Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Council Timeline: Monday, December 11, 2023

The final to do list for a Regular Council session for 2023 saw the city's council members in chambers for close to two hours on Monday night, with the first hour and ten minutes of the session dedicated to a presentation from officials of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. 

As for the Regular session, Council made quick work of the Consent agenda and its listings, the remainder of the session addressing a number of reports. 

Among those which generated the most discussion, was a report related towards the city's work towards a Truth and Reconciliation Committee and how it should be constructed.

Some progress for housing plans on Drake Crescent, approval for the Moby Dick goats and a shift in zoning ahead for areas adjacent to the Kwinitsa station location at Rotary Waterfront park, also made for quick work on the night.

The city's financial themes also received their final bit of attention, with Council providing for its final votes on the 2024 Budget and Financial plan process.

The Agenda for Regular session can be reviewed here

The Notice of the Closed Session can be reviewed

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, December 11 , 2023

Mayor Herb Pond -- Present 
Councillor Nick Adey -- Present 
Councillor Barry Cunningham -- Present
Councillor Teri Forster -- Present 
Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven -- Participated by Zoom 
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Absent
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa -- Present

Video Archive  for  Monday, December 11, 2023  



00:00 -- 1:00  ) Introduction of Late Items

Approval of Agenda  -- The Mayor reviewed the Agenda of the December 11 session and received approval of Council  towards it adding one item to the agenda for the evening. 

 1:00 -- 1:09:00   ) Presentation 

Shaun Stevenson President and CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority and Ken Veldman, the PRPA's Vice President of Public Affairs  and Sustainability, provided for a twenty minute overview of the current state of Port Operations and a glimpse into some of the future projects under development.

They opened with a bit of a history review on the Port Authority and the growth of the Terminals along the waterfront.  As well as an update on the scope of port operations and its 1700 jobs created through its growth along the trade corridor.

The main focus was the port's commitment towards diversification and  de-carbonization, the latter noting of the connector road between Ridley Island and DP World which has reduced truck emissions, as well as their ongoing shore power program to reduce the carbon footprints for container vessels.

Anther area of note was the Port's Community Engagement work, which has seen 17.5 million dollars dedicated towards community investments.

The state of operations provided for a thumbnail sketch of some of the challenges that this year has brought, with much of those found through volumes at the DP World Container port and the industries that are associated with it, which currently are in the midst of an economic downturn.

That morphed into a look at how diversification  has cushioned some of the blow from container volumes, while the port and its parters work to reestablish  the port's brand and market share as a gateway.

New projects such as the Export Logistics  project and the new energy project in REEF both made for a larger review of the progress that both have seen in recent months.

The billion dollar potential investment one that could add to the Port's growth into the Asian energy markets.

The success for the return of the Cruise Industry for the Port provided for the last item on the Port officials checklist of items of note, with Mr. Veldman noting of the work of Global Ports in their first year.  

The work underway today setting the stage for what could be up to 400,000 passengers per year in the future and the economic benefit that would bring to the community.

The Port officials also noted of where they are aligned with civic initiatives such as the water infrastructure, Emergency Response Services and development of Civic amenities.

They also observed as to how the Port continues to be focused on Labour Force Development and Availability in the community looking toward to the next decade.

The Council members had a large volume of questions to ask of the Port executives, with Councillor Teri Forster leading off the discussion.

Among her list of connects and questions was a concern that the port's community investment might be low compared to other industrial communities particularly Kitimat.

Mr. Veldman noted that the Community Investment Fund was directed to community efforts and was something covers a range of projects; Mr. Stevenson followed up by observing of the amount of investment that the port puts into other areas such as actual infrastructure towards port facilities.  

Ms. Forster then focused on cruise industry themes, asking towards how an increase in visitors could impact on local residents.  Mr. Veldman noted how the Alaska ports were among those that charge a tax, observing that there are no ports in BC at this moment that have a similar tax regimen in place.

The Port CEO noted how the cruise industry could be instrumental towards growth of the Vision 2030 plan, serving to help build up the city's commercial sector.

Councillor Nick Adey likewise had a number of observations and questions, noting of the impact that the Port has on the community and how it has stepped up to assist the city with Senior governments, as well as how they use their Community Investment Fund.

