Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Need for surgery puts People's Party Candidate in Prince Rupert for health care, Jody Craven's campaign to continue

A hospital bed in Prince Rupert will make for a temporary
campaign stopover for People's Party candidate Jody Craven

It will depend on when his doctor advises him that he's good to go, before People's Party of Jody Craven will hit the campaign trail again, that with word that the candidate in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley contest will be medevaced to Prince Rupert for medical attention following a weekend health scare.

Mr. Craven noted some of the details of the last 48 hours through his campaign social media account, the candidate falling ill over the weekend taken first to the Smithers hospital, followed by plans to transport him on to Prince Rupert for what has been announced as gallbladder surgery.

The candidate told the Terrace Standard today that he is not suspending his campaign, with plans to be back at his quest for a House of Commons seat as soon as he's medically cleared.

More notes on the Skeena-Bulkley Valley campaign can be reviewed here.

UFAWU-Unifor Shoreworkers holding contract vote with deadline Friday for return of ballots

Shoreworkers at the Canadian Fishing Company operations in
Prince Rupert are currently voting on a new contract

After a summer of negotiation towards a new labour contract, Shoreworkers with the Canadian Fishing Company in Prince Rupert are holding a contract vote this week, with the union executive making note of the need for reply by the end of the this week.

An update on the contract process was posted on Monday to the UFAWU-Unifor Facebook page, with members asked to call 250-600-4814 if they have not received a ballot in the mail.

A sample of the wage increases and Northern differential for Prince Rupert shore workers is included in the information notes, with a 35 cent differential in place for those workers in the north.

As part of the contract negotiation, the current proposal calls for retro pay to  be backdated to April 16th.

The Deadline to mail the ballots back is September 3.

If approved by the membership, the term of the contract would run from 2021 to 2024.

More notes on the Fishery on the North Coast, as well as items of interest from the Alaska fishery can be explored here.

Road Trip takes North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice to Haida Gwaii next week

Residents of Haida Gwaii will have an opportunity for some face to face conversations with their MLA, with Jennifer Rice using her Social media options to announce plans for an early September visit to the Islands next week.

The North Coast MLA posted her itinerary to her Facebook Page on Monday, with stops noted for Old Masset on September 8th, Daajing Giids and Queen Charlotte area on September 9th and Port Clements on September 10th.

While on Haida Gwaii Ms. Rice will be in attendance for a Pole Raising Ceremony at Daajing Giids. 

The event as we noted on Monday set for near the RCMP detachment in the community  the mid-day pole raising outlined as one taking place in the  spirit of reconciliation for the community.

For those on Haida Gwaii looking for a meeting with the MLA, you can call the North Coast constituency office at 250-624-7734 for more information or email Ms. Rice at Jennifer.Rice.MLA@leg.bc.ca

You can follow her Facebook page for any additions or changes to the tour.

More notes on the MLA and the Legislature can be reviewed here.

A Dash of paint on a sunny day!


There was a little bit of building maintenance taking place at the Royal Canadian Legion on Third Avenue West this afternoon, as the building gets a new look with a new coat of paint as part of the outdoor work underway.

The paint job for the Legion wasn't the only touch up to be found this afternoon, with a number of buildings across the downtown area getting some attention in the midst of the first day of a two day sunny period.

Those with outdoor projects will get one more day to knock down the To Do list, with sun again expected tomorrow along with a high of 17, that before the final long weekend of the summer brings a rainy forecast to the North Coast.

SD52 seeks feedback on best options for information sharing for 2021-22

With the new school year just days away now, School District 52 is seeking out some guidance from the public as to how they can best share information on the happenings and notes of interest from the Schools of the region.

In a post to their Facebook page on Monday, SD52 has asked that those with an interest in education take a moment to fill out their survey as to which social media platforms should be used for sharing information in the year ahead.

With the return to classroom of next week, the School District has also posted the details of the COVID 19 protocols in place for 2021-2022 with includes new information for the year ahead. 

You can review the document here, it is described as a living document and one which will evolve over the year.

As they explain in their release, Individual schools will be posting their plans and news in the lead up to the return to school on Tuesday. 

Links to those school websites can be accessed here.

More notes on education around the Northwest can be reviewed here.

With a retirement looming, Northern Savings once again on the search for a President and CEO

Northern Savings will launch another Executive Search 
as Current CEO and President Bob Marshall announces his
retirement plans for the end of the year

Prince Rupert based financial savings organization Northern Savings made note of a pending departure on Monday, updating its members on the retirement plans for CEO and President Bob Marshall, who will step away from his duties at the end of 2021.

