Tuesday, March 31, 2015

No bounty of jobs from herring fishery for local shore workers

While the topic of the herring fishery is proving to be controversial on Haida Gwaii and the Central coast, for the North Coast the season is in full swing as we head into April.

As most residents of Prince Rupert have no doubt noticed this past week, a large volume of transport trucks have started to make their annual trek from the city's remaining fish plants, destined for industrial popping locations in the Lower Mainland or off shore.

An ongoing issue of concern that Councillor Joy Thorkelson raised with Council members last Monday evening.

Ms. Thorkelson made use of time at the end of the council session to provide an update to the community on the current status of that herring fishery, calling attention to the continued process of trucking the frozen herring to locations outside of the North Coast for further processing.

That shift from the past practice of local popping, she observed has resulted in a number of job losses to the community as shore workers remain at home without work, as the product caught in northern waters is transported south or taken off shore for further processing.

She pointed to a change in regulations by the Federal Government as the main cause for the shift in processing procedures for the industry.

This year she estimates that the practice of shipping the herring out of town for further processing, mainly to non-union plants she observed, has resulted in sixty to eighty local workers losing out on roughly six weeks of work.

The practice of shipping product out of the city, has made for a shift in the direction for the local fishery, one that has had a significant impact on what once was a key portion of the local fish processing industry in the community.

You can review her presentation to council on the issue from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the one hour thirty five minute mark and continues on for about a minute.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page here, we also have a page dedicated to items regarding fishery issues which you can access here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City Council hires Dr. Barb Faggetter as "resident scientist"

Dr. Barb Faggetter has been hired on
as the City's "resident scientist"
The first significant hiring through the funding of the Legacy Corporation has provided Dr. Barb Faggetter employment as the City's "resident scientist".

With Dr. Faggetter set to take on environmental assessment work on issues related to the proposed LNG development planned for the Tuck Inlet area of the city.

The announcement of Dr. Faggetter's hiring came by way of a posting to Mayor Lee Brain's Facebook page, as the Mayor made mention of her position while updating residents on his recent trip to Texas and the Exxon Campus.

"Council has zoned 10 conditions into the process itself and have hired Dr. Barb Faggetter as our resident scientist to oversee the Environmental Assessment" -- Mayor Lee Brain providing an update on the Exxon/Imperial LNG proposal for Tuck Inlet

The Mayor was touring the giant facility as part of the city's efforts to secure an LNG processing and shipment facility for the Tuck Inlet area.

In addition to the announcement regarding Dr. Faggetter's employment, the Mayor also outlined that Exxon has plans to release the design of the facility to the public shortly.

Mayor Brain announced Dr. Faggetter's
hiring through a Facebook post last week
As we outlined on the blog earlier this month, the Exxon project commenced its Environmental phase on March 5th.

The hiring of Dr. Faggetter appears to have been conducted as part of a number of closed sessions of Council in recent weeks.

At least we can only suspect that is where the hiring was considered, as there has been no mention of it made, or welcome aboard provided to the Doctor in recent open sessions of Council.

The Mayor's Facebook update was the first mention of Dr. Faggetter's involvement with the now ongoing environmental phase of the proposed Exxon project.

By not addressing the topic in public, residents will have no idea if the decision to hire her was unanimous, or if anyone on council had any concerns about the process involved.

Nor it seems, was there much of an intensive search for other qualified candidates for the position of a resident scientist, as no employment opportunity ads, or tender for services has appeared on the city's web page in recent weeks, signifying that the search for any position was under way.

Dr. Faggetter had previously been hired on as part of a contract basis by the Legacy Corporation to conduct an overview of the Lot 444 area related to the city's rezoning plans of last year.

Previous to that, she has made numerous appearances at City Council sessions to provide observations on local LNG proposals.

Of note among her presentations were sessions related to her concerns over the Pacific Northwest LNG Lelu Island development and more recently her findings to Council on the Tuck Inlet proposal from Exxon.

And while Dr. Faggetter most likely has the qualifications for such a position as "resident scientist" as the city may have defined them, the method of the city's approach to the hiring, is something that might be of note for those that are concerned about transparency issues when it comes to the Legacy Corporation staffing for such positions.

Beyond the lack of a proper posting procedure for what appears to be a civic position, there was also no public discussion at Council about the process as it relates to the staffing of Legacy Corporation related positions.

