Thursday, September 29, 2022

Friday's Day for Truth and Reconciliation brings a number of closures in Prince Rupert

With Friday a day for reflection and awareness towards Truth and Recollection, a number of civic and area services will be closed for the day.

Among those services that won't be open for the day are Provincial and Federal services, as well as a range of City of Prince Rupert functions, with the City outlining the scope of the closures on Wednesday through Social Media

Also closed for the Day will be the Prince Rupert Library, with the House of Reading noting that they offer up a wide range of material for those wishing to explore themes of Reconciliation further upon their reopening on Saturday.

School District 52  made use of today as a learning environment towards the topic with their students with a number of initiatives underway at area schools, as well the District notes that all schools will be Closed on Friday.

All the Northwest campuses for Coast Mountain College will be closed on Friday as well.

Notes on the day for Lax Kw'alaams can be reviewed here, with a Metlakatla advisory available here.

One significant event to come is scheduled for Friday at the Prince Rupert Middle School Field with a Truth and Reconciliation Walk planned from Noon to 4PM

Notes of interest form the Federal Government on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation can be reviewed here.

British Columbia government statement on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation can be reviewed here.

A look at the work of the Orange Shirt Society can be reviewed below.

BC CDC report shows COVID results for just three Northwest communities, concluding a week of Health notes from government

BC CDC Community Covid Case data for week
of September 18-24

The Northwest continues  to feature single digit reports on COVID cases, with this week reductions from one week ago.

This week's report from the BC CDC for the period of September 18-24  has just three regions reporting  recording cases for the period of review.

Those include Terrace, Prince Rupert and Kitimat

Prince George tops the reports for the North for the review period at 21.

The full review across the region for the week of September 18-24  from the BC CDC looks as follows:

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

The Provincial Data Review shows much the same data as it has for the majority of the summer. 

635 New Cases , with 305 hospitalized, 30 in Critical Care  and 16 new deaths from COVID reported.

The number or critical care on the week  an increase and those who have passed away make for an decrease in totals as that from last week's review.

The total number of deaths in BC since the start of the coronavirus is 4,283 to date.

There have been 384,900  cases of COVID recorded in the province since the arrival of the pandemic

As of September 1st the Province had distributed 13,982,194 first, second or booster shots of the COVID Vaccine, with a fourth booster program now beginning to roll out, and Northwest residents now able to book their appointments.

Thursday's provincial report lists  36 new cases of COVID for the Northern Health region for the reporting week, an increase of two from last weeks report.

That makes for a total of 31,036 cases recorded since the start of the pandemic.

For the Northern Health Region, 13 patients are listed as in hospital, with  5 noted as in Critical Care, the Northern Health region recorded 0 deaths in this last week.

The Northern Health total of deaths attributed to COVID is listed as 379 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 September 28
British Columbia results

COVID review for September 28
Northern Health results

On Wednesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's Provincial Health Officer outlined the fall COVID-19 vaccine program, as well as the annal Flu shot campaign. The both noted that the Health Ministry is making preparations for a potential surge in COVID and flu cases in the fall which could impact on health services.

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

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP proud of work on Vote at 16 Legislation, disappointed at Liberals for not supporting initiative

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach had the responsibility to
cast the first vote for his Right to Vote at 16 Act on Wednesday

(From ParlVU feed)

Yesterday was vote day for a project that Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach had put some significant time and effort towards, with his Vote at 16 private members bill up for consideration of the House of Commons.

And as we noted in a follow up to our preview of yesterday, the day would end in a bit of disappointment for the enthusiastic supporter for lowering the voting age to 16, as the proposal was defeated in Second Reading by a vote of 77 Yeas, but a larger count on the Nay side of 246

The party had the strongest support from the NDP, Bloc and Green Parties as well as a smattering of Liberals. 

However the numbers of that support did not come close to the contrarian views of the majority of Liberals and Conservatives.

The MP offered a short statement on the outcome yesterday through his social media feed, praising the work of those that joined him in the quest and noting of his disappointment with the governing Liberals.

Among those voting against the Bill were Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, along with Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre.

