Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A Stay the Course COVID speech for British Columbians from Premier Horgan

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaking Tuesday night in a
province wide address on the COVID-19 situation

Premier John Horgan spoke to the province for six and half minutes on Tuesday evening, relaying the steps taken so far as British Columbia has ramped up its measures incrementally since nine weeks ago and the first arrival of the COVID-19 virus, with the Premier making note of the many efforts towards the challenges of the virus and the impact it has had to this point across the province.

Observing that it is what we do today that will make the difference in the bid to flatten the curve, he offered thanks to those that have taken the steps asked of them, and shared his thoughts for those that have lost loved ones in the last month and half to the virus.

"There are more challenges ahead and that's why the next fourteen days are so important, what we do today will affect what our doctors, nurses and first responders face in the days and weeks ahead, it will determine how many of us remain healthy and how much we can do to flatten the curve ... there are early signs that our actions are making a difference, but we can't stop now. We need everyone to follow the directions of the Provincial Health Office Dr. Bonnie Henry"

The address, retraced many of the themes of the response, the need for social distancing, to stay at home as much as possible and the frequent need to wash our hands and to take these measures seriously and to obey the law.

Mr. Horgan expressed his gratitude to all of those who are working to keep British Columbia in motion in the midst of the crisis, the health care workers, first responders, those working in transportation and retail grocery stores keeping the supply chain of the province alive.

The Premier reassured residents that the provincial plan will continue to address any issues that come up as part of the health emergency, as well as to highlight the partnerships in supply for much needed medical and sanitary items.

The final portion of the address, reviewed many of the programs now in place to assist British Columbians and hailed the unprecedented cooperation that has been found across Canada to take on the COVID-19 challenge.

The final note relayed the news that the Province will extend the Provincial State of Emergency, though going further towards a full scale lockdown of the province and its communities, as some had anticipated for tonight,  still does not seem to be part of the Province's plan to date.

The Premier did note that what he and we have seen from around the world is unsettling and scary,

But Mr. Horgan also offered hope that the steps being taken in this province will help carry British Columbians through the crisis thanks to the strength of the people and their communities.

"We are in this together, people from every corner of the province, in every region. Tonight I'm asking you to re-commit,  re-commit to our health care workers and to each other. Do your part, stay home, stay safe and we'll bend this curve together"

You can review the full speech below:

Some background notes to the Premier's address can be reviewed here.

You can retrace many of the steps taken to date in the province from our archive page here.

Tuesday COVID-19 Update notes: Our new reality lasts towards June and maybe beyond

"I do think that it's more and more, less likely that we're going to be able to get back to full normal life, which  I miss a lot,  before at least the summer. And then we need to start preparing ourselves  for the potential of a second wave in the fall . In the meantime we need to put every possible effort into development of a vaccine" -- Dr. Bonnie Henry in her Tuesday COVID-19 briefing

British Columbia has crossed over the 1,000 mark in reported cases of COVID-19, as Tuesday's update from Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided a review of the last 24 hours for residents of the province.

“We are announcing 43 new cases, for a total of 1,013 cases in British Columbia.

Every health region in British Columbia has patients with COVID-19: 476 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 348 are in the Fraser Health region, 67 are in the Island Health region, 107 are in the Interior Health region and 15 are in the Northern Heath region.

It is with sadness that we report five deaths in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions in the last 24 hours, for a total of 24 COVID-19 related deaths in British Columbia."

They both noted as to the important point that British Columbia is at in the response to the COVID-19 virus, with the residents of British Columbia once again urged to stay the course with the measures in place.

“We are at a critical juncture in our provincial COVID-19 response. Every British Columbian has a part to play to flatten the curve. We must all do the right thing and be 100% committed. “No one is immune, but everyone can make a difference. If you are older, staying home keeps you away from those who could put you at risk. If you are young, staying apart means you are preserving important capacity within our health-care system for our elders and others at highest risk."

In the follow up Question and Answer period, the main theme was to note that the path towards responding to the virus will be a long one.

With Dr. Henry and Mr. Dix observing that life as we may consider to have been normal prior to March, most likely won't be returning until the summer at least, with a warning that Round Two of COVID-19 could be back as early as the fall.

