Monday, August 31, 2020

Time to slow down social interactions, says Dr. Bonnie Henry as weekend numbers spike to near 300 reported cases of COVID-19

British Columbians are about to bring an end to the summer of 2020 and perhaps that isn't but a moment too soon, as the daily numbers of August continued with their upward trends, this past weekend delivering 194 new cases of COVID-19 making for 1100 active cases and an increase in hospitalizations.

The weekend overview was delivered by Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix this afternoon, with the Public Health Officer for the Province observing that the time is once again here to begin reducing our social interactions, that as a way towards reducing the impact of a potential second wave of the coronavirus and other challenges ahead.

“Today, we are providing case updates for three 24-hour reporting periods. In the first reporting period from August 28 to 29, we had 86 new cases, from August 29 to 30, we had 107 new cases and in the last 24 hours, we have had a further 101 new cases."  

This represents 294 new cases, including three epi-linked cases, since we reported on Friday, for a total of 5,790 cases in British Columbia. 

There are 1,107 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 2,723 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases, and 4,466 people who tested positive have recovered. 

Currently, 28 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 10 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation."

The cross province break down found additions in all of the Health Authorities across BC this weekend.

1,900 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 3,042 in the Fraser Health region, 175 in the Island Health region, 440 in the Interior Health region, 154 in the Northern Health region an increase of twelve since Friday.

79 cases of  COVID have been recorded in the province from people people who reside outside of Canada.

“There have been four new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 208 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been no new community outbreaks, although there continue to be community exposure events. The Northern Health region has issued a community alert for the Prespatou region. Anyone who has attended events, services or gatherings in August are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and contact health teams to get tested should any symptoms develop."

With the August increases of note, Dr. Henry and Minister Dix outlined the approach British Columbians must return to this fall in order to bring down the rising curve of late.

“As we look to the fall, we are entering a new phase of B.C.’s COVID-19 response, and to be successful, we need to step back to allow us to safely move forward. 

The increase in the number of new cases is a concern for all of us. We must to do our part and support public health teams to quickly manage new cases so we can contain the spread of the virus and ensure community spread remains low. 

After many months of restrictions, we all felt the need to reconnect with our family and friends this summer, but now we must slow down on our social interactions and prepare for the respiratory season ahead. 

We need everyone to pay attention and step back from the social interactions we have had this summer, so when the cooler weather and respiratory season arrives, we are ready for the challenge. 

As we go back to our offices, workplaces and schools, we need to get back to the basics with our layers of protection and personal COVID-19 safety measures. This will allow us to protect our most vulnerable during the colder months. 

This means all of us washing our hands regularly, keeping our groups small, giving others the space to stay safe in uncontrolled environments, especially when we are around people we don’t know, wearing masks when needed and always staying home when ill."

You can review the full COVID 19 report for Monday 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 

Connected Coast Project reaches new benchmark, with Request for Proposals issued by CityWest and Regional District of Strathcona

A look at the proposed footprint for the fibre optic project known
as the Connected Coast Project, a partnership between CityWest and
the Strathcona Regional District on Vancouver Island
(Map from Connected Coast Project)

After a fair bit of silence on its progress of late, Prince Rupert based CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District on Vancouver Island have issued a Request for Proposals for the much anticipated Connected Coast Project,  with the two organizations seeking out the services of a contractor towards the ambitious fibre optic communication infrastructure development.

That work will see a fibre optic backbone put in place between Prince Rupert,  to northern and central Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii as well as a network connection to Vancouver.

The RFP was posted to the BC Bid website on Friday afternoon and highlights the key elements of the project, one which will provide for additional fibre optic redundancy for internet users in Prince Rupert and along the CityWest network in Northwest BC.

The addition of a second source for communication services, will serve to ensure that Northwest users will be better protected from potential outages along the current network as was seen earlier this year.

Towards the development of that new fibre optic backbone, CityWest has created a subsidiary company, to be known as CityWest Connected Coast Network Corporation, which will construct and operate its section of the Connected Coast project.

click to enlarge

As part of the project description, CityWest observes that they and Strathcona Regional District are the sponsors of the project, with both the Province of British Columbia and Federal government having indicated their receptivity to offering financial support for the Connected Coast Project, subject to formal application and approval.

