Friday, January 30, 2015

Aurora LNG to host Open House, Open Community Office in Prince Rupert

The first stages of community engagement for the Aurora LNG Terminal development will come in February, when CNOOC/Nexen, the company proposing the Digby Island Terminal hosts an Open House.

The introductory session for Aurora LNG will take place on Wednesday, February 18th at the North Coast Convention Centre from 5 to 8 PM.

Besides learning more about the progress of the project, those in attendance will be asked to complete a feedback form, to share their thoughts on the proposed development.

The information that Aurora LNG receives from the public during the Open House will be considered by the Project team, as part of their considerations  as they move forward with the environmental, technical and socio-economic items related to the development.

In early March, Aurora LNG has plans to open their Community Project office, having selected space in the Coastal Business Resource Centre as their new home in Prince Rupert.

The Coastal Business Centre is located at 344 2nd Avenue West, across from the Bank of Montreal.

Aurora released their most recent information bulletin in December on their website, reviewing some of the latest developments with their project.

Included in that review were some of the steps that the company is taking in the areas of impact, health and safety and engagement with communities on the North Coast.

You can learn more about the Open House and further details about the proposed Digby Island project from the Aurora LNG website.

For more background on the project see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

National Energy Board approves Woodside Energy LNG export licence

Woodside Energy LNG, the Australian energy company that has been exploring its options for LNG development at Grassy Point received a 25 year natural gas export licence on Thursday, providing for another step along in the process of LNG for the North Coast.

That announcement, one of a number that the National Energy Board has made in recent months is part of the review by the Federal regulator of the many proposed LNG developments in British Columbia.

It's a positive move for those looking for progress when it comes to LNG development for the region, but whether a decision from the National Energy Board of yesterday is ever followed up by the company remains to be seen.

Woodside Energy proposal for
an off shore LNG facility for
Grassy Point
Woodside which has been reviewing its options for Grassy Point over the last year or so, has also become a major partner with Chevron for a proposed LNG terminal development in Kitimat.

That Kitimat LNG project is considered by those in the LNG industry as much further along in planning than the proposed Grassy Point project.

Whether Woodside Energy is inclined to take on two major investments in the Northwest at this time, is something that will be watched with interest by LNG observers in the months ahead.

Grassy Point already has had one of the two proposals for the area taken off the drawing board, earlier this month Aurora LNG confirmed that it was shifting its focus for an LNG terminal towards Digby Island, a site that Aurora believes offers the best opportunity for the company to move its plans forward.

The distribution note regarding the Woodside Energy approval  allows for a maximum term quantity of 807 billion cubic metres for export, you can review the NEB announcement for Woodside Energy here.

More background on their two potential developments can be found on our archive pages, the Woodside Energy Grassy Point proposal can be reviewed here, while details on their Kitimat LNG partnership with Chevron can be examined here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Prince Rupert Council gives final approval to Transit Fare Increases

Considering in recent weeks the usual running time for a Prince Rupert City Council session has been close to two hours, Wednesday's Special Council session may perhaps one day be listed in the record books as the shortest session of municipal governance for the year.

All Council members with the exception of Councillor Joy Thorkelson participated in Wednesday's 5 PM meeting, using sixty seconds of the two minutes and fifteen seconds of the session, to give final approval to some Fare increases for Prince Rupert Transit.

The short meeting was required owing to requirements from BC Transit when it comes to route planning and information material to be delivered in time for the May 1st date that the fare increases will go into effect.

For the record, the video presentation of Wednesday's public session can be found below.

Council then adjourned from their public gathering and went into a Closed session, which excluded the public.

Those discussions marked the third such meeting behind closed doors of the year so far.

For more items related to developments at Prince Rupert City Hall see our Discussion page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Northwest Community College receives 100,000 dollar donation from Seabridge Gold

Trades training in Northwest British Columbia received a significant boost this week as Seabridge gold made its third consecutive donation of 100,000 dollars towards programs at Northwest Community College.

The donation  will be put towards the NWCC Trades 10 program, which introduces five trades to Grade 10 students. The Intro to Trades program is currently available with School Districts in Smithers, Terrace and Hazelton, areas where Seabridge Gold is active in mining in the Northwest.

NWCC Took to twitter
to announce donation
NWCC recently outlined details of a new program designed in support of the Mining industry, with background on the Mineral Processing Operator program, which just delivered its first graduates  through their Houston campus.

You can learn more about the 100,000 dollar commitment to NWCC from Seabridge Gold from this media release.

Other trades program opportunities are available at the Prince Rupert campus, the popular Electrical Foundation Training program begins in February, the ACE IT program is also offered through the local campus, with Welding and Industrial Millwright foundation programs currently under way.

For more background on other Trades programs offered through NWCC see their website here.

For more items related to post secondary education in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Port of Prince Rupert may see increased throughput owing to US congestion

Things continue to get heated along the ports of the western United States as negotiations between employers and longshore workers continue on at a fairly slow pace, with slowdowns on the waterfront giving shippers cause to reconsider their transportation plans.

Through the last year, both the Port of Prince Rupert and Port Metro Vancouver have seen increased numbers of transit and some industry observers suggest that those numbers will continue to climb, owing to some of the turmoil of recent months in the US.

