Saturday, April 30, 2022

MLA's Week: April 25-28, 2022

British Columbia's MLA's were back in the Legislature after their two week Easter Break, the chamber got back to business with the introduction or updates on a number of pieces of legislation. 

Among some of the items of note, some welcome news for the province's fire fighters, with a change to WCB regulations to add a number of cancers to the list of coverage 

A report delivered to the Legislature this week put the focus on policing in the province, with the Legislature committee providing for a range of recommendations, including the return to a provincial police force to take over policing from the RCMP.

As well, the future of representation for the Northwest made for a topic of interest for residents, with the Electoral Boundaries Commission holding sessions this past week

As for more on the recent week of work from the House, the four days unfolded as follows:


On the week, Ms Rice was not mentioned  in the record for the week in the  Legislature from  April 25-28.

The MLA spent last week on a tour of Haida Gwaii, chronicling her travels through her Social media page.

For much of this past week was in Prince Rupert, and as the week evolved, the week long shutdown of service of the BC Ferry Northern Adventure tended to occupy much of her time as travellers and constituents contacted her office to express their dissatisfaction at the situation.

The North Coast MLA is also a member of the Following committees:

Ms. Rice serves as the Government's Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness

The North Coast MLA also addressed a range of themes through her Social Media Stream.


For our readers from the Terrace-Kitimat region, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross  was the most active of the three regional MLA's this week,  mentioned six times in the record for the week in the Legislature from April 25-28.

Of note for the Skeena MLA this week was the work of Mr. Ross in discussion of the Wildlife Act, speaking to the topic on three occasions on Monday and Tuesday:

Tuesday morning the Skeena MLA also made note in the Legislature of the success of the AltaGas terminal in Prince Rupert.

Thursday morning  Mr. Ross shared some personal news with the MLA's noting the passing of and paying tribute to his Father in Law  Glen Henry

The busy week for the Skeena MLA wrapped up on Thursday evening, as Ross spoke to themes related to the second reading of the Labour Relations Code Amendment Act.

Mr. Ross serves as the Liberal critic on LNG and Energy.

The Skeena MLA is also a member of the Following committees:

The Skeena MLA also addressed a range of themes  featured as part of the MLA's social media work.


For our readers from the Bulkley Valley area, Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen  was mentioned twice   in the record for the week in the  Legislature from April 25-28. 

The Stikine MLA and Minster of Municipal Affairs also participated in a Committee session on Wednesday afternoon, on  Estimates for  the Ministry. The dialogue of the day featuring frequent mentions of a number of communities of the Northwest and Haida Gwaii.

Mr. Cullen was also busy over last weekend, as he hosted a number of regional officials with the Northwest BC Regional Benefits Alliance, to discuss progress for funding options for the member communities.

Mr. Cullen serves as the Government's Minister of Municipal Affairs

The Stikine MLA also had comments on a range of themes through his Social Media stream this week


There is more background on all three Regional MLA's available from our MLA's Week Archive,  as well as our constituency archives below:

MLA's return to the Legislature on Monday morning May 2nd at 10AM

MLA's also participate in a number of Committee sessions scheduled through the week.

A larger overview of provincial issues can be found on our Political portal D'Arcy McGee 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Council calls Special Regular Meeting for Monday, with Financial Plan and Property Tax bylaws the focus

Prince Rupert City Council is putting their recent discussion on the 2022 Financial Plan and Property Tax Bylaw to fast forward, with a Special City Council Session called to provide First, Second and Third Readings for the two Budget related bylaws.

The details of the Special Regular Meeting to take place on Monday at 5 PM were posted to the City website earlier today.

As we outlined on Thursday, as part of their review on Monday evening, the council members accepted the recommendation from Chief Financial Officer Corrine Bomben of a 3.63 per cent tax hike for 2022.  That after a wide ranging discussion of the city's financials and how the current council has approached financial management this past year.

However, those who missed Monday's Council streamcast, may not have opportunity to review those taking points and discussion themes prior to the Monday session. 

So far as of this afternoon, the video archive for that Monday evening session, has yet to be delivered to the City's Council Meeting Archive on YouTube.