One of his observations locked in on the projection of community growth that called for a population base of 25,000 by 2030, noting of elements such as automation and other work based initiatives, along with how the economic downturn in recent years could impact on that prediction.

Towards where the Port believes the population growth may move, Mr. Veldman outlined some of the modelling that the Port has used towards its own development plans and how those numbers could be realized by an increase to the city's population.  He noted as to how the range of event over the last year has put that timeline a bit behind, suggesting that another five years past 2030 could be where the increased population totals could be realized.

Councillor Cunningham like the others had multiple questions his first was directed towards the electrification project and where its in place there.

A question on the Salt Marsh provided an opportunity for the Port officials to note of how they often look for ways to maximize the benefits to community when they are required to offset some of their development, which was one of the drivers behind the Salt Marsh project.

The Councillor then raised a topic often cited by Council as its largest irritant that of the Port Tax Cap, asking for an explanation as to how it works and why its required. 

Mr. Veldman charted the history of the Tax Cap introduced by the province in 2005 as an instrument to develop certainty and stability for investors looking to develop in port facilities.

Councillor Cunningham spoke to how it had been extended beyond its original five year term by the province, noting of the damage that it has done to the municipality and community which now bears the brunt of taxation, while those industries don't have to owing to the caps.

On Cruise tourism the Councillor expressed concerns over some of the reduced level of visitation that the Museum had seen this past year.  

Mr. Stevenson noted how the Museum's programs are considered marquee destinations, observing how the Port and its partner would continue to focus on making the Museum, North Pacific and other elements as part of the local packages available. 

Mayor Pond observed as to how it may just be personal choice by those aboard the ships.

Councillor Forster returned with a question related to the Port's focus on Truth and Reconciliation.

Mr. Veldman observed of the many ways that Truth and Reconciliation themes resonate, from the economic benefit agreements with a number of Nation sin the region, with the procurement and spending, sharing in volume of trade, joint ventures that work construction of port facilities and the large presence of Indigenous workers at the Port and through the terminal footprint along the waterfront. 

He offered up the opinion that he believes the Port and multiple Fist Nations have good relations on a leadership to leadership basis, along with the in house work that the Port does towards training of staff and employees on Indigenous issues.

He also noted how there was still much work to be done.

Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven asked if the Port had a tool towards creation of such elements as a Cultural Centre or other initiatives; a topic that was a popular discussions point of the past, asking what the Port could do be more reflective of the Indigenous territory that we reside on.

Mr. Veldman returned to the way the Port uses the Community Investment fund and how it could serve to continue to build partnerships .

Mayor Pond used the final few minutes of the presentation time to express his view on the current Port/City relationships.

The Mayor recounting how he believes that without the City there is no Port of Prince Rupert and without the Port there would not be much of a city of Prince Rupert.

Reviewing  how the past industries that defined the community are gone and today the port and city are critical towards each other's existence and operate that way.

He outlined how on every major initiative where the City is pushing on governments the Port is by their side, and how there are only a few instances where they don't share the same views, calling that a mature relationship.

On taxes, the Mayor observed on how the Port and City are aligned, though noting how there is a disagreement on PILT, though noting how with each expansion those lands moves out of PILT and becomes taxable.

Mr Pond also highlighted some areas where the working relationship between Port and city is good with the two aligned in many segments.

Towards a reply Mr. Steveson, noted how that the only time things have been accomplished in the community is when they are aligned and how the two organization are aligned in much more ways than they are not.

 1:09: 00 -- 1:20:00 Public Comments regarding Agenda items -- Almost overlooked by the Mayor, before a helpful reminder from the City Manager, the public comment period brought two participants to the microphone.

The first participant spoke to the previous presentation from the Port, raising concerns over some of the themes presented. 

The key focus for those comments related to the cruise industry elements and the salaries that are paid through it.  Also of note, the impact of development on the wolf and other wildlife population, the loss of jobs at the Port amidst the current downturn, as well as what was described as green washing of the Port's Carbon Tax Agenda.

The second member of the public to come forward explored themes of Indigenous engagement between Port and local First Nations both through cultural and economic elements.

Kevin Stunder, from Aurora Pacific Construction spoke briefly towards his twin variance requests up for review on the night, noting of his plans towards development for the 44 units of townhomes on Drake Crescent. 

He noted of the current challenges of the financial climate for building homes, observing how the progress for the project is something that his company is looking towards 2024 for further activity on, starting with the required public hearing that would come with his application if approved by Council.

