Monday, November 30, 2020

At 46, Startling number of deaths brings home urgency for British Columbians to work to knock down rising curve of COVID-19

Even during a period of time such as the last month or so the where the daily accounts make for stark reading, the numbers related to COVID-19 from this weekend were shocking, the first of the review for the weekend the number of souls lost to the coronavirus 46, residents of this province who have passed away in just 72 hours.

The surge in passings coming from the province's Long Term Care facilities and other centres which have suffered some of the greatest tolls from the now near eleven month odyssey.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix had the duty of reporting the escalating numbers of concern as part of a briefing held this afternoon.

“Today, we are reporting on three 24-hour periods. From Nov. 27 to 28, we had 750 new cases. From Nov. 28 to 29, we had 731 new cases and in the last 24 hours, we have had a further 596 new cases. 

We are also reporting 277 historical cases from the Fraser Health region, reconciling a data lag from earlier this month. This represents 2,354 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 33,238 cases in British Columbia. 

There are 8,855 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 316 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 75 of whom are in intensive care. 

The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation. “Currently, 10,139 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 23,111 people who tested positive have recovered. 

There have been 46 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 441 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Across the province, the 1,365 cases recorder over the weekend from Fraser Health continue to dominate the listings, elsewhere in BC the Health authorities reported the following: 368 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 58 in the Island Health region, 212 in the Interior Health region, 73 in the Northern Health region, bringing the total for the Northern Region to 845 cases since January.

One new case of COVID was reported for a person who resides outside of Canada. 

As the numbers continue to rise in all areas of the province, the two top public health officials reaffirmed the need for residents across BC to hold to the measures in place and continue to work to reverse the rising curve of coronavirus we have seen in recent months.

“For the many occasions and daily life activities that we would normally do together, we must stay apart. And despite how difficult this may be, most people in B.C. are doing the right thing. 

People have followed the orders and used the important layers of protection because it is a responsibility we have to each other and our fellow citizens, and is how we show we care. “If you are thinking that it may be okay for you to bend the rules, remember that COVID-19 is a serious, life-threatening illness. 

By choosing to make the exception for yourself, you are not only going against all that we are doing to slow this virus down and putting yourself at risk, but you are also endangering the lives of others. 

We are facing a significant storm surge, which is why, with the start of vaccine availability only a few short weeks away, it is so important for all of us to work together to keep our wall strong, to push back on COVID-19 united and together. 

Remember that you are not alone in your sacrifice; it is our collective effort that makes the difference and will see us through."

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, those past advisories  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 


Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor reaches new milestone

Work is nearing completion of the Fairview-Ridley Connector
(photo from PRPA)

Work on the highly anticipated Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor has reached a key milestone today, with the dedicated roadway to connect the Fairview Terminal with Ridley Island now 75 percent complete.

The project is considered one of the more important of recent projects in the region for the opportunity it will bring to remove a lot of the container truck traffic that flows through the downtown core. 

Something which PRPA President and CEO Shaun Stevenson made note of as part of his update today.

“The Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is designed to get trucks off downtown streets, improve safety as we grow, and reduce the environmental impacts of trucking activities in Prince Rupert. We anticipate the changes will cut emissions for each truck trip by about 75 percent.” 

The Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor is a five kilometre road stretching along the southwestern edge of Kaien Island and will be restricted in use to only Port activities. 

In the update provided by the port, officials noted that:

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, crews from the Coast Tsimshian Northern Contractors Alliance, a local First Nations joint venture, have safely worked 24-hours a day on rotating shifts to build this critical piece of infrastructure. 

In addition to nearly completing dredging work, teams have placed rock along the full length of the road, with one third now at sub-grade elevation and ready for the paving structure. 

The project remains on track for completion in Q2 2021. 

The $115 million Connector Corridor project will be fully activated when DP World’s Fairview Terminal expansion is completed in 2022. This will enable container truck traffic to be rerouted away from public roads to the new Port Authority-owned route, which will reduce the journey from 20 kilometres to 5 kilometres.

(Video courtesy of Prince Rupert Port Authority)

The new roadway will also service what will be  an expanded footprint on Ridley Island with a number of projects about to come online south of Kaien Island.

As part of their notes on the status of the road, the Port observed as to how it will be a key element to some of that development.