Update: The City has updated their Video archive, adding the Monday Council session to their YouTube selection as of late Friday afternoon.

Ms. Bomben's presentation on the Budget opened up the evening's work, while the Budget Discussion and focus on Legacy Inc and Watson Island  can be reviewed below starting at the forty five  minute mark.

The details related to the Property tax bylaw and Five Year financial plan can be reviewed here.

Hike for Hospice goes Sunday with three routes for participants to choose from

click to enlarge to view
the routes for Sunday

The First of what organizers plan to make an annual event is set for Sunday, with a 1 PM start time in place for the Hike for Hospice, an opportunity to hike in remembrance of a loved one or in support of the local Hospice and to raise funds towards its work in the community.

Three routes are run place starting from Mariners Park for participants to choose from: a 1.6 km version, a 2.2 km route and for those up to the challenge a 3.6 km circuit. 

Pledge Forms will be available on the day, with REQUESTED receipts for donations over $20 sent out the following week. 

Donations can also be made directly to Hospice via Hospice’s Donation page you can access that option here.

Part of the Sunday program is also to serve as an information relay on the services available in the community from the Hospice Society.

Among some of those services offered are: 

Palliative Visiting ~ Volunteer Training 

Advance Care Planning assistance 

Grief Telephone Support 

Grief Drop-Ins

You can call the Hospice Society office at 250-622-6204 to learn more on those elements of their work in the Prince Rupert area.

The organizers have noted of the strong support in the community that they have received to date, and offered their thanks through their social media feed today.

You can find out more about the work of the Prince Rupert and District Hospice Society in the community and how you can help them out through their Facebook page and website.

More Community Note items can be reviewed through our archive page.

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 64 and Port Edward Volunteer Fire Rescue among those saluted during National Volunteer Week

Vessels from RCMSAR Station 64 in Prince Rupert at
the Rushbrook Floats

Two local organizations who are dedicated towards public safety on the North Coast have been in the spotlight this week as part of National Volunteer Week in Canada.

The work of those who take to the ocean in some of the worst conditions to offer assistance or rescue for those in trouble is being saluted this week, with members of the Local Station 64 of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue among those hailed locally.

The praise for their work locally comes as National Volunteer Appreciation Week wraps up, with the Prince Rupert Port Authority taking the lead in celebrating their dedication to the North Coast.

You can find out more about the local station from their Facebook page here.

Another local organization that relies on volunteers towards public safety is the District of Port Edward Fire Department, as part of their participation in National Volunteer week, the PEVFR Department has been providing some profiles of its members. 

You can review those notes from their Facebook feed here.

A look at the work of All Emergency Responders on the North Coast and across the Northwest can be reviewed from our archive page here.

BC Budget planning consultation to start in late May, registration period opens next week

The month of May will bring the first steps for the BC Government and as part of the preparation of their financial plan and provincial budget process.  

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services which will offer advice to the government is preparing to consult with the public on what they believe should be the focus for the Minister of Finance.

A nudge towards participation in the consultation was offered up by North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice earlier this week.

As part of that process the Committee will be holding a number of public hearings across the province, with the destinations and schedule still to be released. Towards those public sessions, the Committee offers up the following guidelines:

The Committee will be holding several meetings to hear from individuals and organizations from across the province. Request a presentation time by completing the following form by 3:00p.m. (Pacific) on Friday, May 6. 

Presenters are asked to focus on three recommendations within their presentation. Download the submission form to help you prepare your presentation. Please note, due to the overwhelming interest the Committee receives, it may not be possible to accommodate all requests. 

If your request is not accepted, you will still be able to provide your written comments by completing the submission form through the Committee's consultation portal.

That consultation portal has yet to open

To keep up to date on the path forward for the Committee and their public engagement plans follow their work from their website, or the BC Legislature social media fields of Twitter and Facebook

Once underway the consultation process will help to guide the Committee with our feedback and their recommendations for the Government to be compiled as part of report to the Legislative Assembly which will be released by November 15th.

For more notes on the Legislature see our archive page.

Northern Savings to add to Community Giving funding program

Prince Rupert based Northern Savings Credit Union is adding some additional funding to its community giving programs, introducing a new program to named the INSPIRE Fund which will support the financial institutions vision of neighbours helping neighbours to build sustainable communities.

