Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Council Timeline: Monday, March 11, 2024

Monday's Council session was short on Agenda topics, but long on a wide ranging discussion  of many current themes of concern in Prince Rupert, the night's work taking the Council membership just over the one  hour mark.

The agenda for the night had few items to be dealt with, of note from their work, updates for the City's Strategic Plan, Three remediation orders for properties in the community and a late Agenda item of a Contract award for some of the city's water infrastructure program. 

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,March 11 , 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 -- Absent
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa -- Present

Video Archive  for  Monday, March 11, 2024 



Introduction of Late Items

( 0:00- 1:00) Approval of Agenda  -- The Mayor reviewed the Agenda of the March session  and then sought approval of Council  towards it. 

The audio feed for the Council session was not available until the three minute mark of the Council meeting; it was later relayed in the meeting of one late addition to the Agenda, that of a contract award for infrastructure work.

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

1:00 -- 1:30Consent Agenda

Council review of Regular minutes from February 26, 2024 Session
Council review of minutes from Committee of the Meeting of February 2026 , 2024


Council Resolution Status update to February 2024  (see pages  10-11 of Agenda)
Development Activity Report for February 2024 (see pages 12-13 of Agenda)


Northern Development Initiative Trust: Re Invitation to support Northern BC Public Transit Campaign     (see pages  14 -15 of Agenda)

The only comment that was heard from the Consent Agenda was that from Councillor Adey related to the Development Report Council and a property on McKay Street. 

The Corporate Administrator noted that item was still on hold awaiting a return of the bylaw from the Ministry of Transportation. 

Council then appeared to provide approval for the Consent Agenda 


Staff Reports

( 3: 00 -- 4:00Report from City Manager: Re Updated 2023 to 2026 Strategic Plan -- With the Audio issues solved Mayor Pond moved on to the Strategic Plan report outlining that the nature of the update was revision of the document created in 2023, with the updates of January now to be rolled into the document. There were no questions or comments from the council membership.   (see pages 16-27 of Agenda)

4:00 -- 6:30Report from the Director of Corporate an Legislatives Services/Corporate Office  --    Council received a report outlining the steps ahead towards a Remedial Action Order for a property on 11th Avenue East. Councillor Cunningham had a question related to the process of the actual enforcement letter from city staff.   Mayor Pond expanded on the process, noting how the warning letters were a courtesy, not a requirement. Councillor Cunningham then noted that as the letters had been returned to the city, he asked if the City had an address to forward to when it comes to any enforcement action. The Corporate Director observed that the Community Charter Act requires the letter to be sent to the address of title, adding she also sends to any other address that the is made aware of.  (see pages 28 - 34 of Agenda)

( 6:30 -- 13:00Report from the Director of Corporate an Legislatives Services/Corporate Office  --    Council  received a report outlining the steps ahead towards a Remedial Action Order for a property on  McBride Street. Councillor Adey observed to the location of the property in question and its proximity to the Gateway District planning, further exploring what options could come from the fate for the building and if the city has any recourse towards what could be constructed in that location.

City Manager Rob Buchan, noted that the city encourages private development and that the city currently does not have any plans for the property and that it was too early to discuss what might go on the property in its place.

Discussion to the topic included questions from Councilor Randhawa as to if the city knew who now had title to the property, with a previous owner having passed away.

The Mayor noted that staff is aware of that potential complication and how it could be a case of the city dealing with an estate.

Councillor Cunningham followed up on the theme noting of the stalled nature of the Gateway plans, observing how nothing has come from the development plans for the Credit Union property and some of the challenges that might be found towards its development.

Mayor Pond then expanded on the City's Gateway Plan proposal, with the RCMP building currently now under Construction one element of that vision plan. The Mayor also noted of a previous structure the Green Apple Restaurant that had become unsafe years ago and had to be torn down.

 (see pages 35-37 of Agenda)

13:00 -- 1:30Report from the Director of Corporate an Legislatives Services/Corporate Office  --    Council received a report outlining the steps ahead towards a Remedial Action Order for a property on 8th Avenue East. Council members had no comments to make related to that item. (see pages 38-40 of Agenda)

Late Addition to the Agenda

14:00 -- 17:00 Report from the Director of Operations related to a contract award --    Mayor Pond outlined the scope of the contract award for the overland watermain replacement project.