Council then moved on to the Consent Agenda, with Mayor Pond noting of the Memorandum related to the Accessibility Committee as something for the community to give a read towards, noting of the good work being done by that group.

 1:20:00 -- 1:22:30 )  Consent Agenda

Council review of Regular minutes from November 27, 2023 Session
Council review of minutes from Special Regular Meeting of November 27, 2023

Council review of Regular minutes from December 4, 2023 Session
Council review of minutes from Special Regular Meeting of December 4, 2023

Report from Planning : Development Activity Report for November 2023 (see pages 11-13  of Agenda)

Report from Director of Economic Development and Transportation:  Re - Business Facade improvement  (see pages 14 -1 5  of Agenda)

Report from Director of Corporate and Legislative Services Re: 2023 Council Resolutions  (see pages 16 - 18 of Agenda)

Mr. Pond noted of the reports on Planning, Economic Development and Council resolutions.

Councillor Cuningham had one question related to the Business Facade program asking if it was open to non-profit organizations, in reply Director Vendittelli confirmed that the program was open to non-profits.

Council received all of the items of the Consent Agreement and approved as requested. 


Staff Reports

1:20:00 -- 1:22:30 )   Report from Director of Corporate and Legislative Services     -- Re 2024 Council Meeting Schedule -- Council approved the schedule as presented without discussion.   (see page 19 - 20 of Agenda)

1:22:30 -- 1:34:00  )  Report from the Director of Development Services and Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development -- Council reviewed the Summary of Reconciliation Roundtable and Committee formation. The document coming with a recommendation that Council direct Staff to form an Indigenous Relations Committee following the general Terms of Reference provided in the report, with the final Terms of Reference to be adopted by the Committee. The Mayor adding on the proviso of subject to the approval of Council. 

The topic generated some conversation among the council members, with Councillor Adey leading off the conversation, first noting of how he was encouraged by the document and noted of it as an initiative that touches many in the community.

He also observed of the need for the group once it is launchd  to operate in independence from the City, towards a question on the timeline for their work,  he asked as to the possibility of an extended term for the committee and the project to go beyond 2024.

Manager Veronika Stewart observed how her plan was to have the committee determine the terms of reference, that in order to make them a part of the process of its development and determine the length of time it should continue for. She did observe as to how the first year was funded through grants, while any follow up years would require further applications or other funding options.

Councillor Skelton-Morven expressed concerns over some of the language from the report,  recommending a change in name from committee towards something that was de-colonized as he called it.   

He also put his name forward for a potential placement within the group as it moves forward, asking if anything precludes him from participating.

Ms. Stewart noted that as it was designed it was created to reflect community membership, though she observed how Council was free to determine how it would be made up.

Councillor Forster suggested that towards Councillor Morven's request, that it be handed on to the Committee to determine,  noting how the city should not be approaching the issue from the bureaucratic perspective of adding people to the committee, without the committee having any input towards that.

In reply, Mr. Skelton-Morven observed how he was flexible to how council may approach the issue, however noting that as he was the only Indigenous representation on the council it would be fitting that he would we part of those discussions and having those conversations.

He also noted how other Civic Committees do have Council representation on them.

Councillor Cunningham offered up his agreement with the views of Councillor Forster, while also sharing concerns on the colonial terminology, he observed how the Committee should have ownership of the work towards reconciliation and for the city as a colonial bureaucracy to put somebody on it, was not the right route to take.

Councillor Adey also spoke of the need for independence from Council towards their work and how they would best determine their path forward and for that independence to flourish.

Council then approved the motion as outlined.

Towards a further recommendation on committee make up, Councillor Skelton-Morven then observed of the irony of the non-Indigenous members of Council suggesting that it would be too colonial to put the Indigenous member of council on the committee.

Following that contribution to the discussion, a second motion was approved to have the committee determine who should be part of the project moving forward. (see page 21 - 36  of Agenda)

1:34:00 -- 1:35:00 Report from Director of Development Services: Development Variance Permit #23-24 -- Drake Crescent Development   -- Council had no questions or comments related to the request and moved to proceed with statutory notification towards the development. (see pages 37 - 49 of Agenda)

1:35:00 -- 1:35:30 Report from Planning: Development Variance Permit #23-25 --  -- Council moved the process forward to Final Approval for the Permit for a property on Alfred Street. That following a question from Councillor Adey towards public feedback towards the permit request, of which there hade been none (see pages 50 - 55 of Agenda)

1:35:30 -- 1:39:30  Report from Planning: Re: Temporary Use Permit for a property on 2nd West --  With the public comment period closed on Friday, Council had a short discussion towards the topic. The main focus was some surprise at the lack of public comment towards the issue, with no comments received by the Corporate Administrator by Friday's deadline. 

