Sunday, January 16, 2022

Blog Watching: Week ending January 15, 2022

A month of extreme winter weather in Prince Rupert has many residents of the North Coast and beyond into the Inland areas just a little weary, with road conditions both local and on the Highway making for a frequently discussed topic for a good portion of the last fifteen days.

That stretch of weather served to propel two of our stories this week to the top of the reading list, with out notes related to an appearance by Prince Rupert City Councillor Barry Cunningham on Daybreak North, generating significant interest on themes of road conditions and airport travel.

A pair of civic topics also captured significant interest this week, that as we explored the recent BC Assessment release with a focus on the commercial sector; as well as to relay some notes on Monday's announcement from Mayor Lee Brain that he will not seek a third term as the city's top elected official.

Rounding out the list of five for the week, was our review of a report released this week on the interception of BC Bound salmon by Alaska fishing crews along the Southeast Alaska panhandle area.

However, to was the winter weather conditions for travellers along Highway 16 which made for the topic that resonated the most with readers over the last seven days.

Prince Rupert councillor Barry Cunningham calls on MLA Jennifer Rice to be more proactive on calls for Highway maintenance  -- A week of on and off road closures and at times dangerous driving conditions, had the CityCouncillor expressing his concerns through the Daybreak North morning program. With Mr. Cunningham noting of his desire for more involvement of the North Coast MLA when it comes to highway issues.   (posted January 13  , 2022)

That article was followed by: 

As plans evolve in Prince Rupert, Commercial Assessments in City Core/Cow Bay on the rise  -- We followed up our review from last week of the recent BC Assessment releases for residential properties, with a few notes on the commercial sector assessments, with a glimpse ahead towards some of the high profile areas of note for potential development in the next few years.     (posted January 14, 2022)

The 2022 race for the Mayoralty is wide open, as Lee Brain announces that he will Not run for re-election --  Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain surprised many residents of the city with a Facebook announcement Monday just before the first council session of 2022; his commentary noting that he would not be seeking a third term as Mayor of the community in the fall municipal election.   (posted January 10, 2022)   
SkeenaWild throws flag on the Alaska Intercept ... with Alaskans said to be scooping up huge volumes of Canada bound species -- A report this week, co-authored by two British Columbia conservation organizations put some data towards a long held belief by many in the province that much of the BC bound salmon never makes it past the Alaskan panhandle  (posted January 13 , 2022)  

Air Travel had its challenges during recent Prince Rupert weather event -- Another item from Councillor Cunningham's radio appearance this week, provided a glimpse at some of the challenges faced by the Prince Rupert airport during the recent stretch of extreme weather.   (posted January 14, 2022)

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, January 15, 2022

Tsunami Advisory Issued by City of Prince Rupert for Waterfront areas

UPDATE: At 12:45 PM Provincial officials and the City of Prince Rupert relayed information that the Advisory for areas A and B, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii, Kitimat and Central Coast has been lifted.

See Provincial Details here

 **************Original Story *************

An underwater volcanic eruption on the South Pacific Island of Tonga has made for a wide tsunami advisory that has now reached the North Coast of British Columbia.

This Morning the City of Prince Rupert issued a Tsunami Advisory for water front areas of the community, with the public advised to avoid the waterfront area until further notice. The city notes in their advisory that this is not an evacuation.

Officials note that they are in contact with the Province and will provide updates as they become available.

For the moment, the advice is:  Do NOT go to the shore to observe the tsunami, and do not return to the shoreline until you receive an update through their information stream

 Where time and conditions permit, boat operators are advised to move your boat out to sea to a depth of at least 180 feet; if at sea avoid entering shallow water, harborus, marinas, bays, and inlets to avoid floating and submerged debris and strong currents.

Areas in Red from the map below, indicate where on the waterfront the advisory is in effect

Full City of Prince Rupert Advisory can be reviewed here.

The Province's Emergency Information System outlined a wide list of coastal areas of impact for British Columbians including residents of Haida Gwaii that are currently under the Tsunami Advisory.

Updates on Provincial advisories can be accessed here.

The Province has notes for a Forecast for Wave Activity as follows:

Langara 830AM, Tofino 850 AM

The Oceans Network group is tracking the arrival of waves here.

More on the provincial notes is available here. 

