Sunday, July 31, 2022

Summer Break from Blogging

As we all celebrate this BC Day weekend, we will be taking opportunity to take a break for this Summer of post COVID rules travel.

As we head out, we take leave of our blogging themes for the next little while, with a return target of somewhere along the lines of mid August or so.

As we take to our travels, we trust everyone will hold off on those Mayoralty, City Council and School District announcements of candidacy,  at least until we return ... wouldn't want to miss anything!!

While we take a break from the delivery of new and original content, feel free to browse our archive pages found as part of our right hand column and catch up on some of the themes you may have missed in recent weeks.

If all goes well and the roads remain clear, we'll be back before the first layer of Blacktop makes its way to McBride Street.

Blog Watching: Week ending July 31, 2022

Municipal politics once again dominated much of the news for the week, with a range of themes coming out of the only Council session for the month of July.

The topic of property variances and what appears to be the growing tendency for some property owners to build now and seek variances later, made for some extensive discussion on the evening.

The themes of parking and bylaw enforcement also providing for some wide ranging conversations and revelations for residents to take in.

Council also received a report from Fire Chief Jeff Beckwith which details the ongoing shortage of ambulance service personnel in the city and how it its impacting on the Fire Department and its primary role of fire fighting.

Councillor Blair Mirau added his voice to the ongoing debate over the Port Tax Cap situation, submitting his commentary to the local paper and relaying them as well through his social media feed.

And the Mayoralty race became at least a two person race, with Chrystopher Thompson adding his name to the list of candidates, joining Herb Pond on the campaign trail towards the October municipal election.

The top item of the week however was the routine process of Council approvals for variance and how a few Council members are raising questions towards them.

"Are things getting out of control?" -- Councillor Cunningham notes of growing number of property variance requests coming to Council  --  The growing number of variance requests for properties in the community made for a lively discussion at Monday's Council Session towards how City Council is approaching the topic.   (posted  July 27, 2022)

That article was followed by: 
Second Candidate steps forward for Prince Rupert Mayoralty contest, as Chrystopher Thompson heads for the campaign trail  -- Local educator Chrystopher Thompson has announced his plans to contest the Mayor's race, making for the second contestant for the top elected civic post.   (posted  July  25, 2022)

Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue raises alarm over BC Ambulance staffing shortages and impact on Fire Department -- What has apparently been a long running problem of late when it comes to ambulance staffing was brought to the attention of the public at Monday's Prince Rupert City Council Session. With the Fire Chief outlining the challenges that are being found for the Fire Department as they provide services normally delivered by the Ambulance Service. posted July 26, 2022)

The Mirau Manifesto: Councillor expands on Mayor's State of the City Presentation on PRPA related financial themes  --  Prince Rupert Councillor Blair Mirau became the latest contributor to the discussion on the Port Property Tax Caps issue, penning a letter to the editor of the weekly newspaper and posting his themes to his own social media stream.   (posted July 25, 2022) .
Bylaw scofflaws in Prince Rupert take note, change is on the way towards enforcement measures  --  City Council members hosted some lengthy discussions on parking themes and bylaw enforcement as part of Monday's Council session, with Council now set to move to a new adjudication based process towards bylaw infractions and the collection of fines that are assessed. ( posted July 28, 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, July 30, 2022

BOIL WATER NOTICE issued in Prince Rupert, more details anticipated to follow this evening

Update: As of 8:30 pm, July 30th, the Boil Water Notice announced earlier this afternoon has now been downgraded to a Water Quality Advisory

No further information related to the situation was provided.

Full details to new measures here.

************** Original message from Saturday Afternoon ************

The City of Prince Rupert has issued A BOIL WATER NOTICE, putting the measure in place until Further Notice.

The message relayed through the City's Social Media feed and civic website does not outline any reasons for the the measure, though they note that the requirement is anticipated to be that of a short term requirement.

The usual guidance for residents when it comes to boiling water can be reviewed from the notice here or from the Advisory below

As part of the Saturday afternoon Notice, the City advises that an update on the situation will be provided later this evening.

Prince Rupert residents have seen a number of On and Off again advisories related to their water supply over the last few years.

The most recent one came back in February when Turbidity in the water was the issue. 

The list of advisories from 2021 can be reviewed here.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain spoke to the city's water issues and the work on infrastructure as part of his State of the City Presentation of June.