"Realistically and I've said this before, we are going to be in some form of having to monitor and prevent transmission of this virus, until we have a vaccine; or until enough of the population is immune to it that it's no longer infecting people .... When we get through this wave, which will likely be in another few weeks, it may be into May for sure. We need to start thinking about what does it looks like again if we're seeing importations again, if we're seeing clusters and cases being transferred in the community"  -- Dr. Bonnie Henry

For now the focus should be on the present, the one day at a time approach that best delivers the best measurement as to how British Columbia is faring in the face of COVID-19

You can review the full statement from Tuesday 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

MLA Rice taking local lead on response for housing issues for homeless

In a short post to her Facebook feed this afternoon, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has outlined that finding a solution towards the issues of the homeless at this time has become one of her top priorities.

City Hall has offered up little towards the topic for the most part of late, and Mayor Lee Brain last week further directed any more community discussion on a range of issues to the MLA's  office.

As well, even if they were inclined to share a few thoughts on the situation, any opportunity for Council to engage in a dialogue, won't be part of any public discussion for the near term, with Council having cancelled their next public session yesterday.

Ms. Rice, notes that in recent days there have been many people in the community raising their concerns for the city's most vulnerable residents with her;  in her update she highlights that she is currently working with the local North Coast Transition Society, BC Housing and the Minister of Housing Selina Robinson towards some solutions.

The North Coast Transition Society has become Prince Rupert's front line responders for the homeless in recent years; operating a number of supportive and shelter housing in the community and they continue to be among the strongest advocates in the city for those in the most need.

The immediate concern is the need for the homeless to physically separate and self isolate if required.

The current homeless shelter, which was already a cramped location at the best of times, is not capable of providing for the requirements during the COVID-19 situation at this time, the post of today does not indicate as to when any announcement may be forthcoming towards a measure to address come of the concerns at the moment.

For more notes on the work of the MLA at the Legislature see our archive page here.

From the Coast Mountain College Collection to Northern Health

Ready to Roll!  Coast Mountain College has delivered a range of
Medical Supplies to Northern Health this week

Last week we made note that Coast Mountain College was taking an inventory of their stock to see what items they have on hand that could be delivered towards the COVID-19 response for Northern Health.

Today, the college which has campus locations around the Northwest relayed some of their bounty highlighting the volume of medical related gear that they have now delivered to Northern Health facilities across the region.

In a post to their daily Update page today, Coast Mountain College provide a glimpse into the success of the supplies drive at campus locations.

Colin Elliot, the Director of Applied Research, Libraries and Emergency Technologies provide some thoughts on the combined effort:

“It was really exciting to work with staff from all over our region, all connected through the common goal of supporting the COVID-19 response in the Northern Health region. It was really rewarding making the deliveries and knowing we can help in some small way.”

A Coast Mountain College employee
collecting supplies for Northern Health
More than 20 employees across the region worked in tandem to coordinate the supplies for delivery.

In all, Coast Mountain College was able to provide more than 15,000 gloves, 300 masks and 200 sets of scrubs and isolation gowns. This was in addition to eye protection and hand sanitizer.

Coast Mountain College President and CEO Justin Kohlman, observed as to how the college response is an evolving project during this time.

“This is one way that Coast Mountain College can help support the communities we serve in this ever-evolving situation. Just like when our staff pulled together to move the institution toward virtual service delivery, they rallied to identify and collect these supplies. We’re just so proud of the dedication and drive of our employees.”

You can explore the story further here, as well as to check out a range of photos of the supply drive from their Facebook page.

For more notes on the Northwest response to the COVID-19 situation see our archive page here.

Further items of interest from Coast Mountain College can be found here.

Premier John Horgan to address province tonight with latest notes on BC's COVID-19 response

British Columbia Premier John Horgan will be taking to the airwaves of the province later this evening, with the Premier set to provide for a COVID-19 update for British Columbians tonight at 6:15.

The address which will be broadcast on Television and streamed live was announced on Monday afternoon, the Premier relaying the notice through his social media streams.

As part of his preview of sorts towards tonights presentation the Premier called attention to the recent work  to ensure medical facilities are ready and medical supplies on hand for what is expected to be a critical period ahead towards the provincial response.

The Province has been providing for a range of information on the COVID-19 response since the health crisis arrived in British Columbia, among them the daily updates from the Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Health Officer Doctor Bonnie Henry.

The British Columbia government also has anchor pages for the COVID-19 response available

Provincial Support information

COVID-19 Health Info

Locally, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice has also compiled an archive of information for constituents to gain access to the latest information fro a range of sources.