The US Weather Service has shared satellite imagery of the explosion 

You can follow the items of interest coming out of Tonga through the Twitter feed of #TongaVolcano

Updates as more information becomes available

Notes on past seismic events can be reviewed from our archive page.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Metlakatla to host Sm'algyax Class and Language Revitalization planning January 18

An opportunity for members of the Metlakatla First Nation to work on their Sm'algyax as well as to explore more options in the community towards Metlakatla Culture and language revitalization comes up next week.

The Tuesday night session is to be hosted by the Metlakatla Culture, Language and Heritage Department, the Tuesday evening of knowledge sharing will be led by Ben Spencer and Velna Nelson.

The ninety minute session gets underway  6:00 PM and runs until 7:30 PM and there will be door prizes as part of the evening program.

Registration for the Zoom session can be found here.

You can contact Shaun Thomas at

More on the Program is available here.

Follow the Metlakatla Social Media stream for updates on the program and other notes of interest.

Further notes of interest from Metlakatla can be found from our archive page.

4.3 magnitude earthquake recorded off Vancouver Island, south of Haida Gwaii

Two 4.3 magnitude earthquakes have been recorded off 
Vancouver Island in the last day
(map from USGS)

There has been another moderate temblor recorded in an area just off the tip of Vancouver Island that has seen frequent seismic activity in recent moths, with two 4.3 magnitude earthquakes recorded 223 kilometres north of Port McNeill on the Island.

The first was noted yesterday at 10:30 PM the second earlier this morning at 12:25.

No Tsunami issues were reported related to the two events.

Things are rumbling a bit to the north of Prince Rupert as well, with a 4.6 magnitude quake recorded along. the Alaskan panhandle near Pelican, west of Sitka Alaska this morning.

No Tsunami issues were reported from that event as well.

Sitka is 436 kilometres northwest of Prince Rupert

You can review our notes on seismic themes here.

Rampage on the Road to Terrace in CIHL play this weekend

If all goes according to plan in these times of COVID, not to mention challenging travel conditions, the members of the Prince Rupert Rampage will be on their way this weekend to Terrace for a Saturday show down with the undefeated River Kings.

Puck drop at the Terrace Ice Rink set for 7 PM tomorrow evening.

The Rampage head into the contest on a winning note, having made for an impressive comeback last weekend in Fort St. James as they topped the Nechako North Stars, the second part of what was supposed to be a two gam road trip was postponed at the request of the Hazelton Wolverines.

The test tomorrow will be a strong one for the Rampage, Terrace has put tother a hard working squad which has bested the competition in nine consecutive games, leading the Second place Rampage by 7 points in the standings.

click to enlarge

The Riving Kings are an offensive juggernaut with 60 goals on the year so far, while also strong from the blue line in, having only surrendered 21 goals in the first nine games of the season.

Providing for the league leading offensive output are Colin Bell with 5 goals and 13 assists, along with Ryan Roseboom who has 6 cals and 11 assists. Rounding out the top three scorers on the River King roster is Connor, Onstein with 4 goals and 8 assists.

The Rupertites will be looking to Hunter Johnson and Judd Repole to continue to hold the hot hands on the ice,  combined they have accounted for 26 Rampage goals.

click to enlarge

The challenges of road travel will continue next weekend for the Rhinos, who once again will hit the highway for a match up with the Kitimat Ice Demons on the 22nd.

The Prince Rupert lads finally get a home date again later this month when the Cariboo teams come our way with Williams Lake in town on January 29th and Quesnel arriving on the 30th.

The Prince Rupert/Terrace game is now the only one on the schedule for this weekend, with the Vanderhoof/Quensel contest off for Saturday owing to COVID, it has been rescheduled for January 23rd.

Find the latest news on the Rampage from their Facebook page here.

More notes on the CIHL can be explored from our archive page.

New Service ahead will let Prince Rupert Transit users track their ride

Sometime in the summer of this year,  BC Transit users in Prince Rupert  and Port Edward will be able to keep track of their bus by way of an online app, with BC Transit announcing plans to introduce "NextRide".

The program to be rolled out across the province, will see the the Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology installed in communities and regional transit systems across the province on approximately 315 buses operating on all conventional, fixed routes in British Columbia. 

BC Transit outlined yesterday just how the system will work as the program is introduced.