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP's bill was supported by his own leader Jagmeet Singh along with Bloc Québécois leader Jean Francois Blanchet
You can follow how the MP's voted starting at the 16:05 mark on the Parliamentary Video Archive for September 28th.

The archive pager for Bill C-210 can be reviewed here.

More notes from the House of Commons can be reviewed from our archive page

Buying local the focus for Northern Savings Product Procurement program

Northern Savings, the Prince Rupert based Credit Union and financial services company serving the Northwest and Haida Gwaii is seeking the goods and creations of Northwest residents as part of their Local Purchasing initiative.

The focus for the project is to purchase locally produced items for the purpose of giving away as corporate gifts. 

Northern Savings makes use of the goods received as part of their ongoing community initiatives with local charitable groups, as well as through giveaways at trade shows, conferences and other community events.

They also  in the past have made use of the local purchases internally for awards to members and staff members through the year.

In addition to the purchase of goods that participants will gain, the popular program offers the chance for exposure for participants who can supply their locally made goods for use by Northern Savings, products that are to be considered must have a value of 50 dollars or less per item, be non perishable and easily transportable.

Those selected for the program should be able to produce multiple quantities of their goods and they must be produced or created locally.

Preference for the program will be given to Northern Savings' members. To participate, you must be a resident of Haida Gwaii, the North Coast or the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine

You can find out more about the program and read the full list of rules and access the application form here.

The deadline for participation in this years intake of applicants is September 30th.

The successful applicants will hear from Northern Savings later this fall.

More notes related to the Commercial sector in the Northwest can be found from our archive page here

Saturday makes for time to Shift Thinking towards winter travels on BC highways


The City's Tire and Auto Service shops are about to 
busy, busy, busy over the next month or so
as the annual tire change takes place

For those with plans to drive beyond the Port Edward Turnoff on Saturday and through the fall and winter driving season, the rush is on to get the annual changeover from Summer to Winter tires. 

Tomorrow marks the last day for travel on British Columbia highways without proper tires with the proper tread installed on your vehicles.

The relatively nice weather for much of September perhaps has caught many motorists off guard and that will make for a few delays as the city's garages and tire shops deal with the annual flood of customers new and old that start arrive over the next few weeks.

With the arrival of Fall comes the time to start to think of the changing weather that quickly comes to the North Coast and Northwest and the need to Shift into Winter driving mode for motorists, with The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure offering a range of information through its annual program, which is celebrating it's fourteenth year of awareness raising this year.

You can learn more about the Winter Tire requirements across the province here.

For those travelling the Highways of the Northwest this fall and into winter, keeping Drive BC as a handy resource is a useful guide to what's ahead on the roads, as well you can check our roster of Highway Cameras across the region for a heads up along the way.

More notes on Highway travel across the region can be explore from our archive page here.  

Extreme weather events can be reviewed from our archive page here.  

Transportation Safety Board of Canada to investigate sinking of MV Island bay off Haida Gwaii

The MV Island Bay sank in Carpenter Cove, Moresby island
earlier this month, the incident is now an investigation file
with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada

A team of investigators from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada will be arriving in Prince Rupert in the days to come, that as a staging area for their investigation into the sinking of the Passenger Vessel Island Bay earlier this month off of Carpenter Bay on Haida Gwaii.

As we outlined on September 13th, the vessel which was a tour boat operating along Moresby Island sank sparking an environmental response from the Canadian Coast Guard, West Coast Marine Response Corporation and the Council of the Haida Nation.

In their statement from Wednesday, the TSB of Canada doesn't expand much on what their investigation will include,  other than to say that they will be gathering information and assessing the occurrence.

No timeline towards when they anticipate  delivering their findings was provided as part of their statement.

More notes on the work of Emergency Responders in the Northwest can be reviewed here

Mayor Brain shifts focus on ScraptheTaxCap from tax justice for the city, to Saving the City!

The #ScraptheTaxCap petition program which launched September 9th,  is closing in on the conclusion of its third week of social media messaging. 

