Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Council Timeline: Monday, February 12, 2024

The Actual business of the first public City Council session for February only took up thirteen minutes of the Council membership's time, though some extensive conversations on health care in the community at the end of the night filled out the much of discussion time to fifty minutes.

The February 12th session saw the return to the Chamber for Councillor Reid Skelton-Morven, he had been participating remotely since October while in Vancouver tending to family related medical issues.

Councillor Teri Forster was once again out of town as this week's meeting arrived and participated by video link.

Not on hand for the session was City Manager Rob Buchan.

Towards the work on the night, as noted the Agenda was light, the working document made up of some Reports from Staff, Property Variance Work  and one Financial Plan Bylaw amendment.

Those were themes that the Council addressed with few comments or questions.

The Agenda for the Regular Council Session can be reviewed here.

Council  members had also participated in a Closed Session earlier in the evening, the details towards why it was closed to the public can be reviewed here.

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, February 12 , 2024

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

Video Archive  for  Monday, February 12, 2024 



Introduction of Late Items

( 0:00- 1:00) Approval of Agenda  -- The Mayor reviewed the Agenda of the February12 session noting of one change the addition of a late Bylaw Amendment motion and  then sought approval of Council  towards it. 

He also noted that Councillor Teri Forster was participating by remote connection on the night.

1:00 -- 1:30Public Comments regarding Agenda items -- No members of the public were in the gallery on the evening to speak to any topics.

1:30 -- 7:30 Consent Agenda

Council review of Regular minutes from January 22, 2024 Session
Council review of minutes from Committee of the Meeting of January 22 , 2024
Council review of minutes from Committee of the Meeting of November 27 , 2023
Council review of minutes from Committee of the Meeting of October 23 , 2023


Development Activity Report for January 2024  (see pages 11 -14 of Agenda)
Community Panning Activity Report for January 2024 (see pages 15 -16 of Agenda)
Monthly Fire Rescue Report for January 2024   (see pages 17-18  of Agenda)
Report from the Director of Operations and Intergovernmental Relations  Re: Prince Rupert Major Project update (see pages 19-20 of Agenda) 


Request for Letter of Support from the Museum of Northern BC (see page 21 of Agenda)
Request for Letter of Support from the North Coast Health Improvement Society  
(see pages 22 -24 of Agenda)
North Coast Regional District: Re: Board Highlights January 2024  
 (see page 25 of Agenda)
Minutes of Accessibility Committee of November 28, 2023 
(see pages 26 - 32 of Agenda)

Council members had no comments related to the Consent Agenda, the Mayor did ask for Mr Pucci to expand on the Major Projects Update. He noted at how the change to the civic budget process allows them to get their Bid requests out sooner in the year. He also  provided a short overview of the timeline towards the roll out of Contract Bids to come related towards many of the large infrastructure projects ahead for the City.

No council members had any questions related to any of the items that the Director of Operations  outlined.

Mayor Pond also asked for the Director of Communications, Engagement and Social Development,  Veronika Stewart to provide some background on the work of the Accessibility Committee. She provided a review of their preparatory work with the stakeholders and the scope of the different strategic actions that they could take.

She advised that they hoped to have a draft accessibility plan to the various boards by the fall. Mayor Pond expressed his enthusiasm for their work.

No council members had any questions related to Ms. Stewart's presentation or any other item on the Consent Agenda list, providing their assent for it.


Staff Reports

(  7:30 -- 9:00 )  Report from the Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development: Re: Application to UBCM Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for Emergency Support Services Capacity Funding

Council provided their support the City's Application  for funding in support of local Emergency Support Capacity Funding. The only question towards it was from Councillor Cunningham who observed of the low amount of the request. Manager Stewart provided some background towards the grant request and what the focus for the application was, that to top up the Victims Services manager for her work that comes out of it. Mr. Cunnnighan noted of the work of Joyce Charlton and praised her for her efforts.    (see pages 33 -34  of Agenda)

( 9:00 -- 10:00 Report from the Manager of Communications, Engagement and Social Development: Re: Council Support for NDIT Recreation Infrastructure Fund application

Council approved of the City's Application  for funding to NDIT in support of the development of accessible washroom facilities for the Second Floor of the Jim Ciccone Recreation Complex. There were no questions or comments from any Council members towards the request.  (see pages 34-36 of Agenda)

10:00 -- 10:30 Report from Planning: Development Variance Permit #23-08 --  -- Council provided approval for a Development permit for a property on 11th Avenue East. The Corporate Administrator advised no comments or enquiries had been received by staff. Council had no questions to follow up with. (see pages 37 - 46   of Agenda)

10:30 -- 11:00 Report from the Director of Development Services Re: DVP 23-18 --   Council provided approval for the Development permit for a property on 2nd Avenue West. The Corporate Administrator advised no comments or enquiries had been received by staff. Council had no questions to follow up with.

Late Addition to Agenda

(12:00- 13:00 )  Finncial Plan Bylaw amendment

Council member reviewed the request for the amendment.

a) Resolution to Amend 2024 Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 3526, 2023

Recommendation: THAT Council approve the additions to the financial plan outlined in this report Page 3 of 3 AND THAT the 2024 Five Year Financial Plan be amended accordingly.

Council members approved the amendment with no discussion or commentary.

The Report is now available at the end of the Agenda package.

( 13:00 -- 50:00 ) Business Arising Council Round Table and Public Question Period -- 

Council members used much of the remaining thirty eight minutes engaged in discussion towards a range of health care concerns for the community. 

Prior to that discussion, Councillor Adey first observed of the importance of the All Native Basketball Tournament to the Community, as well as some reflections on some of his past times surrounding the event.

