Wednesday, February 26, 2020

City Council Timeline: Monday, February 24, 2020

It was an informative night for Prince Rupert Council as they received a
number of presentations on a range of themes 

Monday night was presentation night at Prince Rupert City Council, with a full range of informative showcases for the Council members and those watching at home to take in.

Among the notes on the night, a presentation from the School District on their replacement plans for Prince Rupert Middle School, a 2020 Budget overview from the City's Financial Officer, as well as an extensive look at two Loan Authorization requests towards the city's ambitions for the landfill site and the second phase of their water infrastructure program.

The City's Chief Planner also made for the night's narrative with some expanded notes on local development themes as part of his review of a number of variance permit requests this month.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Regular Agenda elements for the February 24th Council session can be explored here.

The Agenda for the Committee of the Whole Session can be found here.

Further information from our overview and placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city website.

In attendance Monday, February 24, 2020

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present 
Councillor Nick Adey --  Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham --  Present 
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present 
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven --  Present 
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present

Video Archive for Monday, February 24, 2020


Committee of the Whole Session

( 0:00 - 1:00  ) Committee of the Whole Session for Monday, February 24, 2020 -- Mayor Brain brought the council session to order for the night, outlining the process on the night adopting the agenda and past minutes of previous sessions.

( 1:00 -- 14:00   Presentation from Mr. Cam McIntyre from School District 52 --  Mr. McIntyre, the Treasurer for SD52 provided for the overview for council, tracing some of the history of the long desired replacement project for the City's  Middle School on Ninth Avenue West.

He observed how he started with the District in 2009 and how the original project was that of a seismic mitigation process, with the school taken off that list in 2011. It was returned to the list in 2015, with the work now put forward as a Full Replacement program just weeks ago.

Mr. McIntyre noted that as that process moved forward, it appears that some success towards its progress came through the efforts of MLA Jennifer Rice and her shift to the government side of the Legislature.

As for where they are at this point, such is the pace of their planning, that the School District is now ready to reveal the site selection options they are considering.

A central location is key for the District and among the options that will be made available for viewing to the public this week are:

Sites near Roosevelt School, the existing site of 9th Avenue West,  McClymont Park, land near the BC Hydro site towards Charles Hays Secondary and Lax Keen/Booth.

The Treasurer also outlined the many design elements that the province has made key towards development and how those elements will impact on the final decision for construction.

Should they decide to build on the existing site on 9th Avenue West, there would be a need to relocate the students during the transition period, with the Westview location considered the best option for that temporary site.

One other option might be the use of the Kanata School land, though it is outside of the scope of being central that they have flagged as important. As the study is funded by the province and they are currently part of the demolition process for that long closed school, they suggested adding the Kanata option up for consideration, with Mr. McIntyre outlining the pros and cons of that site.

The Booth School/Maintenance Building site, would require at least a three storey structure and also offers a few challenges towards planning.

The SD Treasurer noted that the Open House to showcase the site options takes place Thursday at Prince Rupert Middle School, with the application process then set to move forward, with Mr. McIntyre hoping to hear of some form of Treasury Board approval by Christmas.

Following the presentation Councillors Adey, Randhawa and Mirau had comments and statements, with Mr. Adey noting how he wouldn't comment on the proposals as that is for the public to comment on, he did note that cost, disruption to students and what represents minimal disruption to the community as key to their process.

Councillor Randhawa inquired about the status of the Band Room in the new school footprint.

Councillor Mirau echoed some of the themes from councillor Adey and offered his validation of their criteria towards selection of the school site. He also had a question as to the timeline for construction, which brought the response that once it is approved there is a three to four year window towards completion. With the SD52 Treasurer noting how if they use the existing site there would be additional time required as they would have to move the students first, then demolish the existing structure prior to a construction start.

The Mayor took note of the upcoming Open House and urged those who are interested in the plans to attend.

 ( 14:00 -- 16:30  ) Following the presentation members of the public were invited to come forward to speak.

Taking advantage of the public comment portion of the night was resident Larry Golden, he spoke to his concerns over the nature of the City's process towards Closed council sessions.

Towards a reply, Mayor Brain noted that they only advertise the call of a Closed Session if there are plans to host one.

With no other members of the public coming forward Council moved on to their Regular agenda for the evening.


Regular Council Session

( 16:30 -- 18:00 )   Regular City Council Session for Monday, February 24, 2019  --  Mayor Brain called the Regular Council Session to order, with Council adopting the agenda and past minutes of previous minutes. 