In an information release from Thursday, Northern Savings outlined how the new fund will work. 

For 2022, the INSPIRE Fund will provide $50,000 of contributions, this is in addition to the funds Northern Savings has already set aside for its annual community giving, in total, approximately $120,000 will be provided. 

Northern Savings President and CEO Stefan Delloch outlined how the INSPIRE fund will give back to the communities that the institution serves across the Northwest and on Haida Gwaii.

“Northern Savings INSPIRE Fund showcases our continued effort in strengthening our Northern communities. The more our community members chose our local credit union, the more we are able to give back to our communities – that is the credit union difference,”

Plans for the INSPIRE Fund are currently being finalized.  

Northern Savings does note however that applications for initiatives seeking $5,000 or more will be accepted starting June 1, 2022. Details on the application process and funding guidelines will be posted on Northern Savings’ website in the near future. 

Follow their website here, as well as their Facebook page for any updates.

In other notes from the Financial instution on Third Avenue West, the recent election for the Board of Governors has come to an end with the succesful candidates annouced last week.

The election closed on April 21, 2022 and the following individuals were elected: 

Director At Large - Jeremy Pierce (three year term) 
Director At Large - Angela Gruber (three year term) 
Queen Charlotte District - Beng Favreau (three year term) 
Masset District* - Joseph Lavoie (two year term) * 
The Masset District seat was filled by acclamation, and no election was held for this seat. 

 Due to a Director resignation, Trent Moraes was appointed for a one-year term to the Board.

The results of the ballot counting can be reviewed below:

More notes on the commercial sector across the Northwest can be explored from our archive page.

Renoviction/Rental Bylaw gains fourth and final reading from Prince Rupert council

For a few moments on Monday evening, it appeared that Prince Rupert City Council was heading into the direction of having to reverse some of its work on the theme of Renoviction and Rental Housing concerns, that as Councillor Barry Cunningham called attention to a few concerns he had with what had become the final draft of the city's proposed bylaw on rental housing.

That consensus of two weeks ago came after a lengthy period of consideration by Council and staff that dates back to September of 2021, when they first began their work towards protection for renters, that after some high profile renovations and notes on some housing conditions in the city.

Monday night Councillor Cunningham once again expressed  some frustration that as he viewed it, the council had gone backwards from where they were a few weeks ago, with some of the language of the bylaw making for his concern over protection for the most vulnerable residents of the city.

"We've gone backwards on this, it was first, we we're going to exempt single family dwellings unit  now it has gone it does not apply to single family dwelling units, two family dwelling units or secondary suites if any of these units. 

You could have a duplex, and the way this read, they could have three or four suites in the duplex to make a five plex and its still exempt, I think it's almost deceiving, deceptive wording here. Simply because people living in these suites are the most vulnerable people and yes they're going to be covered by a complaint driven system, but I'd rather see a number on this of ... two family dwelling and / or three units something like that.

You're leaving this wide open and the most vulnerable people are the people who are going to be affected the most. You're not going to complain about sub par housing  right now in this town, because if you complain and your landlord says I'm going to renovate and kick you out you're not protected and then on top it you've got not place to find.

And this is the vulnerable people, the lower income people things like that, so I'd rather see a specific number on that exemption, rather than leave it wide open"

As part of the follow up back and forth with Council members, most that participated tended to suggest that there was a level of protection that they had been seeking for those at the most risk for renovictions or in less than adequate housing situations.

City Manager Rob Buchan provided some background on the new bylaw proposal, as well as to note of an accompanying bylaw to be considered on the night to try to clarify any confusion on the topic.

"I would note that this has changed to include duplexes as per council's decision of last week, so the exemption is an exemption from being part of a licensing program, so section ten excludes single family dwellings with suites or duplexes with suites if council approves that to be exempt from the licensing part. 

Part four of the bylaw pertains to property management those aren't exempted at all, so this is only from the licensing part.

The practical application of this bylaw once council and if council adopts the omnibus bylaw that is on the Agenda would be a four units, that would be the practical application of this ... this is quite specific it says single family dwellings or two family dwelling and basically any ancillary units that are within them"

The City Manager also offered up a solution to the concerns raised by Councillor Cunningham on the evening.

