Monday, December 19, 2022

In follow up to Local State of Emergency, People for Public Infrastructure call for local politicians to speak at Public Forum

A recently formed Advocacy Group in Prince Rupert has spoken out following Saturday's declaration of a Local State of Emergency, with People for Public Infrastructure calling for local politicians and MLA Rice to speak in a public forum towards the ongoing challenges for the city's water infrastructure.

The organization issued a statement shortly after Saturday's Declaration, with spokesman Tom Kertes taking the lead for the group in speaking to the current situation  in the city, Mr Kertes noting of their wish  to see a city run public forum to the issue.

“Today's emergency declaration reflects what residents and businesses have known for years. It's not news that our public water system is in urgent need of repair. 

That's why we need to all work together to fix it.

Calling for more provincial support to ensure that we can fix the immediate crisis makes sense. But the city can't stop there. Local government has waited too long to publicly engage city residents on the development of a comprehensive plan that addresses the needs of our public water system. 

In light of today's emergency declaration, one thing that many local politicians, at all levels of government, can do is revisit their decisions to not attend the planned Community Forum on the the water system, scheduled for January 21. 

Let's talk alternatives and plans together, so we can get this fixed for the long-term"

The advocacy group's statement notes of the status of the invitation list to their proposed forum of January 2023, noting of the mixed response to the request to date.

People for Public Infrastructure has already invited the mayor, the entire city council, the local MLA, and the local MP to speak on alternatives and plans for fixing the water system at the forum. 

So far, only four local politicians have replied, with all declining to speak on a panel at the forum. (One city councilor said they would attend the forum but would not speak on a panel and another said they may attend but did not commit.) The intent of the forum is to bring all voices to one table, so alternatives and plans can be developed in the open.

Mr. Kertes followed up on those notes by observing of his group's willingness to give up their forum, should the City wish to host one of its own towards the infrastructure issues.

“Given that we are now in a local state of emergency, it seems like a good time for local politicians to speak directly to residents about solutions, alternatives, and plans for fixing the issue. That's why we invited them to our forum. Local politicians should reconsider and attend. 

Better yet, the city should hold it's own forum so that even more people would attend. People for Public Infrastructure would gladly give up our date to take part in a city-run public forum instead of hosting our own. 

With water main breakages on the rise,  frequent boil water and water advisory notices, including an over forty-day notice in the not to recent past, and the city government's own warnings that public investments are needed, the declaration of an emergency reflects an urgent need for the whole community work together to protect our public infrastructure."

The group has released a letter that they have forwarded to Mayor Pond related to the current situation and  their desire for the public discussion on civic infrastructure.

click to enlarge

The organization was formed in November over concerns that the city was considering a private-public partnership towards the city's water infrastructure issues something we first noted in mid October.

People for Public Infrastructure  requested time to  address council on the theme at the November 23rd Council Session.

You can review their statement from Saturday, as well as other notes from the advocacy campaign through their website

A look at other notes related to the City's potential plan towards a private-public partnership, as well as the growing list of municipal infrastructure issues can be explored through our archive page.


  1. If someone asked this reader to attend an event with language like the above. I wouldn't go either.
    The passion is appreciated. The tone, not so much.

  2. The tone? What is wrong with simply asking elected officials to hold a public forum and to seek input from stakeholders before making a decision?

    There have been three emergency council meetings in the recent months. One to declare a state of emergency. Another to award a $20 million dollar contract. Residents deserve notice before such bug decisions. It’s not rude for residents to ask to have a voice in a democracy.

    1. Four politicians respond, yet they are chided to reconsider and attend.
      That is tone.

    2. Good point on the tone of “chiding” officials who declined to speak at a community forum.

      But what of the tone of politicians who won’t lay out plans with advance notice to voters and taxpayers? When every decision is a rushed surprise it’s hard for voters and taxpayers to get heard.

      The city government should be more proactive about reaching out and proposing policies and plans.

    3. In regards to the tone of municipal politics.

      Recent politicians have stated they would forgo transparency if it meant saving the city. They also stated if elected, they would hold town halls, and provide monthly newsletter updates.
      One of these happened, the other did not.

  3. I find it interesting that a simple statement of facts (x number invited, y number replied, z number said they’ll take part) could seem out of tone.

    The release states facts and invites elected reps to attend or to hold their own town hall.

    Seems productive and open to anything that will help get a comprehensive plan developed.

    I hope the city takes up the idea and runs a town hall soon! We need a plan to fix this crisis and the city had waited way too long to start making a plan.

    1. Well said this has been missing for 8 years and still might be!

    2. Here are some promises from 8 years ago,

      "With so many meetings in-camera, the people of Prince Rupert are left in the dark as to the on-goings of City Hall" Lee Brain 2014

      "Our current Mayor, Jack Mussallem, has failed to not only be honest with community members, but has failed to engage people on big ticket issues, such as the Pellet Plant and proposed LNG developments on Lot 444" Lee Brain 2014

      Brain has proposed three new ways he will create a transparent and open Government:
      - Submitting a weekly column via print media or electronic delivery.
      - Host a monthly Town Hall meeting
      - Send out a monthly e-mail or social media newsletter
      These three new methods of transparency and open communication will give people the opportunity to be regularly informed of the on-goings here in Prince Rupert Lee Brain 2014

    3. If I recall Barry was on the same page back then!