Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Recent COVID-19 reports in Prince Rupert reflected by surge in weekly stats review. 38 cases of Coronavirus now listed in the city from period of January 17-23


The two high profile outbreaks of COVID 19 have painted the BC CDC map a dark shade of red in Prince Rupert for the first time since the data has been made public, with the report of data collected from January 17 to 23 now noting 38 cases of COVID-recorded in the community during that period.

The Prince Rupert surge comes from the ongoing outbreaks at the Acropolis Manor Long Term Care facility which hosts the largest volume of case reports. as well as from the classrooms of School District 52 in the city.

Still, despite the dramatic increase for Prince Rupert, the community still is not atop the findings across the Northwest for the week of data review, with Terrace once again the hot zone for COVID in the Northwest with 59 cases noted from January 17-23

The BC Centre for Disease shares data on a weekly basis culled from Local Health Authority reports and while the results for Prince Rupert and Terrace are concerning, during the data collection period, other areas of the Northwest show some moderation from past results.

Across the remainder of the Northwest, the cases reported from  January 17-23 were as follows.

Terrace -- 59 
Kitimat -- 18 
Smithers -- 16
Bella Coola Valley -- 12   
Nechako -- 12
Burns Lake --
 
11 
Nisga'a Region -- 9
Upper Skeena  -- 3
Snow Country-Stikine-Telegraph Creek --3
Haida Gwaii --
 1

The Central Coast once again this week had no cases of COVID reported in the period.

The most recent monthly update (as of December 31st, 2020) from the BC CDC can be reviewed here.  

Other charts and information from the BC CDC can be explored here.

You can review the latest information from the Public Health office Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix here.  



BC holds the line with 485 new cases of COVID on the day, with only 4 passings from the day's review.

The  Wednesday report provided much the same story as has been reported for weeks, with the lates case reports noting of an increase from yesterday's count, a welcome reduction in deaths and much the same in active cases for the last 24 hours.

Today's overview came by way of a statement from Doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minster Adrian Dix. 

“Today, we are reporting 485 new cases, for a total of 65,719 cases in British Columbia. 

There are 4,299 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 303 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 74 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation. 

Currently, 6,520 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 58,778 people who tested positive have recovered. 

There have been four new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,172 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 regional health authorities have reported the following case reports for the last 24 hours:

115 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 210 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 45 in the Island Health region, 83 in the Interior Health region, 32 in the Northern Health region which brings the total for Northern BC to 3,283 since the start of the pandemic one year ago. 

There have been no new cases of COVID reported in British Columbia from people who reside outside of Canada.

As BC reviews its vaccination roll out program, the vaccination totals to date, have seen 124,365 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 4,160 of which are second doses. 

With some COVID fatigue settling in across the province, Dr. Henry and Minister Dix offered up some guidance for the days ahead as we look to reduce the current levels being reported.

“One year ago today, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in our province. Since that day, the impact has been severe; people have become seriously ill and died, our lives have been disrupted and health-care workers everywhere have faced challenges at a scale never experienced before. 

In response, people throughout the province have stepped up to put normal routines and activities aside, doing all they can to protect our communities, Elders and loved ones. Thank you. 

When we are tired, it is easy to let things slip and let our guard down. Yet this only gives the virus a chance to spread a bit more. In these days – when COVID-19 vaccinations are starting, but for most of us are still weeks or months away – the actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus in its tracks. 

As we have seen over the past year, one case can turn into thousands. But just as important, the effort we put into keeping ourselves and each other safe can also push our COVID-19 curve back down again.”

Premier John Horgan touched on some of those themes and many other COVID related issues as part a Wednesday morning  press conference. Among some of the topics he spoke to included questions on the possiblitiy quarantines for those coming to BC, restrictions on travel both from within and out of the province. 

The Premier also addressed the current levels of vaccine delivery and how it remains in the hands of the federal government which BC continues to support.

You can review that presentation below:

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




BC CDC data for  British Columbia as of January 27 2021

BC CDC data for Northern Health region as of January 27 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

 




State of Local Emergency in the Nass is lifted, though community vigilance remains as guiding advice



A fourteen day State of Local Emergency in the Nass Valley has been lifted, with midnight Tuesday the official end of a range of restrictions for community members that after a sharp increase of the reports of positive cases of COVID through the region.

After a review today from the Nisga'a Emergency Preparedness Committee, it was determined that an extension of the measures in place since January 12th was not required, however caution and vigilance remain the focus for the Nisga'a Nation. 