One of the more recent of the dispatches outlining the plans in motion to launch a one day blitz of the community on Sunday, that to generate more signatures for the original call for tax fairness for the municipality from the province and Port.

However, for Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain, who has become the official social media relay station for the project, the travels around the city will be much more than just a collection of names, but a chance for the community to rally to his call to Save the City.

The use of the phrase that has become one of the ongoing narratives to his Mayoralty in recent years was included in his Social Media post of Wednesday.  

Which is where he outlines how those wanting to help Save Rupert should consider signing up for a petition door knocking shift for Sunday.

As part of the lead up to the city wide petition door knocking campaign, both the Scrap the Tax Cap  petition proponents and the Mayor have continued with their daily updates to their work.

The rolling archive of messaging highlighting a range of the themes from their initiative that have stoked the conversation and served to consume a significant portion of the discussion time  from Monday's Election forum.

You can review how the candidates for mayor and Council spoke the issue from our Election Forum pieces below:

Mayoralty candidate  commentaries

Council candidate commentaries

Considering that all twelve of those seeking office on October 15th have  signed on to the campaign, you may have an opportunity to ask some of them to expand on the topic with you.  

So should they knock on your door as part of the army of volunteers summoned by the Mayor for Sunday,  take the opportunity for a discussion of all the details and facts to the issue.  

As well as to raise any questions you may have on the initiative before you sign or decline.

We've been following the #ScraptheTaxCap themes through our City Taxation and Fees archive page which features a number to stories to the theme of the last three weeks.

Election Forum Housing commentary should bring more questions

A zoning map of one of the past proposed housing
developments for the city from 2015

Housing, it's one of the largest issues facing the community, holding back the recruitment of workers and professionals, while also the beacon of warning over a growing concern over homelessness in the city.  

The scope of the issue  was a key element of the mayor's June State of the City presentation,  the problem one which also made for one of the more energetic portions of Monday's Election Forum, 

That as both the mayoralty and council candidates spoke to the topic, though with just thirty seconds to craft a reply on what appears to be a complicated tropic, the snippets of their talking points had little in the way of details to share.

The work of the current Council saw a flurry of civic legislation in the last year, a new OCP, revision of bylaws, Public hearings some at times controversial ones and much in the way of the vision for housing in the future.

However, in the here and now, and what came before over the last eight years, there's really little on the ground to show for what has been the dominant concern for a number of years.

If we turn back the clock a bit, not too many years ago, there were at least three significant areas of the city where we were seemingly on the cusp of some exciting development of new housing.

There is the Old Kanata School site off of Crestview, to the west side of the city off of Park leading up to Graham and on Drake Crescent off of Prince Rupert Boulevard.  

Over the years, developers had come with proposals, land seemed ready to be developed or close to it and the drawings and plans looked like the start of some solutions.

Today, those three sites look pretty well much the same as they did when the proposals were first outlined, in some cases the developers long gone, or the plans in some deep hibernation.

The old Kanata School lands

The area for proposed housing off Park

Drake Crescent site that has been designated for housing

Of the three, the one perhaps that was the greatest lost opportunity was the housing proposed for Kanata which was estimated to be between 100 to 200 units. 

The proposal was not going to be particularly high end housing, but rather designed to address the lost housing of recent years for those not quite ready to become buyers, but still in need of some livable rental accommodation. 

It was noted at that time,  that the development was LNG development dependant, though the need for housing today seems even worse than it was back during those heady days of LNG GO Plans

The council of the day, however was not one that seemed to embrace many of the proposed LNG plans of the day, which one by one all faded from our view and wth that, so too did the prospect of some new housing stock arriving. 

Still, those areas of land remain ready for development and would appear to fit the need in our current narrative of the need for housing to address a growing Port. 

The only thing missing, is someone to develop them.

When the housing proposals pass through Council we hear a lot about what they will bring to the community; but when they don't work out, we rarely hear what happened and if there is a way to resolve whatever it was that sent the developers packing.

The same could be said for council initiatives like their plans for subdivisions and downtown residential construction, both of which gained a spotlight in the last year or so, but with little in the way of updates as to how it all may be coming along.

