Friday, April 14, 2023

Alternative thoughts towards McCarthy building Operations plans gain little traction from Council Session

The topic of the City of Prince Rupert's plans for a shift of its Operations Department to the former McCarthy GM Automobile showroom made for some focus as part of the public commentary period for the 2023 City Budget on Tuesday.

The plans were the subject of some discussion for resident Terry Sawka who had questions both about the cost of the lease, prospects to own and the need in the first place for the relocation.

"The question I have is, I understand that the city has purchased or in negotiations to lease the McCarthy property ... so which is it, purchased or is it leased."

Mayor Pond confirmed that the city had leased the property, with an option to purchase.

Mr. Sawka followed up with some questions towards the cost of the lease, something which the Mayor could not answer for him.

Though it's not clear why Mr. Pond did not call on any of the Senior Staffers on hand for the session to provide the answer to what seems like a sensible question towards the use of civic money.

A follow up question related to the cost of renovations to the property for the use of the Operations Department provided for a short overview of the plans by the Mayor.

"I understand that the city is going to borrow 2 million dollars to renovate, to accommodate lockers, washrooms ..."

Mayor Pond outlined the plan towards that renovation and where the funding for it would come from,

"There is a plan to renovate the building and I believe Legacy Prince Rupert is funding that ... revenues from Watson Island. 

The condition of the current maintenance yard is no longer safe for employees and so we have to find a new place for our maintenance crews. 

And it's a Health and Safety issue,this is substantially cheaper alternative than building a new building I'm told"

Mr. Sawka questioned that approach to the move, noting that it may be better to use the existing area for the required updates.

"On that, don't you think it would be cheaper to utilize the property that you have now, where half the property out there is shops and offices and lunchrooms; and the other half is sand storage and junk and suff like that.

Where you could clear that part of the property off, put up some steel bridges and tear the other side down later. It doesn't cost that much to put up a steel building, I've put up steel buildings, they're fairly  cheap especially when they're gong to be used for garages or things like that nature.

Versus, paying a whole lot of money, two million dollars to renovate a building that you may not get to own? And if you do, what's the cost of the building, there must be a number in there somewhere"

Mayor Pond noted that he did't have the information but would get back with it,.

"Oh yeah, absolutely, and again, I didn't come prepared to answer that specific question, so we're taking down that information and we'll get that for you"

The topic of the Operations Department relocation also made for some review as part of report for Council delivered by the City's Operations Director Richard Pucci, his notes related to the decision to move to the McCarthy facility stressed areas such as Health and Safety, risk of landslide

"We've been talking about it for a while, the current facility right now has Health and Safety concerns. It's actually built on part of a garbage dump, so the soil conditions there for a new build isn't great. 

It is in a slide zone as well, so geo-technically its in a very not really favourable area. It doesn't get a lot of light, and so the moulds and mildews build up there.

So the new place, where we're planning to move is closer to the community, more efficient, more effective.  I think that we'll still retain the yard  ... for material lay down and all of  that.

But the new facility is really the right fit for us. It's taking and combining three smaller buildings that we have and the leaky portables that we have right now and getting everyone into one place, where everyone can be safe and secure and report to in the morning. So we're quite pleased about that.

And that one is supported by Legacy as well, which is great and there isn't any tax implications associated with that"

A synopsis of Mr. Pucci's comments is included in his wider Capital Spending report from Tuesday which you can read here.

You can review both contributions to the discussion on the McCarthy building plans from the City's Video Archive Mr. Sawka's commentary and questions  start at the 19:30 minute mark, Mr. Pucci's overview starts at  the 44:30 mark. 


An option that wasn't mentioned during any of the discussion on the need for a new facility for Operations was the opportunity to perhaps begin development of land along Wantage Road that has been pegged in the past for a range of uses.

The area of a proposed Work Camp on Wantage Road
back in the days of LNG development planning

The topic of an industrial park of sorts for the area  was first noted back in 2014 when an area along Wantage had been identified as suitable for a Work Camp/Industrial lay down area, that back in the heady days when Prince Rupert thought it would be the Northwest leader for LNG development.

The LNG plans faded one by one over the years, though the Wantage Road development plans continue to be on the books.

So, the shift of the Operations Department to that area might have made for a helpful kick start to the larger ambitions for that area of land and development of Wantage Road as another corridor to the Port.

Some more background on those 2014 plans, as well as the original concept of a port bypass road can be reviewed here.

While the topic seems to still be one of some interest for the public, the impression from the Council Session of Tuesday is that of a project moving forward, with no apparent interest for a review of alternative options.

Whether the public is content to accept that decision is something that may come up again on April 24th when the final Budget consultation session takes place at City Hall.

More notes from Tuesday's Council Session can be explored here.

Our Budget Discussion Archive themes are available for review here.

While notes from the Operations Department can be found from our archive page here.


  1. "there isn't any tax implications associated with that"

    There kind of is,

    The time it is taking your team to work out the details with contractors, architects, etc.

    Is time taken away from organizing street sweeping or repairing pot holes, or installing dog waste bag stations at the salt marsh.

    Your team's time away from day to day civic operations is a tax implication.

    Will those craters in front of smiles be fixed before or after you pick out the bidets for your new location?

    1. The city doesn't seem to include their employee's time on any projects as cost to the project.
      I don't think any of the work is costed. If so I would love to see their square for cost on asphalt patching!

  2. Geo-tech report on slide potential please this should be made public.

  3. Is this space all for the city or are we renting some of this?
    Added to this cost is the demolition / dismantling of existing structures. This should also be added to the cost.
    We obviously can't use the existing area because of land slide hazard. Why are we even there now if it is unsafe.