Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Election Forum: Council race -- Incumbents want to remain on the team ... challengers just want to join it

As we noted as part of our Mayor's review of the Election Forum yesterday, the Monday night format did not provide for much in the way of an in-depth review of how the candidates may be exploring key issues, the thirty second clock providing more for talking points to the themes over substantive explanations.

Still some currents of the campaign did begin to flow, as the eight contenders for six seats put their best foot forward to win over the voters for October 15th.

Our review of the Councillor's themes from the forum will follow the same path as that of yesterday for the mayor's race, we'll review the Opening remarks and some of the key Discussion topics that generated the largest volume of discussion both in content and in some cases in acoustic volume of talking points.

Council Candidates Discussion Opening Comments 

Nick Adey -- Expressed his pride in the work of council of the last four years and how he is encouraged by the 2030 vision plan. He spoke of the work on the Official Community Plan and the bylaw work to achieve that vision. As well he highlighted the work completed to develop relationships with First Nations and the work he has done with individuals and community groups. He observed on the challenges that such areas as infrastructure and housing and inequality have brought to the community and how they aren't easy or quick to solve, but noted how he believes they have the team in place to help succeed in meeting them. 

Andy Chugh -- He outlined his vision of how the Prince Rupert of tomorrow will be better than the Prince Rupert of today. Speaking of how future generations will be able to look back with pride at the decisions that council has made rather than to rectify any mistakes.  He noted of his enthusiasm for the Hays 2.0 vision and 2030 vision plans and praised the work of the current Mayor and council for their work in addressing past issues and laying the groundwork for the past. Calling for tangible actions he offered up his fresh, more youthful perspective to politics, focusing on principles of affordability, infrastructure recreation, sustainability, economic development, downtown revitalization and reconciliation. 

Barry Cunningham --  He reviewed some of his past work over his many years on council noting of his strength  on health care, housing and bylaw enforcement and how he takes seriously any issues that are brought to council. He observed how the current council accomplished great things and that there are great things to come, while noting of the challenges ahead. He declared his passion for Prince Rupert and outlined his enthusiasm for the 2030 vision plan and observed as to how he enjoys helping people navigate the civic process. His commentary noted how he was asking for the support of the public one last time for this campaign

Teri Forster --  She provided some personal background towards personal pronouns and noted of her work at the hospital as a Nurse and as a member of their board. She highlighted her excitement at the plans that the current Council and Staff have developed and hoped that the community was as excited as she was. She also put some focus on how she wants to help people understand what they need , declaring how  transparency and accountability on Council  are vey important. She noted her desire to be the voice of the public and how she won't promise things that she can't deliver and how if she doesn't know an answer she'll find it out.

Sheila Gordon-Payne -- The challenges of the last few years of COVID made for the opening narrative for her one minute address, noting how she now sees a city that is reemerging and finding its feet again, working hard to be the community that it wants to be and a welcoming place for locals to stay and newcomers to move to. The candidate outlined five key areas for her, ensuring that community plans are outlined for the public in a clear fashion, working on the budget with stakeholders and the government to ensure the community gets its fair share, working to keep health care services at the levels they are and to increase access. She also spoke to making the community a child friendly place, and to develop sustainable culture and recreation. She observed how she was not from Prince Rupert but had chosen to live here and chosen to stay here.

Wade Niesh -- He shared some personal notes and noted of his quest for a third term of office observing as to how far the city has come and how there was much more to accomplish, noting that while not always a fun job he has enjoyed setting a new path. He highlighted his attendance record on Council and re-dedicated himself to making the hard decisions required to support the community He also praised the work of outgoing Mayor Lee Brain and Councillor Blair Mirau, wishing them both well as they move forward to raise their families.

Gurvinder Randhawa -- He recounted some of his own personal story including his work on community boards and organizations. He highlighted how he has fought hard for the community and would like to continue to do so. He noted of the city's vision plans and would like to also address property tax issues and develop other sources of income. 

Reid Skelton-Morven -- He as well recounted some of his personal and business resume, noting he wasn't making a sales pitch on the night, but rather was using his time as a way to acknowledge the audience for their resilience through the period of COVID and the sacrifices that the community has made or the suffering some have faced. He noted of his work on infrastructure themes, his travels on behalf of the city and how he was grateful for the support of the community.

As we noted on Tuesday, two themes for the night, that of reconciliation and support for the LGBTQ Plus community, were constrained  by the thirty second rule, leaving little in the way towards expansive themes with the candidates mainly focused more on generalities.  

As it was for he Mayoralty candidates, the Councillors provided the answers to the topic that one might expect from those seeking public office, that of being in favour of better relations with First Nations of the region and the work required to address the issues in the community. 

