Wednesday, August 31, 2022

More enforcement on Fisheries Violations take place in the Northwest

A recent fishery enforcement checkpoint in the Bulkley Valley
found a range ofviolations of fishing rules in British Columbia

A Five hour joint roadblock recently held by The BC Conservation Officer Service, Department of Fisheries and RCMP has once again highlighted the need for those taking to Drivers, streams and the oceans of the need to know the rules before dropping a line in the water.

An information update from the BC COS outlines the result of their enforcement action which saw $2,200  in fines assessed and 32 Sockeye salmon seized during the course of their five hour enforcement program at a road check on Highway 118 in the Bulkley Valley/Lakes region of the Northwest.

Highway 118 is the corridor that connects Granisle and Topley Landing with Topley at Highway 16.

BC Enforcement officers set up their road check along Highway 118

Officials note that among the violations encountered included over limits, improper licences and improper transportation.

You can follow more notes on the work of the BC COS from their Social Media stream.

A wider overview of the work of Emergency Responders across the Northwest is available from our archive page.

City of Prince Rupert relays road advisory for Park Avenue owing to Infrastructure repair

The latest location for waterline repair work is found this afternoon
on Park Avenue just down from Five Corners

At times it seems as though the City of Prince Rupert's Operations Department is playing a giant city wide game of whack a mole, with trouble spots popping up around the community.

Today the infrastructure mole has popped up along Park Avenue with the City of Prince Rupert issuing an advisory for those who use the Park Avenue Corridor for travel to DP World, BC Ferries and other destinations on the city's far west side.

The area of work for City Crews is a stretch of Park just to the west
of the Five Corners intersection

Traffic controllers will be on the work site to guide travellers along the thoroughfare. 

The hope is that the waterline work is cleared up before end of the day 

For more notes on the work of the Operations Department see our archive page here.

Airport Operations resume following Tuesday flooding on Digby Island access road

Flooding on the Airport access road on Digby Island resulted in 
an Airport closure and cancellation of the daily Air Canada flight on Tuesday

Both the Prince Rupert Airport and the City of Prince Rupert have provided some further details on yesterday's airport closure owing to some challenges due to the atmospheric river of Monday and Tuesday.

As we outlined last night, the Air Canada flight to the city had been cancelled for Tuesday as a result of the flooding situation along the Digby Island Access road, with no access available to the Airport Terminal.

Today YPR officials took to the YPR Social Media stream with the update

The advisory through the YPR Facebook page, was the first use of that information sharing option since 2020 as things turned out. 

The City of Prince Rupert also posted a short advisory through their Social media stream this afternoon.

Both advisories provide for the barest of any details and  come more than 24 hours after the incident on the island.

Though the prospect of future information sharing from the airport through its social media page could be a welcome outcome of the situation that evolved on Tuesday.

The flooding came following an estimated 109 mm of rain fell over the Prince Rupert area on Monday evening/Tuesday morning.

More notes on aviation across the Northwest can be explored through our archive page.

Water Shut Off for Industrial Park area planned for tonight

A map from the City of Prince Rupert that highlights the areas of the
Industrial Park that will be impacted by a four hour water shut off 
that is set to start at 6PM tonight

Those who are working in the Prince Rupert Industrial Park will want to make note of an advisory from the City of Prince Rupert fro this morning, the information relay announcing plans for a Four Hour Water Shut Off tonight starting at 6 PM.

In their advisory the City outlines that the shut off is required to take on some minor repairs to the water supply line to the Industrial site.

Affected areas include: Kaien Road, Duncan Road, Hast Road, Mishaw Road, and Metlakatla Road. 

The City notes that the repairs have been scheduled for this evening to minimize disruption to respective businesses in the area. 

Should you require more information, the City notes those affected can contact their customer service team at (250) 624 6795. 

The message was relayed this morning through the City of Prince Rupert Social Media stream.

More notes on the work of the Operations Department can be reviewed from our archive page.

