Sunday, January 31, 2021

Blog Watching: Week ending January 31, 2021


COVID  once again dominated all conversations this week as Prince Rupert shifted the focus from the news from SD52 to a concerning and now sadly fatal situation at Acropolis Manor.

The city's long term care facility saw a significant surge in the reports of cases of the coronavirus and by Friday Northern Health had confirmed the passings of three of the Acropolis residents.

COVID issues are also making for some tough decisions among the city's commercial sector, as business owners weigh the concerns of the virus with their business operations.

This was a City Council week as well, and two stories of note made it into the list of five, with the City's contract planners iPlan providing for an extensive report on parking for Council to review, while Mayor Lee Brain also outlined how success on the city's Tax Exemption bylaw plans should deliver some results when it comes to cleaning up the downtown area.

Rounding out the Top five was news of the closing of the deal to sell a piece of Prince Rupert Labour History, with the Fishermen's Hall on Fraser Street finally selling bringing an end and era for the region's labour movement.

However, the week was all about COVID and the terrible news from Acropolis Manor of the passing of residents and a significant count of positive cases in place.

Prince Rupert hears of its first death owing to COVID, with passing of Acropolis Manor resident   -- The report of the first passing of a resident of Acropolis Manor as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak was the focus for a large volume of our readers this week, as was the follow up advisory of Friday of two more deaths at the long term care facility, The full volume of our notes and notes collected from around the region can be found from our Northern Health archive page.   (posted January 28, 2021)

That article was followed by:

COVID makes for tough decisions for Prince Rupert's small businesses -- The impact of COVID on the community and the decisions that small business owners face was brought home this week, as a local Third Avenue Business decided to put their operations on pause during this ongoing situation in the city.    (posted January 26 , 2021)

Parking analysis and recommendations for changes part of tonight's Council session  -- As the city looks to move forward with their Official Community Plan roll out later this winter, a few other issues have been folded into the discussion, including the long standing theme of parking. Monday Council received a report proposing a number of changes to how the city views the options for parking.    (posted January 25, 2021)

"It's time for us to take action; it's time for us to Clean up the town:: Mayor Lee Brain -- The topic of the city's rough look in the downtown core and the need to clean up the growing list of properties: a discussion that has been part of the council dialogue for years, saw some forward momentum this week. That as Prince Rupert City Council moved forward with an incentive program that could find property owners taking action. If not, the city has a plan for that too.   (posted January , 2021)

Prince Rupert's Fishermen's Hall has seen its last labour battle  -- The building which has been at the forefront of the region's labour movement for decades will now be but a memory of some significant moments in the city's history. That with word that the Fishermen's Hall has been sold, the facility had been on the realty market for a few years, that as the changing nature of the fishery reduced the membership.     (posted January 26, 2021)

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, January 30, 2021

Lax Kw'alaams landmark Grace United Church consumed by fire

The historic Grace United Church in Lax Kw'alaams was destroyed
by fire early Saturday morning

(photo from Grace United Church Facebook)

Residents of Lax Kw'alaams are in shock this evening, following an early morning fire in the community that has destroyed a North Coast landmark. 

Grace United Church, a fixture in the community which traces its history back to the 1800's was reported to officials as on fire shortly before 5:30 this morning.

The Lax Kw'alaams Fire First Responders arrived on scene to the structure ablaze and while working hard through the early morning hours the building was quickly consumed by the blaze.

Social media has been accumulating a growing list of material related to the fire, including photos and videos added through the day; that as Lax Kw'alaams members share their memories of the many purposes that the Church provided for in the community.

Some of the remembrances note of the history of the Church, the current one a replacement of one which also suffered a fire in 1934.

The Pacific Mountain Regional Council of the United Church of Canada has shared word of the sad news from Lax Kw'alaams through their website.

The fire  call came with the community in the midst of a water advisory, with the Lax Kw'alaams Band having issued a notice for residents to conserve water on Friday owing to a water supply issue from the water plant. 

Maintenance workers were continuing their efforts for repairs today, with water for home consumption having been scheduled for arrival earlier today.

There were no injuries reported from the fire, the RCMP has noted that the incident is considered suspicious.

