Friday, December 9, 2022

Comment related to Canfisco Warehouse Monday night, should bring forward more background and details from Council members and City staff

The City's lease for the Canfisco warehouse was of note from
Prince Rupert City Council discussions towards 
the 2023 Community Enhancement Grants

A curious comment at Monday's council session, which was more of an aside as part of the discussion on the City's Community Enhancement  Grant process this year, has unwrapped one more layer of an interesting municipal onion. 

That of the City's current use and lease of the Canfisco Warehouse  near Rushbrook Floats.

The facility which the City is currently leasing out to a number of commercial users, as well as the Prince Rupert Gymnastics  Association, was mentioned by Councillor Barry Cunningham on Monday night as part of the city's decision making for Community Enhancement Grants. 

The Councillor making note of the City's own lease with Canfisco for the property.

"In kind is one thing, but  like we were sort of put into a corner where we had to lease that warehouse off Canfisco and we have to pay for that. 

And you know I agree with Councillor Forster here if it's chairs or tables they need then fine, but that's that slippery slope that Councillor Adey was talking about if we start giving up revenue for In kind for rental of places ... "

The original announcement of the new use for the once Industrial warehouse site didn't actually come from the City back in January of 2020, but rather from the Gymnastics Association

The Association making note of its plans on January 16th of 2020  to eventually, to make the site its new home.

The City followed up a few days later with a Public Notice of the leasing plan

Comments for the weekly paper at the time from then Mayor Lee Brain made mention of the proposed use,  though the focus was on the Mayor's Vision plan and the benefits to the community groups, with few actual details towards the arrangement or how it may impact on the City.

"Council and staff saw this unexpected opportunity as a way to obtain a new strategic waterfront asset and protect the community uses that currently benefit that area ... We believe having a new indoor space next to the revitalized Rushbrook Trail, the boat launch and Cow Bay down the road will be a great addition to the waterfront and fits into our newly formed 2030 Vision" -- Mayor Lee Brain on the city's interests in a warehouse on the east side waterfront from January 23, 2020

Needless to say, an 'unexpected opportunity', seems rather different than as Mr. Cunningham observed on Monday as being "sort of put into a corner".

The actual plan to repurpose the facility for community use saw limited discussion in public session prior to the announcement.  The City Council of the day, seemingly keeping it under wraps until the PRGA shared their news and more or less let the cat out of the bag.

Any commentary towards the facility since that time has been limited to mostly line item issues on budget reviews and strategic planning and such, with no further details revealed about the arrangement noted until this Monday's council session.

Considering how the most recent municipal election campaign was overshadowed by some heated rhetoric over the Port Tax Cap issue, a theme championed by the former Mayor and the last Council.  

It's a bit confusing how a situation that evolved over two years ago with one of the largest industrialists in the province seemingly forcing the city into an arrangement, did not raise a similar amount of ire on Council. 

But as the Canfisco plan moved forward  no one on council made a noise about it, let alone discussed the need to take on the lease in a public session.

As time has moved forward since 2020, having the facility in place for community use has proven to be a positive experience for those that are currently using it, though it does apparently come with ongoing maintenance issues for the city.  

As Councillor Cunningham noted on Monday  there does seem to be a demand in motion for other users to also join the roster of tenants, though cautious as he was to suggest, there should be no relaxation of rent provisions that are in place currently.

From the Monday commentary in Council chambers,  there seemingly is a lot about the City's involvement with the project that still needs to be expanded on, and explained to residents that aren't making use of the facility.  

The decision to use the warehouse still as mysterious today, as it was when announced.

One of the significant currents of Monday night's conversations was a Council membership that seemed to be preparing the public for some challenging budget planning ahead in 2023

The references to some tough times and decisions ahead heard  throughout the meeting.

Providing a better understanding as to how the city has invested in the past and what impact that has had on the city's financial themes, might be something this new Council membership (albeit made up of many of the previous one) may want to take steps into sharing with the public, as they prepare to decide how to spend in the future.

You can review the Canfisco reference from the City's Video archive, starting at the 23 minute mark

More notes related to the Canfisco facility can be reviewed  below:

A review of more discussion themes from Monday's City Council session is available here


  1. Note to councillors
    You don’t have to vote the party line.
    You were elected as independents, stand up for the taxpayers not the administration.
    You forget you were elected as a check on administration

    1. The Canfisco warehouse has been shrouded in mystery from the beginning. How the City, as councillor Cunningham puts it, was "sort of put into a corner" is far from clear, notwithstanding the former mayor's all-important endorsement. I doubt that the idea came from anyone in the current administration. I think that this is more likely a legacy commitment that may or may not have been a good idea at the time - there appear to be two perspectives - that Mayor Pond and his council will have to make sense of.
      There may be some other issues from the glory days of civic governance that will require some re-examination. Speaking of which, I wonder what happened to the Port tax cap petition, which overshadowed much of the election campaign and was strongly supported by the former mayor, that was to do an end-run of the provincial cabinet by taking the issue to the legislature?

    2. I heard that Jen Rice agreed to present the tax cap petition!

    3. if barry felt backed into a corner, does he mean by the mayor? by administration? by Jim Pattison's company?

      if barry felt backed into a corner, why is he only voicing an objection now years later?

  2. This is sort of the way the city does business. All of a sudden we are leasing a large lot with a building for city works. Not really any options put forward just this is what we are going to do. No public discussion to speak of they just do it.

    We are probably going to spend 1 1/2 million to reno a building we don’t own and might have to give back in four years

    Will this practice stop under Herb? Time will tell hopefully he will step up.

    1. You forgot that we would pay another 1 1/2 million in rent on the property. Have they said if the city is also responsible for the property taxes during the term of the rental agreement this is the norm.