Sunday, October 31, 2021

Blog Watching: Week ending October 31, 2021

Civic themes  made for much of the focus for this week once again, with the City losing out on a quest to reject a Freedom of Information request, and now the subject of a ruling to release body camera video from 2019 that comes out of a hearing from the Information and Privacy Commissioner's office.

Also of note from City Hall this week, word that former City of Prince Rupert City Manager has taken on interim duties with the Gitxaala First Nation, while in the Monday Council session the issue of the city's roads once again made for a topic of note for the council membership.

The COVID count in the Northwest continues to rise in a number of communities, with Prince Rupert riding a bit of a spike from last weeks results, both Terrace and the Nass Valley also saw large increases this past week.

And the new Federal Vaccine card, a requirement for anyone with any travel plans, is now available through the BC Government Health Gateway and other online and office locations.

However, the top item of the week was our look at the findings of the Office of Information and Privacy on a case involving the City of Prince Rupert.

Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner denies City of Prince Rupert's quest to Not Release Body camera footage of August 2019 dog incident -- An attempt by the City of Prince Rupert to reject a freedom of Information request for body cam footage to a 2019 incident in the Seal Cove area has been addressed by the Information and Privacy Commissioners office. With an order to release the video to an applicant journalist by mid November issued earlier this month following a hearing.    (posted October 29, 2021)

That article was followed by: 

Prince Rupert area spikes in COVID Count from CDC Figures to October 23 -- The weekly release of information by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control shows a growing number of cases in the Prince Rupert area. While over in the Nass Valley, a significant surge in cases has resulted in some additional measures from the Nisga'a Lisims Government and Health authorities. (posted  October 27, 2021) 

Road marking concerns raised once again at City Council Session --  Monday's City Council session found the topic of the city's roads of note, with Councillor Randhawa raising concerns he has heard over road markings, or the lack of them in the community. You can review the full scope of the Monday council session here.  (posted October 26, 2021)
Former Prince Rupert City Manager to take on interim duties with Gitxalla Nation -- The City's former City Manager won't be stepping out of the spotlight just yet, with Dr. Robert Long taking up new duties with the Gitxaala First Nation.  (posted October 25, 2021)

Federal vaccine card now available through BC vaccination portals  -- If you have plans for air, train or sea travels you will need to have a Federal Vaccine Card on your phone or in your possession, with the Federal option now available through British Columbia sources, BC residents won't want to delete their provincial vaccine card, it remains in place as the form of information for a range of activities in the province  (posted October 29, 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.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

MLA's Week: October 25-28, 2021

It was a fairly busy week for the Northwest contingent of MLA's at the British Columbia Legislature, with Jennifer Rice, Ellis Ross and Nathan Cullen all featured speakers on a range of themes over the course of the four days of the legislature week.

Among the topics for the week, Wildfire Recovery, Indigenous Education, Climate Change, forward progress for the NDP government's Freedom of Information plans and the changing workplace all served as narratives for the Members of the Legislature.

The week also featured an end of week announcement from the Premier that he was to go into the hospital for surgery on the Friday for a procedure related to a growth in his throat. Late Friday the government advised that the procedure had gone well and more details on the road ahead for Mr. Horgan would be relayed in the days to come.

Friday provided an update on how the provincial and federal vaccine card programs would work, with the province announcing that British Columbians can now access the Federal card through a range of provincial options. 

The Federal card will be required for any travellers planning to take a plane, train or cruise ship in Canada as of today. While the BC Version is still to be used for in province purposes where vaccination proof is required.

British Columbians also received word this week of the province's plans for a third 'booster shot' of the COVID vaccine, with the majority of residents looking towards the new year for the shot.

As for more on the recent week of work from the House, the four days unfolded as follows:


On the week, Ms Rice was  mentioned  three times in the record for the week in the Legislature from October 21-25

Ms. Rice spoke towards the summer of wildfires and the work the province is doing towards preparation for summers ahead.

