City Council had a full list on the to do list Monday, with a Public Hearing, Committee of the Whole session and Regular Council session all taking place on the night
A public hearing, some forward momentum for two high profile developments and some new honourees for civic awards made for some of the focus on the evening as Prince Rupert Council hosted their only session for July on Monday evening.
Also of note for the night was a presentation from a representative from Ecotrust Canada, speaking on the theme of community energy initiatives and a request for letters of support and funding towards a local feasibility study.
The May variance report from CFO Corinne Bomben was also on the agenda, with some focus directed towards the financials for the Airport Ferry to the month of May included.
The night ended with Questions and Comments from Councillors Adey and Cunningham, with Councillor Adey relaying a number of comments from the public related to the city's recent launch of a new garbage and recycling program.
( 0:00 -- 7:45 )The City Council hosted a Public Hearing into a proposed modular hotel facility for a parcel of land on Park Avenue. The session was a short one, with no members of the public coming forward to comment on the proposed development.
( 7:45 - 8:30) Committee of the Whole Session for Monday, July 26, 2021 -- Mayor Lee Brain called the session to order, adopting past minutes and the Agenda for the session underway,
(8:30 -- 23:00) Presentation from Graham Anderson from Eco-Trust Canada --
Mr. Anderson provided a short overview of the work of Ecotrust on themes of community energy initiatives, noting as to how Prince Rupert would be a good fit for the Home Energy Retrofit program, something which addresses the issue of Energy Poverty.
As he explained it to council Energy Poverty finds households having to allocate larger than typical of their household income on energy needs and is propelled by three drivers: low household income, high energy prices and low energy efficiencies in their homes.
Towards a solution he outlined how a program to deliver Heat Pump opportunities with partner communities has been well received in recent years, noting of their success on Vancouver island and in Bella Bella, noting how the program would be one worth exploring in the Prince Rupert area.
The Ecotrust staffer observed how the situation in Prince Rupert is one which is the strongest opportunity for a Heat Pump solution in the country; noting of the high cost of energy, the age of the housing stock and how the climate aids the operational aspects of a heat Pump.
Towards moving forward he identified a couple of obstacles currently in place, the first was access to funding and financing, as well as the access to an energy auditor which is a requirement of the program, with the closest one in the North based out of Prince George.
He also observed as to some of the lack of awareness in the region towards the opportunities that a Heat Pump solution could offer.
Towards building up that knowledge, Mr. Anderson noted of a desire to create a locally financed feasibility study to undertake such a program,; as well as to develop some capacity locally to allow for local residents to have access to the program available in the community.
The local organization would also like to build a program of local promotion and coordination to help move the initiative forward in the North Coast region.
As part of their efforts, Ecotrust is making a request of the City for letters of support and matching financial support of 7,500 dollars, the latter to be used in 2022 towards furthering their initiative in the community.
Mr. Anderson also observed as to how the Ecotrust plans had a strong connection with the City's Sustainable City 2030 plan that the city has developed towards replacing fossil fuels.
In follow questions and comments, Councillor Niesh observed of some of the challenges locally in finding contractors at the moment to provide for the installation process of the Heat Pumps and how if the program is to be effective they may need someone locally in place to assist in the installation process.
Councillor Randhawa followed up by asking for some costing on the proposal, the reply was that the cost. was anywhere from 5,000 to 18,000 dollars, with rebates available towards $8,500 depending on the scope of the project.
Councillor Adey expressed his enthusiasm for their proposal and how it addresses climate based issues in the community, he then asked for some additional background on the request for the $7,500 in funding from the city.
Mr. Anderson outlined how that would represent ten percent of a contribution which is the required amount from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities which is the lead organization for the funding project in order to move forward with a feasibility study.
Following that study, the opportunity to access larger levels of funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalies would be something that a local based plan could take advantage of.
Councillor Cunningham offered up some observations on a recent installation that he had knowledge and noted that some of the cost may still be somewhat prohibitive for many residents in the community.
In reply, Mr. Anderson noted of some areas where prioritization of the program could be beneficial and for some households it may make more sense for those planning to replace their entire furnace and heating system.
Mayor Brain asked about the request for 7,500 dollars for the feasibility study and what kind of timeline is required, particularly towards when the City funding would be needed, Mr. Anderson noted that it would be part of their plans for moving forward in 2022.
The Mayor observed how that would be helpful towards the city's budgeting, he then thanked Mr. Anderson for his presentation.
Council would review the request for the funding later on in the evening.
( 23:30 -- 27:30) Comments from the Public
The first participant, Larry Golden, made inquiries related to the City's new garbage collection and recycling program, asking about the cost and what budget the money was taken from, as well he had questions related to what happens to the recycling material once it is collected from local homeowners.
