Wednesday, August 21, 2019

City Council Timeline: Monday, August 19, 2019

With the summer days starting to number low, the summer schedule for City Council too will soon come to an end.

With only one more month, that of September, for the more relaxed timetable of once a month sessions for our elected municipal officials.

Settling in for their only public session for August, Council took care of a fairly light agenda in less than one hour on Monday evening.

Among the talking points on the night, a review of the June variance report, an appointment to the Library Board, a variance request for a property on Seventh East and a pair of requests for proclamations making for the bulk of the work.

The ongoing process related to changing the zoning for a property on Biggar Place was also part of the agenda for the evening.

On that theme, Monday was Public Hearing night for that proposed a change, a short review of the request from the City Planner,  that was then followed by a call for comment from the public which saw no members come forward to speak.

As it was the only meeting for Augsut, Monday also was a Committee of the Whole Night,  and that segment of the evening's work accounted for the majority of the time of the hour, with both a presentation related to the Lester Centre from General manager Michael Gurney and comments from the public on other themes making for over half an hour of the near one hour session.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Regular Meeting and Committee of the Whole Agenda elements for the August 19th 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, August 19, 2019

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present 
Councillor Nick Adey --  Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham --   Present 
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present 
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven --  Present (participated by phone)
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present 

Video Archive for Monday, August 19, 2019


Public Hearing -- Biggar Place Lots Zoning change

 ( 0:00 -- 6:00  ) Mayor Brain opened the session with an explanation as to how the process works and then introduced City Planner Zeno Krekic, who provided for an overview of the request for a zoning change from Residential to Commercial for the collection of lots running along Biggar Place in the Five Corners area of the City.

The Amendment would see the land changed from its current status of residential to service commercial, 

Among some of the notes that the City planner offered towards the review, there had been no written submissions,  or over the counter inquiries related to the request and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has indicated imminent approval of the bylaw upon third reading.

Following Mr. Krekic's presentation the Mayor called for comments or questions from the public related to the zoning change request.

With no members of the public coming forward with concerns or comments, the Public Hearing was then brought to a close. With the topic to be brought back up later in the Regular Council session.

Committee of the Whole

( 6:00 -- 7:00 )  Adoption of Agenda -- Mayor Brain called the Committee of the Whole meeting to order, outlining the elements of the Committee session.

( 7:00 -- 26:30 ) Presentation from Michael Gurney, Lester Centre of the Arts  -- Mr. Gurney opened his presentation by noting that he had just completed his first year as the General Manager of the Lester Centre of the Arts.

As for the presentation the first portion of his commentary provided an overview of the workings of the Society that runs the facility and it's relationship with a range of partners around the community.  He provided a short review of some of the members of the Lester Centre Board and the nature of their commitment to the Arts in the community.

On operational notes he ran through the list of key notes on the facility usage, as well as offering up a snapshot of some of the many high profile presentations that made for the Lester Centre schedule, including a number of local productions both from community groups, School District 52 and Dance events to name a few.

The opportunity to bring the Arts to SD52 and Annunciation School also made for some of the narrative and to highlight how every student in Prince Rupert passes through the doors of the Lester Centre.

To help improve on attendance the Lester Centre will take on a wider outreach to local media and other options to promote the range of productions that are put on over the year. Towards that effort, the Lester Centre hopes to become a place of active engagement with the community through such ventures as the TED X conference and outreach to Indigenous groups to showcase the arts and culture and opportunities for community learning.

They also hope to use technology to reach out to other regional First Nation communities around the North Coast, as well as communities on Haida Gwaii.

The upcoming play bill for the 2019-2020 season was also outlined for Council members, with the range of productions to take to the stage providing a cross section of music, dance, comedy and theatre. Included in the season ahead is the always popular Community production, which this year will feature the work of a Broadway musical

Bringing the presentation to an end, Mr. Gurney spoke of the dedication of the staff of the Lester Centre, he then touched on the new arrangement with the City of Prince Rupert, with the three year operating contract concept one that they are looking to renew later this year when the current arrangement comes to an end.

He also made note of the recent Redesign Rupert sessions, noting how the four day of conversation provided strong evidence for the affection for the Arts that is found in the community and how it can fit into the design of the city in the future.

In the follow up to the presentation, Mayor Brain tried to solicit the name of the Broadway musical that the Lester Centre will be taking on, with Mr. Gurney noting that it will be revealed later this week.

As for questions, Councillor Randhawa inquired about revenue streams and attendance projections, Councillor Adey commented on the nature of the building and how Gurney had described it as 'our house' a sentiment that he concurred with, having had opportunities both as a teacher, performer and audience member.

Councillor Cunningham had words of praise for the work that the General Manager has done through the year and paid tribute to the volunteers that give of their time at the Centre. Councillor Skelton-Morven echoed many of the same themes as those of Councillor Cunningham

Public comment period of Committee of Whole 

( 26:30 -- 39:30 ) Suzanne Neumann, a former resident of the city spoke a length about having returned to the community and offered some thoughts on the state of the downtown area and the lack of affordable housing for would be returnees hike herself.  She observed of the many amenities that are offered in the community and how it has a wonderful vibe.

However, she outlined that as a retired person and one who would like to retire to the community, she was discovering some issues when it comes to finding adequate and affordable housing that would be suitable for her. Observing that some of the now vacant buildings in the downtown area could be repurposed towards housing use to create community in the downtown area.

She also highlighted some of the concerns that she has heard from current residents, particularly when it comes to such areas as Health care, which she said is a key factor for retired people to think of when they look to find a retirement community.

