Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Northern Health responds to Facebook post from Prince Rupert doctor relaying presumptive case of COVID in the City

A social media post today on Facebook from a Prince Rupert doctor has roared through the city like a wildfire, as Dr. Mairus Pienaar shared some information on a recent patient at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital who had a presumptive case of COVID-19.

In his message he outlines for the community how the case was a visitor to the community who was intubated and transferred out of the community, with contact tracing said to be in place.

The post to his Facebook page has since seen over 200 replies and counting, leading to a range of commentary and theories from its readers as to the risk to the public at the moment.

Among the contributors was Prince Rupert City Councillor Barry Cunningham, who describes the Facebook post as a Statement.

He also observes how a Facebook contribution is somewhat different to the rumour mill and notes how people may now take the Covid threat seriously.

Northern Health has responded to the Social Media advisory by posting a note to their Prince Rupert designated Facebook page.

In their advisory, officials make note of the protocol for release of information that the health authority follows.

They also outline the procedure as to when such information would normally be shared by health officials.

"Specific information on confirmed cases would only be shared by the health authority or public health officials in circumstances where close contacts of confirmed cases could not be contacted by public health, or there was potential public exposure on a larger scale. 

Public Health officials have the power to release this information in exceptional circumstances such as these."

Northern Health also reaffirmed their past guidance to follow the range of information that has been provided by the Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The Provincial Health officer expanded on the theme of an outbreak in a community with an Op-ed article released on Monday, which you can read here.

The current Public Health Orders, Notices and Guidance from the Provincial Health Officer can be reviewed here.

You can review the wide expanse of material delivered to the public since the COVID-19 health crisis arrived in Canada from our archive page here.

City of Prince Rupert calls on residents to clean /Disinfect Garbage can lids

The City is calling on residents to do their part to reduce
the spread of COVID-19 by cleaning home garbage cans

The City of Prince Rupert is looking to the community to assist in reducing the spread of cross contamination during garbage collection operations.

In a short advisory to the Civic website and social media streams, the City outlined its concerns and what it would like to see from the community to help reduce the risk.

Last week, the City of Prince Rupert re-opened the Ridley Island Landfill site to the public, though with some revised measures in place for those taking their items to that location.

More items of interest on civic themes can be found from our Council archive page.

Province of British Columbia moves to secure space for vulnerable people to self-isolate

The British Columbia Government has outlined its plan to help out some of the most vulnerable residents across the province to find a place to self-isolate and reduce the spread of COVID1-19.

Since the provincial government began to tackle the issue they have secured more than 900 spaces at 23 sites including hotels, motels and community centres throughout the province.

“These new spaces are a critical part of how we can support those who are vulnerable in our community, including those who are experiencing homelessness or living in communal locations where the virus could spread more quickly. In partnership with health authorities and local government, these new spaces are helping us mitigate the effect of this virus and support our health-care system in communities across the province.” -- Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

As well the province made note as to how hotel and motel operators across the province have also provided space for those being discharged from hospital but need ongoing health care, something which frees up hospital beds for the COVID response.

"In addition, some hotels are reserved specifically for people who have COVID-19 and need a place to self-isolate while they recover. Other spaces are for patients being discharged from hospitals who do not have COVID-19 and who do not need emergency care, but still require ongoing health care – freeing up much needed beds in hospitals.  

Health authorities are identifying those who require self-isolation and working with BC Housing to refer people to hotel rooms or community centres. Some of these facilities are already operational, while the others are expected to be ready in the coming days and weeks. 

In addition to the more than 900 spaces secured to date, more rooms have been identified in communities throughout the province to be able to expand capacity if a need is identified by health authorities."

The full statement from the Province can be reviewed here.

Locally, work continues among a group of stakeholders towards trying to resolve issues related to the Prince Rupert Homeless Shelter on Third Avenue West, which does not have the required space to allow for the physical distancing required for all of its clients.

The homeless shelter issue has also been one of a number of items of friction between Prince Rupert City Council and Province of late.

Last week, MLA Jennifer Rice relayed that the City had issued a notice of closure for the homeless centre location, a curious decision it would seem in the  middle of a health pandemic.

At the time we had sought out some clarification on that closure order from the City of Prince Rupert, but as of yet have not received a reply to that enquiry.

To date, the City has also not made note of the homeless shelter issues through any of its many communication options; nor has the Mayor observed on the situation through his own political  portal.

In light of today's announcement from the Province, we have also reached out to MLA Jennifer Rice today for an update on the local issues and towards how, or if the new provincial program will be implemented in Prince Rupert.

For mote notes on housing issues in the region see our archive page here.

Further items of interest from the provincial scene can be explored from our Legislature archive, while municipal themes can be explored by way of our Council Discussion archive.

Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue offers guidance for outdoor adventurers

With some enjoyable Spring weather now embracing the North Coast, the temptation to make a break from your home and physical-distancing for some alone time in the wilderness may be strong, but for those considering a trek into the British Columbia back country a few notes to consider from the Prince Rupert Ground Search and Rescue group.

In a post to their Social media feed on Facebook over the weekend, the local organization of dedicated volunteers to respond to calls for assistance at all hours of the day made note of some very serious things to take note of.

The first an advisory that any response that they may have to launch will be governed by the availability of stock for personal protection equipment, particularly a current short of masks which will dictate their course of action.

They also provide the more traditional warnings for outdoors enthusiasts, highlighting the need not to travel alone in the backcountry (no doubt with a reminder as to physical distancing measures), they also make note of the need to know your limitations, have a rescue plan in mind and to practice caution if outdoors.

You can keep up to date on new initiatives and the ongoing work of the local Search and Rescue group from their Facebook page here.

For more notes related to Emergency Responders in the Northwest see our archive page here.

BC Transit to continue Free travels until end of April; Shares the story behind those Prince Rupert bus hearts

It will be another month of Free Transit for those who use BC Transit services in the region, with the transit operator outlining their plans through an information update on the Prince Rupert Transit website.

BC Transit will be extending our rear door boarding and not collecting fares procedures until April 30, 2020. 

The extension means customers do not need to purchase monthly passes or other fares for the month of April.

Details about refund processes for March and April fare products will be available when we announce the return to regular fare collection.

The notes from the Transit service, posted on Monday also highlight some of the measures that they are taking towards their response to the COVID-19 situation across British Columbia.

We have already implemented enhanced measures in response to COVID-19 including:

Enhanced cleaning on buses and at BC Transit facilities
Communication to staff and customers about physical distancing procedures 
Rear door loading (as available) 
Not collecting fares 
Limiting passenger capacity to support physical distancing 
Enhancing the red line for passengers to stand behind

You can explore more on their measures from the April 6th information sheet here.

In addition to the update from BC Transit, PW Transit Canada the local operator of services in Prince Rupert and Port Edward took to social media on Monday, sharing the story of those colourful hearts that resident of the region see on the local BC Transit buses.

The project is part of the #HeartsofHope campaign, and the local effort came from Tina Prokoopsky, her husband Brad is a Transit driver in the city and Tina created the colourful hearts for the buses of the Regional transit service.

The Hearts are part of the community and province wide salute to essential service workers in British Columbia.

More items of note related to Transit services in the region can be found here.

SD52 updates parents, guardians and students on elementary school continuity of education plans

SD52 is rolling out a number of programs as part of their
response to the COVID-91 health crisis

School District 52 has provided for individual notices for each of the elementary schools in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, outlining the status of their plans towards the deliver of their continuity of Education program.

With the school's remaining closed since March, the School District has been assessing how best to meet the mandate from the Ministry of Education to continue on with education, though in an online format an other options.

Last week school staff were taking part in virtual staff meetings to plan and coordinate their approach, contacting local families to assess their ability to use technology or where other concepts may be required.

The advisories for each school in the district can be reviewed below:

The District also has updates for students, parents and guardians and students of PRMS, CHSS and Pacific Coast School.

On Friday, Superintendent Irene LaPierre also delivered her latest update for the community outlining some of the work that took place in the first week back from Spring break, as school officials moved forward towards their planning for the new learning models.

Of note is the School District plan to provide support for the children of essential workers in the community,  with application forms having been made available for those who meet that criteria.

More on the essential workers program can be reviewed here.

The School District also noted that they are in the process of implementing a continuing of of providing a food program for students who normally access the District's breakfast or lunch program.

While they work on the details as to how they will continue with that program, they are going to provide a Grocery card from Canada Safeway to families in need, as well as to develop a "Bags of Goodness ' program that will provide for families once a week.  Details on those initiative will be provided at a later date.

The full update from Superintendent LaPierre can be reviewed here.

For more notes on education around the Northwest see our archive page here.

Port Edward keeps to governance schedule despite COVID-19 times

While Prince Rupert City Council may have chosen to cancel a regular Council session that had been scheduled for last night, down the road in Port Edward the work of civic governance has managed to continue on.

With the District Council meeting last Friday in a Special Session to take care of some local issues.

At the Friday session, the District approved their Engineering budget, which will launch the road rebuild work in the community.  The first project set to be the engineering and design of Evergreen Drive and Sunset Drive, as well as to review the previously engineered Wildwood.

The District Council also announced that they have been successful in obtaining a 2 million dollar grant and have prioritized their road work for the next two years.

Earlier last week, the District also announced that the Utility bill deadline has been extended to April 30th for payment, that way allowing for more flexibility during the COVID-1 pandemic and because they have closed their offices owing to the COVID-19 situation.

