Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Power of Petition, attendance in gallery brings a second look at status of 4th Avenue walkway to downtown

A large delegation from the Fourth Avenue West area was at Council
on Tuesday with concerns over the Closed status of the
walkway between their area and downtown

A large delegation of residents of the Fourth Avenue West area attended Tuesday's Prince Rupert City Council session, backing up their recent petition drive to seek immediate attention to the currently closed Walkway between their neighbourhood and the downtown area.

The sizeable number of those in attendance for the public comment period applauded loudly following a presentation from  John Patterson, who provided for the largest share of the narrative on the night.

He outlined the history of the closure of the pathway which came following a storm which sent a large tree tumbling to the  walkway, as well as to note of the volume of people that use the pathway and observed on how improving accessibility in the community is part of the Official Community Plan.'

Mr. Patterson offered up some simple advice towards the issue which has now gone on for over four months:

"As far as the cost in my humble opinion, public works has a couple of chain saws and the additional cost would be the railings which would be minimal and with a city budge of what is it thirty million, fifty million? If we can't find twenty thousand to fix that pathway we're in trouble"

He called for the City to take the bull by the horns and advise public works to make the repairs the number one priority, noting of a change recently  towards the signage on the pathway.

"The original sign said permanently closed, then they changed it to temporarily closed, and you know what it means the same damn thing, same thing, so we want some action" 

He noted of the irony of the previous presentation on access to trails in the community and how in this instance an existing and popular trail remains closed

Ms. Jones followed up with a reference to the Official Community Plan and its desire for walkability and how the Trail was featured in the documentation. She also observed that more than just the residents of the area make use of the trail but many other residents and tourists do as well.

Brian Musgrave also spoke to the Trail issue, observing to the vast volume of people that use the trail beyond the neighbourhood, noting that with Cruise passengers in town, many wish to see the Church on Fourth Avenue but the access to it is now restricted in access to it.

He also observed on the lack of maintenance that the City put towards the pathway and staircase in recent years and how the City has a responsibility towards to get it cleaned up and to maintain it, as well as to make it a priority.

"The City in the time that I've been there. I think part of the issue is, is lack of maintenance. I don't think I've ever seen that thing power washed, I know there was that a contractor did some work maybe there or four years ago for the City ... But the big thing is, as a city you've got responsibilities for the whole city.  You've got responsibilities of liabilities on assets there. 

The reality is, is that we are in a unique spot especially  from like I say the Grocery stores and the Cruise ships and the  amount of people coming through. I like John say it should be a priority, we know there's other walkways that have issues. 

But if we can have somebody that can drive around on a Sunday and pick up garbage we can get somebody to start cleaning our walkways and increase that accessibility that is there" 

Further into the Council session, the topic returned for Discussion led by Councillor Nick Adey who noted of the passionate defence of the trail by those in attendance.

"Clearly this a subject of great interest, a significant number of people have taken the time to come and see us, a significant number of people have signed a petition.  

So I think we need to acknowledge that and I also know that it has been raised in previous meetings and the standing circumstance is that as we speak, it is something that is not budgeted for, there's issues around budgeting for resolving this problem.

So I think where we need to go with this is to ask staff to consider who we might develop a proposal that will work in terms of getting this problem solved without necessarily compromising too much in terms of other things that we may have to deal with -- Councillor Nick Adey

We noted of the past explanations of the situation from the Operations Manager as part of our preview of Tuesday's petition drive.

Tuesday's push back from the community, also provided for a few thoughts from the City Manager, with Rob Buchan charting a possible path ahead.

 "I would like to lend my support on the idea that the matter be referred to staff for a report, outlining the issues and potential costs, process and budget implications for opening the stairway sooner than later"

Councillor Adey suggested a timeline of a report by the next Council meeting, something which the City Manager noted he would have to discuss with the  Operations Manager.

"We hear the urgency, we'll have it back as soon as we can, but I can't commit that the full assessment would be able to be done in time for the next meeting, we'll try"

Mayor Pond noting that he doesn't want to set staff up to fail, observed that the deliver of the report should be as soon as possible.

You can review the full commentary from the public comment period from the City's Video archive staring at the 21 minute mark, the City Council discussion and decision to refer it city staff for a fuller review can be found at the 46 minute mark

More notes from Tuesday's Council session can be reviewed through our Council Timeline Feature

Other infrastructure themes are explored as part of our archive page here.


  1. Crazy this story gets more coverage then the port’s AGM numbers

    1. LOL you do like to spam the blog comments page don't you ... NCR

    2. Hey anti port person. I have a question would the money the city spent on the must have new city logo have been enough to fix the walkway. It is all about priorities.

  2. It is time the city reviews the paths all over the city. The inconvenience created by closed paths is not acceptable. I am glad people are starting to push back at the city and I hope it continues.

  3. Sadly, the likely response from the city will be to partner with local residents to fix the staircase and apply a local area improvement surcharge to those neighbourhood residents.

    The idea was floated back in 2021 due to laneway neglect.

    Search for NCR article
    “Council looks towards potential shared partnership with residents on some infrastructure issues”

    Great to see some real people’s business happening at city hall. We need more turnouts like that.

    1. I doubt that. The discussion referred to in the 2021 NCR article was about owners possibly sharing the costs of lanes that would improve access to their individual properties but provide little or no benefit to the general public. The 4th Avenue walkway, in contrast, has been a benefit to the general public. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

  4. For too long council has worked for the administer and not on behalf of the people they represent.
    I doubt it but it sure would be nice for council to find a voice and quit rubber stamping Mr. Pucchi’s biddings.

  5. A few short weeks ago, Mayor Pond made the following statement,
    "There is a management team in place here at City Hall that any other community would kill for. "
    Now, our Mayor is concerned that a single stair case may set city staff up to fail?

    1. The star-studded line up Herb speaks of hasn't done that good a job at the Belmont.

      Where is the pride!

  6. Kudos to that neighbourhood for standing up to a passive aggressive council, city manager, and operations director. The population of this city is quite pragmatic and understands the challenges council and administration face, but I hope the city administration doesn't underestimate how we feel about their message projecting that they are 'saving the city'. Welding a sign that says permanently closed and then changing it to temporary really illustrates how tone deaf they are. The city's answer, 'we are understaffed and overworked!'. Always pointing the finger at something or someone else when its bad news, pointing the finger at themselves when its good news.
    I recall reading that the city is looking to replace their website?

    1. Hahah. Passive aggressive is exactly what they were under the previous mayor. Always looking for both praise and sympathy for being paid to do their job (although I'm still not sure why the mayor role is paid full time). I'm hoping that they learned that strategy of what you accurately describe as 'we're Spartacus - Doing our best to save the city!' is now in the past and they can just do their job given citizen accountability is not just an ask.