To review the Orders and other information from the Public Health Officer see this link.

You can review much of the provincial information flow from our archive page here .

Second Prince Rupert Cannabis Shop has quietly opened its doors; as Five Corners Cannabis starts operations

Five Corners Cannabis is now open in Prince Rupert

What may be one of the softest launches for a Prince Rupert business in recent memory has been rolling on these last few weeks, with the city's second retail cannabis shop opening its doors on the edges of the downtown core.

Five Corners Cannabis opened for business earlier this month, located at the cross roads to the West side that first appeared on the horizon in November of 2018 when the city redrew their original cannabis zone to add the Five Corners area.

The ownership of what appears to be the application once known as High Culture, now Five Corners Cannabis, has launched their new venture in a new era of social distancing, which probably was not something that they had factored into their business plan towards Opening Day.

Word of their opening has come mainly through Social Media and through their Facebook page, where a number of new posts highlight some of the features of their new venture.

One item of note is how Five Corners Cannabis outlined how they are approaching sales in these COVID-19 times, introducing a call in and pick up program for the community.

You can learn more about their business through their introduction by way of their website, as well as through a stream of information on their Facebook page.

Five Corners Cannabis now joins Clarity Cannabis on Third West when it comes to retail locations in the city.

Still to be seen, is any progress on a BC Government Cannabis location, which was proposed for the BC Liquor location at McBride and Second Avenue West.

For a look back at some of the history towards the introduction of the Retail Cannabis industry to the city see our archive page here.

Allegations on Nisga'a Governance found to be without merit by Independent Investigator

A situation which evolved in May of 2019 in the Nass Valley has now been apparently been resolved, after an Independent investigation of allegations against the Nisga'a Lisims Government determined that there was no merit to the themes presented in an email from the then IT manager which had been addressed to over 150 people.

According to the relay of information today, the Email at the time was not authorized by the Nisga'a Lisims Government and had contained allegations of serious misconduct against current and former elected representatives of the Nisg̱a’a Nation, current and former officers, employees of NLG and its consultants, service providers, external legal counsel and others.

At the time the Nisga'a Lisims Government took immediate steps to reduce potential harm by asking all NLG employees to delete the Email and not to share it.

The NLG also obtained an interlocutory injunction restraining the Information Technology Manager from any further distribution and terminated his employment.

The Independent Investigator released a 27 page report, which was reviewed by a Special Committee, following its presentation the report has now been accepted by the Nisga'a Lisims Executive.

Among the findings of the report were:

1) “Almost all of the Allegations are an unreliable combination of fact assumption, inference and rumour” which are “mistaken beliefs” of which the Investigator sought to limit both “spread and acceptance.”

 2) While mistaken, many of the Allegations serve to highlight concerns that the Independent Investigator addressed in his recommendations. These recommendations have been adopted by the Executive.

 3) Problems with NEST reporting stem “largely” from different accounting standards. NLG never faced a potential liability for any amount.

 4) The fisheries payment referenced in the Email was exactly the same as made to other fishermen, just not through Canfisco. The payment was “documented in NLG’S books” and is “the same amount available to other fishermen.”

 5) The former Information Technology Manager “did not act in good faith [or] for legitimate purposes”, made reckless inferences and assumptions, and relied on rumour and innuendo.

 6) There was collusion only to the extent that the former Information Technology Manager was “implicitly encouraged” to express allegations that were based on inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable evidence. There was no collusion in the personal insults, innuendo or scurrilous rumours contained in the Email.'

The  situation was described as one hurtful to the community, in a statement issued today by Juanita Parnell, the elected Urban Representative and Chair of the Special Committee.

“This entire incident was personally hurtful to many people and caused considerable distress and strain on NLG, elected representatives, officers, employees, and some of our consultants, and indeed their families. We are pleased that this thorough and independent investigation has determined that the many allegations made had no basis in fact. 

The Executive recognized, however, that some of the information provided did raise questions and concerns about certain administrative procedures. The independent investigator considered these issues and has made recommendations for correction which we have adopted. This unfortunate incident is now behind us. We can again focus on the important work we need to do to build the future for the Nisg̱a’a people”

As noted above, the report identifies questions on administrative procedures, though the corrective measures were not outlined as part of today's information release, to this point the Nisga'a Lisims Government has provided for any online copy of the full report for review.