As part of their relay of the news, Northern Savings Board Chair Jamie Malthus paid tribute to the CEO's time at the helm as part of the statement issued on Monday.

 “The Board of Directors is grateful to Bob for his perseverance and hard work, especially during these unprecedented times and we wish him the very best in his retirement”

Northern Savings also highlighted some of the themes that evolved during Mr. Marshall's time of leadership for the institution, which serves the region with branches in Prince Rupert, Terrace and on Haida Gwaii.

During Bob’s tenure as CEO, Northern Savings continued to experience capital levels which remain well above regulatory obligation. Bob also worked closely with the Senior Leadership Team and Board to develop a solid strategic plan which will navigate the credit union in the future – with a robust suite of innovative technological services. 

Mr. Marshall joined the organization in May of 2019, that after a lengthy search for a new President and CEO, that quest coming following a number of departures at the financial service provider over the previous few years.

His plans for retirement comes as Northern Savings makes final preparations towards the introduction of a banking system conversion which is set to go live in mid November, a topic the soon to retire CEO made note of in his comments.

Northern Savings President
and CEO Bob Marshall
“Our team continues to work towards a smooth transition for members and employees and I am excited to see the credit union through this project before my retirement. I am honoured to have worked with a strong group of colleagues here at Northern Savings, who are truly committed to fulfilling our vision of neighbours helping neighbours to build sustainable communities.”

As for the search for his successor, the Northern Savings Board Chair outlined the process ahead of the financial group.

The Board of Directors will immediately begin a national search to identify a long-term, qualified, and permanent CEO. The Board seeks a candidate with the expertise, passion, and commitment to move Northern Savings forward in providing a financially strong credit union for our members, employees, and communities.

The full Northern Savings statement can be reviewed here.

More notes on the Northwest Commercial sector can be explored here.


International Overdose Awareness Day calls attention to growing concerns including those of the Northwest

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day, a day put aside annual to remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

“Today is International Overdose Awareness Day; a day in which we remember and mourn the family members, friends and neighbours we’ve lost to drug toxicity. To the thousands of B.C. families grieving the loss of a beloved family member, I extend my heartfelt condolences and my hope that the stories you’ve shared will continue to influence positive change. Those who died mattered and their loss is felt deeply, and we must continue to urge those in positions of influence across our province and the country to move to urgently implement measures to prevent more unnecessary suffering and death.” -- Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service

The commemoration at the end of August comes as the ongoing epidemic continues to claim lives amid growing calls for actions that will address a public health crisis and stimulate discussion on prevention and drug policy.

This year, the day of recognition arrives in the Northwest with a public warning still in place, with Northern Health having outlined its concern over recent Overdose events in the northwest.

With incidents of overdoses rising in the region, the health Authority issued a an Overdose Alert for Terrace and Smithers earlier this month.

Northern Health also provided a glimpse into the issue with this background piece from one family to reflect the issues of struggles with opioids. 

While Prince Rupert was not included in that alert, the North Coast Transition Society which perhaps has the most interaction with those on the streets offered up their own concerns at the time.

Today as part of their recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, the Provincial government relayed the findings of the BC Coroners Service, which notes how more than 1,000 British Columbians have lost their lives to toxic, illicit drugs in just the first six months of this year.

“The deaths of more than 1,000 British Columbians in the first six months of 2021 is a tragic reminder that the toxic illicit drug supply remains a significant ongoing threat to public health and safety in communities throughout our province. The data released today highlights the immensity of this public health emergency and the need for a wide-scale response. This includes removing barriers to safe supply, ensuring timely access to evidence-based affordable treatment and providing those experiencing problematic substance use with compassionate and viable options to reduce risks and save lives.” -- Lisa Lapointe, chief coroner, BC Coroners Service

More from the Province on today's observation, as well as a number of links to other resources can be found here.

Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental health and Addictions also shared information on today's day of observation, while also paying tribute to the front line workers during the crisis. 

“I’m blown away by the heroic work of people on the frontlines of the drug poisoning crisis, saving lives under incredibly difficult conditions. Yet tragically, we're still losing lives. For people who use drugs, or who care about someone who does, it’s vital to stay safer in this public health emergency."

You can learn more about the Overdose Awareness campaign here.