Land Clearing ... one rock at a time

Land clearing has been underway along a parcel of land on Park Avenue
for much of the month of August

Like Modern Day Fred Flintstone's and Barney Rubble's, workers at a site on Park Avenue have been busy with an ongoing land clearing project, the current focus that of taking down a large cliff on the parcel of land. 

The work on the large segment of the rocky area making for some slow going along there stretch just down from the Fiver Corners area.

Though as the work has picked up, so too has the speculation on Social Media as what may be planned next for the valuable piece of Prince Rupert real estate, with no shortage of theories on what may come from all the work.

So far, however,  there has been no public announcement towards what is in the future for the land.

To this point, the area in question has not come up on the Agenda page for Prince Rupert City Council, or through the planning department, one area which may eventually deliver some definitive word on what all the land clearing is about and what the lot will be used for once it's ready for development.

More notes on Planning themes for the city can be explored from our archive page

Northwest gets a bit closer towards hopes for a Regional Detox Centre

The Regional District of Kitiamt-Stikine is leading the way in the northwest towards seeking out a much needed health resource,  with the organization recently putting forward plans to create a Select Committee to work towards the creation of Detox Centre for the region.

At their most recent Board Meeting, RDKS officials outlined the scope of their plan towards advocating for such a facility to serve the Northwest.

The details were provided as part of a staff report posted to the RDKS Agenda for their August meeting.

A proposal towards a Northwest Detox Centre
from the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine
(click to enlarge)

The committee that was created by the RDKS following the August session consists of Terrace city councillor James Cordeiro, Director Tina Etzerza, Director Bruce Bidgood, and Doctors Gregg Linton and Natasha DeSousa.

They have plans to host their first session in early September.

Prince Rupert officials have previously noted the need for such a facility on the North Coast, Mayor Lee Brain making note of that quest back in 2019 as he and the council collective at the time wrapped up that years UBCM convention.

The potential development of such a facility in Prince Rupert dates back to 2016 with a concept outlined towards making use of the old Daily News building for a variety of local services.

Not much has been heard about the initiatives since 2019 for the North Coast, which would seem to make the Terrace plans the one with the most traction at the moment.

In October of 2021, the Province announced plans to invest in a facility for Prince George, though for most in the Northwest, that option would likely be a travel challenge and not a solution to the growing concerns that have been relayed to officials in the Northwest.

More notes on Provincial themes can be explored through our archive page.

Return to Bargaining will bring return to supply chain for BC Liquor, Cannabis locations

Normal supply levels should soon return for BC Liquor Stores,
private outlets and the city's private cannabis dealers. That as
the Gov't and BCGEU return to the negotiating table in their labour dispute

North Coast Residents may soon be able to pick up some of the favourite beverages or cannabis products at local sources, that at the BCGEU lifts its picket lines at warehouse locations across the province.

The stand down call for the picket lines came yesterday, as the Government Employees Union and the provincial government announced a return to bargaining in the dispute that has been ongoing for much of August.

The BCGEU media release outlining some background
on the return to the bargaining table

The labour dispute had escalated in mid August with the union setting up its picket lines at the key distribution centres in the province, a move which resulted in supply shortages across the province.

Locally, the BC Liquor Store and private locations began to show some empty space for a variety of product lines, with the BC Liquor outlet putting in place a rationing program at one point.  

The local private cannabis dealers across the city also began to see shortages of product.

The most recent update from the BCGEU expresses some hope that a tentative agreement will come shortly.

More notes on the Northwest retail sector can be reviewed from our archive page.

City of Prince Rupert seeks Expressions of Interest for Vending Machine services for Jim Ciccone Civic Centre

Prince Rupert's recreation centre on McBride Street is the focus for the
latest call for Bids with the provincial agency BC Bid

The latest call for bids from the City of Prince Rupert takes would be service providers to the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, with the City issuing a call for Expressions of Interest towards the exclusive rights to vending machine services in the high traffic recreation facility on McBride Street.