NextRide will continue to use AVL technology to allow even more customers to see real-time bus locations along routes and identify what predicted arrival times are at any selected stop. Onboard, automated stop announcements call out stops to customers riding the bus, which increases comfort and convenience, while also improves the overall accessibility for many using transit. 

Through BC Transit, it will provide bus location data to mobility providers like Google Maps and our partner Transit App, so our customers across the province can track and monitor bus routes using their application of choice.

The program falls under BC Transit's Smart Bus program and is funded through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. This project is being cost shared with the Government of Canada contributing 50 per cent, the Province of British Columbia contributing 40 per cent and local government partners contributing the remaining 10 per cent. 

The project cost for NextRide being installed in these additional transit systems is nearly $6 million.

Transit users in Kitimat, Skeena Regional and Terrace Regional service areas will see the program in place this summer as well.

More notes on transit across the Northwest can be reviewed from our Highway 16 corridor Archive.

Expect occasional Road Closures on Highway 16 owing to Avalanche Control work


Travellers with plans to travel Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Terrace should keep an eye on the Drive BC website and twitter feed, to keep up on when the road is closed and open, that as work continues on Avalanche control along the route ten kilometres west of Terrace.

The Most recent advisory was provided at 11:19 this morning noting of the operations underway until 3PM

Travel along the highway has been a challenging thin this week, with conditions at times requiring extensive closures,  owing to hazardous driving conditions which did bring a number of accidents at the early part of this week.

The highway appears to be in much better shape today, with some extensive work from highway crews, with Highway cameras finally showing a bit of pavement to drive on, compared to the compact snow of the week.




Follow Drive BC from their website and twitter feed.

A look back at the extreme weather of the last month can be reviewed from our archive page.

As plans evolve in Prince Rupert, Commercial Assessments in City Core/Cow Bay on the rise

The 2030 vision plan for Prince Rupert, how it evolves in the future
could make for significant change in the valuations from BC Assessments
in the years to come
(Map from City of PR presentation in 2019)

Like Prince Rupert home owners, those who own Commercial properties in the city were exploring the BC Assessment website these last few days, looking to see what impact the latest valuation from the agency might bring to their properties.

When it comes to the downtown core, Bigger properties bring bigger assessments, with a few of the larger structures in the city core making for some big numbers.

Leading off the list in the downtown core is the land which hosts Coast Community College, with the BC Assessment level noting the vast expanse at just over 14 million dollars, making for just a slight increase from 2021

The Rupert Square Mall gets a BC Assessment valuation of 8.1 million dollars for 2022, while the Ocean Centre has been assessed at 7.3 Million dollars.

The Prince Rupert Court House was assessed at 1.95 Million dollars, an increase of 100 thousand dollars, though both the Court House and Coast Mountain College are not taxable properties in the city, with the province using grants in lieu of taxes for their property holdings.

City Hall makes for a million dollar property, with a total value of 1,031,000 up 70 thousand dollars from the 2021 level of 966,000

With Prince Rupert City Council reshaping how we view the downtown core and Cow Bay areas in 2021, a look at how BC Assessments for those areas offers a glimpse into how the evolution of the city's hopes for development may change things over the next five to ten years.

As we noted back in December of 2019,  the new vision of the city includes three distinct areas of the downtown core along with the Marina/Cow Bay Area.

The areas of note now re-named the Midtown District, the Downtown District and the Marina District.

From West to East, the Midtown area is a mix of high to low, for the Far western edges of the downtown the Stretch from Crane's Crossing (Raffles) to Save On Foods runs the range of 50,000 dollars up to 2.5  million dollars.

As noted previous the area surrounding City Hall in the Downtown District has some high value properties, from the college to the Ocean Centre, many of the other commercial properties along that strip feature valuations ranging from the lows of just above 100,000 dollars to some closing in on the million dollar mark.

One area attracting some attention in 2021 was the area around McBride and Second Avenue West, which has been proposed as the Gateway Project to the Downtown, the vision one to create a catalyst for the city centre and establish a gateway into it.

BC Assessment has pegged the old Dairy Queen building as valued at 731,000, the Credit Union building at 1.7 million, the parcel of lots across the street ranging assessment from 45,000 to 68,0000.

Cowy Bay has also featured strongly in the City's vision planning for the future, the area just north of the shore reimagined as the new Marina District.

And of late  some recent interest has started to percolate around property adjacent to the Prince Rupert Yacht Club, with current tenants in the area seeking to relocate amid rumours of a potential development soon to be announced.

