Wednesday, November 23, 2022

City Council Timeline: Monday, November 21, 2022

After a a pair of previous sessions more focused on the ceremonial and operational nature of their civic business, Prince Rupert City Council members got down to work in their first full Regular Session since the election of October 15th on Monday.   

The night a ninety minute gathering with a fairly large agenda, the first third dedicated towards a look at what the future of the municipal water and utilities system may look like one day.

That came by way of a pair of presentations in the Committee of the Whole session, with a member of a local community organization expressing concerns that the city may be on the way to a privatized  utilities concept; followed by a presentation from the Director of Operations who observed that these are just early days in a review of how those utilities work and can be paid for.

The Regular Session which followed featured a range of municipal government housekeeping, with appointments, schedule approvals and other notes on how the civic government operates.

Council members also received a number of reports on contract awards, a loan authorization an items of note from the planning office to name a few.

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

Council also hosted a Closed Meeting, making for the  19th of the in camera sessions for 2022, but the first for the recently elected membership.

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, the Agenda for that element 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, November 21, 2022

Mayor Herb Pond -- Present 
Councillor Nick Adey -- Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham -- Present 
Councillor Teri Forster -- Present 
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present 
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa -- Present

Video Archive for Monday, November 21, 2022 



(0:00 - 35:00) Committee of the Whole Session for Monday, November 21, 2022

Adoption of Agenda and Past minutes -- The Mayor reviewed the agenda for the evening and Council adopted  the minutes of past meetings.

Petitions and Delegations --  Tom Kertes a representative of the community organization People For Public Infrastructure had requested a spot for the night's Session, though he noted he was speaking on the night as a resident and a homeowner.

Originally planning to make use of a slide show presentation, he observed that a report coming next for Council  from Richard Pucci, the Director of Operations, had given him thought to refocus his commentary to that document.

The focus for that commentary was the need for the public to be involved in the process towards how any final decision is made, with Mr. Kertes then posing a range of questions related to the memorandum of understanding to be presented.

For his part he was seeking more details in a number of elements, among some of the key questions raised: 

When did city council direct senior staff to move forward on using a municipality-controlled corporation to run the city’s public water and, possibly, public sewer system – in partnership with a private company? 

Who was involved in developing plans to set up a municipality-controlled corporation, working with a private company, to run (including finance and operate) our water and, possibly, sewer system? 

Is there a business plan and can we see it? 

How much debt does the city plan to finance through a municipality-controlled corporation? The initial rumour was $230 million dollars. Is this true?  

What assurances do residents and businesses have the once a municipality-controlled corporation is formed that it will not be sold in whole (or part) at a future date? 

Is the decision already made? Or is there still a process for the public to share its concerns and to have input into how our public utility system is structured, run, and financed? 

In reply to his opening remarks, Councillor Adey observed how there was a a lot to absorb and how the questions were worthy of answers and that as things unfold he hoped he would get those answers.

For his part the Mayor noted that no decision has been made to this point  in time and that it was very early in the process.

Councillor Forster then suggested that Mr. Kertes be allowed to provide for his slide screen presentation to provide further background towards his comments  on the night.

The community organizer then reviewed some of the many themes towards the concerns that the organization has over any proposed shift from public ownership, to a public-private concept.

The primary focus for the group, was one which wants to ensure public control over the operation and management of the utilities that the city has.

Following his presentation, Councillor Cunningham thanked him for it and noted that the questions could apply to anything the Council does. 

The Councillor further observing that on the issue of the water initiative, there is no intent to privatize the whole system just to determine if there is an alternative to it and it is not an issue that Council takes lightly.

More on the concerns of People for Public Infrastructure can be found on their website.

The next agenda item for the Committee of the Whole was a presentation from Richard Pucci, the Director of Operations, a report which we previewed on Monday.

To open his presentation,  Mr. Pucci asked Council  for more time to research the questions in order to provide answers towards what had been posed on the evening by Mr. Kertes.