The Connector Corridor is integral to the sustainable growth of Prince Rupert’s intermodal ecosystem, and will create new supply chain efficiencies through the development of logistics services, like the Ridley Island Export Logistics Platform and South Kaien Import Logistics Park. 

These projects will generate new jobs and economic advantages for local communities and First Nations, as well as reduce the impact of port operations on the environment. 

For further notes on Port development see our archive page here.

Former Recreation Director with City of Prince Rupert moves into Employment and training role with Gitxaala Nation

A few months ago David Geronazzo was walking around the Prince Rupert Civic Centre looking to move the city's return to normal use plans for the Recreation facilities forward, however as summer has moved into fall, Mr. Geronazzo has seemingly moved along as well.

With the Former Director of Recreation and Community Services now shifting roles and taking on the duties as the Director of Educating Training and Employment for the Gitxaala Nation.

His new focus that of assisting members of the Nation to transition towards many of the new employment opportunities that are arriving on the North Coast. 

The Gitxaala Nation has embarked a range of training programs and joint ventures which you can learn more about through their Facebook page and website.

Mr. Geronazzo joined the staff of the North Coast Indigenous Nation in October of this year after spending three years in the employ of the City of Prince Rupert; previously he had worked in the Recreation field in Burns Lake.

As for his previous job, the City posted the Director of Recreation and Community Services job opportunity to the City of Prince Rupert website in mid September.

So far, the City has not announced if they have found a successful applicant to fill the post, which would appear to have now been vacant for over two months.

For more notes on the City's employment themes see our archive page here.

Eddies News looks to put the Drive into local Reading

Short of reading you a bed time story (and they may even do that for all we know), the staff at Prince Rupert's Eddies News are pulling out all the stops it seems to keep the love of reading at the top of the Christmas list for this year.

A note posted to the Eddie's Facebook page notes that they now Offer online shopping with Free Delivery to the Prince Rupert area for a range of gift ideas.

The long time shopping fixture in the city's downtown core, has been one to quickly adapt to the ebb and flow of the local economy, never more needed it seems that during a pandemic, finding interesting niches to explore to expand their services and bring new features for their customers.

Always innovating, Eddies News in the 600 block of
Second Avenue West has some new ideas for Christmas

Of note for this Christmas, their supply of British Candy, and a number of other speciality items which have proven to be a popular addition to their stock and items which no doubt will make their way into many a Christmas stocking this year,

You can learn more about what they have to offer from their website here, as well as their Facebook page.

Be sure to stop into the store and ask about Ranjiv's Reading Club ...

(PS, there is No Ranjiv Reading Club, but hey, if you suggest it, they may just create one)

Further Notes on the Prince Rupert and Northwest Commercial sector can be explored here.

Casual Clerk for Civic Centre makes for latest Career opportunity with City

The City's Recreation Department could mark your entry into the City of Prince Rupert workforce, with a Casual Clerk II position the latest Job Opportunity to be posted to the City's Career Listings.

The full range of Qualifications, Duties and Responsibilities and Required Knowledge and Education can be explored further here.

The Deadline for applications is fast approaching set for Tuesday, December 1st.

Those with an interest in the job posting can forward their cover letters and resumes to: Johanna Currie, Recreation Complex Manager 1000 McBride Street Prince Rupert, BC V8J 2H3 Email: Fax: 250-627-8036

For a look at some of the past career and labour themes from the City see our archive page here.

New WIND WARNING issued for North Coast - Coastal regions and Haida Gwaii

Another weather system is setting up West of Haida Gwaii
and will bring wind and rain to the North Coast by this evening

An intense Pacific front is set to stall west of Haida Gwaii tonight and tomorrow, and as it settles in strong southerly winds of 80 to 100 km will develop over Haida Gwaii and exposed areas of the North Coast later this evening, continuing through to Tuesday night.

As a result of the looming weather, Environment Canada issued a WIND WARNING for the North Coast coastal regions and Haida Gwaii this morning.

Periods of rain are expected to arrive with the weather system with the Rain remaining with us through the majority of the week.

You can access updates on the weather for the next few days from the Environment Canada website.

The Marine forecast currently features a STORM WARNING  in effect, with Winds of 30-40 knots this evening and near 55 knots through the overnight period and into Tuesday.

Further notes on past weather events can be explored from our archive page.

