Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Council Timeline: Monday, March 28, 2022

With Mayor Lee Brain absent on the night, Councillor Blair Mirau
was in the Chair as host of the March 28th Council Session

A Public Hearing, a review of the financial plan and chance for the public to comment on the Budget and a presentation from Tourism Prince Rupert on a new look for tourism signage all contributed to the final public session of Council for March on Monday evening.

A session as things turned out that could have been billed as a CityWest exclusive broadcast, that after the city's live streaming process failed leaving those who normally stream the council session to just wonder what everyone might be talking about on the night.

The evening also featured review of a number of Development Variance permit requests from the planning office, including one which saw enough community push back to deliver a decision to reject a request from a property owner on Atlin Avenue.

Richard Pucci, the city's Operations Director also provided for  a contract award for a Master Service agreement with a locally based contractor group, as well as to update council on changes to the Cemetery fees process and to close a road adjacent to the new RCMP detachment location.  

Some background on the work of Council for the night can be review from the Regular Agenda Package for the March 28th session.  

Council also hosted a Closed Meeting, making for the sixth of the in camera sessions for 2022.

The details related to the reasons for the behind closed door gathering can be reviewed here.  

As noted above, Monday also brought a Committee of the Whole the Agenda notes for that element can be reviewed here

As for the Public Hearing for a property on Portage Avenue, the Agenda details towards it are available here, however there is no video archive to reference as to how the Hearing evolved at the 6PM gathering.

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

Council proceedings have now returned to in person sessions at City Hall.

In attendance Monday, March 28, 2022

Mayor Lee Brain -- Absent
Councillor Nick Adey -- Present
Councillor Barry Cunningham -- Present
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present (by phone)
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa -- Present

Video Archive for Monday, March 28, 2022


Committee of the Whole Session

( 0:00 -- 1:00 ) Committee of the Whole Session for Monday, March 28, 2022

With the mayor absent, Councillor Blair Mirau served as Chair, he called the session to order, adopting the Agenda for the session, along with the statement of the Chair which explained the Committee process.

(  1:00 -- 8:25   ) Ms. Corinne Bomben, the City's Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager Presentation of the 2022 Budget process.

Ms. Bomben  provided a snapshot of her previous presentation of March 14th, noting of the potential tax increase of 3.63 percent to the mill rate, estimated for the average homeowner as an increase of 67 dollars.

Towards the increase she noted of the need to rehouse the Public Works Crew, additional Fire house staff, RCMP contract increases and the addition of the 24 hour washroom service downtown.

Ms Bomben noted that the top three services of RCMP, Fire and Roads make up over half the tax services cost to the community.

The CFO then addressed some of the outstanding questions from Council members from the last presentation

She provided some additional background towards how the City approaches Reserve accounts and how funding is allocated through them. City Staff will also be bringing forward a formal policy for council consideration this year.

Ms, Bomben also expanded on the Provincial Incentive Program and how the Port Property Tax Act impacts and burdens that it places  on the city's consideration on budget making. She noted how the City continues to advocate for change to the program with the Provincial government.

She also outlined the process in place now for Home owners to apply for the provincial grant and tax deferral policy.

To wrap up her presentation Ms. Bomben outlined the range of options for community participation in the consultation process.

The next presentation and comment opportunity comes up on April 11th.

(   8:25 -- 29:00  ) Ms. Ceilidh Marlow, the Executive Director with Tourism Prince Rupert presentation on Tourism signage for the community -- Ms. Marlow took the council members and through an extensive overview of Tourism Prince Rupert's plans for new signage for the community.

To open her presentation  she provided a short introduction to the Organization and its work in the community and explained how the new signage program has been funded and what the organization hopes to realize with its program to replace outdated signage and to take advantage of the work of some of the local artistic talent in the community.

She observed how the new wayfinding and marketing plan will embrace the Rupert 2030 vision program. 

Towards the new elements, will be two new Welcome to Prince Rupert signs at either approach to the community on Highway 16 and the BC Ferries terminal.

They will feature a bold new look with a significant contribution from artist Russel Mather, the new signs will also include a Welcome in the Sm'√°lgyax language. Ms. Marlow provided 4 concepts up for consideration using the same theme but in different presentations.