You can review the statement here.

For more notes on the Nisga'a Lisims Government see our archive page here.

Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue to bring the party to the birthday boy/girl as part of contest

Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue is looking to help reduce some of the isolation of self-isolation, with the department hosting a new contest for local youth ages 2-12.

Should parents have a child at home set to celebrate a birthday, but not able to host a party at this time due to the protocols of COVID-19, then Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue is looking to bring some noise of their own to just outside your home.

On Sunday, they announced a contest that will see one winner receive a PRFD drive by on or around the Big Day. All that is required is the correct answer to the safety question, with the draw set for tomorrow.

See the PRFD Facebook page to participate

More notes on the work of Emergency Service Providers see our archive page here.

PAC 10 set to roll out educational support in virtual setting

Prince Rupert's popular tutoring service, PAC 10 has put together an online learning platform for students and parents, looking to continue with their programs in a slightly different format.

Having announced the indefinite Closure of their learning centre on First Avenue West earlier this month, PAC 10 staffers began to look for ways to adapt their programs to the new challenges that have arrived when it comes to education.

With the call for social distancing and suspension of the school year to this point, the PAC 10 Team will looking to help rekindle some that thirst for learning from the youth of Prince Rupert, introducing live online tutorial support, a series of Free interactive lectures and access to archive lessons and lectures.

The initial roll out will start with Grade 11 and 12 classes that launch this week, the range of studies include 10 program in calculus, biology, chemistry and physics.

You can learn more about their plans here.

You can review some of their past work in the community from their Facebook page here, should you need more information on their plans, give them a call at 250-622-8722.

Monday, March 30, 2020

86 new cases of COVID-19 in BC since Saturday, 2 new cases for the Northern Health region making for a provincial total of 950

Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's Public Health Officer provided for two days of data and information today, as the two officials who are leading the provincial response to COVID-19 began another week of updates for British Columbians.

It was a review of the weekend cases that made for an increase of 86 new case files making for a provincial total of 970 to date in British Columbia.

“In the first reporting period through March 28, we had 16 new cases, for a total of 900 cases in British Columbia. “In the last 24 hours, we have had a further 70 new cases, for a total of 970 cases in British Columbia. “This represents 86 new cases since we reported on Saturday.

Every health region in British Columbia has patients with COVID-19: 472 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 323 are in the Fraser Health region, 67 are in the Island Health region, 94 are in the Interior Health region and 14 are in the Northern Health region."

Sadly the number of those who have passed away in British Columbia rose by two over the weekend, which brings the total of those who have died during this outbreak to 19, that included the first death in the community as a result of COVID-19 as confirmed by the BC Coroners Service.

Mr. Dix continued to outlined the preparations currently underway in the Province as British Columbians prepare to travel in an important period in the response program.

“We are at a critical juncture in our provincial COVID-19 response. We have two paths ahead: we will begin to see evidence of a flattened curve or our rates of infection will rise even more. 

Our entire government is doing everything we can to address this challenge, and we need every person in our province to do the same. Let us be united in this singular purpose: in these next two crucial weeks we must be 100% committed to flattening the curve and lessening the devastating impacts of this virus. 

While we are watching the epi-curve closely, we continue with the active readiness of our health-care system to prepare for the potential of a large spike in COVID-19 cases. “A shipment of one million surgical masks has arrived as we continue to restock our provincial personal-protection equipment supplies." 

The province has designated 19 major hospitals across the province as primary COVID-19 facilities to deliver care to the most critically ill patients. In the Northwest, the Ministry of Health has designated Terrace's Mills Memorial Hospital as this regions COVID-19 Acute Care Facility.

You can review more the Monday briefing 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

Mills Memorial designated COVID-19 Acute Primary Care location; Northern Health Update stresses social distancing, other measures as solution towards COVID-19

The City of Prince Rupert's Social media stream today has relayed some important notes from Northern Health, with the local Health Authority outlining a number of their preparations for their response to COVID-19 as well as how all in the Northwest can contribute to the regional solution.

In these challenging times, we want to take a moment to assure you we have been working diligently and tirelessly in coordination with the province and the country on a collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are not alone in this crisis. 

We are a part of a system that is working very hard to minimize the impact of the challenges we face. This begins with a role everyone has – social distancing, avoiding mass gatherings, self-isolation where appropriate and hand hygiene – please help be part of the solution!