While the two sides have reached a tentative deal on some aspects of a proposed agreement, there are still a number of hurdles to be cleared before the US situation settles down and until that final agreement is in place, shipping companies will be looking for alternatives.

With that increased interest however, would appear to bring some challenges, with an increase in delay times a potential problem.

According to Business in Vancouver, container cargo customers have faced delays of two to five days through Prince Rupert, though compared to some of the other ports along the west coast, the Prince Rupert option would appear to remain the fastest transit available to gain entry to North America.

BIV -- U. S. container traffic jams could boost B. C. port business

The long term prospect of more re-directed traffic would appear to work in favour of the planned Phase Two expansion of the Fairview Container Terminal,  with current gateway already working at a high capacity.

With word continuing to spread to shipping lines about the advantages that the North Coast gateway offers,  the prospect of even higher levels of Shipments through Prince Rupert would seem easy to forecast, once the added space has been made available on the Prince Rupert waterfront.

The Port is attending a major Conference on shipping and Logistics this week in Vancouver, with the Prince Rupert Port Authority also listed as one of the Gold Sponsors for this weeks event which wraps up today.

Prince Rupert Port Authority booth
at Cargo Logistics Conference

That event provides an opportunity to share more details on the current capabilities of the Port of Prince Rupert, as well as to highlight the plans for the future, once the highly anticipated expansion project moves forward.

For more on the current levels of U. S. congestion and the impact on Canadians ports see the items below.

Vancouver Province-- B. C. could pick up business from backed-up ports on U. S. West Coast
Seattle Times -- West Coast ports are in rough seas due to slowdown
Wall Street Journal -- West Coast Port Snarls Will Take months to unwind
Labor Notes -- Union Faces Fresh Questions in West Coast Longshore standoff

For more items related to developments with the Prince Rupert Port Authority see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Council schedules two Special sessions for Wednesday

The City of Prince Rupert posted two advisories to their website late Tuesday, providing notice of Two Sessions of Council to take place on Wednesday, January 28th.

The first is a Special Regular Session of Council set for 5 PM, the main purpose it would seem, to provide Final adoption to the recent Transit Fare Fee Bylaws.

Background on the planned changes to the cost of Transit use in Prince Rupert can be found from this item from the blog.

The Second Special meeting will follow the Special Regular session, though it will be Closed to the public, with the City citing Section 90 of the Community Charter for the closure, highlighted by the following notice:

(e) the acquisition, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if the council considers that disclosure could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.

The closed session of Wednesday, marks the third such closed session of January.

For more background on events at City Council see our Archive page here.

Update: Council spent two minutes in public session to provide Final Approval to Transit Fare Increases for 2015.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council waives Arena Rental fee for Guns and Hoses Charity Game

Prince Rupert's Everybody Gets to Play program was the winner on Monday evening, as Prince Rupert city Council considered a request from organizers of the annual Guns and Hoses Charity Hockey Game that takes place in the City.

Council reviewed a letter from Inspector Wayne Maughn of the Prince Rupert detachment of the RCMP, who outlined the nature of the Charity Game and the local program designated for support this year, all part of the request to have the City waive the regular rental fee for ice time at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.

After a few minutes of discussion and a reminder from Councillor Barry Cunningham on the focus of the program that is run through the Civic Centre, the rent for the night of hockey was waived.

You can learn more about the Everybody Gets to Play program from this link to the City's Recreation Department

As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, planning is now in motion for the game, which is set to take place on Saturday, February 7th starting at 7:30.

The short conversation regarding the Arena request can be found from the City's Video Archie, it runs from the 47 to 49 minute mark

For more items from Prince Rupert City Council see our Discussions Page archive here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Procedural concerns make for lengthy discussion at Monday's council session

For the second City Council session in a row, an attempt from the Mayor to seemingly move the proceedings along at a faster pace found some opposition from Council members.

Monday night's Council session started with the surprise announcement that the Council of the Whole Session, was to be cancelled for the evening, with the Mayor explaining that he was looking to try something new in the future to engage the public with Council.

The Council of the Whole process, which is normally in place once a month, in the past has provided for residents the opportunity to ask questions of Council regarding issues that they have concerns about.

The Mayor, citing his interpretation of Council procedures suggested that since no one had expressed an interest prior to the meeting to speak to Council, then Council could move forward without the need for that Committee of the Whole engagement.

It was an announcement that Councillor Thorkelson took some exception to later in the evening, outlining her thoughts on the Mayor's decision to change the procedures that have been in place since before her arrival on Council in 2005.

In particular, she was concerned about the surprise nature of the decision to change the procedures and expressed the belief that it was an issue that Council should discuss before such moves are put in motion.

Councillor Cunningham also offered up his thoughts on the Council of the Whole meeting, suggesting that it offers up a good opportunity for Council to hear from the Community and is not something that they should quickly discard.

Adding that it could complement the Mayor's still to be developed plans for more Civic engagement, earlier in the evening the Mayor had once again floated the concept of monthly Town Hall like meetings for the Civic Centre at some point in the future.

Mayor Lee Brain during course
of Procedural discussions Monday night
The Committee of the Whole controversy seemed to come to an end after the Mayor had reviewed some of the procedures by way of his smart phone, suggesting that he perhaps may have mis-interpreted the process that is currently in place.