School District staffers gain valuable insights from Friday's info sessions

Prince Rupert's Teachers and Educational assistants had a wealth of opportunities to gain insights on a number of themes on Friday, as SD52 hosted a range of workshops provided through the Learning Services Department.

With Friday listed as a Non-Instructional day for the students, the teachers and staff found much to take in as part of the ongoing learning that they were offered access to.

From new strategies in math, to evaluating Indigenous resources, sharing strategies on engaging students in reading and offer some guideposts towards resource material the day provided for a great learning experience for many of the SD52 staff members.

Some of the day was relayed through the School District 52 Twitter Feed which provided a glimpse into some of the day's activities for the local educators.

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

Prince Rupert/Port Edward signatures missing from collective call from municipalities to Premier Horgan to remember Northern Communities

A coalition of municipal governments from across the province, but with a heavy input from Northern British Columbia have welcomed the new mandate for the NDP government of John Horgan, while at the same time urging him to remember the needs of northern and rural communities.

But while there are a range of familiar names included as signatories to the document, missing it seems is any contribution from the North Coast, with neither the Mayor of the City of Prince Rupert or that of the District of Port Edward included in the document.

The project which was put together by the organization Resource Works notes how resource-reliant communities are calling on the Premier to remember how natural resources hold the key to economic recovery during the ongoing issues of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter which was signed by Terrace Mayor Carole Leclerc, and Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth from the Northwest has five key points to make, asking Mr. Horgan and his new cabinet to take the following actions:

Move quickly to enable shovel-ready projects to proceed; 

Send the right messages to international investors to ensure that B.C.’s most resilient industries can succeed in uncertain global investment conditions; 

Recognize in your economic planning the unique advantage of globally carbon-competitive exports from B.C.’s resource-based industries; 

Put workers and communities first as your government delivers on its campaign commitments; 

Ensure that any new regulations affecting the ability to deliver on the first four pillars during the pandemic recovery period are considered carefully.

The full letter was published in the Vancouver Sun on November 20th, with the Mayors that participated in the Dear John letter, noting how as resource supporting communities they will work with the NDP government to achieve some shared ambitions.

While you bring together your new cabinet to take on major challenges like the pandemic recovery, presenting an effective response to climate change and the important work of First Nations reconciliation, we, as the mayors of resource-supporting communities around the province, want you to be assured that you will have our support in the work that is ahead. 

 We welcome the opportunity to share with you and your colleagues our thoughts on how the voices of resource communities can be heard around the cabinet table and in your re-elected government’s mandate.

You can review the full text of the letter here.

The letter is part of a public awareness campaign launched by Resources Works, which includes a public petition for residents of all communities in the province to deliver a message to the new government as they prepare to take on their first full term as a majority government.

You can learn more about the petition and sign on if you wish here.

Further notes on what Resource Works is all about can be reviewed here.

Last week, Premier Horgan introduced the team that will shepherd his plans through the Legilsature, you can review who made the cut and what job they have been assigned here.

Of those named to their posts on Thursday, the themes of the Resource Works/Northern Mayors project should be of some note for Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen.

Mr. Cullen was assigned the post of Minister of State for Land and Natural Resource Operations, which will put him in frequent contact with many of those who signed the document earlier this month.

More notes on the Provincial government and its work out of Victoria can be found here.

Public asked to avoid City Hall if possible and use online options; that as City of Prince Rupert ramps up COVID measures

The City of Prince Rupert has added to its ongoing advice when it comes to its response to COVID-19, posting a message on the Civic Facebook page on Friday that has asked the public to avoid arriving at City Hall if at all possible and to use the online options that are available.

In light of the continued spread of COVID-19 and Provincial Orders in place, now more than ever we are asking residents and customers to consider their online or call-in options for payments. There are a number of simple ways to avoid coming to City Hall.

The new measures and requests from City Hall come following the expansion of a number of Provincial Orders earlier this month, as the province looks to try and knock down the current rising curve of COVID-19 infection in the province.

A quest that so far is proving daunting, with increases in all areas of the province including areas of the Northern Health Authority region.

The last update from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control was revealed mid November,  noting that as of the end of October indicated that the Prince Rupert area had seen just five confirmed cases of COVID since January.

If they follow with their past practice, the next update from the BC CDC is expected to be released sometime in early to mid December.

The Full statement related to the latest steps for City Hall measures is as follows.