"I would just note for Council's consideration, that if Council proceeds with adopting the bylaw as it's currently written, that does not prevent, preclude council from watching how its administred and watching  the implication of how its administered and making changes if necessary. 

To add more protections, or to take away some of the regulations depending on how effective it is. 

So this is a step forward, I think in many ways and you know if there is concern about  how effective it is, Council could also pass a resolution two say please bring back a review after a year to see how well its working, to see if there's any tweaks that need to occur, that's an option for Council to consider"

Towards additional concerns from Mr. Cunningham that landlords could start renovating and add more suites than originally allowed, the City Manager offered up guidance that that would be a violation and something subject to enforcement.

"I understand that would be an issue, but it's not an issue that is directly impacted by this. If somebody puts in a fifth unit, that would be a violation of the zoning bylaw and if we were to find out about it then we could act on it for bylaw enforcement ... I think its a separate issue that can be managed effectively separately" 

Councillor Mirau seemed to gauge the sense of Council that for the most part they had addressed many of the concerns that launched their process last fall, with Mr. Miaru noting how he believed that they had reached a consensus earlier this month.

"I felt like we're rehashing the debate from third reading, I thought we reached a good compromise, so all I'd really want to add is I think perfection in this case, or searching for perfection is the enemy of the good.  And I think this is a good first step and if we do need a friendly amendment for a review after twelve months, I don' know if I was a mover or a seconder but I'm happy to ... so let's add that provision to do a review after twelve months and if there's any changes, any unforeseen consequences anything we want to add or subtract we can do so at that time"

As the discussion came to and Council provided its approval of the Bylaw with the addition of the plan for a review of the bylaw in one year's time. 

The full report for Council on the bylaw can be reviewed from the Monday Agenda starting on page 38.

The City has yet to provide the video archive of their April 25th Council session to its You Tube archive page, once they have done so, we will provide the video to go along with the above commentary from the Council members.

Update:  The City added the Video of the Monday Council session to their You Tube archive late Friday afternoon.

The Renoviction and Omnibus bylaw discussion can be reviewed below starting at the one hour fourteen minute mark.

More notes on the rest of the Monday session can be reviewed from our Council timeline.

As noted by the City Manager, Council also considered on Monday was a second bylaw which covered a range of topics from rental housing options to commercial themes and other miscellaneous themes. 

That bylaw which does answer some of the concerns of the city's work on rental licensing regulations gained a first reading on Monday, the city plans an engagement process related to it for the public in the weeks ahead, as well they announced plans on Monday to hold a Public hearing on those proposed amendments.

You can review that document from the Monday agenda starting on page 55.

The culmination of Council's work on the Renoviction/Renal Bylaw can also be reviewed from the City website here, included in their information review is a summary of their work and a link to the full bylaw.

More notes on Housing in Prince Rupert can be explored from our Archive page here.

Return for British Columbia Provincial Police Force among many recommendations from BC Policing report

Prince Rupert may be in the process of building a new detachment for the RCMP in the community, but if the Province of British Columbia acts on a report delivered Thursday, the Federal force may not be in place at the corner of McBride and Third Avenue East for long.

The BC Government introduced the findings of a Legislature Committee into policing on Thursday, the document a wide ranging review of policing in the province and one which came with ten recommendations for action by this government and those that may come in the future.

The initial focus for the review came out a lack of trust in policing by many areas of British Columbia society a theme noted in a statement on Thursday by Mike Farnworth, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General 

“The recommendations from the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act echo our government’s belief that everyone deserves equal treatment by the police.  

This has not always been the case for many Indigenous, Black and other people of colour. Public trust requires that the delivery of police services is fair, equitable and responsive to all British Columbians. 

The committee’s recommendations to reform B.C.’s Police Act are based on extensive analysis and input and reflect today’s challenges, including addressing systemic racism, mental health, and harm reduction. 

We will review the report’s findings on the roles and responsibilities of police, the effectiveness and efficiencies of policing practices, the level of public trust, and how to deliver exceptional services to all British Columbians while being understanding and responsive to the needs of Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities. 

