The final weeks of 2021 traditionally brings the annual remembrances of events and activities for politicians of all levels.
Already on the North Coast this month we have seen an update from MLA Jennifer Rice as she shared some remembrances of the year soon to end.
On the Municipal side of the reviews of 2021, Mayor Lee Brain provided for a fairly active social media feed prior to the Christmas period, with a string of daily postings on a range of projects put forward in 2021 by Prince Rupert Council.
The final notes from that flurry of announcements, some original, some recycled themes making for a parade of achievement from the to do list on the year as the Mayor and Council viewed them.
The Mayor's work of Christmas week serving as a teaser of sorts of much more to come in 2022, some perhaps to be revealed as part of his New Year's Eve message set to be posted as 2021 comes to an end.
The blueprint for many of the projects comes out of the 2019 Vision making Presentation at the Lester Centre of the Arts, where the Mayor moved forward on the agenda of progress that he has envisioned for the community, that a build out from his days of the Hays 2.0 period of his first term of office.
As things are evolving, many of the items on the checklist will come to fruition just in time for the October 2022 Municipal election, something which will make for some nice photos for the household flyers and social media messaging to come in the lead up to Election Day, if indeed the Mayor seeks a third term of office.
Likewise, considering how they have been lock-step with the Mayor on the program as it has been revealed, the current six council members are very much tied into the Rupert Vision program and will also be closely aligned with it as they consider whether another four years of municipal service is in their future.
Many of the projects outlined have moved forward with a mixed bag of discussion, some making for conversation and overview in public session more than others.
A few others coming as a bit of a surprise for residents and showing up with little in the way of conversation or any idea if they were universally acclaimed, or if some on Council may have had a few questions to ask behind the closed doors.
Questions to ask, may be a theme that the six councillors may want to work on as a resolution for 2022, far too often the Public Council sessions move by with little in the way of feedback, or questioning by the six councillors of the information presented or the plans that are developed.
The Council members frequently refer to their collective as a team, which while a good thing for collegiality, also seems to have left a few things on the floor when seeking accountability in such areas as increased costs, or delays when such intruding themes come along.
There has been some progress made towards better information sharing with the public, or at least the promise of such.
As the year comes to an end, the Mayor and Council had previously announced plans for frequent updates on Major Projects for the public, something for residents to hold them to as the list of work on the go currently continues.
Though so far the promised online resource through the City website of a checklist of sorts has yet to be delivered.
As they took to their work in 2021, Council it seems relied a fair bit on the conversations that they have on topics outside of the public council meetings, the location where where the real municipal action seems to take place.
This past year was one which featured 20 public council sessions, some meetings lasting over an hour, others less than 20 minutes. In some the councillors were very engaged, particularly when it came to those themes they they were passionate about.
But in many other cases there was little in the way of explanation of the details for the public, or making for a vigorous discussion.
As well it was a banner year for Closed sessions, with Council closing the doors to the public on 23 occasions.
Considering how they seemingly had the time, the shorter of the public sessions of the last year left much on the sidelines that could have been addressed; had the council members wished to raise some of the themes they surely have heard about through the year from residents.
You can compare the Prince Rupert Council's public engagement footprint with that of some of the surrounding communities of the northwest by reviewing the work of Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers councils over the last year.
Of note from all of the council themes of 2021 and a topic that will continue to generate much interest in 2022 is the state of housing in the community.
Particularly the lack of affordable housing, already a major issue for the community and something that once again has become a point of concern following the Angus Apartments fire of this week.
Last year saw a few contentious public hearing periods on proposed housing developments in the community, with the main concern of those who addressed council that of a lack of communication on the plans in motion and the impact of the projects on those already living in the areas to be developed.
City council has revised some of the process of housing engagement and approvals for the community, so time will tell if those measures provide relief in the future for residents, or if they just raise more questions on how City Council approaches housing issues in town.
One thing is certain, there is already a dire need for many more housing units in the community and if the anticipated growth that Council frequently suggests is coming does develop, there will be a need for much much more.
And so far the list of projects of the past considered by this current Council membership that were cancelled, or suspended ... by far out number the projects currently either in development, or under consideration.
You can review some of the housing themes from 2021 here.
A look back at the Council year from 2021 can be reviewed from our Council Discussion archive page here.
As for the Vision plans and the ongoing rebuild of the city's infrastructure those themes can be explored below:
The Council members return to their duties on January 10th, set to begin the journey of the final ten months of their current mandate, with decisions to be made in the months ahead by the current membership as to whether the six councillors and Mayor Brain will seek a return to office.
The next few months will also provides some hints as to whether they will have any competitors for elected office when we go to the election booth on October 15th, 2022.
With those on the sidelines over the last few years giving their consideration towards whether a quest for a Council seat, or even a run for the mayoralty is something they wish to take on.
When it comes to the Mayoralty, how the next ten months move forward will determine if Mr. Brain has a free path to another four years as that of 2018 when he was acclaimed as Mayor without any competition; or if there are some members of the community considering making for a challenge to the Mayor's office in 2022.
As the year ahead evolves, we look forward to covering all of the local political scene on the way to Election Day in October.
A wider overview on a range of municipal themes from 2021 can be reviewed here.