Some other advisories from the District include notes on their ongoing Street sweeping program and a reminder on the requirements related to Garbage collection, as well as the decision to keep the North Pacific Cannery Historical site closed for the 2020 season, a topic we explored here last week.

The full overview of the work of Port Edward Council in the last week can be found from their Facebook page.

As well, Mayor Knut Bjorndal provided for an information statement for the community on the community's work with the Province as well as its neighbouring communities when it comes to response to the COVID-19 situation.

You can review that letter to residents below:

For more notes on items of interest from Port Edward see our archive page here.

Monday, April 6, 2020

63 new cases of COVID over last 48 hours, but signs of some levelling of the curve from latest update

Monday's update from Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, provided a mix of statistical review, hopeful signs that our efforts in British Columbia are showing some success and further guidance on a range of ways to work towards levelling the curve in the province.

“Today, we are providing case updates for two 24-hour reporting periods: April 4 to 5, and April 5 through to midday today.

In the first reporting period through April 5, we had 26 new cases, for a total of 1,229 cases in British Columbia.

In the last 24 hours, we have had a further 37 new cases, for a total of 1,266 cases in British Columbia.

This represents 63 new cases since we reported on Saturday."

The largest amount of cases reported are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region with 586, 450 are in the Fraser Health region, 79 are in the Island Health region, 128 are in the Interior Health region and 23 are in the Northern Health region, which makes for an increase of two from Saturday.

The Provincial Health Officer also relayed the sad news of another passing from the virus in British Columbia, this one a male in his forties from the Lower Mainland who passed away in his home.

 “There have been 39 COVID-19 related deaths in British Columbia. 

We are saddened to report that we have had a community death of a known COVID-19 case in the Vancouver Coastal health region. 

The BC Coroners Service is investigating, as is the process for any sudden unexpected death that takes place in community. 

We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones."

Dr. Henry made note of some encouraging signs towards levelling British Columbia's curve, but again as she has for weeks now, stressed the need to maintain community efforts towards Physical Distancing and other measures.

“While it is encouraging to see the overall rate of new cases in British Columbia in the last few days levelling, we also continue to see new outbreaks in the community and with vulnerable individuals.

These hot spots are very concerning, as they can quickly escalate and further challenge our health system – something we have seen in many other parts of the world.

We must all work to ensure our firewall stays strong and remain united in our efforts to hold the line.

British Columbians can help to flatten our curve and protect our communities by staying home as much as possible, continuing to follow physical distancing measures when out, and importantly, continuing to support loved ones and others in our communities."

Non medical face coverings also made for some conversation at today's update, with Dr. Henry outlining the process that went towards discussing the face covering issue.

"It's not a recommendation, it is a permissive use if you will, for exactly the reasons that you say; this virus can't jump six feet, so when you're outside maintaining physical distance are things we know works and we've seen that here in BC.

So there are proven things that we know that prevent transmission of this virus, cleaning your hands regularly, covering your mouth when you cough, not touching your face and eyes and maintaining that safe distance from people.

Where a non-medical mask and I can't emphasize that enough and we've talked about that here, medical masks and respirators need to be reserved for our health care settings and our health care workers, because that's where they do the most good.

But a hand made cloth face covering that we've seen people using in other places, for short term they can protect others around you from your droplets. So it's not going to protect you from getting infected with this virus but for short term, it is a similar a similar analogy to coughing into your sleeve or coughing into a tissue.

It may keep your droplets in, so that they're not in the air, or on surfaces around you.

It's not alternative to the things that we know work ... I think we need to be very careful not to say that it's required, or recommended for everybody, but it is an option  particularly if you're not sure you'll be able to cover your cough if you need to"

You can review the full statement from today here.

The BC Centre for Disease control has some valuable Coronavirus notes related to COVID-19 you can explore that information here.

You can learn more about the outbreak from both the Province and the Federal government from the links below:

Federal Government site

British Columbia Government site

The World Health Organization website also offers up the latest advisories on the global situation.

More from  Northern Health can be reviewed here 

You can review our archive of past statements and local information here.

Local governments and organizations have also provided for increased awareness of COVID-19 issues, the string of statements that came quickly at the end of the week can be reviewed here.

For notes from across Canada and British Columbia we have been archiving the latest items through our political portal Darcy McGee

Ottawa Observations

Victoria Viewpoints

Prince Rupert's popular Homecoming celebrations to be deferred for one year

The ongoing provincial effort towards the COVID-19 response has knocked a very popular Prince Rupert Social Event off the calendar for a year, with organizers of Homecoming 2020, announcing that they will postpone the event until 2021.

The notice was posted to the Homecoming 2020 Facebook page in late March, advising of the postponement for the May 14-18 event this year.

