Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Council Timeline: Monday, February 26, 2024

The final Council session for February was light on Agenda topics, but long on discussion, with a range of recent developments from provincial gatherings making for a portion of the night's narrative.

Towards the work on the night, events made for a two part affair.

The first with a Committee of the Whole Session featuring a presentation from the Prince Rupert Hospice Society.

As for the Regular session, Council made quick work of the Consent agenda and its listings, as well as the bulk of the Agenda listings on the night.

The Agenda for the Regular 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 26 , 2024

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

Video Archive  for  Monday, February 26, 2024 



(  0:00-0:30   ) Call to Order

Adoption of the Agenda -- The Mayor reviewed the Agenda of the February 26th session and Council approved of it. 

Petitions and Delegations

( 0:30 -- 22:00) Susan Crowley from the Prince Rupert and District Hospice Society provided for an Advance Care planning presentation. 

She was speaking ahead of Advance Care planning Day in March, which the City will be receiving a request for a proclamation on. She observed of the relationship between the Society and council and how the City has always been supportive.

From those comments she explored some of the programs that they offer for the local community to share the Advance care program, noting of their with work at the Seniors Centre, where they host workshops.

Some of her focus was on the grief counselling and drop in support programs that they offer in the community, much of it taking part through their fundraising. She also noted of their upcoming fundraising and community awareness program in the community Hike for Hospice set for the First Sunday in May.

She also observed of the opportunity for local companies to book a Hospice Centre representative to host a workshop at their offices to help inform the public of the program.

The nature of the difficult conversations that families have to have when it comes to Advanced care was highlighted through a short video presentation that she included as part of her time with Council.

Following the short video, Council members offered up some thoughts towards the program that is offered in Prince Rupert.

For Councillor Adey the focus was on the portability of the Advanced Care program, the councillor noting that many Seniors move from their homes or to other communities as they age.

Ms. Crowley noted that leaving the province can make for some additional steps, but that it's a overall a very portable document.

Councillor Foster who is a nurse in the community, offered up her appreciation for the presentation and noted as to how the idea of a care plan is not limited to Seniors but a wise course for many to follow. She also noted of a workbook available for those interested in the program.

Councillor Cunningham noted how the program has been well received by the members of the Seniors Centre and offered up his own endorsement of the program and its importance for families.

Mayor Pond observed that the topic had been one he had looked to personally take part in on year ago, but as the year went by he let that slip by.

Ms. Crowley took advantage of that to remind him of the upcoming sessions planned for the community. 

That making for her final moments for her presentation.

Council then made quick dispatch of the rest of the COW Agenda.

Adjournment to Regular Council session



22:00 -- 23:00)  Introduction of Late Items

The Mayor added two items to the Agenda, one a BC Ferries related item and the second one related to th Northwest Regional Hospital Board.

Approval of Agenda  -- The Mayor reviewed the Agenda of the February 26th  session and gained the approval of Council  towards it. 

23:30 -- 25:30)  Public Comments regarding Agenda items --  

Two members of the public Sal and Frank Chirico participated by Zoom during the session, with the owners of the property on Second Avenue West speaking of the upcoming discussion for Council related to a potential demolition of their structure. 

he pair advancing for Council  that they were blindsided by that prospect of that process, observing that they had not been contacted related to the potential demolition, suggesting that the last communication was in 2021 and they had believed that they were on good terms with the City.

They questioned who had been sent the letter from City Administrator Rosa Miller from earlier in February, observing that they had no knowledge of it prior to the Agenda being released for the night.

They were the only ones to participate in the Public Comment period.

25:30 -- 26:00)  Consent Agenda

Council review of Regular minutes from February 12, 2024 Session


Report from Director of Operations and Intergovernmental Relations Re: Street lights out on the Ministry of Highway corridor (see page 7 of Agenda)

Correspondence:  Request for Letter of Support from the Prince Rupert and District Metis Society (see pages 8 - 9 of Agenda

Council members approved the Consent Agreement as requested, with no comments or questions. 


Staff Reports

26:00 -- 40:00 )  Report from the Director of Corporate and Legislative Services: Re: 201 - Second Avenue West Remedial Action Order   

Council reviewed the report to direct staff to proceed with a Remedial Action Order towards building removal for the property noted. 

Towards discussion Councillor Niesh spoke to the property in question, observing how it was a property long in need of repair and that it was a process to further it along.

The Mayor provided guidance to the councillor towards how he addressed the property owners, noting that it al should be done through the chair.

Mr. Niesh continued with his commentary noting how the city is striving to improve the downtown core and had a program for revitalization available for use for such purposes. He followed up on that thought noting how it was a building that could be repaired and put back into use once again.