Mr Pucci then provided for his Report on the topic, first recounting some of the process to date and how there is a review underway as to how the city's water treatment plans might look like and how their recent call for expressions of interest is to see if there is any interest parties towards their model, noting that there has been some interest expressed as a result of that early work.

The details on that interest to be explored with Council as part of a future review.

Towards why the City may explore taking on some private interests in operation of the civic infrastructure program, the Operations Director noted of the financial issues related to the work required, the challenges of attracting staff members towards operations.

The proposal would be for a municipally owned company, controlled by the City Council, with the City to have a larger share of whatever Board was required to operate it.

When it comes to a new water treatment facility, Mr. Pucci observed how it would be state of the art and how there is a need to introduce a more sophisticated system to that currently in place, which he noted was verging on being non-compliant.

He also observed that they don't anticipate any conflict with the union as they have been specific on any ties to union agreement provisions, noting  however of the ongoing challenges towards attracting and retaining qualified individuals for the infrastructure.

To that theme he suggested that the proposal may be one way to solve some of those staffing concerns.

Like the Mayor, Mr. Pucci reinforced that no decision has been made to this point.

City Manager Rob Buchan picked up on the theme of the staffing issues, recounting some of the many challenges the city is finding as it tries to fill vacant positions with little success and how it is a significant and difficult issue for Council to consider.

With the prospect of the proposal for  the partnership one to allow the City to have some confidence of a pool of technically qualified people available to run the water facility.

The City Manager also stressed how the process was still in the very early days.

The Mayor then asked for a bit more background on what the treatment plant would bring to the community, with Mr. Pucci noting of the many areas where Prince Rupert is different from many communities in the province.

As the conversation came to a close, Councillor Adey again turned to the concept of consultation and how it would work towards final decision making and how the public could be involved with it.

Mr. Pucci then outlined how that process will move forward following the review of the current expressions of interest.

Mr. Pond observing at that point how the City council would then be able to decide on how they would seek out public participation in the process ahead.

Questions from the Public -- No Members of the Public came forward

Reports, Questions and Inquiries from members of Council -- The Council members had no questions, concerns or comments to make.

Adjournment to reconvene regular Council Meeting



35: 00 - 43 :00 )  Prior to taking to the Agenda for the evening Mayor Pond spoke to the events at the Ocean Centre Mall earlier that morning, offering the condolences of the Council and staff to those impacted, while counselling caution when it comes to public comments.

The Mayor also made note of the city's success this month in a national award program, with some senior managers representing Prince Rupert  at the Ontario awards ceremony, with the community receiving an award for its work at Watson Island.

The City Manager provided some additional background towards the work and the support that Council gave to it, noting of the key involvement of former City Manager Robert Long along with Senior City staff members Richard Pucci and Paul Venditelli.

For his part, Mayor Pond also offered praise to the previous council, noting of former Mayor Brain and Former Councillor Blair Mirau as part of that collective that were involved in the decision making for the initiative.

(43 :00 -- 44:00 Adoption of Agenda and Past minutes -- The Mayor reviewed the agenda for the evening and Council will adopt the minutes of past meetings, adding a late item to the Agenda.

Reports and Resolutions

44:00 - 45:30 )  Request for Support from Tourism Prince Rupert   -- Communications Director Veronica Stewart provided an update on the report, which included notice of some proposed amenities for Pacific Mariners Park.   (Not included in the Agenda package)

45:30 - 46:00 )  Report from  The Director of Operations and Intergovernmental Relations -- Purchases update   -- Council received a report from Richard Pucci,  which was received by Council with no questions or comment.  (see page  11 of the Agenda package)