Planning had been underway for months for the event which takes place every five years, with a number of activities in place for the hundreds if not more who had indicated of plans to make the trip back to their old stomping grounds.

Among the events that had been planned for the May long weekend had been an evening with Craig Oliver and Gloria Macarenko, two former Prince Rupert residents who have stepped out on the national stage through the news media.

The new date to mark on your calendar and keep in your phone and other electronic devices is May 20-24, 2021.

You can keep up to speed on how they will approach the event in a year's time from the Homecoming Facebook page.

For more notes on community events see our archive page here.

Prince Rupert Labour Council to host Community Roundtable on People's Needs during COVID health crisis

The Prince Rupert Labour Council will be hosting an online Community Roundtable this Thursday,  seeking to hear from front line workers in the community to explore a range of themes that have been noted for the exchange of ideas.

Set for Thursday evening from 7 to 8:30 PM the online video conference will focus on the needs or people in Prince Rupert and surrounding area, among some of areas for discussion:

Health care needs
Housing and income needs
Safety needs (including needs for safety from domestic violence)
All other human needs during COVID-19

"We hope to hear from as many people on the frontlines of COVID-19 as possible. Now is an urgent time to hear everyone's voices and to make sure that the most vulnerable are prioritized in this time of need." -- forum organizer Tom Kertes, Secretary-Treasurer of the Prince Rupert Labour Council and member of the Prince Rupert District Teachers' Union (PRDTU)

Should you wish to participate in the forum you can contact Tom Kertes by email at tomkertes@princerupertlabourcouncil.ca  or by phone at 778-884-5343

Anyone who wishes to take in the on line forum can contact Mr. Kertes for information on how to access the Roundtable session; a summary of the meeting will also be posted to the Prince Rupert Labour Council website following Thursday's session.

You can learn more about the Community Roundtable here.

More items of interest on Labour issues in Prince Rupert and area can be reviewed here.

Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue sends full response ... for Sophia's Birthday!

Last week we outlined how the Prince Rupert Fire Rescue Department had launched a contest that would deliver a special birthday salute for one luck Prince Rupert boy or girl.

The contest which included a Fire Safety question attracted some good participation from Prince Rupert families and when it came time to select the successful entry, it was Sophia Mcdonald's entry that brought the response.

In a video from the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Facebook page, the Birthday parade showcases much of the PRFD fleet, as well as Sparky the Fire Dog as they passed by to share in the birthday girl's Big Day.

You can check out more notes from the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Service here.

For more notes on the work of Northwest emergency responders see our archive page here.

Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue knock down fire in unoccupied Third Avenue hotel

Prince Rupert Firefighters tackling a fire in an unoccupied hotel
in the downtown area on Sunday AM
(photo from PR Fire Facebook)

An early morning Sunday morning fire call sent Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue personnel to an unoccupied hotel on Third Avenue in the downtown core, with crews quickly containing the fire to a portion of the basement.

Arriving on scene at 4:25 AM, their quick work to tackle the fire meant that it did not have an opportunity to extend into the upper floors; a subsequent search of the building came back with no indication that anyone was in the building or if there were other fire related issues to address.

There were no injuries to fire personnel reported from the incident, the Fire is now under investigation.

For notes on the fire see the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Facebook page.

Further items of interest on Emergency Responders in the northwest see our archive page here.

UBCM to coordinate outreach and advocacy for municipal governments in wake of COVID related financial pressures

The umbrella organization for municipalities across British Columbia is taking the lead when it comes to advocacy for municipal governments that are facing the impact of COVID-19 on their budget planning and local government operations and finances.

In an information release from Friday, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities outlined how the had reached out to a wide range of local government officials to gather information on the pressures facing municipalities in the province.

“Local governments find themselves in a double-bind. The sudden and dramatic loss of revenue is requiring us to rethink budgets to focus on core service delivery and support the provincially coordinated response to COVID-19. At the same time, we are aware of the many residents and businesses in our communities that have seen even greater losses of income and are looking for relief.” -- Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, UBCM president.

Among the areas of concern  identified by local government, the UBCM list included:

The loss of variable revenue including facility, transit, recreation, development, parking, hotel tax, airport and gaming revenue

The potential need to re-evaluate capital spending, including shelving discretionary projects or diverting funds from capital projects to operations

The decline in investment income from invested funds, and from any internal borrowing required to sustain operations; Additional costs incurred by local governments in supporting vulnerable populations, implementing provincial orders, and operating Emergency Operation Centers

Growing public and business community pressure to re-evaluate proposed or recently passed property tax increases

Increasing pressure to enact tax relief measures for residents and businesses including waiving utility penalties, deferring utility payment deadlines, and/or deferring property tax deadlines

Potential inability to meet looming financial deadlines including financial statements, annual reports, and SOFI reports

Anticipated delay in the completion of capital projects, with the concern that federal and provincial funding will be taken away if deadlines are not met

Assessing whether they should and/or could use accumulated surplus reserves and other restricted reserve funds to meet operational needs

The potential need to access Municipal Finance Authority borrowing for shortfalls in revenue. As required by legislation, local governments do not have the ability to run deficits.