The accounts of the community can be explored through Facebook

For more notes related to Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page here.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Friday COVID report relays 514 new cases for British Columbia while vaccine delivery continues to slow


The final report for the week from Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix did not stray much from the pattern of the last five days, with a case count in the low 500's and an update on the provincial vaccination program that continues to slow down as supplies dwindle.

Today's report streamed live from Vancouver as the two top health officials covered a range of themes.

“Today, we are reporting 514 new cases, including six epi-linked cases, for a total of 66,779 cases in British Columbia. 

There are 4,557 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 292 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 74 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation. 

Currently, 7,242 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 59,551 people who tested positive have recovered. “

Across the province the daily reports provided for the following data review: 134 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 223 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 29 in the Island Health region, 71 in the Interior Health region, 57 in the Northern Health region, that brings the total of positive cases of COVID in the North to 3, 391 since the start of the virus one year go.

There were no new cases of  COVID reported by people in British Columbia who reside outside of Canada. 

When it comes to the province's vaccine delivery program, to date, 129,241 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 4,262 of which are second doses. Today's vaccine count was 1, 986 shots administered.

Spring Break and other travel made for some of the narrative for today's update, with Dr. Henry continuing to urge British Columbians to remain local.

“Any travel beyond your local community, unless it is absolutely essential for work or medical care, is strongly discouraged right now. This applies to everyone in British Columbia and anyone considering a visit to our province. Now is not the time to travel. 

We all need to hold off on our travel plans until we can be sure we won’t be bringing the virus with us or bringing it back to our families and communities. 

Our layers of protection are a combination of the provincial public health restrictions, our personal actions and precautions, and supporting each other to do the right thing – with no exception. This combined effort is what will push our curve down. 

By working together while staying part and always following the measures we have in place, we are able to keep our restaurants open, our ski hills open, our kids going to school and to keep our health-care system working. 

This time is about each of us choosing to do all we can. This is what allows us to keep as much as is safe open and also slow the spread of COVID-19. Staying apart, small and local. That’s the path we need to stay on right now.”

You can can review more of today's  COVID statement here.  




BC CDC data for  British Columbia as of January 29 2021

BC CDC data for Northern Health Region as of January 29 2021



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

 




Northern Health confirms two more deaths related to COVID outbreak at Acropolis Manor

Northern Health has updated the situation at Acropolis Manor
with the sad news of two more passings 


Another terrible day of news for Prince Rupert and those living and working at Acropolis Manor, with Northern Health confirming this afternoon that two more residents of the city's long term care facility have passed away, bringing the total now to three residents having passed since the outbreak began at mid month.

No other details were released as part of today's update, though Northern Health did note that there have not been any new cases of the coronavirus reported at the facility since their last update.

The Health Authority declared an outbreak at Acropolis Manor on January 19th.

Yesterday Northern Health advised of the first passing at the facility, noting that the case count had increased to 38, with 24 residents and 14 staff members having tested positive for the virus.

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

Port Edward survey gains feedback towards plans for development of a downtown area

Development of a 'downtown area' of commercial
options for Port Edward was part of an expansive
community survey that wrapped up earlier this month

Consideration of how the District of Port Edward may look in the future is well underway, as members of the District Council received a report this week into the findings from a fairly extensive community survey.

A consultation period which came to an end in mid January has provided Port Edward Council members with some reading material for the next little while, with the results and a large volume of comments now in from the Harbourview Neighbourhood Concept Plan.

As we noted in December, the proposed area for developing is in the area of the current General Store, with a wider footprint of commercial development a possibility should the District move forward after reviewing the findings.

In total, 28 participants provided for some feedback, responding a range of  questions and offering up many observations, comments and suggestions along the way.

Among them the opening talking point as to whether it's important for Port Edward to have a Downtown or Common, central focus point for the community, with more than 80 percent of the respondents saying yes.


When it comes to what Port Edward residents would like to see in the way of commercial services, the prospect of such amenities as a Grocery Store, Take out or Dine In Restaurants, Delicatessen, Coffee shop or food trucks were favoured by 93 percentage, with seven percent having no opinion one way or the other.

Towards those options the largest response indicated a preference for a grocery store or convenience store, with Take Out food options also a popular theme.


The concept of providing for a public gathering space such as a plaza or square, as well as development of a boardwalk, pier or walking trails found much approval as well, with over 92 percent agreeing that those elements would be worth exploring for the community.

Holding on to some of the character of the District was also part of the survey, with 92 percent of those participating stating that was a theme that should be noted by Council.