As well, both levels of government have requested their support align with the responsibilities of the local governments who are sponsoring the Project.

Interested contractors will be expected to provide four key elements of the services required: 

Final Design

Source and provide all materials required in the Final Design and As Built design

Construction Services

Warranty Services

Click to enlarge

The original RFP was posted on August 14th, with an amended version posted on Friday. 

The deadline for proponents to deliver their bids and express interest is 2PM on September 8th.

You can review the full BC Bid package here.

More on the project can be reviewed here.

We last made note of the project back on July 10th, with a look at some of the consultation that was conducted by Strathcona Regional District towards the project.

Earlier this summer we also provided a thumbnail guide to the progress of the project to early July, the RFP process that is now underway takes the project one step closer towards development.

For more notes related to CityWest see our archive page here.

Library resumes services to a fashion, with appointment only program in place

Slowly but surely the Prince Rupert Library is starting
to resume some of their services, though patrons still
can't pop in to browse, with access to services now
requiring an appointment

Last week saw another step towards returning to the days of stopping in at the local library, with the Prince Rupert Library putting in motion its Phase Three program of return to public services.

The latest move forward came on August 26th with the Library offering access by appointment only for a range of services including public computer use, Document services and exam invigilation.

To contact them to book one of their thirty minutes appointments call 250-627-1345

All of their previous services such as the Home Delivery, Grab Bag and Curb side pick up program remain in place as part of Phase Three. 

However, while more services are being added, the days of dropping in to browse their selections or enjoy a newspaper or magazine appear to still be off in the future, with no timeline as to when full service and full access will resume at the Sixth Avenue West facility.

You can learn more about their current services from the Prince Rupert Library website or Facebook page.

For more notes related to community events see our archive page here.

Annunciation plans moving forward as return to school nears

Prince Rupert's Independent
School Annunciation is ready
for September
Like SD52, Prince Rupert's Independent School Annunciation is making its own plans for the return of school in September.

The city centre school posting a range of documents to their website to provide some background on how the school year will progress and how they plan to communicate with parents and guardians through the year.

Among the notes on the Annunciation website is the COVID communication Plan and policies, with the school website, newsletters and a still in the planning Social media platform on Facebook yet to come. 

The newsletters are sent out to parents/guardians every Thursday by email  to receive one you can sign up from the website's main page.

School COVID protocols, the school calendar and some past newsletters from the last year also make for some of the information stream as well as link to provincial guidance on education for 2020-21.

School resumes on September 8th with a three hour morning session for Grades 1 to 8, with the Kindergarten year getting underway with orientation sessions.

You can review all of the Back to School notes from the Independent school here.

As that start nears, returning and new students, teachers and staff will be greeted by a new principal, with Ms. Tina McDonald taking the helm of the school over the summer, she replaces Mrs. Laura Lowther who left her position at Annunciation at the end of June.

For more notes related to education on the North Coast see our archive page here.

When it comes to the City's two Major summer road infrastructure projects; One down, one to go

It's been a summer of infrastructure challenges for the
City of Prince Rupert

Motorists along the McBride/First Avenue roadways can finally make use of all the travel space of the city's roads, that after the City's Public Works Department put the finishing touches on a lengthy bit of infrastructure repair underneath the pavement of the downtown core near the Court House.

The work came to an end late last week with paving the final bit or repair to take place before the roadway was reopened to the public after a period of just under two months.

Before and After work on infrastructure issues below McBride St.

And while the City can celebrate the wrap on that project, as we outlined earlier this month, the other long running repair work at the Intersection of Fulton and Sixth Avenue West seems destined to carry on for a period of time yet.

The intersection work at Fulton and Sixth will continue
on into September and beyond

Over the course of the last few weeks the city has dug up significantly more roadway than it has repaired at the Fulton location, advising the public that the work on that particular infrastructure issue may be a bit more of a long term one.

Those who manage to navigate the off road like course set up around the Fulton intersection however aren't quite out of the woods on their travels. 

Just a few blocks west of that site the road again poses challenges with some suspension testing holes in the road along Summit, those however seem soon to be addressed as the city's summer paving program moves into the home stretch into September.

For more items of note on infrastructure see our archive page here.