Mayor Brain noted that the program had been funded through Gas Tax revenues and a small part, 20 dollars taken from the 2022 utility bills.
As for the recycling themes, Mr. Golden was advised by the city's Manager of Operations Richard Pucci, that once the program starts in the fall it will be collected at curb-side and taken to the Regional District facility, he observed that the officials at the facility then decide on what happens to the material from that point.
Mr. Pucci did note that he would inquire further on what happens to the recycled items once at the Recycling Centre and follow up on Mr. Golden's themes.
A second person wished to speak towards the Public Hearing on the proposed Park Avenue hotel development, however the Mayor advised the according to municipal regulations council can no longer discuss the issue once the Public Hearing has come to a conclusion.
Council then adjourned to the Regular Session for the night.
( 27:30 -- 28:30) Regular City Council Session for Monday, June 28, 2021 -- Mayor Lee Brain called the session to order, adopting past minutes and the Agenda for the session.
(28:30-- 33:00) Report from iPlan related to proposed Telus Cellular tower location -- The city's contract planner from iPlan provided council with some background related to the city's concerns over a proposed placement of a cellular communication tower for Telus in the community, with Rob Buchan outlining how the chose location by the telecommunication company is not one that the City is enthused about.
Telus has indicated it prefers a site near the BC Hydro location with Telus having reconfigured the height of their proposed tower following past discussion with the city.
However, that site is one. which the city suggests is still not a preferred location according to its policies, with the City offering up a location adjacent to the industrial site towards its preference for the tower location.
The report sought the guidance of Council as to what steps they wish to move forward with towards the issue.
In his comments, the city planner noted that the topic has been a long running one, with Mr. Pucci working on it prior to Mr. Buchan's engagement and that a number of alternative options had been suggested to Telus.
He further outlined that Telus has been asked to identify an area that would work for them to their specifications, but as yet has not received any information from the company.
Though he observed how the communication company still seems inclined towards its original choice.
Mr. Buchan noted how the city considers the Telus choice one which considering the sensitivity of its location in the Gateway area of the city is of concern, adding that Council may wish to weigh in on the issue now and advise Telus of its thoughts on the site in question, while offering to continue working with the company to find a location that would work for them.
Towards that theme, Councillor Niesh suggested that the City advise Telus that they would refuse this location and continue to work with Telus towards the areas that the city has given them.
Councillor Adey made an inquiry of staff towards the Telus preference and if the city was aware of any technical reasons for that selection, Mr. Buchan advised he could not offer any comment on that as it is not in the city skill set, though he did observe that other communication providers do have service in the community without that location, so it's not clear to city staff why that wouldn't work for Telus as well.
Councillor Mirau concurred with Councillor Niesh's themes noting that there is no need to go to public notification for something that council wouldn't support. in the first place. He then suggested that it makes more sense for Council to try to find a location that works best for both parties and move forward from there.
Council then carried their motion.
( 33:00)-- 34:00 ) Report from CFO Corinne Bomben presenting the May 2021 Financial Variance Report -- Ms. Bomben provided some details on the results of the May variance and noted of some of the impact of reduced flights on the Airport Ferry. On that theme she noted how some of those issues can be offset by the use of the province's COVID 19 restart program.
Councillor Cunningham had one question following the report asking if the COVID restart money could be used for other departments, such as the Recreation Department. Ms. Bomben noted that the program is provided towards impacts that COVID has had on civic operations and as of yet those are not known until after they have experienced them.
( 34:00 -- 35:00 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator releasing an announcement from the Closed Session of Council on June 28th -- Ms. Rosa Miller announced that the City has posthumously awarded the Freedom of the City Award to Dr. Frank Parnell and that the Civic Appreciation Award be awarded to Ms. Margaret Lester Lorette.
Mayor Brain observed that normally those awards are presented on Canada Day, with the City to perhaps invite the families to a future City Council session.
( 35:00 -- 36:00 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator providing some background to a request for a letter of support and some funding from the City towards an initiative on home energy from Ecotrust Canada -- Ms. Rosa Miller outlined the theme of the letter request, as well as to the request for $7,500 in funding an in kind support towards a study into community energy opportunities in the community.
The Mayor observed how he believes the initiative is a great process to undertake and how it would be good for the community.
Council then voted to adopt the motion.
( 36:00 -- 42:00) Report from iPlan, Mr. Robert Buchan provided a short overview of the rezoning request for a property on Park Avenue related to a proposed modular hotel. -- Prior to the discussion, Councillor Randhawa excused himself owing to a conflict.