Adding to community options is also seen as key to attracting and retaining workers and residents for the District, with only one reply disagreeing with the idea of expanding amenities to attract residents. 

Of the larger number who believe such measures are required, the two key themes were for more commercial options and an expansion of housing in the District.


Other themes explored included what shape the downtown core could take and how the downtown should also connect to the waterfront, allowing the District to make for more use of that area of town. 

How to create more features and attractions for tourism also gained some interesting feedback, with both the existing features of the District and some new ideas such as an expansion of hiking trails and beach access among the themes provided.

The District's survey also included a Vision Statement that notes the District would like to "Create a focal point for the community that provides a strong sense of place that draws the community together and becomes a significant asset that aids in the sustainable, long term economic development for the District"

In reply, 85 percent endorsed that sentiment, while fifteen percent weren't quite sure.



You can explore all of the data, including a wealth of information from the comments sections through the Agenda of the Port Edward Council session from Tuesday.

The themes and potential action on the results of the survey will make for more than a few conversations for the District in the months to come.

For more notes related to the District of Port Edward see our archive page here.

As COVID-19 concerns rise in the community. The City of Prince Rupert offers condolences to family of passed Acropolis resident and reinforces the coronavirus protocols for access to civic services

COVID-19 is by far the topic of conversation around Prince Rupert these days, the latest item of concern the news from Northern Health on Thursday of the passing of a resident of Acropolis Manor, with the Health Authority advising of the death related to a current outbreak that now reaches 38 residents and staff of the west side long term care facility.

Thursday night Mayor Lee Brain offered the condolences of the City and larger community through his civic  Facebook page, a forum which has also allowed for some residents to offer their own words of support for the family, as well as the residents and staff at Acropolis Manor.


Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven also made use of his Social media page to offer his thoughts on the news from Acropolis.


For the moment the two civic politicians are the only officials, whether municipal or provincial, to make use of their public social media options to take note of the sad news of the passing at the long term care facility.

Yesterday, the City of Prince Rupert offered a reminder to residents of the range of protocols in place when it comes to conducting business at City Hall and some of the options available for social distancing when it comes to civic functions.


For more notes related to the COVID-19 response in British Columbia see our archive here.

Further items of note from Prince Rupert City Council can be found from our archive page here.

School District 52 prepares to launch 2021 Budget Consultation Period


The Prince Rupert School District will provide for the first instalment of a three month process of consultation towards their 2021 Budge preparation next month, with the First of three public engagement opportunities to take place on Thursday, February 4th.

The Talking Circle Consultation will be take place through an online virtual forum starting at 7PM

The meeting will provide for the opportunity to provide some input towards the preliminary budget discussion for 2021-22 and give the School Board trustees and officials an indication towards community interest and concerns towards the budget.

To participate contact Tamara Dickens at tamara.dickens@sd52.bc.ca to request the zoom link if you wish to be involved.

The February 4th session, will be followed two weeks later by a Partner Group Presentation session, with the Annual Budget Consultation process continuing on into March and session scheduled for March 29th.

Updates on the process ahead will be relayed through the SD52 website and Rupert Schools Social media streams.

Rupert Schools Twitter

Rupert Schools Facebook page

The next SD52 Board meeting for regular business is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9th.

More notes on education in the Prince Rupert area can be explored from our archive page.

Local Mountain bike enthusiasts hope to find community support for Pump Track build

A mountain bike group in Prince Rupert is hoping to realize their
dream of a Pump Track facility for the North Coast

The next big recreation item for the Prince Rupert area could be a Pump Track, a challenging loop of 'berms' and 'rollers' to put the city's biking community through their paces.

A fundraising effort is now underway by the North Coast Mountain Bike Association, which has outlined what their proposed Pump Track would look like and how far along they are in putting forward their plans with the City of Prince Rupert.

Through their website and Social media page, the group highlights the community benefit that such a recreation option would bring to Prince Rupert.

NCMBA feels very strongly that Prince Rupert needs community spaces that encourage people to not only get outside and ride bikes, but also to progressively improve their skill-level. A community pump track provides a space that can be accessed free-of-charge, available 24/7 and caters to a wide variety of users, from beginner to expert. 

