Sunday, May 31, 2020

Investigation underway into Friday night incident involving members of the Prince Rupert RCMP

British Columbia's Independent Investigations Office has been called in to investigate an incident involving members of the Prince Rupert RCMP detachment, having received notice of the case file from the late evening period of Friday evening.

In a background notice released today, the IIO outlined the nature of the information received from the Prince Rupert RCMP related the May 29th incident.

At approximately 10:15 p.m., officers responded to a report of an intoxicated man and woman sitting near the waterfront on the 700-block of First Avenue West. Officers advised the woman she was under arrest and a struggle ensued.

The woman then allegedly jumped down a drop nearby, falling approximately 6 metres (20 feet). Officers and Emergency Health Services personnel provided medical care and transferred the woman to hospital, where she was found to be suffering serious injuries. 

The IIO will investigate to determine what role, if any, the officers’ actions or inaction may have played into the serious harm of the woman.

An IIO investigation is underway related to a Friday night incident which
took place on the waterfront side of the 700 block of 1st Avenue West
(click to enlarge

As part of their investigation, the IIO is asking that any person who saw, heard or recorded the incident to contact the IIO Witness Line toll free at 1-855-446-8477.

The IIO information bulletin can be reviewed here.

For more notes on case files for Northwest Emergency Responders see our archive page here.

Blog Watching: Week ending May 31, 2020

Plans for some additional Social Housing in Prince Rupert dominated the news this week, as BC Housing relayed some notes on a proposed development for the Kootenay Avenue area.

Prince Rupert Council reviewed the proposal Monday night, providing for first reading  of the required zoning amendment, discussing plans to potentially waive a Public Hearing for the property in question, with an extensive information campaign to provide area residents with more background on the project.

Other items of interest on the week, included the hosting duties for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice who took part in another of the province's Virtual Town Halls on Health in the North.

The British Columbia cruise season came to an end on Friday, as the Federal government extended the ban on cruise ships until the end of October.

In other City council themes, Prince Rupert City Manager outlined the restart program for City Hall, providing a look at the access plan for City Hall, which will be limited to one person at a time and by appointment only.

And if their parents and guardians wish,  students will head back to school on Monday for in class instruction, as SD52 relaunches the local in class part of their COVID response curriculum.

But when it came to the most read item of the last week, City Council's review and plans for the Kootenay area by far made for the most read items.

Kootenay Avenue site proposed for new 55 unit multi family residential development -- Our look at a proposal from BC Housing for a redevelopment of the Kootenay Avenue area found a large audience this week, as did our follow up notes on the discussion related to the city's plans for community engagement on the topic.    (posted  May 25, 2020)

That article was followed by:

MLA's Rice and Oakes to host next Northern Health Virtual Town Hall on  Thursday -- Our preview of this week's Virtual Town Hall found a strong audience as did our account of the Thursday evening online presentation.    (posted May 26, 2020)

British Columbia's large vessel cruise season is over for 2020, with Federal ban to continue  through to October -- Prince Rupert's cruise season like all of British Columbia will most likely be abandoned for 2020, that after the Federal Government extended the ban on large passenger cruise ships until the end of October.    (posted May 29, 2020  )

The City of Prince Rupert's 'new normal' will feature less physical contact with the public -- City Manager Robert Long reviewed the City's plans to limit access to City Hall to one person at a time  and by appointment only. Mr. Long also reviewed some of the city's other restart plans  (posted May  28, 2020)

SD52 releases School Restart Plan along with results of survey which indicate near 50/50 split for parents  on plans to return students to school --  Monday makes for the first day of in class instruction for students since March, as SD52 relayed some of the plans in place for their one month relaunch to wrap up the 2019-20 school year.  (posted May  25, 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, May 30, 2020

Prince Rupert RCMP execute early morning warrant, make arrest at 8th East residence

Prince Rupert RCMP executed a search warrant in the early hours of Saturday morning,  searching a residence on the 1500 Block of Eighth Avenue East.

As part of the operation, local Mounties called on the assistance of the North District Emergency Response Team and Police Dog Service as they entered the residence.

 As a result of their search, police officers located a loaded shotgun, drugs and drug paraphernalia.

A 45 year old Prince Rupert resident twas taken in custody as part of the police activity, he was later released with a future court date.

The Prince Rupert detachment reminds the public to report any suspicious activity to the Prince Rupert RCMP at 250-624-2136 or to through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Social Media streams in Prince Rupert showcase a number of photos of the police action as it took place during the early morning hours.

More notes related to Emergency Responders in the Northwest can be found from our archive page here.

