Wednesday, August 24, 2022

City Council Timeline: Monday, August 22, 2022

Despite it being the only public gathering for the month of August and featured a fairly extensive agenda to take on for the night, the city's Council membership knocked off the items on the to do list in less than hour.

When it came to the work of the night, there were many reports from staff to review, a large range of variance requests and some required Bylaw work to move forward some their initiatives from past council session.

Some background on the work of Council for the night can be review from the Regular Council Agenda. Regular Council Agenda.

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

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

Monday also brought a Committee of the Whole session, though it only lasted thirty seconds, the Agenda the focus for that element of the night is available here.

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

In attendance Monday, August 22, 2022

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

Video Archive for Monday, August 22, 2022 


Committee of the Whole Session

( 0:00 -- 0:30  ) Committee of the Whole Session for Monday, August 22, 2022

Adoption of the Agenda

Petitions and Delegations 

Public Comment Period on any other notes of interest

Reports, Questions and Inquiries from members of Council

No members of the public came forward to speak and None of the council members had comments to share.

Adjournment to Reconvene to Regular Council Session


Regular Council Session 

0:30 -- 2:00: Adoption of Agenda and Past minutes -- Mayor Brain reviewed the agenda for the evening and Council adopted the minutes of past meetings, along with the addition of one item for the evening's package.

Reports and Resolutions

2:00 -- 6:30 Civic Recognition Awards Presentation -- Council participated in the awarding of the Civic Recognition award to Rob Gruber, offering their thanks for his work in service of the community. Awards for the other two recipients Ella Ferland and Theresa Mackereth will be made at a future date.

6:30 -- 7:00  )  Report from Fire Chief -- Monthly Fire Rescue Report   -- Council received a report from Fire Chief Jeff Beckwith on the work of the city's firefighters in the month of July. Council members had no questions for the Fire Chief (see page 15  of the Agenda package for the details

7:00 -- 9:30 )  Report on Major Projects from Director of Operations -- Council received a report from Operations Director Richard Pucci on the status of some of the city's major projects. Among the notes details of the work on the Cow Bay Road extension, demolition of the Jehovah Witness hall to make way for the construction of the RCMP station and an update on the Waterfront project and water infrastructure projects. 

Some good news was provided on the statue os the Woodworth Dam which is now at 100 percent completion, it's anticipated that the reservoir will be filled by the end of September, dependent on weather, which is when tge city hopes to return to that supply for the city's water.

Mr. Pucci also updated the statue of the McBride Street work which is now at 80 precent complete, noting that all the underground utilities will be completed by the end of the week, with preparation then to take place for sidewalks, curbs and such with hopes of having the road reopened to traffic within three and half weeks.  As for paving it has to be done in two lifts and there is a bit of a delay with the contractor for that work. (see page 17  of the Agenda package for more details)

9:30 -- 17:00 Report from Director of Operations and Intergovernmental Affairs on Climate Change Strategy Update  -- Council received a report from Richard Pucci related to an Administrative Directive and Orders from the Federal Government. The Director outlined some of the past  non-compliance issues that the city has had related to its wastewater system and how they have come up with a plan to reach compliance. He then outlined the scope of the legal order that is in place from the Federal Government which if not complied with could see the city facing fines. He noted that staff does not know the budget implications as of yet towards their innovative process to address the wastewater concerns.

In follow up questions, Councillor Adey had a question related to the process and the range of questions from the government, with Mr. Pucci noting that there are action items required by the end of August and how he is handling those reports himself.  Other areas of compliance require work on cameras at the outfalls to which there is no known cost as of yet as the city does not know what it will find.

Towards Councillor Cunningham's questions on the topic, Mr. Pucci observed that he is in constant contact with the Government officials and there is some area of adjustment towards the time frame of the work that the city has to conduct to be in compliance. The Operations Director also noted that the government is aware of the current wastewater pilot project and how it may impact on the compliance measures that have been put in place.

Mr. Cunningham also noted that he believes the larges industrial user of water in the community is the Port or Prince Rupert and he asked if they were assisting the city with the program, Mr. Pucci advised that it was solely a City of Prince Rupert initiative.  (see page  20 of the Agenda package)
17:00 --17:30  )  Report from Planning - Development Activity Report  -- Council  receivd a report on the Activity of the Planning Department in June. They had no questions related to the report.  (see page 37 of the Agenda package)  

17:30 -- 23:30   )  Report from Planning - Development Variance Permit for a property on Kay Smith Boulevard    -- Council received a report from the planning department related to the request for the variance. Councillor Niesh asked if there had been any public feedback related to the request, with the Corporate Administrate advising that none had been noted through her office. 

Councillor Adey noted of some policy notes attached to the application in response to past concerns on the build as it was underway, with the City Manager outlining the scope of how the work evolved as it did and how the policy attachments will work to solve the issue in the future. 

The Mayor noted how the policy adjustments were required to put an end to the practice of moving ahead on the builds an asking for permission later.