Further items of note from Northern Health can be explored here,

Northern Gateway now seems destined to be a narrative for Skeena-Bulkley Valley contest

A Sunday night discussion on the CBC French network
has revived the topic of the Northern Gateway pipeline

(screenshot from Radio Canada program)

It took a few hours for the translation to come in, but once folks east of the Ontario Quebec border had a chance to hear of a Sunday evening television interview from Montreal, the ghosts of the Northern Gateway debate of almost a decade ago returned to the hot topic discussion list.

The reintroduction of one of the more controversial moments for British Columbia and the northwest came following an appearance by Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole on the French language news program. 

Mr. O'Toole while expanding on his vision of reconciliation issues, spoke to the prospect of having Indigenous leaders and groups become involved in investments such as the once proposed pipeline project that would have delivered Alberta resources to a shipping terminal at Kitimat.

The history of that pipeline and its eventual demise can be traced from our archives of the time, the issue one which proved to be a political and social lighting rod across Northern British Columbia at the time.

The Conservative leader expanded on his themes en Anglais through Monday, though most likely the only area that it will generate much in the way of a heated debate will be found in the Northwest and Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

O'Toole defends climate plan while promising to revive oil pipeline projects 
O'Toole supports reviving Northern Gateway pipeline in appeal to Indigenous communities
Erin O'Toole supports building Northern Gateway pipeline despite previous cancellation
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole promises to ban puppy mills and support Northern Gateway pipeline
O'Toole supports building dead Northern Gateway pipeline, cites Indigenous benefits

By the time Monday evening was drawing to a close, Nathan Cullen the former MP for Skeena Bulkley Valley and current MLA for Stikine had weighed in on the prospect of a do over for the Northern Gateway debate. 

He was followed a little later in the evening by the current office holder Taylor Bachrach, who is seeking re-election on September 20th.

While the theme of Monday seems to be one of how this is a new suggestion, it's not really. 

Earlier this year, the Conservative leader, while speaking to the Terrace Chamber of Commerce had previewed his thoughts on resource development and the need to approach Indigenous communities as part of the goals of reconciliation, mentioning the Northern Gateway project at the time.

The concept of an Indigenous owned pipeline to transport resources has been a frequent project championed in the region, most recently through a proposal touted by Eagle Spirit Energy which had outlined plans for a pipeline to a facility near Grassy Point north of Lax Kw'alaams.

The spectre of the Northern Gateway also served as part of the debate over the push back to a 2020 private members bill from an Alberta MP that was seeking to overturn the tanker ban on the North Coast, a bill that went down to defeat at the time.

The return of a pipeline project to the political narrative in the heat of an election campaign isn't particularly surprising. 

Though considering the vast difference in opinion between the two main contenders in the region for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley seat, it most likely won't have much impact on the campaigns for either the NDP or the Conservative supporters. 

Both are the home for voters who are not likely to change their opinions let alone their voting intentions, and mostly will only serve to generate some energy for their base of voters and party activists.

Its reprise however may provide opportunity for many of the local politicians of the region to weigh in, the topic one which was a focus for not only MLA Rice at the time, but Prince Rupert City Council which joined in on the debate and even contributed to the launch of the municipal political career for Mayor Lee Brain.

The Northern Gateway of the past also brought a large volume of opponents to the streets and to rallies at the time, making for one of the dominant political themes from 2012-2016

As for the current debate, it's the undecided vote where the reintroduction of the Northern Gateway themes may have the most impact, and whether it shifts any of those votes to either of the two top contenders as part of the current campaign that is underway.

The larger discussion would come following the election, though with current polling suggesting a minority government may once again be the most likely outcome on Election Day; the prospect of a Northern Gateway II would seem one that may not find much traction even should the Conservatives  be the ones to gain office on September 20th.

More notes on the local contenders and they efforts heading towards Election Day can be reviewed here.

A wider overview of the national campaign themes can be explored from our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

Monday, August 30, 2021

CityWest announces the winner for 2022 Prince Rupert Phone Book Cover contest

As Rupert a visual as you could hope for
will make for the 2022 CityWest phone book cover

You can't go wrong with a kid and a puddle, and that's the photo narrative for your 2022 Prince Rupert CityWest Phone Book, with the Prince Rupert based communication company announcing the winning selection today through their Social Media platform.

Jordan McAthy's submission of a youngster, in rainbow boots splashing into a puddle was the favourite of those who voted over the last week or so;  the contest attracting many submissions before being whittled down to the ten finalists announced earlier this month.

The cover photo along with your 2022 phone book will be delivered to homes in the city most likely by November or into early December.