That the message delivered to Nisga'a Nation members by Eva Clayton, the President of the Nation.

"We need to stay the course and remain our bubbles, we will get through this pandemic if we remain vigilant.

While the State of Local Emergency is lifted, some of the measures will remain in place with a range of check points and community surveillance operations to continue in each of the four villages, Nisga'a Guardians and Enforcement officers have the authority to issue fines for anyone found contravening public health orders.

Since March the Nisga'a Valley Health Authority notes the there have been 144 positive cases of COVId from testing out of a total of 1,219 tests.


You can learn more about the decision to lift the order and review some of the measures from this information statement.

For more notes related to events in the Nass Valley see our archive page here.

City Council has few notes to share on Air Service status

Mayor Brain responded to a question on air service in Prince
Rupert at Monday's council session

The topic of the recently suspended Air Canada Service to and from Prince Rupert made for a short conversation piece at the end of Monday's Prince Rupert Council City session, that as Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa followed up on some inquiries he has received from the public on a status update on efforts to bring some form of service back to the city.

The question was directed to Mayor Lee Brain, who advised that he didn't have much to add to the conversation at this point, noting that work continues by the Airport Manager to speak to Federal and airline officials about the cancellation of service, with nothing to report from those efforts yet.

Mr. Brain also noted that the Chamber of Commerce has been engaged in a survey project related to airport use, which would go towards the combined efforts in the community.

"The only thing we've had is from what the notice from last week, or the week before and  I know that we're working  with the Chamber right now and they're conducting a survey and we've been in contact with our Airport Manager who is working with the airlines and talking with the Federal Government about the airlines. So, once there is an update, we'll definitely notify the community." -- Mayor Lee Brain

As we noted earlier this week, the survey findings have now been released with the focus on the importance of the airport to the region and the impact that the suspension of service is having and will continue to have as it moves on through the next few months.

The Councillors Q and A opportunity can be reviewed from the city's video archive at the forty nine minute mark.


For more notes on Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline Feature here, a wider overview of Council themes is available from our Council Discussion archive.

For items of interest on air transportation in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Prince Rupert's Fukasaku set to be part of National celebration of sustainable seafood


This coming Monday turns the page on the calendar and as February begins its twenty eight day run, Seafood will be the focus as the Ocean Wise program takes their Chowder Chowdown to the national stage.

The organization has been preparing for the inaugural edition of the national festival which will run from February 1st to 28th, with Chowder available for dine in or take out and in some cases even delivery across the land.

And for Prince Rupert that means that there is only one place to look on the map, thanks to the contribution from Fukasaku in the Atlin Terminal.

Through the month, Dai Fukasaku and his staff will join 25 other partners across the country in celebration of the Ocean Wise  program, with part of the proceeds to be directed towards support the sustainable seafood program hosted by the organization.

The Ocean Wise program consists of nine scientists and account managers across Canada who analyse the most current data on thousands of seafood options and work with restaurants, seafood suppliers and grocery stores to communicate recommendations and monthly updates on the changing science. 

Ocean Wise’s recommendations are not only based on assessment of the species itself, but also the fishery’s impact on the surrounding environment, other species, and how well it is managed.

You can learn more about the national program and the National Chowder Showdown here.

The chance to grab a bowl of chowder will also provide opportunity to check out the new location at the Atlin Terminal, with updates on how the project is coming along available from the Fukasaku of Prince Rupert Facebook page.

For more notes on the North Coast fishery see our archive page here.

Further themes on the Prince Rupert Commercial sector can be found here.

"It's time for us to take action; it's time for us to Clean up the town": Mayor Lee Brain

Commercial property owners in Prince Rupert will soon be receiving some mail from the City of Prince Rupert, with Council on Monday night  moving forward with the final stage of approval forward for its new Downtown Core Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw.

Council Members gave fourth and final approval to the new bylaw, which will incentivize development in the town and a moment for Councillor Wad Niesh which signalled a big moment for the community.

The passage of the bylaw came after some extensive revision work over the last month as the city's contract planners iPlan lent a hand in crafting the document, the genesis of which came from a recommendation from iPlan's Rob Buchan last summer.

The new bylaws will provide an incentive for developers to help to rebuild the city's tired looking. downtown landscape, while also adapting to a range of new proposals to come in the city's soon to be approved Official Community Plan.

