Saturday, November 30, 2019

MLA's Week: November 25--28, 2019

MLA's put the wrap in the Fall Session with a Thursday morning gathering in the Chamber, which shortened the usual Legislature work week by one session.

As the week and the Fall work came to an end it was notable for the successful passage of legislation to incorporate the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People into law.

With the UNDRIP work of Bill 41 working its way through Committee by Tuesday, with a final vote making for what was an unanimous vote in favour of adoption.

With British Columbia the first to adopt UNDRIP, a new approach towards Indigenous engagement will get underway

Also making its way through the Legislature on Tuesday afternoon were some amendments to the Nisga'a Final Agreement, with amendments to the definition of the "Nisga'a settlement trust" to allow the Nisga'a to broaden the scope of investments through the trust.

The second amendment was to correct a reference error in the fiscal relations chapter that was identified during negotiations.

The amendments can be reviewed here.

There were some notes from back on the North Coast that may soon make their way towards MLA Rice's office, with themes of Health Care and the need for more affordable and supportive housing being heard in Prince Rupert this week.

North Coast Transition House Society outlines housing options offered across the City

Councillor Cunningham calls for collective approach to securing health care in Prince Rupert

As for the first week of work in the House for the fall, the four days unfolded as follows:


On the week, Ms Rice was not listed in the accounts of the sessions of the Legislature from November 25-28

The North Coast MLA is also a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, serving as the convener of that forum.

Transcripts of the work of the committee are available on the Legislature page for the Committee.

Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs


For our readers from the Terrace-Kitimat region, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross  was listed five times in the accounts of  the Legislature Archive for the week of November 25-28

The majority of his notices were through introductions of guests in the gallery, as well as a presentation of a petition from residents of Skeena calling for the modernization of denture related services.

Mr. Ross did have one final presentation for the fall session, speaking once more to the themes of the UNDRIP legislation.

MLA Ross speaks to UNDRIP in the Legislature, sharing his concerns of lost progress over a return to square one

Mr. Ross is also a permanent member of the Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives.

He has also been appointed to the Standing Committee on Children and Youth

The Skeena MLA is also a member of the Special Committee for Review of the Police complaint process, you can follow their work here.

There is more background on both the North Coast and Skeena MLA's available from our MLA's Week Archive, as well as our constituency archives below:

North Coast constituency

Skeena and Stikine Constituencies

MLA's will not return to their work in the Legislature chamber until called back by their respective House Leaders, once it is determined when the first session for 2020 will take place. 

The full schedule for the Legislature for 2019 can be viewed here.

A larger overview of provincial issues can be found on our political portal D'Arcy McGee

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

Friday, November 29, 2019

Program for Rogers Hometown Hockey promises quite the show next weekend at the Civic Centre

Ron MacLean and Tara Slone will be in Prince Rupert one
week from tomorrow as Rogers Hometown Hockey comes
to the North Coast for the weekend

The town that made Ron MacLean famous is the stop this week for Rogers Hometown Hockey. With Red Deer, Alberta, a city where the now famous national broadcaster honed many of his skills of the interview and  developed his talent for the years ahead, serving as the stop before a journey to the coast to Prince Rupert for the host, his co-host Tara Slone and the entire production team.

One wonders if at that time, Mr. MacLean thought that being part of a season long caravan to celebrate hockey from coast to coast to coast was in his future, but when the Big Rigs roll out of Red Deer on Monday, the long time Hockey Night in Canada fixture and Ms. Slone will be digging into the research notes for stop number ten on the 2019-20 calendar.

Already the City of Prince Rupert has been busy showcasing the event with calls for decorated businesses and searches for Super Fans, with the organizing group behind the event now having released the schedule of events for the two nights of December 7 and 8 that will put Prince Rupert in the national spotlight.

Once the Rogers team have set up their broadcast location and unpacked all the treasures that come along with them at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, North Coast residents will have a chance to explore all that they have to offer as the noon hour arrives.

Starting out with a chance to view the Stanley Cup, pick up some autographs with NHL alumni Dwayne Roloson and Kirk McLean,  as well to play some trivia and take in some music from the Dearly Departed and that's just a few of the plans for Saturday.

Sunday is broadcast day with the Oilers and Sabres making for the featured attraction from Edmonton set to be shown on the video screen, as the fun continues at the parking lot at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

While the game is not until later in the day, the festivities launch at Noon hour Sunday, with music from Triple Bypass, return appearances for Mr. Roloson and Mr. McLean and much more all taking us to the set at 4:30 when Ron MacLean and Tara Sloan broadcast live from Prince Rupert.

You can keep up with any updates to the weekend programming for December 7th and 8th from the Facebook page created for the Hometown Hockey event in Prince Rupert.

To look back at some of the plans along the way towards next weekend, see our archive page here.

Final rehearsals ahead before Showtime next week for CHSS production of Freaky Friday

This years much anticipate production from Charles Hays Drama is but days away, with this weekend making for the last of the major rehearsals for the actors, actresses, band, production team and behind the scenes players for Freaky Friday.