Councillor Adey followed up on that thought, observing of some of his reservations towards concerns over health and food supply for the animals, though noting of some of the attention that has been paid towards that issue by the proponent.

Director Pope noted of some of the provisions in the permit that are directed towards those concerns.

Councillor Cunningham observed of the plans to have a vet available, a vaccination plan for the goats and his belief they may only be a summer time placement for the property.

Councillor Forster noted of some helpful guidance towards goats available from the BC SPCA.

Council then approved the request for a Temporary Use Permit for goats at property adjacent to the Moby Dick Inn (see pages 56 - 60 of Agenda)


( 1:39:30 -- 1:41:00 City of Prince Rupert 2024 Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 3526, 2023-- Council reviewed the five Year Financial Plan 3526, 2023, with  Councillor Forster seeking some clarification on the tables included as part of the report. 

Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben  outlined how there had been a minor mistake in the escalation in the future years;  an issue that would be fine tuned in the spring time if any material changes required a budget amendment.  

Council then provided Fourth and Final reading to the  the five Year Financial Plan (see pages 61 - 75 )

1:41:00 -- 1:42:30 Report from the Director of Development Services -- Re: City of Prince Rupert OCP amendment bylaw No 2527, 2023 and Zoning Amendment Bylaw No, 3528, 2023 -- Council reviewed  plans to amend the zoning for property near Kwinista station on the waterfront,  but offered up no comments or questions towards it. 

The proposal would move it from the Industrial zone category to that City Core. With their vote  they then moved the process on to Public Hearing. (see pages 76 - 88   )

1:42:30 -- 1:43:30  City of Prince Rupert Five year Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw No. 3525, 2023 -- A late addition to the Agenda, Council  provided Fourth and final  readings to the  the five Year Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw with no comment or questions. 

Business Arising

1:43:30 --1:49:35   )  Council Round Table and Public Question Period -- 

Councillor Forster led off the conversation with praise for the work on the old Rose's site noting of the land clearing that took place and asking towards plans for the Angus Apartments site.

In response, Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller, noted of some additional challenges that have come along and how the process has slowed at the Second Avenue work site, with the demolition work starting that day with progress to come in the days and weeks to come.

Councillor Randhawa noted of the loss of both an ICBC office for estimation work, along with now the closure of the only auto body shop in the community, which means residents must travel to Terrace for such services.

The Mayor noted that Council would have staff address a correspondence to ICBC to determine what their plan is to provide service to the community.

Councillor Adey returned to the demolition work plans and asked to the cost of both the demolition of Rose's and the Angus Apartments buildings.

In reply, Ms. Miller observed that the city would be forwarding a bill to the property owner of Rose's, with a period ending on December 31st for payment. At that time if unpaid, the cost would be added to the property taxes for the location.

As for the Angus apartments, Ms Miller observed how the City of Prince Rupert is now the owner of those two properties and would be bearing the costs of that site until it is no longer the owner.

For his second comment, Councillor Adey noted of the Port presentation earlier in the evening and the broad discussion it provided for. He then asked if a similar opportunity could be provided for CityWest to come forward with a presentation for Council.

Towards that opportunity,  the City Manager noted that he would attend to that request with CityWest.

The last question from the Councillor was to explore the city's plans for road maintenance during the winter period, asking where the city was in preparation for what may come.

The City Manager observed he did not have a response at this time, noting that the Director of Operations is presently on vacation, but that they would seek to have that information for the next council session.

Adjournment -- The Mayor then brought the session to a close. 

You can access our Council Archives for December 11th here

From that page a number of items regarding the Council Session 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.

This was the last Regularly scheduled Council session for 2023, Council starts the year anew in 2024 with the first of their 20 scheduled Regular Council meetings for the year to take place on Monday, January 8th, 2024.

That session starts at 7PM.

No comments:

Post a Comment