Second day in a row with no recorded deaths attributed to COVID, 11 new cases reported and Back to School overview makes for Saturday report

Saturday's COVID-19 update from Doctor Bonnie Henry noted 11 new cases, for a total of 2,573 cases in British Columbia.

With today's numbers there are 228 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 2,181 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

Of the total COVID-19 cases, 35 individuals are hospitalized, five of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation. "

902 cases have been recorded in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,285 in the Fraser Health region, 127 in the Island Health region, 195 in the Interior Health region and 64 in the Northern Health region.

There have been no new COVID-19 related deaths in the last day, for a total of 164 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Doctor Henry also took to the theme of Monday's return to school, highlighting some of the considerations that have been given towards the relaunch of the school year for in class instruction.

“On Monday, our K-12 schools will re-open to in-class learning for the remainder of the school year. We are ready for this and are re-opening schools because it is safe to do so. 

We have learned a lot about COVID-19 – where the greatest risks are, and the measures we can take to protect ourselves and our loved ones. 

We know that COVID-19 has a very low infection rate in children, and children have milder symptoms. We also know that transmission in children, and between adults and children mostly occurs in household settings, not in schools, or playgrounds. “

We have purposely timed the re-opening for two weeks after the start of phase two to make sure we could proceed safely. Had there been a significant increase in new cases, schools would not be opening. 

Restarting in-class instruction now is a cautious approach that gives teachers and other education staff the tools and experience to prepare for the larger return to school in the fall, while supporting those children and families who need it. 

Much thought and consideration has gone into this decision; to provide the best protection to everyone in our schools – students, teachers, learning assistants, and administrators. 

This is the right time to make this happen, and precautions and safety measures are in place."

You can review the Saturday update 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

Port Edward wolf attack brings strong Conservation Officer presence

(Image is Not the wolf from this incident but from a File photo)

See update to story at bottom of this article.

A  lone wolf attack in Port Edward Friday evening has brought a trio of Conservation Officers into the community today, with the provincial agency making plans for a night patrol this evening as well to address the situation.

The District of Port Edward alerted the community through Social Media this morning, making note of the attack, though they did not advise as to where in the area the attack took place.

The advisory which you can review here, also advises residents of the District to keep their pets indoors or on leashes, particularly while the Conservation Service officers are searching for the animal.

Further background from the Conservation Officer Service, noted that the incident took place shortly after 11 PM on Friday night, as the male victim was walking home.

Conservation Officers have interviewed the man in hospital. He suffered injuries that are not considered life-threatening. Conservation Officers are in the Port Edward area, working to locate the wolf. 

The COS is advising Port Edward residents at this time to please be aware of your surroundings if outside and walk in groups if possible. Please also keep dogs tied up in yards and do not let them run loose in the community. 

It is too early to say whether this is the same wolf or wolves that were in the Prince Rupert area.

Port Edward will update their advisory as the day moves forward through their Facebook page.

Yesterday we noted a report of a recent bear encounter in the community, there have been a growing number of incidents related to wolves and bears in the region as we move towards the summer months.

Update: The BC Conservation Officer Service provided an update Sunday morning on their work in Port Edward, that as they continue to search for a wolf involved in an attack on a Port Edward Senior Friday night.

You can review some of the files from our Emergency Responder Archive page here.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Just four cases and no deaths to report as part of Friday COVID update from BC government

As British Columbians prepare to head towards the last weekend of May, Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix shared some positive news when it comes to the ongoing response to the COVID pandemic.

With both of the province's health officials making note of only Four new cases on the day, making for a total of 2,562 cases in British Columbia.

There are 228 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 2,170 people who tested positive have recovered.

Also of  significant note from the reports from provincial health authorities was that from the total number COVID-19 cases, 34 individuals remain hospitalized, with only six still in intensive care.

The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Across those Health Authorities it was observed that 900 cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,277 in the Fraser Health region, 127 in the Island Health region, 195 in the Interior Health region and 63 in the Northern Health region, the same number recorded on Thursday.

 The positive theme of the day continued as Doctor Henry observed that “There have been no new COVID-19 related deaths in the last day, for a total of 164 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Both officials also made note of the news today that the Federal Government has decided to extend the restriction on cruise ship port calls in BC until October, something both stated was welcome news.

“We commend the federal government’s decision to maintain the restrictions on cruise ships in Canadian waters until October. This is the right thing to do for our country and our province right now to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into our coastal communities. 

Easing restrictions can be done only after thoughtful consideration. Our focus and priority are the health and safety of all British Columbians. With your help and all of us doing our part, we will get through this storm together.”