The request for a lot more social distance comes just ahead of what is normally a two-week Civic shutdown, with the City reducing all of their activity and access to staff for the community over the Christmas and New Years Holiday period.

While they haven't outlined what those dates are yet, last year the City closed its doors on December 23rd and re-opened on January 2.

You can find updates from the City through the website and Facebook page.

For more notes on civic themes see our City Council Discussion archive page here.

Real Estate Tracker: Week ending November 29, 2020

Another  new property listing on the west side increases the total value of top end real estate this week, as well as to the For Sale Sign count on Graham Avenue

The latest addition coming up just shy of the 700K mark and contributing to the volume of listings to be found on the Popular West side Avenue.

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 November 29, 2020 can be explored below:

Real Estate listings on the East Side of Prince Rupert
Week ending November 29, 2020

Real Estate listings on the  West Side of Prince Rupert
Week ending November 29, 2020

The additional property for the Graham Avenue area, means that the top ten listings now feature a 9-1 split from west to east.

The total value of the list of ten now sits at just under the 7.6  million dollar mark.

The lowest mark for the list of ten  sits  at $570,000 while our top end from the last week now is marked  at the price point of  $1,098,980

Below find our findings as of the Week ending November 29, 2020

1824 Graham Avenue                    $1,098,980 -- Realty Executives 
1727 Graham Avenue                    $895,000    -- Realty Executives 
2050 Atlin Avenue                          $849,000     -- Realty Executives 
2085 Graham Avenue                    $725,000     -- Realty Executives 
1933 Graham Avenue                    $699,000 --     Remax
1714 Sloan Avenue                        $699,000 --     Remax
1961 Graham Avenue                    $689,000 --      Remax  (new)
508 Cassiar Avenue                       $685,000 --     Remax
187 Van Arsdol Street                    $639,000 --     Realty Executives 
251 Parker Drive                            $570,000 --    Realty Executives

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, November 29, 2020

Blog Watching: Week ending November 29, 2020

It having been a week which hosted a City Council session, a large portion of the most read notes of the last seven days explored themes from the Monday session. 

Among the items that vaulted to our list of five were a look at the plans for the waterfront and the City's proposed plans for leasing out space in the historic CN Rail station.

The larger vision related to community planning also made for the current of the Council session and out thoughts on the path ahead for that found a large audience over the last seven days.

Council's work towards rezoning land on 11th Avenue East for a proposed housing development and their vow to clean up the downtown area also generated much interest this week.

And the development of a website to share information on the proposed Port Edward LNG Terminal  development process also was a key item of interest this, with the readership returns making it the top item of the week.

Port Edward LNG launches website to inform area residents of Small scale terminal plans  --  A project first mentioned by Port Edward Council last month began its information sharing program, with Port Edward LNG creating a website to offer a glimpse into their plans for a Small Scale LNG terminal.  (posted  November 24, 2020)

That article was followed by:

City launches quest for potential tenants for CNR Waterfront Building with Expressions of Interest through the BC Bid Process -- One of the key elements of the redevelopment of the Prince Rupert waterfront is the city's plan for the old CNR station and this week the city began to accept submissions for expressions of interest into potential leasing opportunities for what would be a renovated structure.    (posted November 24, 2020)

With plans and incentives percolating, wtill no word on if the city intends to fill planning office position -- Mayor Lee Brain and the Council membership made note of some of the plans for remaking the city's core with talk of a tax exemption plan for the near future and adoption of the Officinal Community Plan in the New Year. All of that and more moving forward without a local civic planner working at City Hall.      (posted November 27, 2020)

Council to speak to rezoning themes for proposed Lax Kw'alaams housing development on East Side -- The public received the first notes from the City related to a proposed housing development on 11th Avenue East as Council began the process of potential rezoning of the land in question, though as we recounted a few days later, Council members offered few details on what may come for the property. (posted November , 2020)

Dumpsters, Shopping Carts and a pile of rubble  -- With Council considering an incentive package towards downtown redevelopment, Council members shared some thoughts on some downtown clean up issues, though one significant downtown situation slipped by unexplored.    (posted November , 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, November 28, 2020

WIND WARNING issued for North Coast coastal sections / Haida Gwaii

A strong Pacific front is on the way for the North
Coast with winds to 90km/h expected overnight

A strong Pacific front currently crossing Haida Gwaii is making its way towards the North Coast and with it has come a WIND WARNING issued earlier this afternoon from Environment Canada.