18:00 - 27:00  ) Presentation from City Planner Zeno Krekic related to a Development Variance Permit -- Prior to the start of the report Councillor Adey took leave of the Chamber, Mr.  Krekic then outlined the nature of the request for the property on 8th Avenue East. First making note of an error and omission that is required and then providing for a lengthy overview of some of the elements towards the property in question, as well as a review of some of the past history for general bylaw requirements in the city.

Council moved to send the request to Public Notification.

27:00 - 29:00  ) Presentation from City Planner Zeno Krekic related to a Development Variance Permit -- Mr Krekic outlined the nature of the request for a property on 7th Avenue East. Council moved to send the request to Public Notification.

29:00 - 33:00  ) Presentation from City Planner Zeno Krekic related to a Development Variance Permit -- Mr Krekic outlined the nature of the request for a property on 5th Avenue West.

Mr Krekic also observed that the current volume of requests for variance permits that his office has seen so far this year, indicates to him that things are moving around town. Councillor Niesh inquired as to some of the elements of the design for the variance request, with Councillor Cunningham also making comments and observations.

As for the Variance Request, Council moved to send the request to Public Notification.

( 33:00 -- 50:00 ) Presentation from the Chief Financial Officer related to the 2020 Budget -- Ms. Corinne Bomben provided the overview for Council as to the themes to be included as part of the 2020 Budget and Five Year Financial plan process.

Her presentation included a look at the work that city does to operate in the city, as well as a review of some of the projects and challenges that they face as well as the Budget recommendations for 2020 and the timeline ahead for consultation.

Among some of her key themes on service provision a scope towards the employment that the city provides for with approximately 175 full time employees and an additional 100 workers on a casual basis. With the CFO noting how the chances are that you or a family member know or are related to a city worker.

For challenges she noted the end of the current landfill cell and the need for a new one, the work on the water dam, plans for the water treatment facility and a replacement RCMP station as well as the work ahead to realize the 2030 Vision plan recently presented in December.

As well she provided for an explanation as to how the various  operation funds work as well as how the city approaches the requirements for capital projects.

There is no expansion of services planned for 2020, while cost increases for wages/benefits, maintenance, the RCMP contract and an increase to 1 million dollars for the road paving budget, as well as bringing the total payment to Port Edward on tax sharing to 1.635 million, all of which will be covered by new tax from expansions and new builds

The City's CFO observed that as a result of that addition tax revenue, that as of February 24th that means the City will realize a Budget Surplus and will see no increase to the residential mill rate for 2020.

A declaration that brought a round of applause from the Council members on the night.

She also outlined how the budget surplus would be used, allocating it towards future debt repayment for the proposed RCMP detachment. She outlined how the long desired replacement project has been a major concern for City Council's through the year and was very pleased to note that they will be able to move forward on it, with no anticipated tax increase for the project, meaning that the loan would be completely covered.

There was however, no timeline outlined on Monday as to when residents may hear of the next steps towards the construction of the facility.

A tutorial on the terms mill rate and how the city collects taxes was next on the Budget overview checklist. Noting how assessed values have increased over the last six years, providing a snapshot on how that impacts on the city tax notices.

She also highlighted the range of taxes that the city collects on behalf of other agencies and has no control over those levels of taxation; the CFO also made note of the payment options available and that any changes that may have to be made will be known in late march.

As for public consultation, the City has two sessions set for those review, the March 9th Council session and again during the March 23rd City Council meeting.

When it came to questions and comments, the Mayor led off by offering his thanks to the City staff, making note how it was a very different discussion that they have had this year compared to when he took office in 2015.

Council members followed up with similar praise with Councillor Randhawa leading off, Councillor Niesh noting how depressing it was in 2015 and noting the changes he has seen including the new life at Watson Island and how they are making money out there every month.

Councillors Mirau, Cunningham and Skelton-Morven offered up similar salutes to the city staff, with Mr. Morven observing how it is a turning point and can now change to the narrative of the city.

Councillor Adey aded his thanks and noted the skill and expertise that was required to deliver the budget project for the year.

Ms. Bomben accepted the kudos and notes she would pass on Council's salutes to the various department heads and their staff and the finance team.

Council received the report for information purposes and set the timeline ahead for consultation in March.

50:00 -- 1:09:00 Presentation from the Chief Financial Officer related to a Loan Authorization for the Solid Waste Infrastructure project and the Woodworth Dam   -- Ms. Bomben provided the overview of the two Loan Authorization requests and noted that more would be coming along shortly for other initiatives as part of infrastructure renewal.

