Monday's City Council didn't have a lot of items on the Agenda package to address but a few of them did make for some extensive commentary as the council membership hosted their second Regularly Scheduled meeting of the month.
Some background on the work of Council for the night can be reviewed from the Regular Council Agenda here.
The topics generating the most discussion included the final vote on the new Bylaw Adjudication program, the creation of an Accessibility Committee to help shape cvic policy and concerns once again that Prince Rupert is being left behind by Northern Health on vital health concerns.
The end of the night also provided the council members opportunity to speak to Friday's major funding announcement by the province which saw 65 million dollars awarded towards the city's waterline issues.
Monday night also provided for a Committee of the Whole presentation to Council by members of the Prince Rupert Hospice Society who provided an update on their work and noted of some of the challenges of late in finding volunteers for their programs.
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, March 20, 2023
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, March 20, 2023
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE OF CITY COUNCIL
( 0:00 -- 12:30 ) Call to Order / Adoption of Agenda -- The Mayor reviewed the Agenda for the evening, which Council members then approved.
Petitions and Delegations: Prince Rupert and District Hospice Society -- Council received a presentation from Anne Falvo and Susan Crowley.
They highlighted some of the elements of late towards their work with the Society noting how COVID had reduced their ranks and provided for some challenges in accessing their clients with hopes to find new members to return to regular levels.
The need for new volunteers was also a part of the presentation, the two presenters noting of the need for community involvement. They also spoke of their Advance Care Planning program which assists members in the community to make plans for their future, outlining the range of ways that they will be seeking out the public for engagement to the topic.
As well, they also noted of the departure from town of some important partners in health from a Community Paramedic who has left town and how that has impacted on their work and the lack of a partner at the Seniors Centre at the moment who has assisted in the past.
Councillor Forster spoke to her passion towards their programs and urged residents to explore the Advanced Care Program.
Councillor Randhawa asked as to how much their volunteer base has declined, Ms. Crowley noted that they were down at least fifty percent from pre COVID times, noting now masking and testing at facilities has proven to be the largest hurdle towards finding additional volunteers.
Councillor Cunningham shared some personal experience with their work and how they have helped the community, the conversation then shifted to the Green Sleeves Program with Councillor Forster asking for the Hospice Group to expand on that program and how it works.
From that they offered up a short tutorial as to how it provides key health information for emergency responders that may be called to the home, and will provide some details as to the health status of those in the residence.
And with that the Mayor thanked them for their presentation.
Public Comment Period -- No one came forward to raise any concerns or ask any questions of Council member.
Adjournment of Committee of the Whole
REGULAR SESSION OF CITY COUNCIL
( 12:30 -- 13:30 ) Adoption of Agenda -- The Mayor reviewed the Agenda for the evening, which Council members then approved.
( 13:30 -- 15:30 ) Public Comments regarding Agenda items -- New to the Council procedures, this period offered a chance for those in attendance to speak to any items to be addressed on the Agenda for the evening. One participant took advantage of the opportunity.
The city resident spoke briefly towards the city's plans to create an Accessibility Committee and called attention to some areas of the city where the issue of accessibility for residents is a challenge. He spoke of some of his past experiences in Toronto on similar themes and how he views the process for Prince Rupert as one that will be beneficial to the community, drawing attention to the needs of Seniors and their mobility requirements.
( 15:30 -- 24:55 ) Consent Agenda -- Another element new to the Council Sessions the elements from Monday evening included: The Mayor called attention to a pair items from the Agenda for Council, one related to Health themes and the other a proclamation request for International Purple Day.
Councillor Adey suggested that the items be put on the floor as an amendment for discussion.
Council minutes -- Council reviewed and adopted the minutes of the March 6 session.
North Coast Regional District Board Highlights (see page 6 from the Agenda)
Letter from Union of British Columbia Municipalities re: Provincial Response to 2022 Resolutions (see page 7 from the Agenda)
Letter from the Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Forests re: Interfor Corporate's Tenure Dispositions in Coastal British Columbia (see page 9 from the Agenda)
Email from LCRB Liquor Policy re: Bulletin 23-01 extension to TESA's to December 31, 2024 (see page 11 from the Agenda)
NCLGA member notice re: NCLGA Bylaw Review summary of proposed changes (see page 12 from the Agenda)
Email from Old Grow Engagement re: Multisectoral Regional workshop on implementing Old Growth Strategic Review (see page 20 from the Agenda)
Email from Alisa Thompson, ED for the North West Regional Hospital District re: BVDH replacement -- One of two items that had been flagged by Mayor Pound for some review, the discussion provided for a few concerns from Prince Rupert Council members when it came to how their support may impact on any plans for a new hospital in Prince Rupert.
