Wednesday, July 24, 2019

City Council Timeline: Monday, July 22, 2019

The summer sessions are on for Prince Rupert City Council and with the daylight a little longer and the sun often shining this month, Council did not spend too much time on Monday in the confines of the City Council chamber.

Settling in for their only public session for July, Council took care of a fairly light agenda in thirty nine minutes on the evening.

Among the talking points on the night, a review of the May variance report, a proposed change to zoning for Biggar Place, an appointment to the Library Board an a short note of introduction on the hiring of a new Corporate Administrator for the City.

Council also heard two reports from the Mayor, with Mr. Brain introducing a resolution on a call to allow for Permanent Residents of Canada to have the right to vote, as well as an update on the state of discussions when it comes to the Alaska Marine Highway Service to the community.

As it was the only meeting for July, Monday also was a Committee of the Whole Night, with Council receiving a presentation from a pair of representatives from the Prince Rupert Library, who outlined some items of note from the past year and a look towards the future for the facility.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Regular Meeting and Committee of the Whole Agenda elements for the July 22nd Council session can be explored here.

Council also met in a closed session earlier in the evening, hosting a 5 PM meeting

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, July 22, 2019

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present 
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 Monday, July 22, 2019

Committee of the Whole

( 0:00 -- 3:30 )  Adoption of Agenda -- Mayor Brain called the Committee of the Whole meeting to order, outlining the elements of the Committee session.

( 3:30 -- 18:00 ) Presentation from Joe Zelweitro and Cary Dalton from the Prince Rupert Library -- Mr. Zelweitro provided for the presentation, outlining a thumbnail sketch of some of the recent development at the Prince Rupert Public Library. Among some of the themes covered, the changing nature of what the Library provides for the community and how things have changed over the course of the last twenty years.

In their snapshot they noted such notes as the stats picture of Library membership and Circulation to name a few.

The Chief Librarian also highlighted the range of fundraising that augments the City's financial contribution towards its operations.

 From their recent finding the Library reps also made note of the growing expansion of services that the library provides to the community, ranging from access to computers, to assistance in job preparation applications, document scanning and copying,  Also on the list of services, providing examination proctoring and invigilation, as well as offering access to information on government licences such as fishing licences for sale.

On that, Mr. Zelweitro noted that the volume of inquiries through the Library has increased since they began offering that service.

Community events hosted at the Library also made for some focus for the night's review and the presentation also provided some thoughts on how they as community resource can work towards the goals of reconciliation in the Northwest.

Councillor Nick Adey highlighted three areas which he had praise for the library and its work in the community.

The dedication of the staff and library board and what it offers to the community, how the diversity of service that they offer is much more complicated than it was twenty years ago and finally how the library provides for the opportunity for equity of access and levels the playing field for the community.

Councillor Randhawa asked if the library had more plans to take their message to the schools to encourage more engagement with the community, as part of their ongoing plans Mr. Zelweitro noted that they currently are working to expand on the digital archives of the old Daily News, as well as to work with community groups to encourage literacy and other programs.

Councillor Cunningham was also enthusiastic about what the library has to offer the community and made note of the diverse nature of those who make use of their services.

Public comment period of Committee of Whole 

( 18:00 -- 20:00 ) Larry Golden came forward to speak about concerns about parking issues in the community, noting the number of recreational vehicles and those residents and visitors with boat trailers that take up parking spots in residential areas of the city.

20:00-20:30Adjournment to reconvene as Regular Council Session


Regular Council Session

( 20:30 -- 22:00 )   Regular City Council Session for Monday, July 22, 2019  --

Petitions and Delegations

Reports and Recommendations

22:00 -- 23:30  ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer presenting the Financial Variance Report for May -- Corinne Bomben, the City's Financial Officer outlined the range of financials with the outstanding notes that of an increase in expenditures for water services due to more service repairs and expanded water testing.  The Airport Ferry cost was also higher than previous, owing to unexpected and necessary repairs and the need for a substitute service during its absence.

Councillor Randhawa inquired about the financial state of the Cow Bay Marina, Ms. Bomben noted that revenues from the Marina were down in May, something which she stated was found up and down the BC coast, with occupancy in June and July improved from the May lull.

(  23:30-- 24:30 ) Resolution from Closed meeting -- Newly hired Corporate Administration Officer Rosa Miller announced that at the Closed meeting of June 24th, that Stephanie Lysyk was to be reappointed to the Library Board for a two year term.  Following the resolution, Mayor Brain welcomed Ms. Miller to her post at the new Corporate Administrator and noted he looked forward to working with her.

24:30 -- 30:00 ) Report from City Planner Zeno Krekic on the proposed rezoning request for Biggar Place -- Mr. Krekic outlined the pace of the process of the review for the lots on Biggar Place near Five Corners. He outlined the past steps taken to this point and reviewed the history of the lots in question and how the request is to change from residential to Commercial. He noted how the proposed zoning fits into the long term development plan for the area.

He also made note of a public information session in early July that was hosted by the proponents of the zoning change who would like to develop the land for commercial purposes.  He observed that between interested residents and others in attendance the total participating was seven, with a lively engagement exploring some past road dedication bylaw issues with the only concern raised about any new development is that of height.