46:00 -- 49:00  )  Report from The Director of Operations and Intergovernmental Relations -- Contract Award -- Council received a report outlining the scope of a contract award to CT Northern Contractors Alliance towards the city's SCADA communication system. Councillor Cunningham asked how high the tower structure would be, he was advised that he did not have an answer on that at this point.  In a  follow up, Mr. Cunningham noted that he had received concerns from residents of the Crestview area about the tower proposed there. The Mayor noted that staff would have an answer at a future date.  (see page  13 of the Agenda package)

( 49:00 -- 55:00  )  Report from Planning Manager -- Service Agreement contract Award  -- Prior to the presentation of the report, Mayor Pond noted that Ms. Pope had recently been promoted to the Manager's position in the department. Council then received a report outlining the scope of a contract award to CT Northern Contractors Alliance and Graham Capital towards the city's Rapid Housing initiative . 

Councillor Cunningham asked if there was a Senior's Housing element towards the review. He was advised that Senior's housing would be part of the contract program. Mr. Cunningham also asked for some background on Graham Capital.

Councillor Adey followed up on some of Councillor Cunningham's questions  with comments and questions related towards the decision making on contract awards.  

Mr. Buchan observed how the two selected proponents had shown an ability to deliver on a project like the one under discussion.   (see page  15 of the Agenda package)

( 55:00 -- 1:01:00  )   Report from Planning -- Development Activity Report for October Council received a report from the planning department related to planning themes from October. The report was received for informational purposes. 

Councillor Cunningham raised a question related to one of the items of the report related to the topic of cash in lieu on downtown Parking. 

Dr. Buchan noted that the cash in lieu was a separate matter from the issue of concern, noting how the regulation remains in effect for the rest of the community where applicable. He then outlined the current status of the requirements in the area in question.  Councillor Adey also had a question from the report, asking about Temporary Use permits in relation to containers in back yards. He was advised that if the use takes place after the period has lapsed it becomes a bylaw enforcement issue.  (see page  16 of the Agenda package)

1:01:00 -- 1:02:30  )  Report from Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager  -- September 2022 Financial variance report -- Council received a report from CFO Corinne Bomben, related to the Financial variances of September. Of note she observed how with some of the water utility challenges expenses were higher owing to waterline breaks and required overtime.  From the report she also noted that the repair costs on the McBride infrastructure project is anticipated to be over cost by fifteen percent, that owing to a cost on aggregate that was used  and additional technical work that was required.   (see page  23 of the Agenda package)

1:02:30 -- 1:05:00 )  Report from Chief Financial Officer and Deputy City Manager  --  Authorization for Short Term Borrowing from the MFA -- Council received a report from CFO Corinne Bomben, related to the city's plans to borrow 850,000 dollars towards repairs and rehabilitation of the waterline along the 300 block of McBride Street. Council approved the authorization requested.  Councillor Forster asked about the funding towards the cost over run, while Councillor Cunningham asked if there had been any final amount delivered yet. Ms. Bomben observed the cost of the project is expected to be approximately 1.15 million dollars  (see page 29 of the Agenda package)

1:05:00 -- 1:16:30 Committee appointments  - Mayor Pond relayed the list of appointments to Committees and Boards, which were noted as follows:

Airport Authority -- Councillor Niesh
Library Board -- Councillor Forster
Performing Arts Centre -- Councillor Adey
Healthy Communities Committee -- Councillor Adey
Tourism Prince Rupert Board-- Councillor Randhawa
NDIT NW regional Advisory Committee -- Councillor Skelton-Morven
BC Ferries Central Advisory Committee -- Councillor Cunningham

Mayor Pond also announced a decision to eliminate the appointment to Civic Awards and Recognition group suggesting all of council could perform that function.

He also announce plans to discontinue appointments to  the Recreation Committee and resting the required bylaw, noting of how it has not been fulfilling a function and that staff could make use of the Advisory committee that is in place.

Councillor Cunningham spole to the plans to eliminate the Recreation Committee noting of how he found it to be a successful venture in years past, noting that there may be a need to revamp it a little bit, observing as to how COVID may have impacted on that engagement. 