Further themes from City Council can be explored through our Council Discussion archive.

AltaGas gains regulatory approval for second level of LPG shipments

AltaGas Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal

With the pace of production and shipments at the Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal delivering impressive results to date in 2020, Alberta bases AltaGas has found success with a second request of the Canadian Energy Regulator to export an additional 46,000 barrels per day  of propane out of their Prince Rupert facility.

The initial application to seek the second level of propane shipments was submitted in November of 2019, the process delivering the positive assent on August 21st.

The most recent statistics released by the  Prince Rupert facility indicate that RIPET had shipped an average of 41,000 barrels per day this year, that from their initial export licence with the initial volume more than meeting the parameters in place from their original permit.

As we outlined in June, the success of AltaGas was noted by both the Prince Rupert Port Authority and CN Rail, the latter realizing additional freight movements through the addition of the Propane export facility on the North Coast.

In July, the company released their Second Quarter results and in a year full of challenges for the energy sector, the strong performance of RIPET was included as part of the highlights of the overview for shareholders and would be investors.

"Performance at RIPET remains strong. We continue to deliver on our goals, setting a record in the second quarter with 41,460 Bbls/d of Canadian propane exported to Asia on seven ships. We are pleased with the progress we continue to make at RIPET and we remain on track to hit 50,000 Bbls/d before year-end." -- From the AltaGas Second Quarter Report.

AltaGas won't take advantage of their second export permit just yet, as they await further guidance from the Federal government there has been no timeline announced for the introduction of additional shipments through Ridley Island.

For more notes related to AltaGas in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

Real Estate Tracker: Week ending August 30, 2020

One more property joins the listings of the Graham Avenue area, with the collection of homes on the West side making for the bulk of our focus for the area's top end homes again this week.

Every Monday, we look over the listing prices of the week just passed and outline the Top 10 asking prices in the area, providing a snap shot as to where the Real Estate market may be trending on a week-to-week basis.

The listings below are purely for information purposes, for further background on the properties recorded, see our links page for access to the individual real estate listings.

The Archive for our weekly review can be found here.

Our list of the top ten priced homes for the week ending August 30, 2020 can be explored below:

Real Estate listings on the East Side of Prince Rupert
Week ending August 30, 2020

Real Estate listings on the West Side of Prince Rupert
Week ending August 30, 2020

The majority of our list is marked by eight properties on the west side of the McBride street divide, with a good sample of those found in the Graham/Atlin area of the city.

From this weeks rearrangement of the top end of the listings, there are two properties on the east side as part the review.

The total value of the list of ten now sits at just over the 7.5 million dollar mark, marking much of the same value as last week.

The lowest mark for the list of ten  sits  at $569,000 while our top end from the last week now is marked  at the price point of  $1,290,000

Below find our findings as of the Week ending August 30, 2020

1824 Graham Avenue                    $1,290,000 -- Realty Executives 
2060 Graham Avenue                    $955,000  --   Realty Executives
2050 Atlin Avenue                         $849,000 --    Realty Executives 
508 Cassiar Avenue                       $685,000 --    Remax
1714 Sloan Avenue                        $649,000 --    Remax
1933 Graham Avenue                    $649,000 --    Remax
1928 Graham Avenue                    $645,000 --    Remax
173 Bill Murray Drive                   $639,900 --    Remax
251 Parker Drive                            $570,000 --    Realty Executives
1068 6th Avenue East                     $569,000 --    Remax

For more items related to Real Estate see our archive page here.

For background on Housing issues in the region see our past items here.

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

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Nisga'a Valley Health Authority issues notification of suspected COVID-19 exposure in the Nass

A number of health protocols have been put in place for residents in the Nass Valley and for those who may have travelled into the area between August 17th to 28th that after the announcement of a suspected COVID-19 exposure in the region.

The advisory issued on Saturday notes that all attendees of a funeral/feast for a community member  between August 21 and 25th should contact the NVHA  clinic in their area, as well as to notify their respective Village government chief Administrator, as well as to self isolate.

The period in question included the community ceremonies for recently deceased Nisga'a leader Dr. Joseph Gosnell. 

The Nisga'a Lisims Government had already put in place significant travel restrictions through the summer towards keeping the spread of COVID-19 in check in the Nisga'a Nation. 

