Friday, March 25, 2022

Just C'mon Down to Lee and Richard's City Truck, Public Works Emporium!

Mayor Lee Brain and Operations Director Richard Pucci
at the new home for City of Prince Rupert Public Works on Portage 

They've kicked a few tires and looked under the hood and with a few upgrades to come, are ready to take the building out for up to a five year test drive. 

All with an eye on the prospect ahead of an outright purchase somewhere down the road. 

The City of Prince Rupert has shared a few more details on their plans to lease the old MacCarthy GM building on Portage Road,  taking over the facility which has been empty since the car dealership shut its doors in December of 2020.

Yesterday through a late afternoon information release, the City expanded on their plans with an overview on the nature of the five year lease with a potential  to purchase the location.

The City has begun it’s first steps to move our Public Works operation to the vacated MacCarthy GM Building, with a 5 year lease for the property signed this week, including an exclusive option for purchase. 

This lease option is anticipated to save the City significant time as a fully new build of a Public Works facility would first require identifying appropriate lands, to be followed by architectural designs and obtaining contracting services.

The project will upgrade the existing facilities to Public Works requirements – including integrated office spaces, warehousing infrastructure, washroom upgrades, locker and lunchroom area renovations and other minor updates.  

The $750,000 in anticipated costs for the project are being covered by a dividend from Prince Rupert Legacy Inc., the City’s wholly owned Development Corporation.

Towards the shift to the Industrial area just off of Highway 16, Mayor Lee Brain noted how the city has  been considering its options for a while now.

“The City has long been looking for a permanent solution to address the failing building stock at the Wantage Road Public Works yard. The former vehicle dealership is a more efficient option for the City, and an ideal location for crews given its large parking lot and well-kept building infrastructure. It’s also a more central location, which will mean the City has a more visible presence in the community.”

As we outlined last Wednesday, the plan to add to the growing inventory of real estate holdings for the City of Prince Rupert was first outlined as part of the March 14th Budget Presentation.

While the Mayor observes that the city has long been looking for a permanent solution to their Public Works needs, it hasn't been a frequent topic for conversation at Public Council sessions. 

And the announcement of the plans for the MacCarthy GM building, seems somewhat similar to the surprise announcement a few years back of the city's interest in the Canadian Fish Warehouse at Rushbrook.

That structure recently made some news as well from the 2022 Budget presentation, with the city anticipating some 150,000 dollars  in roof improvement work as part of the financial plan for the year ahed. 

As it is for the MacCarthy plans, those too will be funded through the Legacy Inc money pool.

As the city notes in their information release (which you can read here) the current location for Public Works on Wantage Road has seen better days and despite an interim solution of an investment in some used ATCO trailers in 2018, the site is considered beyond repair.

The City's CFO Corrine Bomben identified how the end was nigh for the Wantage Road Public Works Building back in 2017, at which time she outlined plans for the purchase of the 6 modular offices that had been used as part of the Alcan Modernization project.

Notes on the Wantage Road work site from a 2017 Council
Capital Project update for 2018

In 2020 the City had also put an RFP out for roof repairs for the facility.

The move to Portage Road will make as the Mayor noted in the information release for a more visible location for the Public Works Department and its staff which has seen a bit of hiring surge of late.

While the departure of the auto dealer back to Terrace at the end of 2020 has been a hit to the local economy, the five year lease will serve to solve the city's current  public works concerns, while delivering revenue to the Terrace dealership for their empty and mostly unused property.

There was no indication when it is expected that the over 60 public works staff members will migrate from Wantage Road to the staff offices and work areas of the new location, as for the Wantage Road yard  the information notes indicate that it will still be used for fleet and material storage.

Council members will have their chance to celebrate the new City Works plans at Monday's Council session and if inclined residents with questions or comments will have chance to contribute to the discussion as well through the public comment period of the Committee of the Whole.

A quick scan of the City's Facebook page post on the theme suggests some residents, if interested in a visit to City Hall, may have a few things of note to say on the Operations Department move and any potential purchase plans down the road.

A wider overview of past Council discussion topics can be explored further here.


  1. The city has known about the problems at city works since 2017 and the best solution they could come up with is rent a property. So we spent $550,000 trailers the city stated was our new facility. We then fixed a roof cost unknown and are going to spend 1.05 million in the first year on a building we don't own.

    The city is crying for development of new areas why would we not develop our own property.

    As for funding this with Legacy Fund money why. This should be a budget item not a dip into rainy day saving to pay for it. Wit budgeting council should realize you can't do everything sometimes cuts have to be made. This administration is very good at spending. I don't recall a cut ever.

    1. i dont recall anyone complaining about spending when taxes were frozen or reduced multiple years in a row.

    2. The city used smoke and mirrors to say there was no tax increase. It was misuse of the Legacy Fund that allowed the little to no tax increase.

      If you are so up on the city's finances please point me to cuts the city has made on expenditures that balanced the budget.

  2. Is CityWest still using city works yard for equipment storage. It was at one time a local company now it is far from it. CityWest has formed partnerships across the province. It is time the city started collecting market value rent from CityWest for use of any city property.

    At least that might put some money under city control. It won't matter as they seem to waste it anyway but there is always hope of change.