More notes on the progress of the water infrastructure themes can be found through our archive page here.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Tickets now available for 2022 City Garden And Tea Tour hosted by the Prince Rupert Garden Club

One of the many local gardens that could be on the 
Prince Rupert Garden Club tour list for August 7th

(Photo from PR Garden Club FB page)

August 7th is the date set for the return of the popular tour of local gardens, that as the Prince Rupert Garden Club prepares for their first tour of city gardens in three years.

The annual trip around the city had been suspended the last few years, mainly owing to the COVID challenges we faced, but with our more relaxed guidelines this summer, the self guided tour program is back on.

This years tour of the City Gardens takes place from Noon to 3 on Sunday, August 7th, participants in the Garden Tour pick up their maps at the Sunken Gardens.

The English Style Garden Tea takes place from 1-4 PM back at the Sunken Gardens.

Tickets are set at 20 dollars per person and are available at the Argosy and Cooks Jewellers.

You can also contact Andree at 250-627-6689 for tickets or more information on the Garden tour program.

click to enlarge

More on the event can be reviewed here.

Til then, you can stop by the Sunken Gardens behind the Prince Rupert Court House, which is the signature work of the Garden Club in the community.

For mote notes on the event follow the Prince Rupert Garden Club's Facebook page.

More notes on Community events can be reviewed here.

Terrace continues to own the summer of 2022, with Riverboat Days set to launch this weekend

It's been the summer of events for Terrace, with the community still talking about last week's Northwest Regional Air Show and the variety of aviation that was showcased at the airport.

This week, the community presents its annual Riverboat Days and the 2022 edition is full of a large volume of events for those heading into the Skeena Valley community this weekend.

The Official start for events comes this evening at 7PM at George Little park sponsored by the City of Terrace, the signal that the weekend is underway comes with a blast from the black powder cannon.

Another signature event comes up on Saturday morning at 11 AM with the Riverboat Days Parade starting near City Hall on Lakelse Avenue travelling to the east end of the city.

Music in the Park, Sports events, dances and a lot more make for the weekend festival, though Riverboat Days really makes for a week long event, with a number of events carrying through until next weekend.

The anticipation has been high in the Skeena Valley for the last few months as the plans came together and the opportunity to once again put on a full summer festival following our last few years of COVID challenges.

Find the full list of what to take in from the Riverboat Days website here.

Keep up to date on any changes or last minute additions through the Riverboat Days Social Media Stream.

For those visiting Terrace this weekend, be sure to take pu the opportunity to win back some of your money spent at Riverboat Days, your windfall could be but one duck away in the Riverboat Days Wild Duck race hosted by the Terrace Rotarians, the ducks hit water at 10 AM on August 1st.

More notes on Northwest community events is available here.

DFO closures for Shellfish harvesting in many areas of Prince Rupert waters

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has put a closure on a number of areas in the Prince Rupert area when it comes to the harvesting of shellfish, with the list of advisories posted to the DFO website on Wednesday of this week.

The scope of the DFO Notice is as follows:

Because of the risk of sanitary contamination, all bivalve shellfish harvesting is permanently closed within the following boundaries, often marked with signage or red concrete markers: 

300 metres around industrial, municipal and sewage treatment plant outfall discharges 125 metres around a marina, ferry wharf, floating living accommodation, or any finfish net pen

The full list of area closure notices and links to the specific locations  is available here.

A wider closure notice and advisory for areas beyond Prince Rupert on the North and Central Coasts and Haida Gwaii can be found here.

More notes on the fishery can be reviewed from our archive page.

North Coast the feature for Transport Canada video on environmental protection measures

Tug Boats and Pilots on their way to an approaching vessel
on its appraoch to Prince Rupert Harbour 

A new video from Transport Canada, the Federal agency that watches over Marine traffic to and from the North Coast makes for a good tutorial on the measures in place and the range of agencies which provide coverage of our waters and approaches.

The work of the Coast Guard base in Prince Rupert and the pilots and tugs who board the ships to deliver them to shore is among some of the features of the seven minute overview.

Some the tracking aids that Transport Canada used towards
monitoring vessel traffic in North Coast waters

Much of the focus explores the work on environmental concerns,  marine safety and work with Indigenous communities towards eco-system protection

You can review the Transport Canada presentation here.

The North Coast presentation is part of a series that explores how the Marine environment  on all of Canada's ocean approaches are being protected.