Councillor Adey asked for some clarification on the concerns over height allocation for the property in question, in reply Mr. Krekic noted that the current limit is five floors, however at the moment the proponent doesn't have any project in mind for the property, he did observe that there is a topography difference between the Park Avenue side and the Biggar Place side, with the potential for some views and sight-lines to be affected.

He did note that any potential development would still have to go through the city's usual process of consideration.

With no other questions or comments from Council voted to move the requests forward to a public hearing to take place on August 19th prior to the regular Council session of that night.

(  30:00 --39:00 ) Reports and Comments from Council members 

  (30:00 --32:00 ) Mayor Brain brought back a topic from the June 24th Council session introducing a resolution related to the Lost Votes initiative, which is seeking to provide for voting rights for Permanent residents of Canada.

He first observed that there is already a motion on the subject to be introduced by members of the UBCM at convention in September.

For the City's resolution it would be two part: the first is for the City to send a letter to Municipal Affairs and Housing Ministry in support of the initiative, while the second direction of the resolution is for the City to support the resolution that will be introduced at the UBCM convention in September.

When it came to comments Councillor Cunningham spoke in favour of the resolution noting how there were a number people living in the community for years and don't have a right to vote and how it was something the City should try to push through.

Mayor Brain concurred with the Councillor on his comments and noted that the motion was passing unanimously.

( 32:00-- 33:00 ) Councillor Cunningham called attention to the presence of hogweed in the region at the moment,  noting that a number of people have suffered severe side effects from contact with it and how people who are cutting it down, have suffered third degree burns and complications. He asked that the City issue an advisory about it and how it is risk for the public.

( 33:00 -- 34:30  ) Councillor Adey made note of the planning session recently held in the city, praising the work of the organizers of the four days, in particular the efforts of Ceilidh Marlow in bringing all the participants together. He observed of the value he found from the four days and how he found the sessions fantastic and how he was excited to see where the initiative goes.

Mayor Brain followed up with some notes, outlining how the public will have an opportunity to see the result of the planning in December.

Councillor Cunningham also spoke to the four day sessions, observing how he was somewhat skeptical heading into it, as they have been through the exercise a few times before. However, he too had praise for the project and found the four days well done, he noted he had walked out of there not quite as excited as the Mayor but still somewhat optimistic that something will come of it.

( 34:30 --35:00 )  Councillor Randhawa inquired about the progress towards the need for a crosswalk to be installed on Park Avenue, noting that it is a request that was previously made by Councillor Cunningham a number of times in the past. Mr. Randhawa observed that a number of people have approached him to ask if anything is being done on the topic.

The Mayor noted the City has reached out to Highways as has BC Housing, with discussions underway about a potential cross walk to be put in place.  Mr. Brain made note of the increase in housing along Park and how it was just one of those things that takes time, but there are people interested in making sure that it happens.

( 35:30 -- 36:30 ) Councillor Skelton-Morven called attention to some parking concerns around the Cow Bay District, with many vehicle owners taking up a large number of parking spots in the area with boat trailers and other large sized vehicles taking up multiple spots, which is impacting the local businesses. He asked that By-law enforcement look into the situation.  He also shared his praise on the success of the four day planning session held recently.

Councillor Cunningham picked up on the parking issue, by inquiring as to when the second by-law officer will be hired, he was advised by the City's Financial Officer that interviews have taken place and that a hiring should take place soon.

( 36:30 -- 39:00 )  The Mayor provided a short update on the status of discussions related to the Alaska Marine Highway Service to Prince Rupert, observing how it is a multi pronged issue that spans several jurisdictions and how he and Mr. Robert Venables, the Executive Director of the southeast Alaska Conference are seeking to organize a multi stakeholder in person meeting among all those involved with the Marine Highway system.

That meeting would include the Governor's Office, the Alaska Transportation Department, someone from the AMHS Marine overview group, as well as participation  from the SE Alaska Conference and the City of Prince Rupert.

Also to be included will be BC officials and other officials from the consul  general office.

He noted that with such a large collection to bring together, the challenge has been trying to organize such an event, he observed how no one has actually ever met in the same room to discuss solutions.

Mr Brain outlined how the Governor's office is open to new approaches and a new change as to how the Marine System operates in Prince Rupert, and once that meeting date is organized the community will be updated.

He also noted he will be in Sitka Alaska for a Southeast Conference meeting in September, something he attends every year, at that meeting there may be more discussions on the theme of the Ferry service to discuss some solutions from the Alaska side.

He observed that while there may be some sailing reductions found this year; he is certain that if they can get everyone in the same room,  that some solutions can be presented to provide for a longer term solution to the entire ferry system.

He added,  that while he and Mr. Venables are the two people who probably are most strongly advocating for this, but are the ones with the least jurisdiction over the issue. He stressed that the key to solving the problem is to bring all the stakeholders into the same room to discuss permanent solutions to move the topic forward long term.

With no questions from the Council members on the topic, or other concerns of note on other topics, the Mayor brought the evening to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for July 22nd here,  where 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 July 22, 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.

Council members next meet on Monday, August 19, 2019. 

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

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