There was however, some breaking news delivered during the course of the discussion on Reconciliation. That as one after another,  the incumbents made note of plans for the upcoming Monday Council session, where the City will seemingly introduce a framework on reconciliation. 

We'll dig into those comments towards that theme through a separate story here.

Much of that same narrative was used towards the topic of LGBTQ Plus support in the community, with a number of candidates observing how they are supportive allies, aware of pronouns and their use and for some to make note of their appearances on the Rainbow Nation podcast in town, while others shared their experiences from their work environment towards the theme raised.

The discussion on the LGBTQ Plus support did deliver one curious moment for the night, with Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa choosing to take a pass on the opportunity to provide a thirty second reply to the topic.

Towards our overview on some of the other questions from the night, we will focus on those issues which seemed to bring the most discussion and offered a more varied and as detailed an insight as thirty seconds could offer on the night.


Reid Skelton Morven -- The candidate noted of his previous stance on the need for affordable housing in the community, noting of the city's action plans, policy frameworks and how the council has streamlined the process.

Gurvinder Randhawa --  Among the themes were some observations on the city's housing actkon plan, and the need for affordable housing and measures the council has taken on to address some of the challenges. 

Wade Niesh -- The incumbent recounted the work that Council has done in the past, noting of the work on permits, development permits and bylaw changes, as well as how he has been pushing on the issue of Muskeg and the challenge that it presents for developing housing, noting how he has been made fun of by Council members when it comes to his obsession on the topic and his desire to have a place set aside for the disposal of it.

Sheila Gordon-Payne -- She noted of the need to keep things moving, noting of some recent housing that has been created by the province or those that are in the works, she also observed of the need to reduce red tape and to reduce the delays by working with government. 

Teri Forster -- She noted that some of the candidates had already mentioned some of her thoughts on the progress on housing, she also highlighted the recent UBCM convention and a resolution brought forward by the City that if ever adopted would allow for rental income from secondary suites to be tax exempt and would help open up housing in the community towards offering affordable housing options. 

Barry Cunningham -- He observed as to how Council has been very proactive, addressing a range of issues to get people more interested in building. He noted that the city doesn't control the housing market and interest rates  and outlined the city's efforts in putting land up for sale to bring builders to town to look over potential areas for housing.

Andy Chugh -- He observed how the current council has done a really good job towards the housing issue, addressing many of the recommendations. He spoke of the need to move on some of the themes of the panel report  for the future of housing on density housing, updating zoning bylaws to reflect the OCP and male the process of development more efficient.

Nick Adey -- He noted of the key role of Council is to create the conditions for housing development, observing of the work of the last four years on the OCP, adopting recommendations and changing the process and bylaw work and themes on public engagement, adding that the work already done has put the city on the path towards developing available, diverse and affordable housing.

How to Improve Health Care  Access in Prince Rupert

Reid Skelton-Morven -- Noting how the city has no oversight on Health care he outlined the need to build relationships with stakeholders and to address housing issues that would address some of the recruitment issues facing the community. 

Gurvinder Randhawa -- He reinforced the need for advocacy and to lobby the provincial government and to lobby for local issues. He also highlighted the recent Health Care Forum as a valuable way to share information with the public

Wade Niesh -- The incumbent councillor highlighted the challenges of housing as the key issue to addressing the staffing levels in the community. He outlined how he has opened up his own home for health care workers to help reduce the housing crunch.

Sheila Gordon Payne -- She outlined the four key elements of Education, Jobs, Housing and Childhood experiences that the city needs to continue to address  and noting that if so, the professionals will follow.

Teri Forster -- Advocacy was the theme that the candidate focused on, observing on the committees that are in place and the work of Councillor Cunningham on some of those committees.  Noting how they offer opportunity to get issues discussed, housing was also an element of note, the candidate adding that she too has opened her house to health workers and urged the public to do the same. 

Barry Cunningham --  He picked up on the advocacy theme and expanded on the committees and boards that are in place related to health care issues, adding how petitions to the legislature and the need to keep health officials feet to the fire are ways to address the topic.

Andy Chugh -- Noting how it was a provincial issue he observed of his past studies on the topic, as for the role of the city he outlined how the city has to make the city more attractive, offer more recreational activities and areas, as well as to ensure that health services aren't relocated to Terrace.

Nick Adey -- He focused on such measures as the Talking Tables Initiative which allows for the pooling of resources and to create home grown solutions for the people who need them the most. He also suggested the city could offer health care professionals regular opportunity to share information and experiences with council to gain better understanding and support

Some of the candidates used their Rebuttal cards to expand on the themes above.

Scrap the Port Tax Cap Initiative

Nick Adey -- He observed as to how the question is more of a  We Question not a Me Question, noting of the need for a collective voice and how the Mayor is uniquely placed to act as a spokesperson. He outlined how the best approach is to be aggressive enough to achieve a recognition that action is required. And then to collaborate with the Provincial government as regulator, along with Municipal government, Stakeholders and Industry to resolve the issue.