We have already begun reaching out to partners to discuss how we will review the report’s recommendations and, starting in late summer, we will be discussing the recommendations with Indigenous partners, community advocacy organizations, health and mental-health groups, police leadership, agencies and police oversight bodies in order to meet the new vision for the Police Act as envisioned by the committee."

However, of the ten key recommendations of the document, the one which has captured the most attention since the release was the call by the committee to bring back the British Columbia Provincial Police. 

A law enforcement agency which had existed for over 90 years and last served the province up to the 1950's before it was dissolved on August 15, 1950, with the province then turning over the bulk of its law enforcement outside of selected cities to the RCMP.

It's been that model of contract policing that has been in place since and is what currently is in place in communities across the Northwest including Prince Rupert.

To the future of policing for communities like Prince Rupert and others the future as the committee views it would be better served by a return to a British Columbia Provincial Police model with an expanded focus on community safety and accountability.

click above to enlarge

Among some of the elements of the document, the full report provides an overview towards addressing concerns of Indigenous communities, measures towards dealing with mental health and addictions and a proper funding model for communities when it comes to the financial burden of providing for policing services.

No timelines are established towards many of the elements, in particular the recommendation of a shift to the provincial police force option, so the discussion on that element and many others will be part of the Legislature debate for the months and more likely years to come.

So in short, don't anticipate a transition/eviction  notice for the local RCMP detachment anytime soon, the prospect of change to a provincial force is one that will no doubt require much further discussion and exploration of a range of elements such as cost and disruption to communities.

More notes on the work in the Legislature can be explored from our archive page here.

MLA Ellis Ross pays tribute to Father In Law Glen Henry upon his passing with Legislature statement

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross speaking in the Legislature

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross shared some personal news with the members of the BC Legislature on Thursday, making note of the passing of his father in law Glen Henry in Kitimat earlier the day.

Hemaaas, Musmagilth, Gukaloot. 

Early this morning my wife lost her father. My children lost their grandfather. My grandchildren lost their great-grandfather. It's suspected it was due to heart problems, but he was definitely battling dementia, which is a cruel condition for victims as well as their family and friends. 

Dementia has been described as a long goodbye. 

Glen Henry was born November 16, 1945, and passed away April 28, 2022, at 12:30 a.m. in Kitimat General Hospital. Rest in peace, Glen Henry.

The MLA's comments for the Legislature can be reviewed in the video below, which he shared through his Facebook page yesterday.

As word has been shared of the passing, the MLA's social media page has been receiving messages of sympathy for Mrs.  Ross and Mr. Ross and his family.

More notes on the work of the MLA in Victoria can be reviewed from our archive page.

Members of Resource Benefits Alliance hope for progress on funding agreement with province by UBCM this fall

Stikine MLA and Municipal affairs minister Nathan Cullen
speaking to NWBCRBA delegates at a weekend session
(From MLA Cullen's Facebook page

A quest for a sustainable funding agreement with the provincial government for communities across Northwest BC gained a bit of momentum over last weekend as representatives of the Northwest BC Resource Benefits Alliance met with Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen in Terrace.

The Alliance which was formed in 2014 has been seeking a sustainable funding agreement with the province that ensures more of the revenue generated from the northwest, remains in the region. 

As the NWBCRBA explains it a funding agreement will allow local governments to better encourage economic development in the northwest and ensure that development creates good local jobs and sustainable, livable communities. 

Mr. Cullen made note of the gathering through his social media feed on Sunday.

The Municipal Affairs minister also provided a more expansive statement of the gathering as part of the release of information from the weekend gathering.

“People in every corner of the province deserve access to the critical services we all rely on – and that includes communities across the northwest. Having represented this region for nearly two decades, I’m aware of the challenges faced by many communities in our region and am committed to working with our local government partners in the RBA to develop a new MOU that lays out the path forward for how we can better work together to support the region.” – Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs and MLA for Stikine

Prince Rupert representatives have not had much to say about the NWBCRBA session in Terrace, with Councillor Cunningham the only one to make note of the event briefly, speaking of the session as part of the Civic budget discussion at Monday's Council session, the Councillor noted mainly of his impression of the information that had been shared between communities.