Officials have added on to those guidelines in the wake of yesterday's advisory.

The full list of important information related to the advisory can be explored here.

More items of interest on the Nisga'a Nation can be explored here.

Blog Watching: Week ending August 27, 2020

Our list of the five top stories makes for an interesting mix of items over the last seven days.

A break in a near three year investigation into a 2017 bank robbery came this week, as Prince Rupert Mounties made an arrest related to the case file in the Fairview area. 

Other themes on the week included updates on the drinking water situation in both Port Edward and Prince Rupert.

Municipal government topics were also high on the reading list, with our look at the release of SOFI information for this year and some of the work at Monday's council session of note for the week.

We also received some interesting statistical notes from the BC Centre for Disease Control, with the provincial agency releasing its data break down by community in the province. The results provided a look at the confirmed case count of COVID and with the exception of the large community outbreak on Haida Gwaii, the rest of the Northwest delivered impressive results.

However, when it came to the most read item of the last week, the work of the local detachment of the RCMP on a bank robbery case file dominated our views of the last seven day.

Wanted Prince Rupert Man now in custody -- An alleged suspect in a Prince Rupert bank robbery from 2017 was taken into custody this week and had his first court appearance on Friday, as part of the update on the case the RCMP in the city thanked the community for their assistance towards the file.  (posted  August 27, 2020)

That article was followed by:

Port Edward brings Water Advisory to an end for District resident  -- Civic officials in Port Edward delivered some welcome news this week, advising that the Water Advisory that has been in place for most of August is now over. While District residents celebrated that good news, in Prince Rupert the Water Advisory in place since August 17th was extended, with the City of Prince Rupert offering an update on the situation on Friday afternoon.     (posted August  27, 2020)

City's SOFI report outlines 2019 compensation and expense totals for Mayor and Council -- The City of Prince Rupert released the last of the Financial information for 2019 this week, with the two month delayed listings of the compensation and expenses for the Prince Rupert Mayor and Council. Also included in Monday's report was the compensation list for civic employees making over $75,000 and the list of Suppliers of Goods and Services and payments out for the last year.    (posted August 242020 )

Prince Rupert among the best in BC at bending the curve of COVID-19 --  The British Columbia Centre for Disease Control released some expanded information on the provincial work on COVID, with data to show just how many cases of COVID have been recorded in BC communities. Overall the Northwest has fared well, other than the large community outbreak on Haida Gwaii, and for Prince Rupert the results were particularly impressive. (posted August 28, 2020)

East Side Road Closure makes for prelude for potential housing plans -- A rather small item of note from Monday's Council session seemed to attract a fair bit of attention this week, as readers explored our notes on the presentation from Operations Director Richard Pucci and the comments from council on the topic of the road closure in the Edwards Street area off of 11th Avenue East. More items of interest from the Monday Council session can be reviewed here.   (posted August 28 , 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.

Friday, August 28, 2020

BC's new COVID-19 case count doubles in 24 hours, highlighting the nature of the wild swings of August

The somewhat unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 case number through August continued today, with Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix issuing a statement that notes 124 new cases of COVID, double the number of new cases reported one day ago.

“Today, we are announcing 124 new cases, including one epi-linked case since we reported on Thursday, for a total of 5,496 cases in British Columbia.  

There are 974 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 2,796 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases, and 4,310 people who tested positive have recovered.  

Currently, 23 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, seven of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation."

Across the Province, Health Authorities updated their total numbers as follows:

1,791 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 2,878 in the Fraser Health region, 174 in the Island Health region, 433 in the Interior Health region, 142 cases in total have been recorded in the Northern Health region, a jump of five since Thursday. 

78 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded among people who reside outside of Canada.

There were thankfully, no new death announcements to make today, with the total number of passings to date from COVID at 204.

As a reminder for British Columbians on the need to continue to take heed of the provincial measures designed to bring down the curve, the provincial health officials provided some notes to take into the weekend.

“COVID-19 requires new ways of living our lives with new precautions and routines for ourselves and our families, whether at home, work, school or when spending time with others. This includes keeping our numbers of contacts low, especially at indoor parties and events, whether in a hall or in our own home. We have seen transmission from even small events, and the last thing we want to do is pass COVID-19 to those we are closest to. 

