Wednesday, January 12, 2022

City Council Timeline: Monday, January 10, 2022

With the rise of COVID once again across British Columbia, the City of Prince Rupert has taken a number of measures towards social distancing and community gatherings, the most notable of last week coming with the announcement of a return to appointments for access to City Hall.

Included as part of those changes it seems , is that  Prince Rupert City Council has once again shifted to virtual Council sessions, with the councillors and staff participating by video, away from the Council Chamber.

As for the proceedings for there return to public duties, It was a light night of work for City Council, with only few discussion points to raise over the course of half hour session to break the ice on the 2022 Council year. 

The focus of the night on plans for a Loan Authorization Bylaw for the plans to build a new RCMP detachment in the city.

The session on the night was also marked by the news of earlier in the day that Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain had decided not to run for a third term in this falls municipal elections.

Some of the council members waited until towards the end of the session to make comment on that, taking to the agenda for the night in quick fashion.

Some background on the work of Council for the night, can bereviewed from the Regular Agenda Package for the January 10th session.

Council also hosted a Closed meeting, marking the first of the in camera sessions for 2022.

The details related to the reasons for the in camera session can be reviewed here.  

City Council hosted a Public Hearing, prior to their Monday evening Regular Council Session,  that 6 PM Hearing to receive feedback from the public related to a requested zoning amendment for a property on 11th Avenue East.

Further information from our overview and placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the council minutes added as they are posted to the city website. 

In attendance Monday, January 10, 2021

(All Participated by way of virtual communication)

Mayor Lee Brain -- Present 
Councillor Nick Adey -- Present
Councillor Barry Cunningham -- Present
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present 
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven -- Present 
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present 
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa -- Present 

Video Archive for Monday, January 10, 2022 


6 PM Public Hearing -- Related to Zoning change request for 11th Avenue East property.

As the Public Hearing was related to a property owned by Councillor Wade Niesh, he had recused himself from the evening's work.

The short Public Hearing suffered some technical issues, with no audio available for the less than ten minute review of the Zoning change request.

With that, there is no archive of commentary from the Councillors available to reference and report on, nor any indication as to how the proceedings moved forward.

Regular Council Session

( 0:00--:30  ) Regular City Council Session for Monday, January 10, 2022 -- Mayor Lee Brain called the session to order, adopting past minutes and the Agenda for the session.

0:30--1:00 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator -- Council Resolution Updates -- The City's Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller noted for Council that the Report would be a regular part of their Council Agendas moving forward on a monthly basis. Mayor Brain observed how it was a welcome addition to the information stream for Council.


1:00--15:00 ) Report from the Chief Financial Officer -- Police Detachment Loan Authorization -- The City's Financial Officer, provided an extensive update for the Council members on the process ahead for the Loan requirements for the construction of the new RCMP detachment at McBride and Third Avenue East.

Among her themes on the detachment was some history related to the path towards the new structure, some details on how the loan authorization plan will work, with Council to have an option of Alternate Authorization process or a public referendum.

The Loan Authorization would be for up tp 25 Million dollars, with annual repayment per year of 1.2 million which may require a tax increase of 1 percent should the full 25 million dollar loan be required.  

The CFO also noted that the repayment funding benefitted from  the allocation of new tax revenue received; with the city having put aside taxes from two industrial projects that were built, something which reduced what could have been a seven percent tax increase towards the detachment build.

Ms Bomben also highlighted the green nature that the new facility, which will include measures to reduce Green House Gas Emissions once it is completed. She observed how the city will also be pursuing grants towards the facility that are available during the construction window for the project.

A video complemented her presentation, providing a review of the options that City Council has towards seeking the approval of the voters for the Loan Request. The video is to be provided for residents to view through the City of Prince Rupert website.

Following the video, the council members weighed in with a few questions on the nature of the Detachment build, starting with Councillor Cunningham reviewing how long the process of moving forward on the detachment has taken, as well as how the RCMP has the option to build one on their own and send the city the bill, should the city not move forward on the project.