Council members were quite proud of their achievement from their work on the document with Councillor Mirau praising the work of staff and iPlan on the project, while Councillor Niesh looked forward to the prospect of new growth downtown.

"I am looking forward to hopefully lots of people, lots of developers and local owner taking advantage of this opportunity over the next three years to revitalize their downtown"

Mayor Lee Brain also spoke to the adoption of the new bylaws, noting how once passed the city would be  forwarding some 102 letters ready to be sent business owners in the area.

The information flow will include two letters to the property owners, the first to outline the scope of the new program, the second one to reinforce the measures that will be in place towards enforcement on  the number of unsightly properties found in the downtown core.

"It's time for us to take action, it's time for us to clean up the town, and I think that the strategy that we are employing here, the two prong approach, I believe is going to get some traction" -- Mayor Lee Brain  

The calls for a downtown clean up has been an ongoing theme for City Council for much of the last two terms.  

Back in 2018 Councillor Barry Cunningham had called for a stronger hand in enforcing the then existing options in place, his presentation reinforcing how the call for action had been a long standing one around the council table.

You can review some of the progress on the Tax Exemption Bylaw below:

January 13 -- After lengthy back and forth discussion, Council members came to a compromise on amendments for Downtown Tax Incentive Bylaw
November 25 -- City Council moves forward towards introduction of Downtown Revitalization/Tax Exemption program
August 27 -- City's hired civic planner updates progress on Official Community Plan; offers up recommendations towards enticing developers

The full documentation for the Bylaw is available from the City's Agenda from Monday night.

The discussion on the topic can be reviewed from the City's Video archive starting at the 4 minute mark.

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

A wider overview of past Council themes is available here.


Council approves proposed application towards grant funding for Hays Creek work


The City of Prince Rupert is applying for grant funding for
work along the Hays Creek area near the Civic Centre

With the prospect of over 1.5 million dollars in funding available for some COVID related remediation work, Prince Rupert City Council moved forward Monday evening on a quest  towards accessing some of the available cash.

The City's Corporate Administrator Ms. Rosa Miller provided for some limited background towards the grant opportunity which would put focus  towards restoration of the Hays Creek area. 

"Hays Creek is the primary collector stream for the drainage of the north slope of Mount Hays, in the 1950's and 1960s the stream was collected into an artificial channel lined with stone walls as it passes through the Civic Centre and McClymont Park."

As Ms. Miller explained it the grant funding  of just over 1.5 million would come from ISIP COVID related program funding, which will cover 100 percent for approved projects. 

In her review, she added that there would be no initial cost contribution would be required by the City. 



Councillor Adey, who was the only member of council to speak to the topic, expressed his support for the project,  had one question related to the work ahead, seeking some information as to the scope of the initiative. 

"I'm in favour of doing this, I think that it's a beautiful area, a beautiful walking area for people in town. My question is around the work itself and I'm assuming that it would involve a number of heavy vehicles in there, or construction materials. Would restoring the natural environment I'm thinking of the natural environment,  I"m thinking of the grassy area near the bridge, would that all be restored as part of the plan that this grant would supply?"

In her reply, Ms. Miller observed she would have to seek out that information from the Director of Operations and get back to the Councillor as to what the project would provide for.

As Councillor Adey observed the eastern side of the channel has become a popular walking area for the community, one which has seen a number of proposals for further development, though those plans had stalled and for the most part suspended in recent years.


There was no indication from Monday's session if the funding might also assist in revisting some of those trail building plans from the past.

Also of note from Monday, no one on Council asked if this was the only project that the City had considered towards the application for this round of funding; or if the city has a list of other projects that perhaps should have been given preference for such grant opportunities.

Council voted to move forward with the grant proposal plans.

The presentation and discussion can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive from the start of the Monday meeting.




For more notes related to Monday's Council session see our Council Timeline Feature here.

A wider overview of past Council Discussion topics can be explored here.

City Council Timeline: Monday, January 25, 2021


Prince Rupert City Council once again met by Remote
methods with Mayor Brain and some staff members at City Hall
and Council members calling in from other locations


Prince Rupert City Council members returned to their duties for the second Public Council session for 2021, though with COVID measures still in place, other than Mayor Brain who was in the Mayors Chair at City Hall along with some senior staff members, the remaining  council membership participated by phone from remote locations outside of the Third Avenue chamber. 

For the most part it was an evening spent reviewing reports from the contract planners hired by the City towards development of the new Official Community Plan, included as part of the string of reports was a review of some recommendations on the often heard concerns over parking in the city. 