This weekend, let’s remember to use the layers of protection that keep ourselves and those around us safe. This is also a good time to think about the new routines that will be part of our activities into the fall. “The efforts we make today make the difference for all of us tomorrow, so let’s renew our commitment to doing what we can to keep our province and ourselves safe.”

Earlier today, we took note of the data from the CDC and how it provided a snapshot of the path of the virus in the Northwest and Haida Gwaii, with the results ranging from the large numbers of the Haida Gwaii outbreak of earlier this month, which has now been declared over - to the Case count of zero for the Prince Rupert area and the Nass Valley.

Our notes on that data can be reviewed  here.

You can review the full COVID 19 report for Friday 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 

City of Prince Rupert Water Advisory remains in effect

Some Prince Rupert residents
will have to keep on boiling 
their water, as a Water Advisory
remains in effect
Continued conditions of turbidity in the City of Prince Rupert's drinking water supply means that the Water Advisory first put in place on August 17th will continue on, the latest advisory one which was delivered by the City on Friday afternoon.

The update for the community was posted to the City's website and Social Media streams.

"During today’s available weather window, City staff conducted a fly-over of the watershed and identified a few additional small landslides that were not originally identified as they are not visible from the ground. These slides are believed to have contributed to the water’s continued elevated turbidity. 

Although turbidity has slowly been decreasing since the Advisory was put into effect, it is still not at low enough levels where the Advisory can be removed by Northern Health’s Drinking Water Officer. 

As soon as we are able to remove the Advisory, an update will be provided via the City’s official channels, including our emergency alert system."

As was noted on the 17th, along with the City of Prince Rupert's Water Advisory, was a notice from Northern Health that children, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with weakened immune systems should drink boiled water at this time.

Other than notes on the landslides as a potential cause for the ongoing issue, as well as the update that the level of turbidity was decreasing, the city did not provide any background on the testing that has taken place, or provide any documentation towards the results from it. 

While City staff has been offering up some information, the status of the ongoing Water Advisory did not make for a mention during this month's City Council session of Monday.

Earlier this week the District of Port Edward announced the all clear for their recent water issues, removing their Water Advisory on Tuesday.

You can track some of the items of note from the recent Water Advisory from our archive page here.

For note on Discussion themes from City Council see our Council Discussion page here.

Amidst depleted revenues, Prince Rupert City Council to receive 2020 Budget update later this fall

City of Prince Rupert CFO
Corinne Bomben is preparing
a 2020 budget update set for
early fall
With the impact of COVID-19 as part of the narrative for the June variance report at Monday's City Council session, the City's Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben noted for Council members that her office was preparing a Budget update for early fall. 

The need for an amendment was something that was noted back in June when City Council adopted the 2020 budget, her findings for the fall set to provide some clarity on the financial themes and revenue impacts for the city as a result of the COVID-19 virus. 

The report one destined to provide for some conversation for the municipal officials.

Ms. Corinne Bomben offered up that blue print for the upcoming months in response to a query from Councillor Blair Mirau.

"We adopted the last budget under the impression that we were going to have to make an amendment given the signifiant impact that COVID-19 has had on the budget. I'm wondering if you guys have a rough time frame on to when that Budget amendment will be brought back to Council."

In reply the CFO observed that the work is still underway

"We are in the process of having a Five Year Financial Plan Budget Amendment scheduled for September, we believe maybe pushed to the beginning of October"

Councillor Randhawa followed up with a question related to some of the potential revenue losses to date, with Ms. Bomben noting that some costs have been cut where they can, noting however that many of the elements where losses are currently being realized are among essential services.

"Well, there's no changes that we can really make to the budget necessarily right now, cause a lot of our costs are essential services ... the airport ferry is one of the other ones that we've lost revenues in, but we've still maintained the operation mainly for things like emergency services. Keeping the airport open for any of the medevac services that sort of thing. So, we've cut costs already where we possibly can."

As for the financial impact Ms. Bomben offered up a thumbnail guide to the hit on revenues the city has faced and the measures taken.