You can review the Friday update 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

British Columbia's Large vessel Cruise season is over for 2020, with Federal ban to continue through to October

The Northland Cruise Terminal will be a good place for physical distancing
this summer, that as the Federal Government brings an end to the
2020 Cruise season, banning port visits until October

When it comes to Prince Rupert's still developing cruise industry, 2020 will be marked as the year that there were no Large Cruise Ship port calls on the North Coast.

Any thoughts for the potential of a short summer season featuring cruise ship visitors came to an end this morning as Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced that the Federal Government was extending the ban from March on Cruise ships in Canadian ports until October at least.

The move a continuation of the Federal Governments response to the COVID pandemic.

In the Information release it was noted that:

Cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020. 

In 2019 each of the 22 vessel calls on the schedule held more than 100 passengers, 9 of those that called on Prince Rupert hosted more than 500 guests per trip.

For any vessel operators with less than 100 passengers the regulations note that as of July 1, 2020, all other passenger vessels must follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority requirements for timelines and processes to resume operations.

Any vessel owners which do not comply with the prohibitions could be subject to a penalty of $5,000 per day for an individual and $25,000 per day for a corporation.

Considering British Columbia's current themes on non-essential travel, it seems unlikely that even those smaller vessels would find a welcome berth at BC facilities this summer, should they show up unexpectedly.

“Our Government is committed to protecting Canadians, particularly during these challenging times. It is for that reason I am announcing updated measures for cruise ships and other passenger vessels in Canada, which includes prohibiting larger cruise ships from operating in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020. 

Our Government continues to work with other levels of government, transportation industry stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to re-examine measures and to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe and secure during this time. We are all in this together.” -- Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

As the day moved forward, the British Columbia government also hailed the federal move.

The Prince Rupert Cruise season is normally underway by the end of May, however any plans for Port visits this summer were put on hold as the COVID pandemic began to spread across the nation

The news probably won't come as too much of a surprise to the Prince Rupert Port Authority, which operates the Prince Rupert Northland Cruise Terminal and has been a key partner in trying to rebuild the cruise industry in the city.

Since the Federal government began it's response to the COVID pandemic, the prospect of any kind of cruise season for Canadian ports seemed like an unlikely one, with concerns over transmission of the coronavirus guiding the message since March.

For more notes on today's announcement see the Federal background page here.

A wider overview of the Prince Rupert Cruise Ship industry and past port call visits can be found here.

New Bridges highlight provincial infrastructure work on Haida Gwaii

Two bridges (top) will be replaced this summer with new structures
similar to those constructed last year (bottom) on Haida Gwaii
(Photo from BC Gov't website)

The Province of British Columbia will be spending 5.4 million dollars on a pair of bridge projects that will make for more efficient and safe travel on Haida Gwaii.

Announced this morning, the new Gold Creek Bridge will be a two-lane, 21-metre-long bridge, eight kilometres southeast of Port Clements. 

The new Geikie Creek Bridge No. 1 will be a two-lane, 21-metre-long bridge, 3.5 kilometres northwest of the village of Tlell. 

Both bridges will be constructed of concrete and steel, replacing timber bridges that were at the end of their serviceable life.

The contract was awarded to Formula Contractors of Prince George, with work to get underway in coming weeks with an eye towards the completion deadline of this fall.

The Geikie Creek Bridge will make for the latest infrastructure project along the route, following the construction of two other bridges in the area.

They were built last year as part of the replacement of aging infrastructure program on the Islands.

You can learn more about the two Haida Gwaii bridge projects here.

More notes on other current infrastructure projects in northern BC can be viewed here.

More items of interest on Transportation on the Highway 16 corridor can be reviewed here.

Keys in hand to Crane's Crossing, North Coast Transition society looks forward to work ahead on Supportive Housing

The staff of the North Coast Transition Society shared a snapshot yesterday of what will one day be the newest  addition to their listings of supportive housing in the community, with the NCTS taking note through their Facebook page of having taken possession of Cranes' Crossing, the name that has now been given to the old Raffles motel.

As we outlined at mid month, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice announced the purchase of the motel on the west side of the city's downtown core, the step forward for housing in the community coming by way of a partnership of BC Housing, North Coast Transition Society, the City of Prince Rupert and the Provincial Government.

At the time of the announcement, Ms. Rice highlighted the range of services and amenities that will come with opening day.

The building will also include a commercial kitchen, dining and lounge areas, storage and amenity space, and laundry and a medical examination room. It will also have 24/7 on hist staff and support services on site, as well as to offer a range of services towards life and employment skills training, health and wellness programs.

Once complete, the building will also have the capacity for a 35-space temporary shelter or an Extreme Weather Response (EWR) shelter.