A late addition for the Agenda which was not included in the public review documents of earlier in the day, saw Council consider an application for grant funding for a remediation project along Hays Creek east of McBride.

Some background on the work of Council on the evening and the various Regular Agenda elements for the January 25th Council session can be reviewed here.  

Council also hosted a Closed Session earlier in the evening, the second closed door session of the year, the details as to why they required the doors to be closed for the 5 PM meeting can be reviewed here.  

Further information from our overview and placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city website.

In attendance Monday, January 25, 2021

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present ( in Council Chamber)
Councillor Nick Adey --  Present  (by phone)
Councillor Barry Cunningham --  Present (by phone)
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present (by phone)
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven --  Present (by phone)
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present (by phone)
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa --   Present  (by phone)


Video Archive for Monday, January 25, 2021




**************************************************************************

Regular Council Session

( 0:00 -- 1:30  )   Regular City Council Session for Monday, January 25, 2021  -- Mayor Brain called the Regular Council Session to order, with Council adopting minutes of previous meetings and the agenda and revisions for the night. Among the changes the withdrawal of a variance request on the night and the addition of a proposal for application for grant funding. 

1:30 -- 4:00  ) Report from the Corporate Administrator related to a proposal to apply for grant funding for restoration of the Hays Creek collector stream area  -- Ms. Rosa Miller provided the background towards the grant  towards restoration of the Hays Creek area east of the Civic Centre. As Ms. Miller explained it the grant funding  of just over 1.5 million would come from ISIP COVID related program funding, which will cover 100 percent for approved projects. 

In her review, she added that there would be no initial cost contribution would be required by the City. 

Councillor Adey who expressed his support for the project,  had one question related to the work ahead, seeking some information as to the scope of the initiative.  Ms. Miller observed she would have to seek out that information and get back to the Councillor.

Council voted to move forward with the grant proposal plans.


Bylaws

4:00 -- 5:30  ) -- Report from the Corporate Administrator -- Re: Downtown Core Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw -- Council provided Fourth and Final Reading towards the implementation of the Tax Exemption Bylaw. The path forward charted after some revisions from the last council session and a bit more discussion at the Monday evening session. 

In comments following the introduction, Councillor Mirau offered up his praise to staff for their work on the initiative. For his part Councillor Niesh observed how it was a big moment for Council and how he looked forward to lots of developers and local owners taking advantage of the opportunity for the next three years to revitalize the city's downtown area. 

Mayor Brain followed up on those notes with an advisory that once passed, two letters would be delivered to business owners around the city, the first to outline the scope of the program the second to reinforce plans by the City to begin to enforce measures related to unsightly properties in town.

 7:00 -- 31:00 ) -- Report from the iPlan Limited -- Re: Parking standards and analysis and proposed amendments to the Draft OCP and Draft Zoning bylaw --Council reviewed a report from Chris Buchan from Iplan that explored some recommendations towards parking themes, and other elements flagged for changes at a previous meeting.

Participating in the overview of the report, was iPlans' Rob Buchan, who took Council members through some of the changes to the text that were made.  Thos changes included revision of the language related to proposed bypass routes, airport access, landfill and the McBride Entry Gateway. 

The revisions also addressed secondary suites towards helping with the housing situation in the community. 

Towards the parking themes, Mr. Buchan explored some of the findings from the report and how the review was designed to make sure that Prince Rupert's standards were not out of line with other communities in Northern BC.

New to the downtown parking theme will be standards in place for bicycle and electric vehicle parking, all of which will be compatible with the new OCP.

Among the council members who spoke to the topic was Councillor Nick Adey, who had questions on zoning related to RM2  height requirements and changes to a new height of 13 metres, asking for clarification on the reason behind the change.

Mr. Buchan noted that the intent was to enable for density to be realized without any variances, considering thirteen metres as a reasonable height. 

Following up on that, Councillor Adey observed how most of the current RM2 zones are apartment buildings that exist already, asking if the current owners could make their buildings higher without having to go to a public process.

Mr. Buchan noted that would depend on the specific situation, though it could be dealt with much like a building permit. 

Mr. Adey also observed that it is a fairly significant change in the height and depending on where the building is located could create some opinion in whatever area of town the building is in, adding that he's not sure the city should want to remove the ability for the public to have input, and how if some of the changes did not come before council would provoke quite a public reaction.