More background on the Federal measures towards protection and enforcement measures can be reviewed here.

More federal themes can be reviewed through our House of Commons archive.

And the Walls come crumblin' down ... Demolition of Jehovah Witness Hall underway

Seats in the shade were at a premium on the lawn of the Prince Rupert Court House today, as a few residents took some time out of the Sun to watch the demolition process for the Jehovah Witness Hall on Third Avenue East. 

Demolition crews were taking to their work in quick fashion this morning,  clawing away at two sides of the structure, once down the site will be cleared for the next stage of the replacement project for the City's RCMP detachment.

The Third Avenue East side of the Jehovah Witness Hall on Friday morning
as workers took to the demolition work

As part of his State of the City Presentation of June, Mayor Lee Brain had offered up a bit of a history lesson from the city's view related to the lengthy process towards development of the new Detachment, a project which has been on the to do list for over a decade.

The update above  from the City from earlier this year outlined the scope of project and its cost for the work, On June 27th the City approved the Loan Request noted in the advisory following the use of the Alternate Approval Process.

You can trace some of the past civic notes on the RCMP detachment replacement program from our Major Projects Archive page.

Federal Cabinet Minister Ahmed Hussen spends time in Prince Rupert to explore range of issues

City of Prince Rupert staff members and Councillor Skelton Morven
had opportunity to meet with Federal Housing Minister
Ahmed Hussen this week during a a short visit by the Minister to the North Coast

Local industry and civic officials had a chance to show Federal Liberal Minister Ahmed Hussen around Prince Rupert, with the Liberal Minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion in the city for a whirlwind visit earlier this week.

The tour included stops with the Prince Rupert Port Authority where Mr. Hussen explored some of the activity on the Prince Rupert waterfront and some of the issues related to the growth ahead for Port and its partner facilities and the community.

The Minister also had opportunity to tour the Harbour and explore the recently completed Seal Cove Salt Marsh. 

Minister Hussen also had opportunity to meet with some representatives from Prince Rupert City Hall, including City manager Rob Buchan, other civic officials and Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven. 

According to the short synopsis of his meeting on Social media,  the focus was related to providing more people with affordable housing in the community. The Minister noting of the productive nature of the discussion with civic officials.

What progress may have been made towards solutions on housing in Prince Rupert wasn't part of the Ministers post visit commentary.

So far, there's been no relay of the talking points by the city on the visit through their range of information portals, with even Councillor Skelton-Morven letting the moment slip by un-noted through his social media stream.

More items of note on Port Development can be reviewed from our PRPA archive, while housing themes in Prince Rupert are explored through our archive page here.

Items of interest from the House of Commons and Federal political scene can be reviewed here.

How much money has City Council left on the City Hall counting room floor?

The revelation from Monday's City Council session that parking tickets apparently received no urgency when it comes to collecting revenue, should probably be a bit of a red flag over how City Council has approached its financial themes over its last few mandates.

The topic made for much discussion coming out of two presentations Monday, the proposed Interim Parking Management Strategy and the decision to move towards an adjudication system for bylaw notices, which is where we received the eye opening note that 75 percent of those issued traffic tickets chose not to pay and seemingly there was nothing for City Council to do as it was a 'voluntary donation'.

As the City Manager correctly explained to Council, with voluntary payments the guiding principle for the city's traffic ticket policy ... why would anyone pay a ticket?

It's not an issue of staffing problems, or administrative management, it really does go back to Council and their oversight on a key element of their work, revenue generation in the community. 

Especially when one considers the volume of conversation that  they have put into parking themes over the last eight years in what has become a long running discussion topic that only now may finally be finding a way to resolution.

March 2022 -- Prince Rupert's enforcement Blues
April 2021 -- Parking Issues Downtown and across the city city continue to confound Prince Rupert Council
December 2019 -- What's the hardest thing to find in Prince Rupert this holiday season?

Image from civic correspondence of 2018

The real question for Council that wasn't asked, or surrendered up for information on the night is why did this council and who knows how many others before it, allow the practice to carry on?

Comments to our story of Thursday quite rightly noted that what was the logic of printing up and sending out bylaw officers to deliver the tickets if there was no real plan to actually make anyone pay.

The parking situation does give one cause to consider just where else the city has been less than proactive in revenue generation opportunities and if there are more unusual discoveries to be found beyond parking, say in the area of maintenance bylaw issues, or other civic instruments.

