City Council Timeline: Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Fresh from a week of political convention attending at UBCM, Council members both those who attended the annual event and those who didn't returned to the City Council Chamber for the only session scheduled for September.
When it came to the work of the night, there were a number of reports from staff to review, with the Planning and Finance Offices providing for the majority of the night's work for Council to consider.
(0:00 - 9:00) Committee of the Whole Session for Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Adoption of Agenda and Past minutes -- The Mayor reviewed the agenda for the evening and Council will adopt the minutes of past meetings.
Petitions and Delegations --
Questions from the Public -- Two members of the Public took advantage of the public comment period, the first with questions related to whether the City has a Green Plan and how it may be implemented.
In reply, the Mayor observed now the guidelines on sustainability themes would be coming later this year, or early 2023.
The Second participant used the Committee of the Whole session as an informal public hearing towards a variance request for a property on Second Avenue West that Council would be considering later in the evening. He provided for a number of concerns and disapprovals that he has with the proposed renovations to a home adjacent to his, which he outlined would have a number of impacts on his property and enjoyment of it.
As part of his presentation he participant thanked those council members who had taken time to come review the situation at the property in question.
The Mayor observed that it was important for Council to hear his voice as well on the topic.
Reports, Questions and Inquiries from members of Council -- The Council members had no questions, concerns or comments to make.
(9:00 - 10:00) Adoption of Agenda and Past minutes -- The Mayor will review the agenda for the evening and Council will adopt the minutes of past meetings.
Reports and Resolutions
(10:00 - 10:15) Report from Planning - Development Activity Report -- Council received a report on the Activity of the Planning Department in August, with no discussion taking part related to it. (see page 11 of the Agenda package for report)
( 10:015 - 45:30 ) 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, five of the six council members then engaged in a lengthy overview of the file, framed through some of the comments from an adjoining neighbour who spoken in the Committee of the Whole session.
City Manager Rob Buchan noted before the discussion that the topic had been pulled from a previous agenda to allow Council to deliberate, noting that at that time the breakdown of how the correspondence s towards the variance request came in with 3 for the proposal and 2 against it.
Towards the conversation Councillor Wade Niesh, who was participating by Zoom, proved to be the strongest advocate for the proponent for the variances, providing some insight from his perspective as to what the issues related to the variance requests could be, most of which he offered his support for.
Councillor Adey relayed his own conversations with the two sides of the situation, noting how the decision is now in the hands of Council and someone won't like what that decision will be. He did make note of the changing nature of the variance requests that have gone in front of Council through the travels of the process, as well as how the City had put a Stop Work order on the project as a result.
Councillor Randhawa asked for a recommendation from the City Manager towards the topic, in reply Mr. Buchan observed on some of the history of the variance requests and how some work has taken place that wasn't approved which resulted in the Stop Work order. He further noted to the Councillors' call for a recommendation that the current process in place isn't one for staff make recommendations towards and is one for consideration of Council members individually.
Councillor Mirau spoke of process and traced some of the elements that Council had already engaged in on the file, noting of the ongoing problems council has had in the past with residents changing the plans after approval has been granted.
Councillor Cunningham also picked up on that theme, noting of the six variances that had been asked for as well as some of his concerns related to them, as well as to note how it was another example of someone doing it and asking for forgiveness after the fact.
Councillor Niesh returned to the discussion to provide some further guidance on the build as he saw it, with Councillor Cunningham also making note of some areas to be addressed.
As a potential solution to the issue. Mr. Niesh recommending that Council approve the majority of the variance requests, with the exception of the back roof covering over the deck and some work planned for the front portion of the house.
For his part, Mayor Brain noted how he didn't want Council to become building inspectors, observing how he didn't appreciate the process that the builders had taken on, how it was disrespectful to the neighbourhood, noting how Council has seen this happen before.
He did however, put faith in Councillor Niesh's view of the situation as a builder and to accept his solution as the middle ground to get the issue resolved.
The City Manager offered up an alternative option, that to pass a resolution not to proceed with the application as currently made, asking the applicant to change the aspects of the plan and resubmit them.
Councillor Niesh challenged that approach somewhat, noting as how it may make sense on paper, but observing of the oncoming fall weather and the impact that would have on constructions, as well as to how Council had put their decision off once already.
In the end, Council chose to follow Mr. Niesh's suggestion to approve the majority of the variances, with the exception of the front porch and back deck overhang issues, in order to allow them move forward with their home construction.
Council then voted to accept the revised amendments, with all council members approving the motion.