Construction will begin in fall 2020. The shelter portion of the building is expected to open in early 2021, while the supportive homes will be ready later in the year, by fall 2021.

Once the renovations are complete, the residents of the Fisherman's Hall shelter will transition to the new supportive building at Five Corners.

The province is providing 11.8 million dollars to the project through it's Supportive Housing Fund, as well there will be an annual operating subsidy of $1.2 million for the facility.

You can follow the North Coast Transition Society Facebook page here, for updates as the project moves forward through the year ahead.

You can find more notes on housing in Prince Rupert from our archive page here.

As Property tax bills arrive at your door, the City of Prince Rupert has a few thoughts on payment for you

The annual distribution of City of Prince Rupert Tax bills has begun, with mail carriers starting their deliveries of the city's payment due notices today to residences across the community.

As the bills arrive, the City's Administration offices have taken to Social Media with a few thoughts as to how you may wish to pay your annual tax bill this year;  this year coming with a strong suggestion that residents make use of measures in many instances, won't involve a visit to City Hall.

In their Facebook post the City outlines the preferred methods of payment, as well as to discourage one that for many has been part of their annual payment ritual for years.

Online banking: Search “Prince Rupert” and add the City property taxes payee. You will need your roll number from your tax notice (without the decimal). Contact your financial institution if you need exact instructions on adding a payee and/or making an online bill payment. 

Cheque dated no later than July 2, 2020 - and dropped in the mailslot at City Hall PRIOR TO THE DUE DATE. The mail slot is located up the ramp on the east hand side (Charles Hays Statue side) of City Hall 

Paytm Canada app: (see 'Credit Card Payments' below for more information - Please note that this app charges a convenience fee.) 

Debit card (by booking an appointment to attend City Hall - see below for details). 

Cash is discouraged (other methods preferred at this time). If cash is your only means of payment, we encourage you to go to a bank and obtain a money order.

The City also notes that it does not accept payment for property taxes by way of credit card.

Property tax payments must be received no later that 4:30 PM on Tuesday July 2, 2020.

The city reminds the public that online payments can take up to 4-5 days to process and to keep that in mind as the deadline nears.

For those that still wish to pay their bills in person, can't make a payment, or need assistance with the homeowner grant process,  the city notes that City Hall will be accessible by appointment only,  you can contact the City at 250-627-0960 or 250 627-0950.

The full information package on today's delivery of tax bills and information on the Home Owners grant can be explored here.

As we outlined yesterday, the City of Prince Rupert shifted to the by appointment only access this week, with City Manager announcing the Wednesday re-opening of City Hall to the public, with the one person at a time, by appointment protocols now in place.

More notes on the City's Financial themes can be explored here.

A wider overview of City Council themes is available here.

Add Bear concerns to the list of Wildlife encounters for North Coast residents

The recent concerns over Wolves have some company on the report list this week; that as we hear word of he First Bear sighting of the season relayed from Port Edward.

There wasn't much detail to the sighting which was noted by District of Port Edward Mayor Knut Bjorndal as part of the May Update for residents of the community.

Though his notes on the theme did include a call from the mayor for those living in the District to secure their personal property to reduce any attractants for wildlife.

Notice for residents of Port Edward on a recent bear sighting 
(click to enlarge)

As has been highlighted by Conservation Officers in recent weeks, leaving material that may be of interest to wildlife makes for a challenge for the officers as they respond to what is a growing number of calls related to recent incidents, most of which have been encounters with wolves over the last six weeks or so.

You can review the Port Edward advisory here.

Conservation Officers from Terrace were in the area this week in response to some of the case files that have been generated in recent weeks.

As we noted earlier this week, those calls for service have once again been met with a call from the City of Prince Rupert for an Officer to be based in the Prince Rupert region.

Should you have an encounter to report you can do so by calling 1-877-952-7277, Port Edward District also would like a report at 250-628-3667.

An overview of some of the calls for assistance from the Conservation Officer Service can be explored here.

With summer on the horizon, Port Edward Council looks forward to infrastructure work ahead

Road work and attention to some public infrastructure is the focus for an update for Port Edward residents this week, as Mayor Knut Bjorndal relays some of the themes of discussion from Port Edward Council this month.

In the monthly update for residents the District's Mayor provided a look at the work underway by McElhanney Engineering which has been busy surveying the District's road system in anticipation of the District's road plans for the summer.

As Mr. Bjorndal notes the first two roads that will be addressed with be Evergreen and Sunset in the District townsite. 

The Port Edward Mayor also provided for a heads up towards work hey are looking at for the District Fire hall and Municipal building, with details to come for residents as they develop their project planning.

