Friday, September 29, 2023

Water lines may be leaking, but City Hall's information sharing at times is lacking

Mayor Pond with a piece
of aging pipe

(from Mayor's FB)
The Wednesday Breakfast presentation from Mayor Herb Pond at Arabisk at Seal Cove has made for a bit of conversation around town and seemingly a grab your eyes headline for the local newspaper.

Though from it all, what's lacking so far is a more expansive relay from the City as to just what the Mayor shared with those who purchased their memberships with the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce for admission to the members only morning event.

The headline and story that came out of the Breakfast speech provided a wee overview of the presentation, a rare bit of coverage of civic themes for the local paper over the last few months.  

A quick look into the recent archives of the Northern View's City Hall notes, offers up a somewhat less than extensive list of stories, compared to some of the other focus items that come from their Besner Block offices across the street from City Hall.

Still the headline certainly served as a good source of clicks we imagine from their subscribers.

Screen shot of yesterday's story in the 
Northern View available for its subscribers

Now the news that we've been on the verge of full evacuation, much like the photo that the paper used for its story yesterday, goes back quite a few months to December 2022.  

A topic first noted by MLA Jennifer Rice on December 22nd which made for some of the key narrative to the start of our year of water woes.  

Though it's not clear from the story,  if the Mayor noted for the Chamber crowd any other instances since the State of Local Emergency last year, as to when peril may have been once again close.

As the screen shot above illustrates, for those that don't subscribe to the local paper, or have used up their free viewing credits, the story ends with just a few lines ... leaving you to Google and a search of the headline for a non pay wall version to catch up on.

As it is, there wasn't much else new to the past narrative from the Mayor in the story from the Northern View, other than a few quotes from Mr Pond.

Among those culled from his comments to the Breakfast meeting: 

The extensive stall on federal funding to fix the city’s pipes has meant the city has gone millions of dollars over its annual budget, and have been unable to do long-lasting, impactful work on the water system.  

That's a train of thought that probably should be expanded on by Council and leads nicely into the other quote from Mr Pond. 

A commentary which noted how the City Council and staff have perhaps not been as transparent and accountable on those topics as they often say local government is. 

"He also admitted to the Chamber that the city has, in the past, not been fully forthcoming about the extent of the problem."

Now that last quote is a bit of a problem all to itself, for if they have one job down at 424 -Third Avenue West; that should be to to be forthcoming with the public to the issues that at the end of the day the public will have to pay to resolve.

Whether there were any other startling revelations for the gathering, they didn't make it into the final draft of the Black Press story and as has been noted on the city's social media stream, no recording or notes from the meeting seem to be available to share with the public.

There are some options for City Council and the Mayor to expand on when it comes to the themes from Wednesday and for any in the future.  

They have the above mentioned social media stream, a civic website, a YouTube page and an engagement portal, Rupert Talks.

To be fair the City has made use of all of the above previous to provide some past information  on the issues of the water infrastructure; so providing a Cole's notes style recap of the Wednesday session from the Mayor's memory of the event shouldn't be hard to provide.

Of course, there is another forum available for such commentary, that's the City Council session.  

Earlier this month, City Council met for only ten minutes following a lengthy presentation on Heat Pumps,  a meeting that they had moved forward so they could attend a night time event, the topic of which they have yet to share with the public.  

That September 11th session might have been a grand opportunity for the Mayor to work out some of the  themes for his Arabisk speech and  to update the community on the focus he was going to bring to that gathering.

When it comes to information sharing, the City Council meetings should be the public default location for all notes on the current situation and others that occur.  

That so the rest of Council can weigh in to give residents an idea as to what they contribute to the conversation and to put it on the official record.

Residents really shouldn't have to pony up the cost of Membership with the Chamber of Commerce; or subscribe to the local paper to hear word of vital information about how the city is addressing its largest ongoing concern.

There is something positive coming out of the Chamber get together though, fielding questions on the City's Social Media page, Veronika Stewart, the City's Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development noted of some plans in the future for a community forum.

Hopefully, someone takes notes and brings a video camera.

More items of  interest on the city's infrastructure themes can be reviewed here.

A look at past Council Discussion topics can be explored here.


  1. There are a terrible lot of people in the council chambers that promoted transparency.

    Mr. Pucchi doesn't attend a lot of council meetings. He should be available to council every meeting. In person. This didn't happen overnight. It has been years in the making. Time to get back to just the basics until such time as the city is on a more level keel. Council should be asking questions!

  2. When elected officials are less than transparent with the electorate, it is appropriate to ask what they might be hiding.

  3. Herb in all fairness should make the same speech at the next council meeting. Am I right Veronika ?

  4. The 45 minute doomsday example works behind closed doors at the UBCM to help create funding urgency at senior levels of government.
    But saying it in a public forum has single handedly eroded property values and sent potential investment in Rupert elsewhere.
    Herb, you stepped in it.