The BC Assessment for the land around that area now marked at 2.2 million.

Further down George Hills Way, the Canadian Fish Plant location, including the warehouse area currently being used by the City of Prince Rupert is assessed at 3.9 million dollars an increase from the 3.7 Million dollar assessment of a year ago.

The High profile plans to renovate the old CN building should make for some upward momentum in years to come, the area of note at the moment listed at just $161,400 as an assessed value

Should some of the city's proposals for the downtown core move forward in 2022, the impact on surrounding properties could see varying levels of assessment changes around the city, dependent on which plans are making progress and others stall, or drop of completely from the to do list.

Something which will make for an interesting review of the commercial sector assessments over the next few years.

You can conduct your own search of the BC Assessment Monopoly board here, travelling up and down the main streets of the downtown area and Cow Bay to get a feel for how the changes may ebb and flow as we watch for new developments to come.

Many of the changes ahead were outlined as part of the presentation in 2019 that outlined the Prince Rupert 2030 Vision Plan, you can revisit that blue print here.

Some notes on the success to date for some of those Vision plans is available here.

Further items of interest on the city's development themes can be reviewed from our archive page here, as well as through our Council Discussion archive.

With rise of COVID concerns, Rainmakers revise plans for play in 2022

With new health measures in place as the Public Health Officer and BC Government respond to the rise of the Omicron variant across the province, one impact that has been felt is that on High school sports, with the path ahead for sports teams now one of more practice and less in the way of game action for many teams.

The new rules for competition were outlined by the BC School Sports organization following the recent changes from Doctor Bonnie Henry from earlier this month

The new Sports measures one which allows teams to practice and play single game competitions against one other team, but have put an end to the weekend tournaments of the past, for now.

For the Charles Hays Rainmakers, co-coach Ryan Bishop notes for the NCR,  that means less in the way of those popular weekend tournaments and more individual games.

The first change to the 2022 plan was the cancellation of plans to go to Prince George and Smithers for tournaments. 

 In their place, the Rainmakers have replaced those plans with single team weekends. 

This weekend they have a game against a team from the Island and then next weekend the Maker's make a trip to Terrace. 

Later this month that have hopes that a Prince George team will be coming to Prince Rupert to play them three times over the course of a wekeend. 

 The CHSS squad also will host Caledonia again before the zones. 

Unfortunately for Rainmaker fans, those games are closed to the public with no attendance allowed. 

Should the restrictions change at the end of this month fans may be able to cheer the team on from the stands. That is if the Rainmakers are able to host their own tournament on the February 4/5th weekend.

The revision in competition plans is in place for all sports that CHSS student athletes participate in.

More notes on the Sports scene from the city's high school can be explored from our archive page.

Air Travel had its challenges during recent Prince Rupert weather event

The month of snow and ice had an impact on more than just pedestrians and motorists in Prince Rupert, the Prince Rupert Airport also seems to have suffered from the cycle of snow, extreme cold and freezing rain that we experienced through December and early January.

As we outlined yesterday, Councillor Barry Cunningham spoke to weather issues with the CBC's Carolina de Ryk in a recent Daybreak North segment and while his main focus was on the highway between Terrace and Prince Rupert, the Council member did offer a short glimpse into how the weather has had an impact on the operations at the Digby Island Airport.

"The last day or two they just started medical evacuation flights out of Rupert ... because the de icing machine at the airport was broke down, so we were in a situation with the highway closed, the airport not being able to receive flights and that's just not acceptable"

While Mr. Cunningham spoke of the concerning situation facing medical flights out of the city, the scheduled Air Canada service to and from the city had some challenges as well in recent weeks.

Data from the FlightRadar24 service notes of at least three cancellations of flights to the city from December 16 to January 2.

As Mr. Cunningham notes the airport was closed to flight operations, seemingly owing to the difficulties on the ground in Prince Rupert, which might suggest that the City should perhaps provide an update on the operations at the airport, to at least offer some pubic background on the challenges the City of Prince Rupert operated facility faced.

It has been a fairly long period of time since City Council has invited airport officials in for a review of how things are going; the last we heard anything from the airport, was when the former Airport Manager Rick Leach was making his farewells in mid October, that through an interview with the local paper.