Mr. Bjorndal also highlighted the work that Public Works is engaged in at the moment, with attention towards moving park areas and grass long the District's streets.

He also made note of the work that Council has been involved with as part of a unified regional approach towards a COVID response, observing as to the District's efforts in working with other area governments in reinforcing a call to include a travel ban to small communities on the coast.

In his message to residents Mayor Bjorndal observes that to his knowledge there have been no reported cases in Prince Rupert or Port Edward and notes of how residents have been following the guidelines to help prevent the transmission of the virus.

When it comes to Municipal operations, the Mayor notes that the Municipal office remains closed to the public at this time, he also outlines some of the public works efforts underway including the flushing of hydrants, changes to the annual Spring Clean Up program and the plans from CN Rail to control vegetation along their right of way through the District.

More on the CN Vegetation control program can be reviewed here.

Mr. Bjorndal also alerted the community to concerns over Bears, relaying word of a recent siting in the District and reviewing what Port Edward residents can do to help reduce any attractants for wildlife.

For more notes related to Port Edward council see our archive page here.

Northern Health Virtual Town Hall explores range of themes as BC restarts economic and social activities

Northern British Columbians had a chance to once again ask 
questions of Northern Health officials on Thursday evening

The latest in Virtual Health Care Town Halls took place on Thursday evening, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and Cariboo MLA Coralee Oakes hosting the one hour review of some of the progress that has been made towards the COVID response by Northern Health.

Northern Health Authority CEO Cathy Ulrich and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Raina Fumerton were along for the night, the medical officials providing some answers on a number questions.

Among the themes explored on the evening was a look at the BC Restart program and whether it was wise to move forward with a reboot for the province's economy and activities.

Dr. Fumerton noted that that while the disease is still part of our day to day experience, that British Columbians have worked hard to flatten the curve, noting that it's not a disease where we can focus on elimination she observed how we can't stay in a position where the economy remains closed down and how in her opinion it is the right time to restart and reopen.

She did note that Northern Health will be watching for any cases that are reported over the next few weeks to adjust their care program accordingly.

Another question explored the prospect for when social gathering measures may be relaxed.

Towards that the current measures on gatherings of up to fifty people were outlined, with a focus put on the need for continued attention towards physical distancing, good hand hygiene and to stay home if you are sick.

As to a best guess as to when some of the restrictions may be lifted, Ms. Ulrich observed that at this point they don't really have any date in mind, noting that officials will be watching over the next few weeks what impact the more relaxed measures bring.

Ms. Rice made note of the patience that British Columbians have had when it comes to some of the services such as haircuts and other personal service appointments that they once enjoyed, relaying a question as to the special requirements that will be required for those services in the future.

Ms. Ulrich noted of the range of guidelines that the WorkSafeBC website hosts that outline the safety plan that barbers shops, beauty salons and such will have to follow to ensure that both staff and customers are safe.

MLA Oakes delivered a viewer question on Dental Clinics, asking on themes of proper disinfection of materials at clinics.

The Northern Health CEO noted of the guidance that the provinces dentists have received as they prepare to resume their duties, with a range of measures in place to ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.

How Northern Health plans to expand on an elective surgery restart was explored, with Ms. Ulrich noting that the surgical capacity is now at around 70 percent since they returned to the operating rooms, with 26 percent of those patients who had their surgery plans put on hiatus having now been contacted to learn of their desires to move forward.

Non essential travel made for a question with the Northern Health officials reinforcing the themes introduced by the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to ensure that if you do travel to other areas that you hold to the public health measures in place.

Dr. Fumerton observed that as the province moves forward into phase Two, that health officials will be reviewing data regularly to determine any further actions towards the non essential travel themes, with mid June the first benchmark towards that review.

When Seniors may begin to resume some of their out of home activities made for a question, with Dr. Fumerton noting that generally speaking the best way for Senior's to protect themselves is to use the same measures they would in flu season, including taking a pass on large gathering events and limiting some of their activities. Though she observed that it's not practical that Seniors would remain in a lockdown situation for months at a time.

The Back to School plans ahead provided for some discussion, with a few questions on how to best manage sending children back to class.

Dr. Fumerton highlighted that the recommendation is that if students have any symptoms of any illness all they should remain at home, expanding on the process that is in place for those that have been in close contact with confirmed cases, with the Dr. noting that those students would not be returning to school.

As for any increase in cases that could come from a reopening, Dr. Fumerton outlined how the Health Authority would be watching the return carefully,  she did acknowledge that there could be some community spread but again reinforced the need for proper awareness by families.

