Friday, May 1, 2020

Location, Location, Location ... Mayor Brain makes the call for an expansion on housing in Prince Rupert

Mayor Lee Brain spoke on themes of Housing on Monday evening

The need for housing made for some of the narrative for the Mayor's address at Monday's Prince Rupert City Council session, as Mayor Lee Brain outlined what seems to be a clarion call to his six council partners to push forward an ambitious agenda for creating housing stock.

"The biggest priority we have right now is affordable housing, affordable housing, affordable housing, market housing, all kinds of housing! We need to drastically increase the amount of housing that we have in this community. To be able to not only attract new workers here, but also to be able to provide new units for residents who need affordable units to live in." -- Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain re-introducing housing as a priority for Prince Rupert Council

The re-dedication to housing for 2020 comes as the Mayor recounted the city's frustrations at having to delay the introduction of a plan to attract workers and their families to the community, part of their recruitment and retention program ambitions.

"What we were going to do this year was a big recruitment and retention campaign with the port companies and the operators and the businesses in town to start recruiting people to Prince Rupert and start helping people move here. But you can't bring people to Prince Rupert unless you have housing for people" -- Mayor Lee Brain speaking to the city's plans on recruitment and retention of residents

That project which according to the Mayor would have involved a major advertising campaign across the country had to be put on the back burner for the moment, as the city worked on its duties related to the COVID-19 pandemic situation and now as they await what the future may bring in the way of impact locally.

The Mayor has suggested that the program will get its launch either later this fall or early in 2021. Though few details were revealed on Monday as to how it all will work and how the city plans to help people move to the city.

The emphasis on housing isn't something new and really is not much different than the same call heard in the days of planning for Major projects and the introduction of Hays 2.0, though the results from those heady days of real estate planning haven't really delivered much results as of yet.

Two years ago we looked at the status of many of the proposed housing projects announced by Council over the last five years and the completion rate is somewhat low.

A few have made it to the finish line, though many more stalled, a number were abandoned, while a few are now starting to show stirrings of life.

On Monday night, the Mayor highlighted two projects of interest, the first his announcement at the 2030 Rupert Vision event presentation which made note of a project by the Lax Kw'alaams and its plans to build a large housing development in the city.

That news was actually something recycled from the fall of 2018, when the Province of British Columbia awarded 12 million dollars in funding for the development of 60 homes in Prince Rupert.

So far though, some five months after the Vision show at the Lester Centre in December of 2019, we still haven't heard any further details on that project.

With little heard on the location for the build other than somewhere on 11th Avenue. Likewise no timeline for development has been revealed and so far no one has made mention of a shovel in the ground.

Land is being cleared on Drake Crescent the location earmarked for
a housing development on the city's east side

Shovels have hit the ground for another project that the Mayor mentioned on Monday and one from that list above of stalled housing developments.

That with land clearing underway in the Drake Crescent area, where a number of mixed multi-family housing units will be built, though no timeline for that housing development was noted on Monday.

The Drake area plans come from the same developer of the Van Arsdol properties on the city's west side, the original zoning and approval for the project came back in the summer of 2016.

It's also somewhat surprising that in the midst of a discussion on housing, no one thought to bring up the topic of homes for the city's most vulnerable residents.

Particularly after the Mayor went out of his way recently to make note of the move of the homeless shelter to the Fishermen's hall location on Fraser Street.

At the time of the mid April announcement there was some confusion as to whether any staffers at City Hall had written a letter to advise the operators of the old shelter on Third, advising them that it was time to leave, an eviction letter of sorts.

As we noted in April, the Mayor in his Facebook page highlighted a passage in a story in the weekly paper that no one at the city had issued a letter to North Coast Transition Society/BC Housing to evict the shelter from Third.

However, if anyone was inclined to read the original advisory from MLA Jennifer Rice, the correspondence in question was actually sent to the Ministry of Housing and Social Services.

Unfortunately that contradiction will remain unresolved for now; as none of the five council members available on phone for the night on Monday (Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven was not on Monday's conference call) thought of asking for a clarification on that issue.

The Council members perhaps mindful of the advice earlier in the night from City Manager Robert Long, that of the importance of the group to remain on a course in the same direction.

 I think it's important that we as an organization and as a team all see ourselves as heading in the same direction. And I think that's what's been happening ...

You can examine all of the Mayor's notes on Housing from the Monday council meeting from the City's Video Archive starting at the 36 minute mark.

For more notes on Housing through the many years, see our archive pages here.

A look at Monday's council session is available from our Council Timeline here, while further notes on key items from the session are available here.

A wider overview of past Council discussion themes can be explored here.


  1. The mayor and council need to move beyond clarion calls to the specifics of what a municipality can do to encourage housing development, especially by the private sector

  2. Lead in the water, crumbling schools, 200 trucks a day through town centre. Come to Rupert for ....???