At recent budget information sessions, the City outlined that Legacy funding would not be used to cover municipal budget shortfalls, or other concerns related to civic operations.

Instead, the revenue streams from the Exxon money related to Lot 444 development is to be directed towards staffing issues related to development, which we imagine is where the hiring of Dr. Faggetter comes in.

To this point residents have no knowledge of the term of employment for Dr. Faggetter, leaving it unsaid as to how long she will be on the payroll,.

As well, so far there has been no explanation as to the terms of reference for her work, what the city's expectations are regarding her oversight on the Lot 444 issue, or what amount of salary she will be paid in relation to her expertise on the issues the city may be concerned about.

Instead, the only mention the public receives of the hiring comes by way of the Mayor's Facebook page,  that while helpful in a vanity press kind of way of providing updates on the Mayor's activities, probably should not be taking the place of a proper information flow from the city itself.

Positions of employment and decisions related to developments with the City and the Legacy Corporation, should primarily be routed through the City's website, with a proper trail of information regarding how those decisions have been achieved available for review by the public.

For all it's talk of transparency and consultation on issues related to the Legacy Corporation, the handling of Dr. Faggetter's appointment would suggest that Council still has some work to do when it comes to keeping the public up to date on what the newest City owned corporation is up to.

More on the Tuck Inlet LNG project can be found from our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Quickload shift to old Canadian Freightways yard heads for public hearing stage

Rezoning proposal for the old
Canadian Freightways location
A proposed move for Quickload Terminals to the old Canadian Freightways site was the subject of a portion of last weeks City Council session.

As council members heard of the need to rezone the land in question to allow for container stuffing and other operations related to the container service in the city.

Quickload recently announced that they were preparing to shift their operations from Watson Island, apparently settling on the location that once housed the Canadian Freightways operations in the city, located at Frederick Street and Highway 16.

In order to locate in that area however, the city will have to rezone the land in question, a process which they put in motion last Monday, following a report from the City Planner Zeno Krekic.

As part of his overview, Mr. Krekic also noted that the proposed shift of purpose for the area will be outlined for the province's highways ministry, in order to hear comment from them regarding the change and any impact on traffic at the Frederick Street entrance to the highway.

Councillor Thorkelson had questions regarding the rezoning proposal, with concern raised over what other kind of industry might be able to locate on the land, should Quickload at some point decide to leave.

To address those concerns, the City Manager suggested that Council could put in place covenants to exclude other uses, beyond what is specified with the current proposal.

Council voted to move forward with the process, putting forward a timetable for a public meeting to consider the issue further.

The public hearing will take place on Monday, April 13 at 7 PM in Council Chambers at City Hall, background on the process can be reviewed here.

You can examine the proposed relocation to the Canadian Freightways yard from the City's Video Archive, the discussion starts at the one hour twenty two minute mark.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Rushbrook Floats issues received by City Council

City resident Wes Baker with a
presentation to council
regarding Rushbrook Floats

Concerns over a number of issues at Rusbhrook Floats caught the attention of Council last week, with the comments from a local resident making the case for action for the local facility.

As part of the Committee of the Whole Session from last Monday's City Council meeting, Mr. Wes Baker delivered a petition of concerns in the community related to Rushbrook Floats on the east side of the City.

Mr. Baker highlighted the need for a more equitable pass process for local residents and expanded on the nature of repairs required for the boat ramp for the heavily used facility.

He suggested that Council reduce the current year round pass was too expensive for local residents and recommended that the rate be cut to one hundred dollars a year, under a category to be known as resident taxpayer. In addition he called for Free Parking for all daytime users of Rushbrook Floats from October 1st to May 1st.

As for the condition of the boat ramp at Rushbrook, Mr. Baker described the deteriorating condition of the facility as embarrassing for the City, seeking to have something similar to what is currently in place at Port Edward provided for the Rushbrook area, adding that the repairs should be made before the summer arrives.

Repairs for the boat ramp are apparently in the works for the City, with the Mayor advising that the public would be advised through Facebook and other options as to when those repairs will be taking place.

He also noted that a full report on the nature of parking is due to be provided to Council shortly, where all of the issues related to not only Rushbrook Floats, but the Atlin terminal lot and Fairview may be reviewed.