Councillor Cunningham noted of the volume of property builds that he has noted in recent weeks in his travels around the city and how there has been blatant disregard the rules.

Councillor Adey asked if there were ways in other communities that the city could adapt to address the issue to put in place consequences for those who move forward without the support of the city.

Mr. Buchan outlined some of the steps and measures that Council can currently take to address the issue. Noting that so far Council has been hesitant to use those measures and how the policy adjustments may address the situation.

Councillor Niesh provided some counter balance to the discussion observing of some of the challenges that are found to building in Prince Rupert, noting that there are changes that could have been made prior to now by the builder, though he observed that it is new housing and suggested it be passed as it stands. (see page 46 of the Agenda package)  

( 23:30 -- 25:30 )   Report from Planning - Development Variance Permit for a property at 1444 2nd Avenue West   -- Council received a report from the planning department related to the request for the variance. Mayor Brain noted of two correspondences from the public related to the request, with the Corporate Administrator noting both were in the negative towards the variance. Councillor Adey asked if there was some form of mediation that could be used to address the concerns of those from the surrounding properties.  Councillor Niesh observed that Council may need more time to review, with Council then tabling the variance request to the next council meeting to review more information. (see page  56  of the Agenda package)

 25:30 -- 29:00  )   Report from Planning - Temporary Use Permit Application for Metlakatla Road  -- Council received a report from the planning related to a Temporary Use Permit for a Property on Metlakatla Road, for the purpose of a salvage yard.  The purpose of the yard will be to dispose of the vessel FV Fairwind which is currently in Port Edward harbour. It would be towed to the Prince Rupert site and cut up for transit to Vancouver for Salvage. There will be a public consultation period required prior to the approval of the permit.

In discussion, Councillor Cunningham asked about the oversight of the removal of hazardous materials at Port Edward, noting of the concerns over potential contamination. He observed how shipwrecking is a controversial issue in the province and urged the city exercise caution before any Temporary Use permit is provided for.

He noted that the City should make sure that all required permits are in place, the City Manager observed that they would do so and ensure than no hazardous materials were imported into the city of Prince Rupert.  Council will move forward with the process while those guarantees are secured. (see page 67 of the Agenda package)

( 29:00 -- 30:00  )   Report from Chief Financial Officer -- June 2022 Financial variance report -- Council received a report from CFO Corinne Bomben, related to the Financial variances of June. She observed that inflation may impact on future element of the budget, but that there are no significant variances to report at this point.  Councillor Cunningham had a question related to the cost elements of the McBride road project, he was advised that the funding for that work was approved by a budget amendment in June.  (see page 73 of the Agenda package)

30:00 -- 34:30 )    Report from Chief Financial Officer -- Amended Supplementary Letters Patent Tax Share Information --Council received a report from CFO Corinne Bomben who outlined the nature of information to be shared with the District of Port Edward. Included in the report was the amount of money that has been distributed to the District as part of the Tax Sharing agreement.

That element generated the most discussion from the Council members. Councillor Mirau led off the conversation observing of the recent work to come to an agreement with the District towards the future, then asking about the assessment of properties and how the Port related properties showed a dramatic reduction asking about what the decrease between this and last year was.

Ms. Bomben observed that it was an 82% reduction which is reflected in the PILT amounts, observing that the city is appealing those BC Board assessment values for 2022. 

In a follow up Mr. Mirau asked what the amount of that drop was, he was advised that it equates to a difference from 140 million dollars the year before to roughly to 27 million from the most recent amount.

Mayor Brain then noted how Property assessments for many homes went up thirty percent in the community while the Port's properties dropped 82 percent which resulted in the 200 hundred million dollar less payment that they have to make, the Mayor noting to much bemusement of the council members that he just wanted to get the facts straight.   (see page 79 of the Agenda package for Ms. Bomben's report)

34:30 -- 46:00  ) Report from Fire Chief -- Bylaw Update, Fire Safety Inspections   -- Council received a report from Fire Chief Jeff Beckwith related to Fire Safety Inspection amendment for the Bylaw. Chief Beckwith took Council through the past history of Fire Inspections which stopped during COVID and how the Department has revised its plans towards improvement on them as they now move back into active periods of Fire Inspection work,  His document which was up for review of Council provided some of the elements that the Department will use as they move towards with the work.

In Questions, Councillor Niesh asked about the process towards empty buildings and what the process and rules may be for those, at the moment the Chief noted that any empty building or one not in use does not meet the criteria for inspection.

Councillor Niesh asked if there was some value in providing for inspections of empty buildings as a pre-emptive measure. 

The Chief reinforced that at the moment the onus is on the property owner to ensure for oversight on the empty buildings.

Councillor Cunningham spoke to the issue of medicinal marijuana grow operations and whether they were exempt from fire inspection regulations, The Fire Chief noted of some current loopholes in place that impacts on the process and how they are not required to be inspected, once licensed it becomes a privacy issue for the owner and some of the impact that could result in.