The City for its part has yet to even provide an announcement as to who is now in charge at the facility.

As they head into a new year of Council sessions, having an update on Operations at the airpot might help to keep residents better informed as to their investment in air travel in the region.

Beyond a chance for airport officials to review the past challenges of these last few weeks, a public info session at Council could deliver an update on what plans are ahead for the airport, as well as the progress for the city's plan to move the Digby Island Ferry departure and arrival dock to the Rotary Waterfront Park location.  

Perhaps of most interest to travellers would be for officials to share what efforts are being made to bring additional air services to YPR, beyond the one flight a day Air Canada offers, when conditions allow for a safe arrival and departure.

More notes on air travel across the Northwest can be explored from our achieve page here.

Themes from civic note and council discussions can be explored here

Overdose response numbers on the rise in Prince Rupert, and other Northwest communities

When it comes to responding with medical assistance, more and more often Paramedics in the Northwest are making their way to an Overdose call.  

With the latest data released by the BC Emergency Health Services providing a glimpse into the growing concern over drug overdoses across the province.

Provincially the data shows that through 2021 BCEHS personnel responded to 35,525 calls, making for 97 ambulance runs per day. The data indicating that calls for assistance across BC have tripled in just the last six years.

For the Northwest the six year review of overdose responses provides a testimony to the growing concerns  from Northern Health over the pace of drug overdoses in the Health Region.

For Prince Rupert EHS personnel it has been a stead climb upwards in the number of responses.

In 2016, Ambulances arrived for 44 overdose calls, by 2018 that had risen to 53, climbing further to 78 calls by 2020.

Last year 2021, brought a slight decline in calls for assistance, with 71 Overdose calls recorded for the Prince Rupert station.

The situation is significantly more challenging in the Terrace region, which saw 38 calls received in 2016, that number skyrocketing to 259 calls in 2021, the highest level yet of the six year review.

Neighbouring Thornhill had 23 calls for assistance, down two from 2020.
Smithers had 42 calls to attend Overdoses, Kitimat had 33 Overdose calls in 2021, Houston 21 and Burns Lake 18

While COVID has dominate the Health review for much of the last three years now, the ongoing concerns over the rising number of Overdoses is making for another of the major challenges for health care across British Columbia.

Just last week, Northern Health issued a warning over a substance known as down, with an advisory noting as to how the substance currently circulating around the Northwest may be further contaminated with benzodiazepine (known as benzos)  a situation which results in heavy and prolonged sedation. 

The concerns over that substance and other poisoned drug supplies in the province is how emergency responders now have to deliver more naloxone than is normally the case to reverse the situation. 

In some cases, paramedics have noted how it can take up to four or five doses of Narcan to reverse overdoses now.

The background on the current alert from Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority can be reviewed here.

More notes on Health care across the Northwest can be reviewed from our archive page.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Northwest phone issues resolved

An outage today that left CityWest phone customers without service has now been resolved, that according to the Northwest communication company which issued the update through their Social Media page earlier this afternoon.

The service interruption which began earlier this morning, left phone users unable to access the CityWest service, or to find find static on their lines when they attempted to make a call.

CityWest later attributed the outage to issues coming our of routine maintenance of earlier this morning, with technicians working through the day to determine the cause and take action to resolve it.

CityWest had suffered a previous system outage in December, that incident had been traced back to an issue near Vanderhoof.

Should you still have a problem with your phone lines, you are asked to contact CityWest at 1-800-442-8664

You can follow the CityWest Facebook page for any more notes on the current situation, as well they offer a maintenance update page on the CityWest website for when outages or service issues are active.

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

Coast Mountain College introduces its President's Speaker Series

Coast Mountain College
Interim President Dr. Laurie Waye
is hosting a series of online information
sessions over the next few weeks 
Coast Mountain College is set to launch a new initiative to explore themes of leadership, with the introduction of the President's Speakers Series, with Dr. Laurie Waye.

The Coast Mountain College Interim President inviting community members across the northwest this month to sign up for a series of online streamed sessions.

The First of the virtual events  is Women In Leadership and it comes up on January 26th from 7 to 8 PM.

It features Birdie O'Brien, Dr. Titi Kunkel and Dr. Waye as they discuss a a range of topics and share some of the lessons that they have learned along the way of their professional experiences.

The session will be moderated by Jessica Hogg, the Interim Director of Communications and the CMTN Foundation.