The wayfinding signs will be placed in specific areas around the community to help tourists find areas of the community and its districts, the latter as identified in the 2030 Vision. Four different artists have been assigned one of the districts to create the new visual look.

All of the concepts are now available for comments and observations through the Tourism Prince Rupert website, with the period for commentary to come to an end on April 18th

The process will move forward to fabrication into August and installation across the city by the end of the year.

Council members followed up the presenatation with a few comments, Councillor Randhawa asked about the comment process and how the public can participate. 

Councillor Adey expressed his enthusiasm for the project and noted of the Indigenous elements to be included, he asked if there would be any other outreach programs towards the initiative.

Councillor Cunningham observed of one area that had not been included that of Seal Cove and the local trails, Ms. Marlow noted that the funding was limited to the areas outlined on the night, with Seal Cove an area to be addressed as the program moves forward in phases.

She also highlighted some of the new materials and brochures that will be made available through the Visitors Centre which includes the trail network in the community, a self walking tour.

Councillor Skelton Morven offered his enthusiasm for the branding concepts, offering his thoughts on what he might like to see for the Welcome Signs.

Councillor Niesh also offered some input into what the Welcome signs might look like.

Councillor Mirau noted that they had captured what the city was looking for in the 2030 vision and asked that Tourism Prince Rupert share their feedback with the city at the end of their consultation.

More on the Tourism Prince Rupert program can be reviewed from out item from Tuesday.

(  29:00 -- 31:00  ) Councillor Mirau brought the Committee of the Whole session to an end by calling for any comments on either the Budget process or other items of interest to those in the gallery, though no one took him up on the offer to speak to items of interest on the night.


Regular Council Session 

( 31:00 -- 32:00) Regular Council Session for Monday, March 28, 2022

Councillor Mirau called the session to order, adopting the past minutes and Agenda for the evening's session, with the addition of one item for the night,.

Reports and Resolutions

 32:00 -- 33:00 ) Report from Planning  -- Council received  a report related towards a Development Activity from November 2021 to February 2022 through the planning office, Council members had no comments or observations for Planning.  (see page 11 of the Agenda package)

 33:00 -- 34:30 ) Report from Corporate Administration  -- Council received a report from Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller  related towards a proposed outdoor patio for the Wheelhouse Brewing Company. Ms. Miller noting that the temporary patio had been put in place during COVID and they are seeking to make it permanent with provincial liquor licensing officials. Council had no questions and approved the request for support.  (see page 21 of the Agenda package)

34:30 -- 40:00 ) Report from Planning  -- Council received a report related towards a Development Variance Permit for a property at 1531 Atlin Avenue. The Planning department outlined their desire to amend their recommendation, that following community feedback which included 4 letters of opposition and a neighbourhood petition with 12 signatures against the proposed home. The area residents outlined a range of concerns over the scope of the proposed development, as a result Planning had thus amended their recommendation to now Not Support it moving forward. 

Councillor Adey was first to comment, he applauded the public notification process that provided input from the community and the role it played in the process in this instance.

Councillor Niesh also spoke to the issue, noting of the slippery slope that the variance request had presented to the city. Noting of the impact that the proposal would have on the neighbouring homes. 

He cautioned council as to how they need to proceed carefully when it comes to homes with such a large scope that they don't fit into the neighbourhood.

Councillor Randhawa noted that there should be no impact on the quality of life of those in the area.

Council then voted to reject the Variance request for the property on Atlin.