With the contract awarded to Broadwater Industries of Prince Rupert. Mayor Pond noted that the Broadwater bid was the lowest of three bids and was the lowest complaint bidder for the project.

Councillor Forster had a question related to the significant savings found from the Broadwater bid and asked if that was normal and asked if there were any concerns towards having to pay additional money should the project require it.

City manager Buchan noted that it was not unusual to find a large spread between bids, providing a review of some of the elements that could go into that difference.

He did express confidence in the bid from Broadwater.

Councillor Cunningham noted of some of their previous work and some of the services that they could bring to the job. He also noted of his support for their bid noting how it is good to see a local contractor getting the work.

While Council members had a report to review, as it was a late item, there is no documentation towards the contract award currently part of the Agenda package.

As such there is no additional information towards the competing bids and who provided for them, or other background towards the process for the public to review as of yet.  (see pages 38-40 of Agenda)

Business Arising

Council Round Table and Public Question Period 

Councillor Adey led off a lengthy discussion period, his first of three items of note related to the recent Eagle Deaths at the liquid waste section of the Ridley Island Access Road Landfill site.

The councillor asking a number of questions related to whether the city was in compliance with required regulatory standards and/or if there were any gaps in those standards

The City Manager Rob Buchan advised that the City's facility was in compliance with the standards and that there were no gaps in those standards. He also noted that the city plans to do more work in the future to help prevent a similar situation.

Councillor Adey's next question related to the nature of the incident which involved a third party, asking what the city's contractual requirements are with such third parties.

The Mayor called on the City Manager to outline what the purpose of the area of the incident, Mr. Buchan noting how it was that of processing liquid waste known as septige 

As to the contractual question, the City Manager advised that there is no contractual arrangement under the current scheme with users of the facility, it is a regulatory arrangement with those using the facility expected to comply with the bylaw.

He noted that the city may be amending that process in the future, with a contractual arrangement  one that might be better towards more effective awareness.

Mr. Adey then shifted his focus towards some kind of punitive consequence for the incident, asking where the city was in determining if any consequences would be explored.

City Manager Buchan noted that they haven't address that as of yet, as they are still assessing the situation and that if they move forward on punitive consequences it would come back to Council.

On the topic of the investigation, the Mayor asked how far along the city was on that investigative work, the City Manager confirming that the process was not yet complete.

Councillor Cunningham also noted that Federal and Provincial investigations are underway, with potential fines one recourse.

Councillor Adey then asked what measures have been or could be taken to avoid future incidents of this kind.

The City Manager advised that staff would be revising the bylaw partly in response to the incident, as for specific measures he turned the discussion over the Director of Operations Richard Pucci.

The Operations Director noted that the city in conjunction with McElhanney engineering is working on bird protection and bird controls at the facility, as well as to consider the installation of cameras, new controls at the scale house and to ensure that they have better contractual obligations with users, all of which will be relayed to Environment Canada and the Ministry of Environment.

Councillor Adey then followed up with questions related to the cultural significance that eagles have with First Nations, asking what steps the city was taking with First Nations on this incident and what kind of reporting the city will use in the future to advise First Nations of any incidents.

The Director noted that it was the first incident of this kind for the facility that only went into service for six months, he advised that the city had already contacted one First Nation and would be contacting the others towards the incident.

Councillor Cunningham raised questions of the city learning more about the nature of the deaths of the Eagles, using it as a guide towards any potential future incidents.

The Director of Operations outlined that the Eagles had been collected, with one sent away for a necropsy, where it was discovered that the birds were unable to fly and either drowned or froze, noting of the timeline of the incident of December or January.

The next topic for discussion for Councillor Adey was the recent award of 77.2 million dollars from the Federal government for infrastructure, with the Councillor handing out a number of shout outs for those involved over the years.

Towards the funding now in place, the Councilor asked what kind of oversight that the two senior levels of government may have over the funding as well as to if the City has any local knowledge towards strategic oversight on local conditions of the work.

City Manager Buchan observed on the city's success in the past in securing grants, though noting of the unprecedented nature of the current funding, adding that the city's approach is much the same whether large or small funding grants.

Towards the local understanding of the work required, the City Manger noted of the foresight of past Councils in creating a Master Service Agreement process award to the Coast Tsimshian Contractor Alliance which he noted has partners and incredible capacity.

He did not express any concerns at their ability to do that work.