Andy Chugh -- First respectively disagreeing with the wording of the question, he outlined a need to for council to collaborate and bring something new to the table, observing how not all the information is being revealed to the public. Observing on the petition campaign, he noted how one side of the issue is not being put forward and how there was a need to hear both sides of the story and then work with both industry and government.

Barry Cunningham -- He opened his discussion on the topic citing a provincial report on the topic, then shifting his review to how it is poor legislation and was great for five years but no longer useful. As well, he observed how the Port is a landlord and collect leases and not taxes, adding that at the end of the day it's part of the financial problem that the City has and how the City, Port and province need to work to solve it.

Teri Forster -- She agreed with much of what had been said previous repeating the theme of it requires a We Solution not a Me Solution. Noting how there is a need to find ways to solve the issue and how a multi pronged approach is required. She observed how changing the Port Tax Cap alone isn't going to get the city 600 million dollars. She  offered up that as she is open to working with the Port. Adding that as she's new and hasn't made any promises with them and she hasn't had any arguments with them, highlighting how working together is the key.

Sheila Gordon-Payne -- She opened her commentary by noting that  her signature on the petition was a way of creating a good tension and awareness of what's going on if the port tax cap isn't addressed. Observing on the need to bring other stakeholders in with them, as well as to approach the Port and remind them of an agreement from 2018 where they would approach government to address the issue and how it was now tine to reset and restart.  

Wade Niesh -- His opening remarks expressed his frustration over eight years of both Liberal and NDP governments and their unwillingness to come to a reasonable resolution, despite the city's efforts to play nice. With the issue now at the forefront he called for the Port Authority, Province and City to resolve the issue, noting how there is a need to make Prince Rupert a first word port in a community that is not a third world town. He observed how the Port wants the city to be successful but won't support it, and how it's now time for the city to show them one last time why the Port needs to support their efforts,  adding how he was tired of excuses and has heard enough bullshit.

Gurvinder Randhawa -- Noting of the council's support for port industries he outlined how everyone should pay their fair share, he added he would continue to advocate with the province to find a solution.  

Reid Skelton Morven -- Making note of the comments of both Councillor Niesh and from Mayoralty candidate Jason Hoang, the incumbent  councillor observed how he won't bullshit and say he's good at chess, noting how he wasn't sure what chess had to do with the topic. As for the issue at hand, he observed on the opportunity to adjust the sliding scales, speaking towards either the port incentives grant or to scrap the tax cap altogether, noting the Port has had those options on the table for some time.  Adding how it would take strong advocacy to make something happen.

Mr. Niesh and Mr. Cunningham both used their rebuttal cards to add to their commentaries to the discussion. 

Transparency at City Hall

Reid Skelton Morven -- The Councillor observed on his definition of the word and then shifting to the Council limitations on such areas as land, legal and labour themes when it comes to Closed meetings and what the public needs to know about how they reach those decisions and why the council has to be strategic about what they can go public about.

Gurvinder Randhawa -- He spoke to such areas as appointments and committee representation.

Wade Niesh -- He  observed it wasn't a case of not being transparent and like Councillor Skelton Morven, focused on the limitations of council on areas of land, legal and labour things he state cannot be discussed in a public meeting until an appropriate time. He put the onus on residents to reach out to councillors to find out what they want to know, observing how his phone is always available to anyone at any time.

Sheila Gordon-Payne -- Her view was to note of how Councillors need to be aware of the challenge to  guard against slipping things into the area of closed meetings items that don't need to be there and to ensure to keep whatever can be in the public forum is in the public forum. 

Teri Forster -- Integrity was the main theme to her presentation, making sure that people know what is happening and why,  noting that being able to admit that you are wrong is important, and how there is a need to be truthful even when facing unpopular decisions.

Barry Cunningham -- He observed how Transparency is an interesting word and how the council may not be totally there, stating there's a need for education for the public. Noting of the past Closed meetings on themes such as Watson Island and a lot of other things and how there are things that they can't bring out into the public until it is done and that's where transparency can sometimes be questioned.

Andy Chugh -- He stated that for Transparency the key is honest, clear communication for the public about what is going on.  Noting of some of the elements such as Legacy Inc and Bidding issues through the city where questions have been raised, adding that if the City has to do something that is confidential its just the way things operate. He also pointed to the need for town halls and presentations such as the State of the City this year which he observed was a good way to share information. Concluding his throughts he returned to his comment that some things can't be disclosed to the public owing to confidentiality issues.