Towards those themes, the contract planner outlined how there would be an attempt to summarize any significant changes, making specific note of any change to height which would also allow for public to have ability in general to speak to the zoning bylaw.

Mr. Buchan also highlighted that with the guidelines the public will have the ability to  review those elements and comment at this point at a Public Hearing prior to the adoption of the new OCP bylaws, he also noted of the height framework currently in place for the downtown area and any application in that area will need to comply with the new Official Community Plan.

Council then noted that they will proceed to Public Hearing at some point in the future following the guidelines and recommendations set out by Provincial Health Orders.

For a final question, Adey spoke to the public consultation plans, noting how he has always advocated for a real and robust opportunity for residents to speak up and if they want that consultation could produce changes to the bylaw before approval.

He asked how if there were any kind of push back from the public on the proposed changes what would be the process between third and fourth reading to respond to those concerns from the city's residents.

Mr. Buchan outlined how if that push back is heard Council has the ability to make changes at third reading and  explored what the parameters would be to determine if a second public hearing would be required following that feedback from the public.

Councillor Cunningham also spoke to the topic of the height changes asking if there would be any impact on density, the planner noted there would be no change in the way of density from the recommendations.

Councillor Mirau commended city staff and iPlan for their work on the file and how it addresses an issue raised by the small business community, adding he's looking forward to the public hearing to get feedback.

Councillor Adey echoed those thoughts and observed of the forward looking concepts and how he hopes the public will appreciate the scope of the plan at the public hearing stage.

Towards that public hearing, he asked if the city has determined what that process will look like moving forward.

Mr. Buchan hailed the work previous on consultation to this point, but noted there could still be some engagement required for some elements prior to any public hearing being scheduled.

Mayor Brain spoke to the topic as well, adding that the city will have to see how things play out in February under the COVID regulations, noting that council had previously hoped to hold a public session at the Civic Centre.

He reviewed some of the past work in getting the city's message out and concurred that there probably is a need for more information and explanation required for the public related  to the zoning bylaw.

He offered up the view that he prefers an in person opportunity as opposed to a Zoom like engagement and how Council would want to wait to see how things evolve towards hosting a public hearing.

With the conversation complete, Council moved forward with the recommendation for amendments and moved the process to proceed to Public Hearing following guidelines and recommendations set out by Provincial Health Orders.

( 31:00 -- 43:00 )  Report from the Corporate Administrator -- Re: Proposed Development Approval Information Bylaw -- Council heard from Mr. Buchan on the proposed changes, with the contract planner  explaining that it will provide the ability for Council to ask developers for supporting reports on their development plans. The municipal  document would comply with provincial legislation, though he did observe that just because you have the bylaw does not mean that you would use it unless there was a good reason to request additional information.

Towards questions, Councillor Mirau asked for a comment related to what the threshold may be to seek out expanded information.

In reply, Mr. Buchan observed that typically what would happen is that a request for more information would be triggered if a significant  issue like additional traffic, capacity, natural environment and such or if public concern may have been raised.

Mr. Mirau also asked for clarity on what recourse the city would have if it didn't believe the report provided met its requirements or concerns.

On that note, Mr. Buchan observed how the city would need good reason to dismiss a report provided by the developer before taking any further actions through a third party, adding that the best course is to find a mutually agreeable path towards resolving those issues.

Councillor Mirau wrapped up his thoughts with praise for the work of iPlan on the document.

Council then voted to give First, Second and Third readings to the bylaw.

(  43:00 -- 48:00  )  Report from the Corporate Administrator -- Re: Updated Development Procedures Bylaw --  Mr. Buchan continued on with his presentations on the evening noting that the Development bylaw revisions were designed to replace the existing document to make development processing more expeditious, more efficient and to improve timelines. He also outlined how some of the intent is to enable referrals to go earlier and public consultation to occur more quickly.

He made note of one additional area of the document which provides for enhanced visual aids towards the bylaw processionals for more information, as well as the delegation of development guidelines to provide for faster service and to move projects forward for approval in a more timely fashion.

Mayor Brain spoke to the changes and how the applications can right off the bat go to public consultation, with the Mayor recounting some previous applications where the public had not had access to the required information, leading to the public hearing about them before the Council has even introduced them.

Mr. Adey praised the use of the flow charts and how they help to explain the intent of the documentations. 

On questions of property variance themes he asked for clarification as to how Council would approach  the process, particularly towards notification for the public.