Later in the week, the North Coast MLA would be named as two liaisons for the Provincial government for the community of Lytton, which was destroyed by the summer of fire. Ms. Rice and MLA Roly Russell will be working with municipal, regional and Indigenous leaders towards the recovery program for the area.

Ms. Rice also joined the debate on themes of Indigenous education as part of the discussion on changes to the Educations Statutes Act in the province.

The theme of technology and equality in the workplace provided for some items of note for the North Coast MLA during statements in the Legislature on Tuesday

MLA Rice joined the rest of the NDP membership in the Legislature to move forward the controversial Freedom of Information changes, with Ms. Rice voting to defeat a Liberal call for a review, while voting in favour of the NDP government's plans for changing the Act.

The North Coast MLA is also a member of the Following committees:

Ms. Rice serves as the Government's Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness


For our readers from the Terrace-Kitimat region, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross  was  mentioned once in the record for the week in the Legislature from October 21-25

Reconciliation and Education once again framed some  of the MLA's  time in the Legislature on the week.

Mr. Ross reviewed his thoughts on the province's Education Statutes changes as part of the debate this week in the Chamber.

Mr. Ross also had some comments related to the ongoing BC Liberal leadership campaign, which you can review from our archive page here.

Mr. Ross  is also contesting for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party


For our readers from the Bulkley Valley area, Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen  was mentioned twice in the record for the week in the Legislature from October 21-25 

Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman introduce British Columbia's latest approach towards Climate Change issues this week, with the Stikine MLA providing his observations in support of the government's work in a Wednesday speech in the Chamber.

Mr. Cullen also spoke towards municipal issues in debate later in the same session, exploring themes related to some of the changes that the government has put forward to assist civic government housing issues.

Some of the elements of those changes can be reviewed below:

Mr. Cullen serves as the Government's Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resource Operations 


There is more background on all three Regional MLA's available from our MLA's Week Archive, as well as our constituency archives below:

MLA's return to the Legislature on Monday morning November 1st at 10AM  

MLA's also participate in a number of Committee sessions scheduled through the week.

A larger overview of provincial issues can be found on our political portal D'Arcy McGee 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Connected Coast Project set to enter construction phase with arrival of cable laying vessel

Project partners of the Connected Coast initiative aboard the
CanPac Valour Vessel at Campbell River Harbour today

(photo courtesy of Connected Coast)

It was a pivotal day for the Connected Coast project with the joint venture partner of Strathcona Regional District and CityWest, on behalf of their partners in the federal and provincial governments, announcing that the construction phase of the Connected Coast project has officially begun. 

The launch of the construction phase for the project was celebrated at an event in Campbell River, one of the future landing sites for the project. 

The $45.4 million Connected Coast project, funded by the federal and provincial governments, is co-managed by CityWest and the Strathcona Regional District. 

It is an undersea cable project that will bring high-speed Internet accessibility to 139 rural and remoted coastal communities, including 48 Indigenous communities – representing 44 First Nations – along the BC coast from north of Prince Rupert, to Haida Gwaii, south to Vancouver, and around Vancouver Island.

The milestone for the project today, was hailed by Stefan Woloszyn CEO of CityWest, the communication company which is owned by the City of Prince Rupert.

“This event is the culmination of hard work for everyone involved in the Connected Coast project, from our funders to the project managers to the permitting team. We’re thrilled that this project is officially launching, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this huge fibre-optic line will benefit the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people who live along its route.”

The partners outlined some of the path forward on the project from today for the initiative that was first announced in 2018.

The main contractor for the project, Baylink Networks, was announced in September 2020, and they quickly went to work procuring the necessary materials. 

CanPac Valour, the vessel that will be laying the undersea cable, is currently in Campbell River being outfitted for its long journey – she arrived in Canadian waters in mid-October.

The map of the Connected Coast project which reached another key point of
development with today's announcement towards construction
(From Connected Coast)

The subsea fibre cable will run over 3,400 kilometres along the coast of B.C., including a link to Haida Gwaii and all around Vancouver Island – one of the longest coastal subsea networks in the world. It will be laid in an environmentally-friendly manner on the ocean floor. 