As the front arrives it will bring winds from the Southwest of 90 km/h, the approaching system will remain in place overnight with winds to ease by Sunday morning.

With the wind will come 25 mm of rain overnight with an additional 50 mm for Sunday

You can access updates on the weather for the next few days from the Environment Canada website.

The Marine forecast currently features a STORM WARNING in effect, with Winds of 50 knots, decreasing to 45 by Sunday afternoon and then 30 knots by Sunday evening.

Click on three images above to enlarge Advisories

Notes on past weather events can be explored from our archive page.

Friday, November 27, 2020

At 911 cases for the day, today was the most cases of COVID recorded in one day this year so far for BC. That as the province crashes through the 30,000 case mark

It was another sobering day of statistical review for British Columbians, with indications from the Friday briefing from Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, the the growing number of measures now in place are not arresting the spike in transmission of the coronavirus.

911 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours, contributing to the running total to date of 30,844 cases of COVID that have been contracted by British Columbians since January.

In their live stream appearance today both the Doctor and Minister Dix reinforced the need for all British Columbians to follow the measures currently in place and to remain vigilant towards efforts to reduce the current escalating levels

“Today, we are reporting 911 new cases of COVID-19, including four epi-linked cases in the last 24 hours, for a total of 30,844 cases in British Columbia. 

There are 301 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 69 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation. 

Currently, 10,430 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and 21,304 people who tested positive have recovered. 

There have been 11 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 395 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Across the province, the Health Authorities reported the following cases from Friday: 

153 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 649 in the Fraser Health region, 27 in the Island Health region, 47 in the Interior Health region, 35 in the Northern Health region, which pushes the Northern BC totals to 772 since the start of the pandemic. 

No new cases of people who reside outside of Canada. 

As we head into a weekend, Dr. Henry noted how the province is currently in the eye of a storm, reinforcing the need to keep distance these days to reduce the risk of COVID.

“We are in the eye of the COVID-19 storm and are now facing a storm surge with increasing community transmission across our province. No community or location is immune. 

We have had to step back to protect our communities from this surge, which means locations, activities and gatherings that were safe a few weeks ago are less safe today. 

It is important to note that in many cases, including at temples, churches and gurdwaras, the places themselves are not the cause for concern as they are not doing anything wrong. It is our level of risk that has gone up, which means our ability to have any safe gathering right now has gone down. 

That is why we all need to do our part so we can bring community transmission down and safely resume those activities that are meaningful to our daily lives. 

Let’s remind ourselves about the severity of this illness and that small, simple actions make a very big difference. 

If you are thinking about your holiday shopping, especially on Black Friday, please remember to bring your mask, keep your distance and wash your hands often. As much as possible, limit your travel and shop locally. Support the businesses in your community. 

Every storm ends, and with it, the risks diminish. Let’s protect each other and make this weekend safe for all of us.”

You can review today's full COVID-19 statement 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, those past advisories  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 seeks volunteers for pair of community positions

As the year begins to wind down, the City of Prince Rupert is preparing to top up some volunteer positions for a pair of high profile groups in the city.

Earlier this week, City Hall announced the call for submissions from those interested in serving on the Prince Rupert Library Board in a volunteer Director capacity, as well as a in the position of a member of the Airport Authority Board.

Those wishing to be considered for either position should provide a written description of skills and experience that are related to the post that interests you the most.

As part of their advisory, the City observes how they receive and process the applications that are received.

The City appoints to our committees on the basis of merit and is strongly committed to equity and diversity within our community. We especially welcome applications from visible minority group members, women, First Nations persons, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and others with the skills and knowledge to productively engage with diverse communities. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply.

The Deadline for applications is one week from today on Friday, December 4th, the are to be delivered to Rosamaria Miller, the city's Corporate Administrator

You can review the more on the city's notes related to the two community service opportunities here.

For a bit of background on what each Board does see below:

Prince Rupert Airport Authority

Prince Rupert Library Board

More items of interest on civic issues can be reviewed from our City Council Discussion archive here.

Fire shuts down production for Pinnacle Renewable Energy's Houston Pellet Facility

Operations at the Pinnacle Renewable Energy facility in Houston have been suspended, that following a fire-related event in the dryer area of the facility on Wednesday.