Mr. Buchan observed how the variance issues would be a council process handled through a committee of the Whole or to Council, while other elements would be more efficiently handled at the staff level. 

Council then adopted the motion.

To close the discussion, Mayor Brain provided his thanks to Mr. Buchan and his son for their work on the heavy lifting of the OCP themes and in helping the community to move forward.


 48:00 -- 52:00 Reports from Council 

Councillor Randhawa inquired on if there had been any progress made on resolving the suspension of air service to Prince Rupert, or to attract another air provider to the community.

In reply, the Mayor noted outlined the steps being taken by the Airport Manager and made note of a survey project that the Chamber of Commerce has created towards seeking some feedback from the public on the use of the airport.

He noted that once the City has something to share they will update the community. 

Councillor Adey recounted some of the good news and bad news that has come to the community, noting of the air service suspension and the uptick in COVID, though adding that the province has made a sizeable contribution towards Port development.

On that observation, he spoke to ongoing concerns over housing in Prince Rupert and noted that all levels of government need to be aware that an expansion of the port requires action on housing in the community.

Mr. Brain made use of that comment to share his thoughts on the progress that Council has made on the night with the review of reports and bylaw work, adding how Housing and child care are two key priorities for council and how he anticipates good traction for those issues this year, with a belief that the city will realized some work done on the housing concerns.

You can access our archive on the City Council session here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, can also be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.


Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from January 25 , 2020 (not available yet)

In addition to the city's official minutes, the City's Video archive provides a helpful record of the events from each public council session.


The next City Council session will take place on Monday, February 8th.

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







Large Load on the Road Again as Province alerts highway travellers of Highway 16 transit of Site C turbine runner starting tonight

Another Giant Turbine runner for Site C would appear to be
ready for transit later tonight
(BC Hydro photo)

Another convoy of heavy lift and support vehicles will head out of Prince Rupert later this evening, the first leg of another marathon trek from the North Coast to the Peace Country and with what appears to be another giant Turbine for the Site C Hydro electric project near Chetwynd.

The Province of British Columbia issued the advisory on Tuesday that charts the travels of the large load with departure for the first leg between Prince Rupert and Terrace set for sometime after 9PM, it's anticipated the convoy will arrive in Terrace prior to 6 AM tomorrow.

The first leg of four day journey east to Site C will 
get underway later tonight from Prince Rupert

In their advisory the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure notes that the schedule depends on a range of factors including weather and road conditions.

The route is scheduled during times when traffic volumes are low for the safe and efficient transport of the cargo and to reduce traffic delays for all travellers.

While they don't specifically mention the cargo as being the turbine rune, the destination of Chetwynd and the carrier Omega-Morgan, would be a pretty solid hint as to what's hitting the road tonight.

As well, Lakes District Maintenance wasn't quite as close to vest with their advisory of the upcoming transit, noting of potential road closures for the Bulkley Valley Lakes  District  area for this week.


Omega-Morgan transported the first turbine runner from Prince Rupert earlier this month, as we noted at the time, the turbines for Site C were built in Brazil and shipped to Prince Rupert in December.

More shipments for the Site C project are anticipated to arrive in Prince Rupert later this year, with the highway transit to follow.

The Drive BC website and twitter feed will have updates if required on the status of the highway as the cross BC trek gets underway. 

You can review some of the background to that first transit from our archive page here.   

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

BC maintains a place on the plateau as part of Tuesday COVID report, registering 407 new cases of the coronavirus

Tuesday's review of COVID information from Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix provided for a familiar narrative from the last few weeks, with British Columbia seemingly now in the grip of a pattern of daily case reports that have reach a plateau in the 400 to 500 case mark.

Today's statement also put the focus on breaking the chains of transmission, something that will be required to try to bring the levels of COVID down to levels last seen months ago.

“Today, we are reporting 407 new cases, including three epi-linked cases, for a total of 65,234 cases in British Columbia. 


There are 4,260 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 313 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 71 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation. 

Currently, 6,450 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 58,352 people who tested positive have recovered."

There have been 14 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,168 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Across the province, today's case count from Health Authorities included: 

124 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 169 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 22 in the Island Health region, 54 in the Interior Health region, 38 in the Northern Health region which increases the Northern BC totals to 3,251 since the start of the pandemic in January of 2020.

To date, 122,359 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 4,105 of which are second doses.

The two Public Health officials also made note of the need to break the chain of transmission to bring the number of positive cases down.