The scope of expectations for the successful applicant is outlined as part of the prospectus for the REOI which was released on Tuesday.

Once an applicant has been selected, the contract in place for the services will be effective for one year from the date of signing, with an ideal start date of October, 2022, and potential opportunities for future contract extension.  

The Closing Date for the Call for Expressions of Interest is September 30th

As part of their outline on the opportunity, the City makes note of the volume of activities that take place at the Civic Centre complex to showcase the potential level of business that the vending machines could see during the course of the contract.

Our recreation facility hosts frequent community events, including the All Native Basketball Tournament in February of each year, which sees thousands of people over the course of the week-long event. In addition, the Complex hosts regular hockey and basketball tournaments and games, as well as regular programming, swim meets, craft fairs, weddings and a host of other community events.

The full bid package can be reviewed from the BC Bid website

A look at past RFPs and other City of Prince Rupert bid calls can be reviewed from our archive page.

Totem Pole Raising set for Terrace Campus of Coast Mountain College today

The Wii Gyemsiga Siwilaawksat student housing building
on the main campus of Coast Mountain College in Terrace

The last day of August marks a special event for Coast Mountain College, with the Terrace campus hosting a Totem Pole Raising this afternoon, with the celebration to take place from 1:30 to 3:30 PM.

The totem marking one of the final elements for the new housing now available on the Terrace campus, with Coast Mountain College previewing todays raising with a short note on the CMTN website.

With the Wii Gyemsiga Siwilaawksat student housing building being completed last year the final element to be added was this totem pole. 

Carved by Freda Diesing instructors and alumni, this pole will represent the people and students from each First Nation CMTN serves. 

All campuses will be closed the entire day for staff members to witness this amazing event.

Community members in the region, students and staff have all been invited to take part in the historic event this afternoon.

The Totem raising is one of a number of events taking place at the main Terrace campus today, as Coast Mountain College closes all of its campus locations to allow staff to attend.

The day long event in Terrace will also provide recognition for long serving campus staff from all of the regional campuses and other activities for staff to participate in, all in preparation of the 2022-23 programs getting underway next week.

You can follow any updates on today's festivities from the Coast Mountain College Social Feeds.

More notes of interest on post secondary education across the Northwest can be explored through our archive page.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Monday/Tuesday rains brought cancelled flight for Prince Rupert owing to flooded access road on Digby Island

Flooding somewhere along the Digby Island Road is reported to have been the
cause for today's cancelled Air Canada service to the city
Map from the Windy Weather App)

See update at bottom of page

The atmospheric river that set up above Prince Rupert on Monday evening into Tuesday morning appears to have provided for some transportation issues in the city. 

With the access road to the Digby Island airport reportedly suffering from flooded conditions, a situation which resulted in the cancellation of the scheduled Air Canada Service on Tuesday afternoon.

A NavCanada NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) advised of the suspension
of Airport service in Prince Rupert on Tuesday owing to a flooding of
the Access road on Digby Island

So far the City of Prince Rupert has not provided any notes related to the situation through their range of information options, nor have YPR officials made note of the issue through the little used YPR Social media feed. 

The YPR Website is also seemingly out of commission at the moment.

City of Prince Rupert website
City of Prince Rupert Facebook page
YPR Facebook page

The early data on the Rainfall released by Environment Canada notes that 45mm fell on Monday, the Tuesday totals release on Wednesday showed that 64.0 mm of rain fell, for a combined total of 109 mm during the course of the weather event.

Total Rainfall from August 29th

Total Rainfall from August 30th

The North Coast Review has attempted to reach out to City officials this evening to learn more of the Airport road situation; should there be any updates related to the road and airport we'll provide them below, or in a follow up story. 

Update: City of Prince Rupert officials have advised through Social Media that the road has reopened and that the Air Canada Flight schedule is back in effect for today.

More notes on Aviation in Prince Rupert can be explored through our archive page.