Beyond the Committee of the Whole issue, Councillor Thorkelson also expressed concerns over the Mayor's approach to the changing of the Council Agenda, looking for the opportunity for all Council members to share their opinions on any procedural changes that may be considered.

In particular she had concerns over how the Mayor was approaching the segment of Council where Council members are allowed to raise issues, make comments and offer observations.  Suggesting that the Mayor's proposal of Council members having to advise to their intentions at the start of Council, expressing the thought that it would be a duplication of efforts.

The lengthy discussion for the most part involved only three members of Council, with Councillors Cunningham, Thorkelson and the Mayor providing for all of the back and forth on the issue.

None of the three newcomers to office, Councillors Niesh, Mirau and Randhawa, nor incumbent Nelson Kinney offered any comment to the procedural debate of Monday night

As the topic finally exhausted itself, the main takeaway would seem to have been that the topic of change to any procedural issues would best be discussed as part of Strategic planning sessions, though Councillor Thorkelson did add that any moves to change a portion of Council business that involves public participation should be discussed in public sessions.

A larger overview of the procedural discussions can be found on our City Council Timeline page.

For a review of the exchanges between the Mayor and Councillors Cunningham and Thorkelson see the City's Video Archive, the lengthy back and forth starts at the one hour thirty one minute mark and continues on until the end of the Council session at one hour fifty five minutes

Monday's controversy was not the first time this session where Councillor Thorkelson has raised issues of procedure, at the January 12th session she raised concerns over the Mayor's attempt to secure a blanket adoption of all of the previous minutes for December.

As we outlined on the blog on January 14th, at that time Councillor Thorkelson pointed out a number of errors to the minutes and counselled the Council members to address each of those minutes on an individual basis, sending some back to staff for clarification and to address the errors.

The rocky start to Council for January seems to suggest that there might be a need to go over the process that Council will use as a template moving forward with their Council sessions.

The ongoing confusion over process and mis-steps of recent weeks, is making for a City Council that appears to be creating more problems than it needs to take on in these early days.

Until they get a better handle on their day to day planning for the simple mechanics of a Council meeting and other related items, it may be a wise strategy to slow down the pace of some of their other initiatives, such as the string of Committees that they have recently formed.

Otherwise, the very real problem of getting overwhelmed by their self created workload could pose larger problems for Council solidarity.

For more items related to City Council Discussions see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council moves Transit fare increases forward, but with some changes to the BC Transit recommendations

Bus Fares are going up in Prince Rupert, but the impact won't be quite as harsh as originally outlined two weeks ago.

Monday night at Council, after consideration of the overview from BC Transit of the last council session and a review of a report from Staff, the Mayor and Council decided on a few changes to the fare structure provided.

But those decisions didn't come easy and weren't made until after a lengthy and at times vigorous discussion, of the impact of increased fares on low income residents and Seniors in the community.

By the end of the discussion however, all but Councillor Joy Thorkelson provided first, second and third reading to the bylaw motion to raise the fees, with the cost of travelling on the City's bus routes set to increase on May 1st.

The controversial plan to raise the Seniors rates to 48 dollars ran into a fair amount of push back, with Councillor's Cunningham and Randhawa speaking out against that particular proposal.

In the end Council decided to go with Councillor Randhawa's compromise suggestion of an increase of the Seniors bus pass rates to 24 dollars for the year, making for a cost of 2 dollars a month for those Senior Citizen's that rely on Transit.

As part of the discussion, Council broke away from the usual procedures of a Regular Council session, to allow for comment from a participant from the gallery, with Charles Justice making a presentation to urge council to keep the fee structures low, so as to increase usage of the Transit system.

The suggestion to seek ways to increase ridership was a theme that both Mayor Brain and Councillor Thorkelson found much to like and one which both offered up their intent to follow up on.

The discussion however did not come without some disappointment expressed by Councillor Thorkelson ,who was clearly against both the increase to the Seniors rates and the overall increase to all passengers.

After the full exchange of comments and a few tweaks to the original BC Transit recommendations, Council voted to approve the new measures, with Councillor Thorkelson voting against the motion.

The new rates will provide for a mix of the BC Transit recommendations and a few changes to those

The daily fare for Adults will be 2 dollars, however the Student/Seniors fares will remain at 1.50.  

As well the price of a book of tickets for Adults will be 18 dollars, and remain at 13.50 for Students/Seniors providing for ten tickets for the price of nine. 

The Adult Day Pass will remain at 4 dollars, while the Students/Seniors Day pas will cost 3.75.

The Seniors Annual Pass will increase by 12 dollars to a yearly amount of 24 dollars.

The new fares will be in effect as of May 1st, Route changes as recommended by BC Transit were approved at the January 12th Council session.

You can review that BC Transit presentation from our blog item of January 14th.

A more expansive overview of the back and forth discussions around the Council chamber can be found on our City Council Timeline.

You can review the full discussion on the theme from the City's Video Archive, it begins from the 50 minute mark and continues on until the 1 hour 27 minute point.  As well, the public participation of Mr. Justice can be reviewed at the 34 to 38 minute mark.