Nick Adey -- He observed how he was glad to be part of an election campaign that includes the word transparency, unlike some other election campaigns out there. To the topic he outlined his focus of the need to share what the city is doing and to listen to what the public have to say about what they are doing. He put some focus on his work on Council over the last four years which he described as a consistent person on council who has said when are we going to the public with this  and what will the public say about this, a process he plans to continue on with gong forward.

A number of candidates used their rebuttal cards to add some additional points to their conversation pieces to the topic.

Climate Change issues and Policy towards 2030 goals

Nick Adey -- He framed his response as a parent noting of the importance of the work today to future generations, adding how it takes a lot of small actions and large actions, he observed of the recycling program, the EV station in the community and the city's Active Transportation program, 

Andy Chugh -- The City's 2030 Vision plan and sustainable themes made for much of the candidates commentary and how they frame some of his own platform, observing of his excitement with the city's waste water initiative. He also spoke of recycling initiatives, the plans for traffic diversions and bike lanes in the downtown area with the new connector road in place at the Port.

Barry Cunningham -- The Councillor noted how much has been done by Council,  recounting  some of the many civic plans in motion in recreation, waste management plan, recycling and transportation. He also made note of the 2030 plan and how it serves as a framework. 

Teri Forster -- The candidate also picked up on the 2030 plan and how it will serve as a framework of the period ahead towards sustainability issues for the city over the next ten years and how there are a number of grants and incentives available that could lead to implementation of some of the elements.

Sheila Gordon-Payne -- She too praised the plans in place and observed how a key is to draw out the elements that need to be prioritized and share those with the community and develop the actions to take to move forward with them.

Wade Niesh -- He observed how the city's role is not as big as upper levels of government, but noted some of the areas the city could address the issue, such as changes to municipal buildings adding electrical vehicles to the city fleet. Noting of the possibilities for such energy sources as hydrogen or wind farms, while not closing the door on transitional industries such as Propane and LNG adding the city needs to have an open mind and keep a healthy economy. 

Gurvinder Randhawa -- He noted of the need for measures to address green house gases, improve resilience and seek out alternate sources of energy such as wind, tidal and solar options foe a more diversified platform.

Reid Skelton Morven. -- His view to the topic was how the world has dropped the ball on climate issues, he noted of the city's sewage treatment plans recounting a trip he and the then City Manager of the day took to Quebec City in 2019 to examine infrastructure themes which incorporates some of the city's concerns.

Ms. Forrester, Ms. Gordon Payne and Mr. Skelton-Morven all used their rebuttal cards on the topic.

The Closing Comments didn't really shed much new information from the collective, with the candidates mostly using their final minute to recap the same themes they spoke to in their opening comments.

For those looking to review all of the themes covered by the Council seat contenders on the night, you can access the candidates commentary through the video and timeline below:

21:30 --30:00 -- Opening Comments
37:00 -- 37:00 -- Housing
43:30 -- 46:00 -- Plans for Indigenous Reconciliation
53:00 -- 1:03:00 -- How to Improve Health Care Access in Prince Rupert
1:03:00 -- 1:12:00 -- Intermission 
1:13:00 -- 1:15:30 -- Scrap the Port Cap Initiative
1:22:30 -- 1:32:00 -- Transparency City Hall
1:32:30 -- 1:34:30 -- Climate Change Policy towards 2030 goals
1:46:30 -- 1:48:30 -- Support for the LGBTQ Plus community
1:53:00 -- 2:05:00 -- Closing Comments

Tomorrow we'll put some focus on a few of themes raised as part of the Election Forum providing some background from the last eight years towards the topics of note.

Notes on the election campaign to date can be reviewed through our archive page.


  1. Maybe councilor Skelton Morven has been playing checkers in a chess world for the past four years.

    Missed opportunity by Jason Huang to respond to Reid Skelton Morven.

  2. Housing - talking about sub division development, but complaining about muskeg removal is a tired excuse. Show us you are serious and start talking about developing a mix of housing, not just detached sub divisions.

    Health Care - Just start by asking NHA to review and update what services are provided at PRH and Mills on their website. Other health authorities manage to do this, surely ours can.

    Scrap The Tax - Waiting and hoping for a policy change on provincial taxation is not the direction or strategy city leadership should be moving in. Attract and develop economic activity that is in your tax wheelhouse, move faster and compete harder than Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers.

    Transparency - To quote the outgoing Mayor, "If I have to choose between transparency and saving the city, I will save the city everytime."

    Climate Change - Not even worth talking about because our community is so far behind the curve. We recently expanded our landfill, have half a recycling program, no composting on the horizon, no anti idling bylaws.

  3. An interesting contrast between Barry Cunningham who thinks that the public needs to be "educated" about how the council cannot be transparent, while Sheila Gordon-Payne cautions that it's the council that needs to guard against slipping items into closed meetings that don't need to be there.