The prospect of antibody testing and whether it will be introduced in the Northern Health region made for a question, with Dr. Fumerton outlining how it may be helpful towards research on the virus though as it's presently just in a pilot project process, she was unsure as to when Northern Health may be included in the timeline of research.

Some of the other themes explored included how parents should approach the reopening of sports and recreation facilities in the future and what protocols will be in place.

How the pandemic has effected the lives of children, the differences in face coverings and when Doctor's Clinics may return to more normal operations as they did prior to the arrival of COVID.

An often asked question as to why Northern Health does not release the locations of COVID cases was relayed once again, with the Health officials reviewing how the decision to release information was made owing to the desire for patient privacy and to reduce the potential for undue panic in smaller communities.

You can review the full hour of information and commentary from the BC Government's Facebook page archive.

For more notes on items of interest from Northern Health see our archive page.

North Pacific Cannery Historical Site begins process towards restoration and maintenance plans

Having announced in April that owing to the COVID pandemic the North Pacific Cannery Historical Site will not be open for visitors this year, the District of Port Edward is now moving forward with plans for continued site restoration and maintenance work.

This week the District posted a Request for Proposals to provide for estimates on work to be done towards their Master Conservation Plan of 2018.

Towards the work the District noted the following as part of its RFP:

Scope of estimates must take into account conservation of cultural landscapes, exterior assemblies and / or interior finishes, including restoration and use of stockpiled materials that are on site where possible. Each building is to be evaluated/ estimated separately and prioritized following the 2018 Maintenance Restoration Project Plan (MRPP) and following the Master Conservation Plan of 2015 (MCP).

For reference, the MRPP lists each building, the work detail required, skill requirement, priority, status, and difficulty level. The subsections of the MRPP categorize tasks into labour types including general labour, pilings, millwright, carpentry, paint and electrical. The MRPP outlines works already performed and prioritizes works to be completed.

The MRPP further outlines the intervals of time needed to upkeep all historical structures. Some of the works classified as complete or in progress may require revisiting and costing. Scope and framework of estimates are to include recommendations of all specialized sub-contractors/ and or costs along with a time frame for compilation as applicable.

The District has established a criteria for those considering a response to the RFP, among the areas of note that Port Edward is looking for include:

a) Have experience in providing high level estimates for heritage sites. 
b) Have a valid and current business license. 
c) Must demonstrate the ability to complete large scale costing/ estimates which are to include costing of sub consultants where necessary. 
d) Have the ability to provide examples of three similar or comparable project estimations with references.

The Closing Date for the Request for Bids is June 19th.

The Contract award for the estimates work will be delivered on July 3rd, with the deadline for the work to be done set for August 14th.

Those interested in submitting a bid and may wish for a tour of the Cannery Site can contact NPC General Manager Ann Leach at

The Bids are to be delivered to the District of Port Edward, identified as North Pacific Cannery Restoration and Maintenance Estimates.

To learn more about the request, as well as the way that they will evaluate the Proposals that are submitted see the District of Port Edward website.

For more on some of our past items related to North Pacific see our archive page here.

A wider overview of notes from Port Edward can be reviewed here.

MLA Rice on Legislature return which will feature a hybrid of In Person / Virtual models

The BC Legislature chamber has been empty for much of the last two months
MLA's return to their duties June 22nd, though with a new process in place
 for Legislative business in Victoria

While she's been quite active working out of her Prince Rupert constituency office during the COVID-19 period, next month North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, as will all MLA's in British Columbia, will begin the process of returning to legislative duties.

On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan announced that the return of the Legislature will take  place on June 22nd, outlining a hybrid plan  that will feature members in the Legislature along with those participating by remote methods.

Whether she will be working out of Prince Rupert or Victoria, or what kind of rotation will be in place remains to be determined to this point, but either way the MLA is looking forward to the resumption of legislative work.

Yesterday, we reached out to the North Coast MLA  to see if she knew what her plans may be as the revised Legislature project gets underway.

For he part, Ms. Rice noted that as flights won't be resuming out of Prince Rupert until the 22nd of June, she may not be present for the first day if she is one of the MLA's to be present in Victoria for the launch of the new normal for BC Politics.

 As for how it all will work, Ms. Rice provided the following overview:

"At this time, which MLAs will be participating remotely and which ones will be physically present in the legislature is not known. It may well be a combination of certain weeks MLAs are physically present in the legislature and some weeks they participate remotely over the course of the 6 week session. 

We will be sitting 5 days a week versus the normal 4 days/per week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays we will be debating legislation and Thursdays and Fridays will be focused on budget estimates. 

 A typical sitting day will pretty much look the same – Monday morning private members time, members statements, Question Period etc. I’m looking forward to trying out the new model for the legislature." 