"When you sit down like we did with the RBA meeting on the weekend and listen to the woes of other towns and that, we're actually in pretty good shape, its' been well taken care of over the years"

The Alliance members noted that Minister Cullen had committed to working a path forward with them as part of a process oriented Memorandum of Understanding which is anticipated to be signed at the UBCM convention in Whistler this September.

The full statement from both Mr. Cullen and the members of the RBA can be explored here.

This weekend's gathering is the first note of interest relayed by the Alliance in over a year, you can review some of the themes of the past from our archive page here.

RTI now known as Trigon as North Coast shipping terminal charts course forward for diversification of shipping terminal

The shipping industry has bid farewell to Ridley Terminals and as of Thursday been introduced to Trigon, that's the new name for the Ridley Island terminal site that hosts the coal and gas shipment terminals, with the new corporate name now known as Trigon Pacific Terminals.

The logo a three pointed Trigon is one which draws from Coast Tsimshian Art and reflects the concept of transition and upward movement that the terminal is adopting as it explores a strategy for diversification, while continuing to serve the clients that have been part of their chain of supply for years.

The three-pointed "trigon" that will now be the visual identifier of the terminal is a design element drawn from the cultural context of the company's Indigenous co-owners that is frequently seen within Indigenous art. The "trigon" is known to represent the concepts of transition and upward movement, and speaks to Trigon's ownership, connection to the community and vision for the future.

The new identity one that the company explains was first considered in 2019 when it was sold off as a Crown company and became private and partially Indigenous owned by the Metlakatala First Nation and Lax Kw'alaams Band .

From the corporate information release of Thursday Trigon President and CEO Rob Booker explained the focus for the new identity as the company looks towards the future.

"Our new identity is about looking forward, while honouring Coast Tsimshian culture and traditions, as we advance our company's commitment to Reconciliation through both Indigenous ownership and a strong, sustainable operation,

We are charting an exciting path forward for the benefit of everyone.

Rapid transition is very much the pathway we've been on since the terminal's privatization and we have great ambitions for Trigon's future 

A particular focus for our terminal is the export of reduced and zero-carbon energy, with hydrogen in the form of ammonia being a leading contender,

There's existing production and tremendous opportunity in Canada and even greater global demand. As many countries increasingly put hydrogen at the top of their list as part of their commitment to global decarbonization, we intend to play a significant role in this evolution as Canada's first hydrogen-as-ammonia export terminal."

Towards the new quest for diversification the company outlined how ongoing investment at the facility will serve that goal.

"Trigon currently handles steelmaking and thermal coal, as well as liquid petroleum gas (LPG) exports, which remain core to the operations. In parallel, the company has been rapidly advancing its strategy to also handle new green energy exports, investing in the necessary infrastructure upgrades. "

Last month, the 115 employees of ILWU Local 523 agreed to a new collective agreement that will take the workers and the company through to 2026.

The full information release on the New Name, New logo and plans for the future can be reviewed here.

More notes of interest from Trigon Pacific Terminals can be explored here.

Time for City Council to offer up a public review of their Seven year legacy of Legacy Inc. spending

For a financial instrument that we rarely hear many details about, the words Legacy Inc. or Legacy were pretty prominent in the discussion on Monday night when it comes to how Prince Rupert City Council put together this years Financial Plan and Budget, one  now completed for 2022 with a 3.63 tax increase.

As a part of the discussion on budget themes, the word Legacy was used eleven times in the Monday session, its joined at the hip partner Watson Island mentioned eight ties during the course of the 25 minutes that the council members put towards the budget approval.

As we outlined yesterday as part of our Council Budget review story, the topic of city council's go to fund for infrastructure projects, community initiatives and even a pay raise once upon a time, came after Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa noted that he could not support a tax increase for 2022, instead calling on Council to use the Legacy Fund money to cushion the tax burden for Prince Rupert residents.

That however was a red flag for the remaining council members who as we noted yesterday one by one spoke out against what they view as the folly of using the Legacy money for a tax relief program, with the Council members highlighting in a somewhat selective fashion as to how the fund is being used at the moment.