Her Presentation outlined the process that Council can use to gain the assent of the public for the borrowing, noting the options of the Alternative Approval Process or Referendum.

The loan authorization requests on the night included the need for expansion of the landfill site and the second phase of the City's water infrastructure program, in this case the work towards the building of the Woodworth Dam.

The CFO provided a detailed explanation for both projects, noting the history behind both the landfill site and the dam project.

The landfill site will require a loan of 10 million dollars form the Municipal Finance Authority, noting that solid waste rates and fees are not expected to increase outside of small inflationary increases.

The repayment schedule will mean payments of 590,000 dollars per year over the length of the loan period.

She observed how this is expected to be the last landfill site development that the city will take on, that as they move towards becoming a zero waste community.

The Woodworth Dam which will be a 23 million dollar project will be funded by way of funding from provincial/federal sources, Prince Rupert Legacy Inc and the need of a 10 million dollar loan.

She noted that water rates will not  be increased, with Legacy Inc to make use of dividends from Watson Island towards the debt repayment requirements.

Ms. Bomben then provided a tutorial towards the process that would be required should the city council choose the referendum option, with the AAP option one that is somewhat less time consuming and deliver less cost to the city.

Beyond the two Loan requests up for review on Monday, the City's Financial Officer provided a heads up for some upcoming loan requests, making note of the city's plans for replacement of the RCMP detachment in the city which will cost close to 30 million dollars; as well she made note of the work ahead towards a water treatment plant which also would be close to 30 million dollars.

She did not however, outline any kind of a timeline towards progress on those two proposals.

When it came time for quesitons, Councillor Mirau asked for some further explanation on the differences between the AAP process or a full referendum, as well as to seek further guidance as to any flexibility that the city may have to extend the terms for the loans if necessary.

Councillor Niesh observed how residents need to understand how these debts are to be covered by existing costs and how the reality is that these projects need to happen and have been left too long as it is. He also took the opportunity to note how much of the ability towards their approach on the major projects has come through the hard work that the city has taken on at Watson Island.

Councillor Adey noted that there will be a need for more information for the public to ensure they are fully informed on the two projects of note, he inquired as to the anticipated lifespan for the new landfill site and how that would work towards the city's Zero Waste plans.

Ms. Bomben observed how the Director of operations outlined how the new cell would have a thirty five to fifty year lifespan, perhaps more as new measures come into place towards zero waste goals.

The councillor's second question was to ask about electrical power capacity, Ms. Bomben noted that the design is such that if there is ever a chance to generate hydro electricity if the opportunity comes up  and the province ever allows for that option through a permit in the future. She did note that the power generating option was included in the design as you cannot add it on at a later time.

The CFO also outlined that they are preparing an information package for both loans, once council has decided which approach they wish to use for consulting the public.

Councillor Cunningham asked towards any momentum for curb-side recycling in the community, with Ms. Bomben noting that it will probably come within the next two years, observing how the city has to work with Regional District on logistics and capacity, she did note that the new garbage truck will have a recycling capabilities.

The Mayor wrapped up the discussion by noting how the city has approached their decisions on asset management, with projects such as the dam designed for the long term and a potential for revenue generation and how the landfill moves them towards their zero waste and recycling goals.

He commended staff for their attention to those themes as part of the designs for both.

Prior to moving forward on the two Loan authorization request Councillor Mirau inquired about a administrative note on the Dam authorization asking about the date of 2019 towards that initiative.

Ms. Bomben noted that it was an administrative issue, as they had originally planned to take out the loan for the dam last year, but owing to reasons to delay it, they moved it to 2020 but have kept the original bylaw number.

Council then provided first, second and third reading for both of the Loan Authorizations.

The Mayor then noted that once the process has returned to the city from the province, Council will move towards further explanation of the details related to both Loan requests and then decide on which measure of consultation they will use for the final approval from the public.

1:09:00 -- 1:10:00 Reports from Council

Councillor Adey led off the commentary to praise a weekend event put on by the Arts Council which was used as a fundraiser for and celebration of their work in the community.

Councillor Cunningham called attention to the success of of the Charles Hays Rainmaker  teams this season as well as that of the Middle School Storm

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

You can access the City Council Session Archive here,  where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, can also be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from February 24, 2020 (not available yet)

In addition to the city's official minutes, the City's Video archive provides a helpful record of the events from each public council session.

Council members next meet on March 9th.

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

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