Lax Kw'alaams calls on a familiar name to share their stories, relay information for its membership

The Lax Kw'alaams Band Council has announced a new hire for their office, bringing Lisa Girbav over from the Lax Kw'alaams Business Development Office in Prince Rupert, with Ms. Girbav to take on the duties in the Band Communication's Office.

The notice of the hiring coming through their Social media feed yesterday.

The official title is Manager of Communications and Public relations, with Ms. Gribav putting some of her past media experience with CFNR and Bell Media to work towards providing for the communication services for the Band Council.

Some of her focus as she takes on her new duties will be to expand some of the content on the Lax Kw'alaams Social media feeds such as their Facebook page.

More notes of interest from Lax Kw'alaams can be explored through our archive page.

British Columbia's Bylaw adjudication process set to change departments in the fall

A provincial program which the City of Prince Rupert is set to join towards bylaw enforcement is about to see a change in oversight, with the province looking to bring the adjudication process into one office.

In some information sharing from the UBCM, it was noted last week, that the Bylaw Adjudication Program which currently was a shared responsibility with the Court Services Branch is to be absorbed completely by the Ministry of Attorney General's Tribunals, Transformation and Independent officers division.

click above to enlarge 

The transition period for the province starts now and will be completed by October 3rd.

The City of Prince Rupert announced its plans to enrol in the program in July as part of Council's move towards stronger enforcement when it comes bylaws, particularly those issued on parking issues.

The current voluntary payment program which was outlined as part of a presentation on the city's Parking strategy, noted that the City has seen only about twenty five percent of those issued tickets making the payment. 

The other 75 percent of those issued a notice of parking violation, taking note of the word 'voluntary' and no doubt saying thanks we'll pass on this one.

Once accepted into the provincial process for adjudication, the City will have a stronger option towards collecting on infraction fees and securing a bit more community adherence to the bylaws in place.

City Council moved that application ahead as part of their August Council session.

More notes on City Council themes can be explored through our archive page.

Carving some art out of the forest on the city's west side

A forested area near the Totem Motel on Park Avenue
is showcasing some talented woodwork

You may only catch it out of the corner of an eye on a westbound journey down Park Avenue, but up around the wooded area of the Totem Lodge Motel is what seems to be the start of an outdoor art gallery, with a growing collection of wooden carvings taking shape just off to the side of the parking area.

The collection so far making for a unique feature for those who discover it, the completed works to date featuring a deer, owl and toadstools, though the promise of more seems in the works with additional trees seemingly set to join the exhibit space.

The work features some intricate cuts and faithful reproductions of the subject, something well worth stopping by to admire if you're on that side of the city.

More themes of interest on the community can be reviewed through our Community Notes feature.

Taking on the rumours, updating the state of health care in Prince Rupert and area the focus for two hour Town Hall Monday

Northern Health's Julia Pemberton carried the bulk of Monday
nights Conversation on Health Care in Prince Rupert, providing
for a wide ranging overview of the state of care in the community
(image from MLA Rice's FB feed)

Monday night's Town Hall Conversation on Health Care hosted by MLA Jennifer Rice provided a snapshot of where we are at the moment for the community, with Ms. Rice's guests on the evening charting the travels of health care through COVID and addressing a range of concerns for a small but energized audience at the Lester Centre.

The evening was divided into two segments, the first started with some storytelling and a greeting from Tsimshian elder Murray Smith who then turned the microphone back to Ms. Rice who introduced the first speaker on the night, Julia Pemberton from Northern Health.

The Northern Health administrator carried the bulk of the information sharing and provided for an extensive overview of the recent transit through the challenges of COVID and took on a number of themes that have gained some traction in the community in recent months.

Ms. Pemberton's presentation though the evening included some stories of service from staffers at Northern Health which paid tribute to the work of those at the hospital and. in the health care professions in the community.

Her observations noting of a collective which is working hard despite many challenges that face the community when it comes to providing for services, with notes relayed on recruiting themes and how housing is proving to be a major concern towards attracting health care professionals to the North Coast.