Much of the council push back to that idea followed the lead of Mayor Lee Brain who counselled against using the Legacy money towards tax relief, noting how the city makes use of the fund for infrastructure and other programs.

"I can understand where Councillor Randhawa is coming from, the challenge is that when you borrow from  another fund to pay into operations, then essentially you're just delaying  another more larger increase in taxes at another time. 

It's just borrowing now to pay off the inevitable later. So the reality is that smaller more consistent tax increases versus you know a large increase at another time when you are borrowing from another fund. 

I think is what the challenge with that strategy is ...  it's not really a strategy that's going to work because of just how the budget structure, how the operation fund, how legacy fund works and then  all our utility funds so you know as much as I understand the desire for that,  it won't actually translate to that it just pushes it off to another council to make a harder decision" -- Mayor Lee Brain

"I agree with what Mayor Brain has said, you can't keep taking money out of Legacy cause sooner or later Legacy is going to be empty and then you're going to have a big increase". -- Councillor Barry Cunningham

The use of the Legacy money towards leveraging infrastructure funding surely would not gain much a quarrel from residents; but perhaps some of the spending that we haven't heard about in any detail may be of some interest for a comparison to the themes presented by the council members on Monday.

Added to the discussion on Legacy was how Watson Island, which had its rebirth assisted by that Legacy money is moving forward in providing revenues for the community; but as Councillor Wade Niesh recounted, also seemingly still requires some significant investment from the city to build upon the current state of affairs at that industrial site.

"When you go and look at the Legacy Fund and what its done for our community, you know if you used it just to keep taxes at the line all the time, then we wouldn't have that money there for its intended use and that's to basically to develop our community and use it to further us ... that's where we've put our money in for the dam, that's where we've put our money for all these big projects that we need to do. 

And if we just used it as a fund to keep taxes low, then these projects wouldn't happen or we wouldn't have our contribution to put to these projects.  

Even though Watson Island has come a long way in the last seven years, it went to being a major liability to yes it is making us money now, but that money is for us to gain more money we're having to invest that money into Watson Island and we're having to put more money into it to make it a better future" -- Councillor Wade Niesh

All of the comments noted by the Council members should leave residents wanting to hear much, much more about both the Legacy financial instrument and how it's used, as well as to the ongoing need to keep providing funding for Watson Island.

Earlier this year, the City did provide a short infographic on some elements of Legacy, noting some selected uses of the money and some general information on the history of the financial instrument

click to enlarge

But with a municipal election coming up this fall, those council members giving thought to another term of office, should consider asking City Staff to provide a fulsome overview of both the operations for Legacy and Watson Island, that so voters in October will have a full briefing on how the City has been using that Legacy Funding.

However, what would be most helpful would be the creation of an easy to find information page for the city website, which would be updated on a regular basis,  providing a complete list as to where funding from the Legacy instrument has been allocated.

It could include snapshots of the projects and initiatives to date that came to fruition through that funding, something which would provide a quick reference for residents as to how the Council chose to put that money to work and if their priorities match up with the expectations that the community may have for a vast pool of investment money.

As well, Council could also allocate some time at an upcoming Council session to make for a full presentation on the topics of both Legacy and Watson Island.

Having those who manage the fund and direct for its use, provide for presentations and have residents offered an opportunity to pose questions to them, whether in person or on line. 

Such a forum would also help to provide more clarity on how the city is approaching the use of Legacy and the development of Watson Island.

The city has not been particularly attentive to updates on Legacy or Watson Island over the last seven years, the homepage for the financial instrument as barren today as the day it was created to detail  the articles of incorporation.

As for Watson Island, there hasn't been a full update on the site since a video tour a number years ago and that was more of a travelogue than an information piece. 

Since then, most of the information relay has consisted of the occasional note of a new tenant coming by way of a short Facebook post on the Mayor's social media page with no follow up or details as to what the plan of development for the industrial site may be.

Neither Watson Island or Legacy Inc.,  has become a discussion point for Council members who rarely bring the topic up in the public sessions, with the exception of when its budget time and Council makes note of how the fund is helpful on accessing infrastructure grants.

As he closed the Budget discussion on Monday, Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven noted of the city's many moving parts as he put it.