Few details have been released about the incident, however during the course of events, three employees sustained injuries and were taken to the Smithers Hospital as a precautionary move.

The incident was addressed quickly thanks to the first response personnel who attended to the scene, WorkSafeBC and other authorities have been notified of Wednesday's event and a preliminary investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident.

Pinnacle has not set a date for the resumption of its Houston operations, they offer more background on the incident through their website.

Houston's operations are just one of a number of pellet plants
that Pinnacle has in BC and Alberta

Product from the Houston facility makes up a portion of that which Pinnacle ships through its Prince Rupert terminal. 

The Houston incident is the latest in a number of similar events that have resulted in down time at other facilities that make up their supply chain for shipments through the Westview gateway.

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

Prince Rupert's Liam McChesney gets his first taste of NCAA action for 2020-21 in South Dakota Tourney

American Thanksgiving is known for its football, for college basketball fans the holiday period is also one full of hoops action and this week, the Utah State Aggies were on the road to South Dakota for their first significant tourney of the early season.

The Mountain West team heading to the American Plains and the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic, which has been underway this week.

The Aggies roster includes former Charles Hays Rainmaker Liam McChesney who is coming off a red shirt year to see some game action with his NCAA team mates.

Those Rainmaker fans doing a little channel surfing on Thursday may have caught some of McChesney's steps out on the big stage of NCAA basketball, with the Aggies game broadcast as part of the Thursday evening college basketball programming on TSN.

The game was the second contest for the young Rupertite  who did not see a lot of action in the first game on Wednesday, put in for just a short burst of activity in the tournament debut. 

Thursday night McChesney gained just over four minutes of court time at the end of the game with South Dakota, making some impressive defensive plays and looking confident when bringing the ball out of the Aggies backcourt and into the offensive zone at Jackrabbits end of the court.

The Aggies have one final game left in their trip to South Dakota, looking to avoid dropping their third game of the event in an afternoon contest with Northern Iowa at 1 PM BC Time

The South Dakota tournament served as a warm up for the Utah State squad as they prepare for the conference play which begins in December.

The goal of course, that of a berth in the March Madness tournament, which NCAA officials hope to stay on track for through the rest of this year and into 2021, with a range of COVID related protocols in place to try and navigate the regular basketball season.

You can follow Liam McChesney's journey with the Aggies from the Utah State Basketball programs website.

Video snippets from TSN's Thursday night broadcast.

With review of provincial COVID funding options complete; City puts Fees and Charges increases in motion for 2021

With City Council on the clock towards some civic housekeeping on fees, the Council members approved the Water Utility Management, Sanitary and Storm Sewer Management and Solid Waste Management Amendment Bylaws on Monday night.

Setting in motion the process of adoption in time for the start of 2021, that after a two week deferral for staff to review some notes on COVID related start up funding from the province.

The move forward for the fee increases came after the City's Financial Officer Corinne Bomben provided a tutorial for the Council members on the options for the recently received Provincial funding.

The review came following the tabling of the Fees increase bylaw two weeks ago at the request of Councillor Barry Cunningham, who had requested a look into the funding options from the provincial money and if it could be used towards reducing the impact of the fee increases on the public.

Unfortunately for Council, as Ms. Bomben outlined, the provincial funds have specific direction associated with them, which does not include the use that Mr. Cunningham had hoped for.

"The bylaws proposed account only for inflationary increases known and expected. As for the water fund the increased need for the now expected, unexpected repairs has been included. None of these factors relate to the pandemic. The grant permits us to use the Safe Restart funding for losses and increased costs related to items to safely operate in a COVID environment. PPE, Plexiglass dividers, additional cleaning all fall within this category."

Ms. Bomben also provided a thumbnail sketch as to where the city could allocated the funding when it comes to civic losses owing to COVID.

"As for losses the best use of these funds are to account for the Public Health Office restrictions affecting our recreation complex and the reduction of flights to the airport which are approximately half of normal. Both the Recreation Complex and our Airport Ferry will require additional support to keep the services available for use. Rather than propose a tax increase for these services which affects all property owners, staff are anticipating to utilize the grant recently announced for expected COVID related additional support. Therefore No, the Safe Restart Grant is not applicable to the Utilities increases proposed, given they're not proposed as a result of COVID"

The CFO did note that the City could use the Funding should things get worse for the financials and a full shutdown occur in the future resulting in less consumption from metered commercial users, the city could use the grant towards the losses that may be experienced.