Considering the various areas where they lease out land, whether at Watson Island or elsewhere in any number of structures they may own, or making  arrangements for tenancy for new or recent commercial space concepts and such.  Having some idea of the volume of revenue that is generated, or should be generated, would be worth providing some background on.

Perhaps before the incumbents on Council that are considering a run in October hit the campaign trail, they may want to ask the Financial office for a financial check up to share and for residents to look over as part of the information flow of the election run up.

Beyond the parking boondoggle, having the city offer up a glimpse towards how much may have been spent on civic project overages, contracts, any past legal settlements, as well as any number of other council initiatives that haven't really been explained fully towards costing over the years, would give some idea as to where the incoming council may be on the profit and losses once the election campaigning is over.

During the final stages of the Bylaw Notice discussion on Monday, Councillor Adey somewhat jokingly observed that the next Council won't know what is about to hit them.

He may be on the mark more than even he may have intended.

If the current council doesn't ask for a snapshot for the campaigns ahead, the incoming Mayor and Council should. 

Maybe a helpful and easy to understand financial tip sheet could at least give the soon to be elected council  (and the city's residents) a heads up when it comes to how the revenues and expenses flow at City Hall.

It's somewhat ironic that in a month of highlighting the financial challenges they face and their frustrations with the Port and Province over Port Property Tax Caps (still an issue for the MLA to show some action towards by the way); the city council members knew of a long running issue of their own curious financial management of the Parking files, leaving cash inaccessible from what should have been a steady revenue stream.

Something which may explain why the Province hasn't really been too keen to give them more cash to use, that while Council tries to figure out how to access money that they would seem to have there for the taking.

Had residents known previous as to the less than attentive nature to revenue generation over the years, they could have perhaps suggested a long time ago that such things as City Council pay raises and Vision planning funding be taken from parking revenues ...  that probably would have cleared up the issue quite quickly.

Themes of the City's financials can be reviewed from our archive page here.

Our notes on past Council Discussion themes is available here.

Smithers Steelheads set to return to CIHL for 2022-23 season

There will be some steelhead runs up and down Highway 16 this fall and winter.

A welcome development for the Senior Hockey circuit in the Northwest, with word that the Smithers Steelheads will return to CIHL action after their recent hiatus, which began with the arrival of COVID in 2020 and the loss of a season for all CIHL teams.

The Steelheads had previously beenoff the ice in 2017-18 with a team reorganization to follow that period.

Last year, Smithers announced their extended leave of absence in mid September, the reasons attributed to some lingering impact from the COVID period.

As they make their plans for their CIHL return, the Team is hosting Tryouts in mid September from the 10th to 20th

While they prepare to put their roster together for the 2022-23 season, the team is also looking for sponsorships, volunteers and also have a few paid positions to fill.

You can follow the team back to the ice through their Facebook page.

The Steelheads aren't the only team preparing for the season ahead, the Nechako North Stars are hosting their tryout camps September 17 and 18 in Vanderhoof.

So far, it's all quiet with the Prince Rupert Rampage, with no notes yet as to their team tryout plans and season preparation.

Follow the Rampage through their social media stream here.

Keep track of all the notes on the season ahead from our archive page.

CIHL Archive 2022-23

Our archive of news items from the Central Interior Hockey League for the 2022-23 season, with particular note given to the Prince Rupert Rampage.

Notes on our Schedule and Game Summaries pages will be provided below as the season commences.

Prince Rupert Rampage Schedule 

For those looking for more information on the Rampage, the team provides background on its latest developments from their Facebook Page and Twitter Feed.

The remainder of the CIHL Social Media feeds can be found below:

Terrace River Kings
Kitimat Ice Demons
Hazelton Wolverines
Smithers Steelheads 
Nechako North Stars
Quesnel Kangaroos
Williams Lake Stampeders

Notes on the Rampage and around the CIHL can be found below:

North Coast Review items

Coy Cup 2023

Quesnel Kangaroos defeat Terrace River Kings 9-2 to win 2022-23 Coy Cup

March 28 -- Tragic loss of Morton Johnson (video)

CIHL Playoffs

Christmas//New Year's Break


Items of interest from other regional sources

January 31 -- Rupert Rampage Fight Cancer (video)

December 5 -- CIHL recap (video)

Archive of past years

2020-21 (Season cancelled due to COVID)

Renewed call for Bus Service for Cedar Village residents on Seventh East


Prince Rupert's Cedar Village Elders/Seniors residences are prepared for
Bus service, all they need is for BC Transit to swing by one day

Councillor Barry Cunningham has once again called for BC Transit to introduce service to one of the city's elders/seniors complexes, speaking at Council on Monday night of the desire of residents at Cedar Village on the city's east side for BC Transit service.