The fibre itself, which is protected by steel-strength members and a tough outer sheath to ensure it’s not damaged, consists of glass strands about as thick as a strand of human hair. When it’s operational, hundreds of gigabits of data will stream through it every second.

More on the announcement, along with statements from other stakeholders in the project can be reviewed here.

Keep up to date on the project through their website here.

You can review some of the notes on the initiative going back to 2018, from our archive page here.

Items of interest related to CityWest can be explored here.

Federal Vaccine card now available through BC Vaccination portals

With the busy holiday travel season drawing closer, those planning to take a plane or train to a destination will have to keep in mind the need for the Federal Proof of Vaccination which will be required before accessing those modes of travel or cruise ships in Canadian waters.

That requirement for the Federal vaccination proof, goes into effect as of tomorrow.

An example of the Federal Proof of Vaccination 
Card currently in use with the Yukon

(image from Gov't of Canada)

To assist British Columbians in accessing that required Federal vaccination card, the Province today has announced that it is now available through the Health Gateway, Ministry of Healths web service, or by phone or in person through most Service BC offices.

The BC Vaccine card is
still good for many 
activities but it won't get
you on a plane or train
(image from BC Gov't
“The federal government is launching a proof of vaccination card to ensure that people who want to travel have what they need to do so. 

The federal card can be accessed in the same way as the BC Vaccine Card, which 3.7 million British Columbians have downloaded to enjoy non-essential activities throughout our province, such as dining in restaurants or attending a sporting event. 

By ensuring all of us are fully vaccinated, we can do more with the people we love, safely.” -- Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

The British Columbia government also outlined a few other notes related to the dual vaccination program at the moment.

B.C.’s Vaccine Card will continue to be used for non-essential activities in B.C., including going to a restaurant or sporting event. 

The Government of Canada has also indicated it will allow people in B.C. to use the BC Vaccine Card to travel within Canada until Nov. 30, 2021, while the new federal proof of vaccination is rolled out.

More background related to today's announcement can be explored here.

Further items of note from the provincial government can be reviewed here.

Regional District talks Haida Gwaii Health Care, Nisga'a LNG, and Housing themes among other agenda items at October session

The members of the Board of North Coast Regional District have released some notes related to their Board meeting of October 15th, with the Board highlight some of the key items of review.

The session one which provided for an update on the proposed KSI Lisims LNG project to be operated by the Nisga'a Nation at Wil Milit; as well as an update from representatives of the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and Forest Enhancement Society of BC which outlined some of their activity in recent months on the North Coast.

The Board also reviewed its plans towards a one time $10, 000 COVID restart grant for the Queen Charlotte Heritage Housing Society, as well as to provide for there readings of a regional broadband contribution service bylaw, a document that will require the approval of the Inspector of Municipalities before the approval of the electorate is sought by the Regional District.

The Board also has offered support towards CityWest's tenure application to install fibre to the home service in and around the communities of Queen Charlotte, Skidegate, Masset and Old Massett .

Health care concerns on Haida Gwaii were also the focus for the board, which resolved to send a correspondence to Health Minister Adrian Dix and to Northern Health to express their concerns over the lack of essential medical services currently available on Haida Gwaii. 

The Board has also set in motion a Public Hearing process as part of the work on the Official Community Plan for Electoral Areas A and C.  

Those areas include Dodge Cove, Prince Rupert, Port Edward, Hartley Bay and Tsimpsian sectors of the coast.

Towards that OCP initiative,  Regional District has set aside November 16, 2021 at the Coast Mountain College campus in Prince Rupert at 7:00 p.m. as the date and time for the Public participation event.

You can review the full overview of their notes here.

The next full Board meeting comes up on November 19th in Prince Rupert

More items of interest from Regional District can be explored here

28 year Old Prince Rupert male in custody to face numerous charges following violent assault

Prince Rupert Mounties have relayed some details related to an incident last Sunday night on the city's east side which left three people requiring hospital attention with serious injuries. 

The call for assistance came in to the local detachment in the late evening hours of Sunday, October 24th, sending officers to an apartment building on 11th Avenue East. 