As for the Fees and what's ahead the Amendment Bylaws put into place the following incremental increases to the utility fees over the next 4 years to account for inflationary costs. 

Solid waste - 2% increase in each year starting in 2021
Water - 4% increase in 2021, 2% thereafter for the remaining three years
Sanitary/Sewer - 0% increase in 2021, 2% thereafter for the remaining three years 

As part of her presentation from Monday, Ms. Bomben noted that the increases are less than the previous rate increases of 3% per year, which was implemented during the last adoption of four-year fee bylaws. 

With the CFO observing as well that Utilities are self-funding for operations, with all funds collected going towards the operating cost of the respective utility. 

Council also voted to give First, Second and Third Reading to a new Cemetery Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw, which will see an increase of 2% and a minor adjustment to the care fund which helps to maintain the memorials. New columbaria are also planned to be installed in 2021, and the fees reflect new options that will be available with this change. 

Learn more about the City's cemetery services here, as well as from their brochure on what they offer residents.

You can review the full schedule of fees from the City's Agenda Package here, while the presentation from Ms. Bomben is available from the City's Video Archive starting at the minute 14 minute mark.  

Further background on the city's taxation and fees themes can be explored here.

More notes on Monday's Council Session can be found from our Council Timeline feature.

While a wider overview of past Council Discussion themes is available here.

COVID puts Rampage season on ice

League officials held off as long as they could, but with COVID restrictions now pushing into December, the prospects for a start to the CIHL season came to an end this week as the Senior men's circuit made the decision to cancel the 2020-21 season.

The CIHL normally digs into the ice with training camps in September and an October launch for their regular season, but this year the range of measures in place in response to COVID meant that the normal starting time for the league was deferred.  

The second wave of the virus now roaring across the province made the prospect of hosting home games at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre  slimmer and slimmer as the weeks passed leading to the league decision of Tuesday.

Should the situation improve in the New Year, the Prince Rupert Rampage and its nearby rivals in Terrace and Kitimat may give some exhibition games a shot. 

But when it comes to a full competitive season and quest for the Coy Cup the verdict is set and there will be no play this season, leaving the Championship trophy in the hands of the Quensel Kangaroos for another year.

For leagues such as the CIHL the ability to have paying fans in the stands is vital, it is the lifeblood of the circuit and with no opportunity to host fans in the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre and other rinks of the league , the member teams are in for a challenging situation.

Like all of us, the CIHL will have to wait to see how things evolve in 2021, with hopes that by the time the first ice goes into the Civic Centre in August, the prospect of a full season will be one to put some excitement into the town and prepare the loyal fans of the Rampage for another run for a championship.

For now, the team remains fairly involved in the community, while also putting in some time on the ice to keep the skating legs in motion, you can follow what the Rampage players are up through their Facebook page.

With plans and incentives percolating, still no word on if the City intends to fill planning office positions

Mayor Lee Brain returned to the days of Hays 2.0 and the vision plans that followed it this week, part of an overview towards some new incentives in mind when it comes to attracting some new investment into the downtown area, as well as the wider ambitions of the Official Community Plan.

The incentive project as we noted earlier this week, is one which will see new investors offered some tax free status for up to ten years, while existing building owners can access up to five years of the same should they wish to renovate or rebuild their own structures.

The program known as the Downtown Core Revitalization Tax Exemption program, received its first two readings on Monday night and will move forward at the next council session, with an eye to having the formal incentive package in place in 2021.

The progress for the Official Community Plan will be a bit delayed as the Mayor noted on Monday, with the City still looking to find a way through the challenges of COVID to host a public hearing on the new document. 

An important part of the city's efforts which would launch the process of changing much of the focus for a number of areas of the downtown and Cow Bay area of the city.

During the course of the Monday council session, Mr. Brain made much mention of the planning team,  a collection of advisors that he and council have seemingly brought together to steer the future of planning in the city.

And that serves to remind us, that as of today, it would appear that the City of Prince Rupert continues on with its vision of a new city without the services of an actual in house permanent City planner, or planning office for that matter.

When we last examined the state of civic employment, the City Manager Robert Long had for the most part taken on the duties of former City Planner Zeno Krekic, who departed the city's employ earlier this year.