Monday night delivered a number of themes on the current situation, Muskeg seemingly the topic of note for the night as the largest impediment for building in Prince Rupert. Though it makes you wonder how the town ever was developed in the past to host a population of near 20,000 if muskeg has been the largest concern through time.

Some candidates observed that financing has become a problem, others noted of the city putting land up for sale in hopes of attracting development and how they would sell more.

A few solutions to the issue were offered,  but with a thirty second speed reading process, the voters really have no idea how any of their proposals would work.

One of them, is how the muskeg disposal program would work and how much it would cost.

Along with one theme that seemed popular for a few candidates on Monday. that of the City somehow becoming involved in some aspect of the financing of homes, an interesting observation for a community that keeps hearing of the financial challenges being faced by the civic government.

Candidates Fitzpatrick, Pond and Thompson all noted on partnerships and financial challenges and the three should deliver much more on their solutions towards housing for the voters to consider.

While Jason Hoang spoke of the need for Council to share more information with the public and on that point he was spot on, the lack of frequent updates and public discussion in the council chamber can lead to a sense that nothing seems to be getting done.

And while there have been some disappointing setbacks on the housing theme, there has been some success seen from the housing files as well. 

Most of that generated by the province with its recent social and supportive builds on Park Avenue those on land provided by the City, along with the current work at Five Corners and the still be developed remake of the McKay Street area. 

The latter a project that seems to have become stalled for a significant period of time now and something that might be in need of a bit of a push from council towards the province.

As well the City has provided land for a much anticipated Lax Kw'alaams housing project off of 11th Avenue East, though there has been little in the way of land clearing to date since it was approved following a contentious public hearing process.

The current council as noted at the Election Forum on Monday, is to be commended for setting up the pathway for housing for the future, that through the range of paper measures put in place to improve the housing approval process and create a more welcoming  atmosphere for housing.

The problem at the moment is, people can't live in houses on paper; sometimes folks just want to see some shovels go into the ground.

You can review some of the many themes on Housing over the last few years from our archive page here.

More notes on the election campaign can be reviewed here.

CityWest followers select a Phone Book Cover winner!

Joel Brown's sunset spectacular was chosen by CityWest
social media followers as the top pick of this years 
photo array for the 2023 phone book cover
(Photo from CityWest)

The 2022 CityWest phonebook photo contest has come to an end and the spectacular sunset shot from Joel Brown proved to be the most popular chore of the 1060 voters in this years competition.

CityWest announced the success for Mr. Brown through their Social Media feed on Wednesday.

As we followed the progress of the 2022 competition we noted of the call for contributions of late August and then the short list of finalists from September

This years winning submission will find its way to your doorstep later this year as the 2023 CityWest phone books are delivered around the city.

More notes on the Prince Rupert based communication company can be explored from our archive page here.

Latest Chamber of Commerce Streamcast explores themes on Prince Rupert Port Authority and its place in community

Ken Veldman shared a range
of thoughts on port related
themes on a recent Chamber
information program
The words #ScraptheTaxCap are never mentioned, but you can sort of sense that elephant wandering the room in the background as part of the latest Let's Get Down to Business Streamcast from the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce.

The most recent of their ongoing series of discussions with local business and community leaders welcomed Ken Veldman to the program, the Vice President, Public Affairs and Sustainability  sitting in with Chamber President Daphne Thomson for the half hour session that covered a range of topics on port themes, tourism efforts and the relationship with the local business in Prince Rupert. 

Not asking about the Port Tax Cap theme which made for a portion of the narrative of Monday's Chamber hosted Election Forum does seem like somewhat of a lost opportunity towards more information on the topic. 

But the Chamber President did explore other elements of the Port's footprint on the city that edged around the areas of how the port operates and creates employment.

After first exploring some of Mr. Veldman's personal ties to the Northwest, they "got down to Business" as the shows host would say.

Of the Port related themes, Veldman explored how the container terminal has changed what the Port represented and how it has transformed the community and port into a gateway to the world. And how from that footprint other entrants into the marine industry have developed or expanded in recent years.