You can review the announcement, as well as the best wishes to the photographer from the CityWest Facebook page here.

More notes on the City of Prince Rupert owned communication company can be explored through our archive page here.

More recommendations released on goals of affordable electricity

The Province of British Columbia and BC Hydro have released some additional recommendations from the recent BC Hydro Review, which they are hopeful towards finding greater use of clean, renewable energy cross the province as well as to work to reduce emissions and achieve climate targets.

The information release from Friday noted the input from a panel of external energy experts, government officials and officials at BC Hydro to help towards developing the recommendations. Included among the items on the list:

Having BC Hydro consider providing more support for lower-income BC Hydro customers. 

These include incentives and exploring optional rates for customers to adopt electric heat pumps, and facilitating customer adoption of controllable energy devices that provide BC Hydro the ability to offer incentives in return for helping to manage a customer’s electricity use.

In July 2021, the Province announced a first set of recommendations from Phase 2 of the BC Hydro Review. The next announcement from Phase 2 will include recommendations to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road. 

In addition, as part of the Draft Action Plan to advance the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, the Province is proposing to engage with Indigenous peoples to identify and support new clean energy opportunities related to CleanBC, the BC Hydro Review and the British Columbia Utilities Commission Indigenous Utilities Regulation Inquiry.

Bruce Ralston, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, noted of the provincial governments commitment towards a transition away from fossil fuels.

“Keeping life affordable for people is a key priority of our government. Affordable electricity rates not only help British Columbians, they help ensure the price of electricity remains competitive with other forms of energy, supporting the transition away from fossil fuels to clean electricity in our homes and buildings, vehicles and businesses.”

The goals towards that transition at times have met with some commentary from those with concerns on environmental issues, mostly related to the provincial themes of the Horgan government on themes of LNG development as well as to the construction of the Site C Hydro dam in the Peace Country.

The provincial approach towards electricity has also been tied into their work on reducing poverty, a theme that Nicholas Simons, the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction expanded on as part of the Friday release.

“As we promote increased use of electricity in B.C. to achieve our climate targets, we need to continue to focus on keeping electricity rates affordable, especially for lower-income families. Through the BC Hydro Review, and continuing engagement with stakeholders and organizations to follow, we are committed to finding ways to keep rates affordable, so everyone has access to the benefits of B.C.’s clean, reliable electricity.”

You can review full information package here.

For more notes on items of note from the Legislature see our archive page here.

BC Ferries Summer of mechanical woe continues, with weekend issues for Northern Sea Wolf

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice welcoming the 
Northern Sea Wolf to service back in 2019

BC Ferries has had a rough summer in keeping the services offered to the North Coast, Central Coast and Haida Gwaii working to best capacity, with the Northern Sea Wolf, which serves Port Hardy and the Central Coast the latest vessel to suffer some mechanical issues.

The latest incident came this past weekend when BC Ferries advised of delays to their schedule following engine issues with the vessel.

The Saturday situation just one of a few problems this summer for the latest addition to the fleet, which was also noted in mid August by BC Ferries. 

That one as well related to engine woes for the Northern Sea Wolf, which joined the fleet in June of 2019, but faced a range of delays in 2020 owing to COVID.

The vessel most recently had a refit in April of this year.


The sailing issues of the Summer made for the narrative for travellers of the Prince Rupert - Port Hardy and Prince Rupert - Haida Gwaii runs earlier in the season, with service reduced to one vessel the Northern Adventure, that after the Northern Expedition had to return south for extensive repairs.

The timing for the repairs making for a reduced schedule for the start of the summer for the service that returned to the Winter Schedule offering less opportunities for transit during the busiest period of the year.

Fortunately the repairs to the Northern Expedition were completed by the August long weekend, when the ship returned to service and so far (touch wood) the service hasn't had too many delays or situations to deal with.

More notes on BC Ferries can be reviewed here.

PRFD Swag available at the Fire Hall

Members of the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Department
have a tote bag for you down at the Fire Hall

It's a chance for you to do your shopping in style, while also showing your love for the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Department, with the First Avenue West Fire Hall offering complimentary tote bags for those who drop by.

The reusable tote bags which also feature a reminder to ensure that your Smoke Detectors are in working order and to test them regularly, can be picked up at the fire station. 

But don't delay in picking yours up, these will be a hot property as the summer comes to an end and supplies could go pretty fast.

The bags will be particularly useful for Safeway shoppers across the street who may have left their reusable bags back at home ...