He added that Mr. Baker's petitions and presentation to council would be added to that information archive. More background on the presentation can be found from our Council Timeline for March 25th.

Mr. Baker's concerns and suggestions for Council can be examined by way of the City's Video Archive, he makes his commentary at the five  mark of the evening's proceedings.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Proposed West Side Housing Development moves to public notification stage

As we outlined in a post prior to our break from blogging last week, City Council is currently examining a proposal from a Prince George developer to carve a new housing development out of a wooded area off of Park Avenue, near the BC Ferries Terminal on the west side of the City.

The proposal which appeared as part of last Monday's Agenda package, highlighted the nature of the proposed development and the prospect of a secondary road access that it would provide for the Graham Avenue area of the city.

Last Monday, Council members received a presentation from the Zeno Krekic, the City Planner who outlined the basic plan moving forward for the project, which as a first step will require some rezoning of the land in question.

As part of the process, Mr. Krekic observed that before any work gets underway on the site however, the proponent is to provide for  a public information session to further explain the project for the city's residents.

As well, the developer is to address any outstanding issues related to ownership of portions of the land in question and issues related to highway access and DFO concerns.

Following the City Planners overview, council members were offered the opportunity to outline concerns or ask questions regarding the proposed development, with Councillors Cunningham, Niesh and  Thorkelson offering a number of observations on the topic.

In particular, Councillor Thorkelson  expressed an interest in addressing the need for multi family housing options and wondered if that could be tied into this current proposal.

However, Mr. Krekic pointed out that in this first phase of the proposed development for 30 new homes, the housing stock would be of more upscale single family housing which offers the most financial sense for the proposal. He further noted that the proponent did have plans for potential future development of multi family housing in areas adjacent to the area currently under consideration.

The City planner also suggested that the topic of furthering those multi family goals for the city, might be best addressed as part of the public information session to be held by the proponent.

Following the presentation, Council gave first reading to the proposed zoning and Community Plan changes, setting in motion the process for further consultation on the project.

You can review Mr. Krekic's presentation from the City's Video Archive at the one hour two minute mark.

For more items related to City Council Discussions see our archive page here,  we also have a page dedicated towards housing issues on the North Coast, you can review our items from those listings here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City of Prince Rupert looks to increase pressure on Province on taxation caps

A city resident offers up comment
regarding  the City's budget for 2015
Last Monday's council session provided one more opportunity for the City of Prince Rupert to put some of the blame on the areas financial woes back on the shoulders of the provincial government.

As the Mayor and a number of councillors, once again recounted the issue of taxation caps and how they are impacting on the city's ability to cover services.

As part of the final public comment phase on budget deliberations, local resident Denis Rowse offered up his concerns regarding the city's plans to once again increase taxes for local residents to address their 200,000 dollar budget shortfall.

His statement provided both Mayor Lee Brain and Councillor Joy Thorkelson an opportunity to cover some familiar territory of recent weeks, as both explained the nature of the impact on the city of provincial taxation caps on local industry.

As part of that commentary Councillor Thorkelson observed that there is currently a letter in draft stage at City Hall. Observing that once it is finished, it will offer local residents the opportunity to send a message to the province when it comes to what the city considers a major issue between the municipality and the provincial government.

Once the letter is approved, Thorkelson would like to see copies of it provided to a number of locations around the city such as the Library, Civic Centre and MLA Jennifer Rice's office to name a few possible spots, offering an opportunity to provide as wide a distribution to it as possible.

She also added that residents could sign a copy of the city composed letter, or create their own original letter to express their concern over the cap situation and the impact that it is having on the city's financial picture,

You can review that portion of the conversation from the City's Video Archive starting at the 21 minute  minute mark.

For more background on City council discussions see our archive page here, we also offer up a page for review that is dedicated towards issues related to taxation for the City, you can access that here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City will not make use of Legacy Fund for budget shortfall issues

The City's Financial Officer made a short presentation to Council last week as part of the final public consultation session on the city's budget preparations.

One aspect of Corinne Bomben's overview to Council included an answer to questions raised during the last public session of March 9th.

Last Monday evening, particular attention was directed towards the potential use of Legacy Corporation money to fund the budget shortfall, a proposal that the city is seemingly not inclined to make use of.