"The people who are left standing in our health care system today have done the hardest work of their careers and the hardest work in the latest history in Health care. 

And Im so grateful for every single of them who continue to come to work, who continue to advocate for their staff, but also for their people and their patients and their clients.

And I don't know what our future holds, I have some plans and I do think that there is hope on the horizon.  But I just want to start by really thanking the community for their patience, in what the last two and a half years has meant. 

It's meant that sometimes we haven't been able to provide service at a level that  we used to and it still means that in some cases.

I'm just fiercely proud and protective of the people who continue to stand with Northern Health and continue to come to work every day and serve us. They don't need to work for us, they don't need to work here, it's a market where they can pick up jobs anywhere in the province and anywhere in the country.

So the fact that they continue to choose Prince Rupert as their home and Northern health as their employer makes me extremely proud of each and every one of them"

Among the themes of attraction of staff, the Health administrator observed as to how Northern Health had lost a potential of 18 recruits for health care in the region owing to the housing situation in the community. 

A new initiative on housing has assisted in addressing some of those challenges, though the additional issue of daycare services has been a recurring theme for would be recruits.

Of note of her compassion and pride for the staff of Northern Health and the challenges they have faced she observed how Health care in the region has been working with fifty percent less staff than before COVID, with the staffing levels a priority for Northern Health and the numbers starting to build up again, partially owing to some provincial funding to attract and retain staff members in the region.

"To put this in perspective, currently right now, it varies on  departments but overall in all of my centres I"m dealing with an average of fifty percent staff less staff than I had before the pandemic started and we're trying to deliver almost the same level of service. So this puts incredible strain on ever single person because their constantly asked to do more with less" 

The night at the Lester Centre served as a welcome update to a presentation to City Council in 2021 and Ms. Pemberton could point to some success when it comes to the recruitment of Physicians and Specialists since the 2021 review.

The Northern Health Administrator also outlined the continues success in expanding the mPCT program which adds to the health care options for the Prince Rupert area

Ms. Pemberton also provided some details on the work ongoing to try to address the some 3,500 residents in the community who currently do not have a family physician.

"What we're doing to close that gap, is we have our next GP who is going to have a practice will join us in early 2023 ...  our Primary Care Network which is a five year plan to expand primary care in our community.

Towards surgical services Ms. Pemberton noted that all three Prince Rupert Operating Rooms are in constant operation, observing that even with the much discussed Mills Memorial Build, that the capacity for Operating Room services at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital will still be close to par with the larger Terrace hospital.

Fears of the Expanded Mills facility did dominate much of the night's conversation, both in the presentation period and in the follow up Question and Answer segment.  

The Northern Health officials acknowledging that while it is a concern for local residents, the creation of a trauma centre in Terrace should be considered a positive thing for the entire region, reducing the need for travel farther away should the situation arise.

The main focus for Northern health on the Mills Build is that the Region is gaining and Prince Rupert is not losing as a result of the introduction of a trauma centre as part of the new hospital build. 

Some of the other key elements discussed on the evening included frustrations when it comes to some of the services provided for the community, particularly with the lab work which as Ms. Pemberton noted came as a result of a significant fire at the hospital.

For those frustrations the Health Administrator offered up an apology to the community, noting that the staff continue to work towards a more streamline process that will reduce some of the often heard concerns over those elements of the hospital experience.

The lab improvements come following a 7 million dollar renovation required as a result of the fire which should make the Prince Rupert lab one of the more modern facilities in the Northern health region.

Some of the other areas addressed in the near forty five minute presentation  included  a review of some of the successful themes for Seniors Care at Acropolis Manor, Hone Care supports in the community and areas of improvement ahead for Maternity care.

The North Coast MLA added her perspective to the overview on the night by recounting the success of the community efforts during COVID and the roll out of the mass vaccination clinic and how it showcased the spirit of a community of caring, 

Ms. Rice also paid tribute to the health care workers in the community, noting that they are tired and have continued to serve the community during a very challenging period.