Towards the precautions Northern Health officials noted how they have been following the Provincial Health Officers direction, by implementing a range of actions including creating capacity in hospitals, managing elective procedures and prioritizing urgent care.

We are working on Phase Three planning, which fully focuses on critical care, acute care, patient transportation, and health human resource planning. We are nearing completion of those plans over the next week.

NH is part of a provincial and national system that includes effective patient transportation systems when needed. This work also includes a focused approach in putting in place, with their clinical and support staff, a four- to six-week staffing schedule that redeploys staff as necessary to provide for the critical care needs required. 

In addition, as part of the preparation, we are managing our critical care inventory, including ventilators. Additional ventilators have been ordered, some have arrived provincially, and they will be deployed appropriately and where the need is. This is in addition to stock that has been/is undergoing refurbishment.

Health officials also urge residents of the Northwest to remain calm and react only to factual information and to follow the public Orders of Dr. Bonnie Henry.

You can review those orders here.

Northern Health has also released a guidebook for the region that has a wide range of material on the themes of COVID-19, you can access it and all the other notes from the full post from Northern Health is available here.

This afternoon, Health Minister Adrian Dix also released the list of Northern Health Hospitals to be designated as COVID-19 Primary Acute Care Hospitals, with Mill Memorial Hospital in Terrace designated as the Northwest Region location.

For more notes on the provincial response to COVID-19 see our archive page here.

Prince Rupert City Council session cancelled for April 6th

Prince Rupert City Council has put a pause on those duties that they conduct in public; announcing by way of a short notice on the Civic Website today, that the April 6th Council session has been cancelled.

The session, which was scheduled for one week from tonight, was cancelled in accordance with Council Procedure Bylaw No. 3092, 2000, Section 5.1 (6) which states:

The Corporate Administrator is hereby authorized to cancel such other meetings as are considered unnecessary for the reason of lack of business and shall post notice of such cancellation in accordance with Section 6.

There was no further explanation through the city's website or the range of social media streams, including the Mayor's Facebook page as to why Council chose to go the route of cancellation.

Around the Northwest, other municipal councils still seem to have a fair bit of work to take care of:

Terrace which did cancel their March 23rd session, still has their next Regular Council session of April 14th listed as on schedule.

Smithers also cancelled their March 24th session, but to this point still have plans to host a Regular Council Session on April 14th.

Kitimat which by far hosts the most public sessions in the region hosts a Committee of the Whole Session tonight at 7PM, with a Regular Council session set for April 6th.

Port Edward also has a Council Session on the Schedule set for April 14th, and as of today, has not posted any notice of cancellation for that community.

On Friday, as part of his response to the suspension of Prince Rupert's Local State of Emergency by the province,  Mayor Brain also seemed to lessen the load for his council membership; advising the public that a number of issues of concern to the community should now be addressed solely to the office of MLA Jennifer Rice.

Unfortunately any community issues moving forward regarding housing, childcare, homelessness, etc are to be sent to Jennifer Rice's office as her and her team are now in control. 

You can forward your concerns to Jennifer Rice by calling 250-624-7734 or e-mailing jennifer.rice.mla@leg.bc.ca.

For more notes related to Discussion themes with Prince Rupert City Council see our archive page here.

Province of British Columbia working with School Districts, Independent Schools and First Nations schools towards continuity of Education plan

While spring break came to an end on Sunday, there was no rush to the schools on this Monday morning; with the provincial school system still somewhat suspended.

That as classes continue to not be in session and planning is ongoing towards a shift in how students will learn during the course of the COVID-19 response.

“This is a challenging time for families in B.C. as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is vital students have a sense of routine and continued opportunities to learn while they are at home. These guidelines will ensure the needs, health and safety of students are put first as school leaders actively plan to serve the unique needs of their communities.” -- Rob Fleming, Minister of Education.

On Friday, the Ministry of Education outlined some of its priorities for the path ahead, which will be focused on ensuring for the safety of school staff, students, parents and communities.

Towards that program the identified the four key areas they will address:

Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students, families and employees.

Provide the services needed to support children of our essential workers.

Support vulnerable students who may need special assistance.

Provide continuity of educational opportunities for all students.

As part of their information program the Ministry of Education ha created a Frequently Asked Questions page  to try to address many of the questions and issues that parents, teachers and administrators may have in mind at this time.