Her comments provided an opportunity for the Mayor to revisit some of his frequent conversation topics of years past whether it be through his Hays 2.0 presentations or more recently the work of Redesign Rupert, outlining how change is coming to the community.

Mr. Brain also observed how the City is hoping to repatriate former Rupertites like herself, recounting some of his own personal history for her as an example of people who have returned to the community.

He provided her with a thumbnail sketch of the recent four day Redesign Rupert sessions, speaking of the "team of experts" that the City has hired to help them achieve their goals.  He also noted that Council realizes that there is a need for housing, listing off the number of housing approvals that Council had granted in the past, though noting that few of them have yet to be developed as of yet.

As for the health issues, he observed that Council continues to work with Northern Health to try and retain services in the community and are looking to increase those options in the future.

He expressed confidence that within the next couple of years, the community will see new housing development, improvement of the downtown area and further advancement of their goals for redesigning the community.

( 39:30 -- 42:30 ) Larry Golden came forward to make some inquiries related to the workings of Redesign Rupert. Inquiring of Council on some themes of the Redesign Rupert workshop and the nature of the partnerships that are involved with the project.  He asked for some clarification of the structure of Redesign Rupert and City Council's relationship to it.

Mayor Brain explained that the relationship is through a contract arrangement with Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest and they are responsible for any hirings. The City does have a partnership with Community Futures and has applied for grants towards the program though the Rural Dividend Fund, as well he noted that the Industrial partners that have joined in have directed funds towards Community Futures for the program administration.

The Mayor observed that the program is more of a collaboration between all of the participants.

Mr. Golden followed up with a few other questions related to accountability of the program and whether the access of grant money for the program was conducted through Council resolutions.

42:30-43:00 )  Adjournment to reconvene as Regular Council Session


Regular Council Session

( 43:00 -- 44:00 )   Regular City Council Session for Monday, July 22, 2019  --

Petitions and Delegations

Reports and Recommendations

44:00 --  47:00 ) Report from the City Planner in relation to an application for a Development Variance Permit for a property on Seventh Avenue East  -- While it was not explained during the course of the meeting, as Councillor Wade Niesh was the applicant for the Variance for the property, he stepped out of the Council chamber during the discussion of the request.

As for the variance, Mr. Krekic observed that the main focus involved the creation of a covered entrance extension at the front and a deck on the back of the property.

Council members had no questions or concerns related to the application  and  Council moved the process forward towards the public notification stage.

Mr. Niesh returned to the Council chamber following that vote.

47:30 -- 48:30  ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer presenting the Financial Variance Report for June -- Corinne Bomben, the City's Financial Officer outlined the range of financials with the focus of the report noting that the Cow Bay Marina is still lower than budgeted when it comes to revenues compared to last year, something that she notes is being found along the coast this summer.  Parks expenditures are also on the rise, with the sunny weather having meant more grass cutting. She also noted that the city found less expenditures on the roads this winter, that from the lack of need for ploughing and ice maintenance on the roads during that period.

( 48:30 -- 51:00  )  Correspondences for Action.

Council had two requests on the night.

The First was a request for Council to Declare September 23-29 as Rail Safety Week.

The Second request was from the Metis Nation BC with the Society seeking to have a proclamation of November 11th to 16th as Metis Awareness Week in the City of Prince Rupert.

Council approved both requests, though Councillor Adey suggested that further discussion should be required as part of the request to fly the Metis flag as part of Metis Awareness Week, he noted that there are some complexities involved in that request, recommending that Council should explore those further before taking action on the flag request aspect of the resolution.

(  51:00-- 51:30 ) Resolution from Closed meeting -- Corporate Administration Officer Rosa Miller announced that at the Closed meeting of July 22nd, that Mr. Cory Dalton was to be reappointed to the Library Board for a two year term.

51:30 -- 52:30 ) Report from City Planner Zeno Krekic on the proposed rezoning request for Biggar Place -- With the Public Hearing providing for no opposition to the proposed rezoning, and no comments or questions towards the topic coming from the Council membership. Council members moved the motion forward. As part of the process, the final vote on the request will come at a future council session.

52:30 -- 56:00 ) Reports and Comments from Council members 

Councillor Barry Cunningham raised a number of road related issues for Council to consider, the first related to the ongoing work on Seventh Avenue East near the Metlakatla Elders/Seniors Centre. He observed as to the seemingly floating completion date that the project seems to have taken on and noted that residents of Seventh Avenue East currently cannot have mail delivery because of the ongoing construction, requiring them to travel downtown to pick their mail up at the Post Office.

The councillor also asked for some guidance as to when the McBride Street project would be completed.

Mayor Brain offered up his understanding of the Seventh Avenue East project, stating that he believes that it will be complete by the end of September, to which Mr. Cunningham suggested that Council should seek a firm confirmation date from the contractor.

Mr. Long noted that the City had been awaiting the completion of paving of the Airport Road and that it's anticipated that the McBride street work will be completed shortly.

Councillor Randhawa paid tribute to the work of the city's gardening staff, observing to the many positive comments he has heard about the city's gardens this summer.

Councillor Cunningham then turned his attention towards the state of the expansion of the Ridley Island landfill site, inquiring when the new cell may begin to see development and what the delay may be.

The City's Financial Officer noted that the landfill expansion was part of the five year plan recently adopted by Council and how there would be a need for a loan to take on the project.

She observed that first step would be to provide for a detailed design study first to determine how much of a loan would be required. She anticipated that much of that work would be ready for the process to start next year.

With no other concerns of note on other topics, the Mayor brought the evening to a close.

You can access the City Council Review for August 19th 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 August 19, 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, September 9, 2019. 

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

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