Thursday, November 30, 2023

Showtime For Charles Hay's Secondary production of "Something Rotten" as three night run begins tonight

The ensemble is ready for showtime !
As Charles Hays Secondary presents Something Rotten tonight
Friday and Saturday nights at the Lester Centre of the Arts 
(image from Alison O'Toole/Lester Centre of the Arts)

The path to the stage of the Lester Centre tonight began just after the start of school in September for the cast, crew, musicians and production team for 'Something Rotten' the project that was taken on by students of Alison O'Toole, the latest edition of an annual Prince Rupert holiday season tradition.

It's been a busy month since we last took a look at the then still in development  work.

The days of rehearsals, set building, costume designing, fittings and all of the behind the scenes activities that take them to show time now behind them, just a few hours left now before the curtain goes up on Opening night, the start of the three night run for the eclectic look at the world of Shakespeare.

The weekend of performances arriving as part of Prince Rupert's Winterfest, with the Charles Hays students setting the pace for the weekend of fun ahead for the community. The collective ready to show their acting and musical skills to the level that audiences have come to expect from a CHSS Production.

Earlier this month, Ms. O'Toole, let curious theatre goers in on their progress with some snapshots of the preparations with just a few weeks to go.

Opening night curtain rises tonight at 7:30 PM, shows follow at the same start time on Friday night and the cast, musicians and crew bid farewell to their audience on Saturday night when the three nights come to a close.

Ticket information on all three nights can be accessed through the Lester Centre website.

More items of note on School District 52 can be reviewed here.

Items of interest on Arts and Entertainment on the North Coast can be explored here.

Winterfest Trolley Rides sure to be a hit on Saturday

Normally seen during the Cruise ship season, the Olde Time Trolley's will be back on the streets this Saturday as the Bright Red Trolleys take Winterfest participants out for a tour of Prince Rupert.

The Winterfest Specials departing and arriving from the  Court house the centre of Winterfest activities for the annual winter community festival.

The Trolley tours get underway at 2 PM and will continue through to 6PM, just in time for the Lighting of the Trees on the Court House Lawn.

The funding for the four hours of trolley travel come from a range of partners which includes:

DP World 
City of Prince Rupert 
Prince Rupert Port Authority 

Follow the Prince Rupert Special Events social media stream for updates on the Trolley rides and all of the Winterfest activities.

Some of our notes on this years Winterfest can be reviewed here

BC Ferries seeks your opinion on replacement for the legendary Pacific Buffet

It was one of the most popular features for Ferry Travellers that have made the transit between Vancouver and Vancouver Island over the years, with the BC Ferries Pacific Buffet almost something of legend worthy of its own theatre production.

The popular service was introduced in the 1970's but came to an end temporarily during the years of COVID, the decision to make the temporary permanent came in June of this year.

Alas, the times have changed and the Buffet is no more with BC Ferries now seeking some input from hits customers as to what could be the next evolution for their dining requirements aboard their vessels.

Towards that, BC Ferries has launched a survey to seek the guidance of the public as to what may come next.

Those with a few thoughts to the topic can share them through the survey which is available here

The Pacific Buffet survey is the next stage of what has been an online consultation process by BC Ferries called Charting the Course, their vision plan for Coastal Ferries in the years ahead.

You can review more information on BC Ferries through our archive page.

Fire Service comparisons between Prince Rupert/Terrace, local service arrangements make for Council Budget Discussion sidebar

Some themes related to Fire Protection in Prince Rupert made 
for some discussion at Monday's Council session

The theme of Fire Protection in the community made for a short conversation around the larger topic of the 2024 City of Prince Rupert budget on Monday evening, the Conversation starter coming from Councillor Teri Forster who noted of one of the correspondences from the Budget simulation program

Towards that the Councillor sought out some clarification on the similarities or differences between the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue service and that in neighbouring Terrace.

"Someone made the comment that Terrace Fire Department is volunteer, my understanding is that the Terrace Fire Department is not volunteer but the Thornhill Fire Department is volunteer, is that correct?"

Mayor Pond fielded that question with a short overview of the differences between the two services.

"I think Terrace and believe me if there is somebody in the room can speak even more accurately than me, but Terrace has full time complement smaller and then a volunteer fire, so they do have professional firefighters but they don't have the full complement that we have of twenty something"

Councillor Barry Cunningham followed up with an account of a conversation he had with the Terrace Fire chief.

"I actually spoke to the Fire Chief there today, they have twelve full time and they're going to more. And they have eight volunteers and the eight volunteers are now being paid ... on a call out basis and that's paid for training as well as called out to a fire.

So you. know, the conception that Terrace is strictly volunteer is totally wrong. Thornhill is volunteer, but Terrace like us responds to fires in Thornhill  as a service agreement"

The Councillor also returned to a topic he addressed at the last Council session, that related to services that the Prince Rupert Fire/Rescue Department provides to port related properties.