“With each new case, we have the opportunity to stop the virus in its tracks, break the chains of transmission and bring our numbers down. Each of us has the ability to do that. 

Our greatest source of transmission comes from when we spend time with those outside of our household, work or school bubble. That is why staying small and equally important, avoiding all unnecessary travel, is what we need to do right now. 

For the many who have been doing your part, you may be asking, ‘What more can I do?’ 

Be the voice of support and encouragement for those who may be wavering in their resolve. 

For the few who have chosen to put aside the public health precautions we all need to follow and make exceptions for themselves, now is your time to join or rejoin us in our efforts. It is never to late to be a part of the team who is making a difference every day across our province."




BC CDC data for  British Columbia as of January 26 2021

BC CDC data for Northern BC as of January 26 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

 




Port Edward officials invite their residents to Zoom into the Council Room for tonight's Public meeting


Tonight is Council night for the District of Port Edward and while the ongoing COVID related measures mean that the public can't  attend the Council chambers in person in order to follow the delivery of civic governance in the community, with the click of a Zoom Site, they can be part of the evening ahead. 

As part of their information flow towards tonight's public session in the District, Port Edward officials now advise that the Regular Council meeting will be available by Zoom, the first Regular session of the year that Port Edward will use the popular online communication option.


As for the Agenda for tonight, the Council members will review a range of correspondences, including one from the Prince Rupert Golf Club seeking a grant request in aid of their young adult golf program at the Prince Rupert course.

Tonight will also see a number of reports presented to the District council members included on the list:

A look at the proposed communication facilities by Telus along the highway

 
Consideration that the District apply for funding for some required work around the Municipal Building

 
A review of a proposal to apply to the Port of Prince Rupert for partial funding for a new Fire Truck for the community 


Consideration of approving a grant application to NDIT towards hiring a Grant Writer for the District.

The Council  members will also receive a report on the Harbourview Neighbourhood Concept Plan Community Survey, which will provided some background to what residents thought of development of a Downtown commercial section for the community.

Councillors will also be able to speak to new business or provide reports, with Questions from the audience also something still included as part of the council agenda package.

Those wishing to follow along as the Port Edward Council members move through their Agenda for the night, can use this code https://zoom.us/j/96434542476 to access tonight's session.

Simply type the code above into a browser to join this evenings meeting which starts at 7PM.

You can review the full Agenda for tonight's session here.

For more notes from the District see our Port Edward archive page here.

No sailings scheduled for 2021, but the Alaska Marine Highway System is still holding a spot open for Prince Rupert

The Alaska Marine Highway has released their Draft Summer Schedule for service in 2021 and as it was last year, there will seemingly be no sightings of an Alaska Ferry in Prince Rupert harbour for the year ahead, at least if the current restrictions on travel to and from Canada remain in place.

The Draft schedule posted to the AMHS website on Monday indicates that Americans looking to reach the lower 48 states will have only one option in the year ahead, the regular service between Bellingham and Ketchikan which travels the Inside Passage of Vancouver Island and hugs the Northern BC coastline on its transit North and South.


In their notes of Monday, the AMHS did make mention of Prince Rupert, that through a short item that outlines the current situation and the option of adding the Fairview Bay terminal to the destination board should the circumstances change.

Due to the pandemic and continuing Canadian border closure, the proposed summer schedule does not include service to Prince Rupert. Upon the future reopening of the Canadian border, a team from the State of Alaska will meet at that time with US Customs and Border Protection and Transport Canada in Prince Rupert to finalize the steps necessary to meet US Customs Full Pre Clearance requirements for service to Prince Rupert.

Beyond the COVID measures which don't appear likely to be lifted in the foreseeable future, still to be resolved is the US Customs and Border Protection Service requirement of armed law enforcement for the Prince Rupert terminal at Fairview Bay.

The Alaska Marine Highway suspended its service to Prince Rupert in the late fall of 2019.

The full information release from Monday can be examined here.

The Draft schedules and further background on the service  is available for review here, while the Alaska Department of Transportation is receiving comments at  dot.amhs.comments@alaska.gov

You can find more notes on Marine travel on the North Coast from our archive page here.

COVID makes for tough decisions for Prince Rupert's Small Businesses

Prince Rupert's Shutter
Shack has put business
 on hold owing to COVID
The recent spike in positive case reports in Prince Rupert is making for some tough business decisions for local merchants, with owners weighing the financial against the personal and in some cases, closing their doors for a short period of time to ride out the current storm.