Ms. Rice also observed as to how the new format will make for a significant shift in how the business of the Legislature takes place, as well as to how it may make for a new atmosphere for the Chamber.

"It is such a change from the norm that it’s hard to imagine how it will unfold but I am enthusiastic about trying new ways of doing things. 

 With the gradual reopening of the Province, British Columbians are working hard at adapting to get back to work in innovative ways and it should be no different for elected representatives. 

The uncertainty of it feels a little uncomfortable admittedly but I’m equally curious and open to the possibilities. Question period will certainly have a different tone to it without the audible heckling and desk thumping but perhaps that’s all for the better. We will see . . ."

You can review Premier Horgan's introduction of the plan for the resumption of the Legislature below:

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

Thursday, May 28, 2020

9 new cases of COVID, 2 more deaths and the declared end to a long standing outbreak mark the Thursday COVID review

The Thursday report on the Province's COVID accounts from Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix relayed word of nine new cases for the day, making for a total of 2,558 cases in British Columbia.

That makes for 241 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, and 2,153 people who had tested positive who have recovered.

Of the total COVID-19 cases, 33 individuals are hospitalized, six of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Of the case files recorded, 899 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,274 in the Fraser Health region, 127 in the Island Health region, 195 in the Interior Health region and 63 in the Northern Health region.

Today's review also included notes related to the passing of two more British Columbians from COVID-19.

 “There have been two new COVID-19 related deaths in the last day in the Fraser Health region, for a total of 164 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One new outbreak was recorded on the day, while a previous long running outbreak, that of the Mission Correctional Institution which has been declared over.

“There has been one new health-care outbreak at the Nicola Lodge in the Fraser Health region. In total, 15 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and one acute-care unit have active outbreaks. “The outbreak the Mission Institution (Medium Security) federal corrections facility has now been declared over. This was one of the largest outbreaks that we have experienced in our province. An incredible effort, especially by the Fraser Health region, was put into the outbreak response.

Dr. Henry also called attention to British Columbia's long running concerns over overdose deaths in the province, with recent data indicating an increase of those cases this year.

“Yesterday, the BC Coroners Service reported a notable and disheartening increase in overdose deaths so far this year, with 117 people who died in April. For many people, especially those who are homeless and living with mental health and addiction issues, COVID-19 is yet an additional challenge. We have not forgotten you and continue to work with the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to respond to the two public health emergencies."

You can review the Thursday update 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

SD52 and Charles Hays Secondary outline Grad Commencement plans for June

The class of 2020 will still get a walk up and a commencement, though the celebration will be a little different from years past and be spread out through the week of June 8 to 12, consisting  of smaller groups of students as part of the School District's response to COVID-19.

The plan for graduating students and their families was revealed through the School District's Social media platforms this week.

In their information release, SD52 makes note that as the Lester Centre is not available this year due to the COVID pandemic, the venue for 2020 will be the Charles Hays Multi purpose room.

Students have been schedule in groups of 10, with a schedule mailed to their homes to advise when they will have their walk up opportunity.

On their day, students will be required to be at the school fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled time, wearing their gown, hat and tassel. That regalia will be distributed to students the week before grad.

As in a traditional graduation event, students will walk onto the stage with the traditional short synopsis of their studies and future ambitions, as well as to announce any scholarships and bursaries that they have received.

To comply with provincial measures on Social Gathering each grad may only have a minimum of 3 people in the audience.

Each ceremony will be recorded and following the full week of Commencement Lonnie Wishart will produce a video of the entire ceremony. 

The entire production will be aired on CityWest community television on the night of Grad on Friday, June 12th.

Students will also receive a copy of the ceremony through the distribution of a USB with the video of their special night in challenging times.

You can review the full outline on the commencement plans, as well as a message from the Prom Parents related to grad photos from the Charles Hays Twitter feed and SD52 Instagram account.

More items of note on education in the Northwest can be found from our archive page here.

DFO announces more Northwest recreational salmon fishery closures for summer

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has released a number of additional closures for the Recreational Salmon Fishery, with the Skeena and Nass River systems the focus of Wednesday's announcements.

The first closure went into effect yesterday, with salmon in  the Nass River the focus of attention.

1. The Nass River mainstem waters near the Meziadin River confluence, from white triangular fishing boundary signs located downstream of the Meziadin River confluence, and upstream to the Hwy 37 Bridge will be closed to fishing for salmonwill be closed to fishing for salmon. The closure is Effective May 27, 2020 at 00:01 hours to September 15, 2020.

 Recreational fishing for chum salmon will also remain closed in the entire Nass River watershed (Includes tributaries and lakes)..