The MLA also declared that the Hospital is not going to be turned into a clinic, hinting of some additional investment for local facilities to come in the near future.

The second presentation on the evening provided a welcome tutorial on the current situation for the BC Ambulance Service in the community, with the Terrace based regional head of the service Tom Soames (who it was noted wanted to live in Prince Rupert but couldn't access housing) outlined the current status of the Prince Rupert Station.

He also outlined a training program set to get underway in Prince Rupert through Hecate Strait Business Development Society that will provide for additional EHS resources upon completion of their studies.

The focus for the discussion was on the challenges of providing for EHS staff with the region currently operating with 35% of its historical staff level along with a look at some of the process for developing and licensing paramedics in the province.

While the overview did offer up some hope that a stronger service is set to be put in place, the presentation on the night didn't spend much time addressing the current concerns over response times and the staffing situation that led to some controversy over the summer with members of the PRFD or others required for transport at times.

The third part of the night was turned over to the audience, a mix of residents, union representatives and current municipal politicians, or those perhaps considering a run for office who all took advantage of the forum to ask questions. 

Some of the themes were ones frequently heard, some of the past services offered at the hospital that no longer are, as well as the need for more travelling specialists to be based at the Prince Rupert hospital.

Concerns continued into the Q and A session over the looming presence of the Mills build and how it could be a magnet for health care professionals that leaves Prince Rupert in a staffing crunch and disadvantage.

The need for more autism supports, maternity services such as midwifery and Indigenous cultural models for maternity issues. as well as how Northern Health would respond to a natural disaster  provided for some themes.

It was through the Question and Answer period that Northern Health's Ciro Panessa provided for much of his contributions to the Conversation on Health, outlining some of the measures Northern Health has taken, updating the audience on areas where there could be changes and  noting of how he would take the concerns expressed in the forum back to the Board.

A union official thanked the Northern health officials for their praise of the front line workers, recounting some of the challenges that they were faced. She also observed for a call for a commitment from Northern for an audit of health care across Northern Health Delivery area.

Two long time advocates for Health Care were also part of the Discussion in the final segment. 

Tony Briglio a former City Council member, past Mayoralty Candidate and Regional Health care Board participant called for a Declaration of what services are provided at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and which services aren't.  

"Lots of people that go to Terrace and I do that quite a bit because I have home there as well, they see the hospital and the immediate threat. Things start building in people's minds, what's going to happen to our hospital in Prince Rupert.

From the list of things that I've seen tonight, of which we're crediting the good work of Northern Health to get some of the things that we actually had many years ago and it's nice to see that
we're going to get them back.

My point is this, why don't we have a doctrine, or something that we can laminate on our hospital in Prince Rupert that basically  says this:

We supply these services, 1, 2, 3, 4.  We do not supply 5, 6, 7, 8 

That way we know Northern Health is committed to this community to supply those services and our hospital will not resort to be a clinic but yes it will be maintaining its legacy of a Regional Hospital that it once actually was functioning as"

MLA Rice noted how it was important to recognize that there had been a significant population drop since that period that he recalled, while Mr. Panessa outlined how the topic is one that could be discussed in the committee that has been set up and that better communication could be helpful in dispelling the myth of reduction of service or changes to the function of the hospital.

Current City Councillor Barry Cunningham  also spoke to a number of services that have been lost in recent years and continued his advocacy for their return, noting of ophthalmology and dialysis concerns to name a few.

"We've talked about services that we lost that are coming back, that's great to hear. And I would like to say I appreciate you guys having this forum and that we should have more of these to stop the mill rumour and everything else.

But the services that we've lost that aren't coming back are of concern too, they're usually day services like ophthalmology which we've discussed before, we've got quite a few people going to Terrace on a day basis.

Transportation you and I have talked about for years and it's still not solved and that and a lot of these people are elderly, have to have somebody take them down there. 