The Ministry also has provided for some guidance for parents and caregivers to help with the ongoing efforts towards learning through the home, you can review those notes here.

Explore more on the province's plans to support the K-12 education program at this time here.

On Friday, SD52 Superintendent Irene LaPierre provided more guidance on the Prince Rupert School District efforts to date and what may come in the future.

As well, she reminded parents/guardians of a survey underway to seek their feedback on education in the region in this challenging period of time.

For more notes on Education in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Metlakatla announces new measures in COVID-19 response

The Metlakatla First Nation has introduced a number of new measures as part of their evolving response to COVID-19 outlining a number of actions that were put in place as of last Friday.

Among the steps taken, restriction of the community to only residents, with non-residents not permitted to enter, with the exception of a once per week charter for essential staff to access key resources.

The Metlakatla Band Office will remain closed to the public, with reception services in place to ensure that staff are more readily accessible.

The Social development program and Health Department are reaching out to Metlakatla residents to ensure that groceries are purchased and delivered, the food and supplies program is being coordinated by the Health Centre.

They also have regulations in place for those who are delivering supplies to the community.

The First Nation has also put in place a committee of Upper Management to meet regularly and to make critical decisions.

As for the operations of the Metlakatla Development Corporation, the Regular Service of the Metlakatla Ferry has been suspended.

While on the Prince Rupert side of the harbour, the Grassy Bay Services site has shifted the Gas station in the Industrial Park to a Self Serve Only service and closed the convenience store.

You can review the full announcement from the Metlakatla website and Facebook Page.

Lax Kw'alaams Community comes together with Food Distribution program

Residents of Lax Kw'alaams have started a food distribution program
in the community north of Prince Rupert

Lax Kw'alaams Mayor Garry Reece has offered his thanks to members of the community who worked through Sunday to aid in the distribution of food to the community.

In a note on the Lax Kw'alaams website and Facebook page, Mayor Reece noted how those lending a hand started at 1 PM and were still working on the distribution late into the evening.

The food was distributed to Elders first and then on through a list of those set to receive the packages, Mr. Reece notes that a second distribution is in the works.

You can check out the progress of their work here and here.

So far, the City of Prince Rupert has not outlined if there are any local plans in motion to lend assistance to the local Food Bank program or to offer other services to those in need in the community.

Also over the weekend, the Lax Kw'alaams Band issued an Advisory to residents outlining plans to decrease the Ferry Service and additional controls on on traffic into their community.

For more notes on events in Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page here.

Province of British Columbia frees up gambling grant money for 3 million dollar top up for BC food Banks

With the Food Banks of British Columbia finding a surge in requests over the last few weeks as the impact of the arrival of COVID-19 in the province was felt, the stocks have started to dwindle and staff taxed by the demand.

To help out in the midst of this current situation, the Province of British Columbia announced on Friday that 3 million dollars in emergency grant funding would be distributed through Food Banks British Columbia, the money taken from the Community Gaming Grant program in the province.

“We know that many British Columbia families count on food banks to supplement their weekly grocery needs. To help ensure that people continue to have access to the food they need, our government is taking steps by supporting B.C. food banks so they can, in turn, keep meeting the needs of the people in the communities they serve. Using funds from the gaming grants program is an example of how government and non-profit partners are working together to respond to the evolving nature of the pandemic, easing the burden on B.C.’s food banks and helping people who are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 crisis.” -- Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction. 

The 3 million dollar grant which is in alignment with ministerial orders from the Emergency Program Act will make use of funds that remained in the 2019-20 budget following the recent distribution to community groups.

You can review more on the provincial move here.

Earlier this month, the local Prince Ruper Food Bank which is operated by the Salvation Army announced a revision of its operations for the Food Bank and issued a call for local assistance as the shelves began to become depleted.

For a look at some of the other provincial measures in response to COVID-19 see our archive page here.

City of Prince Rupert to re-open Landfill site, with limits on use

The Prince Rupert landfill site will reopen to the public at Noon today, with the City set to put in place some conditions for those that travel out to the Ridley Island site.

Among some of the new regulations in place, awareness of Social Distancing, Debit or Credit payment only and there will be no receipts issued during this period.

While the landfill opens at noon today, the hours of operation starting tomorrow will see the site open from 8:30 AM to 4:45 Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 3:45 PM on Saturday

You can review the city's announcement from the Civic website here.