He also highlighted the employment and economic activity that has been generated by those terminal developments and helped to turn around the economy of the community and increased the wealth of many who live here.

He observed on how the next ten years will be very exciting both for the port's ambitions and those of their current partners or new ones that may come.

"We've changed as a community from looking at you know almost economic survival to managing growth, and while managing growth can feel really difficult at times, it's a better problem to manage than the opposite. And that certainly is what I've seen in my time here" -- Ken Veldman from his appearance on the Chamber program Let's Get Down to Business

Towards the relationships with small business in the community the Port VP outlined what the Port brings to the table.

"Our mandate at the Port Authority is about managing the responsible development of the port and there's many elements to that. It puts us in a role that we're in the middle of a lot of private sector partners that are developing and operating terminals. Operations that are directly connected to those and other partners within the supply chain. 

But ourselves, I mean we're a local business, we're not a relatively small business you know, we're about 90 employees right now But we don't consider ourselves a big business and you know certainly when we come to the Chamber we consider ourselves very much a local business. 

And you know we've been members of the Chamber for many, many years and what the Chamber has provided us is the ability to develop relationships.

It's always been a great network for us to talk about what's coming next which I think for businesses and entrepreneurs in this community helps them design what their next steps are. But it's always been reciprocal, you know we gain a lot of information by talking with local businesses, ensuring that we've got their perspective of how  businesses are going in different sectors and what that looks like so the Chamber itself has bee an extremely valuable platform from that perspective.

For us, relationships is really baked into our DNA, and certainly that proves to be a big part of our success externally but also internally"  

A good portion of the streamcast focused on the Cruise industry and the impact on the tourism and local business sectors. Noting of the  competitive nature of the industry as well as the challenges and opportunities that the cruise sector offers to the community.

The topic and challenges of employment and recruitment of workers to the community got a review, including the creation of Make Prince Rupert Home initiative.

He observed how it's not just port related industries that are finding challenges, but local businesses and services, highlighting the cooperative nature of their shared initiative to try to bring new residents to the community.

"From a PRPA perspective we offered to use our organization an its capacity to essentially coordinate and run that campaign and the assets that went with it. We've got over fifty local employers that have signed up with it, which is great. 

Although, that been said, room for many more, so if you're watching this,  feel free to send us an email and sign up for it. And it's just one example of how business community can work together and share a common issue and efficiently start to address it ... 

I think it's a good example of how we can work together as a  community even across a variety of industries to start to address some common issues and I think that's a really good example"

To close the session, the Port VP looked to the future and the bright opportunities that the Port sees for the community over the next ten years.

The full streamcast can be reviewed below:

You can go over the list of their previous interviews here.

Updates on Chamber activities in the Prince Rupert area are available here.

More notes on the city's business sector can be reviewed here.

Dedication to Transparency and Accountability needs a more detailed narrative from the candidates

Two themes that have probably marked every political campaign for every office anywhere that a democracy can be found, took a bit longer this time around to get to the talking stage when it comes to the Prince Rupert civic election campaign.   

But with Monday's Election Forum at the Lester Centre, voters did get a chance to hear the views of both incumbents and challengers for office on the popular messages of Transparency and Accountability at City Hall.

The theme is one that often is the first thing to come from a candidate upon entering an election race: the challengers observing on their desire for more of it; the incumbents suggesting they have been doing their best.

And while the timeline was a bit delayed for its introduction this time around, the above description pretty well sums up the split when it come to the candidates on the topic in this campaign. 

As we outlined in both our Mayoralty candidate review and that of Council candidates, the Question at Monday's forum brought a range of answers.

For the incumbents, many retreated to their mantra at Council that they can't comment on many items owing to Land, Legal and Labour themes ...  which we imagine accounts for the 16 Closed Council sessions to date this year (23 in 2021) and little in the way of any disclosure on many of the items that come from them. 

However, a glimpse into how the current Council membership may have considered the topic of Transparency actually came out of the State of the City presentation back in June, a showcase event which was noted by a few of the candidates on Monday as part of their tributes to the goal of more transparency.