For more items related to discussions at Prince Rupert City Council see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Northern Health provides City Council with an outline of its Healthy Communities Program

Monday night's Council session featured a presentation from Northern Health, as Sheila Gordon-Payne and Jane Boutette offered up some background on the focus of the Healthy Communities Program.

They highlighted the consultation and innovation that the project is bringing to Health Care in the community, taking a more a pro-active approach on the health of those living on the North Coast.

Through their Healthy Communities Committee, Northern Health is looking to engage the community in developing a strategic approach to target areas of concern to help residents avoid the need for acute care further down the road.

The main focus for this year for the Committee will be to examine issues related to youth at risk and items of interest regarding Seniors.

Representing the City of Prince Rupert on the Healthy Communities Committee will be Councillor Barry Cunningham, with Councillor Thorkelson standing as an alternate to the Committee.

More on the Healthy Communities approach can be found from the Northern Health website.

In addition to the overview of the Healthy Communities program, Ms. Gordon-Payne outlined the need for local residents to take advantage of the many grant opportunities that are offered by Northern Health, noting that they did not have a large number of applicants from the North Coast in the most recent grant period.

That lack of participation, left a fair amount of grant money behind that could have been used for programs and services in the community.

You can review the presentation from Monday from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the eleven minute mark and continues through until the 34 minute point.

For more items related to discussions at City Council see our Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council gets preview of Northern Growth Conference planned for March

Representatives of the Northwest
Growth Conference at Council Jan 26
Prince Rupert City Council members received a bit of a sneak preview of a Conference planned for the city in March, an economic gathering which will offer up the opportunity for local residents to explore opportunities that could come from any industrial growth that may be planned for the city.

John Farrell from Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest and Paul Venditelli of the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corporation provided the outline of the two day event known as the Northwest Growth Conference.

Scheduled for March 6th and 7th at the North Coast Convention Centre and other venues around town, the conference will feature presentations, speakers and boot camp like experiences. All designed to offer more information for those in the community that may be interested in learning how to gain access to industrial supply chains and other items related to development.

As well as the two days of information, the Northwest Growth Conference will play host to a local Trade show element, offering the opportunity for local businesses or organizations to secure a booth to showcase what they may have to offer as development nears.

Former Prince Rupert CBC Radio reporter Kevin Brown has been tapped as the Master of Ceremonies for the two day conference. With economist/author Michael H. Shuman providing the keynote address to the gathering.

The City of Prince Rupert has signed on as a Platinum Sponsor of the event, lending its support to the the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event for the City.

You can learn more about the Conference from its Facebook page here, or from the Hecate Straight Employment Development Conference page, where information on how to register for the two days of information exchange on the North Coast.

A review of the presentation to Council can be found below, it starts at the 3 minute mark and continues on until about 11 minutes.

For more items related to City Council see our Discussions from Council Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Alaska Governor maintains Prince Rupert Terminal renovation will go ahead ... at some time.

While the January bid process for repairs to the infrastructure of the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal in Prince Rupert is now dead, the project itself should come back to life at some point.

That at least according to some news reports out of Juneau, which suggest that Alaska Governor Dave Walker is hopeful that that the different levels of government will eventually come to an agreement on the Buy America controversy that brought the renovation plans to halt last week.

The Juneau Empire featured an item that outlined how the State of Alaska believes that the current state of the terminal would allow for up to five years of operation, though they are looking into the details of the lease agreement to see if there are any obligations or timeline required to have those renovations in place.

The article goes on to explain that the State plans to re-engage with Canadian officials at some point in the next year, allowing for the current break to serve as a cooling off period it would seem.

Ketchikan's Public Radio station KRBD also had some background on the current state of the ferry renovation project, with the Governor highlighting the Prince Rupert Terminal as important to what the state does as part of its Alaska Marine Highway System.

The tone of commentary regarding the Ferry terminal renovation is a little more subdued from that of last week.

Last Thursday we outlined on the blog, how the Juneau Empire in an editorial piece had called for the Ferry service to end its port call in Prince Rupert.

The comments coming out of the Governor's office of last week would seem to suggest that patience and discussion will be the path chosen and not the approach as recommended by the newspaper's editorial page writers.

You can review the full timeline of events regarding the controversy through our archive pages from 2105 and 2014 found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Pacific Future Energy keeps proposed oil refinery plans in the news

The dramatic drop in oil prices in recent months hasn't apparently reduced the enthusiasm for Pacific Future Energy and their plans for an oil terminal development for the North Coast.

In recent days, the company has been featured in the media on two occasions, the first an editorial piece for the Vancouver Sun composed by Ovide Mercredi, an advisor with Pacific Future Energy and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Mr. Mecredi addressed the theme of the need for First Nations to become more involved in industrial projects that are proposed across the nation. Towards that process, Mr. Mercredi offered up some of the current approaches of Pacific Future Energy as they seek to engage First Nations in their proposed oil terminal project.

Among some of his key points from the editorial, the terminal project would supply Northern Coastal First Nations with cleaner diesel from a nearby refinery, reducing the dangers of the current process of barging the fuel from Vancouver.

He also stressed the technical aspects of the Pacific Future Energy proposal, which calls for near zero carbon emissions to be found from the refinery itself.

Mr. Mercredi also hailed the approach that Pacific Future Energy is taking with its project, outlining how he believes it could become a model for all resource projects in the future.