The landfill site had been closed to the public with an announcement on March 20th, part of a list of services that were suspended as the City shifted to Essential Service status.

More notes on civic related themes can be found from our Council Discussion archive.

Permitted Open Burns in Prince Rupert suspended until Mid April

With more and more Prince Rupert residents hunkering down at home during these times of COVID-19 there's seemingly a lot of yard work and such getting done, so much so, that the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Department as issued a suspension on Open Burns in the community, suspending the practice of burning yard trimmings and other materials,

The decision to suspend the Burns comes after a number of complaints from neighbourhoods around the city, with smoke filling the skies as home owners burn off any number of materials.

The Only Fires currently permitted in the city will be recreational cooking fires that make use of clean wood.

The Suspension of the Open Fires is anticipated to last until at least April 15th.

For more notes on the work of Emergency Service workers in the city see our archive page her.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Foundation being set for months to come for North Coast COVID-19 response

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain relayed the thanks of the local medical profession on Sunday, noting in a social media post that the preparations for a local COVID-19 response have made major strides in recent days.

Posted to his Facebook page Sunday afternoon, the Mayor shared some thoughts from Prince Rupert's Dr. Gillaume Coetzee:

"Dr. Coetzee called today to inform me that they have made MAJOR strides in the last few days in their preparations at the Prince Rupert hospital. He wanted to thank the community for their efforts because it is giving the team up there the valuable time they need to set the proper foundations for the months to come. It is absolutely incredible how much can get done in just a short amount of time."

In his social media message, the Mayor also praised the work of Dr. Jaco Fourie at Northern Health, the Terrace based Medical Director for the Northwest.

Additionally, Mr. Brain made note of the ongoing communication among communities in the region and put some focus on the recent back and forth between the Province and the City, shaping  the current situation  from his view as one that Prince Rupert has delivered its message loud and clear.

"We all want to do what is right for our communities. We may have different perspectives on how to accomplish that as a region, however I believe the message has been delivered and fully received by the Province."

The Mayor also noted that the Province has additional plans for the region.

Themes which Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had addressed on Friday as part of a full overview of the modelling of the COVID-19 situation to date.

As well the pair who are on point for the Provincial response have hosted previous daily updates where they have made note of the range of resources currently available and their plans for the future.

The Mayor's full review can be found here.

Missing from Mr. Brain's update for the day however, was an important reminder of the over riding message of these times ... that of the vital importance of Physical distancing and to abide by all of the Public Health Officer's orders.

You can review Dr. Henry's growing list of Orders here.

More items of note on local announcements of the last week can be explored here, while Provincial updates can be reviewed here.

MLA's letter to constituents highlight's province's message; garners familiar attention

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice published a letter to constituents this weekend, providing for some further notes to the events of the last few days in the region.

The composition outlined the background to the Provincial decision to suspend the Local Statements of Emergency and to make note of the provisions of the Provincial Emergency Order and the elements in place as part of the Province's COVID-19 response.

Among some of Ms. Rice's themes:

"It’s not a time for politics or posturing. It’s a time to give the professionals what they need to do their jobs. 

When facing a fire, you call firefighters. And when facing a pandemic, you call people like Dr. Bonnie Henry and the health officials fighting COVID-19. 

Dr. Henry has unparalleled experience fighting infectious diseases, including Ebola and SARS. She guides every decision taken by the Province, including the orders issued on Thursday. 

These orders are designed to ensure that every community is coordinating together under one plan. They ensure the province can be more responsive to the unique needs of communities like ours."

The letter available here, posted to Facebook, was received and responded to by many of the  familiar names of followers of the Mayor's social media streams; correspondences that replayed many of the same responses of disappointment, kind of a Prince Rupert bot army if you will.

Among the contributions at one point was one from Prince Rupert City Councillor Wade Niesh, who has apparently appointed himself as the key member of the Mayor's Praetorian Guard, ready to respond to any statement contrary to the city's position.

Though it appears that his response to the MLA's letter has unfortunately since been removed from the MLA's feed.

A decision which in itself shows in a way how unreliable Facebook may be when it comes to being a valuable source of full information on any topic, let alone one involving a pandemic. ...