The UBCM also outlined that it has engaged in discussions with the Province on the immediate and longer-term challenges for local governments and their communities.

Among those area for discussion for potential relief measures have focused on property taxes, legislated financial timelines, restrictions on reserves, capital project timelines, grants, and infrastructure stimulus funding.

The UBMC president noted how “While we are in a provincial emergency, it’s more important than ever to work closely with other orders of government to strengthen our communities,The Province is aware of the pressures that bear upon local governments and the need to ensure sustainable service delivery at this critical time.”

Last week we noted that a number of municipal governments have been reviewing their 2020 budget projections and taking some extraordinary measures, including significant layoffs as they come to terms with the financial situation that they will be facing.

A theme of concern for many communities that continued on into the weekend.

So far, there has been no indication, or public statement from the Mayor, Council or city staff for the City of Prince Rupert as to the current state of affairs for municipal government in this community.

As well the Mayor and Council has not informed the public  towards any steps or measures they may have looked at to this point to address any potential challenges ahead.

An opportunity for the City Council to weigh in on those themes in a public setting was lost eleven days ago when Prince Rupert City Council cancelled the first of two public council meetings for April, citing a "lack of business" to discuss as the reason for the scrapped public meeting.

For more notes related to Municipal issues in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

Terrace flight of late March among those on a COVID list for the BC Centre for Disease Control

The BC Centre for Disease Control has listed a number of BC flights
where reported cases of COVID have been flagged, on of which
departed from Terrace in late March

In a bid to track and alert British Columbians who may have been in transit over the last month, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control has provided a list of public exposures to the virus for the attention of travellers.

The list of information indicates which flights that the Centre is aware of where there was a case of COVID-19 onboard,

The BC CDC chart makes note of seventeen International and eighteen domestic flights which landed or departed at airports in British Columbia.

Among the domestic flights, is an Air Canada flight (8245) out of the Terrace airport,  which flew from Terrace to Vancouver on March 24th.

The advisory indicates that passengers on those flights that don't list affected seats, which includes the Terrace departure that is listed, should self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days following the flight.

The information sheet also provides details on the Self-Isolation process for British Columbians who are contacts of a confirmed case, which you can review here.

They also provide a link to the Self Assessment Tool that the Province of British Columbia has introduced to determine whether you may need further assessment for COVID-19.

The full advisory on all of the Public Exposure listings can be reviewed here.

More notes related to air travel in the Northwest can be explored here.

Pre-COVID 19 realty results highlighted increase for sales in Prince Rupert

The Northern BC realty market will be marked this year in terms of Before COVID and After, with the Northern BC Real Estate Board releasing their first quarter results that provide a snap shot of the normalcy of those times, with what may come still to be determined upon the exit of these days of physical distancing and other measures.

These challenging times of COVID-19 made for much focus for Shawna Kinsley, the new President of the BC Northern Real Estate Board.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant challenges to everyone in our society. Our members are committed to doing their part to ensure communities stay safe. Real estate is an essential service. REALTORS® are following all orders and guidance from the Public Health Authority."

The new Board President also called attention t some of the measures that the organization has put in place for its members towards Open Houses and other personal engagement with sellers and buyers.

"The Real Estate Board has recommended that no Open Houses be held during this time. REALTORS® are also modifying their practices around face-to-face meetings and showings. Sellers may now remain on the MLS® system without the need for showings and all consumers can expect more phone or virtual meetings as well as limits on showings and new showing guidelines. We ask consumers to be patient with real estate practice changes at this time. REALTORS® remain committed to serving their clients and safeguarding their communities.”

Charts from BCNRB

When it comes to review of the numbers for the first three months of 2020, Prince Rupert had seen an uptick in the volume of sales closed compared to one year ago and a near doubling in the returns to house sellers in the period.

Prince Rupert had 47 properties worth $15.4 million sold through the MLS system this year, compared to 34 sold at this time last year for a value of $8.8 million. Of those 47 properties sold, 29 were single-family residential properties and 6 were parcels of vacant land.

As of March 31st, there were 104 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS system  in the Prince Rupert area compared to 169 listings last year.


In the Terrace area which continues to set the pace in the Northwest,  58 properties in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 53 one year ago. The value of these properties was $18.9 million up from $16.9 million in 2019. 29 single-family homes, 5 manufactured homes in parks, and 2 manufactured homes on land have changed hands since January 1st.

As of March 31st, there were 222 properties of all types available for sale in the Terrace area, an increase from last year when 192 properties were listed.