Councillor Cunningham observed that the facility already has the bus pullout in place, all that residents need now is a bus to pull in and pull out of it.

"One thing that has been brought up to me by several residents of Cedar Village is that one time there was some discussion about a bus stop there and they actually, when they paved the road and put the sidewalk in they put in a pull out for buses and it's never been done.

Quite a few of them have mobility problems and they've got to walk all the way up to Fifth Avenue East to catch the bus and they wondered if and when the could get a bus service or a bus could swing down that way on the way.

I'm hopefully going to the Transportation meeting tomorrow night and I'm going to bring that up, but I think it's something the city should talk to BC Transit about, getting a bus service for them"

BC Transit provided a Transit review in March of this year, exploring some of the options that could come to the local service in the future. 

Councillor Cunningham had noted of the call for service for Cedar Village at that time, as he noted on Monday, it may time to send a friendly reminder to BC Transit of that request.

With the city currently embarked on a Master Transportation Study consultation, the topic might be one for inclusion as part of that review.

The Councillors comments to the issue can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive starting  at the 2 hour 9 minute mark.

More notes on Monday's Council Session can be reviewed from our Council Timeline Feature.

Past Council discussion themes can be reviewed here.

BC CDC COVID review notes increases for Prince Rupert, Terrace for current reporting period

BC CDC Data for the week of Jul 17-23

While there continues to be a concerning uptick of COVID reports for many communities in the province, the numbers remain low across Northwest British Columbia, with all communities in the single digits or at zero from the most recent listings.

This week's report from the BC CDC for the period of July 17-23  continues to show low reports of COVID from the reporting agency. But there are some increases to make note of once again. 

The numbers showing an increase for the two largest population centres of the region Terrace  up one case this week with a total of five,  while and Prince Rupert jumped from 1 case to five for the current reporting period. 

The remainder of the Northwest and Central coast held close to last weeks results.

The highest numbers listed in Northern British Columbia's continue to come from its largest community, with Prince George recording a case count of 28 in the period which is a decrease of one in case reports from last week.

The full review across the region for the week of July 10-16  from the BC CDC looks as follows:

Terrace --  5 cases
Prince Rupert -- 5 cases
Nechako --  3 cases
Burns Lake --  3 cases
Haida Gwaii -- 2 cases
Snow Country-Stikine-Telegraph Creek --  2 cases
Smithers -- 1 case
Bella Coola Valley -- 1 case
Central Coast --  1 case
Upper Skeena --  0 cases
Kitimat -- 0 cases
Nisga'a Region --  0 cases

The Provincial Data Review shows some lessening of the summer wave for the coronavirus from a week ago and looks as follows:

921 New Cases (down from last week), with 401 hospitalized ( down from last week ),  35 in Critical Care ( up from last week ) and 29 new deaths from COVID reported (also up from a week ago). 

The total number of deaths in BC since the start of the coronavirus is 3,908 to date.

There have been 378,291 cases of COVID recorded in the province since the arrival of the pandemic

As of July 21st the Province had distributed 13,032,924 first, second or booster shots of the COVID Vaccine, with a fourth booster program for specific groups underway.

The wider fall Booster program is to start in the fall with residents being advised by email of the timeline.

Thursday's provincial report lists  62 new cases of COVID for the Northern Health region for the reporting week, an increase from seven days ago, which continues a trend in recent weeks. 

That makes for a total of 30,657 cases recorded since the start of the pandemic.

Of note an increase in hospitalizations while those cases in critical care remained much the same as much of the summer so far.

For the Northern Health Region, 11 patients are listed as in hospital ( up from last week ) , with 2 noted as in Critical Care ( am increase from last week ) , the Northern Health regionr ecorded  3 deaths in this last week.

The Northern Health total of deaths attributed to COVID is listed as 360 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 July 28
British Columbia wide 

COVID review for July 29
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