Pump tracks are family-friendly, inclusive, welcoming, and so much fun! With almost 50% of survey respondents supporting the development of an asphalt pump track, and additionally 50% of respondents having children who bike, we believe this pump track will see tremendous use by the community

They also make note of how the sport has grown around the Northwest with Terrace currently the site of the nearest Pump Track which was completed last year. 

Some notes on that project and a list of other pump tracks across BC and Alberta can be found here, as well as from the Terrace Off Road Cycling Association Facebook page.

The NCMBA notes that they have also touched base with the City of Prince Rupert to explore the options for this community.

We are currently engaged with the City of Prince Rupert to consider several locations for the construction of an asphalt pump track. 

These types of bike parks are growing in popularity across BC, and our neighbours in Terrace successfully completed the construction of an asphalt pump track in the summer of 2020. 

Since completion, it has received extremely positive reviews and now provides a hub for riders of all ages and abilities to bike, scooter, skateboard, and more.

Towards the fundraising they are hopeful of reaching at least forty percent of their fundraising goal towards the cost of 200,000 dollars, as well as to see out community sponsorship and potential grant opportunities in the region.


Through their Facebook page, you can follow along as they update their membership on the success so far, with a number of local businesses and organizations already stepping up to help out towards their fundraising efforts.

The Association is also in the middle of their membership drive, offering anyone who renews a membership before February 1st, an opportunity to be entered into a draw for a Free Bike Tune up from Chucky's Cycle Shop, learn more about their call for members here.

Notes on biking in Prince Rupert and across the Northwest can be explored from our archive page.

For more community notes from around the region see our archive page here.



Sports: Biking, Cycling in Prince Rupert and area 2021




Complete Streets for Prince Rupert  
North Coast Mountain Biking Association 

Notes related to the local biking and cycling community in the region.


February


February 23 -- Complete Streets looks to lend a hand to Off Road cycling plans on North Coast NCR
February 19 -- Moves to expand mountain biking trails in Prince Rupert  (audio)


January

January 29 -- Local Mountain bike enthusiasts hope to find community support for Pump Track build NCR

COVID 19 exposure noted for Secondary School on Haida Gwaii


The most recent update to the BC CDC / Northern Health COVID exposure listings is that for Gudangaay Tlaats'gaa Naay Secondary School in Masset, the exposure alert was added to the data base for all Schools in British Columbia today.

The Exposure date is listed as having been on January 22nd 2021.


So far, there has been no further information related to the advisory posted to any of the School District 50 information sharing options.

SD50 Facebook
SD50 website 
Gudangaay Tlaats'gaa Naay Secondary School Facebook

The listing of the Haida Gwaii school, makes for the latest in a string of similar advisories issued across Northwestern British Columbia, with SD52 in Prince Rupert currently in the midst of a multi school exposure situation since mid month.

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

BC CDC adds Terrace flight from last week to recent data base of COVID Alert flights


Travellers using the Terrace-Kitimat airport on January 22nd will want to take note of an advisory from the BC CDC, which has flagged an Air Canada flight that day for a potential COVID-19 exposure.

The flight in question, Flight 8245 originated from Terrace to Vancouver, with rows 8-14 deemed as those most affected by the advisory.


The Thursday notice, makes for the first such COVID advisory relayed from a Northwest airport this year.

Earlier this month, we outlined the scope of a trio of similar alerts related to holiday period travel through the Terrace airport facility.

The volume of passengers through Terrace could now be on the rise with the suspension of Air Canada's Prince Rupert-Vancouver service as of January 18th

That also means that more residents of Prince Rupert and area could have been at the Terrace airport on the day listed by the BC CDC. 

On the page, the BC CDC advises that Passengers on a domestic flight with a COVID-19 case should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

The BC CDC also offers up some advice on Self-Isolation protocols, as well as Self Assessment support and tools.

For the latest on the provincial response to COVID-19 see our archive page here.

A look at aviation themes in the region is available here.


Prince Rupert Council desperately needs a communications makeover

When it comes to public Council meetings these days,
for the most part residents have been taken back to the days
of radio, with audio only participation by Council members

The members of Prince Rupert City Council have been giving some attention these last few days towards how they can further engage with the community during these unusual circumstances of COVID.  

The collective seemingly enthusiastic to show of the work done with consultants iPlan in recent months towards the Official Community Plan. 