One local business that has decided to put a pause on commerce is Shutter Shack, which has temporarily closed up its Third Avenue location, explaining their decision through their Social media feed.

In their notice which was posted yesterday, the owners make note of a current concern of many in the community of the lack of clear information from Northern Health about the state of the current outbreak of COVID in the community, which has seen positive cases reported both at Prince Rupert's public schools and at the Acropolis Manor Long Term Care Facility


Small businesses have borne the brunt of much of the COVID pandemic, responding to changing measures from the province, while having to spend additional cash on precautionary additions towards safety for their employees and customers.

The Shutter Shack notice does not indicate how long the temporary closure will be in place, though they do offer up use of their message service on Facebook for customers to inquire about any existing projects or orders at the store.

So far, the feedback from community members has been very supportive of their decision.

For more notes on the city's commercial sector see our archive page here.

Kootenay Avenue work serves as a reminder of unfinished business on housing for Prince Rupert City Council


There appears to be some preliminary work underway along the eastern end of Kootenay Avenue with yellow fencing up around a few blocks of unoccupied townhomes and materials being carted out from the site.

The recent burst of activity in the McKay/Kootenay area does serve to remind local residents that there has yet to be any follow up from Prince Rupert council on the fate of a proposed redevelopment for the area. 

A proposal for additional housing for the area that was introduced in the Spring of 2020 and since has seemingly been put on pause over the summer and into the fall and winter after a range of concerns from area residents.

The last update on the Kootenay plans from City Council coming from the lost Council session of October 26th, a public session which owing to technical difficulties did not get broadcast or added to the City's video archive.

The synopsis from the City noting that a Public Hearing was still planned, but no date yet confirmed towards it.

Prince Rupert City Council synopsis from the Oct 26 2020 session

The Kootenay proposal when introduced back in May of 2020 included redevelopment of the stretch of Kootenay to include a 55 unit multi family residential development.


City Council appears to be accumulating a list of areas where Public Hearings or information sessions have been promised, but so far owing to COVID, have not yet been delivered on. 

Something that would appear to be slowing down Council's ambitious goals towards increasing housing stock in the community.

The City also continues to move forward on housing themes without an actual planning department in place, having bid farewell to Zeno Krekic in 2020, with no indication yet if there are any plans to fill the vacant position, or to increase in-house civic staff for planning issues.

So far in 2021, while City Council has identified Housing as one of its key priorities for the future, the fate of the Kootenay plans have yet to be reintroduced in the public forum for further review, or even to offer an update on the status of what's ahead for the area.

To catch up on the past plans, some of the past chapters of the now long running housing story for the west side can be reviewed below:

2020

September 16 -- BC Housing's Kootenay Avenue plans to come back to Council later this year, following proponent's 'adjustment's
September 14 -- BC Housing plans for Kootenay Avenue set for forward progress tonight
August 13 -- Kootenay Avenue housing plans now up for neighbourhood consultation
June 24 -- Kootenay/McKay area residents await roll out of information on Housing proposal
May 27 -- Council to use Second reading of zoning amendment for a review towards need for a Public Hearing on Kootenay Social Housing proposal
May 25 -- Kootenay Avenue site proposed for new 55 unit multi family residential development

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

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


Prince Rupert yet to hit the ice in annual Kraft Hockeyville competition


With a new NHL season having hit the ice, the annual competition to discover the next Kraft Hockeyville is now underway, the popular community building project one that attracts interest from across Canada. 

The lure of funding for local rink improvements and a chance to one day host an NHL game stoking the imaginations of many and making for a wide range of creative approaches to gain votes.

The competition now in its 15th year got underway at the start of January, since the porject first was created back in 2006, arena upgrades have come  to communities across the nation, among them Terrace, which was named Hockeyville back in 2009.



For the 2021 edition, the path forward looks like this.

With the first phase underway now with nominations and community message making currently the focus from coast to coast to coast ... except it seems in Prince Rupert, where so far, the quest for Hockeyville is still quite muted.


As of today, the Kraft Hockeyville website continues to note that the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre still needs a nomination.


To get things rolling, those in Prince Rupert with an interest in chasing the puck can explore the community page options here.

You can follow the competition from the Kraft Hockeyville website.

The nomination period for this years competition comes to an end on February 14th

For more CommunityNotes on the North Coast see our archive page here.