Upon arrival the responding officers were faced with a man blocking their way and refusing to move or comply with their directions, which resulted in the first of many charges on the night, that of obstructing police officers.

Through further investigation and interviewing of witnesses, police determined that the three victims had left the building previous to their arrival and later had been transported to Prince Rupert Regional Hospital for treatment.

With the incident somewhat clearer at that point, Prince Rupert RCMP then arrested and charged the detained male suspect at the scene with a range of alleged offences. 

Among them  one count of aggravated assault, three charges of assault with a weapon (reported as an axe and a hammer), two counts of assault causing bodily harm, one count of failure to comply and one count of obstruction.

The male who has been yet to be named has since been transported to the Prince George Correction Centre, where he awaits further action from the Courts.

For a review of more items of note from Emergency Responders across the northwest see our archive page here.

Coordinated Search plan to try to locate Michael Kitchener outlined by Prince Rupert RCMP

The ongoing search for Michael Kitchener will see some increased activity this weekend, with the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP noting of the plan to bring additional trained search personnel to the area where the 21 year old was last seen one week ago.

The BC Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) will be sending a large number of trained volunteers form all over northern BC to look for Michael Kitchener, who was last seen running on highway 16 on October 22nd, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. 

The Mounties note that Organized community searches are discouraged as they may hinder the work of BCSARA and can put other community members at risk. 

With the weekend plans in place,  the local detachment  is asking the public not to interfere with the search by avoiding all recreational trails around the Prince Rupert area over the course of Saturday and Sunday, including Butze Rapids and Tall Trees

Trails affected by the search will be closed to the public without advance notice.

Two popular trails in the area along Highway 16 may be closed
this weekend as the RCMP and BCSARA conduct an extensive
search to try to locate Michael Kitchener

The original notice from last week of the request for assistance from the public can be reviewed here.

More notes on the announcement of today can be reviewed here.

Further items of interest on emergency responders in the Northwest can be examined here.

15 Pumpkins for the Carving ... a Mission accomplished!

How it started ...

A bounty of large pumpkins met their fate this week as the participants in the Friendship House Youth Hub took to the carving as part of the Halloween festivities through the group which met at the Art Room at the Prince Rupert Civic Centre

How it ended for the pumpkins at the Youth Hub Carving event

A look at what the Youth Inclusion Program at the Friendship House has to offer can be explored here.

The program offers activities for youth between 13 and 18, you can learn more about the Youth Hub through the Friendship House Facebook page, and to register your youngster in the program contact Vince at

More items of note on Community events can be reviewed here.

Ellis Ross looks to add to his support base as December deadline for new BC Liberal membership looms

The Big push to line up votes in the British Columbia leadership race is moving towards November and Skeena MLA Ellis Ross is working his campaign hard to try and deliver as many new members as possible before the December 17th deadline. 

Looking to sign up  new membership who will then be able to vote in the party leadership race.

Ross has been using his social media platforms to try and get out the call for British Columbians to join the party in time to cast a ballot in the leadership race, one that so far has brought six contenders to the campaign.

To join the BC Liberals, you have to be a resident of the province and over the age of 14. Membership comes with a cost of 10 dollars for four years, unless you are a youth member yes 14-25, when the membership cost is five dollars.

More on their membership themes and other Questions of interest can be explored here.

The Liberal MLA is also hosting a poll through his Social Media stream asking his followers whether there should be name change for the Liberal party, a topic that has made for some discussion amongst candidates and Liberal supporters since the last election of one year ago.

Results to his poll so far, as relayed through the comments to his post indicate some strong interest in rebranding the party under a new name.

You can follow the campaign as it moves along towards February's decision from our tracker page here.

Gitmaxmak'ay Society ready for another Haunting of the Hall this Saturday

The Eighth Street Entrance to the Nisga'a Hall marks the 
portal into the Haunted House, a creation of the 
Gitmaxmak'ay Youth and ready for haunting on Saturday night

The night before Halloween is one known as Devil's Night in some quarters and for Prince Rupert the devils, ghouls, ghosts and goblins gather Saturday at the Nisga'a Hall as the Gitmaxmak'ay Youth host their annual Haunted House at the Third Avenue community facility.