Councillor Cunningham led off the discussion on that theme, expressing his concerns over the prospect of a letter of support for the Bulkley valley hospital, noting how it's already scheduled for replacement. From that he observed how the replacement for Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has now been dropped to fourth on the list.
Something which he noted would put any potential replacement for PRRH further back to 2040 at earliest. Now ahead of Prince Rupert is a replacement plan for Hazelton, with Councillor Cunningham noting how Northern Health is ignoring the entire western half of the Northwest.
Councillor Adey noted of the list and how that information needed to be brought out, to the theme of discussion he observed that by moving things forward the City could thus move further up as well.
Councillor Forster observed how there were two issues, one support for a new hospital in other communities while still speaking to the need for one in Prince Rupert. Noting how both communities need a new hospital and how all communities need to work together on the issue.
Councillor Cunningham returned to the process underway as to how Smithers planning is already in place and writing a letter seems to him irrelevant, noting of further concerns with Northern Health when it comes to how he sees things, the highway ends in Terrace.
He observed of rumours he's heard of that active recruitment of staff in Prince Rupert is taking place by Mills Memorial and how there is a need for Prince Rupert to continue to advocate for its hospital which he views as one that is being diminished.
Councillor Niesh had no issue with writing a letter of support for the Smithers facility, but also urged for more advocacy towards putting Prince Rupert back into its placement as the next one to be built after Smithers.
Councillor Adey also noted of the issue of advocacy, sharing the concerns in the room to find ways to advocate strongly that Prince Rupert's needs get met as soon as possible and to consider what role Council could play in moving that along.
With that they voted in favour of the amendment and the main recommendation which was carried. (see page 22 from the Agenda)
Email from Sonia Ali re: Proclamation Request for International Purple Day for Epilepsy Awareness (see page 23 from the Agenda)
The Council members adopted the Consent Agenda.
After some initial confusion on the structure of the Agenda listings by the Mayor, things were straightened out to reflect the Agenda package that had been posted to the City website. From that the proceedings continued as outlined.
( 24:55 -- 30:00 ) Report from the Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development re: Support for Development Accessibility Committee -- Council received a report along with the recommendation to direct staff to establish an Accessibility Committee and to advertise for membership to establish a committee of seven people.
The Corporate Administrator delivered the Report on behalf of the Manager of Communications noting how the City is looking to upgrade and improve on its policies that will meet both provincial requirements and the city's strategic planning.
Councillor Cunningham shared his enthusiasm for the Committee process ahead, noting of some areas of the city where there is work required to assist in mobility and accessibility, highlighting some of the areas of challenge for Seniors in the community.
Councillor Adey noted of how it was something that the province has put in place to by legislation and how it was something that they should do as it was a good thing to do, as well as to highlight the minimal cost for the city.
Councillor Forster also was strongly enthusiastic to the creation of the Committee to better understand what the public would like the city to do.
Council then voted to approve the recommendation of staff. (see page 25 from the Agenda)
( 30:00 -- 31:00 ) Report from The Corporate Administrator -- DVP 23-01 -- Recommendation that Council proceed to the statutory notification process for Development Variance Permit #23-01 -- Director Miller provided the background towards the process ahead that requires the public notification related to the variance for the property on.
Council approved the recommendation to forward it to public notification (see page 28 from the Agenda)
( 31:00 -- 43:00 ) City of Prince Rupert Adjudication Bylaw -- No. 3497, 2023 -- Council provided fourth and final approval to the Bylaw. -- Councillor Cunningham called attention to a change from the previous version of the Bylaw and the one now under consideration which removed one element, with a second one removed inadvertently.
It was returned to the Bylaw document under consideration.
Councillor Randhawa asked about the dispute process and the cost required for those seeking an adjudication on their tickets. Ms. Miller noted how that was an administration fee related to the adjudication process. The fee would only be charged following a review by the adjudication screen officer prior to the infraction moving forward to the adjudication process.
Councillor Cunningham asked for some further clarification related to the twenty five dollar fee, Ms Miller observed how the fee was only in place if the person receiving the ticket wished to move to adjudication.
A similar call for clarification from Councillor Forster provided for additional information towards the process, with the Corporate Administrator noting how the city would review the ticket and if determined that it was issued in error the process would end there. Only if the ticket was moving forward would it then go to adjudication, though the city would not necessarily provide the photo information that they used in the review.
Another question on fees from Councillor Randhawa provided for another go round at an explanation of how the fees would be administered, with Ms. Miller noting that the fee for adjudication was 25 dollars and is required for administrative purposes, then noting that if the cost of the violation is higher than the 25 dollars and the person wins their adjudication, then the savings are still rather good.
Councillor Adey then noted that some of the confusion of the past came from the term voluntary which reduced the will to pay the assessed fines and how this new process seem designed to improve on the stats; asking how often the city anticipates that a ticket may be contested and reach the adjudication stage.