That wide ranging revision to the current document making for one area of effort where there is some desire to find a way to work through the measures of COVID to share the new version and vision forward.

As we noted yesterday, Council is hopeful of returning to some kind of a community engagement process of a Public Hearing, mulling over the situation at Monday's Council session, though it's a plan that has for now been deferred at least month as they play it by ear to see how the measures from the province evolve.

However, if they want to get a head start on sharing word of their work, they may want to reconsider how they present it every two weeks. 

With the current call it in theme to the meetings put in place with the November 23rd session making for a less than efficient process of providing for the Regular City Council sessions twice a month and an approach that pales in comparison to how other communities keep their residents informed.

For Council their communication strategy of late, is one that appears to have Prince Rupert taking a rather throw back approach to the golden age of radio style of communication.

For those that follow the city's governance through the City of Prince Rupert You Tube video archives, the only instrument of community engagement between Council and its residents has been to have the Mayor and Senior staff gather in the Council Chambers; the mayor seemingly taking on the role of our new talk show host, with the Council members calling in their contributions, some apparently with more to share for the public than others.

In other communities around the Northwest, when it comes to the Regular Council meeting and in some cases a range of other official gatherings, the approach that has been taken is quite varied. 

Some still meet in person or in a hybrid style complete with social distancing measures and public participation by video conference, others follow the same template as Prince Rupert though with some significant changes.

That with the Mayor and senior staff in the Council chamber, but they then  take the communication plan to the current century, with a giant Zoom style wall of Council members and others scheduled to make a presentation on the night brought in with a video stream.

Terrace City Council
District of Kitimat Council
Smithers Town Council

By comparison, Prince Rupert has travelled back in time to the days of the CityTel Party line, with clicks and clacks, lots of ambient noise from the home offices and a less than helpful audio presentation, one that at times leaves some of the contributions of the Council members somewhat lost in translation.

Considering that the City of Prince Rupert is the sole shareholder in a growing Northwest Communication company, the standard of presentation at the moment probably isn't the best advertisement for the city's investment.

As for the continuity of the council session, the audio only concept does not seem to foster much in the way engagement from the Council members. 

While a few do venture into the mix of discussion, since the shift away from the in the building meetings, the participation level of the membership has seen some decline and the opportunity for a flow in back and forth discussion for the most part is lost as council members wait for a cue or a chance to jump in to the mix.

Among the many concerns that the current communication plan provides for, the largest of them is that  the public has been for the most part put to the sidelines since October. 

With the Committee of the Whole process, which allows for public participation either eliminated as it was this month, or reduced to having residents send the corporate administrator a letter or email which she would read out for the record.

As well, the current approach of audio only, and the reticence it seems of some council members to join in on the conversation, means that on any given Council night we have no real indication as to who may or may not be in attendance.

If Social distancing is a concern for City Council, one option may be
to take their Council sessions to a larger venue which offers the space
for the membership to at least gather in person again.

With the COVID Related Measures seemingly to be with us for a fair bit of time yet, City Council should start to consider some new ideas when it comes to providing for the record of their public sessions.

That could mean some consideration to taking the meetings to a larger venue such as the Civic Centre or Lester Centre, where a wider zone of social distancing could be put in place, as well both facilities are also wired up, to allow for the continuation of the streaming of the City Council proceedings.

Or, if they are still of mind to keep some physical distance,  an upgrade to the way the currently do things might be worth considering, taking the plunge and adding video and some way to include the public into the process every two weeks.

The gang's not all here ... Council has been meeting remotely
over the last few months owing to COVID-19

As they do now, they should continue to stream their work live on the city website and perhaps consider using the City of Prince Rupert Facebook feed, much like Smithers does, to provide for wider distribution of the live stream of their public sessions.

On Monday night, Mayor Brain offered up a comment for Council to reflect that he wasn't keen on using such technology as Zoom for Public Hearings, though he didn't expand too much on those hesitations and whether he extends those thoughts to the delivery of Regular Council sessions as well.

Having Prince Rupert's Council members take a tour of the options used by other Northwest communities could provide for an interesting look towards how they have managed to remain engaged with the public. 

The key item of note being the much larger volume of monthly meetings that are held and the length of time Council puts into sessions than those found in Prince Rupert. 

Along with a much wider level of  past material available by way of video archive for the public to review when it comes to that work.