Councillor Cunningham followed up on the theme, first asking what the impact may be if they did not receive the letter that made for the start of the process.  As he had done with Councillor Niesh, the Mayor provided a tutorial on the process towards speaking to the residents on Zoom.

In reply to the letter question, Dr. Buchan observed that the letter was sent and received to the address listed, he also outlined the process that is in place towards the remedial order and how the  owners do have the fourteen days to respond with guidance towards their intentions for the property.

He also noted that there had been many calls and many discussions towards the building in the past and that staff was willing to meet with them again towards the issue.

Councillor Forster asked for some clarification on the civic process should they pass the request for direction for staff on the night.

Councillor Cunningham returned to the discussion, noting how the owners do have other properties in town and noted that they likely would be interested in returning it to use, suggesting it would make for a good location for a donut shop.

The Mayor observing that a donut shop was actually the first use for the building when it was built.

An attempt from Councillor Cunningham to ask about they future plans for the building was denied by the Mayor, who noted the only opportunity for the property owners participation in the discussion was at the start of the council session.

Councillor Adey returned the discussion to the focus of Council on the concern related to derelict properties which is why they are moving forward on remediation for them, he also noted that there seemed to be some opportunity for improvements to be made in this case.

Mayor Pond used the opportunity to observe of the turnaround ahead for the community, noting of the new waterlines to come, a rebuilding of Second Avenue, the new RCMP building, the upcoming Roundabout which he stated would redefine that part of town and create housing opprtunities.  

Following that he noted that the community can expect more of these remediation actions coming forward as the city looks to use the process on a regular basis to lead to better outcomes and how the owners have the opportunity to show how they can improve on their properties.

From there Council approved the direction to staff to move forward on the order in question. 
(see pages 10 - 13 of Agenda)

40:30 -- 41:00)  Report from the Director of Corporate and Legislative Services: Re: 1913 7th Avenue  East Remedial Action Order   

Council reviewed the report to direct staff to proceed with a Remedial Action Order towards building removal for the property noted. The measure passed with no discussion or comment from Council members. (see pages  14 - 18 of Agenda)

41:00 -- 48:00)  Report from the Chief Financial Officer --   Council reviewed a report related to a Speculation and Vacancy Tax Resolution for the upcoming North Central Local Government Association means, approving the recommendation that council endorse the resolution.

The discussion towards the topic brought contributions from Councillor Randhawa and Cunningham

Among themes of note from the discussion, who collects the tax and why the Regional District would receive the revenue. As CFO Bomben explained it the province has chosen to use Regional Districts in the Lower Mainland area as they can address the issue on a wider basis.

She also noted of the valuation of $400,000 and below  for vacant homes that would be exempt.

Councillor Cunningham also raised the question of how it impacts on suites, a question that it was observed will require additional research. 

Councillor Niesh noted of the large volume of houses that are held by a housing group that purchased up a number of houses that now sit empty as they don't have the funds to repair them observing its time for them to sell them or fix them.

Councillor Cunningham observed in that case, most of the properties would not be taxed as they would be valued at the 400,000 mark.

To keep the discussion on the focus for the resolution, the Mayor advised staying with the current language for the resolution and that once the topic is presented to the Province the council should then involve itself in that discussion.

From there Council adopted the motion. (see pages 19 - 23   of Agenda)

Late additions to the Agenda

( 48:00 -- 52:00 ) Letter from Haida Gwaii officials related to BC Ferry Service on the North Coast. 

The Mayor outlined the scope of the letter that is calling for a letter of support towards a meeting to address how the current BC Ferry Vision plan does not meet the current needs of the North and Central Coasts.

Councillor Cunningham offered some background on the current service model and how staffing of the vessels is very southern minded and siphons money for the south leaving the North as orphans of the system.

Mayor Pond also noted of one suggestion of note from the conversation, that of an increased presence for BC Ferries that could include potential service to Ketchikan Alaska.

Councillor Cunningham picked up on that theme of a third ferry for service, noting how it was a suggestion made before, but one that had run into political issues in Alaska.

Council then provided their support towards the Haida Gwaii initiative. 

52:00 -- 53:30  ) Letter from North West Regional Hospital District on weighted votes

The Mayor outlined the details to what he called a housekeeping request was to specify who would carry the five votes that the City of Prince Rupert has on the Board. The Mayor then suggested that Councillor Cunningham carry three votes, the Mayor would hold two.  He noted that all council members are considered alternates to the Board.

Council approved the request for the information.


(  53:30 -- 54:00) City of Prince Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 3506, 2023  -- Council provided Fourth and Final reading to the Zoning Amendment Bylaw 3506, 2023. That relates to allowing for child care spaces in the community. The Mayor observing that the City had been awaiting Ministry of Transport approval for the Bylaw requirements. There was no discussion towards the topic. (see pages 24 -26  of the Agenda )

(  54:00 -- 1:05:00)  Notice of Motion

Council provided approval towards their resolution to invite representatives from business, industry, government, local First Nations, Northern Health and the medical community. 