The City Manager then stepped into the conversation as to what options the City may have towards addressing the issue and how the city could develop a process for inspecting them as well as it making for an issue for the city to express to Health Canada.

Councillor Adey noted of the past fires in the community and the history of the buildings that have been lost and how anything that the city could put in place towards prevention would be fully supported by him.

He also had inquiries related to the timeline for inspection laid out and how the Fire Department came to its guidelines, in reply the Fire Chief noted of the pressures on staffing that the inspection process could bring and how the City offers more than say the district but less than a larger Community city such as Prince George.  Chief Beckwith also observed on how the process could trigger reinspections for compliance for structures where deficiencies are found. 

Councillor Randhawa asked how other communities deal with the issue of vacant buildings and some of the elements that they use, the Fire Chief noted he wasn't sure how that fit into the scope of the Fire Department , though it was something that City Staff noted they would review.

Councillor Cunningham asked about inspections of residential building, advised that they can do inspections but there are no enforcement themes available and it would be more of an advisory capacity for residential owners.  (see page 88  of the Agenda package for the full report)

46:00 -- 47:00 )   Report from the Corporate Administrator - Bylaw Notification System Resoltion-- Council will receive a report from Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller related the the Bylaw Notification system and the process of adopting a dispute adjudication system. Ms. Miller observed the the process required an additional resolution to request the Court Services Branch to add Prince Rupert to the regulations and that the bylaw be brought forward for consideration. Council had no discussion to share on the topic.  (see page 91 of the Agenda package for more details)

47:00 -- 47:30  )   Report from the Corporate Administrator - Ecotrust Canada Request for Support -- Counci received a request from Eco Trust Canada to support their application to NDIT for a grant of $30,000 to conduct pop-up community market events. The request was approved with no discussion. (see page  93 of the Agenda package for more details)

(  47:30 -- 48:00   )    Report from the Corporate Administrator - Amendment to Ecotrust Canada Request for Support -- Council reviewed a request to amend their confirmation of support for Ecotrust Canada to include staff time of up to $7,500. Council approved the request with no discussion.

(  47:30 -- 48:00   )    Appointments to to Electoral staffing positions --  In a late Council agenda addition Council members  approved the appointments of Antonio Vera, Manager of Human Resources appointed as Deputy Elections Officer for the 2022 General Municipal Election  and that Tanya Ostrom, Manager of Operations be appointed to the post of Deputy Elections Officer for a period of time from August 29-September 9, 2022 to assist with staffing requirements for the electoral process.


48:00 -- 49:00 )   Zoning Bylaw Amendment Bylaw No. 3492,2022  -- Council will receive a report related a Zoning amendment for the are along Fraser Street to allow for a Distillery. Council approved the Bylaw motion without any discussion   (see page 94 of the Agenda package)

49:00 -- 49:15 )  Public Notice Bylaw 3500, 2022 -- Council will look of move forward with their Public  Notice Bylaw. Council had no discussion to the topic. (see page 96 of the Agenda package)

49:15 -- 50:00  Prince Rupert Boulevard Road Dedication Bylaw -- Council will receive provide third reading towards their approval of the Road Dedication bylaw for a stretch of Prince Rupert Boulevard near the Digby Tower complex. Council approved the motion with no discussion. (see page 99  of the Agenda package)

50:00 -- 51:00 )  Report from Chief Financial Officer -- Police Detachment Temporary Borrowing Bylaw  --Council will receive a report from CFO Corinne Bomben  seeking First, Second and Third reading of the Borrowing bylaw for the new RCMP detachment. Ms. Bomben recapped some of the elements of the Borrowing Bylaw and how it will be applied towards the financing for construction of the new facility. Council members had no discussion to share on the topic.  (see page 102 of the Agenda package)

Questions, Comments, Reports or Inquiries from Council

( 51:00 -- 54:00   )  Councillor Cunningham observed on the timeline of a review of the Cannabis Act which is soon to get underway, with the Councillor urging the city to address a number of concerns from the community. Included on his list, that the city provide a letter to express its concerns over cannabis operations in the downtown and residential areas, noting how Council has discussed it before that such operations should be in more of an industrial setting.

The mayor observed how that has been done, though the City manager advised that a letter such as that from Councillor Cunningham would be helpful towards the city's efforts. With that Council approved the motion to write the correspondence.

Mr. Cunningham also raised some additional concerns over health care in the community, noting of an incident he was advised of towards care for pregnant residents who may have to be transported to Terrace for care, noting how if true, it's another element of eroding health care in the community.

He also observed that using an ambulance for such transfers only adds to the pressures on that service in the community.

With no other comments from the council membership the August 22nd  Council Session came to an end, with the Mayor noting that the next gathering will come in September.

You can access our Council Archive for the August 22nd session here,  where a number of items regarding the Council Session, including links to local media coverage can be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council Session of the night.  Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

Official minutes of the Regular Council Session from July 25, 2022 (not available yet)

The Next Session for Prince Rupert City Council is set for Monday, September 19, 2022.

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