Councillor Niesh countered some of those observations, noting how the current process served little purpose and how there could be Council representation to the existing Advisory committee.

Councillor Randhawa also spoke in favour of the committee process, noting how COVID had an impact,  

Councillor Cunningham returned to the discussion to advocate for the continuation of the committee noting how the council is there to serve the public.

To close the debate the amendment to strike the plan to repeal the bylaw was adopted, members suggesting that the Council should keep the current arrangement while they consider the future for community engagement. 

That was accepted by the majority of the council membership, with the exception of councillor Niesh.

Councillor Skelton-Morven asked towards the future for the Small Business Advisory Council, something that the mayor advised would be explored in the future.

The Councillor also noted of a conflict he would have with the NDIT committee, which resulted in Councillor Randhawa taking up the post in his place.

Councillor Cunningham noted of the need for Alternates for each of the positions and also observed how many are public meetings and Council meeds to make that more widely known to the public. 

( 1:16:30 -- 1:17:30 )  Report from the Corporate Administrator --Kaien Trails Society Request for Support -- Council provided  a letter of support to Kaien Trails towards their Cloudberry Trail project.   (see page 31  of the Agenda package)

1:17:30 -- 1:18:00    ) Report from the Corporate Administrator --Tourism Prince Rupert -- Council approved a request to provide a letter of support to Tourism Prince Rupert and their Northern Development initiative .   (see page 34  of the Agenda package)

 1:18:00 -- 1:19:00   ) Report from the Corporate Administrator -- Re: signing authority -- Council received a report that outlined which Council members will be designated to have signing and countersigning authority. Councillor Cunningham noted of the addition of Councillor Skelton-Morven to the cemetery listings.  (see page 36  of the Agenda package)

 1:19:00 -- 1:20:30 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator -- Re: Acting Mayor's Schedule -- Council received a report that outlines which Council members will be designated to have signing and countersigning authority  (see page 36  of the Agenda package)

1:20:30 -- 1:21:30 ) Report from the Corporate Administrator -- 2023 City Council Schedule -- Council received a report that outlines when the Regular  Council Sessions will take place in 2023.  (see page  40 of the Agenda package)


1:21:30  - 1:23:30)  City of Prince Rupert Council Procedure Bylaw No. 3508-20222 --Council will  be asked to provide first, second and third readings to the bylaw  (see page 42  of the Agenda package)

 1:23:30 -- 1:24:30 )  City of Prince Rupert Trade or Business License Amendment Bylaw No. 3509, 2022 and City of Prince Rupert Ticket Information amendment Bylaw, Number 3510, 2022 -- Council provided First and Second readings to the Bylaw related to  the two bylaws in question.  The first pertains to the city's Business licensing amendments towards rental  units, the second introduces the fine structure for  first and subsequent offences of bylaws (see page  66  of the Agenda package)

(  1:24:30 -- 1:28:00 -- )  Reports, Questions, Comments, Reports and Inquiries from Members of Council.

Councillor Randhawa asked about the status of the Bus Pullout project at the Ocean Centre on Second Avenue West, as well as to the recently installed posts along McBride Street.

Director Pucci provided some background on the post, noting that they are there to ensure there is no additional weight delivered to the sidewalk area, the bollards were the least expensive option to achieve that. Though he noted that in the future there would be a review of work on the retaining wall underneath the roadway.

To the Second Avenue Bus Pull out he noted that the project is behind scheduled and how there may be additional cost required towards the site through the winter, with the city now having to wait until the spring for paving work at the work location.

You can access our Council Archive for November 21st here,  where a number of items regarding the Council Session, including links to any 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 November 21, 2022 (not available yet)

The Next Session for Prince Rupert City Council is set for Monday, December 5, 2022. 

That will make for the final scheduled Regular session for council for 2022.

No comments:

Post a Comment