The Health care Discussion was led off by Councillor Nick Adey the first segment of his commentary was to recount some of his own personal history with health care and to note of the professionalism and challenges that Health Care providers and hospital staff have to deal with in the community, noting of staffing issues, concerns over burnout of existing staff and the recent addition of Security, something he noted was not required previously.

Towards the main thrust of his commentary for the night he observed of issues of potential Emergency Department Closures, the length of wait times for services and the concerns raised previously by Councillor Cunningham on the impact of the new Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace on services in this community.  

As for how to address those issues, the Councillor proposed that the City take a larger leadership role in the work required towards recruitment, retention and advocacy for health care in the community.

He spoke of the challenges towards recruitment and how the community could recruit doctors and support staff. He also suggested that Council had a role to play in highlighting public awareness of what the Emergency Room is for and ways in  which the choices of the public can make it work better or offer larger challenges.

The Councillor asked for the City to consider establishing a dialogue that brings together stakeholders from industry, business, First Nations and the community at large with a view to supporting efforts to recruit  health care professionals.

He also pointed to the need to support ongoing efforts to educate the public regarding what the role of the Emergency Room is and what alternatives there are for the public who don't have Emergency needs, but still require medial advice.

Mayor Pond suggested that the topic be made a Notice for Council, with further details to be worked out on how the City will approach the issue to come at their February 26th Council session.

Councillor Cunningham followed up on the topic with a few thoughts as well, noting of our article from Monday on the current recruitment program underway at Mills Memorial Hospital.

He observed how he has been working on the health care file for years and has seen the challenges that are faced locally. Like Councillor Adey he had much praise for the Doctors, nurses and other staffers at the Hospital.

He too echoed the comments related to the need to address recruitment noting how some Doctors have passed on the city owing to a lack of Housing and Child Care to name a few areas of consideration.

He also noted that until that Doctor-patient ratio improves in Prince Rupert, the Emergency Department will still be used by residents as a Walk In clinic. Towards the need for additional doctors he outlined some of the current provincial initiatives including the recruitment of medical professionals from outside of Canada.

Mr. Cunningham also observed of the use of travelling health staff who come to town, agency nurses who work side by side with local nurses, but with the agency nurses making more money that the local nurses, which has an impact on morale.  The Councillor observing to some of the mistrust between management and staff at Northern health in the region.

Councillor Forster, who is a nurse and was out of town related to that work, was cautious in her commentary not in how she's not supposed to dive too deep into the topic. She thanked council for their praise for all of the health care workers in the community and noted how while recruitment is important, retention is even more so.  Suggesting that retention be the key focus for the work ahead for the Council led group when it is created.

She also suggested reviewing some of the work underway by the District of Kitimat Council which has had similar concerns and issues to address.
The councillor also reminded the public of the virtual care line that they offer

Away from the Health Care issues, Ms. Forster also noted of a number of community events this week including the Sacred Fire taking place at the Civic Centre as part of the All Native Basketball Tournament.

For the Mayor the discussion provided a chance to express gratefulness for all those who provide services in the community, particularly in Health Care.  He like Councillor Adey recounted some of his past family experiences with the health care system in Prince Rupert and how everyone who works at the Hospital or in health care in the community are valuable and deserve the thanks of the community.

He noted how Prince Rupert wants to build an exceptional community that attracts people to Canada's Asian Gateway and how the city was taking on the kind of role seen in much larger cities of the world.

The Mayor then followed up with a few notes and observations of his own to a variety of topics.

Among those included:

A recap on the progress for the 82 million dollar infrastructure funding request from the Federal Government, noting that while there was no news to share at the moment, that they continue to work on it.

He outlined the ongoing work of the Resource Benefit Alliance initiative noting he will be in Victoria with the other co chairs next week seeking progress for the initiative.

Mr.  Pond followed up with some  notes on the active work with the Port and Government on PILT and the Tax Cap.

He also observed of the tremendous opportunities of Watson Island and how it has been turned from a loss to a net positive contributor, pointing to the volume of money through Prince Rupert Legacy for capital projects.

Towards some other themes, he recounted the success of the Opening Ceremonies for the All Native Basketball Tournament which he had attended on Sunday Night.

He also touched on the evolution of the Sacred Fire that is now in place at the Civic Centre, noting how there had been some bumpy moments related to misunderstandings towards the Fire. Mayor Pond then recounted some of the discussions that took place towards accommodating the fire while continuing to address safety issues and how the work of the city and organizers brought back an ancient cultural practice.

The Mayor also noted of how those discussions led to some commentary and exchange of ideas on the protocols towards the many poles that are found around town and how the City heard much wisdom from elders towards how the city will address any issues related to the poles should they topple  in the future.

The Mayor observed of some recent social events as well as joint dinner for Prince Rupert Council with their partners at the District of Port Edward something which he hopes will become a more permanent fixture.

Mr. Pond also updated his view of the recent Southeast Alaska conference which he attended by a virtual link over three days. From that session he noted of the ongoing challenges for the Alaska Marine Highway Service, though he noted that many communities in Southeast Alaska are anxious to see the service return, 

Noting how that too is a focus for the Marine Service but that many challenges remain before that service will return.

To wrap up the session, Mayor Pond noted of the recent Reginal District Meeting which he and Councillor Cunningham attended, as well as a Northern Health Transportation meeting.

His final observations was to share of his upcoming travel agenda which will see him in Vancouver this week for the UBCM Housing Conference, followed next week by his travels to Victoria towards the RBA program. 

And with that the Council session was adjourned.

From that a number of items related to the Monday session can be reviewed.

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.

The next City Council Session is scheduled for Monday, February 26, 2024.

That session starts at 7 PM.

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