As for the topic, with the public hearing having concluded earlier in the night and with no public comment received, Council made quick work of the third reading for the rezoning request.
As part of the short discussion the mayor asked for some further background on the nature of the covenant on the land in question to ensure it is only used for a hotel development. Mr. Buchan provided the timeline for that covenant as part of the rezoning process.
( 42:00 -- 47:30) Report from iPlan, Mr. Robert Buchan provided a short review of the process ahead towards the proposed apartment complex along 11th Avenue East --
The contract planner from iPlan provided an update on the progress forward towards the application for development of an apartment complex along the 11th Avenue East corridor at Edwards Avenue.
Councillor Mirau opened the conversation on the topic noting how the proposed development is on the topic of the need for more housing in the community, with the Councillor observing as to the urgency the issue has provided to the rental market.
He also acknowledged the scope of the interest in the community and the neighbourhood towards the project, calling attention to some of the past issues on parking and traffic and how it has been addressed as part of the latest information on the proposed development.
As part of the process, the topic now will move to the Public Hearing stage, with the mayor indicating his preference for it to take place on the same date as a Regular Council session.
Councillor Cunningham also noted of some of the controversy that the project has generated and noted how transparency is a key element towards the proposal and how its moving forward.
The prospect of the public hearing provided for some further conversation, with Councillor Nick Adey noting that considering the nature of the development and the interest that has been expressed towards it, that perhaps an alternative venue other than the City Hall chamber may be required towards addressing any potential interest in the development.
That was a theme that Mr. Buchan from iPlan concurred with, noting that if Council believes that a crowd larger crowd than what City Hall can hold was anticipated, then they should address that topic now.
That feedback was enough for Mayor Brain to instruct staff to explore alternate venue opportunities for the Public Hearing for the proposed development.
It was not clear On Monday night if the Public Hearing would still take place on a City Council Night, or if it will be a separate event; City staff advised that the advertising for the Public Hearing would be provided to the local newspaper with enough time for the required two notices.
The date and location of the Public Hearing to be confirmed by that point.
( 47:30 -- 50:25 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator on amendments to the City's Recreation Fees bylaws -- Councillor Cunningham led off a short conversation on the fees assessed to mobile food vendors for space at the Civic Centre Parking lot, with the Councillor noting how the current fees are making for a situation for potential vendors to decide not to set up at the parking lot as they don't make enough money from the current arrangement.
City Council voted to approve the new Recreation Fees as previously noted, not wishing to have to return to a new process of approval.
It was noted that if the parking lot fees prove to be a problem or limit participation then an amendment could be considered at a future date.
( 50:25 -- 54:57 ) Questions, Comments, Reports or Inquiries from Council
Councillor Adey led off the comment period, taking up the theme of the City's recycling program which he observed was a giant step forward, though he did relay some comments from the public over the size of the city supplied garbage cans and asking for some clarity from city staff as to the policies in place towards additional garbage need.
Mr. Pucci spoke to the topic, noting that city staff is considering a program for those residents who have more garbage that one container can hold, a proposal which would see those residents purchase a second bin from the City, and as time goes on they can return the bin to the city and the charge will be taken off.
The Manager of Operations further explained how the idea is one that notes at the that time residents may need the additional bin and they can use the second bin for as many number of years as they wish, but as time goes on they may find that they no longer require that additional capacity and how their service would return to the city's standard service.
Mr. Adey observed how he and his household had explored ways to adjust their footprint, however he also raised the topic of how there needs to be a level playing field for those living at home alone and for larger families.
In reply, Mr. Pucci outlined how staff would be coming back to Council shortly with something for a review for the program re-roll out, observing of the net positive that the new program offers, outlining how the amount of airspace within the two bins make for a more positive process, as well as to how the city no longer has a bag limit in place anymore.
He further noted how residents can drop as many bags as they like in the new city black bins which makes use of a dumping mechanism and can thus have more loosely put in and compacted garbage placed into the city supplied cans.
Councillor Adey once again reinforced his enthusiasm for the new program and was relaying questions that he had heard.
Councillor Adey called attention to some recent events, paying tribute to the Prince Rupert Ladies Soccer club's success at a Kitimat tournament where they went undefeated.
He also noted of the success of the recent North Coast Community Service fishing derby which raised 15,000 dollars with that money to be directed towards child care centre and development of a
child care development centre in their facility.
And with that the July 26th session came to an end.
You can access our Council Session Archive page, 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 July 26th, 2021
(not available yet)
The next scheduled Regular Council session as part of their reduced summer schedule will take place on Monday, August 23rd.
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