"I brought it up last meeting about the budget and us responding to Port properties and that, when we don't have a service agreement with them. 

Now two questions. 

I don't know if we can answer here is liability of our firefighters when they're on property where we don't have a service agreement  with them. 

And the other thing is do we charge these people back when we do go to attend a fire, a property asset fire in those areas."

Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben who was also serving as Acting City Manager on the night, for the vacationing City Manager Rob Buchan, provided some observations to the Councillors questions.

"I can say that our Fire Chief would not put the staff in harms way for something that they are not trained for and that we only respond presently to office building type fires we wouldn't respond any special emergency response, they're not trained for that" 

Mr. Cunningham did note that in at least one instance in the past, the PRFD did respond to a fire at the Drax, then Pinnacle Pellet plant on the waterfront, that a reference to a 2021 incident at the facility

Ms. Bomben's reply reinforced that the fire service would not respond to a fire that they were not trained for.

"Yes, but I'm not qualified to be able to say whether that's within their training, I would imagine so or else they wouldn't have asked them to respond to that"

Mayor Pond noted how the answers to those concerns may soon be coming back to Council in the future.

"I was going to say that if Dr. Buchan was here, he would talk more fully about  the fact that a bylaw will be coming back to Council, clarifying precisely what it is that we are prepared to do for our industrial clients and members of the community.  

And it does very much ensure that our firefighters are not put in a position  where they are liable for work that is outside of their scope, or training or equipment"  

The short tutorial on Fire protection in Prince Rupert can be reviewed through the City's Video Archive starting at the six minute Mark.

More notes on the Monday Council Session can be reviewed from our Session archive page.

Some of the work of the Fire/Rescue services of the Northwest can be reviewed through our Emergency Responders Archive.

Unique opportunity ahead to explore Science World in Prince Rupert this Sunday afternoon

This weekend brings a special event to the Prince Rupert Library, with The Science World Road Show pulling into Prince Rupert's House of Reading on Sunday.

The event takes place in the Library's Multipurpose room starting at 3 PM

The Science World Road Show offers up fun, high energy demonstrations and activities for communities outside of the Lower Mainland, their efforts on the road funded by donors to allow them to cover as much of BC as they can each year.

Prince Rupert is just one stop on a busy schedule along the Highway 16 corridor

Follow the tour through their Social media stream

The Prince Rupert Library shared some background on the Sunday event through their Social Media stream last week.

Follow their social media stream for any updates on the way to the Science World tour arrival.

More notes on Community Events can be explored through our archive page.

Accessibility Report for Council highlights progress to date

There wasn't a lot of attention given to the update from the Accessibility Committee which was delivered to City Council on Monday night as part of their Consent Agenda, perhaps as the Council members had exhausted their conversation themes during the Budget discussion previous. 

However, the report from Veronica Stewart,  Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development did get flagged by Mayor Herb Pond for some attention by the public suggesting residents give some time to a quick review of the document.

The Mayor noting of the good work of Committee which is chaired by Miss Stewart.

In her review of the Accessibility Committees progress to date, she outlined the work to date towards the development of an Accessibility plan, which will see some of the elements forwarded to such community partners as Northern Health and Thompson Community Services, along with a public engagement project to come in 2024.

Among some of the progress found to date:

Accessibility Upgrades to the second-floor washroom of the Rec Centre (contingent on grant funding); The above-noted project to make minor accessibility improvements at the pool

Complete Communities assessment that will develop a walkability/complete streets metric to support prioritization of accessibility in transportation corridor upgrades 

Installation of three new or replacement bus shelters in the community, built to accessible standard; 

Upgrades to the light at Fulton St and 3rd Avenue West that will include accessibility chirps 

Completion of the Social Development Assessment that will also include the development of a poverty reduction/equity policy lens toolkit that can be used internally to assess City policy making.

Ms. Stewart also noted of work towards accessibility that will be implemented as part of the move by North Coast Regional District to their new offices on Second Avenue West.

The Accessibility Committee put out the all for members back in March of this year , the initiative a well received one by some of the council membership at the time.

The report for Council can be reviewed below:

click to enlarge

More notes from Monday's City Council session can be reviewed here.

MLA/MP set to share Good Holiday cheer Friday at Prince Rupert constituency office

Good cheer and conversation are on tap for 
MLA Rice and MP Bachrach on Friday

Tis the season for Open Houses, and for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice and Taylor Bachrach the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley Friday brings their annual Holiday period Open House.

Just in time for Winterfest the provincial and federal politicians will be opening the doors to the constituency office in the Ocean Centre Mall.

The Doors open at 5 PM Friday evening,  with the ninety minute get together to wrap up around 6:30PM

Find out more about the Open House from the event page.