You can learn more about the project from the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Facebook Page

Further notes on the work of Emergency Responders in the Northwest can be found from our archive page.

Photo and Fealty to Team Trudeau, but little else when it comes to recently acclaimed Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidate

The Federal Liberal party has added a photo to go with the name of their selected candidate for Skeena-Bulkley providing the snapshot and some positioning points this weekend to the Liberal website, that as they added Lakhwinder Jhaj to their pictorial roster of those seeking office as part of "Team Trudeau".

As we noted last week, the Federal campaign co-chair Navdeep Bains announced the candidate's acclimation which took place on August 20th.

And while residents of the region can at least find a reference point to help in voter recognition for the rest of the campaign; the Liberals don't offer much more on their candidate, with the commentary to go with Ms. Jhaj's introduction mostly that of Liberal head office talking points.

What the candidate may hope to achieve for the voters of Skeena-Bulkley Valley doesn't make for any of the roll out for the campaign, which is quickly moving towards the September 20th election date. 

The update to the Liberal page providing little of note on the candidate's background or connection, if any, to the region which she wishes to represent.

Loyal Liberals can however, provide some financial assistance and pick up a lawn sign for the campaign, an area of the introduction that takes up almost as much of the biography (such as it is)  and head office themes as the short synopsis offers up.

So far, there also doesn't appear to be much of a social media presence for the candidate,  as well there is no indication of any schedule of public appearances anywhere in Skeena-Bulkley Valley, a curious approach to seeking the votes from the residents of one of the largest federal ridings in the country.

You can review more notes on the campaign to date from our archive page here.

September Totem raising set for RCMP detachment on Haida Gwaii

The Skidegate Band Council and RCMP on Haida Gwaii
will be hosting a totem raising event in September

Early September will see an event in the spirit of reconciliation taking place on Haida Gwaii, with the Skidegate Band Council and BC RCMP Indigenous Policing Services joining together for raising of a Haida Totem Pole at the Daajing Giids RCMP Detachment (Queen Charlotte detachment)

The event is set for September 9th from 10 AM to 2 PM but is dependent on any COVID restrictions that may be in place at the time.

The September 9 event takes place at the
parking lot near the detachment on Wharf Way

Members of the community and those visiting or from areas around the Island are invited to witness the raising which takes place at 3211 Wharf Way.

You can learn more about the September event and important note on attendance at it here.  

More notes on the work of Emergency Responders across the Northwest and Haida Gwaii can be reviewed from our archive page.

Real Estate Tracker: Week ending August 29, 2021

Heading towards the final few days of August, the top end listings find little movement, with this week's list of ten the same as it was last week.

The compilation once again reflecting a balance for east and west sides, with five each at either side of the McBride Street dividing line.

The latest listings continue to host three properties over or just under the one million dollar mark and have propelled the overall value of the top end chart to close to 9 million dollars.

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

The Archive for our weekly review can be found here

Our list of the top ten priced homes for the week ending August 29, 2021 can be explored below:

Real Estate listings on the West Side of Prince Rupert
Week ending August 29, 2021

The total value of the list of ten now sits just under the 8.8 million dollar mark.

The lowest mark for the review of the week is at $649,000 while our top end from the last week remains marked  at the price point of  $1,499,000

Below find our findings as of the Week ending August 29, 2021

2130 Graham Avenue                  $1,499,000 --      Remax
1138 2nd Avenue West                $1,200,000 --     Remax
1320 Overlook Street                     $995,000 --     Realty Executives 
555 4th Avenue East                      $849,000 --      Remax 
2201 Atlin Avenue                         $749,000 --      Realty Executives
1160 11th Avenue East                  $729,000  --     Remax
1827 Sloan Avenue                        $719,000 --      Realty Executives
108 Raven Place                            $685,000 --      Remax 
706 Ritchie Street                          $678,000 --      Remax 
340 4th Avenue East                      $678,000 --      Remax

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

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

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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Blog Watching: Week ending August 29, 2021

A pair of municipal themes made for the dominant items for review of our readership this week. 

Our notes on the presentation to Council on renovation plans for the CN Station at the Rotary Waterfront Park area among the items at the top of the list.

Also finding a larger audience was our review of the Prince Rupert City Council public hearing on the 11th Avenue East housing plans and how the Current hearing process may also impact on how future proposals are viewed by the public.

As the Federal election campaign speeds on towards our reservations with the voting booth of September 20th, the Federal Liberal party finally announced a name to appear on the ballots for Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

The Provincial Government also made some significant changes to the response to COVID this week, bringing back a mask mandate for public indoor spaces, as well as introducing the need for British Columbians to have a vaccination card to access events and activities. 

