered. He inquired as to the progress of the project and if community groups would be participating in the new policy discussions. The City's Chief Financial Officer observed that she is currently working on the project at the moment, with plans to use the Rupert Talks platform as well as invitations to existing local groups for consultation towards developing the new community grant policy.

Councillor Cunningham called attention to concerns related to how the city chooses to enforce No Parking regulations around major events, with particular concern related to parking on the highway near the PAC and the Civic Centre. He was advised by the CFO that the city is not selective and does not have a policy of not enforcing parking regulations. She did express interest in looking further into the issue of parking on the highway during any events.

Mr. Cunningham's second comment on the night was related to the recent NCLGA meetings in Williams Lake offering some his notes from the Hospital Board meeting, making note of the ongoing plans for development of an expanded Mills Memorial Hospital and his concerns that Prince Rupert may lose some medical services as a result.  Towards that theme he called for the bringing up of a Health advisory group, announcing his wish to discuss the issue at the next council meeting.

Mayor Brain also provided a short overview of the NCLGA gathering, noting that he moderated panels on Rail Safety and Electric Cars, from their work in Williams Lake they will bringing some of the issues raised to the UBCM convention in the fall.

Councillor Randhawa asked if the Mayor had any further information related to the possible removal of ferry service between Prince Rupert and Alaska. The Mayor advised that he will be providing a Community update on the Ferry situation at an upcoming council meeting.

Councillor Niesh observed as to the recent announcement of the suspension of the development of the Highway 16 Crossing project at Mile 28 and suggested that staff write a letter to determine why it was cancelled beyond the cost.  The Mayor noted that an upcoming meeting is set to take place with the Regional Director and invited any councillor with an interest to attend the meeting

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

You can access the City Council Review for May 13th 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 May 13th, 2019 (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.

The Next session for Prince Rupert City Council is scheduled for May 27th,  which will be a Committee of the Whole Night, offering up an opportunity for the public to comment on other issues of concern to Council if they wish.

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

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