Auditions for the performance began at the start of the school year and since then those assembled for the production have put in long hours towards learning lines, refining musical productions and creating the sets that will make for home for the three nights ahead.

The production is watched over as always by the long time head of Charles Hays Drama program and producer extraordinaire Alison O'Toole who is the Artistic Director.

The cast and crew of Charles Hays Students, along with band members led by Musical Director Kristy Tillman have all taken to their work with diligence on the production.

The story of an overworked Mother and daughter who magically swap bodies has roots first from a 1972 novel by Mary Rodgers, then as a film and stage adaptation from Disney, following a range of themes that may be quite familiar to the student cast.

Though how many may wish to swap places with their parents in real life, could make for some post showtime follow up and maybe a sequel.

Starting Thursday, the Lester Centre of the Arts will be transformed into the land of high school and all that the rivalry and travels of those in the cast will follow as they take to the stage.

The three night run begins with Thursday's Opening night at 7:30, followed by a Friday night show at the same time, the final performance for the show will come Saturday  afternoon at 2:00.

Tickets are 10 dollars for Students and Seniors, 15 dollars for Adults and are available now through the Lester Centre of the Arts Box Office or at Cooks Jeweller's.

Those who wait until showtime to attend will be charged a two dollar surcharge at the door.

The annual showcase from CHSS marks the start of the Prince Rupert holiday season, leading up to what is shaping up to be one of the busiest social weekends for the city in years.

You can keep up to date on all that's coming up from our Community Events archive page here.

Northern Health continues quest to fill large volume of open positions in Prince Rupert

A social media advertisement extolling the virtues of service
as Northern Health looks to fill a number of health care positions
in the Prince Rupert area

If you have an education in health studies, the jobs are aplenty on the North Coast as Northern Health looks to fill a range of positions and openings in the Prince Rupert area, with the most recent listings of the available jobs totalling 37 from the online employment page from the Health authority for Northern British Columbia.

The shortages won't come as a surprise for many who have made a trip to the hospital and found short staffing has made for challenging times, with many of the positions still to be filled found in a number of nursing categories.

As well, anyone who has been up to the hospital for blood work or other lab related testing, they to have seen some of the impact.

That as what appears to be a staffing shortfall, seems to be affecting service delivery. With the Lab now in the second month of Wednesday closures, with no indication as to when the facility will return to five day-a-week service.

A snap shot of the job opportunities for today shows that 22 of the 37 positions listed as available are for nurses or nurse practitioners, with a range of other departments making up for the rest of the openings.

The 37 listings of positions open with Northern Health in the
Prince Rupert region as of today

(click to enlarge)

You can explore some of the challenges facing Northern Health across the region from their Careers section here, which provides a wider overview of just how many positions they have to fill across a vast portion of Northern British Columbia

The need to maintain and improve on the number of medical services
available in Prince Rupert was a theme for Councillor Barry Cunningham
earlier this week. He wants the City and neighbouring communities
to put pressure on the province towards services on the North Coast

As we noted earlier this week, Prince Rupert City Councillor Barry Cunningham has put some focus on health care in the community, calling for a collective approach for the region to put pressure on the provincial government to ensure that Prince Rupert and area does not fall behind on health care issues.

Mr. Cunningham made note of some of his concerns that the situation could become even worse in Prince Rupert, with Terrace set to see a new Major Northwest Trauma Centre in place to replace the aging Mills Memorial Hospital in the next few years.

And when you consider the large volume of positions that are still to be filled for Prince Rupert today, you can see why Mr. Cunningham has those concerns.

Particularly if a shiny, modern hospital will soon loom large on the horizon just ninety minutes down the road; ready to attract not only those working here, but to absorb many of the same talent that Prince Rupert is currently looking for.

The need for City Council, Regional District, Surrounding First Nation communities and the local MLA will be key to making sure the North Coast voice is heard.  With residents looking to all of them to become outspoken advocates for not only maintaining services, but expanding on them in Prince Rupert.

Those themes have made for frequent items that we have explored on the blog over the last few years.

You can dig deep into those notes from our archive pages here.

Ready to defend a title, Rainmaker's road to Langley starts tonight with a stop in Terrace

For Prince Rupert's hoops fans, the end of November marks the start of another season of high tempo basketball out of the Charles Hays Secondary Gym, with all of the school's basketball teams ready to take on the challenges and challengers ahead.

For the Senior Boy's this years season means defence of their AA Title from March of this year and when you're the top dog, everyone is gunning for you!

As they make their way to Terrace for this years Icebreaker event with the Kermodes, we asked co-coach Ryan Bishop for a few thoughts on what's ahead for the Senior Boys.

With a line up that features a mix of 7 returning players and a solid group of Grade elevens moving up from Kevin Sawka's junior squad, the coach is confident that the team will continue to find success on the court.

And with the release of a pre-season ranking last week of second spot overall in British Columbia, the keen eyed basketball observers in the Lower mainland must be sharing his optimism.