"The revenue impacts are definitely being felt for us, it's not going to change taxation for this year, what we're doing is that  we're trying to modify some of our service delivery where we can right now, in order to stop some of the bleeding as best we can. What possibly would end up happening is that we would end up being in a bit of a deficit this year. But fortunately for us we're not a profit driven organization. In which case we're not going to post anything like the losses like a private enterprise would, because we're  generally supposed to be covering costs"

Towards options for the review of the fall, she offered up a few themes being explored.

"Now obviously taxation is our last item basically to balance our budget and because our  revenues are depleted right, we're hoping that some of the savings that we've been able to garner in some of the other areas will offset part of it"

As for the June variance report delivered previous, Ms. Bomben observed that the financial results of June, were much the same as they have been over the last few months previous, given that most COVID restrictions and transition to essential services that are still in place.

Among some of the other highlights of the report, was a review of the progress on capital work projects that are now under way.

Ms. Bomben also noted that the City could now consider the prospective loan bylaws for the Woodworth Dam and Ridley Island landfill site projects; that after the Alternative Approval Process came to an in late July.

We outlined more on that initiative on Thursday, providing some background on the path that delivered the ability to move forward on the two infrastructure loans.

You can review her report to Council from the City's Video Archive, starting at the 59 minute mark.

You can explore more notes on budget themes from our archive page here.

A wider overview of Monday's Council Session can be explored from our Council Timeline Feature as well as our Council Session Archive.

Further background on past Council discussion themes is available from our Council Discussion Archive.

Strong competition marks the field for the Muskeg Press Influence project

Chris Armstrong form 
Muskeg Press has outlined
the ten finalists in the book
publishers Influenced project 
The creative forces behind local publisher Muskeg Press have worked their way through the large volume of contributions to their summer writing project; narrowing down the field to ten finalists for Influenced, a collection of short stories that have been written through the COVID-19 pandemic period.

We first made mention of the project back in April just as the initial call for submissions was issued, with prospective writers asked to submit their work of writers for poetry or prose works of 5,000 words or less. 

At the time, Muskeg Press owner Chris Armstrong observed that there was only one requirement: the stories must not mention COVID-19, instead serving as distracting narratives for the writer and the reader. 

The concept was inspired by the spirit of Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, a collection of short stories written by Giovanni Boccaccio in the 14th century, after a plague had ravaged most of Europe.

The response for the call for submissions by the June 30th deadline was impressive, with over 700 contributions offered up for consideration by Muskeg Press, with Mr. Armstrong making note of the impact that such a large overview had on him.

“It was very humbling to get all these stories from writers from so many different paths, on a personal note, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to read all these submissions over the course of a month."

From the extensive review has come the final list of ten, with some familiar Prince Rupert authors among the top tier of all that came in.

“Inheritance” by Conar Harris
“Open Door” by Rudy Kelly
“By the River” by Shannon Lough

The strength of the local writing community was also something that impressed the Muskeg owner over the course of the last month of developing the finalists list.

“When we announced the call for submissions, we were hoping for some local content, so we’re very happy to see local representation in the anthology,”

The list is brought to the full contingent of ten with these works:

"Puck Fair” by John Paul Davies 
"Blue” by Angie Ellis
"In the Forest, Under a Claw-Shaped Moon” by Sharanya Manivannan
"Chasing YourGirlLovesMe27” by Evan Manning
"The Transcendentalist” by Will Russell
"Cuddlefish” by Drew Taylor
"Trash” by David Ward

The finished work of Influenced will be published later this year, once another familiar name in Prince Rupert writing has put the finishing touches on the project. 

John Farrell, will revisit some of his past days of writing, with the former Daily News reporter and accomplished writer on both sides of the Pacific taking care of the editing duties for the collective work.  

More information on the book, including information on all the writers and their take on the stories, will be on the Muskeg Press website ( in the coming months.

More notes related to community themes around the Northwest can be explored here.

Prince Rupert among the best in BC at bending the curve of COVID-19

Data from the BC CDC shows that residents of  Prince Rupert and area
have been very effective in controlling the spread of COVID

When it comes to taking on the challenges of COVID-19 it would appear that Prince Rupert and area residents have heeded the call from Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix to "bend the curve".

And in fact, whether it be a case of following the recommendations and good measures, or just good luck; there really hasn't been a curve to bend in Prince Rupert, with data from the BC CDC indicating that there have been no reports of COVID cases in the city from January to July.