Mr. Mercredi's op-ed piece in the Sun was delivered at around the same time that an appearance from CEO Samer Salameh  provided more background on the company plans.

The Pacific Future Energy CEO outlined for Business News Network the progress of the proposed terminal development and some of the key factors related to its potential development.

He outlines that the current drop in oil prices is not of a major concern to his company proposal. Stating that refineries such as the Pacific Future Energy proposal make their margins on the difference between crude oil and refined oil, which he believes would provide a desired profit margin for his company.

He observed that consultation with First Nations is a key point of their planning, however he did not expand very much on the nature of any negotiations that may currently underway.

He wraps up his review on the topic of transportation, reviewing how the bitumen would be delivered to the terminal for processing. Suggesting that if a pipeline project that feeds into his proposed terminal does not prove workable, then the oil by train process of transportation would be used to bring bitumen to the coast.

You can review the full interview here.

Yesterday, Mr. Salameh provided a background piece for the Financial Post, a sit down session which followed his appearance at the Empire Club in Toronto.

Pacific Future Energy CEO
Samer Salameh at Empire Club
in Toronto on Monday
He tells the Post, that Pacific Future Energy has narrowed their Terminal development choices to two locations on the BC coast, though he did not identify those locations in his review. He also outlined that the timeline for the company has it finking for an environmental assessment by the end of this year.

In the past, the Prince Rupert area has been mentioned frequently as possible destination for the company and its oil terminal project.

In a bid to cut the cost of construction of the refinery project, Pacific Future would seek out modules from Asia and ship them to the province.

Mr. Salameh  also observed that he believes that the Pacific Future Energy project meets the British Columbia Government's five conditions, a to do list that was originally put in place for the Northern Gateway pipeline.

While Pacific Future Energy continues on with its planning phase, there still appears to be a fair amount of resistance to their proposal to be found along the coast.

Still to be seen is whether the blue print for the project, which includes Mr. Mercredi's observations on First Nations engagement, can swing some of that current opposition in the province over the months ahead.

Background on the Pacific Future Energy Refinery and Terminal can be found from their website here.

For more information on the proposed development can be round on our project archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kitselas First Nation receives funding for Environmental Assessment participation

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has allocated $50,000 to the Kitselas First nation to assist in its participation in the environmental assessment of the proposed Prince Rupert LNG Project.

That is the proposed BG Terminal project development for Ridley Island,  last October BG announced that their proposal was being put on pause, with any Final Investment Decision deferred until a later time.

The environmental aspects of the project through the CEAA however continue on.

The funding, made available through the Participant Funding Program will provide financial resources for the First Nation to participate in upcoming stages of the Environmental Assessment process.

Some of the work ahead with that process for the Prince Rupert LNG project, includes the review and comment on the Environmental Impact Statement summary, the draft Environmental Assessment Report and on potential environmental assessment conditions.

The Kitselas Nation was recently in the news after reaching an agreement with the proponents of two Pipeline projects that are planned to deliver natural gas to terminal projects in Prince Rupert.

Last last year, the Kitselas Nation announced an agreement with Pacific NorthWest LNG, one of a string of announcements that the LNG company had reached with local First Nations.

The advisory of the additional funding came by way of a Public Notice issued on Friday by the CEAA.

For more items related to the Prince Rupert LNG project see our project archive page here

For a larger overview of LNG issues across the Northwest see our archive here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

School District invites the public to their budget presentations tonight

School District 52 is in the early stages of putting together its budget strategy for 2015-16 and as part of the engagement process, the Board is hosting an information and Consultation session this evening to outline different aspects of their review.

The evening will feature what the School District calls a World Cafe approach to information delivery. A process where those in attendance can travel from station to station, to learn more about some of the issues and items of interest that the School District is considering for 2015-16.

School District officials will be on hand to explain issues further and take suggestions and recommendations from those that attend tonight's Budget Meeting.

The session takes place in the Multi Purpose Room at Charles Hays Secondary School, the consultation event gets underway at 7 PM.

For more items on Education on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

NWCC features Applied Coastal Ecology program in You Tube presentation

One of the highly acclaimed educational offerings at Northwest Community College is the Applied Coastal Ecology program, based out of the the Prince Rupert campus, the program attracts students from the across the Northwest, as well as from other parts of Canada.

The program is designed to prepare graduates for careers in a number of occupations such as; coastal natural resources management, ecosystem restoration, environmental monitoring, as well as a number of other employment opportunities.

This month NWCC is launching a media campaign to raise awareness about the options available through the Prince Rupert course.

To help prospective students gain a better understanding of the program, NWCC has put together a video overview of the program for its You Tube page.

As part of the review, NWCC student Melissa Rektor gives a snapshot when it comes to what she hopes to gain from the program.

The two year program provides a certificate after one year of study and a diploma after year two. The Applied Coastal Ecology program features two intakes, one in September and the second in January.

You can review some of the program background here, the thirty second visual presentation of what NWCC has to offer can be found below:

For more on Education on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Three Rupertites continue their work on NWCC board as new appointments made

Northwest Community College filled some open spots on its Board of Directors last week, with three Northwest residents named and ready to take up their new duties.