On the theme of the Vancouver trips that the Senior Boys make each year, coach Bishop noted how they offer the team an opportunity to play against some of the top talent in the province not only at the AA level, but with match ups with AAA and AAAA teams as well.

He notes that the first tournament set for next week, will see the Rainmakers taking on the number 3 and 4 ranked teams in AA ball, as well as the larger AAAA teams, observing as to how they serve to prepare the Rainmakers for the road towards Provincials.

"Without these games we wouldn’t see the caliber of competition that has allowed us to be successful at the provincial tournaments every year."

He also notes that despite the departure of some of the talent from last year such as Liam McChesney, Eric Lees and Daniel Cachero, the Rainmakers coaches will still have assembled one of the deepest teams in along time as they hit the court.

"This year we will have a very balanced scoring attack from our returning seniors and the juniors who all have the ability to put the ball in the hoop. This season is going to be an exciting season of up and down basketball as we have a team that will have the ability to put a lot of points on the board"

Ryan and head coach and father Mel Bishop, lead the Rainmakers to the season ahead tonight at 7 PM at the Caledonia Gymnasium.

Following their trip to Terrace, the Senior Boys will remain on the road, heading to North Vancouver in the first week of December.

The chance for the hometown crowd to get their first look at this years team will come when they host their own tournament in mid December at the Charles Hays Gymnasium.

You can get a look at the season ahead from our preview notes of last week.

For notes on the season ahead as it moves forward, check back frequently to our Rainmakers Archive page here, where we track some of the developments from the high school sports scene.

North Coast Transition House Society outlines housing options offered across the City

One of the units of the fully occupied
Crow's Nest Lodge, as the cold weather
continues to hold, some in Prince
Rupert still don't have anywhere
to stay in the night
With the weather having taken a significant turn towards the cold, the local agency which provides for much of the social for those most in need has taken to its social media options to share some of the options available for residents in the community.

In the post from November 27th, the North Coast Transition Society noted that they had provided for housing for 101 people in all of their facilities on November 26th, an indication as to the volume of people that found a warm place to be in the heart of our cold snap, though as a further reading of their notes would show, some still were forced to find their own space owing to the lack availability.

Transition House Society, which operates five housing options in Prince Rupert and Port Edward outlined the focus for each and answered questions from the public about some of the services offered and challenges that are found.

Among the overview:

The work of the Ravens Keep Transition House, a fifteen bedroom safe house for women and children.

Eagles Landing, Transitional Apartments on Park Avenue

The Grey Owl Retreat in Port Edward, which feature eight units of seniors housing.

Crow's Nest Lodge, the newly built housing facility on Park Avenue which features 36 units

The Third Avenue Shelter, the location for those without homes to have a warm and safe place for the night.

click to enlarge

One of the first things that jumps out from their overview, is the fact that most, if not all of the housing options they offer are already at full capacity.

And in the case of the homeless shelter, which is there for those in immediate emergency need, they have had to turn away people during these recent cold nights.

The Transition House Society explained that situation concisely as part of an exchange back and forth with those who viewed their Facebook post over the last few days.

click to enlarge

The comments provide a glimpse as to the appreciation of the public towards their work as well as the concerns from the public over the still large need for more accommodation for those in need.

That's a topic that both the City Council members and MLA Jennifer Rice may wish to address and provide some updates for the public on, particularly as we head into the deeper part of the winter months and the need grows greatest for those in the most need.

You can explore the range of notes on the Transition House Society options, as well as the comments, questions and suggestions from the public here.

For more notes related to housing see our archive page here.

Rhino's return to the rink Saturday, looking to chase down the River Kings

After more than a month off the CIHL grid, hockey fans can get back into Jim mode on Saturday as the Prince Rupert Rampage hit the ice to take on the Kitimat Ice Demons, the game marking their first game back since a 4-3 road victory in Smithers on October 26th.

As we noted earlier this week, a quirk in the schedule making provided the Rampage with the one month plus hiatus, though the weeks of standing watching didn't provide for too much peril heading back to work, with the Rhinos still holding down second place, six points behind the undefeated Terrace River Kings, but with Prince Rupert holding two games in hand to try and make up some of that ground.

That mission starts tonight with the match up with the Ice Demons, a team that has significantly upped their game from previous seasons, currently found in the middle of the pack in the CIHL, only three points out of third place overall.

The Rampage will be looking to shake off any rust from the break for their high powered offence and even with a month away from the offensive zone, Judd Repole with 4 goals and 10 assists is still in the thick of the scoring race, just one point off the pace of leader Chapen Leblond fom Terrace.

At the other end of the rink, the tandem of Tomoki Yoshizawa and Kieran Sharpe return to action holding down the one/two spot in the Goaltenders listings so far this year, with a Goals Against Average of 1.67 and 78 Saves, Yoshizawa sports the best record of all goaltenders in the league heading towards December.

As they do prior to every home game, the Rampage have made the call up to the PRMHA with Reinheardt DeVilliers named as Saturday's skater with the team, he will get a chance to take part in the pre game warm up and other pre game activities.