Following the State of the City show in June, we outlined a curious bit of phrasing from Mayor Lee Brain during a segment related to Watson Island and Legacy Fund themes. 

The Mayor on that night noting of some discussion in town over the term of office on transparency, stating:"if it means you know some people questioning transparency versus saving the town, well I'll choose Saving the Town over that"

The full commentary can be retrieved from the State of the City presentation at the one hour thirty nine minute mark of the June presentation. 

It made for quite a shift in opinion on the theme for the Mayor from his campaign days of 2014

The Mayor's proclamation wasn't picked up on by the current council members during subsequent Council sessions that followed right up to this month; so there has been no indication since late June towards whether they as a group concur with that belief on when transparency can, or should be trumped.

The legacy of Transparency and Accountability in Prince Rupert Civic politics has a long timeline and reaches into many previous Council years and even towards candidate Herb Pond, who is now seeking a return to the Mayor's office.  

Back in 2008 the City Hall of the day which was led by Mayor Pond,  was a focus of a number of media accounts both local and provincial that related to a civic contract hiring of the time and concerns  over transparency and accountability. 

The controversy of the time was one which the then Mayor addressed citing the period of civic governance as an unusual decision for unusual circumstances, that theme delivered  through a follow up letter to the editor of the Daily News at the time.

So as candidate Pond was shaping his narrative on Transparency themes for Monday night from the stage of the Lester Centre, he may have been calling on the ghosts of 2008 to help frame his commentary and views as to how the topic should be best addressed, should he gain the confidence of the voters for a return to office next month.

Those days of 2008 did seem to stoke more interest in the workings of municipal government in town, the  controversy of that period of time, was one that spurred two candidates in the 2008 election campaign to seek office.  

Gina Garon and Anna Ashley,  were candidates who both ran successful campaigns some of which was notable for their concerns related to the discussions in the council chamber in the years previous.

Sheila Gordon Payne who also has past council experience, as well as her own run for the mayoralty back in 2014, may have been searching the memory files on Monday as well. 

The Former councillor (2005, 2008) thinking back to her time on Council and the challenges on more open government that were presented in those days and how they were addressed at the time.

The topic of Transparency and Accountability is unfortunately one that  doesn't seem to be an area of interest for local media; which for the most part doesn't cover much in the way of anything when it comes to local council themes to begin with.

So, when you combine the lack of local oversight by the media, with a voter turnout of just over 30 percent in the last election ... it's probably not a stretch to think that anyone on Council, or in senior staff at City Hall might have a thought that issues of transparency or accountability may not be all that important to the public.

As the 2022 campaign works its way to the finish line on October 15th those residents that will bother to vote this year, will have to weigh the topic with sone consideration. 

Using the next few weeks to determine which of the candidates is truly a disciple of more transparency and open discussion at Council; with those that may find it useful for a campaign theme on the way to office,  followed by little attention to the goal  during the course of a four year term.

You can review the themes of the 2022 campaign through our archive page here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Cedar LNG project now in Comment period with EAO

The Haisla led LNG terminal project proposed for the Kitimat region is now  at the start of the public comment period, with the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office opening the opportunity for comment on September 21st.

The Haisla Nation is a  majority owner in the partnership for a floating natural gas facility and export terminal. Joining the Haisla Nation in the proposed development is Pembina Pipelines of Alberta. 

If approved by both provincial and federal decision-makers, it would process and liquefy 11.33 cubic meters (m3) or 400 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas. 

This equates to approximately three million tonnes of LNG per year. The facility would also include storage capacity for up to 250,000 cubic meters of LNG.  

Location Maps of the proposed development in Kitimat
(from the Cedar LNG website)

The BC EAO office has background on the proposed development available here.

Related Documents to the project and a link to the comment form with those wishing to provide their thoughts on the proposal can be reviewed here.

The Cedar LNG website provides more notes towards the plans from the partnership for the development

The Deadline for Participation in the comment period is Friday, October 14, 2022 at 11:59 PM

Further items of interest related to the Cedar LNG proposal can be reviewed from our archive page.