In November, NWCC issued the call for Applicants for the open positions on their board, and last month, new representatives from Terrace and Kitimat were added to the fourteen member board, which is made up of a mixture of community members and representatives from Northwest Community College.

North Coast resident Rhoda Witherly has stepped aside from her duties, however the region will continue to be represented by three members of the Board, with Herb Pond, Judy Carlick-Pearson and City Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa back at their duties for the new year.

Mr. Pond is Chair of the Board, which holds meetings through the period of September to June.

The NWCC Board will hold its first meeting for 2015 on February 24th.

For more items related to NWCC see our Education archives.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Long time British Columbia moving company files for bankruptcy

For the last 86 years the Williams Moving and Storage vans have been familiar sights across British Columbia, but with word last week of a bankruptcy filing, the long time fixture in the Northwest and the province is in the process of shutting down.

Notices were posted at Williams locations across British Columbia last week, outlining the nature of the bankruptcy action and advising customers of the process of retrieving any items that they currently have in storage.

What impact that the bankruptcy proceedings may have locally remain unknown.

Gat Leedm  was in a partnership with Williams,  operating the Container Examination Facility for the Port of Prince Rupert. Following last week's announcement Truck movements had continued through the city to and from the Fairview Container Port and the Inspection terminal.

However, the Gat Leedm Transportation Group Facebook page, twitter feed and website all appear no longer active at this moment.

Back in May of 2012 Gat Leedm Transportation Group announced the joint venture which combined the strengths of the Metlakatla Development Corporation, Williams Moving and Storage and Island Tug and Barge Ltd, to provide a seamless transportation and supply chain in the region.

The closure of Williams Moving and Storage, marks the latest in changes to the province's transportation system. Last year at this time, Canadian Freightways closed a number of its locations across Western Canada, including service out of its Prince Rupert location.

Background on the Williams bankruptcy announcement can be found from a number of media reports over the last few days.

Global BC-- Williams Moving Closes its doors after 86 years of business (video)
Vancouver Sun -- Williams Moving and Storage files for bankruptcy
Prince George Citizen -- Williams Moving & Storage declares bankruptcy
Terrace Standard -- Terrace Williams Moving and Storage employees 'in limbo' after company declares bankruptcy
Business in Vancouver -- Williams Moving and Storage files for bankruptcy
CBC News -- Williams Moving and Storage filing for bankruptcy after 86 years

For more items related to the Commercial sector on the North Coast see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, January 23, 2015

Council of Haida Nation takes Federal Government to court over Herring Issues

CHN court filing
click on document
to expand
The Council of Haida Nation is moving forward with its plan to ensure a closure of the Herring Fishery off Haida Gwaii this spring, revealing that they have filed a notice of application with Federal Court.

The CHN posted their application to the Court to their twitter feed and website today.

It's the latest step in their ongoing efforts in response to recent moves by the Ministry of Fisheries, which was planning to open a herring fishery off of Haida Gwaii.

Last Friday, we outlined on the blog how the Council of the Haida Nation had declared closed the assessment area of Haida Gwaii, joining First Nations on Western Vancouver Island in expressing their disappointment at the DFO plans

We reviewed those Vancouver Island concerns over the DFO decision with this item from January 13.

On Tuesday, UFAWU/Unifor the largest union in the British Columbia fishery offered its support to a bid from the Haida Nation to shut down the herring fishery this spring, outlining their shared concerns in a letter to the Council of Haida Nations.

The correspondence with the CHN called on the need for DFO to be held accountable on what UFAWU called mismanagement of fisheries issues.

The DFO-Pacific needs to be held to account on this mismanagement. Over the last four decades access to fish and fisheries has become separated from fishermen and adjacent coastal communities. Continued dis-integrated management on our coast is simply unacceptable. -- A passage from a letter of support to the Council of Haida Nations from UFAWU/Unifor

As the Council of the Haida Nation moves forward with its court action, the process now shifts to the Federal Government which has ten days from the date of filing to respond to the Court.

You can find more background on fishery issues on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii from our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Kitsault Energy President says his LNG project is ready to go

Of the eighteen proposed LNG terminals that are on the drawing board for the province, most British Columbians probably weren't anticipating that the first announcement of a Final Investment Decision would come out of a small, isolated Northwest community.

Krish Suthanthiran, President of Kitsault Energy and the proponent of an LNG terminal development in the abandoned community has declared his project ready to go, giving what appears to be the exclusive details of his Final Investment announcement to the Alaska Highway News.

And while the company may suggest that they've made their decision, there are still a few hurdles in the way it would seem.

Such things an environmental assessment process, consultations with First Nations, a pipeline, some natural gas commitments, shipping arrangements and global contracts for delivery.

All key ingredients for any LNG project, with few details delivered to date as far as a timeline when it comes to the proposal.

Interestingly enough there is no mention of the step forward of the Final Investment Decision for Kistault Energy made on the company website.

Through that portal, the company still appears to be soliciting the interest of Energy producers and First Nations partners through links on its website.

The Kitsault LNG project first came onto the radar a few years back, part of a shift in direction for the abandoned community site, which at one time was destined to be some form of environmental vacation spot.

More recently Avanti Mining detailed plans for a return to molybdenum mining in the area, though Mr.  Suthanthiran is not involved in that proposal and suggests "it's not a viable project".