Game time Saturday is 7 PM at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

Saturday's match up marks the first of a home and home series for the two teams, with the Rampage on the road next Friday in Kitimat, before they host a Saturday night showdown with Terrace on December 7th, which take place during Rogers' Hometown Hockey weekend in the city.

You can keep up with the Rampage heading into this weekend's play through their Facebook page.

For more notes on the Rhino's and the CIHL see our archive page here.

SD52 Board sets liaison positions, hears of school plans and recent Vancouver trip

The November meeting for School District 52 covered a range of themes, from a look at a recent trip to Vancouver for the BC Student Voice Event, to a new logo for Pacific Coast School and the introduction by Superintendent Irene LaPierre of new school plans for the 2019-20 school year.

The November 12th session found Charles Hays Secondary School Vice-Principal Carla Rourke, along with students Corbin Passo, Pia Khaira and Hannah Lindenblatt provide some background on the event for trustees.

Among some of the key note items that they took in from the event in Vancouver were sessions related to mental health, vaping and enhanced student learning. The travelling group also attended some icebreaker events and took in a visit to Science World.

Board Chair James Horne made note what they had learned from their trip and expressed interest in learning more about a program called the Foundry, which could be something that SD52 may show some interest in.

“The Board was impressed by the desire of the Student Voice group to invite students from neighbouring communities to their regional forum this Spring. We were also intrigued by the desire of the student group to bring the Foundry program to our community. The Board looks forward to receiving further information in order to have a discussion on lending our support to this initiative."

You can learn more about the Student Voice program here.

Trustees also reviewed and approved a pair of new logos for the city's Pacific Coast School which is located in the Ocean Centre Mall, the new look for the school will be featured on the door to the school, as well as on a line of clothing for students.

The approval came after the Aboriginal Education Council had reviewed the design and provide for its own approval previous.

As we noted back on November 20th, the new logo was a collaboration project for students, school staff and parents, with the new design provided by acclaimed artist Kelli Clifton, who is also a teacher with SD52.

Superintendent Irene LaPierre presented the highlights of the school plans for 2019-20 for trustees, noting that schools have used a range of data that has been compiled to put further focus on literacy, numeracy and social emotional learning.

The School plans can be reviewed here.

On November 8th, we made note of the Board Appointments for 2019-20, the trustees further divided up the vast list of other positions that required attention at the November meeting.

As part of their decisions, trustees took on liaison appointments with the various schools of the District, as well as to share work on a number of other committees.

The list of their new duties can be reviewed below:

With December fast approaching, the Holiday season will soon be the focus with concerts to come as the countdown to the final day before the Winter break which will start on December 23rd and come to an end on January 3rd.

The Board next meets on December 10th

A look at some of the other notes from their November meeting can be found here.

For more items of interest related to education with SD52 see our archive here.

A wider overview of notes on education in the Northwest can be found here.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Fate of Alaska Marine Highway Service to Prince Rupert for State of Alaska to announce

There is still no indication from the State of Alaska as to whether
Ferry service will ever resume between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan

Whether we will see the return of Ferry service between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan remains in the hands of the State of Alaska, with Mayor Lee Brain noting on Monday that he can't speak to the issue until an announcement is made by the State, at some point in the future.

"I have to wait until the Alaska Government is ready to say whatever  they are going to say. So I"m not at liberty to discuss yet. But when that time arises, the community will be notified at that time."

Mr. Brain was answering an inquiry from City Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa  at Monday night;s Council session, with the Councillor wondering if the Mayor had any information to share on the status of the AMHS service, which saw the last of two special sailings come and go on the 25th of November.

Those sailings took place after the City of Prince Rupert had provided the requested armed police support for the arrival and departures. The two special sailings were announced after the service was suspended for the foreseeable future by the State back in September.

Mr. Brain's vow of Omerta comes, as the posted schedules from the Alaska Marine Highway indicate that there are no scheduled sailings in the works to this point, for Service to and from Prince Rupert.

The Alaskans announced an end to the service on September 4th, over concerns that dated back to April related to security issues at the Prince Rupert terminal, owing to the lack of on duty armed police officers on hand to assist the US Customs and Border personnel.

The official end of service (other than the two special sailings) came at the end of September.

The Q & A between Mayor and Councillor can be viewed from the City's Video Archive starting at the 57 minute mark.

For more notes on Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline feature here.

A wider overview of Prince Rupert Council Discussion themes can be explored here.

While our look at Marine transportation on the North Coast can be found here.

Detachment Discussion Deferred to December

Add a few more days on the calendar before Prince Rupert City Council
hears a report on policing in the city from the local RCMP detachment

Residents of the city awaiting the first update in a long time on the workings of the local RCMP detachment for City Council, will have to wait just a little bit longer ... that as the previously promised Presentation to Council  for Monday's council session was pushed back for a few more weeks.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain made note of the schedule change towards the end of the Monday evening session, observing as to how the Inspector in Charge was out of town that night and unavailable for the presentation.