You can follow the two Northwest politicians through their social media streams.

North Coast MLA Rice

Skeena-Bulkley Valley  MP Bachrach

More notes related to community events can be reviewed here.

Fourth Avenue Walkway spurs Budget conversation/defers any decisions until 2024

The long running debate on how to fix and how to pay for the reopening of the 4th Avenue Walkway and staircase made for a good portion of Monday night's budget conversation by Prince Rupert City Councillors, though the concept of an additional tax of 1.07 per cent tagged onto to the 7.7 percent rate set in the Budget clearly wasn't going to make much traction on the night.

The topic came up at the outset of the near sixty minutes of Budget conversation, flagged as an item of interest by Councillor Nick Adey who had noted of the correspondences and interest that the topic had generated in the civic consultation period.

We outlined how the walkway had resonated with the civic engagement participants, our notes from Monday providing a glimpse into their correspondences as well as the Capital project options that had been presented by CFO Corinne Bomben.

Monday night we gained some insight into where each of the councillors that participated in the topic during the discussion, viewed the near one year closure of the walkway and how to address the remediation required to reopen it.

Councillor Nick Adey led off on that theme,  observing of the public commentary received towards the Budget and walkway issue related to discretionary spending.

"I don't really see anybody rooting for an increase beyond the 7.7 percent and I say that knowing that advocates for the stairway on 4th Avenue, advocates for a renewal of the Lester Centre contract, must be aware that getting what they would want is asking for it to be beyond the 7.7 percent.

And I should say that I think that those initiatives are worth supporting, I would very much like in fact fund a quarter of a million dollars to build a stairway, because I think we are going to one way or another some point in the next year or two, quite likely commit ourselves to doing.

I guess the question is when and how that gets funded."

Towards that funding issue, the Councillor expanded on his theme of moving the initiatives forward, offering some hope of additional provincial funding for the city in 2024.

"With that in mind, I wonder if there could be some thought put into a couple of possibilities, we're into the month of November and if I understand the process correctly, the actual final budget is not approved until May.

So what I would like to suggest is that, in the event that the city's revenue streams are positively impacted by potential future decisions by the provincial government, perhaps as early as their 2024 budget. 

That we should consider a commitment towards those particular initiatives as a kind of first call for is this somewhere we can support improvements, particularly the stairway I think.  Because I think the community interest is quite high for people in that neighbourhood and I think that it's as I say, I think it's something that we're going end up doing at some point anyway.

So I would like us to feel, that if there is a change in the revenue situation that we would bring these things back as a point of consideration"   

Councillor Teri Forster had a question for the CFO related to the city's use of dividends and how those could factor into council's view of the issue.

"I did have a question about ...  potential funding for the stairway. 

I understand that dividends come as one time payments, so they're not supposed to be things that would be ongoing,  they would be a one time thing.

I'm not certain I understand why if we were to go with the stairway it would be taxation versus a dividend unless it's simply just because there's not enough money to pay for it from a dividend.

So I'm just wondering if I can understand that a bit better and I also assume, and this is an assumption, that we've already looked a grants, active living grants, different grants that could pay for some of this stairway and maybe they're pending, maybe they're not?"

Ms. Bomben first reviewed the grant process the city follows to the topic. 

"We have been looking for grants, but active transportation is a very hot topic right and there will continue to be active transportation grants availability, so we will be looking again in 2024 for grant opportunity that could help fund the stairs. 

As Councillor Adey mentioned, the process is right now we're asking for direction to do the five year plan but we fully expect that we will be back in front of you in the spring, to possibly bring forward an amendment. 

And if there's any other revenues and grants for instance that could help go towards the stairs at the point we would certainly be willing to bring that forward"

On the query from the councillor on dividends, Ms. Bomben noted how the 250,000 cost was a big ask of the dividend option. 

"As far as the dividend goes, the answer is yes, it wasn't considered ... 250,000 dollars is a big amount, there's already quite a bit that's going to be dividended for 2023, that's a really long and awkward word. 

And then of course there's about 4 million dollars worth of dividends that is proposed, the annual revenues on Watson Island through Legacy is 4 million dollars. So it was just one of those items, that it didn't benefit the entire community, instead of one segment to seemed like that we could possibly get some grants for."

Councillor Barry Cunningham observed of the decisions that the city has to make with many groups that have many wants, while the city has limited resources to meet those.

"Well, you know, it's stairs versus the Lester Centre,  versus parks, versus Enhancement Grants. You know like I remember Councillor Adey a few of months ago on about parks on the west side of town and things like that. 

So you know, we've gotta make tough choices here whether we like it or not. And you know there's groups in each segment that want more money, we don't have the money to give. So you know like it's unfortunate it is what it is. 