A BC Business item from 2012, highlighting the difference in opinion when it comes to the future of Ktisault.

The two conflicting development options also received a review from Global News earlier this year.

The LNG proposal for Kitsault was launched in 2013

Yesterday's announcement, will it appears forever record Kitsault Energy as the first of proposed projects to make a "Final Investment Decision".

Time however, will be determining factor as to whether Kitsault Energy is the First to the finish line when it comes to building a terminal, turning on the power and shipping LNG to world markets.

You can review the background on Kitsault Energy from our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Prince Rupert Port Authority takes multi-media approach on economic study

When it comes to spreading the word about its recent economic report, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is taking a multi media approach to deliver the news.

As we outlined on the blog on Tuesday, the Prince Rupert Port Authority detailed the impact that port operations deliver across Northern British Columbia.  A study that highlighted the surge in Port related employment that has come to not only Prince Rupert and Port Edward, but across the entire Highway 16 corridor and beyond.

And to bring that message home, the Port has taken to info graphics and a new video presentation that highlights the job creation that the Northwest gateway to the world is providing for.

Sharing word of their visual approach through their twitter feed.

The info graphic breaks down some of the employment data by way of Person Years.

The video for its part, is a ninety second review of the impact that the Port has on the economy of Northern British Columbia. Featuring a collection workers at various port facilities and port related occupations, such as Prince Rupert Grain, Ridley Terminals and the Fairview Container Terminal, as well as those that work at other occupations in the region.


You can review the full economic impact study here.

For more items related to the Prince Rupert Port Authority see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 22 -- CBC's The National: At Issue Panel: The Economy and the election

An archive of the At Issue features from the CBC's Flagship News program The National.

January 22nd edition: The Economy and the election


Alaska Newspaper editorial calls for the end of Alaska Marine Highway Service to Prince Rupert

With the politicians doing most of the talking in recent days regarding the controversial Prince Rupert Ferry Terminal project, the polarization of the proposed renovation is starting to draw some sharp lines.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the Alaska Government made the decision on Wednesday to cancel the Prince Rupert Terminal renovation, leaving the project in a state of limbo while all of those involved in the conversation reassess their next move.

The cancellation order came as a response to an announcement a day earlier by the Canadian Government, which on Tuesday outlined its intention to challenge the Buy America provisions of the project bid sheet.

The back and forth discussion and occasional sharp words between the different levels of government didn't gain much attention in the early days, for the most part they remained the things of trade policy issues that few seemed inclined to follow.

But with yesterday's latest development that appears to have changed a bit for those living to the north or Prince Rupert.

The Ferry Terminal topic now seems to be starting to heat up beyond the reach of the government officials, with the first shot from Alaska coming by way of an editorial today in the Juneau Empire.

A short but concise review of the situation from the point of view from the Alaska capital, with a suggested  solution to the dispute that will surely catch the attention of Tourism Prince Rupert officials.

The main talking point from the Juneau Empire being the call for the State of Alaska to not only end the plan to renovate the Prince Rupert Terminal but bring to an end the State's Ferry service to Prince Rupert.

Some of the key observations from the perspective of the Alaska newspaper include:

Gov. Bill Walker could simply apply for an exemption from the “buy American” clause, but we think there’s a better solution. It involves cutting.

 The state of Alaska is facing a $3.5 billion revenue shortfall. It’s going to be looking for budget cuts. One of those cuts should be Prince Rupert. We’re not just talking about the new ferry terminal. We’re talking about cutting Prince Rupert as a stop on the Alaska Marine Highway.

Cutting Prince Rupert would slice money from the Marine Highway’s budget, preserving funding elsewhere. The Marine Highway’s own traffic figures make the case for this cut.

The state’s budget cap is too wide to be bridged unless every department pitches in. Cutting service to Prince Rupert does not do a disservice to any Alaskans. Service to the Lower 48 will still be available through Bellingham. 

In 2013, the Marine Highway carried 254,437 passengers in Southeast Alaska. Fewer than 8,000 of them were picked up in Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert had about as many passenger embarkations as Petersburg, in fact. 

Prince Rupert does not offer anything that cannot be obtained through another port. 

 As the state cuts its budget, we expect the Alaska Marine Highway to bear its share. If it comes down to a choice between Petersburg and Prince Rupert, we know which option we prefer.

The full editorial from the Juneau Dispatch can be reviewed here.

The review of the ongoing dispute has also become the feature attraction to the comments section of another Alaska news option.

In another article posted today, the Alaska Dispatch News offers up the temperature of those that like to make their views known to the editors.

Some of those who weighed in, offer up solutions, others seem to want to escalate the dispute even further.

You can review the article and full range of commentary from the Dispatch News here.

The comments section of any local newspaper of course basically allows for a bit of venting from the local readership, so we probably can take the heated observations coming out of Alaska with a grain of salt.

The editorial however is something that might raise a bit of concern for those at Tourism Prince Rupert, as that organization has been looking to keep the dispute over the terminal renovation from turning into a much more worrisome issue.

Before we all get to taking to the mattresses as Tony Sorpano might put it, there is one thing that we all should keep in mind.

For all of their bombast, those writing the editorials and taking to the comments pages seem to forget one thing, the Prince Rupert gateway for many Alaskans is. in a way their highway connection to the lower 48 states.