The get together has been rescheduled for the last Public Council session for 2019, set for Monday, December 9th at 7PM, at which time members from the Sixth Avenue West detachment will attend to share their notes and answer questions from those Council members with an interest in asking some.

The quest for more formal and more frequent updates from the RCMP in the city has been a long standing request for Councillor Barry Cunningham, who was joined earlier this year by Councillor Nick Adey in highlighting the value of such opportunities to help keep residents informed and perhaps stem some of the social commentary that puts the rumour into Prince Rumour.

As we have noted before, Prince Rupert City Council does not make the call to the detachment for frequent updates on policing as often  as other Northwest communities do.

With Communities to the east brining their RCMP members in to report to those Councils in public session on a regular schedule through the year.

The change of date could give City Councillors time to review some of the details from a recent Maclean's magazine survey of crime statistics in Canada, a national story which put Prince Rupert and Terrace both into the top 15 communities considered as most dangerous.

For more notes on Monday's City Council session see our Council Timeline Feature here.

A wider overview of past Council discussions can be explored from our Council Discussion archive.

Until the December 9th Council session, you can review some of the many files from Northwest Emergency Responders from our monthly archive page here.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bacharach assigned critics role for Infrastructure and Communities

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP
Taylor Bachrach was assigned
his critic's role on Wednesday
As the Parliament Hill show ramps up towards an opening for next week, NDP leader Jagmeet Signh has been busy preparing to assign the roles that NDP MP's will take on as they sit as part of the minority parliament that came out of the Fall election.

For Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach, a familiar theme will be his to explore, with the NDP leader on Wednesday naming him the NDP critic for Infrastructure and Communities.

With but 24 MPs to choose from, being named to an NDP shadow position is akin to a participation medal at Sports Day (with everyone getting one).

However in this case, the position assigned to Mr. Bachrach is a good fit.

As a former Northwest Mayor with a high profile through his work with UBCM over the years, he will be more than familiar with the challenges facing communities not only across the Northwest, but across Canada when it comes to infrastructure and other issues.

That past experience at the municipal level was taken note of by Mr. Singh as he announced the Bachrach appointment on Wednesday.

“As families struggle to make ends meet, municipalities are being asked to do more and more with fewer resources. New Democrats will be partners in helping deliver for communities across the country. As a former mayor for a rural community, Taylor understands first-hand the struggles municipalities are faced with in delivering for their residents. As our new Critic for Infrastructure and Communities, I’m confident that Taylor will be a champion in this important work.”

The newly elected Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP greeted the news with enthusiasm and was already preparing to take on the duties which have been put on him.

"I’m honoured Jagmeet has selected me for this important role. I’m looking forward to working with all levels of government to ensure communities have what they need to thrive, and that Canada tackles the climate crisis, provides affordable housing, and creates opportunities through smart infrastructure investments.”

Mr. Bachrach also had the news cycle all to himself yesterday, with the NDP leader set to announce the rest of his Shadow Cabinet later today.

You can review the full statement from the NDP here.

The fist day for MP's to take to their desks will be December 5th, when Parliament resumes for a seven day sitting before they suspend affairs for the six week Holiday break.

For more items of note on the Federal scene for the Northwest see our archive page here.

A wider overview of the developments from Ottawa can be explored through our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

With British Columbia the first to adopt UNDRIP, a new approach towards Indigenous engagement will get underway

After a lengthy debate in past Legislature Sessions and five days of extensive discussion in Committee over the last week, the NDP government brought the UNDRIP declaration to the floor of the Legislature for a vote on Tuesday evening.

And while some Indigenous leaders had feared that the opposition Liberals might have been trying to run out the clock on the legislation, when the tally of votes came in, the UNDRIP declaration went through the House with no opposition as Bill 41- the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People became an Act and law in the province.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice celebrated the passage of the Bill into Legislation through her social media portal, as well as to post a link to the video of the moment of its passage in the House.

With the universal approval of Tuesday, British Columbia became a history maker, becoming the first Legislature in Canada to adopt the UNDRIP principles and turn them into provincial law.

The path towards adoption featured for the most part some thoughtful exchanges of comments, ideas, concerns and enthusiasm, with only a few instances of the broader partisan politics that sometimes infects the Legislature.

Upon the adoption of UNDRIP into law, Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and a number of Indigenous leaders issued a joint-statement reflecting the historic moment that the province had  reached.

“The legislation establishes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the foundational framework for reconciliation in B.C., as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

The provincial government developed Bill 41 in collaboration with the First Nations Leadership Council, which was acting on the direction of First Nations leaders throughout the province.

A commitment to adopting the Declaration is a component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the B.C. government and the BC Green Party caucus.

This legislation advances a path forward to true reconciliation for all of us in B.C. that will uphold Indigenous rights and create stronger communities, stable jobs and economic growth."

As part of the statement, which you can read in full here, the path forward from this point was outlined, with the key passage making note as to how future changes will be done in consultation, with Indigenous peoples and engagement for local government and other stakeholders.