The Mayor reviewed some of the financials on the project, recounting some of the details that Ms. Bomben had shared previous.

Councillor Nick Adey, who while supporting the concept of a Green Build for the new facility, did ask if there would be two versions to compare prior to a decision. One with the Green elements in place; the other without the net zero environmental themes, that in order to provide for the best cost for the building to that 25 million dollar mark and noting of the pressures of the budget for the structure.

Councillor Niesh also noted of the length of the process to date and how the Detachment had become an issue he had attached himself towards, offering an observation as to the need to ensure that structure is one which focuses on simplicity over a showcase building, one  that doesn't cause issues in the future and makes for easy maintenance. 

The Mayor observed how this is just the start of the process, with community engagement to come in the months ahead.

No discussion related to the plans for consulting the public were engaged in during the course of the discussion on the night.

The Bylaw received its first, second and third readings on Monday evening and will return at a future session for a Final approval that will put the borrowing process into motion.

15:00--15:30 ) Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 3479, 2021 -  As the property in question was one owned by Councillor Wade Neish, he recused himself from the proceedings. 

As for the process, Council having hosted a Public Hearing earlier in the day, made quick work of the amendment request,  which was to rezone the property in the 400 block of 11th Avenue East for Muti unit use. 

The Council members approving the amendment, with no discussion directed towards the topic.

During their overview of the topic, no mention was made of the Public Hearing from earlier in the evening, which while televised at 6PM had no audio, something that the Council members did not make note of.

The lack of the audio feed from the Hearing,  in effect makes for a situation which means the Public Hearing does not have an archived video recording of the proceedings and residents who may have had an interest in the process, have no real understanding of how the Public Hearing proceeded, and what, if anything was noted about the property in question.

( 15:30 -- 36:00 ) Questions, Comments, Reports or Inquiries from Council 

The recent snowfall dominated the first half of the Comments period, with Councillor Nick Adey leading off the discussion noting of the impact on Prince Rupert but the challenges the weather has brought to other part of the province as well.

He observed of some comments from the public and framed his commentary with a note that we haven't quite seen the conditions that Prince Rupert faced in the last month, observing of the adverse cycle of heavy snow, a deep freeze, rapid melt, more snow, another deep freeze and another melt and how it made things difficult for the city workers, noting of their yeoman's work on the snow removal.

The Councillor did however look to city staff for some guidance on three issues that members of the community had noted.  

That of the nature of the compact ice of the city streets that had formed, issues related to sidewalks being cleared after the streets being plowed noting of the jurisdictional issues with province on McBride Street, with his third point of that of some of the flooding that was found during the melting phases.

Towards those themes,  his questions for city staff were:

How did the city experience and respond to those things as they are occurring, and if we had a do over something he noted could happen if climate change goes the way we've been told it will, what might we learn in order to do it differently. As well, as to look at that in the short term and long term planning in regards to personnel and equipment that may be need to be considered in the long term.

Rob Buchan, the City Manager observed that the questions were very good ones, but may require some time to fully respond to, however he did invite Director of Operations Richard Pucci to share a few comments related to the work of the last month.

For his part, Mr. Pucci recounted much of the city's efforts through the period of adverse weather, noting that he was very proud of the city staff to address the challenges of the hyper-cold and the abnormal weather challenges over the past few weeks.

He also pointed out that  the weather did take place during the Christmas break, which left the city somewhat short staffed,  a situation which was combined with some illness that was going around town at the time.

As for the city's response the Operations Director outlined that the city brought on an extra crew, used Overtime and made use of contractors to help keep the city as safe as they could.

When it comes to a review, Mr. Pucci observed the the city had already started with what he called a "look back' which explores if there is certain equipment that works better, is there equipment that they could be using, should they be proactive on clearing catch basins.