I know that Staff will be looking actively to find ... the stairs seem to be a priority, but ah the Lester Centre is definitely looking for money and needs it. Parks, we need parks and there's people lobbying for that. So we've got to take it all into stride and try to make the best decision for the town. It's unfortunate, the buck stops here"

Councillor Wade Niesh spoke to the theme of what he called civic 'extras', flagging the Fourth Avenue walkway issue, noting that it was just one of many pathways that the city has closed over the years.

"You know, I understand that people want  to see a pathway on Fourth Avenue, but there's paths that have been closed all over this town over the last fifteen years and this is not just one path, it's not the only path.  There's paths all over the place that are closed.

I mean when I used to have dogs, I used to walk many of the paths, there's many paths that have signs that say closed and you know people just go through them still. 

(something the Mayor noted was not recommended)

I'm not saying do it, I'm just saying these trails, Fourth Avenue is not the only one now is there options, yes there is. People can walk to the end of Fourth and walk down Service Park, people 
can walk down the other street and go down McBride. 

Is it ideal maybe not, but there is options"

The Councillor raised one option that could make for some controversy related to the topic, noting of a proposal from 2021 and the days of City Manager Robert Long and current City Manager Rob Buchan's time as the city's contract planner.   

That of the idea of Local Area Service Agreements for neighbourhoods looking for improvements.

 "There was some conversations we had in the past, about I'm trying to remember what it was called ... Local Service Agreement I believe it was called ... Local Area Service so you know, that people that are impacted the most by something that can affect them. Then they can actually agree to a tax increase for their area, if they can you know justify to the people in their area that they use that particular item. 

And those people in that area can actually pay an additional amount of taxes on their's over a period of twenty years to pay for something.  So you know there is that option too, if they feel strongly about that trail getting done right away.

I can't justify having the whole community pay another what was it, one percent to pay for that trial so I had to oppose that at the time. I would love to be able to you know do it, but it's just not there"

Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa did not speak directly to the pathway issue, though his comments towards how the Legacy Fund is used highlighted such areas as capital spending projects.

The Mayor observed, that if they were to use that money for one capital project, they would have to decide which of the existing project proposals would have to be eliminated to re-allocate the money.

The placement of the walkway on City Council's list of priorities for 2024 likely will continue to be the focus of those advocating for the reopening of the transportation links.

An additional resolution was added to the Budget considerations on the night, that from Councillor Adey 

That towards how to fund the Fourth Avenue Stairs and for Council to work with staff to explore opportunities for funding, or realize changes in revenue streams.

"A request that staff explore ways in which to either exploit opportunities that arise between now and May in the form of grants or changes in our funding, to move towards hopefully finding a way to get those stairs built" -- Councillor Nick Adey

Councillor Cunningham noted that Staff were already looking for alternative funding options for the walkway project.

The Walkway discussion ebbs and flows through the Budget discussion which you can review through the city's video archive below, the topic is introduced at the 14 minute mark:

More notes from Monday's Council Session can be reviewed from our session archive page.

A look at some of the history of the quest by 4th Avenue west residents to have the walkway reopened can be reviewed below:

November 8 -- Budget proposal would see 4th Avenue Walkway/Staircase remediation work by way of 250,000 dollar tax increase to Budget plan
October 23 -- Fourth Avenue Walkway status is subject of report for Council tonight
October 13 -- Brush clearing along 4th Avenue walkway, prelude to further geo tech investigation 
September 1 -- Prince Rupert's Tale of Two Staircases 
May 24 -- Power of petition, attendance in gallery brings a second look at status of 4th Avenue walkway to downtown 
May 23 -- Petition Push calls for City to repair walkway/staircase between 4th Avenue West and 3rd West
May 5 -- Plans for Staircase pathway repairs not on immediate horizon for City Operations Department 

The walkway had also made for a short comment back on April 11th, that during the Council comment period at the end of the session.

More notes from City Council themes is available from our archive page here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

City outlines proposed amendment to the 2023 Financial plan related to costs of ongoing water breaks


They may be in the final stages of finishing up their work on the 2024 budget, but an announcement from Tuesday out of City Hall shows just how much of an evolving thing Financial planning is when you are dealing with infrastructure issues.

A Social media post from yesterday, notes of a proposed amendment for the 2023 Financial Plan, with some details on the changes to the water fund.

The following are changes to the Water fund proposed by 2023 FIVE YEAR FINANCIAL PLAN AMENDMENT BYLAW NO. 3525, 2023 (See table image and click the link at the bottom of this post to see a bigger image). 

 These changes are proposed to address expenses not anticipated when the initial Financial Plan was adopted in May. 

 The proposed changes will not result in any change to City servicing levels or approved operating budgets, instead using funds from interest income, reserves and temporary internal borrowing from the land reserve.

Included in their information sharing is a listing of the proposed amendments.

As they note in their social media post. 