(see page 22 of the Agenda package)

40:00 --40:30 ) Report from Planning  -- Council received a report related towards a Development Variance Permit for a property at 11th Street. Council members  had no comments or observations and moved the process forward. (see page 37 of the Agenda package)

40:30 --40:45 ) Report from Planning  -- Council received a report related towards a Development Variance Permit for a property at 1444 - 2nd Avenue West. Council members had no comments or observations and move the process forward  (see page 39  of the Agenda package)

(40:45 --41:00 ) Report from Planning  -- Council received a report related towards a Development Variance Permit for a property at 337 McBride Street. Council members had no comments or observations and move the process forward  (see page  45 of the Agenda package)

41:00 -- 42:30 ) Report from Director of Operations --  Master Service Agreement -- Mr. Richard Pucci outlined the scope of the award to CT Northern Contractors Alliance Limited Partnership, as well as how the City plans to attach new language towards its purchasing policy. He noted that CT Northern Contractors Alliance was the only compliant bid that was received through the Bid process. As well as to note how it features local ownership, local equipment and experience as well as competitive rates. Council members had no comments or observations and approved the agreement.    (see page 50  of the Agenda package)


42:30 -- 50:00 Report from Planning -- Rezoning of property --  Council reviewed the request to provide third reading for the bylaw to allow for a change in property designation from Residential to Industrial for a property on Portage Avenue. The request was the subject of a Public Hearing previous to the council session.  Councillor Adey noted of the feedback given to Council from two perspectives of the request, though observed of his support for the zoning change as it makes sense in the context of the area. 

Councillor Cunningham also noted of the public comment and offered his support to the rezoning, noting how he wasn't too concerned over any potential noise issues.

Councillor Randhawa also concurred that there would be no negative impact on the neighbourhood.

Councillor Niesh observed how the original planning for the area had been a terrible idea mixing industrial and residential in the same proximity, he recalled of the city's past work with the Neptune hotel which is in the same area.

He also offered his support for the rezoning of the property.

Councillor Skelton Morven echoed many of the same themes and noted it would now be put on the tax rolls as it shifts from its previous use to an industrial rate.

Councillor Mirau spoke to the process and confirmed with the Corporate Administrator that all elements were done appropriately, 

Council then approved the request with the process to now move forward to the Ministry of Transportation for review and approval   (see page 58  of the Agenda package)

50:00 -- 51:00 Report from Director of Operations --  Cemetery Fees and Care Amendment Bylaw -- Mr. Richard Pucci provided a review of the scope of changes recommended by the Consumer Protection Officer, observing that they were slight changes in the way the fees are allocated with no increase associated to the end user, the Director calling the measure on of  a housekeeping procedure. Council members had no questions or comments and approved the recommendation.  (see page 63  of the Agenda package)

51:00 --53:00  )  Report from Director of Operations --  Road Closure Bylaw -- Mr. Richard Pucci outlined the nature of the proposed road closure  of a section of Market Place towards the courthouse side of the property designated for the new RCMP detachment. He noted that there is no actual access to the site in question which is mostly used as parking for the moment. The recommendation mostly formalizes the closure.  

Councillor Adey asked to the background for the original closure of the roadway, in reply Mr. Pucci noted that it had been an abnormal intersection set up and that it had been closed many years ago. Council then approved the recommendation.  (see page 67  of the Agenda package)

Questions, Comments, Reports or Inquiries from Council

( 53:00 --56:12  )  Councillor Cunningham. noting of what he called a little buzz over a recent civic initiative, raised one item for the final portion of the night asking for a report from Mr. Pucci related to the recent leasing arrangement for the new Public Works Department facility in the old MacCarthy Car dealership.

In reply Mr. Pucci took Council through the Operations Department's approach to the lease with potential to purchase the building in the future.

Among the areas he highlighted was the dire straits that the current Wantage Road facility was in and the cost that would be taken on to purchase land and build a new facility. 

He observed as to how the opportunity to use the MacCarthy building was one that suited the city's needs, and he outlined how after the current lease period the city has the exclusive option to purchase after that.

Towards the current costing of 750,000 dollars and the significant upgrades required as part of a larger budget item; he noted that he doesn't think the work will require that amount, but observed how COVID has shown that costs can increase and how they anticipate that may happen, adding if they don't need the additional money they won't be using it.

When it comes time to discuss any potential purchase, that negotiation would include appraisals of the building and a review of the investment that the city would have put into the structure at that time, should the city choose to consider a purchase. 

With no other comments from the council membership the March 28th Council 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 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 March 28, 2022 (not available yet)

The Next Session for Prince Rupert City Council is set for Monday, April 11 , 2022.

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