It is an important part of the infrastructure for the state and while they probably won't admit it at the moment, it serves as a valuable transportation option to the rest of the continent.

The Juneau Empire Editorial from Thursday however, does provide an reminder once again as to how quickly these kind of disputes can escalate.

One thing is certain, when politicians have to make decisions, they for the most part do them with their constituency in mind. In the case of Alaska Governor Bill Walker, those that he answers to are at the moment, weighing in with suggestions that offer up a solution that seems to resonate with a number of his fellow Alaskans.

Suggestions that would clearly have an impact on both Alaska and Prince Rupert.

So finding a solution to the impasse is clearly something that both sides should be working towards, as a resolution to the issues would it seems serve the best interest for both countries.

For more background on the dispute see our archive page on Transportation here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

UNBC celebrates 10 years of Med School at the Prince George campus

It was a milestone moment ten years ago when UNBC launched the Northern Medical program and over the weekend, the Prince George University celebrated that decade of growth and achievement.

Ten years ago UNBC accepted its first students, trail blazers for the first medical school program to be provided outside of the Lower Mainland.

Last Friday a number of dignitaries, returning first year students and the current student body working their early years of the program, all gathered at the Prince George campus to celebrate the decade of growth for the program.

The introduction of the medical program has provided Northern Health with a blue print for the future of health care in the northern half of British Columbia. As graduates begin to seek out their first jobs in the medical profession, some are choosing to put down their roots in many of the communities served by the health service provider.

Since the program was launched UNBC has expanded its annual intake of students from 24 to 32 and has graduated seven classes since 2008. Once they leave the Northern Medical Program, graduates move on to two to seven years of medical residency and further training.

In a backgrounder from Friday's ceremonies, UNBC outlined that so far, about 30 per cent of those that have graduated from the program have settled into permanent practice in the North, with more than two-thirds in permanent practice serving in rural, remote and northern communities.

“Marking the first 10 years of studies in the North is a historic occasion for the region” ...  “Our goal of educating future physicians in the North, once considered an impractical dream, is now a fully-formed reality – one that is helping alleviate the chronic shortage of physicians throughout northern B.C.”  -- Dr. Paul Winwood, Vice Provost Medicine, UNBC and Regional Associate Dean, Northern BC, UBC Faculty of Medicine. 

UBC a partner in the Northern Medical Program heralded the last ten years with a review on their Faculty of Medicine website,  recognizing the shift in thinking that came with the development of the program.

With the first ten years having gone by in fairly fast fashion, Dr. Winwood at UNBC is looking forward to what the future will bring for the program.

“Training doctors is a long process; a large number of our graduates are still in residency or other postgraduate training,” ... “This is only the beginning. We are looking forward to our next decade and beyond.”  

More background on the Northern Medical Program can be found on the UNBC website

Former Prince Rupert resident Susan Luong outlined her experiences from the UNBC program for the Prince George Citizen, making note of the small number of students per instructor and the amount of support they receive from the medical community in the Prince George area.

The celebrations of last weekend received a full review from some of the other Prince George media outlets as well, highlights of that coverage can be found below.

CKPG TV-- Northern Medical Program celebrates a milestone
Opinion 250-- Northern Medical Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Prince George Free Press-- Northern Medical Program celebrates 10th anniversary

For more items related to studies at UNBC see our archive page here, more background on developments with Northern Health can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

U. S. Financial analysts give Kitimat the advantage in LNG development timeline

A report from a United States Financial group maybe be a bit of cold water for those looking for a bit of  momentum for the North Coast and its LNG dreams in the short term.

The investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein and Company offered an overview on the future of LNG in the near term for its subscribers, a report global in scope, but with a few notes on the future for British Columbia.

Suggesting that of the eighteen LNG projects proposed for British Columbia, only two will make it to the finish line by 2023 and both of them at the moment are proposed for the Kitimat region.

The investment group identified Shell's proposed LNG Canada development and Kitimat LNG, a partnership between Chevron and Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd., as the two most likely to progress to a Final Investment Decision and further development.

The Shell project is anticipated to be shipping LNG to world markets by 2021 if that Final Investment Decision is made, while the Kitimat LNG project would send its first shipments of LNG out by 2023.

The report makes note of what it calls the Global anxiety over commodity prices in recent months and how the changing economic picture will shift some of the time lines and decisions regarding many of the current LNG projects currently under consideration worldwide.

The Financial post outlines more from the report here.

According to that newspaper, none of the proposed projects for the Prince Rupert area were mentioned in the company's briefing notes for clients.

In addition to the review of the Bernstein and Company report, the Post also offers up further background on the status of the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal, as well as how the latest developments in the energy sector may impact on the province's LNG strategy.

The topic of LNG was part of the discussion in Prince George on Wednesday, with Premier Clark addressing an audience at a Natural Resources Forum and maintaining her optimism over the prospects for the province and its place in the LNG industry.

The Pacific NorthWest project was the subject of discussion at the Forum as well, with Dean Patry, the Vice-President of the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project calling the Petronas project  the "Bell weather" project in the region.

For more on LNG in the Northwest, you can review our archived background information on the two Kitimat proposals here, while our collection of items related to proposed developments on the North Coast can be reviewed here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review