This Bylaw was introduced and read by City Council at the Regular Meeting of Council November 27, 2023 at 7:00pm in Council Chambers, and is proceeding to Final Consideration at the Regular Meeting of Council December 11, 2023 at 7:00 pm in Council Chambers. 

There was however, no discussion among the councillors towards those amendments as part of the Monday session. Something that might have helped in the explanation for the public as to what the changes may mean.

Should you have comments related to the topic; the public can submit comments regarding the proposed amendment to Corinne Bomben, Chief Financial Officer in writing via email at, via fax (250) 627 0999

Or delivered to the Customer Service Desk at City Hall at 424 3rd Avenue West, no later than 4:30pm December 11th, 2023.  

More notes from City Hall can be reviewed through our Council Discussion page.

Councillor Teri Forster highlights awareness of Sixteen Days of Action against Domestic Abuse

Councillor Teri Forster raised awareness of the issue of
Domestic Abuse in Prince Rupert on Monday evening 

The topic of Domestic Abuse, which has been one of the currents of conversation this past weekend in Prince Rupert following an article in the Northern View on the issue, became a point of information sharing on Monday evening. 

That as City Councillor Teri Forster speaking at the end of the Monday night session, provided some background on the Sixteen Days of Action now underway against Domestic Violence, as well as to share word of some of the resources available in Prince Rupert for those who may need them. 

"Starting November 25th until December 10th is sixteen days of action against Domestic Violence. 

Our community has faced a fair bit of Domestic and Sexual violence, we just recognized the anniversary of the death of Patti Forman. A few months ago we lost a young family and those are the public ones, that doesn't speak to any of the things that many people in our community face every single day.

I think it's really important that anyone that is facing Domestic or Sexual violence right now, know of the resources because a lot people don't. 

They don't know that there is help out there: The North Coast Transition Society, our local  RCMP, the province has call lines.

I myself, through a different hat that I wear as a nurse, I have helped people on both sides of domestic violence in my career. 

And I think it's important that people know that there are people that can help you, so please reach out if that's something you are experiencing"

The six other male members of Council, did not follow up with any comments related to her alert on the 16 Days of Action, included among them Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven. 

He was recently the subject of the concerning story in the Northern View from Friday, towards Ms. Forster's theme for the evening.

As there has been no follow up story to this point from the Northern View, it's not known if he has responded to the local paper's article of last Friday, nor did he use the Monday Council Discussion forum to speak to, or address the topic of it.

Ms. Forster's information relay for the public can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive starting at the one hour, three minute mark.

Ms. Forster is not the only public official in Prince Rupert to note of the 16 Days of Action, as we noted earlier this week, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice also spoke to the topic in the Legislature on Monday morning.

She has followed up on that legislature presentation with some additional notes for those who are seeking help.

You can learn more about the two resources noted by the Councillor  on Monday night below:

The Prince Rupert RCMP Social Media page provides occasional notes on the work of the local Victim Services Office.

More notes from the City Council Session can be reviewed through our Council Timeline.

Other notes of interest from past Council Discussions can be explored here.

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross calls on MLA's to stand behind projects such as Trigon's Ammonia plans as part of value added strategy

Plans by Trigon Terminals to ship ammonia from Alberta to global designations through the Port of Prince Rupert gained another appreciative shout out from Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, with the neighbouring MLA using the Trigon plans as a way to highlight the need for value added natural gas infrastructure in British Columbia.

The Skeena MLA raised the topic as part of the Tuesday morning session of the BC Legislature, making note of the Prince Rupert terminal as well as plans from the McLeod Lake Band in the interior.

"Over the years, B.C. has not fulfilled its potential to export LNG to countries that need a clean energy source, especially when you consider that exporting raw natural gas is like exporting raw logs. We export raw products from B.C. that get refined at its destination, and the resulting products are sold back to us. 

There are efforts to develop a natural gas value-added economy here in Canada, like the recent McLeod Lake Band's ammonia export announcement. But they're not alone. B.C.-based Trigon intends to ship ammonia by rail from Alberta to Prince Rupert for export to Japan. What's remarkable is that both projects in countries like Japan are ahead of Canada in transitioning to cleaner fuels, such as ammonia and hydrogen, produced from natural gas. Ammonia and hydrogen as fuels can reduce emissions as much as 90 to 100 percent. "

Towards those two initiatitves, Mr. Ross noted some of the areas where the provincial government could become involoved to help move the pojects forward. 

"McLeod Lake and Trigon require support regarding railway transport. Insurance indemnification of these ammonia railcars is what these projects are asking the provincial and federal governments to resolve. I encourage all MLAs of this Legislature to stand behind these projects, not only for the economic benefit for communities and economic reconciliation, but also to support ammonia from natural gas, which promises a cleaner, emissions-free future for the globe. 