Ms. Miller noted she could not speculate on that area, noting how the ticket is only voluntary until the assessed person chooses to pay or dispute the ticket, she also noted how the bylaw officer work is such that the ways and means for that tickets are correct, including evidentiary proof of infraction which in other jurisdictions has made for a 80 to 85 percent in compliance.
Councillor Niesh then asked if the word voluntary would then be removed from the ticket, to that Ms. Miller advised that the city cannot legally remove the wording, adding that it is voluntary for the first fourteen days at which time the person assessed the ticket has to weigh their options, the ticket is no longer considered voluntary after 14 days.
Councillor Cunningham continued on the theme of voluntary noting of the past mis-understanding and how 75 percent of the bylaw officers time has been wasted.
The Corporate Administrator outlined how the new process offers the city opportunity to forward tickets by mail, which frees up bylaw officer time and makes collection easier
Councillor Forster suggested that a wider overview of the process be included on the city's website, that served as an opportunity for Mr. Miller to outline the communication strategy that the city would put in place to help explain the process.
From there Mayor Pond called for the vote on the bylaw which was carried and approved. (see page 33 from the Agenda for background )
( 43:00 -- 57:51 ) Council Round Table and Comment Period
Councillor Adey led off the discussion around the room, the main focus for the conversation that of Friday's funding announcement by Premier David Eby that will see Prince Rupert receive 65 million dollars towards municipal water infrastructure replacement work.
The Councillor observing of his appreciation for the 'shot in the arm' provided by the province, noting that as will be discovered through the budgeting process it is massive help in a specific way, but doesn't necessarily address some of the other pressures that the city is under.
He also offered up hope some hope that the city can address some of the existing water related issues so the community is not as vulnerable as it has been in the last winter season.
Mayor Pond picked up on that theme, noting how it was important for people to understand that the Provincial money of Monday has nothing to do with lowering the city's operating costs and may actually oblige the city to spend more than planned.
Mr. Pond then used an analogy of renovating a house, with the roof needing a repair and that the bill to repair is beyond doing it yourself, and while someone helped you with the roof you still have to spend more to get it done.
He then observed of the range of other spending issues that the upcoming city Budget will have to address.
Councillor Randhawa also thanked the province for the funding and thanked staff for their work on the situation.
Councillor Forster also echoed that praise for the funding, while also sharing word of the work of the Library Board in moving forward with their strategic plan for the Library.
Councillor Cunningham, agreed with the Mayor's analogy on the civic work required, he also observed how the one shot big infusions of funding are not solving the problems, noting of the need to settle such issues as the RBA, the Tax Cap issues and such.
He noted how if the city was to find success with the RBA issue they would have a steady stream of 6-8 million dollars in funding per year towards some of those issues.
He also noted of the provincial response to the City's UBCM resolution of September 2022 and how the ability to tax utilities on secondary suites is also important to the community as that's an added burden to those who do ay utility taxes and which results in the constant rise of utility rates.
Mayor Pond added to that, noting how the utilities, water, sewer and solid waste are all paid through the utility rates collected at the start of the year.
Councillor Skelton-Morven also paid tribute to the work of staff and previous members of Council for the work towards the recent funding announcement, noting as well of the range of other work to be done ahead and his hope to see the Federal Government share some of that burden as well.
For his part Mr. Pond paid his own tributes to the work of MLA Jennifer Rice and how she helped to bring the city and province together, he also noted of the work of MP Taylor Bachrach towards bringing the city's concerns to light.
The Mayor observing this past weekend that it was the MP who made sure that a recent touring group of MP's were brought to City Hall to hear of the city's concerns and what the issues that need attention are.
He also singled out how the work of senior staff and the management team at City Hall was instrumental in the work, noting how four Senior managers are all Prince Rupert born and raised and products of the public school system.
The Mayor noting by name CFO Corinne Bomben, Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller, Operations Director Richard Pucci and Economic Development Officer Paul Venditelli.
From their work Mr. Pond noted of the credibility that the city has had with provincial officials.
The Mayor also carried on further with the theme of how Friday's announcement of 65 million dollars while a helpful and a fantastic week, how the bigger issues remain, how some of the current waterline issues will take a number of years to address.
Returning to his analogy of earlier of a work in progress, Mr Pond observed how Prince Rupert was on a four to five year Renovate Rupert program and that it will provide challenges for the community.
To conclude his comments offered his kudos to the Council membership current and those of the past, noting service on a council is not a sprint but a relay race, adding that the race isn't over.
With that as a final thought he then called for adjournment.
Adjournment -- The Mayor brought the session to a close.
You can access our Council Archive for March 20 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.
Council next meets on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 which will be a special Committee of the Whole related to the 2023 Budget process.
That session starts at 7PM.