If the Council members want to make sure that they aren't perceived as a distant group that is working often in closed sessions and out of sight of the public; then they may want to actually find a way to be front and centre at least twice a month (if not more) and maybe begin to expand on what they are willing to share with the public.

You can review Monday's Council session from our Council Timeline feature here.

All of our notes on the past Council sessions can be reviewed through our archive page.

A wider overview of past Council Discussions is available on our Council Discussion page




Thursday, January 28, 2021

Focus on Community clusters and business settings as daily COVID case count spikes to 546 in BC for Thursday

The total case count for Thursday jumped significantly over the last 24 hours, with 546 new reports of positive cases of COVID reported the province today since yesterday.

"Today, we are reporting 546 new cases, including five epi-linked cases, for a total of 66,265 cases in British Columbia. 

There are 4,455 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 291 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 75 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation. 

Currently, 7,176 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 59,141 people who tested positive have recovered. 

There have been 12 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,184 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 Authority regions made note of the following case totals for the last 24 hours. 

Since the last report there have been 174 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 218 new cases in the Fraser Health sd, 30 in the Island Health region, 70 in the Interior Health region,,

There were 51 cases reported in the Northern Health region over the last 24 hours , that brings the total for Northern BC to 3,334 since the coronavirus arrived in Canada one year ago.

There have also been three new cases  of COVID in BC, with people who reside outside of Canada.

As for the province's vaccine roll out program:  To date, 127,255 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 4,185 of which are second doses. 

With many of the increased numbers coming from community clusters and business setting, Dr. Bonnie Henry put some focus on those areas for today's review.

“In recent weeks, we have seen an increase in community clusters and exposures in businesses, and we remind business owners now is not the time to let things slip. WorkSafeBC and environmental health teams have stepped up inspections and will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of communities, including shutting a business if required. 

Equally important, all businesses that can accommodate employees to work from home should ensure that continues. The fewer people you see, the safer everyone will be." 

 You can can review more of today's COVID statement here.  




BC CDC data for  British Columbia as of January 28 2021

BC CDC data for  the Northern Health region as of January 28 2021




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

 




Prince Rupert hears of its first death owing to COVID, with passing of Acropolis Manor resident




As the world moves into its second year of facing COVID-19, some sad news was delivered to Prince Rupert area residents by Northern Health today; with Health officials confirming the death of of an Acropolis Manor long term care resident, who passed away on January 27th.

The passing makes for the first resident of the city to have died due to conditions related to the current community outbreak of the coronavirus.

No other details related to the notice were released by Northern Health officials, who expressed their heartfelt condolences to this individual's family and friends and the staff who provided their care. 

As family, staff, other residents of Acropolis and the community at large mourn, the virus itself continues to increase in numbers, with Northern Health advising that the latest case count from the Prince Rupert long term care facility is now 38, with 24 residents and 14 staff members having tested positive for the virus.

That total, combined with the cases reported through an outbreak at School District 52 could put the Prince Rupert numbers closing in  on the fifty case mark, as a result of the recent surge in case reports since early January.

Yesterday we relayed data from the BC CDC that notes that prior to today's advisory from Northern Health, the current level of COVID cases in the city had been registered at 38, that as of the reporting period from January 17-23.

Northern Health has provided some additional details as to the measures that are in place as part of the response to the growing number of case reports.

As we outlined last week, Northern Health recently completed their current round of COVID-19 vaccinations. Northern Health has not indicated when the next round of vaccinations for the Prince Rupert area will take place.

For more notes related to Northern Health see our archive pages below:


Over 180 recommendations delivered over course of Future of Commercial Salmon Fishery conference


Commercial Fishermen from up and down the coast of British Columbia provided input last week at a virtual conference towards the future for the Salmon fishery, with over 100 participants offering up 180 different recommendations to go into a report to be delivered to the Department of Fisheries.

Some of the key themes explored during the course of the two day event of January 21 and 22nd included:

Improving salmon runs (how to increase survivals and produce more) 

Allocation (how should salmon be allocated to ensure all can co-exist) 

Access (what policies limit our access and what should be changed) 

Governance ( How do fishermen work all together to influence governments) 

Licensing (Entry and exit plans that protect active fishermen, encourage new entrants and enable a dignified and secure retirement)

Participants heard from guest speaker Bob Chamberlin, who outlined how unity among coastal people helped steer the government towards the closure of the Salmon Farms at Discovery, highlighting how that ability to work together delivered the change in those coastal communities of that area that many had been calling for.