By supporting Trigon and McLeod Lake, we can be partners with First Nations, Alberta and Japan in reducing global emissions. We can do this while also creating much-needed made-in-B.C. and Canada jobs and much-needed revenue for both levels of government by utilizing natural gas and natural gas byproducts from Alberta and, hopefully, someday from B.C."

You can review his presentation to the Legislature below:

It's not the first time that the Skeena MLA has saluted the work of Trigon, last month during discussion on the push towards Zero emissions in BC, Mr. Ross noted of the plans for the Prince Rupert based terminal.

You can learn more about Trigon's plans for diversification at their Prince Rupert terminal here.

More notes from the BC Legislature can be explored here.

Metlakatla First Nation hosts twin information sharing sessions today on KSI Lisims LNG plans

The Metlakatla First Nation will be hosting two events today to provide information from their perspective, towards the plans of the Nisga'a Nation for an LNG Terminal in the Nasoga Gulf region of the Nass River.

The proposed project is one which has proven to be controversial for some of the Nisga'a Nation neighbours over the last year. 

Among those expressing concerns has been the Lax Kw'alaams Band, which highlighted their opinions in a recent community information report.

Today's Metlakatla sessions are hosted by the Metlakatla Stewardship Society, with the first now underway in Metlakatla Village, that session will continue through to 2PM.

Tonight they move their presentation across the harbour with session set for 5 to 9 PM in the Crest Hotel.

 You can learn more about the plans for the KSI Lisims project here.

More notes from Metlakatla can be explored here.

Progress seemingly on the horizon for full demolition of Third Avenue West's Rose's debris

Will heavy equipment bring a Christmas present of demolition
for Rose's on Third, City staff is hopeful!

A long desired bit of urban renewal may soon be in motion on Third Avenue West, that following a Monday update for Council from the City's Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller.

The topic was the fate of Rose's which has been a pile of rubble since last year's fire which consumed both it and the Belmont Hotel on May 1st, 2022.

The previous update on the file was provided at the November 14th Council session, when City Manager Rob Buchan noted that owing to the city's Operations works on infrastructure issues, the opportunity to turn off the services to the site, a step required prior to demolition, had not taken place. 

As part of the Council questions and statements portion of Monday night's session, Ms. Miller responded to a question from Councillor Terri Forster who observed of some recent activity at the site of the burned out building from over a year ago, asking if that offered up some hope of further action to come.

In reply Ms. Bomben provided some background to that work and the plan moving forward.

"Yes, I can confirm that Public Works has disconnected all the utilities and the work order is sitting on my desk and calls have been made to contractors. 

And we hope to see some movement this week, if not early next week.

I'm hoping that it will be a Christmas present that it's gone.

We're trying to line it up so that the equipment that we are needing bringing to town can be used for subsequent removals, such as perhaps the Angus Apartments as well"

The Q and A session can be reviewed through the City's You Tube Video Archive starting at the one hour two minute mark.

More notes from Monday's Council Session can be reviewed through our Council Timeline feature.

Past items of note related to the twin fire debris fields can be explored through our Council Discussion archive page.

Familiar commentaries from veteran Councillors shape the narrative for 2024 Budget approval

Prince Rupert City Council moved forward towards a potential 7.7 tax increase come July of 2024, providing first, second and third reading towards the 2024 Draft Budget and Five Year Financial Plan, the final approval to the document coming in early December.

With a veteran council membership, some of whom have been in council chambers for nine years the conversations  related to the 2024 budget were quite familiar, with the concerns of years ago, still making for much of the Council overview from Monday evening.

The Council conversation made for the bulk of the Committee of the Whole session which started with a call for Public Comment towards the 2024 Draft Budget, with Mayor Pond expressing some surprise that there were no members of the public in the gallery to take advantage of the comment opportunity.

That surprise, perhaps should be tempered slightly by the Council membership, as the city's information streams prior to the Council session did not really highlight the last chance aspect of the session. 

Though to be fair to Council and staff, the participation level by the public was low through the process,  outside of the public forum at Coast Mountain College earlier this month.

Of note towards that ability for public comment, the public will actually have one final chance to share some thoughts on the 2024 budget, as it would be part of the agenda for a future public meeting, likely December 11th, and thus it would fall into the area of public comment related to agenda items.

So Council may not have heard the last word from their constituents just yet.

The Mayor then called on  Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben for a synopsis of some of the feedback the city received during the month long budget process, all of the documentation is included in the Agenda package for the Committee meeting. 

From that short overview, Ms. Bomben  then asked Council to direct staff to prepare the Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw using amendments presented in Attachment 3 of information attached to the Agenda.

Towards some context on the taxation request, the CFO also provided a bit of an overview as to where Prince Rupert sits on the taxation level standings,  compared to other communities. Ms Bomben observing as to how Prince Rupert was about middle of the pack, noting of some higher rates found in Greater Vancouver area,  the  Okanagan, as well as the proposed tax hike in Terrace of 9%. 

