Wednesday, January 15, 2020

City Council's 2020 New Year hangover session

With just Four hundred and fifteen seconds of reflection and commentary put in on the night, Monday's City Council Session resembled that fuzzy period many of us may have experienced on New Years Day, where traditionally you look back to the night before and don't tend to say much to greet the New year.

In the case of the Monday Council session, there was much looking back at the Big Blast of the Prince Rupert Vision 2030 presentation of December, along with a New Year's resolution towards Single Use Plastic Bag banning in the community.

But for the majority of the council members there was little in the way of actual talking and mostly it seemed, that they were just watching the clock tick the minutes off, less than seven of them, before they could call it a day.

It's somewhat puzzling that with five weeks between the last time we saw the Mayor and Council in public session (December 9) and Monday's brief appearance, that Council or staff could not cobble together more than one item for discussion on the night.

That of a quickly handled approval to provide for a letter of support for a Trail Building project on the west side of the city.

Such was the lack of interest in being there it seems, that the Mayor and Council couldn't even muster up much of a review of what they were approving, or to offer up some background on some of the past trail project proposals that are still to be developed.

With that one piece of work out of the way in less than 50 seconds, the rest of the night was up to the Council members to decide on.

And for the most part, other than Councillor Cunningham's suggestion that Council look towards implementing a single use plastics ban in the city and a few thoughts on the theme from Councillor Adey, no one else around the Chamber had a word to share on the night.

Beyond that future talking point, the rest of the session was given over to the Mayor and City Manager Robert Long celebrating the December Vision presentation, offering up some themes for the months ahead, including the plan for the Vision Steward Council to take on the actual delivery of the many vision themes.

One imagines that the newly announced co-governing body will require more than 7 minutes to discuss such things, but alas, whatever amount of time they allocate towards delivering the vision, it most likely will come outside of the public council venue.

And that's something that the rest of the Council members may have wanted to discuss a bit, sharing some background on how it all of those implementation plans for the Rupert 2030 vision will come together for the public.

Those weren't the only items that slipped by unobserved for the first day back in public session for the year; with a range of other themes that the City's elected officials could have put some attention towards as well, considering they had the time on the evening.

With temperatures plummeting this week, someone might have offered up an inquiry if the City has an update on the state of the homeless in the community, particularly as the Emergency Shelter situation was already overcrowded long before we received these wind chills of the -20's this week.

Last week, Mayor Brain celebrated an announcement from Pembina of expansion plans for their Liquid Propane Terminal on Watson Island, the Mayor hailing the work of council and staff on the file.

Yet with lots of time at hand and the topic still fresh, no one had any questions of the mayor or City manager, even as the light agenda on the night offered a perfect opportunity for a Watson Intermodal Trade and Logistics Terminal update.

Watson Island makes for a civic project which we haven't heard much about over the last few years, whether it be if the City has attracted any other tenants yet, or if the city continues to accrue costs associated with the ongoing remediation work.

There are any number of other issues and topics that might have benefited from a few words on the night, the need for more attention towards affordable and supportive housing for those in need, the progress on infrastructure particularly the water issues of the last year and progress of the dam and planning for the water treatment plant.

Not to mention past concerns over the erosion of medical care on the North Coast, the plans, if any for a new police detachment and Fire Hall, or the preparations for the budget planning ahead for 2020.

Had they been inclined to share a few thoughts the list of items requiring updates makes for a lengthy one. But for the first session of a new year and a new decade it was a shade under Seven minutes in and we're outta here.

Considering how the Councillors voted themselves some significant improvements to the pay package in 2019, residents and particularly those few voters who bothered to vote in 2018 to put this council into their seats, probably deserve a bit more active participation from their elected officials when it comes to the public gatherings.

The brevity of these Council sessions is not a novelty, as a look back over the last few years will show.

And the lack of effort for the debut for 2020 is somewhat glaring, when compared to some of the other City Councils in the region, who all have knuckled down to work in the early days of the new year.

Terrace  -- January 13
Kitimat  -- January 6  
Smithers -- January 14

There are exceptions of course when more of the Prince Rupert council members become engaged and somewhat more talkative; say when it comes to the topic of approving their salary increases, or addressing budget themes, taxation and the public reaction to them comes up.

However, far too often the contribution from the supporting cast at Council meetings from the left and right of the Mayor's chair tends to look like one of those travelling Reveen shows of the past.

Council sessions where many of the councillors take on the role of those hypnotized folks on the stage; the ones pretending to drive cars or channeling animals and such ...

Though in this instance it's less a case of humorous frivolity for the audience at home, as it is some genuine puzzlement as to whether some of the council members wish to be more than just stage props for municipal governance.

You can review the full scope of the Monday night session from our Council Timeline here.

For more notes on past themes from Council see our archive page here.

1 comment:

  1. What is the name of that song, oh yah “Take the money and run”

    Seriously plastic bags and a trail are the cities only problems.