There was not much change for the Kitimat realty sector from the year to year numbers, 18 properties worth $6.2 million  have been reported sold to date in 2020, compared to 19 properties at 6.7 million one year ago. Of those 18 properties, 11 were single-family homes, 3 were half-duplexes and 2 were townhouses. 

At the end of March there were 113  properties of all types available for sale through the MLS system in the Kitimat area, at this time last year there were 124 listings.


Smithers realtors started 2020 much the way they did 2019,  with the 43  sales with a value of $12 million to March 31st, 2020 marking much the same territory of a year ago when they had 44 listings bringing in 12.6 million . In addition to the 23 single-family homes that sold, 4 parcels of vacant land, 6 homes on acreage, and 5 manufactured homes in parks changed hands this year.

At the end of the first quarter there were 122 properties of all types available for purchase through the MLS system in the Smithers area, that compares to 122 listed one year ago.


Over the course of a three year period of review, Prince Rupert after declines in 2019, found that it was almost back to the same place it was at this time in 2018 when it comes to the average selling price of a residential detached home.

The full test of the impact of COVID-19 on the realty sector and the Northern economy will come in the first week of July, that is when the BCNRB releases its second quarter results a review that most likely will tell a very changed story from the data review of last week.

You can review the full overview for the five different regions for the BCNRB here.

More items of note on the Housing sector can be found here.

As new Federal rules on travel kick in; BC Ferries to make health check ups before passenger boarding

Travellers on BC Ferries vessels will soon have to fill out a health
questionnaire prior to boarding to attest to their fitness for transit

A string of new measures announced on Sunday by the Federal Government will mean that BC Ferries will now be making sure you are fit for travel before allowing boarding on their coastal BC routes and long range runs in Northern BC.

In a Interim Order issued by the Minister of Transport which went into effect at midnight on Sunday, Ferry operators across Canada are instructed to:

Immediately reduce by 50% the maximum number of passengers that are carried on board, or implement alternative practices to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The list of Federal measures totals ten and many had already been implemented by BC Ferries prior to the announcement of April 4th.

Among some of the new regulations to be put in place:

Enforcing mandatory physical distancing for all passengers on board (e.g., by eliminating entertainment events and anything else that would impact a 2 metre between passenger distancing rule)

Putting in place immediate reporting and mandatory isolation of anyone showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or fever equal to or greater than 38°C, or signs of fever, e.g., shivering, flushed skin, excessive sweating). 

In the case of overnight vessels, at least 20% of their capacity must be carried as empty berths to allow for isolation

Eliminating the practice of “hot bunking”, where more than one crew member is assigned to a single bunk

Working with terminal operators to provide additional space for walk-on passengers waiting to embark/disembark

Prior to boarding, passengers may be request to undergo a health check, that process will involve answering a few simple quesitons which must be answered truthfully.

As well, upon arrival at a destination, further measures may be taken by municipal or provincial government to prevent the spread of COVID-19

The process towards a denial of boarding is outlined below:

In the event that the vessel operator observes that the passenger has COVID-19 symptoms or that their response to any of the questions on the health check indicates a need to deny boarding, the vessel operator should refuse to board the person for travel for a period of 14 days or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the symptoms that the person is exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus. In the event refusal is not possible, the operator should take steps to ensure the passenger should be self-isolated (e.g., the passenger will commit to stay in their vehicle for the entire voyage). 

 If the passenger must travel for the purpose of receiving needed medical services, they should take precautions to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 such as staying in their car as much as possible, wearing a mask and maintaining a minimum of two metres from any other passenger.

The full list of  measures can be reviewed here.

Last Friday, BC Ferries reduced the number of sailings by 50 percent on their highly travelled southern runs, eliminating some of their service on routes completely.  So far, no schedule changes have been announced for the routes in and out of the Prince Rupert terminal, which remain on their winter schedule.

For more notes on Marine transportation on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii see our archive page here.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Blog Watching: Week ending April 5, 2020

As the City of Prince Rupert's elected council stepped back from the spotlight for the week deflecting many local concerns to the MLA and cancelling their first public council session for April, the focus shifted for the most part to the work of MLA Jennifer Rice.

The North Coast MLA had a full plate as the week evolved, balancing the relay of the provincial COVID-19 response, with the concerns of many in the community over the fate of the homeless  for just a few of the items at the top of her list.

The last seven days for the most part focused on the municipal/provincial political dynamic; but a few other items managed to carve out some space as well.

With our stories on the Port's next expansion plan gaining a strong readership as did our look at how Tourism Prince Rupert is addressing this very worrisome period for local tourism partners.

However, the most read story of the week, saw a large volume of readership reviewing the themes from a correspondence from North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice.