She observed how the lowest was found in Rossland at 5%.

"We are all kind of in the same situation it appears, so we're not unique in this, though we do offer some unique services that others don't offer" -- CFO Corinne Bomben

The Mayor then opened the Committee of the Whole session as the forum for Council conversation, offering a chance for Council members to share their thoughts on the process that had moved forward over the month.

The discussion opened through a question related to exploring the differences between the differences between the Prince Rupert and Terrace fire service and the latter's hybrid service of professional and paid volunteer members. As well Councillor Cunningham reprised a previous discussion on the city's level of service to port related industries in the region.

Our Council Timeline feature provides an overview towards sone of that discussion.

Towards observations on the Budget process and the proposed increase to taxation of 7.7 percent some of the key takeaways from the Council membership over the course of the near hour discussion look as follows:

Councillor Nick Adey

On taxation in other areas compared to Prince Rupert

"The conclusion that we're not alone is appropriate. It seems to be across the board, that Municipal government is facing a hill to climb in terms of revenues and I think that you know given that it seems to be province wide I think that really ... suggests that its a ball that needs to be in the court of Provincial government in terms how to adjust how these things are done"

On the choices facing City Council 

"Our choices seem fairly clear we can maintain existing services at the price of a 7.7  property tax increase. We can cut services that are offered in order to reduce that tax impact.  

Or in light of a couple of items that came through the public commentary, we could in fact vote for a higher number in order to roll in some things that are identified in the budget as discretionary spending. And I think the two largest items there are the Fourth Avenue Stairs and sone requested increases to the Community Grants, in particular the Lester Centre.  

And so given those are the three options, my sense of the public's opinion, based on people I talk to on the streets, based on what I read in the feedback that the city got. Is that the public opinion ranges, from I think quite a few people who understand that these are challenging times and although nobody is going to do a song and dance there is an understanding that there is going to have to be a price paid for the services that we provide, so there is a reluctant acceptance. 

There are others who think that there are places where we can cut and I think that those are tough places to go.

What I don't see, I don't really see anybody rooting for an increase beyond the 7.7%"


Councillor Barry Cunningham

On the choices facing City Council 

"Well, you know, it's stairs versus the Lester Centre,  versus parks, versus Enhancement Grants. You know like I remember Councillor Adey a few of months ago on about parks on the west side of town and things like that. 

So you know, we've gotta make tough choices here whether we like it or not. And you know there's groups in each segment that want more money, we don't have the money to give. So you know like it's unfortunate it is what it is. 

I know that Staff will be looking actively to find ... the stairs seem to be a priority, but ah the Lester Centre is definitely looking for money and needs it. Parks, we need parks and there's people lobbying for that. So we've got to take it all into stride and try to make the best decision for the town. It's unfortunate, the buck stops here"

On the issue of taxation and the impacts from it

"Well you know every year we have this conversation, people don't want to increase taxes, they don't want to cut services but one or the other has to happen.

You know if you don't want to give the library 27,000 close the library one day a week, close the pool one day a week and then you save money.

But you know of the 7 point something increase,  if you look at it, almost six of it, a little more is wages a new contract for the RCMP and our CUPE workers. 

You know you put up taxi fares you have to pass it on  to the customer, we put up wages we have to pass it on to the town. Everyone wants more money right now.

We have to honour those commitments we have made to our workers. You know our workers have slugged it out through the winter, some of them working 20 hour days. 

And you know they got modest increases in their contract this time, they were actually helping us. 

But you know at the end of the day  everyone gets a raise and we've got to live with it.

And we want the services, we've got to pay for them. It's that simple" 


Councillor Wade Niesh

On Council's past history at budget time and this year's spending

"I look at the last nine budgets and I think we've come a long way from many years ago. And you know for years I was strong against raising taxes, because I think nine years ago we were well above the average. And it took us quite a few years of minimal tax increases, or even a decrease one year, or many years of zero increases to kind of get us back to the average. 

And if you look at our taxes, we are one of the higher ones in the North but we're not extremely high, Prince George is actually probably the highest and you know you look at that and it took us quite a few years to get to that point.

Now this year, you know with our 2023 budget and now with this 2024 budget, we have these big proposals of huge tax increases and you know there's nothing in these budgets that are like I had said in the past fun things.

These are all what actually everyone in this town is screaming for and they're screaming for water.

And so if you look at our budget this year you know the majority of our budget is spent on water, or things related to water or equipment to fix water pipes. 

So I look at this budget increase as something that is actually giving the people what they're wanting, for the majority and that is water"

On planning for the future ahead

"We're not living the high life in this community and we need to attract people, and by attracting people we need to make sure we keep  our services going at the level they are going now, which is not really that high.

