Tuesday, April 21, 2020
While Prince Rupert City Council remains in hibernation; Terrace residents to get Budget update this week
It's been almost a month since members of Prince Rupert City Council have gathered in a public session, their last appearance a virtual one, providing for the delivery of the short lived State of Local emergency on March 23rd.
A dramatic move proposing some fairly draconian measures and one which was subsequently quashed by the Province when the Premier introduced a provincial order of his own.
A move by the Provincial Government that didn't sit too well with Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain at the time.
And since then, it seems that the Mayor and Council have taken that as a cue to take some time away from public duties.
Taking the theme of physical distancing as a sign for suspension of public duties, all while shovelling off a range of items towards the local MLA"s office in late March, for the most part remaining silent on much of everything civic related.
"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 email@example.com." -- Mayor Lee Brain following the suspension of a Local State of Emergency on March 26th
That apparent shift away from a public focus, has left as the only conduit of civic information that of the Mayor's Facebook page.
An enterprise which has covered a range of material of late, as well as to deliver much in the way of pats on the back for the Mayor from his faithful followers.
Though few of his entries in recent weeks seem related to actually running the City.
Such has been the Council's desire for physical distancing, that they eliminated the first of the two scheduled Council sessions for April, that of the one set for the 6th, citing a lack of business as the reason for the scuppered session.
The second session for April seemingly appears set to take place this coming Monday, dependent on late developments or cancellation of course.
Down the road however, the City of Terrace has been working through a range of civic issues this month, including a revision of their budget planning in the wake of COVID-19.
The Council membership in Terrace managed to not only find enough work to keep themselves busy, but also to find a work around the need to continue on with governance in these times of COVID.
The Terrace council returned to their duties after their own cancelled session of late March; the Terrace officials hosting their regular City Council session on April 14th hosting a hybrid of a physical and virtual council meeting.
The first run of the new model, offering up some indication that a bit of work on fine tuning the process may be required moving forward.
Now that they're back into the swing of things, Terrace Council will move forward with their public engagement process on the Budget with a special session on Thursday hosting a livestream broadcast,
With Terrace council members noting for the public how they have been reviewing the 2020 provisional budget to adjust for losses in revenues as well as to provide reductions to both operational costs and capital budgets to provide some relief where they can.
Council has a lot to consider given the global changes that have occurred since we first announced our budget 2020 plans last December. They will be reviewing the budget with staff for finalization and approval.
They continue with their regular routine of public sessions with another meeting on the 27th.
As we noted last week, the financial concerns have loomed large for many municipal governments in the province, with many taking action, often updating their residents on their plans and how they impact on the community.
Though as we noted at the time, the City of Prince Rupert has not had anything to share with its residents on those themes at all.
Hopefully, the members of City Council in Prince Rupert have been active on those files during this extended public absence. With plans to share some thoughts with the public on how the City of Prince Rupert plans to address the challenging times for municipal governance in these times of COVID and ongoing economic uncertainty.
The next public session, as mentioned previous is set for this coming Monday, April 27th, with a little luck, Prince Rupert residents may see their council members come out of hibernation for a few minutes to return to the democratic process.
A collective that is ready to share some comments and maybe even ask some questions on our behalf when they get together, if they get together that is.
For more notes on past Council themes see our archive page here.
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