(see page 19 of the Agenda package for report on the requested variances)
( 45:30 - 49:00) Report from Planning - Development Variance Permit for a property at 1153 Ambrose Avenue -- Council received a report from the planning department related to the request for the variance. Less complicated than the one previous, Council moved the process forward with little discussion. It will now move forward to public notification. Council will review any further aspects towards the proposed unit following the notification. (see page 32 of the Agenda package for report)
(49:00 - 49:30) Report from Chief Financial Officer -- July 2022 Financial variance report -- Council received a report from CFO Corinne Bomben, related to the Financial variances of July. Ms. Bomben noted that there were no significant variances to report related to the report. Council members had no questions for her related to the report. (see page 39 of the Agenda package for report)
(49:30 - 50:00) Report from the Corporate Administrator - Westcoast Connector Transmission Project Environmental Certificate Extension Request -- Council reviewed a request for a letter of support from the City towards a five year extension for the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission project as part of its Environmental Assessment Certificate process. Councillor Mirau Stepped out of the conversation citing a conflict relate to his employer. As for the request for the letter there was no discussion on the topic by the remaining council members (see page 45 of the Agenda package for report)
(50:00 - 53:00) Report from Chief Financial Officer -- Permissive Property Tax Exemption Bylaw Not 3501, 2022 -- Council reviewed the request to repeal the Permissive Tax Exemption Bylaw from 2019 and a 2021 amendment, and then to provide First, Second and Third Reading of the new Tax exemption bylaw for 2022. Ms. Bomben then outlined the scope of the 2022 Property Tax Exemptions, noting that the Exemptions need to be adopted by October 31st for it to be forwarded to BC Assessment.
Councillor Skelton-Morven asked for an explanation from the City's Financial Officer as to how the Permissive Exemption process works. Council then began the first steps in the process of adoption. (see page 52 of the Agenda package for report)
( 53:00 - 56:00) Report from Planning - City of Prince Rupert Zoning Amendment Bylaw 3503, 2022 -- The Planning Department's Myfannwy Pope provided an overview of the request, which is related to a need to rezone the property for Public use from it's current designation as Marine/Commercial use.
Ms. Pope also recommended that the usual public hearing requirement, noting how the detachment is obligatory under the municipal Police Act and how the public had had previous opportunity to comment on the property. Councillor Mirau offered up one comment towards waiving the public hearing, observing that there had been no significant resistance from the public during the loan authorization process, so he was comfortable in waiving the public hearing in this instance. Council provided the First and Second reading to the Bylaw related to rezoning requirements for the new RCMP detachment location. (see page 62 of the Agenda package for report)
( 56:00 - 1:10:00) Reports, Questions, Comments, Reports and Inquiries from Members of Council.
Councillor Adey opened the final element of the night, noting that he had not been attendance at the recent UBCM convention, asking for a thumbnail sketch of the event from the two members of Council in the Mayor and Councillor Cunningham who did attend of their observations from the event.
Mr. Cunningham opened the discussion praising the work of staff for their briefing notes, observing on the 28 meetings that the city's attendees took in over the first three days of UBCM, he also had kind words for the work of Jennifer Rice in assisting the city delegation during the course of the convention.
He spoke of how he believes the City got their message across on the challenges and solutions that the city offered up to a number of government ministers.
Mr. Cunningham also outlined some background towards his sessions on health with both Northern Health and Minister Dix, summing up the UBCM experience as "a really good UBCM for Prince Rupert."
Mayor Brain also had positive themes to share from the delegation at UBCM and how the city made headway on a number of their items.
His first topic of note was the issue of the Port Property Tax Act, Mr. Brain observing that not every minister had been briefed on the topic with the facts on the issue. The Mayor noting how the City delivered facts to the Ministers, which he described as an eye opening experience for the provincial officials.
As part of his commentary on the Port Property Tax issue, Mr. Brain noted of a recent report commissioned by the province that he was not aware of until a recent FOI, noting as to how the document had outlined some of the analysis on the issue, noting how these are conversations that need to be ongoing. The mayor also recounted some of his past work on the issue through his Hays 2.0 presentation, State of the City presentation and previous work with other municipalities.
His takeaway from the UBCM is that the City was heard loud and clear on the Port Tax Cap issue and that very good progress was made.
Mr. Brain also spoke on themes of Affordable housing, some of the city's strategic planning and how the city is trying to create economies of scale to achieve the shared goals with the ministries.
He noted of the need to clear land to build and why the province needs to support the city in its work to build 3,000 new housing units over the next decade and to support Port Growth.
He highlighted to the need for a mobilization to provide that support for Port Growth and how the city presented all the challenges related to its infrastructure deficit and outlined some of their solutions.
The Mayor also observed that they also want to build on their relationship with the Federal government, with City staff having started to coordinate with the PMO's office and provincial/federal ministries to mobilize the city to address the issues.
As for the lack of financial resources through taxation on marine export industries in the community, the Mayor described the situation as ridiculous and highway robbery and how it needs to end, the Mayor noting he reinforced that message to those he met at UBCM.
Councillor Randhawa shifted themes for the final moments of the session, asking about the progress of the work on McBride.
The City's Operation's Director Richard Pucci offered a short update on the work ongoing and noted that with poor weather on the horizon paving will be deferred until better conditions.
Councillor Cunningham called attention towards an initiative from the Moose Hall, which is looking for a letter of support towards new furnaces for the facility that they have applied for funding towards. The Councillor observed that he would find out further information on their funding request for staff to work with.
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven provided a reminder that next Friday, September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, speaking to a number of themes on the topic. He then asked that the City issue a proclamation that would proclaim September as a month for National Truth and Reconciliation.
Council then approved that motion.
Council then returned to their suspended Closed session from earlier in the day.
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 September 20, 2022 (not available yet)
The Next Session for Prince Rupert City Council is set for Monday, October 3, 2022.
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