This time they have taken over the entire main hall to provide for the spooktacular night  ahead for the youth of Prince Rupert and surrounding communities.

The three hour event from 5:30 to 8:30 PM is part of the Gitmaxmak'ay fundraising program for their youth programs and has proven to be one of the most popular Halloween events in the city in years past.

This years Haunted House can be entered by way of the Side gate of the Nisga'a Hall, Masks and Social Distancing measures will be in place and enforced as part of the event

Follow along as they prepare to open the doors on Saturday through their Facebook page and twitter feed.

More notes on Community events on the North Coast can be explored here.

Nisga'a Nation puts pause on Social/Cultural gatherings as COVID count increases

With the pace of COVID infection rising in the Nass Valley, the Nisga'a Lisims Government has called on its citizens to reduce their social and cultural activities. 

The community advisory relayed through a communique on Wednesday and making note of the recommendations from Doctor Jeremy Penner the Nisga'a Valley Health Authority's Medical Director.

"We understand that there are other considerations including social, psychological and cultural. However, from a health perspective, we are extremely concerned that any further events will result in mass-spreading far beyond what we have already seen" -- Doctor Jeremy Penner NVHA

As a result of that recommendation, the Nisga'a Lisims Government Executive unanimously endorsed the call for the social pause, which will be in place fo a three week period from October 29 to November 19.  

The Executive will revisit the situation upon the results of the COVID count in the Nass Valley at that time.

click to enlarge

As their information release notes, the Nisga'a Valley Health Authority is currently reporting on 19 active COVID-19 results, with 47 test results still to come.

You can access up to date information from the Nass Valley from the Nisga'a Lisims Government website and Facebook page.

As we noted on Wednesday, the Nass Valley and the Terrace region were both locations which saw a sharp increase in the count for the week on COVID-cases, a review which also indicated a jump in the case count for Prince Rupert.

You can review those numbers here.

For more notes on the provincial response to COVID see our archive page here.

Further items of interest from the Nass Valley are available for review here.

With November Road Trips on the Horizon, Rampage look to keep on with winning ways Saturday night against Nechako North Stars

With Halloween weekend upon us, fans of the Prince Rupert Rampage will be hoping that the home town side has a nice treat in store for them Saturday when they host the newest entry in the CIHL, the Nechako North Stars.

The final game of an early three game homestead for the Rhinos brings the combined Vanderhoof/Fort St. James squad into the Jim on Saturday, with what could be a very physical affair on the horizon for the night before Halloween.

The North Stars make their first visit to the North Coast with a similar record to that of the Rampage, at 1 win, 1 loss, so far in the young season.

But it's in the Penalty Minutes where the omens of physicality swirl, the North Stars having made their mark on the league so far by amassing 60 minutes of penalty time in those two games leading the CIHL in that category.

For Prince Rupert the key to answering some of that play may be to count on a power play that had some success in their most recent outing last week when they picked up three power play markers in their convincing 5-2 win over Hazelton.

Though Prince Rupert more than likely won't shy away from anything that the North Stars may be looking to bring to the ice; the team more than capable of taking care of things should it be required.

The Rhinos will also be looking to Jacob Santurbano and Kolton Chasse, to keep to their scoring ways, with the two members of the Rampage currently  in the top ten CIHL scoring leaders listings after two weeks of play.

The home game offers the Rampage an opportunity to head into November on a winning note, with next month making for some significant highway mileage ahead.

November 6th it's a relatively short jaunt to Kitimat, followed the next weekend by the longest road trip for the year deep into the Cariboo with games in Williams Lake and Quesnel November 13 and 14.

The Rampage will not return to the friendly confines of the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre until a home game with Terrace on December 11th.

With COVID restrictions in place for Saturday night, all fans will be required to be fully vaccinated and attendance is again capped at the 525 mark, you can learn more about how to access your tickets here.