“Any future changes to bring provincial laws into harmony with the UN Declaration will be done in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, with opportunities for engagement with local governments and stakeholders such as business and industry. 

Changes won’t happen overnight – this will be a gradual, step-by-step process over time. 

The development of an action plan – in collaboration with Indigenous peoples – with regular reporting to monitor progress will provide a transparent and accountable path forward on reconciliation in B.C."

Once the government moves forward towards implementing the new legislation and adapting it for use across the province, the government side of the House will need to ensure that residents of the province are fully informed on how the new approach will work.

As well as to explain to British Columbians how the changes may or may not impact on many elements of governance and how those issues and engagements may be handled differently from the past.

That process will come in the months to come as the path ahead becomes a little clearer.

For now the history books will show that it was British Columbia that took the first leap, looking to change the dynamic of the past and bridge the gaps that at times has been prevalent in Indigenous - government relations.

As the province follows up on the new legislation many other provinces, as well as the Federal government will be watching with much interest to see if the use of UNDRIP as part of the provincial structure will indeed make for significant change in the relationship between the government and Indigenous people.

Some of the reviews of the history making moment of Tuesday, can be examined below:

UN Indigenous rights bill approved unanimously
British Columbia becomes 1st Canadian province to pass UN Indigenous rights declaration
Satisfaction reached on historic UNDRIP after five days of scrutiny
'We made history': UN Indigenous rights bill approved unanimously in B.C.
B.C. First to endorse UN Indigenous rights legislation
For British Columbians feeling threatened by UNDRIP - don't worry there's an escape clause!

For a look at how both North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, and Skeena MLA Ellis Ross addressed the theme of UNDRIP in the debate stage, see our Legislature archive pages below:

North Coast
Skeena and Stikine

For a wider overview of the political scene in Victoria see our political Blog D'Arcy McGee.

Prince Rupert's use of chlorine in civic water supply latest focus for national consortium of journalists

Prince Rupert is back in the spotlight on water themes this week, as the national consortium of journalists release their latest investigative work on water in Canada, with the use of chlorine as a water treatment agent as the focus for the latest contribution to articles on the city's water.

The most recent story, posted to the Global BC News website on Wednesday, explores some of the risks associated with extended exposure to chlorine and from their survey of samples collected from 16  Prince Rupert homes, the journalists noted that levels of THM known as trihalomethane, which are cancer causing contaminants. exceeded the Health Canada guidelines.

The latest story also notes that THM levels in the region are something that Northern Health has recommended ongoing monitoring of the levels for.

The reporters once again interview Prince Rupert residents to gauge their reaction to the findings for their piece; as well, they include a statement from Veronika Stewart, the city's communication manager, who stated:

'Chlorination is the city's only current method of disinfection, which protects our population against serious waterborne diseases' adding that “Health Canada acknowledges that, ‘The health risks from disinfection byproducts, including trihalomethanes, are much less than the risks from consuming water that has not been disinfected,’

Ms. Stewart also notes that Northern Health and the City do work to limit the amount of dis-infection  byproducts that are used and once again recounts the city's plans for a new water treatment facility in the future.

The review also makes note of a number of violations recorded for 'inadequate treatment', as well as to review last years six week long Boil Water order, as well as the city's response to that situation.

One other violation noted that Prince Rupert was cited for not meeting drinking water treatment objectives for surface waters in B.C., which requires two treatment processes for surface water"

Another interesting observation from Prince Rupert comes from Rob Gruber, who recounts for the reporters the volume of filters that Saanich Plumbing has sold in the community to customers looking for clearer water.

Considering the ongoing stream of stories from the national media focused on Prince Rupert's water, Saanich and other plumbing outlets  in the city will most likely see another surge in interest in their filter units.

The latest report which you can read here, like the previous ones that have been released, makes for an extensively researched piece and should again be a must read for the community, in orfer to gain some further knowledge and a wider overview towards the issues of the water.

These latest notes would also once again seem to indicate that the City of Prince Rupert needs to provide for a better understanding for the public of some of the many points that have raised since the series began at the start of this month.

You can review all of that previous work from the consortium of journalists, as well as local follow ups to their research from our archive page here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Shenanigans on tap for Harbour Theatre Friday night

Harbour Theatre is hosting Season Shenanigans Friday at
the Tom Rooney Playhouse on Third Ave West

A chance to check in on the creative minds of the city's theatre scene comes up this Friday at the Tom Rooney Theatre as the Harbour Theatre hosts their Seasonal Shenanigans.

It's a night reserved for members only who get free admission on the night,  (though you can join in on the fun by the purchase of a ten dollar Harbour Theatre Annual membership at the door) with an eclectic evening ahead of play readings, music, dance and much more.

Doors to the Shenanigans open at 7PM on Friday night, with show time set for 7:30.

Those planning to attend should remember to stop by the bank or a cash machine, as Harbour Theatre only accepts cash for tickets and purchases at the bar.