Five sections in Region 6  Skeena River and its tributaries will see closures in effect as of June 16th through to August 15th.

1. Skeena River mainstem waters near the Kitsumkalum River mouth, from the confluence with the Zymagotitz River (also known as Zymacord River) upstream to the Classified Waters boundary at the top of Hell's Gate. Effective July 1 to Aug 31, 2020.

2. Kitsumkalum River (including lakes and tributaries). Effective July 1 to Aug 31, 2020.

3. Skeena River mainstem waters near the Kitwanga River mouth, from Mill Creek upstream to the Highway 37 Bridge. Effective May 27, 2020 at 00:01 hours until further notice.

4. Skeena River mainstem waters within the three white triangular fishing boundary signs located at the confluence of the Skeena River and Kispiox River. Effective May 27, 2020 at 00:01 hours until further notice.

5. The Bulkley River and Morice River waters within the four white triangular fishing boundary signs located at the confluence of the Bulkley River and Morice River (locally known as "the Forks"). The closure starts 100 meters upstream of the confluence and ends approximately 1 kilometre downstream

Recreational fishing for Chum Salmon will also remain closed for the entire Skeena River Watershed.

DFO has also provided for a General Information statement related to the COVID pandemic, noting that many communities have closed access and services to visitors to help protect their residents. Among the services that have been closed are fuel and provisions.

More on that topic can be reviewed here.

You can review further details on both closures, as well as additional information related to the Coho fishery from the DFO Fishery Notices page here.

Last week DFO outlined closures for the recreational Chinook fishery for the Skeena watershed.

Further items of interest related to both recreational and commercial fishery themes can be found from our archive page.

Coast Mountain College to open up fall program registration June 1st

The classrooms may not be open as they once were, but Coast Mountain College is preparing to accept registration for Fall programs, with June 1st the first day for students to contact the college to register for their studies.

While campus locations, including the Prince Rupert campus remain closed for in-person registration, those looking to register for the the fall programming will be able to do so by phone an online using the myCNTN link on the Coast Mountain College website.

The Registration period is divided into two categories, with returning students to begin registration on June 1st, while new students will be able to do so one week later starting on June 8th.

The college will continue on this fall with the Distributed learning model that was put in place in March, that puts much of the focus towards online instruction, blended with some in class options for specific classes when required.

Learn more about Distributed learning here.

Coast Mountain President and CEO  Justin  Kohlman notes that the return to classes will feature a dedicated support network for students.

“We know students are eager to register for their fall courses and our faculty have been hard at work developing ways to ensure that students receive experiential learning opportunities even in a distributed learning environment. Our innovative faculty, dedicated student support staff, and our small class sizes mean that students at Coast Mountain College have a support network available to them at all times.”

You can find more background on the Coast Mountain College registration plans here.

Further notes related to Post-Secondary education in the Northwest can be reviewed here.

Highway 16 road remediation program puts focus on Bulkley Valley so far

Areas along Highway 16 east of the Bulkley Valley were the focus
this week for a range of highway remediation project announcements

For those travelling through the Bulkley Valley this summer, the words expect delays may be a frequent part of your travels.

On Wednesday, Claire Trevena, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure outlined some of the projects on the Highways to-do list for this year,

"Our government is investing more than $350 million in transportation projects in northern B.C. Our investments in the North are investments in our communities. And they help create good jobs for people, which is especially important now as we move into the recovery phase of COVID-19.”

In the Northwest, the Bulkley Valley will receive the bulk of the attention for the early stages of this years paving plans.

Among the notes from yesterday's announcement:

Highway 16 (Smithers and Telkwa areas): resurfacing 26.6 kilometres of Highway 16 from Nouch Road to Fort Telkwa, excluding the Smithers arterial (budget: $3.4 million). 

Highway 16 (east of Smithers): resurfacing 68 kilometres on Highway 16 from Wakefield Road to 6 Mile Hill, excluding the Houston arterial. 

This project includes resurfacing of side roads in and around the Smithers area (budget: $4.1 million).

Work was also announced for the Burns Lake area, which will see a 15 million dollar project get underway that will see work take place on a westbound two kilometre passing lane, extension of an eastbound passing lane and improvements to the brake check and chain up area at 6 Mile Summit

The City of Prince George will also gain a significant share of the road remediation this summer, the full details on Wednesday's announcement can be reviewed here.

So far, the Ministry has not outlined what plans it may have for any other areas of the Northwest.

As you travel along the highway, you can get updates on road conditions and delays from the Drive BC website and twitter feed.

For more notes on Highway 16 corridor themes see our archive page here.

Further items of note out of Victoria can be reviewed from our Legislature archive page.