Keep up to date with the latest happenings from the Rhino Room through the Rampage Facebook page.

A wider overview of Rampage and CIHL notes can be explored from our archive page.

Province hopes to streamline and speed up housing approvals with moves towards amended legislation

The Province of British Columbia is looking to add a new tool to the toolbox for municipal government when it comes to housing, announcing earlier this week a plan to make the bureaucratic path of housing approvals a little less challenging to navigate. 

Towards the Development approvals process, the Province outlined the changes as follows:

The proposed changes will remove the default requirement for local governments to hold public hearings for zoning bylaw amendments that are consistent with the official community plan. 

The amendments will also enable municipalities and regional districts to delegate decisions on minor development variance permits to local government staff, which will help decrease the amount of time it takes for approval. 

Together, these proposed changes will provide the authority for local governments to improve their processes and help get homes built faster throughout the province.

The changes would take some of the minor variance requests out of the city council forum and leave it to City staff to weigh the merits of the request and to approve or deny the file.

On Public hearings, the moves would certainly help to speed up the process of development of housing, with the lengthy process of notification and the holding of hearings waived in  circumstances where the projects fit into an Official community plan.

Group photo of Prince Rupert City Council members
(from past City newsletter)

Prince Rupert City council has had some challenges when it comes to the Public Hearing process in the last year, with two significant and large scale projects making for some controversy when it came to how it was perceived that the process moved forward.

Though, while offering some new tools, it would seem that onus of  providing for clear and informative consultation withe residents would be required of municipalities when it comes to steering those projects forward. 

That in order to ensure that they do not receive the strong feedback of concern over how those housing programs have evolved, as the Prince Rupert Mayor and Council have seen over the last year.

The potential revision to the process related to Public Hearings was one theme explored in a recent Federal-Provincial Study into the future of the housing supply and affordable housing, with the panel chaired by Joy McPhail making note of the bureaucracy that can stymie efforts to create affordable housing in communities across the province.

A passage from the 88 page report highlights their findings when it came to the use of Public Hearings and how that forum has resulted in less action on housing needs, particularly when it comes to affordable housing.

Their findings noting of the pressures that the current legislation has put on municipal officials and how it has contributed to part of the housing woes in BC at the moment.

"An important aspect of governance is the land-use planning process, which offers citizens opportunities to provide input on new development based on both real and perceived impacts. We believe that democratic processes are important, but that overreliance on public hearings to make land-use decisions tends to favour certain voices over others. 

This can result in perceptions of majority opposition to new development, especially when the citizens most motivated and available to participate in the process generally oppose the development plans. 

This opposition puts political pressure on the elected officials in charge of reviewing the proposals. Its influence strengthens further as those who support or stand to benefit from new housing supply often do not attend public hearings to voice their views and priorities. 

Such proceedings contribute to a land-use planning system that prevents new housing supply in two ways: first, by restricting or impeding growth as a consequence of lengthy, uncertain and costly processes; and second, by allowing anti-development interests to apply disproportionate political pressure on decision makers."-- From Page 25 of the Final Report of the Canada-British Columbia Expert Panel on the future of Housing supply and affordability

The province has also put forward a plan to modernize some of the local government notification process, outlining the background to that long sought after request by municipalities as follows:

Local governments have requested more flexibility for providing statutory public notices, as is the case in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec. 

Proposed amendments to the Local Government Act, Community Charter, Islands Trust Act, Municipal Replotting Act, University Endowment Land Act and Vancouver Charter will enable local governments to determine and specify, by bylaw, the methods they will use to provide public notice that will reach the greatest number of people in their communities. 

Local governments that choose to adopt a public notice bylaw will have to first consider principles of effective public notice.

The details to the range of changes to the provincial legislation can be reviewed here.

At the most recent Public Hearing related to the 11th Avenue East apartment zoning change request, one approved by Council, Mayor Brain observed that earlier this year Council had adopted a number of changes as to how they will handle many of their development procedures moving forward.