However, the top item of interest for the week 

Waterfront CN Station plans to be outlined as part of Council session tonight -- Our preview of Monday making note of a presentation on the City's proposal to renovate the CN property near Waterfront park gained the largest readership of the week. Our follow up piece that outlined the scope of the presentation from architect Charley Maddison and Council's enthusiastic reception for it also found a large audience on the week.     (posted August 23, 2021)

That article was followed by: 

Mayor Brain, City Council stop the Clock on 11th Avenue East Public hearing .. review process to resume in September -- With the Mayor noting that he and the council members  did not have enough information on questions on the night from the public,  the process of review for the rezoning of 11th Avenue east land for an apartment complex proposal was put on hold.     (posted  August 25 , 2021) 

Available land and the city's process of consultation will remain. a recurring question on affordable housing -- From our review of the two and a half hour Public Hearing of Monday evening, we outlined how some of the key themes from that night will continue to make for the focus well into the future when it comes to how City Council addresses housing needs in the city   posted August 27, 2021)
Liberals announce candidate by acclamation for Skeena-Bulkley Valley -- With the Federal election campaign already one third complete, the Federal Liberal Party finally put a name on a ballot this week, though any information on candidate Lakhwinder Jhaj remained very much of a mystery for the residents of the riding.      (posted August  25, 2021) 

BC's Mask Mandate us back for indoor settings   -- In less than 24 hours earlier this week, the BC Government and Public Health Officer reversed much of the reopening program of the province, with a return to the Mask Mandate for public settings coming amidst rising levels of new case counts. This week also saw the announcement of a new vaccine card program to take effect in mid September.     (posted August  24, 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.

A note for those that previously used our email alert delivery option, Blogger has discontinued that feature, so we direct you to our CharlesMHays Twitter feed, where we post updates to the blog as we post them.

Our archive of weekly Blog Watching can be found here.   

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

Friday, August 27, 2021

PRFD members get refresher on auto extrication

A Prince Rupert Firefighter makes use of his skills
on auto extrication as part of a training session this week
(Photo from PRFD FB Page)

As part of their ongoing training, some of the members of the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Department had a chance to practice their skills in auto extrication, the process of determining the safest way to take an occupant of a vehicle out of danger's way or towards medical attention if required.

In a Social media post from Thursday on the PRFD Facebook page, a glimpse into some of the work required part of the training session is offered up. 

The pictorial providing a quick glimpse of some of the challenges that are faced on such calls.

The pictorial feature is available here.

Through the year, the PRFD is constantly upgrading their skills and training for whatever emergency response is required when the alarms ring at the First Avenue West Fire Hall.

For more notes on the work of Emergency Responders around the Northwest see our archive page here.

Northern Health celebrates success of Northwest vaccine campaign

Northern Health staff members in Prince Rupert and around the
Northwest are celebrating the strong turn out of residents for
first and second vaccination shots for COVID

(photo from Northern Health)

If you have already had your jabs, whether a first or both vaccinations for COVID, Northern Health is celebrating your help in bringing the impact of COVID down, noting of the success rate of the vaccination program with a story posted to their website.

In their notes, Northern Health outlines the impressive rates being realized in communities around the Northwest and other areas of the Northern Health Authority region, with Kitimat at 91% the most vaccinated community in the Northwest. 

Prince Rupert and a number of other communities across the region have now passed by the 80% mark of communities that have at least seen one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine delivered .

In Northern BC, 71% of the population (12+) are now immunized with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 61% are fully immunized. 

While all of the clinics have seen successes, some communities are celebrating big. 

In Kitimat, 91% of the eligible population have received at least one dose, and the over 80% club now includes: Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Nisga’a, Telegraph Creek, and McBride/Valemount.

The pace of those vaccinations should see an increase over the course of the next few weeks.  

That as a response from the still unvaccinated to the provincial government's moves this week that will see British Columbians requiring a proof of vaccination to take part in many  public activities

You can read the full article here.

In the Prince Rupert/Port Edward area, vaccination clinics take place every Friday from 9AM to 4PM at the Core Space located adjacent to the Northern Health Unit in the Ocean Centre.

To find out where clinics take place in your area see this vaccination clinic map.

For more Health related themes from across the Region see our archive page here.