Dialysis is another one, we had all these services here, they've gone, some are  just not returning.

You've told me over and over again, data does not support them here, but you've never told me about the data when I've asked about it ... I know we've lost people to Vancouver to other communities where they could get the services.

The Question is when are these services going to be returned to this community and if not, when are we going to get travelling doctors to come here? As well as why are we having doctors travel here ...,  when they could be based here and travel to other communities. ... "

On the theme of Travel, Mr. Panessa shared the concerns over the need for travel, noting of some of the measures that have been put in place including the Northern Health Connections bus and other travel assistance introduced through COVID. With hopes for more and different supports in the future.

The Councillor followed up on the Health Care Presentation with some further notes through his Social Media feed once the event had ended.

For Mr. Cunningham, Councillor Skelton-Morven who also spoke at the event and any other municipal official or would be municipal official in attendance though, one of the key takeaways from the night should be how the lack of housing is causing some of the current staffing issues in Prince Rupert. 

That's a theme not unique to Northern Health, but likely one repeated by the School District, Port and the various industrial stakeholders.

That often noted theme is one that the current city council has stumbled on and the next City Council will have to address quickly lest it continue to cause for challenges for services and employment in the community.

Perhaps however, the best review of the situation and the most succinct view of where we are came from Port Edward Mayor Knut Bjorndal.

For his contribution to the forum, he paid tribute to the work of those  in the health profession in the Prince Rupert region and observed that many of the issues on the North Coast and perhaps in many rural and remote communities comes down to Provincial policy and the decisions that the BC Government make on health care.

"But what we really need is better public policy, you three people sitting up there are allocations of scarcity. It's the worst job in the world. 

You know when I look around we need 800 doctors a year; we only fund less than 300 spaces. 

That's a public policy decision by the provincial government. 

The other thing is we graduate twice as many lawyers from the universities as we do doctors,  so a friend of mind told me maybe we could sue our way into health. 

I'm asking you about this Jennifer,  you're the only one who hasn't answered a question. 

What is the government doing to fund more places and bring you know the doctor shortage into some reality.

We can talk about what we did tonight and it's very important. 

But without more funding, more doctors and better public policy we're not going to get there"

Ms Rice noted that the government recognizes the need for more trained professionals, recounting some of the funding that has been introduced in recent times.

The Port Edward Mayor hit the right note on his observations, our frustrations on health care should not be  dropped on the local health officials and those who provide us with our care. 

For the most part it seems that they have tackled a challenging situation as best they can with the resources that have been provided.

How the provincial government responds to our concerns will tell us what the future of health care will look like in Prince Rupert.

Those are notes for MLA Rice to take back to Victoria with her as her follow up to the two hour forum.

You can review the night's presentations from the Video of the Town Hall Conversation that has been provided by the MLA through her Facebook page.

For those wishing to separate the occasional Prince Rumour themes of the community from the actual state of Health Care in Prince Rupert, the two hour presentation provides a pretty solid account of where we are and where we many be going.

More themes on health care in the Prince Rupert area can be explored through our archive page.

Recent Port assessment valuation reductions were granted following appeal by PRPA on vacant lands

The topic of assessments of land, Payments in lieu of taxes and a percolating narrative over Port of Prince Rupert contributions towards City of Prince Rupert infrastructure needs all made for part of the scope of the discussion for last weeks City Council session.

The observations from the August 22nd Council session, making for the latest in commentary from civic officials when it comes to the how the City views the PRPA's responsibilities to the municipality, as the Council members take on the challenges of municipal government.

As we outlined in our reviews of the August 22nd session, the first note of observation on the PRPA came during a review of a report from Richard Pucci, the Director of Operations and Intergovernmental Affairs, which outlined the current status of the City's response to a range of environmental concerns from the Federal Government.

With Mr. Pucci providing a review of the City's plans for wastewater treatment, a program which led to a question from Councillor Barry Cunningham as to whether the Port was helping the City on the initiative.