MLA's letter to constituents highlights Province's message; garners familiar attention  -- North Coast MLA addressed the residents of the region one week ago through a letter to constituents, a partial response to the actions of the City of Prince Rupert following the suspension of the Local Emergency Statement, a correspondence which elicited some feedback from some familiar names from Mayor Lee Brain's social media following.   (posted  March  29, 2020)

That article was followed by:

Port of Prince Rupert seeks input on Export Logistics Platform plans for Ridley Island --  Considering how times seen so uncertain at the moment, the planning for a new export terminal at Ridley Island seemed to be a welcome diversion from the moment for many readers.  (posted April 22020  )

MLA Rice hopeful of short term solution and longer term resolution to homeless shelter issues in Prince Rupert -- While there still hasn't been any official announcement yet, signs point towards some forward momentum for the long running issue of housing in the community, but not before it appears to have made for a schism between provincial and municipal officials. Earlier in the week, the North Coast MLA had taken the lead on the homeless issue locally, seeking out stakeholders to address the issues of the homeless.  (posted  April 2, 2020)

Boat Ramps and Campgrounds items of note for Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain -- With another COVID-19 theme shared through his Facebook page, the Mayor provided a forum for his followers to provide for a mix of rumour, a little fact and a fair bit of acrimony towards anyone with an out of town vehicle. (posted April 1, 2020)

Tourism Prince Rupert developing Recovery strategy for tourism sector in wake of COVID-19 -- As the North Coast heads towards the normally very busy Summer tourism season, the uncertainty from the COVID-19 virus has offered up an indication that 2020 will be a very rough patch for local tourism. Already Tourism Prince Rupert is making plans towards rebuilding the foundation of the key local sector.  (posted April 3, 2020 )

You can find our weekly Blog watching feature posted every Sunday morning by 9AM, making for a handy way to catch up to the week that was, at a leisurely weekend pace.

You can also review the full listings of the week just past, from our Blog Archive index page found on the right hand side of the page.

For those looking for updates to items as they are posted to the blog, don't forget about our email alert access.

A daily review of the latest items on the blog can be delivered to your email in box, simply by entering your email address into the information bar, items posted to the blog will be delivered to your e-mail account each day.

You can find the link to that feature on the upper, right hand side of the blog. It can be found underneath the Follow the North Coast Review by Email indicator.

As well, those who use Twitter can get updates as we post new items from our twitter feed

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching  can be found here.

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

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Saturday COVID-19 Update, relays notes on 29 new cases, 3 deaths and 704 recoveries.

The Saturday data review on the COVID-19 response in British Columbia saw Dr. Bonnie Henry outline that there had been 29 new cases which  have tested positive in the province in the last 24 hours, which bring the British Columbia total number of cases to 1,203 people who have tested positive.

Of the latest accounts: 554 people are in Vancouver Coast Health, 424 in Fraser Health, 76 with Vancouver Island Health, 128 people reported in Interior health and there are 21 people listed in the Northern health region.

The provinces' Public Health Officer also noted that one more outbreak had been recorded at a Seniors long term care facility, this one in the Fraser Health Region, that now makes for 23 outbreaks of long term care, with the Doctor indicating that is an are of particular focus for health officials, where they know there have been two very serious outbreaks that continue, while the remainder have been caught early to protect the residents of those facilities.

149 British Columbians remain hospitalized with COVI-18, 68 of them are in ICU or critical care facilities in the province.

The Doctor also made note that three more patients have passed away from COVID-BC, expressing her condolences to their families and the pain they are suffering at this moment.

Those passings make for 38 deaths to date from COVID-19 in British Columbia.

On the recovery side of the ledger 704 British Columbians have recovered from the virus, with Dr. Henry making note of the positive news that brings towards their ongoing efforts.

Dr. Henry also outlined some of the research work that is underway in the province and across the country, as well as to how that work and that of the future, will serve to help the province approach its response to this current wave and any upcoming waves of the virus, until we have a treatment and then a vaccine for the virus.

“A key part of our response is high quality scientific research to help B.C. get through the first wave of COVID-19 safely and find ways to prevent it from returning here and around the world. 

A new COVID-19 Strategic Research Advisory Committee, led by Dr. David Patrick and supported by former provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall and other notable public health experts, is facilitating research efforts across the province. 

The committee’s work includes advising the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, which has received $2 million to fund research in several important public health areas. 

Their research will focus on B.C.-specific epidemiology and public health countermeasures to address some of the challenges of long-term care homes, inner city populations, rural communities, Indigenous people, and health-care workers. 

This is in addition to a variety of research that is already underway across B.C., as we do all we can to understand this virus, to stop transmission and protect our province.”

Doctor Henry also stressed the importance of the next few weeks for the province.

"The risk remains very high for us right now in British Columbia, we are in the thick of it and we must hold our line. This is our time to be unwavering in our commitment, to keep our firewall strong. 