The integration of the city's program with any changes from the province will fall to the new city planner to put into place, once the City has decided on a replacement for Rob Buchan, the architect of the city plans,  who was announced as the new City Manager on October 15th.

More notes on Housing in the community can be explored here.

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

Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner Denies City of Prince Rupert's quest to Not Release Body camera footage of August 2019 dog incident

A ruling earlier this month by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner will mean that the City of Prince Rupert will be required by November 17th, to hand over body camera footage of an incident related to a bylaw enforcement action in the Seal Cove area of the city in August 2019.

In the five page ruling from October 4th, Adjudicator Erika Syrotuck  reviewed the background to the case file that led to the City's decision to not release all of the body cam footage of the incident as requested by an journalist, (not named in the ruling), through a Freedom of Information request.

The Information request made its way to the OPIC ruling process after previous mediation efforts did not resolve the matter, sending it on to the inquiry stage.

The incident which saw the dog in question shot and killed by an RCMP officer, was one that was controversial at the time and had made for much heated discussion both in traditional media and Social Media at the time.

The main focus of the City of Prince Rupert's account of their decision not to release the video footage was concerns that they have for the safety of bylaw officers in the community, should the video be released and the incident gain additional media and community review.

"The City says that, as a result of the media coverage, the City’s bylaw officers have suffered harassment and threats, particularly through Facebook and “private messages”. 

The City says that each time this story is run, it is forced to place the officers on desk duty to keep them out of harm’s way. 

The City says that the purpose of the body cameras is for bylaw officers’ personal protection. It explains that bylaw officers have been physically assaulted in the past, resulting in injury and court proceedings.

 The City says that the decision to add body cameras to bylaw officers was made in response to an attack on a bylaw officer by a person."

However, in the ruling, Adjudicator Syrotuck found much to dismiss from the review of the request from the city's account of why it wished to not release the video.

"For the reasons that follow, I am not persuaded that disclosure of the body camera footage could reasonably be expected to endanger the bylaw officers’  life or physical safety. 

More specifically, I am not satisfied that there is a direct connection between the information in dispute and the harm alleged.

The City says that bylaw officers have been physically assaulted in the past, however, its submissions do not demonstrate a link between the risk of physical assault to an officer and disclosure of this type of information. 

For example, it has not provided any detail or context about the types of situations where bylaw officers have faced physical assault due to their jobs. 

Without further evidence or explanation, I am unable to assess the likelihood of a similar event occurring as a result of the disclosure of the information in dispute. 

Further, the City did not make any argument related to the specific content of the body camera footage. 

I have reviewed the body camera footage and, in the absence of further explanation, I do not see how disclosing it could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of the bylaw officers." 

The Conclusion to the report outlines the adjudicator's final review of the information presented and delivers the ruling for the City of Prince Rupert to release the footage to the journalist who requested it.

"The City has failed to establish a clear and direct connection between the information in dispute and the harm alleged. 

As a result, the City has not met its burden to prove that disclosure of the body camera footage could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of the bylaw officers. 

 I find that the City is not authorized to refuse to disclose the body camera footage under s. 15(1)(f).

For the reasons given above, I make the following order under s. 58 of FIPPA: 1. 

I require the City of Prince Rupert to give the applicant access to all of the body camera footage.

The City of Prince Rupert must concurrently copy the OIPC registrar of inquiries on its cover letter to the applicant, together with a copy of the records described at item 1 above.  

Pursuant to s. 59(1) of FIPPA, the City of Prince Rupert is required to comply with this order by November 17, 2021."

You can review the full report from the OIPC here.

To date, the City of Prince Rupert has not publicly responded to the OIPC ruling through any of their information resources, nor indicated a timeline towards releasing the body camera video that has been requested.

More notes on City of Prince Rupert themes can be explored here.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Slow but steady for BC Ferries; as Northern Expedition faces some mechanical issues

The latest position for the Northern Expedition as of 7PM,
the vessel is currently behind schedule owing to mechanical
issues reported earlier today

The transit from Prince Rupert to Skidegate may be a little longer today, as BC Ferries advises of some mechanical issues for the Northern Expedition, which have resulted in some operational delays for their service.