Councillor Cunningham noted of the contract award earlier in the evening to Broadwater as the example of the local capacity to do the job and do it cheaper than anyone else.

He also noted how the Master Agreement notes of the use of local labour.

The Third discussion topic for Councillor Adey was related to Health Care and the city's plans towards recruitment and retention of health professionals.

He observed of the recent closure of the Hospital Emergency Department and from that asked as to the progress for the city's initiative. 

Mayor Pond advised that staff had been working with the other parties to find a suitable date, hoping to move it forward if possible, though he cautioned that the shortcomings likely won't be addressed quickly, with the recruitment process one that will take some time.

Of the Emergency Room closure he observed how that was concerning, recounting a letter the city wrote previous to the closure advising how under no circumstances should the Prince Rupert Emergency Department close, yet it did.

From the recent incident, the Mayor will be looking to contact Health Minister Adrian Dix to address the issue, Mr. Pond noting how there is little value in spending millions of dollars in upgrading water systems and upgrading them ... if the health care system isn't also up to speed.

He observed that before people relocate to any community, they ask themselves what kind of health care will they have. Making health care in the community mission critical.

The Mayor outlined how the City would take the same approach that they took on the water infrastructure issues and apply them to deliver a message to the province of the importance of the health care issues the city is facing.

Councillor Adey did note and acknowledge some of the work that both the province and Northern Health are taking on towards those challenges. To that theme the Mayor recounted some of the study he has done towards the issues that Health Care are dealing with when it comes to addressing staffing concerns, noting how it's not just a Prince Rupert issue.

Councillor Forester, who works in the health care sector, outlined some of the senior management changes taking place at Northern Health in Prince Rupert and suggested that Council invite representatives from the Health Authority to come to Council to speak to a range of health care themes.

The Mayor also expressed his gratitude to those at Northern Health who are working hard to deliver services in difficult circumstances.

Councillor Cunningham  noted how health care staffing issues is not unique to Prince Rupert, but also observed that the city's location and isolation is a unique issue as well, noting of the issues and dangers that residents face with the only other facility one and a half hours away.

The Mayor provided for a range of themes for the final thirteen minutes of the meeting, his first notes related to a recent Housing Forum that he attended in Terrace.

He put some focus on the Funding announcement of last week and the massive help that it provides to move the community closer to being on top of infrastructure.

Noting how it's not to be used for tax reduction but to help towards addressing the scope of the infrastructure issues in the community. As Councillor Adey had previous, the Mayor also paid tribute to those over the years who took up the challenges, comparing the process to that of a relay race where you are always passing on the baton.

Mr. Pond noted on some of the media interviews he had related to both the Eagles deaths and the Federal Funding. As well he recounted in the ongoing work of the Resource Benefits Alliance noting that while they have the funding in the budget, they still have to reach an agreement with the province, and how there remains work to be done there,.

He outlined the city's plans to host a Town Hall presentation on April 4th to try to give residents a sense of where things are at and where the community is going,

Councillor Cunningham picked up on the Federal Funding announcement of last week, noting how the city's previous situation was pretty well a disaster and how Prince Rupert is key to the national port focus. 

The Mayor reflected as to how at times the funding quest could have gone off the rails, observing how the Federal Fund distributes a billion dollars Canada wide, with Prince Rupert gaining a significant share of the funding that would have been allocated to British Columbia.

Mr. Pond recounted some familiar tales of past council sessions providing a timeline towards some of the elements of the City's lobbying for the funding over the years. Listing off the work from Council and staff members over  the years  attending UBCM to make the city's case to other meetings in Victoria and Ottawa and the decisions that were taken by the city through the last eight years.

The Mayor's focus noting how the City made the case to all levels of government  of the importance that the community has to the national trade policies for Canada and how they would have been at risk.

Mr. Pond noted that the total of 200 million dollars that the City will put to use will be significant  to the work ahead, but also cautioned the community of the disruptions that the work will bring over the next three years of construction.

Councillor Cunningham observed of the work of both MLA Rice, MP Bachrach and the city's own staff towards bringing the success of last week.

On that theme, the Mayor and Councillor Cunningham noted of the detailed work of staff to prepare the city's funding requests, paying tribute to the level of work delivered. 

The Mayor praising the work of a great civic staff  and observing that  if anything, there isn't enough of them, adding that it takes money to make money.

And from that final thought,  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, March 25, 2024.

That session starts at 7 PM.

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