The conference also provided for the opportunity for smaller groups to dig deeper into the issues of concern and to provide their recommendations towards a revitalized Pacific Salmon Fishery.


UFAWU-Unifor's Joy Thorkelson was among those organizing the conference, praising the work of the participants to try and find solutions to ongoing issues of concern. 

From those recommendations a draft report is anticipated within the next two weeks, the fishermen will then have an opportunity to provide further comment on the recommendations and observations before the final document is complete and forwarded to the Department of Fisheries for consideration, with organizers hopeful that their two days of discussion will see action on their themes taken by government.

Some of the ongoing concerns related to the BC Salmon Fishery can be explored further through the UFAWU-Unifor website here.

Further notes to interest on the North Coast fishery can be reviewed from our archive page.


Budget consultation period now underway for North Coast Regional District


The two and half month process of putting together the North Coast Regional District Financial Plan is now underway, with the Directors opening up the consultation period last week.

The consultation is part of the work ahead towards the budget making and will help to identify the priorities that residents of the region have when it comes to the period ahead of 2021-2025.

The next public opportunity (by way of teleconferencing due to COVID) will come on February 20th, with details and documentation to be provided closer to the meeting date.

The Third and final opportunity for contribution will come on the 10th of March, with Regional District to give consideration to the final draft and potential approval of the Plan arrives on March 19th.

Some of the items of note for Prince Rupert and Port Edward area residents include funding plans for North Pacific Cannery Historical Site,   and the Recycling program operated in the city.


Other areas of interest include funding for the Prince Rupert Library and a newly created element called Mainland Arts and Culture, something in place for an initial period of three years.




The first glimpse from Round one of the consultation can be reviewed here

How Regional District will proceed with the Budget consultation process is explained here.

If you wish to contribute to the process outside of those events, you can send the Regional District members a correspondence by directing your observations, comments or questions to info@ncrdbc.com

Prince Rupert's representation to the Board is by appointment; with Mayor Lee Brain and Councillor Barry Cunningham currently serving as Prince Rupert's representatives. 

Dan Franzen represents Port Edward.

The full roster of Regional District Directors can be reviewed here.

For more notes on Regional District see our archive page here.


Many of City Council's big plans await expanded public consultation and some Public Hearings


Prince Rupert's City councillors put down some of the foundation for the many changes that hey have in motion for the community on Monday evening, with Council members moving a number of bylaw proposals tied into the new Official Community Plan work along the meandering path of governance.

Among the themes explored at the Monday session, changes to the always topical parking policies in the city, potential changes towards height restrictions and other elements of zoning, and development of new information policies towards development approval, the latter designed to actually speed up the process when it comes to getting housing and commercial projects underway in the community.

And through all the forty minutes or so of conversation, two words kept coming up ... Public Hearing.

That community engagement feature is one which puts all those plans to the public. 

Allowing for comment and providing the venue and the engagement vehicle for a key element of the process. 

That to address any concerns that the community may have when it comes to the path forward.

Since the arrival of COVID one year ago, Prince Rupert Council seems to have had some difficulties in deciding how they wish to approach the need for public engagement in a time of social distancing.

It was a theme which was touched on by Councillor Nick Adey on Monday who spoke to all of the work of the night and how he hoped the public would soon have opportunity to review all of the effort that has gone into the Official Community plan process and participate in some fashion towards moving it forward.

"When you look at the package en masse, there's just a whole lot of really I think forward thinking concepts in there, so I'm very supportive of it and I would hope that the public process that follows will allow the public access to also appreciate the scope and the comprehensiveness of the plan. 

I guess the only question that I have then around that though, is given that we're under some limitations because of the COVID, what then do we know about what that public consulation process will look like at the moment" -- Councillor Nick Adey

Towards a reply, Rob Buchan the city's contract planner from iPlan observed that he believes that so far the consultation on the OCP has been robust and comprehensive, noting however that more information could be provided to the community related to the various bylaw considerations, before they go to a public hearing process.

On the theme of Public Hearings, Mayor Brain spoke to the Current situation and how it is impacting on the city's planning for a public gathering.