Prior to the purging of his commentary, Mr. Niesh had raised a number of themes related to his areas of concern related to Provincial/Municipal relations, a reinforcement of familiar comments from the past that he no doubt will share if you drop him a line ...

It makes for a topic that should probably be explored further in a public forum at some point ... but not today and not in the immediate future.

The political back and forth and very, very different view on governance a theme for a different day, and during a much less critical period in time

At this point in time, the only information that anyone should be paying attention to are the orders and guidance of the Public Health Officer for the Province of British Columbia.

For the moment, if City council members can shift their eyes and fingers away from their Facebook posting for a bit, they might want to give some indication as to the constructive steps that they can take towards the future.

Offering some guidance on some of the tangible preparation in the community, within their scope of duties, that they can direct towards where need is greatest and to which they can effect assistance.

Maybe by helping the Food Bank to replenish dwindling stocks, like some other communities are doing; or to outline which civic resources they will provide for the province towards the wider pandemic response plan, including some emergency housing for the homeless.

As well, in this new era of Social Distancing ... an idea might be for the Council members to vow to put some distance between themselves and Social Media for a while ... and just release only vital information  through the city's website, sharing the important news with everyone in the city that will need to hear the message.

More items of note on local announcements of the last week can be explored here, while Provincial updates can be reviewed here.

Blog Watching: Week ending March 29, 2020

A most remarkable week for the North Coast as the COVID-19 story followed a number of differing narratives, though the final note for the week has been that of much of the last six weeks.

That of the need for the public to not become distracted or confused on direction and to follow the guidance and orders of Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Province's Public Health Officer, specifically her notes on the importance of Physical Distancing.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain once again made his Facebook page the focus for much of his attention, with message after message of the Council  plans eagerly reviewed and commented on by those who follow his social message platform.

For those that rely on the official Civic website, the volume of material was significantly slimmer, the city relaying notes on first the Declaration of a Local State of Emergency and then it's suspension under order of the Province of British Columbia.

Along the way to Friday much drama played out through the social media stream, as the Mayor's rebuttal to the Provincial order served to stoke some outrage among some of his followers; making for a fascinating situation of the City seemingly set to remain on a contrarian path when it comes to the wishes of the Premier and Solicitor General for a more unified message across BC.

And with the situation evolving as it has through the week, many of our notes on those themes vaulted to the most read range, though a few other items managed to make some space by weeks end.

That as our reviews of the apparent reduction in ranks of the City's Bylaw officers and the absence of any semblance of a plan for the homeless in the area during this COVID-19 crisis also captured a few eyes through to Friday.

However, the most read story of the week, found a large audience intrigued at the political theatre that became the Declaration of a Local State of Emergency and its subsequent suspension by the Provincial Government.

State of Local Emergency Declared in Prince Rupert ... details to follow sometime this week -- As things turned out the City's Declaration of a Local State of Emergency  towards a COVID-19 response, and issuance of Local Orders only lasted until Thursday. That the day that Premier Horgan and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth suspended it. A decision which Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain took exception to, his comments making for another twist in what is clearly a significant difference in opinion between the Mayor, City Council and the province.  (posted  March 23 , 2020)

That article was followed by:

Northern health gains one more case report of COVID-19 as part of Monday update from Provincial officials --  While the case count in the North, currently at 12,  remains significantly low compared to other areas in BC, every announcement of an uptick attracts immediate attention throughout the Northern Health region. (posted March 23  2020  )

Facebook follower commentaries should not be misconstrued as wholesale support for political themes -- With a growing increase of use for the Mayor's Social Media Facebook page to deliver day after day of posts on the Mayor and City's COVID-19 themes and other civic notes to a supportive audience. The actual public forum in place for City Council discussion and overview of city governance by the elected councillors is becoming increasingly diminished in purpose and value.   (posted  March  27 , 2020)

City down to one bylaw officer  --  During his Thursday rebuttal of the Provincial government's decision to Suspend the Local State of Emergency Order in Prince Rupert, the Mayor observed as to how the city is at the moment only served by one Bylaw officer  (posted March  27, 2020)

City and Province need to outline what measures they have in mind to assist Prince Rupert's homeless during this pandemic -- After a week full of Facebook posting and stance taking, there has still been no public declaration by either a provincial, or municipal politician as to what plans, if any, are in mind to help house the Homeless of Prince Rupert in the wake of the new social distancing and other COVID-19 requirements.     (posted March  25, 2020 )

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