The data was released on Thursday, with Dr. Henry and Minister Dix making note of it during their Thursday COVID briefing.

“Today, we have provided the latest local health area map of COVID-19 cases. The map will be updated each month and available on the BCCDC website. What the map tells us is that virtually every part of our province has been touched by the virus – communities large and small."

The information relayed yesterday indicates that Prince Rupert, the Nass Valley and points north have all managed to keep any opportunity for transmission of the coronavirus at bay.

Something that has been managed well under the Provincial orders from Dr. Henry the Provincial Public Health officer and without the requirement of the more draconian COVID related measures that had once been proposed by the City of Prince Rupert.

Other communities of the Northwest have also fared fairly well when compared with other areas of the province.

Terrace has recorded 6 cases, Smithers 5 and Kitimat 3, while the Bella Coola area has had 2 cases recorded in the six month period.

The recent outbreak on Haida Gwaii however has made for a very different dynamic, with the 20 cases listed to the end of July among some of the larger community spreads that have been recorded in the first half of 2020.

You can review the full package of maps and related data from the BC CDC website.

The cumulative cases report is part of the Cases by Local Health Area report.

The province plans to update those figures on a monthly basis, with the data to be made available from the BC CDC portal.

More notes of interest on COVID-19 can be found from our Archive page here, which provides for the daily reports since March on the pace of COVID-19 in the province.

As well, more background on both federal and provincial measures can be found from our twin archive from our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

Ottawa Observations

Victoria Viewpoints

For more items of interest on health themes in the Northwest see our archive pages here.

City of Prince Rupert hears call from local youth for reopening of Arena

Parker Danroth provided City Council with the view from some of
Prince Rupert's youth on Monday evening, asking that the
City reopen the Arena complex for use

Prince Rupert's City Councillors gained some insight into the frustrations of COVID from the vantage point of the city's young citizens, that as a young Rupertite asked for some time at Monday's Council session to seek out some guidance on when the Jim Ciccone Arena would reopen for use.

Parker Danforth provided the view from the youth of the city on Monday, outlining for Council members that with recreation facilities remaining closed since March owing to COVID concerns,  there was little in the way of physical activity available for them in the city.

It's been over five months since the Arena at the Jim Ciccone
Civic Centre last saw some activity on the ice

Appearing during the Committee of the Whole, Mr. Danroth delivered a presentation reflecting the concerns that many youth have about available options; noting that some sports have started their planning and the youth that use the arena would like to see a return soon as they are being left behind.

He observed how the Arena offers good opportunities for social distancing and how reopening facilities will be good for the mental health of youngsters.

Council members received his presentation with much enthusiasm, praising him for coming forward, though there was no indication on Monday as to when further word on the status of the Arena operations would be outlined for the community.

Last Week the City announced that the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre would be resuming its operations in September, in early August the fitness facility at the Aquatic Centre was reopened to the public with a number of COVID related measures in place.

As we outlined earlier this month, many communities across Northwest BC have started to roll out their recreation reopening plans

You can review the presentation to Council from the City's Video Archive starting at the 54 minute mark.

For more notes of interest on Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline Feature and Council Session archive.

A wider overview of past Council Discussion themes is available here.

District of Port Edward makes plans for paving project

The start of some extensive road paving is set for this fall in Port Edward
(Map for District RFP on Bid BC)

The District of Port Edward is set to take care of some of their tasks on the infrastructure to do list, with the District posting a Request for Proposal for some paving work in the community.

The call to contractors was posted to the BC Bid website, offering an invitation to tender for work on Evergreen Drive and Wildwood Avenue.

The specifics of the work call for the: the supply and installation of all labour, materials, equipment, and incidentals required for the paving works on Evergreen between Skeena Drive to approx. 110 m past the Wildwood intersection, and Wildwood Ave from Skeena Drive to Evergreen. 

The Contract request includes a number of Special provisions that have been identified by the District.

(click to enlarge)

The Deadline for submissions of interest is September 3rd, with the bids to be delivered to the Port Edward Municipal Office.

You can review the full RFP from the District through the BC Bid website.