You can find updates on the Friday show from the Facebook page created for the event.

To find out more about what Harbour Theatre has planned for the New Year and beyond see their main Facebook page here.

For more notes on Community events see our archive page here, while our listings on Arts events in the region can be found here.

Councillor Cunningham calls for collective approach to securing health care in Prince Rupert

Councillor Barry Cunningham raised some concerns over the current level
of medical services in Prince Rupert and some fears for the future 

The topic of Health Care on the North Coast made for some commentary from Councillor Barry Cunningham on Monday evening, with the Council member indicating he would like to see the surrounding villages be brought into the collective to work together to reinforce the level of health care at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and in the city.

Mr. Cunningham framed his request by seeking terms of reference for a Coastal Communities Health Committee to speak out for the community and reinforce the need to hold on to what is here and to expand the level of service to the region.

"It's just that were getting left behind here on certain health issues and I think with the villages and us we've got to start to raise our voices a little more and being heard on things like dialysis, ophthalmology and things like that"  -- Councillor Barry Cunningham

As things turned out, and as Councillor Blair Mirau reminded them, there was an instrument already in place at Council towards a Health Committee, with council then making plans to amend the terms of their own committee to include those of including the surrounding community.

The Mayor made note of the upcoming redesign Rupert process that is scheduled for a public presentation on December 12th and the new plan it will present for the community.

With Mr. Brain noting how there are many stakeholders involved in the planning and how health care is a factor for consideration for all communities in the region work together to ensure that we are getting the health services that it needs, adding that Northern Health is part of the redesign Rupert process and has a good working relationship with the city.

Mayor Brain also noted how such a formal committee could represent the region on the theme of health care.

"I think that with what's currently on the docket with the port growth that it's important that the communities including Prince Rupert, Lax Kw'alaams, Metlakatla, Kitkatla, Port Ed potentially even the Haida Gwaii communities, that we work together to ensure that the region is getting the health services that we need ... I think that the community needs an ability to have their voices heard and I think that a formal committee that gets together ... to discuss health care related issues and have more of a conversation at a community level" -- Mayor Lee Brain .

Council Cunningham expanded further on the need to include as many communities as possible to ensure that Prince Rupert is not left behind.

"I think that it's very important that we include the whole region, because we are the North Coast Regional Hospital, so the North Coast regional communities, the coastal communities and that includes Haida Gwaii as well ... it's very important that we include the North Coast in this. 

Because now with this Trauma Three Hospital coming to Terrace, a lot of attention and medical attention is going to go to Terrace and I don't want to see any of our services downgraded that's all.

I believe that there is a definite need, I believe that Prince Rupert is going to be the centre for growth ... and I believe that health services are going to be very important to that development in the future"

For the whole conversation on the health themes see the Video Archive for Monday evening starting at the fifty minute mark.

Not mentioned during the course of the Health Care discussion of Monday, but someone who should be included in any discussion on the theme, was for an approach to Jennifer Rice the MLA for the North Coast, seeking out her advocacy for their concerns.

The focus on health care would seem to offer the opportunity for City Council to ask the MLA to attend one of the  public Council sessions scheduled in 2020 to speak to health care in the region and hear from Council first hand of the many concerns that they have heard from residents in the city when it comes to fears over health care.

For more items of note related to Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline Feature.

A wider overview of City Council discussion themes can be found from our Council Archive page here.

For a look at some of the past notes from Northern Health see our archive page here.

Council hears overview of 2019 Golf year from Prince Rupert Golf Society

Iain Cullen and Ross McNish were on hand on Monday as the Prince Rupert
Golf Society made a presentation to Prince Rupert City Council

While the weather may not be much for a tour of the links, Prince Rupert City Council members did manage to get a verbal tour of the latest notes from the Ninth Avenue course, as Prince Rupert Golf Society members Iain Cullen and Ross McNish offered an update from the course on Monday evening.

Mr. Cullen provided for the majority of the presentation opening up with a bit of a year of review from the golf course, noting of the hiring of Tyler Stene as golf pro and the successful opening to the season with a number of out of town golfers coming to town.

Among the highlights of the year as outlined by Mr. Cullen, was an overview of the youth and high school program that was initiated by Mr. Stene, including the formation of a high school golf team for the first time in over a decade.

Council members heard much praise
for the work of club pro Tyler Stene,
particularly his work in growing the
game with the city's youth
The success of the summer camps hosted by the Golf Course were also made note of, with plans to continue with those in the spring and the summer.

The Golf course also started a new program for youngsters called SNAG, Starting New at Golf, which has proven to be popular with plans to expand it in the year ahead.

As for the 2019 golf season at the course, there was an influx of new golfers and more golf dates were able to be realized this year as opposed to past years. 

The departure of the greens keeper was noted with some disappointment, but with an advisory that a new hire will be on the job soon, with a start date of December 16th.

The work the Golf Course has done towards some corporate funding was outlined, with the Course able to work with the Port to provide for some maintenance work on the eighteen holes to assist with drainage and root structure.