The Second session of the series is planned for February 2nd and will focus on Digital Literacy.

Participants in the forum will be Colin Elliot and Marc Snelling, with Dr. Waye serving as the Moderator

The themes for that session will focus on understanding and evaluating information, participating in online discussion and community and applying learning skills

Session number three on February 9th will explore themes of Program Design and Evaluation

That prevention will come from Doctor Waye, with Ms. Hogg once again serving as the moderator

The session will be of particular interest to those in the non-profit sector or a member of a community organization where the elements of designing a program will be explored.

The President's Series is free to view through the Coast Mountain Livestream, you can register to participate in the program here.

For more items of interest on Coast Mountain College see their website or Facebook page.

Further notes on Coast Mountain College across the Northwest can be explored from our archive page.

Changes ahead for Rotary/CHSS program Adventures in Health Care

With the rise of COVID concerns and changes to current health restrictions a program hosted by the Prince Rupert Rotary club and delivered through Charles Hays Secondary school, is about to see a few changes in place for 2022.

In an update on the CHSS website, Rotary outlines how the Adventures in Health Care program will be shifting to an online version which will offer students with an interest in pursuing a career in the healths services with an opportunity to explore what the health care field has to offer.

The program which is designed for students from Grade 8-12 consists of three modules.

The first which explore a student's perspective of the past in person program, with links to specific career information,. 

The second module follows a day in the life of a doctor in her final year of residency, while the third module explores the history of various diseases. 

The program also includes hands on experiments and case studies. 

For those students that take the program, a certificate of completion is awarded to all students once the program comes to an end.

The application period for the coming session is coming up on February 4th, with interested students to contact Mr. O'Toole at CHSS for further information, those who have an interest in the program will be interviewed by a selection committee.

You can learn more about the process here

Further notes on other Rotary initiatives in Prince Rupert can be found from their website and Facebook page.

For more items of interest on Charles Hays see our education archive page here

A look at other CommunityNotes is available from our archive page here.

Prince Rupert councillor Barry Cunningham calls on MLA Jennifer Rice to be more pro active on calls for Highway maintenance

Prince Rupert Councillor Barry Cunningham speaking at
Monday's Council session on themes of winter road 
conditions, Mr. Cunningham expanded on his themes
this week for the CBC's Daybreak North program

The state of Highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert has been the focus for much discussion this week, that as extremely dangerous conditions saw the road closed for periods of time. 

That a decision made on the basis of safety, after a number of accidents, ranging from those involving transport trucks, buses and individual cars and trucks left a trail of damaged vehicles and stranded travellers.

Yesterday, the topic made for some conversation on the CBC Radio program Daybreak North, with host Carolina de Ryk hosting Prince Rupert City councillor Barry Cunningham, asking for his thoughts on the state of the vital transportation link in and out of Prince Rupert.

Mr. Cunningham who has often spoken of the conditions of the highway during City Council sessions, recounted many of his themes from this week's Council meeting

Putting some focus on the dangerous conditions that the Ministry of Transportation created inside the city of Prince Rupert limits when it ploughed snow from McBride Street and Second Avenue up onto the city sidewalks.

But it was the condition of the Highway past the Port Edward turnoff and on to Terrace that made for the majority of his commentary, as he expressed many of the frustrations that many travellers across the region have shared through the last month.

Among his themes, Mr. Cunningham noted of how it impacts on many elements of the lives of residents of the region including those with medical needs or out of town appointments. 

The Prince Rupert Councillor also made note of his research on Highway maintenance contract awards and suggested that there may be a profit motive behind the current state of the road work.

"If these maintenance companies are doing this for a profit then we've got a problem, I really think the Department of highways or our provincial government should be looking at these contracts and either putting more money into the highway maintenance, or looking at a different way of doing it. I don't know exactly how it works, as if there's different conditions, there's more money thrown into it or what" 

Comments that perhaps make for a bit of frustrated bombast during a challenging period. 

More likely it would seem is that the contracts for the inland ares of the Northwest come with higher values owing to the scope of the territory covered; along with the extreme weather those communities face far more often than the last three or four weeks have delivered to the usually rather pleasant winter environment of the North Coast.

As part of his overview, the Councillor also called on North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice to become a louder advocate for better highway maintenance along the route.