The Road work is one of a number of infrastructure projects that the District made note of in their notes for the community earlier this month.

For more items of interest from Port Edward see our archive page here.

East Side Road Closure makes for a prelude for potential housing plans

City of Prince Rupert Operations Director Richard Pucci 
speaking to a road closure request at Monday's Council session

Monday night's Prince Rupert City Council session offered up a little civic housekeeping, with the City's Operations Director Richard Pucci appearing late into the two and half hour session to request a designation for a lane closure on the east side of the city.

It's one of those civic requirements that not normally doesn't generate much interest, but in this case seemingly will make for the first step towards what will be a somewhat larger talking point later at some time in the future.

In his presentation, Mr. Pucci updated Council on the nature of the lane closure for Edward Street/Albert Avenue, located off of 11th Avenue East, a roadway which for the most part provides for back lane access for some homes in the area. 

"We have a proponent that we are working with to do a housing development in the area, that will become a little bit more public later on. The first part of it is to close the road and subdivide into three large parcels and that's what we're looking to do during this process ... It is a completely wooded area and the development would be on 11th Avenue sort of in the dip area there. So we're just looking right now to close the road in anticipation of consolidation of lots for future development " -- City of Prince Rupert Director of Operations Richard Pucci

As for discussion on the road closure, Mayor Brain observed that the majority of the road in question is actually wooded area and not road, just technically designated as a road, Mr. Pucci noted that it is basically a road on paper.

Councillors Cunningham and Niesh did raise some concerns over the impact on the existing five or six residents that currently use the lane as back access to their homes and property. 

"I think it would be important to maintain that, cause I know there is people that actually have I believe carports behind there. So I do feel that for the five houses or so that are there it would be nice to at least allow them access to their properties. I don't want to get into devaluing of someone's property because we've cut off their access to whether it be a carport or garage" -- Councillor Wade Niesh

To resolve those concerns, Mr. Pucci suggested an amendment on the road closure bylaw to allow for that access for the existing residents. He also advised Council that the City of Prince Rupert owns the remaining property that has been consolidated in the area designated for closure. 

Councillor Mirau made an enquiry related to the consolidation of the property into three lots, and the reasoning behind that approach.

The Operations Director noted for Council that it offers the potential for additional development at a later time.

"The contemplated development is only big enough for one of the lots and there was an option to possibly do two other developments on either side in the future. So in this case, we looked at this time to close all the road and make the property available for future consideration at another time if Council wishes to do that later on" -- Operations Director Richard Pucci

With council giving first reading to the motion and setting the process of notification forward, Mr. Brain observed how the road closure would be generating some interest in the future plans and how more information would be coming in the future.

Towards that, Mr. Pucci outlined how the process would move forward.

"When we come back the drawings will be adjusted so that you see the final product"

Neither the Operations Director or the City Council members offered up any kind of timeline towards when the larger housing proposal would be outlined for the public, nor any further information as to what it may look like.

The location, along 11th Avenue East does however offer some hints as to what may be in the works for the future.

Back in December 2019 during the Rupert 2030 vision presentation at the Lester Centre hosted by Mayor Brain, the somewhat delayed but much anticipated housing development proposed by the Lax Kw'alaams Band was once again given some attention, with Harvey Campbell at the time noting that the Band was exploring options along 11th Avenue East.

In November of last year, the Band Council observed that they were working with the city to identify a potential site for their proposed 60 unit affordable housing project.

Since that event however, there has been little heard from either the City or the Lax Kw'alaams Band on the progress of that consultation and the timeline for development of the additional housing stock in the community.

Monday's road closure planning, could perhaps be the first step towards that project finally moving forward, or maybe it heralds some other interest in the wide swath of undeveloped land along 11th at the foot of Edwards Avenue.

With the road closure mechanism now in motion, residents of the area will as the mayor notes no doubt be curious as to what may be ahead for development in their neighbourhood.

Mr. Pucci's full report for Council is available from the Council Agenda for August 24th.

You can review the full discussion on the road closure from the City's Video Archive page starting at the 2 hour 22 minute mark.

More notes on Housing in Prince Rupert can be explored here.

A wider overview of Monday's Council Session is available from our Council Timeline and Council Session Archive.

Further review of past Council Discussion themes is available here.