"Just for my curiosity, the biggest industrial use of our system in this town is the Port, are they helping us in any way with this?" -- Councillor Barry Cunningham at the August 22 council session

Mr. Pucci noting that at the moment, the Wastewater work was solely a City of Prince Rupert initiative.

Last week we noted how the larger focus for some Council members however came following a presentation from Chief Financial Officer Corrine Bomben, as part of her review of recent Payment in lieu of Taxes money to the District of Port Edward.

This years transfer listed as lower than years previous.

The presentation from the CFO led to a pair of observations on the topic of the Port assessments and how they were lower than previous years, which as a result delivered less returns to the City.

Councillor Mirau at the August 22nd session called attention to a chart included in the presentation that listed off a number of Port properties that had declined in assessment.

My question relates to Appendix A of your report where you basically listed the assessments of properties that are impacted by the Tax Sharing agreement and it shows a pretty dramatic decrease in the Port Authority's payment in lieu of taxes from 2.6 million to just over 500,000. 

Now for their PILT payment to be reduced by over 2 million in just a single year, obviously means that their property assessments must have collapsed. So I'm wondering are you in a position tonight to tell us what these impacted properties were assessed at last year versus this year for such a dramatic decrease" -- Councillor Blair Mirau on August 22

Mayor Lee Brain also had some thoughts towards the assessment process and the differences between this years housing assessment and that of the industrial sector with the Port.

"Just a follow up question ... So, home prices went up on average what 30 percent in Prince Rupert this year ... and the Port's properties were down 82 percent compared to all the house prices that went up ... resulting in a two million dollar less payment that they have to make basically ... Just making sure that we have the facts straight ... It will be interesting to see that information for the next Council session for sure" -- Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain on August 22

Ms. Bomben did note for the council members that the City is currently appealing that BC Assessment Board decision.

When it comes to the assessments of concern for the City related to the Port, the North Coast Review contacted the PRPA by email  to make some inquiries about the PILT process and how it is tied into the assessment process.

In response, Monika Côte, PRPA's Director of Public Affairs and Communication provided some background to that process and how it evolved in the recent assessment of vacant Port land.

"Payments In Lieu of Taxes (“PILTs”) are used to enable federal properties to contribute fairly to property taxes, including municipal tax collection. In the case of PRPA, this is largely comprised of vacant, undeveloped land tracts on Ridley Island and Lelu Island. 

Once a property is leased to a tenant, for example, a terminal, it is not subject to PILTs and pays property tax directly. 

Following several years of very large increases in assessed values for PRPA’s vacant land as determined by BC Assessment, PRPA appealed the assessment of these properties. 

BC Assessment agreed that the assessment methodology and the values of those properties were incorrect, which resulted in the Property Assessment Appeal Board issuing orders that reduced the assessed values of the relevant properties."

The Mayor and  Council members can pick up on their theme of how the PILT process is not working for them as they would seemingly like it to at the upcoming UBCM. 

That gathering of provincial and municipal officials takes place in Whistler from September 12-16, offering the Prince Rupert delegation a chance to access the appropriate BC NDP Cabinet Ministers to make their case for reform of the process.

The concerns over how the province handles PILT however won't be one introduced as a resolution, with the City only having one resolution  up for debate at the convention this year, that on housing concerns.

The topic of the revenue challenges provided by the Provincial Government's legislation made for a significant focus during the June State of the City presentation, the Mayor's talking points for the night eliciting  a bit of a rebuttal from Port officials in July.

That PRPA reply, brought Councillor Mirau into the discussion, with his own contribution to the local paper's editorial page and his own Social media stream, the Councillor's observations one's which found approval from a number of his fellow council members as well as Mayor Brain.

We may hear more of the City Council view of the situation as part of the September 19th public council session. That is when the Chief Financial Officer has been asked to provide a follow up report on the city's concerns for Council to review.

More notes on the financial themes of note for City Council can be explored further through our Budget Planning archive page.