We're not a sleepy little town that can just keep on going with a little budget, we are a town that is ready to explode with you know expansion of ports and all these different things that we have to be prepared for.

You know, some people say we have too much staff at City hall, I say we don't.

I say that we have a good staff that is keeping the operation going and they are working hard and there's people that you know, are doing multiple jobs and they're doing a good job of it and I would defend anybody in this building here and I have no problem with it.

So when I look at this increase, it's terrible, I don't want to see it, I hate to have to say that a 7.7 precent increase is a good thing because it's not.

But it is for the most part doing what the people want ... and I think that that is why I have to agree with the proposal"

On community perspective and expectations at Budget time

"The average home, is probably with all your bills and remember the property taxes, is almost forty percent of the money collected is on behalf of other agencies, so the City is collecting only about sixty percent of that money.

But put that into perspective, if you're paying ten or twelve bucks a day, think what you're getting for ten or twelve bucks a day.

You're getting police, fire, water, roads, sewer,  you know library, parks  or a Starbucks coffee.

So you know you have to put that into perspective, if you truly feel that you're getting overtaxed by a government then you know you almost have to look where you losing 100 or 200 dollars a day off of your paycheque and what you're paying to provincially and federally.

And take a look at it and say what am I getting for my 100 or 200 a day provincially and federally and then we can talk a little bit more about taxes collected.

So you know, I don't think ten bucks a day, for all the services you get is really pretty minor ... it costs money to run things and if you can really look at this community and say that ten dollars a day is you're not getting your money's worth then you know I would  like to have that argument"


Councillor Randhawa 

On Legacy Fund, Federal funds and how they are is used

"I understand that with inflation we have to keep up with that, and other expenses. Thankfully, we have a Legacy Fund and we have Federal money there and we are using that money for Capital projects.

And to pay some fees and debts with that, so that's great, but on the other hand like we have people struggling with loss of jobs and other expenses.

I'm wondering if we have any room to pay for capital projects from Legacy Fund to give a little break on tax increase, like 7.7 percent is a huge tax ... that's peoples money too 7.7, so if we can deliver a bit more money from Legacy Fund from capital projects"


Councillor Reid-Skelton Morven

On the choices council has to make

"To reiterate we've exhausted our expenditures on those (Legacy) Funds for this year and for the following year at this time. At this point it's trying to get more money ... as well as finding ways to move forward with the demand for growth and the demand for repairs at the same time.

We've got a lot of balls in the air obviously, there's a lot of different things and a lot of different priorities"


At the conclusion of the near fifty minutes of conversation, Council then moved the requisition for Direction towards preparation of the Five Year Plan  to the Regular Council Session to follow. 

All members voted in favour with the exception of Councillor Randhawa.

Following that, Council moved forward on two additional resolutions, the first related towards how to fund the Fourth Avenue Stairs work with staff to explore opportunities for funding, or realize changes in revenue streams; with the second resolution related to the Lester Centre request and the need to set up some discussions towards their objectives.

Mayor Pond also noted that there was also some work to be done towards Community Enhancement Grant elements.

As a closing thought the Mayor noted that the process so far is to approve spending by 7.7 percent, with the city still to hear more on the revenue side.

"What we're really passing right now tonight, is a spending budget, it increases spending by 7.7 percent.  We don't know yet, what the revenue side is, we can guess what the revenue side is. But there could be all kinds of new things introduced" -- Mayor Herb Pond

Ms. Bomben, followed up on that theme,  noting that staff wasn't asking for the taxation of 7.7 percent at this time, as that taxation request won't be known until next year.

"I just want to clarify, we're not asking for an adoption of 7.7 percent, we're actually requesting direction on the deficit which we have right now with is 1.8 million dollars made up through the five year financial plan. 

Whatever it translates into in 2024 won't be know until 2024. Presently it's 7.7  just for people to understand how that might actually impact them" -- CFO Corinne Bomben

Mr. Pond observed that should the city's revenue situation change favourably in the year ahead, that it could be possible to fund the initiative slightly differently.

"I said it last time we went through the discussion, I don't want to hold out false hope, I don't say that you know saying oh, don't worry there's a magic solution coming. But should the revenue picture change favourably through any number of the other initiatives that we are looking at. 

It is possible that this one point whatever million dollar increase could be funded sightly differently"  -- Mayor Herb Pond

The first three readings of the required bylaw, took place in the Regular Council Session, with all but Councillor Randhawa supporting the request.

Councillor Adey's two resolutions were also approved to move forward into 2024 as part of the Regular session.

The  full Budget Discussion is available for review from the City's Video Archive it makes for the first hour of discussion for Monday's session. 

More notes on the Monday Council Session can be reviewed from our Council Session Archive page.

Our archive of Budget pieces and links to other stories can be explored here.