Though as the weeks and months have passed since the June announcement, Mr. Long himself has spoken infrequently when it comes to many of the ongoing efforts in planning at those public sessions that he is in attendance for. 

Whether it's on themes of the work on the OCP, or more recently the preliminary work towards housing developments in the city, a long discussed theme for a number of years for this council, Mr. Long's voice for the most part has been absent. 

The most recent proposals for review  on building the city's housing stock have focused on the Kootenay housing proposals, or the work of Monday night towards plans for a significant increase to the rental housing stock proposed for 11th Avenue East.

However, for the most part,  when it comes to the day to day introduction of planning topics and answers to questions, it all seems to be in the office of the Corporate Administrator, with Rosa Miller apparently handling the inquiries and relaying any findings related to development that may come to the City Hall doors.

More and more at Council sessions it seems that Mayor Brain and one or two of his Council members have taken on the unofficial duties of a City Planner, outlining how they visualize the future for development in the city, though offering little in the way of information as to who anyone in town should contact if they have a question to ask, a concern to share, or to explore themes of investment in the city's development.

When a Council member does ask a question about one of their themes, or suggests a change towards a concept, the Mayor notes that he will 'take it up with the planning team'.

Considering over six months have passed since a city planner has been in place at City Hall, the Mayor and Council might want to share with the community who is on the "planning team" which so far has pretty well operated under the radar, as they seemingly visualize the future ahead and how we'll get there.

As planning concepts have evolved, City Council has made use of a range of out of town resources, from the early days of the Portland City Repairs Project contributors to more recenlty the high profile presentation from Larry Beasley at last years 2030 Vision reveal.

Planning Consultant Rob Buchan has been working on the
City's Official Community Plan update for over a year 

The latest draw from the world of consultancy was that of a contract planner for work on for the Official Community Plan, with Rob Buchan offering up some guidance on other themes through his time here.

Though since that process began the city has never disclosed how long Mr. Buchan will remain in the employ of the city, nor how much the use of an outside planner for the OCP overhaul has cost.

One theme he introduced earlier this summer was the now under consideration Tax Exemption plans for the downtown area, as well as a recommendation for an investors event in the city.

"We think it would be potentially very effective to invite a group of larger investors in the province and possibly even from the country, to come to Prince Rupert to be introduced to the opportunities that  are here, to be told about this program and to be provided with some market information.-- Contract Planner Rob Buchan

So far however, City Council has not provided any further details as to whether that plan to invite the group of investors is still under consideration and when the tour will take place.

And while he's seemingly taken on a few side projects during his time with the city, it would seem the scope of Mr. Buchan's work is not that normally associated with the day to day operations of a planning office. 

And that is somewhat interesting to watch, particularly as the city rolls out some high profile themes without having anyone publicly on point to take the inquiries of city residents.

The Mayor first offered a hint as to the new way of doing things earlier this year when  he spoke of the assembled group of local stakeholders that will help blaze the path forward, something he called the Vision Steward Council.

If that is 'the team' that the Mayor noted on Monday, then the public probably should be offered up some details when it comes to who is part of the select group of community minded people that are charting the course and some details as to how they were selected and what it is exactly that they do.

If that's not the team the Mayor referenced this week, then the community should probably ask for a giant flow chart for reference as to who make up the team and who has input on planning themes when it comes to the direction moving forward.

The City could put it on their Planning Department website page for reference, though it's a page that hasn't seen much activity in recent months.

Council may also want to offer up some guidance towards how planning will move forward in the city and who is in charge currently and if any plans are in mind to returning to the days of a fully staffed Civic Planning office with a professional and experienced planner at the helm.

Considering the importance of making sure that they get things right when it comes to developing commercial and residential themes in the community, it would be nice to know who's in charge and who to call when you have a question. 

Or if you're an out of town developer with lots of cash to spend, who you should chat with to explore some options.

If the continued lack of a permanent planner and staff is one of cost, it's a curious allocation  of financial resources towards which civic positions have been deemed by Council as more important to fill, particularly since civic development seems to be the guiding focus for this City Council.

You can review some of the past themes on development in the City from our archive page here.

For a look at the themes covered at Monday's Council session see our archive page here.

A wider overview of past City Council Discussion themes can be found here.