Province of British Columbia introduces new fund in support of Community Fairs and Festivals

A snapshot in time from a pre-COVID era  Seafest of a few years 
(photo from PR Special Events website)

The Provincial government is coming to the assistance of communities in British Columbia with a program that will provide some financial assistance for community events such as Prince Rupert's Seafest, Winterfest and such.

The announcement today from Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport outlined the scope of the one time funding of 12.9 million dollars that communities can have access to.

“We know that people have been missing community fairs, festivals and events, and organizers have made tremendous sacrifices to keep us all safe. We’re proud to support local events, so people can gather safely with family and friends, in groups and close to home as we continue to navigate our way through this pandemic.”

The money available will be put to use towards 20 percent of an even budget, to a maximum of $250,000. 

Eligible events include sport, arts and culture events, community celebrations, agricultural fairs, rodeos and exhibitions. Applications submitted by organizations will be required to demonstrate local or regional support and show the economic and social benefits for the community.

Applications for the program are being accepted until October 1st of this year. 

To be eligible for the funding the events have to have taken place since July 1st 2021, or are scheduled to take place until September 30th of 2022.

Many communities like Prince Rupert have seen some of their popular events either cancelled or significantly reduced in scope owing to the last year and half of COVID, the recovery funding is designed to help them build back up their events  or reduce some of the financial burdens that have been seen over the last eighteen months.

The Prince Rupert Special Events Society
calendar of upcoming festivals in the
Prince Rupert area

More on today's announcement can be reviewed here, while the criteria for the Recovery funding program is available here.

You can get a look at some of the community festivals that are organized by the Prince Rupert Special Events Society through their website and Facebook page.

More notes on Community events across the Northwest can be found from our archive page.

Available land and the city's process of consultation will remain a recurring question on affordable housing

One of planning maps related to the Prince Rupert 2030 Vision 
presentation from December of 2019

The currently suspended Public Hearing process for the 11th Avenue East apartment proposal,  is providing for a few hints for the Prince Rupert City Council members as to how the quest to create affordable housing in Prince Rupert seems destined to move forward into the future.

As we outlined on Wednesday, the current proposal for a six story apartment complex off of 11th Avenue East was suspended on Monday evening after two and a half hours of expansive discussion on a wide variety of narratives. 

The pause put in place after Mayor Lee Brain noted that Council would not be able to answer many of the questions that had been raised by the forum participants, mainly those questions from the residents of the immediate area.

From that, the City Councillors put the 11th Avenue East process on hold, set to return upon delivery of a report from the city's contract planner in the planning department which will be provided at an upcoming meeting, perhaps as soon as the September 20th session.

From Monday's hearing however, a few themes have certainly been now put on the radar, particularly when it comes to how the City will assist in the creation of more affordable housing space in the months and years to come. 

Questions on transparency and consultation were high among the concerns of a number of those who spoke on Monday, as well as a need for more information as to just what land the City has available for housing initiatives in the community.

Towards the theme of the process on the 11th Avenue East proposal, Mayor Brain on Monday stated that the City had followed the guidelines of the Local Government Act when it comes the current housing initiative. 

"I do want to speak briefly to the process just because I am hearing that some folks feel that there is a process issue here. But this process has been exactly to where the Local Government Act requires us under the law through the engagement process. So nothing around that is at all off, that's exactly where it's supposed to be" -- Mayor Lee Brain

That may be correct  civic procedure, but clearly from the questions and statements for Council at the hearing, many of which went unanswered on the night, the residents of the area it would seem were expecting much more in the way of engagement from their elected officials and city staff as that process moved forward in recent months.

Residents noted of their concerns and perceptions that the plan for the proposed housing complex was already a done deal before they had even learned of it and expressed frustration at the lack of information on the process from the City as it evolved over the last year or so.

The other question that was a recurring one was for the City to disclose what other sites had been offered up to the Lax Kw'alaams Housing Society.  

A question that the City Councillors or staff did not have opportunity to comment on as the proceedings were suspended before the topic would come up in their Regular Council session, though it isn't clear why the Mayor as the Chair for the night did not call on city staff to offer up some background on that element of the discussion for clarification during the Hearing.

As it was, the proponents of the 11th Avenue East housing proposal did offer up some notes, outlining how two other sites were offered by the City, both in the vicinity of 11th Avenue East or Hays Cove, neither of which offered the required footprint for their project.

In the closing to the Public hearing on Monday, the Mayor observed as to how he had viewed the night's progress on the issue.