"I think Jennifer Rice has to be a little more pro-active on this, it's just gotta change; if this is gonna be what we're going to be seeing in the future, this type of winter, then we definitely need changes in our highway maintenance and care and that.   

You know we have no control over avalanches and things like that, but the actual maintenance of the road  ... Again, You know I saw the way the city did it and our side roads and that weren't the best but at least they were passable, and they were getting out and sanding the minute it started snowing and ploughing and that to the best of their ability"

You can review Mr. Cunningham's near eight minute overview of the last few weeks of extreme weather and highway maintenance through the Daybreak North audio archive page here.

Since the North Coast MLA was the focus for some of the Councillors comments, we contacted Ms. Rice for some thoughts on the current highway situation and what efforts she may have taken to address the concerns her office has received.

Towards her reply, the MLA forwarded the following:

My office is in frequent contact with our local area manager for roads during these severe weather events. We’ve been relaying constituent concerns about conditions and seeking clarification as to what actions are being taken. 

Ministry of Transportation staff did close the Highway between Exstew and Port Edward on Jan 10th due to freezing rain. The delays were a result of an accident response and ensuring a sand pass to make sure everyone made it home safe. Our local roads manager assures me that the sand trucks were out along with a full suite of equipment as he himself was out on the highway all night. There was a subsequent closure due to an accident 42 kms East of Terrace the following day. 

We do recognize that the closures and delays significantly impact many people’s lives. However, the Ministry puts safety of the public as its highest priority and works diligently to make the Highway safe to travel. 

 I hear people’s frustration with not being able to travel the highway as we normally would in milder weather but when traveling during winter months, we urge people to plan ahead, check DriveBC and slow down when they encounter difficult conditions. 

Also, winter tire regulations are in place on most B.C. highways from the fall to the spring. Weather conditions can change very quickly in much of B.C.’s terrain – such as going from rain to snow. It’s critical that drivers do their part and adjust their speed to the conditions.

Ms. Rice also made note of the challenging environment that the contractors are facing this winter.

The recent weather system hit both Terrace and Prince Rupert quite hard over the last few weeks. Approximately 70km outside of Prince Rupert there is a service area boundary that divides the two contract areas. 

The Terrace side of the boundary is maintained by Emil Anderson and the Prince Rupert side is maintained Obrien’s Road and Bridge. From a winter maintenance perspective all maintenance contractors fall under the same quality assurance specifications across the province.

 Each service area has their own unique challenges with different microclimates, infrastructure, and volumes of traffic. The stretch between Terrace and Prince Rupert experiences multiple microclimates and resources are typically deployed based on a priority assessment.

When it comes to communication with her office, we asked the MLA if she had heard from Councillor Cunningham, or any other  City of Prince Rupert officials during this most recent period of extreme weather conditions and the impact on the highways.

In reply, she noted that the only local official that had reached out to her to discuss the issue, was the Mayor of Port Edward, Knut Bjorndal.

You can review some of the challenges on the highways of the last month from our archive page here

Operations Director pleased with launch of Curbside Recycling program, notes crews will only get better and better

The launch of the City's recycling program made for some short conversation as part of the final portion of Monday's City Council Session, with the topic introduced by Councillor Nick Adey who asked for a review for the debut of the program.

Providing Council with the first week talking points on the much anticipated start up of the curbside program was Operations Director Richard Pucci, who sketched out how the roll out went despite the challenging weather situation of the first week of January.

"The first couple of days were a bit of a challenge and we ran a bit long, but we knew we were going to do that, and you know I think the crews are just getting better and better as they get more familiar with the routes ... it was probably one of the worst days to start this program, but I know that the community was excited for the program as was I, and I think all of us were. 

And we just said, you know what we just have to do it and get out there and not postpose anymore and we were able to complete the routes, it was a little long, but  yeah we did it.  

I think as this program moves forward over the next weeks and months, we will get better and better and get into a rhythm. So I'm really proud of the guys and  proud of the crews and our staff down at Public Works for understanding that this is a new service and all getting behind it"

Operations Director Ricard Pucci provided Prince Rupert
City Council with an overview of the launch of the
curbside recycling program on Monday evening

As it is with the Operations Department's plans to review how the city approached the recent weather situation,  Mr. Pucci outlined how the city will be doing a "Look Back" on the Recycling launch as well, in order to review what has worked and what may need some changes.