To keep our distance between us, our physical distance that safe distance between us that doesn't allow this virus to spread.

But also to ensure that we're taking those measures to stay socially connected, to support each other, in our families in our communities, so we can get through this together"

You can review today's statement here.

The BC Centre for Disease control has some valuable Coronavirus notes related to COVID-19 you can explore that information here.

You can learn more about the outbreak from both the Province and the Federal government from the links below:

Federal Government site

British Columbia Government site

The World Health Organization website also offers up the latest advisories on the global situation.

More from  Northern Health can be reviewed here 

You can review our archive of past statements and local information here.

Local governments and organizations have also provided for increased awareness of COVID-19 issues, the string of statements that came quickly at the end of the week can be reviewed here.

For notes from across Canada and British Columbia we have been archiving the latest items through our political portal Darcy McGee

Ottawa Observations

Victoria Viewpoints

A number of Prince Rupert Physicians are recommending residents wear homemade cloth masks when out in public

A large cross-section of Physicians in the Prince Rupert area have outlined their recommendation on the topic of wearing home made cloth masks in the community, with nineteen doctors in the area having signed a letter encouraging residents of the region to wear one for public protection against COVID-19.

The recommendation for the public was relayed through Mayor Lee Brain's social media platform today.

We, the undersigned physicians of Prince Rupert strongly encourage members of the public to wear a homemade cloth mask when out in public for protection against COVID-19. 

In the past few months, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and China have gotten this disease under control. Taiwan, right next to China, has had only five deaths from COVID-19. In all of these countries, everyone wears a mask when out in public.

In Italy, the USA, and Canada, the COVID-19 epidemic is not under control. Authorities in these countries have told their citizens not to wear masks in public. They are wrong. We need to follow the lead of the Asian countries who have been successful in fighting COVID-19

Half of COVID-19 patients may have such mild symptoms that they do not even know they are ill. When you cough, sneeze, or talk, you spew tiny droplets into the air. These droplets can spread the virus to others. Masks prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. My mask protects you. Your mask protects me.

They make note how the wearing of the cloth masks will help bring the epidemic under control, but remind those that will be wearing one not to use an N95 mask or the surgical type of mask found at hospitals.

The doctor's also advise against putting one on a small child, as there is a risk of choking.

The local physicians make note of the changes in our lives at this time and make note of the many sacrifices that residents have made to date as part of the response to the pandemic.

It has been a hardship for many of us to isolate at home the past few weeks. We are distanced from friends and family. Businesses are closed, and people are out of work. Everyone has made sacrifices to fight this disease. 

We physicians are getting masks sewn for ourselves and our families to wear as soon as possible. Please wear a cloth mask in public to protect you and your loved ones.

You can review the list of names of the signatories to the letter and review some links towards the making and use of masks from the Mayor's Facebook page here.

So far, the relay of that information is only available through that social media stream.

As of yesterday, the Northern Health website and social media feed was advising that masks should be used by sick people to prevent transmission to other people.

You can review those notes here.

For more notes related to the Provincial and local response to the COVID-19 Response see our archive page here.

Three robberies in four days have Prince Rupert RCMP seeking suspects

Our original story of this morning has now been updated, to reflect a third robbery on Saturday afternoon.

A pair of armed robberies which took place this past week have Prince Rupert RCMP seeking one suspect for both case files.

The first took place on the evening of Wednesday, April 1st, at around 9:15 when a single caucasian male robbed a convenience store in the 800 block of Second Avenue West.

The second robbery took place on the morning of Thursday, April 2, shortly after 10 AM when what is believed to be the same male robbed the liquor store in Cow Bay.

In both incidents, it was reported that the male was wearing a 'real tree' camouflage face mask, dark green hoodie, dark jeans and black skateboard sneakers.

During each robbery, the RCMP say that the suspect brandished a weapon, demanded money and left the premises with an un-disclosed amount of cash.

The male caucasian suspect stands at approximately 6 feet tall and has a slender build.

This afternoon, the local detachment also outlined notes on a third robbery, which took place today (Saturday) at 12:20 in the 800 block of 2nd Avenue West.

On April 4, 2020 at 12:20 PM police responded to a report of a robbery to a convenience store in the 800 bock of 2nd Ave W. 

A man described as being 6 feet tall with a slender build wearing blue surgical gloves and mask, black pants, shoes and a black Under Armour hoodie with a crest that had a real tree camouflage design. 

 The suspect produced a knife to the cashier and made off with an undisclosed amount of money. The suspect was last seen heading East toward 3rd Ave W by a witness.

Additional items related to  the case file of today can be reviewed here.

If you have any information related to any of the robberies, you are asked to contact the RCMP at 250-624-2136 or through CrimeStoppers.

For more notes of interest on the work of Emergency Responders see our archive page here.