"I'm hearing speakers talking about finding good compromise and I think that it's important that we make sure that everybody is feeling good about this, cause if this is something that ends up becoming successful it needs to be something that is successful that everybody  feels proud of. And you know we're  committed to making sure that we're hearing everybody's voices on that no matter what it is in this community" -- Mayor Lee Brain

Reading the tea leaves here, it would appear to indicate that the current site could likely be the final word for this proposal; perhaps with a range of traffic calming options to address some of the concerns from the area residents, with more notes on how the City may move forward to come in September. 

However, if this application for rezoning on 11th Avenue East is to be the template for how future housing proposals will roll out, there will be a need to take note of the way this project was introduced and the perceptions that came from the area residents from that process.

Council may want to review how they handled the file and if the need to go beyond the scope of the minimum requirements of the Local Government Act may be needed in the way of a wider overview of information for important topics such as where to locate housing of any kind.

A process that in this case has left some to think that the City had already made up its mind, is one that clearly is in need of a rethink towards better transparency and accountability.

A map from the City's recently adopted Official Community Plan

The question of available land is also an area where the City Council may wish to be more expansive, providing for a detailed and often updated map on the City Website as to where those properties that may be available for housing development may be located.

That additional information could be helpful for residents of those areas that may see such developments, which at least will ensure that they won't be surprised by proposed developments that suddenly arrive in their neighbourhood.

The other theme from Monday that at least found some common ground between the two sides of the debate was the need for land ready for development and which won't require extensive intrusion on the surrounding ecosystems, or the need for civic servicing.

Towards that many participants asked about the range of now vacant SD52 land in the city, that after a number of school closures over the last decade, and how those sites may make for ready to go sites for affordable housing.

Back in 2015 land that was once the home for Kanata School
was rezoned for plans for a housing development that never moved forward

Among those mentioned were Seal Cove and Westview School sites, though no one seemed to remember the Kanata School lands on Monday evening, which at one time was supposed to be the home for a rather large scale housing proposal. 

It remains to this day a ready to build on site, one that for instance might have been a good spot for the current 11th Avenue East proposal.

The School District at one time was hopeful of a land sale that would have brought in around one million dollars which they had hoped to make use of for other capital investments. 

The development proposal came to an end however when the developers of the day chose to abandon their investments in Prince Rupert that after a rather lengthy process of trying to move the proposed development forward.

An evolution of the plan in March of 2018 that left the School District somewhat disappointed and brought a quick response from the Council chamber.  

Council and the School District did eventually overcome that period of animosity,  having found some common ground on other land issues, with the City and SD52 working towards a land sale related to plans for Prince Rupert Middle School in March of this year.

Setting at least a precedent for other potential arrangements to provide benefit for both.

The use of the vacant school lands would likely be a tricky process, involving the Ministry of Education along the way, but a bit of creative thinking might help make those ready to build on locations attractive.

In 2020, the City conducted a land swap with the Jehovah Witnesses, offering the congregation land and some money for their First Avenue East location for use as a future RCMP detachment.

It would seem that the City is inclined towards those kinds of moves and a similar kind of swap with SD52, might help to move along the goals of creating more affordable housing while providing the School District with options for their needs.

Considering its close proximity to Charles Hays Secondary, the 11th Avenue East location might have been a good option for the long promised new middle school creating a natural corridor between the two schools. 

Something which could have offered the Lax Kw'alaams housing plans a ready to build site at one of the other SD52 properties.

Since residents continue to point towards those vacant School District properties as a potential solution, exploring the other sites that are available for future projects could provide for a result that satisfies all of the stakeholders in delivering on more housing in the community.

Perhaps working with the School District to further those goals isn't possible, but it can't hurt to explore that concept further and explain to the public all of the options that the city is pursuing  and some of the challenges that come along when it comes to housing.

Once they make their decision on the fate of the rezoning request for the 11th Avenue East land, Council should take some time to review how this current process evolved, how it was received and how they responded to the concerns that came along with it. 

As well as to look back at some of their past efforts, both successful and unsuccessful in moving housing forward, in order to determine what would be the most helpful way towards addressing the key civic issue.

With the current need for housing urgent and vision plans that suggest a fast growing population to arrive in the next few years; the call for more affordable housing should  be the dominant narrative for the rest of the current council's term and well beyond for whomever is elected to civic office in the next election cycle. 

Making sure that the residents of areas to be included in the housing plans are fully informed and don't feel as if they are not being heard on their concerns should be one of the guiding themes.

A wider review of Monday's Council session can be found from our Council Timeline feature.

You can review the Housing themes over the last number of years from our Housing archive page here.