"It's the same as the snow and ice, we will be doing a look back after we've run it a few weeks we've already made headway on getting a little bit better"

For their part both Councillors Adey and Cunningham praised the work of the city staff in the launch under challenging conditions.

The program which was originally scheduled to launch in September was delayed three months to allow for more preparation towards the city's new service, the collection now features a crew of three  per truck working the city's routes to collect both residential garbage a range of recyclable materials.

The City is making use of its newly purchased garbage truck which features an assist mechanism to dump the blue bin material into recycling side of the split bays.

Learn more about the City's Recycling program from the city website here.

Some of our notes on the Recyling program can be found from our Sustainable themes archives here.

You can review Mr. Pucci's overview from the City's video archive page here, starting at the 23 minute mark.

More notes on Monday's Council Session can be found from our Timeline feature.

A wider overview of civic themes and Council Discussion topics is available from our archive page.

SkeenaWild throws flag on the Alaska Intercept ... with Alaskans said to be scooping up huge volumes of Canada bound species

The A/B line between British Columbia and Alaska
marks a very different picture of fish harvesting as
outlined in a report from SkeenaWild this week
(Map from the report)

SkeenaWild the Northwest organization dedicated towards wild salmon issues has raised an alarm over events just a bit north of the A/B line, that through a report  released this week and posted to the SkeenaWild website that explores the harvest of Canadian bound salmon in waters along the Alaskan panhandle.

The report which was commissioned by the Watershed Watch Salmon  Society and SkeenaWild Conservation Trust takes note of the 2021 harvest by American fishermen of almost 800,000 sockeye salmon, most of which the report authors state were of Canadian origin. 

Also of concern for the British Columbia group the volume of other species intercepted in Alaskan waters,  many from threatened  and endangered fish populations.

While Canadian shore workers and Fishermen were finding
reduced or non existent work opportunities, just to the
North the Alaska Fishery was raging along in 2021 with large catches

The report also notes how much of that Alaskan harvest took place while Canadian boats and fishing plants sat idle through much of the summer, with Federal Fisheries officials having closed Canadian Commercial fisheries in response to declining stocks in recent year.

“We knew the Alaskans were intercepting a lot of B.C. salmon but the numbers in this report are staggering. I’m also appalled at their failure to report their bycatch of non-target species, which Canadian fishers are required to do.” -- Greg Knox of SkeenaWild.

A map of Alaskan Fishing Harvest districts
with District 104 not too far north of the A/B line
(Map from the report)

The report outlines how much of the interception of Canadian-bound salmon takes place in Alaska’s District 104, on the outer coast of the Alaska panhandle near Hydaburg, where local rivers do not support significant salmon populations. 

Nearly all the salmon and steelhead caught in District 104 are bound for streams in Canada, elsewhere in Southeast Alaska, or other US states such as Washington and Oregon.  

The document details the scope of that catch from District 104 as follows:

Total salmon catch in District 104 during 2021 was ~20,000 Chinook (power troll and seine combined), over 212,000 chum, ~130,000 coho, ~10.7 million pink, and ~495,000 sockeye. The proportion of Canadian salmon in the catch, and the certainty of the estimates, varies by species.

The synopsis of the report can be examined here, while those looking to dive deep into the data can access the full report here.

The report comes out as Canadian and American officials begin the process of review of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, though the renewal for the agreement does not come up until 2028, leading to calls for the Canadian and British Columbia governments to step up to raise the ongoing intercept of Canadian destined fish with American and Alaskan officials. 

“Alaskan fisheries are now the biggest harvesters of a growing number of depleted Canadian salmon populations ...  The Pacific Salmon Treaty has failed to protect our salmon and our fishers and we can’t wait until 2028 to fix it. The governments of Canada and B.C. need to stand up right now and do something about this Alaskan plunder.” -- Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society.

Some further background on the very different situations facing the fishery in British Columbia and Alaska can be reviewed from this preview piece from SkeenaWild to introduce the report.

The report should make for some additional reading for the newly installed Canadian Federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, who already has a number of files of concern to British Columbians on her desk awaiting some comment towards.

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach noted earlier this week, that the intercept of Canada bound fish was one of his discussion topics with American officials from his travels to Washington DC last fall.

Further notes on the North Coast, Haida Gwaii and Southeast Alaska fisheries can be found through our archive page.