"There's a lot of moving parts when it comes to a municipality in general, but wth Prince Rupert between Municipal enterprise corporations like CityWest, Watson Island and Prince Rupert Legacy Inc., there's a lot of moving parts that come with that ... I think for us to allow to continue to make these investments and to move forward so we don't have a large bill that we can't manage, I think for it's for us to be fiscally responsible not only for the now but also for the future generations. "

Offering a comprehensive accounting of how they make use of those moving parts and what Council has spent the money from Legacy on, would give residents an opportunity to decide whether a tax break as advocated by Councillor Randhawa as bad of an idea as the council members suggest, compared to some of their other spending from the fund to date.

Considering how important those elements appear to be to Council and how they are framing them as part of the overall financial process, providing for more transparency and accountability on how all of them are managed and put to use should be the new priority for the Council members through the summer and up to election time.

And if not, that could make for a good theme for voters to take to the incumbents when candidate forum time comes around prior to voting day.

What few items of note that have been shared over the last seven years on Legacy Fund and Watson Island can be reviewed from our archive pages below:

Legacy Inc. Archive

Watson Island Archive

The City has yet to provide the video archive of their April 25th Council session to its You Tube archive page, once they have done so, we will provide the video to go along with the above commentary from the Council members.

Update:  the City added the Video of the Monday Council session to their You Tube archive late Friday afternoon.

Ms. Bomben's presentation on the Budget opened up the evening's work, while the Budget Discussion and focus on Legacy Inc and Watson Island  can be reviewed below starting at the forty five  minute mark.

More notes on the rest of the Monday session can be reviewed from our Council timeline.

Slight uptick in COVID case reports from weekly data review from BC CDC

BC CDC Local Health Data on COVID for April 28th


While reports of increased absences from work owing to COVID made for some of the news of the week, the data review from the BC CDC released on Thursday does not seem to indicate any widespread occurrences of COVID that have been reported.

Of the COVID cases of note, most  were limited to the larger population centres of the Northwest for the most recent reporting period, with four of the 12 regions of the Northwest recording no cases in the last seven days. 

This week's data  for the period of April 17-23 indicated that those communities with cases to report in the Northwest had seen a slight uptick in their results.

The results for Prince Rupert at 7 provided for an increase of 2 cases from the week prior, a similar increase as that found in Terrace.

Smithers saw the largest increase in the region jumping from 3 cases last week to 9 cases reported in this period.

The northwest count is significantly lower than that of Northern British Columbia's largest community, with Prince George recording a case count of 54 in the period.

The full review across the region for the week of April 17 - April 23  from the BC CDC looks as follows:

Terrace -- 13 cases
Smithers -- cases
Prince Rupert -- 7 cases
Kitimat --  6 cases
Nechako -- 3 cases
Haida Gwaii --  3 cases
Nisga'a Region -- 3 cases
Upper Skeena --  1 case
Burns Lake --  0 cases
Snow Country-Stikine-Telegraph Creek --  0 cases
Central Coast --  0 cases
Bella Coola Valley -- 0 cases

The Provincial Data Review looks as follows:

2,276 New Cases, with 570 hospitalized, 47 in Critical Care. 42 new deaths from COVID were reported for a provincial total of 3,147 to date.

There have been 363,302 cases of COVID recorded in the province since the arrival of the pandemic

As of April 28th the Province had administered 11,605,045 doses of COVID Vaccine in first, second or booster shots, with a fourth booster program for specific groups to soon get underway.

Thursday's provincial report lists  118 new cases of COVID for the Northern Health region for the reporting week. That makes for a total of 29,815 cases recorded since the start of the pandemic.

For the Northern Health Region in total as of Thursday, 24 patients are listed as in hospital, with  5 noted as in Critical Care, the Northern Health region recorded one new death this week, the Northern Health total of deaths attributed to COVID is 335 since the start of the pandemic.

The  breakdown of hospitalizations by community in the Northern Health region is not included in the data release information.

COVID review for April 28
British Columbia wide 

COVID review for April 28
Northern Health Region 

The larger BC CDC Data release is available here.

Past information statements on COVID and other notes on the Northwest response can be reviewed from our archive page