"Ideally, obviously given the Current orders, I think we'll have to see how things play out here in February, but I know that the previous phase, before this current order was in place that we were allowed up to fifty people in a place and I remember that our plan was to potentially use the Civic Centre to accommodate up to fifty people in spaced area to try to do the public hearing.

I think ideally Council would be in favour of doing something like that to make sure that people can physically show up to comment on this. I do agree that I think the zoning bylaw in particular probably needs another layer of communication and explanation to the public, potentially before the public hearing. So that the information is available, whether its an information session or something to that effect."

The Mayor also recounted some of the previous work on the Official Community Plan, much of it conducted through the online portal of Rupert Talks and through community stakeholder and representative engagements noting how those elements had been well received. 

Though it's not really clear as to how many members of the community actually provided feedback, or what percentage of the larger body of those living in Prince Rupert that perhaps are not focused on online options may be aware of the all of the city's plans.

Mayor Lee Brain continues to hold out some hope for a limited
public gathering opportunity to review the city's Official Community Plan

Returning to the need for community engagement, the Mayor followed up with a hope to return to the public gathering option to seek comment from the public.

"Ideally, in my view I would really like to be able to try to see if we can do the fifty person thing in the Civic Centre to make sure that people can show up and actually voice themselves. 

I'm not too keen on doing a Zoom public hearing, even though yes we technically could do it that way. 

So perhaps maybe throughout the month of February we can play it out by ear to see where the regulations are going to go given the status of the pandemic. But I think I speak for Council when we're all kind of wanting to ensure that this gets the attention it needs and deserves and that the people have the opportunity to comment.

So, I don't know how much of a rush we're in to have this all fully completed, but in the meantime obviously we should start with the zoning bylaw engagement just to get some more information out there and then maybe play it out by ear and then maybe report back to council at some time in one of our February meetings to see how the Public Hearing is going to play out" -- Mayor Lee Brain

If they wish to see some progress on their plans, Council will soon have to make a decision on what path they will follow to ensure that the public has not only a chance to view the vision that has been presented, but to offer praise, criticism or helpful hints for approval.

Beyond the long range OCP planning, more immediately, there will also be some important land use decisions required towards creating housing stock in the community, something that the Mayor noted on Monday was one of Council's highest priorities.

As we outlined on Tuesday, a proposed housing development from last summer along Kootenay Avenue was the subject of some community criticism and at the time it was noted that before anything moved forward the work plans would make for a public hearing process. 

However since that time, nothing more has been relayed to the community by Council when it comes to those plans.

Likewise at some point this year, Council will again have to hold some kind of public consultation on the proposed Lax Kw'alaams Housing plans for 11th Avenue East, something which has not been mentioned by Council since the project was introduced in November.

While Prince Rupert tries to solve its dilemma on the path forward towards community engagement, other communities have been moving the process forwards, with both Port Edward and Terrace recently hosting online Public Hearings on two key land use issues in their communities.

By letting the months slip by without any attempt at bringing city residents into the processes required, the wheels of progress in Price Rupert are at risk of slowing to a near stop and with it, some of the hopes that the measures proposed will offer some quick relief for the many issues that have long been identified as needing attention.

You can overview of the changes in policies and plans for the future starts at the seven minute mark of the Council session.


For more notes on Monday's Council Session see our Council Timeline Feature here.

A wider overview of the Official CommunityPlan process to date can be reviewed here, while themes on Housing in Prince Rupert can be explored here.

City of Prince Rupert's first hiring call for 2021 will take you to the Fire Hall



The City of Prince Rupert has posted their fist Job Opportunity of the new year, with the City putting up the call for applicants for a Dispatcher position at the First Avenue Wet Fire Hall.

The Position posted on Wednesday is listed as casual with hours based on a 12 hour shift day or night, with the successful applicant required to remain on site at the Fire Hall during the full period of that shift.

In the Description of the work, the notice outlines that the 911 Operator/Fire Dispatcher shall perform an integral emergency response function within the community. Persons working in this position must perform effectively and efficiently during highly stressful and emotional situations.

The CUPE 105 position features a pay of $35.22 per hour, following the completion of the probation period, with a lower rate in place during probation.

If successful, the applicant will also require a Criminal Records Check.

The Deadline for Applications is February 10th

The full posting can be reviewed below:





For a look at some of the work of Emergency Responders in the region see our archive page.