That proposal designed to discuss and implement strategies that support recruitment and retention of medical professionals in Prince Rupert, with an immediate focus on physicians.

The Motion will also include a review of ways for the City to consult and support Northern Health to advise the public on alternatives for non emergency services. 

Councillor Forster excused herself from the discussion owing to a conflict of Interest.

Towards the discussion, Councillor Adey noted of the importance of the initiatives and recounted some of the urgency towards it by observing of the weather conditions found in the region at this time of the year and how that can create significant challenges for medical care in the community.

He also noted that his intention was not to go around Northern Health or MLA Jennifer Rice, but one to offer support to provide for some stability in staffing for the medical profession.

Councillor Randhawa asked towards a timeline, though the Mayor observed that council was aware of the urgency to the issue.

Councillor Cunningham spoke to the issues of some past disappointments with Northern Health from transportation to medical services and how residents of Prince Rupert have had to take a back seat in the region.

Like Councillor Adey he observed of the dangers of road travel in the winter period and how the community has been isolated, he also noted of the recruiting push for Health professionals found in Terrace and Kitimat and how Prince Rupert should follow suit and how there will be more pressures to come with the opening of the new Mills Memorial facility.

He also noted how he had spoken to a number of industrial leaders in town and how they are onboard, as well he noted of some of the challenges that have been found when it comes to bringing  Doctors to Prince Rupert.

Mayor Pond addressed some of those themes as well, noting how many of the current medical practitioners are burned out from the demands on their time, he outlined how Northern Health has managed to dodge the bullet when it comes to keeping the Emergency Department open during some of those periods.

He stated how his immediate focus was to ensure that the Emergency Department is always open,  an interest that he said was shared by industry, First Nations and other stakeholders.

Council then moved both Notice of Motions forward.

Councillor Forster then returned to the Chamber.

Business Arising

01:05:00 -- 1:22:00)  Council Round Table and Public Question Period -- Councillor Randhawa led of the discussion by congratulating the organizers and  participants in the All Native Basketball Tournament last week.

Mayor Pond then provided for a review of his recent travels to Vancouver and Victoria, first explaining why he flew out of Terrace, noting that it was the only option to attend the meetings as they were organized for an early morning start.

His themes for review included notes on the UBCM Housing Forum and the opportunities it provided to meet with Provincial ministers among them Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang.

He also outlined his attendance at the Globe Environmental Conference and how at that form he was able to announce that Watson Island was to be an energy hub in Prince Rupert.  From that he advised that Director Venditelli has already received some inquiries about the opportunities that may be available there.

From that session the Mayor noted of his conversations with Federal Minister Sean Fraser who is in charge of the Infrastructure portfolio, from those discussions the Mayor stated that he believes that he is very hopeful that the city will hear word on their funding request sooner rather than later.

Mr Pond then highlighted the BC Budget announcement which delivered on 250 million dollars of funding for the Resource Benefits Alliance to be distributed to its 21 members.

The Mayor paying tribute to those involved in the initiative across the region, as well as in the Council chamber. He outlined how now that it's in place, municipalities can count on the funding over the next five years and then will need to turn their attention towards renegotiation  for the next term. 

He noted how this process was similar to the arrangement in the Peace Country evolved which is what the RBA was designed to use as guide. He outlined how it was a case of the province investing in the communities of the Northwest and how it could benefit Prince Rupert.

Mr. Pond observed how there were still some challenges, such as PILT and the Port Tax Cap, but with the RBA agreement one box had been ticked, paying tribute to the Council members for their support of the initiative.

As part of the discussion, Councillor Adey took a moment to acknowledge the work of former Mayor Lee Brain and former Councillor Mirau for their efforts over the years.

Mayor Pond noted from that, that they were among the first  people he contacted to share word of the success found last week as well as to salute the work of MLA Rice and Minister Nathan Cullen on the RBA initiative.

He also paid tribute to the interest taken by Minister Kang and Premier Eby to deliver on the funding arrangement.

Councillor Cunningham recalled some of the work of Council at UBCM towards pushing for the RBA initiative and other infrastructure issues, in particular he praised the work of Councillor Forster at that time.

He also made note of the benefits from flying out of Terrace, noting of some of the cost savings that can be found through that airport.

To wrap up the Mayor's commentary he also praised the work of staff in providing for reports that the City can take to officials to get their attention, that was a theme that Councillor Cunningham concurred with, recounting some of the past meetings that city officials had held with the province and how those reports proved invaluable.

And with that, the Mayor called for an Adjournment of  the session  

You can access our Council Archives for February 26 here

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

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, March 11, 2024.

That session starts at 7 PM.

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