As for challenges, Cullen made note of how wages continue to be an issue, with the Golf Course paying sixteen dollars an hour for greens keeping crews, noting how that puts them in competition with the City and the Port when it comes to seeking out new employees.

Equipment issues also provided some challenges for the Course this year, with a need for some new machinery  on the site which would cost $100,000 which is beyond their budget. Also noted was the fact that the golf course has not purchased any new equipment in the last twenty years because of expense.

They noted that as for operating costs they are doing well and are above water.

Sponsorship features like the
tee indicator above are
helping the financials
for the golf course
An explanation of the structure of the Golf Course and responsibility of staff members and Society members was reviewed for Council, highlighting the work of the Course Pro in that area.

Mr. Cullen also pointed out how Prince Rupert differs from other golf courses in the region, making note that much of the work of the Prince Rupert course relies on the efforts of volunteers.

He also reviewed some of the sponsorship arrangements that have been taken on at the golf course this past year.

The Golf Society had one recommendation for the City, observing how they consider the Society and City to be part of a joint venture, with the Golf Society as the stewards for the facility. 

They made note of a safety issue that they wish to have addressed, but have had some difficulties in getting public works to take care of the problem.

From that experience the Golf Society is looking for a liaison person put in place to be able to sort out some of those issues as they come along.

From the council side of the chamber, the Council members offered their thanks for the work of the staff and volunteers at the facility and took note of their request to provide for better communication on some of the concerns that were raised.

You can review the presentation from the Golf Society from the City's Video archive, starting at the six minute mark.

For more items of note related to Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline Feature.

A wider overview of City Council discussion themes can be found from our Council Archive page here.

For items of interest from the Prince Rupert Golf Course see our archive page here.

Special Events Society make note of some of the challenges of relocation plans for City Council

Bev Kilberry and Joy Sundin recounted some of the challenges that
the Special Events Organization is finding after being asked to
find new office accommodation away fro City Hall

With the organization that puts together the four large community festivals in Prince Rupert being asked by the City to move out of their offices in the basement at City Hall, two members of the Special Events Society appeared at Council on Monday night to outline some of the frustrations and challenges that they are finding in meeting that request.

It appears that the need for more space for city operations is behind the request to move and on Monday Bev Kilberry and Joy Sundin, two long serving members of the Society outlined for Council how the new requirement to pay for rent will have an impact on some of the planning for festivals.

Ms. Kilberry delivered the majority of the commentary observing as to how that has been a bit of a challenge to find a new facility that will fit the needs of the Special Events Society and how the cost of rent that they will be looking to pay will take away from the work they do towards planning the four community festivals.

With a potential rental price of $16,000 to $24,000 per year, she noted how that is not something that they have readily available, while also observing that it's preferable for the Society to remain in the downtown core as that is where the focus for their festivals in the community.

The pair inquired as to what City Council thinks towards providing some more assistance in finding a new accommodation, as well as to note their need for some secure storage for the many items that they have on hand towards community festivals.

For his part, Mayor Brain observed as to how City Staff had been working fairly diligently trying to find new locations, which Ms. Kilberry acknowledged, though she observed that so far the locations haven't quite met what they are looking for.

Mr. Brain followed up by making note of some of the meetings that are ahead in the days to come to try and resolve the location issue and how city staff was still engaged in the process.

He also noted how Council does not get involved in the administration of buildings and such, but that they are working to make sure that Special Events is in a proper long term location and how Council supported the Society in their work.

"I would definitely say that we absolutely support the Special Events Society, I can't speak for Council yet, but we obviously have a grant application on our desk today and the recommendation is for a significant increase for the Special Events and we will discuss that at our regular meeting today.  And I think that will also be helpful, if approved ... that will hopefully be extra support for you guys as well this year. Because we recognize that there are certain organizations that certainly need some extra support and what you do for the community ... we could never lose that kind of service here. -- Mayor Lee Brain speaking on funding for Special Events

Ms. Sundin made note of the ongoing efforts to bring in new members to share some of the work, noting how Special Events is an extension of the Civic government and asked for their feedback on what they would like to see for festivals in the city.

Both members also noted that like the golf Course had requested earlier in the evening, that they believe a liaison position might be a workable way of developing the partnership further with the city.

There was also a bit of discussion on how to approach the day of the festivals and what elements can be put in place to continue with the familiar themes of the events. 

Mayor Brain also urged them to continue to work with City Staff to try to resolve the situation and find a solution to their concerns.

Their timing for an appearance worked out well, with City Council reviewing the Community Enhancement Grant process on Monday.

And from this years distribution some good news has been delivered to the Special Events Society, with the two members on hand to hear of an additional  $13,00 in funding to be in place for 2020, though a number that was still $5,000 short of their request.

The Special Events Office also receives $12,000 from in-kind funding from the City.

You can review some of the concerns from the Special Events Society through the City's Video Archive, with the conversation starting at the 22 minute mark.

For more items of note related to Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline Feature.

A wider overview of City Council discussion themes can be found from our Council Archive page here.