He highlighted the challenges of the ice that was fuelled by the hyper-cold noting how it quickly became compacted and became sheer ice and the only way to get at it was to chip away at it.

As for the "Look Back" process, Mr. Pucci said that he would be preparing  a report to Council in the weeks to come to look at some of the good, some of the bad and some of the ideas for the future.

The City Manager rejoined the discussion at that point noting that the winter situation was a continuation of the chaellenging conditions the city has faced from the Wind storms of the fall period and how the city crews have been dealing with quite a bid this year and rising to the challenge.

Councillor Adey concurred with those thoughts and observed on the first class efforts from city staff.

Other comments on the recent weather came from Councillor Cunningham who had strong comments to make on the work of the Provincial contractor and how that made a situation that was already bad and made it worse. Adding that the City should bring the situation up with the Province.

In response, Mr. Pucci recounted some of the efforts on the main thoroughfares, noting how the city used the Civic Centre parking lot for storage of the excess snow,  as well as to  recount how the City had taken on the work of removing the snow along the sidewalks of the arterial roads of McBride and Second Avenue West.

As well the Operations Director  noted that the the city has maintained care and control and maintenance for the McBride sidewalks under the current agreement with the Ministry.

Councillor Cunningham also returned to his frequent themes of the need for enforcement of the City's Snow Removal Bylaw and called for it to be followed up on by City staff.

To that topic, the City Administrator Ms. Rosa Miller, outlined the steps the city was taking with letters the next step for those not in compliance with the bylaw requirements, which could result in infractions with immediate fines moving forward.

The launch of the City's recycling program also was featured as part of the final portion of the night, the topic led off by Councillor Adey who asked for a review of the first week of the program.

Mr. Pucci provided for a short overview of how things moved forward, noting of some of the challenges of the early days, particularly  with the weather situation, however he outlined how the crews are getting better and better and will develop a rhythm as the weeks move forward. 

As with the weather situation,  he outlined how the city will be doing a Look Back on that as well to review what has worked and what may need some changes.

Both Councillors Adey and Cunningham praised the work of the city staff in the launch under challenging conditions.

One final thought came out of those discussions, with Councillor Cunningham recounting the recent Angus Apartment fire and his concerns related to the landlord, following that up  with a question on the status of the City's plans for a Renoviction Bylaw.

Towards that, the City Manager observed that it would be coming back to council at the next session at the end of the month. 

The final seven minutes provided opportunity for some of the Council members to pay tribute to the Mayor, that following his announcement that he would not be seeking a return to office when voters go to the polls in the fall.

Councillor Mirau spoke at length about some of the Mayor's accomplishments over the last seven years, as well as to make note of some of the many projects still in development and how working with the Mayor has been a fantastic experience and how he looks forward to what's ahead for the next eight months. 

He also observed as to the comments that have been made on the mayor's social media stream and how the show that he will be missed in the city of Prince Rupert.

The Mayor spoke to the topic, suggesting that council members hold off on tributes on the night, then recounting some of the snippets of his Facebook post, noting of the work of Council on Watson Island, the Vision plan that has been developed as well as the range of infrastructure projects in motion or in planning.

His focus was on how he viewed the dire situation that the city was facing seven years ago and how Council had pulled together to bring the City back from those times; observing how it was an honour to work with the councillors and serve the community, but highlighting his desire to spend time with his young family.

Councillors Adey and Cunningham did share a few thoughts on the news of the day, Councillor Adey concurring with many of the comments from Councillor Mirau.  

Councillor Cunningham shared his thoughts on the energy and vision that the Mayor brought to council and hailed his leadership of the group over the last two terms.

And with that the January 10th session came to an end.

You can access our Council Session page here,  where a number of items regarding the Council session, including links to local media coverage can also be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council Session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

Official minutes of the Regular Council Session from January 10th, 2021
(not available yet)

The next session for the city Council members comes up on Monday, January25th.

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