In a Notice on the BC Ferries Service Notices page the trail of unfortunate events is put forward for passengers to review.

click to enlarge

With a schedule now an hour and forty five minutes behind schedule the vessel is not expected to dock at Skidegate until at least 10:45 PM 

You can access further updates from BC Ferries from their Service Notices page.

More notes on Marine transportation on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii can be explored from our archive page here.

Garbage issues bring reminder for Port Edward residents, along with prospect of further action for repeat offenders

A photo released by the District of Port Edward to 
highlight their concerns garbage in the community

The District of Port Edward is preparing to hand out reminders on garbage etiquette for the community, as they look to reinforce their Refuse protocols that some residents are seemingly choosing to ignore.

In a post to the District's Social Media Stream, Port Edward officials outline the proper way of leaving refuse for collection, as well as the potential for further action, which could include fines for those that do not follow the rules properly.

More notes on themes from the District can be explored here.

North Coast MLA tasked as part of liaison for Lytton recovery program

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice will have a few extra duties in her role as Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness for the next little while, that as Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General appoints her to one of two government liaison positions with the Village of Lytton municipal government.

Ms. Rice and Roly Russell, the Parlimentary Secretary for Rural Development will serve as part of the liaison effort towards recovery work for the Interior community that was destroyed by wildfire earlier this summer.

The Public Safety Minister outlining the duties as follows:

“To help ensure a strong, lasting recovery for the Village of Lytton, cabinet has tasked Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, and Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development, as recovery liaisons between our government and the village. 

Parliamentary secretaries Rice and Russell have extensive experience in supporting Grand Forks’ ongoing community rebuild following the 2018 floods, and I am confident they will bring both their knowledge of disaster recovery and a compassionate lens to this significant directive. 

Starting immediately, the parliamentary secretaries will strengthen lines of communication with the mayor and council of the Village of Lytton. 

They will listen to the feedback that is provided to the village by residents and will bring this information back to government through the cabinet working group on wildfire recovery."

There was a fair  bit criticism of the provincial government during the immediate period following the fire.

And frustrations have popped again in recent weeks over the slow pace of engagement on the rebuild for the community, a topic that the Minster addressed as well on Wednesday.

“We all want to see Lytton rebuilt and rebuilt quickly. But the reality is that housing solutions take time. There will be bumps along the road to recovery. 

To ensure community debris removal progresses, the Province has stepped in to get this important work co-ordinated and underway in a timely manner. 

We have committed funding for both the transportation and disposal of debris preventing further delays in the cleanup process.

When issues like this arise in Lytton, parliamentary secretaries Rice and Russell will be ready to ensure the Province can take appropriate action without delay."

You can review the full scope of the Public Safety Ministers message here.

More items of note from the Legislature can be explored here.

Facing surgery on Friday, Premier John Horgan names Mike Farnworth as Deputy Premier to oversee government work in Legislature

Premier John Horgan has outlined the nature of 
some medical attention that he requires

Premier John Horgan has received guidance from his doctor that will see him face surgery on Friday, with the Premier making the announcement today, naming Mike Farnworth as Deputy Prime Minister and tasked with overseeing the government agenda during the period of surgery and recovery.

In his health advisory. the Premier recounts how he had noticed a lump in his neck and went to see his doctor for a range of tests and to discuss his concerns.

His notes were relayed through his Social Media accounts and end with a reminder for British Columbians to to see their physician or urgent care facility should they feel something isn't quite right in their own health.

The Premier also noted that while Mr, Farnworth adds to his duties, that he will be there in support, continuing in his role as Premier, head of the executive council and the current chair of the Council of Federation.

Another update no doubt will come following tomorrow's surgery as to what form of a timeline for recovery that the Premier will be facing.

Following the news, Interim Opposition Leader Shirley Bond issued a statement wishing the Premier her best as he faces his medical challenge. While Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau share her best wishes through Social media.

For more notes on the Legislature see our archive page here.