Instead it would appear that the City prefers to allocate any Legacy Funding towards staffing requirements and other items related to development of the land in question along Tuck Inlet related to the proposed LNG development for the area.

As part of her presentation she suggested that using Legacy Funding to offset operational increases would have as she put it "dire consequences".

Explaining that should the major projects proposed for the region not go ahead, the Legacy funds  would become depleted over the course of an eight year timeline.

Should the city use the Legacy Fund during that time to keep mill rate increases to zero until the fund is exhausted, the result would then be a required 23 per cent increase to the mill rate to fund operational purposes at the end of that period.

She outlined that the city believes that the current method of an incremental approach to taxation that the city is using towards operational costs makes more sense. As it allows for smoother rate changes and keeps pace with normal increases such as contractual and statutory obligations as well as to normal increases to supplies and services.

She also offered up an explanation on the process of determining the mill rate for taxation, making note of the current proposal of a 1.9 percent increase for 2015.

The Mayor further expanded on the proposed use of the Legacy Fund revenues later in the council session, as part of an answer to Denis Rowse, a city resident who had posed a question related to the city's plans to increase taxes once again.

The Mayor outlined some of the challenges that the city is facing when it comes to accessing tax revenues on the industrial side of things, as well he offered up a snapshot of the City's plans when it comes to uses for the Legacy Fund revenue stream.

More background on issues related to the Legacy Fund discussion can be found from our Council Timeline from March 23rd.

Ms. Bomben's presentation to Council can be found from the City's Video Archive, the presentation runs until the five minute mark.

Mayor Brain's thoughts on the Legacy Corporation can be found at the 30 minute mark.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Global TV: The West Block -- Kurdish response to ISIS, Canada's extended ISIS mission

Archive items from Global Television's National Politics Program The West Block.

March 29

A look at the Kurdish response to ISIS, Canada's extended ISIS mission and a conversation with Ruth Ellen Brousseau

Friday, March 27, 2015

"In the House" with Michael Smyth -- March 27

Province columnist Michael Smyth is joined by guests Laura Jones and Iain Black for a discussion on the Transit Tax plebiscite

In The House March 27 (audio)

Subscribe to the feed here

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26 -- CBC's The National: At issues Panel -- Canada's Military mission

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

March 26th edition: Canada's war mission

First Nations Leaders on Voice of BC

Vaughn Palmer hosts Grand Chiefs Edward John and Stewart Phillip, who offer their take on recent developments in British Columbia politics.


Voice of BC - First Nations Leaders from Voice of BC on Vimeo.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Council to consider Zoning issues related to proposed housing development off of Park Avenue

Location of proposed housing
development off of Park Avenue
Those that have taken a drive along Park Avenue in recent months may have noticed some land clearing taking place in the area between the Park Avenue campsite and the BC Ferry Terminal, a bit of activity that has had more than a few in the city wondering what might be up.

Tonight, we get a bit of a preview, as City Council reviews a report from the City Planner, who will outline the nature of a proposed housing development for about 25 per cent of the land in that area of the city.

And while the meeting this evening is only a preliminary look at zoning issues related to the area, the scope of what may be under discussion is fairly interesting to look over.

The report that City Planner Zeno Krekic will present, will offer up some details on a proposal from The Bryton Group Development Corporation, highlighting their plans for property along that stretch of Park Avenue, a section of Prince Rupert real estate that they recently purchased from Oceanview Developments.

Zoning change will be
required for proposed development
Among their plans for one section of that land, is the extension of Graham Avenue to provide for up to 30 single family residential lots created,  a number of which could have potential views of Prince Rupert harbour.

That extension of Graham Avenue would also create a secondary access route into the existing Section Two residential area.

Should City Council approve the various zoning changes that would be required, it's anticipated that work on the first stage of the redevelopment of the area would get underway immediately.

Further plans into the future would see the applicant look to  further develop low density residential housing and single story residential developments as part of the remaining 75 percent, with a portion of the land also allocated for a possible park with trails connecting to Highway 16.

You can review the full report from the City Planner from the Council Agenda package for tonight, it starts on Page 3 and continues through until page 26.

For more items related to City Council discussions, see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Global TV: The West Block -- Lessons from Canada's mission to Afghanistan, PM Harper on guns and how to deal with Russia

Archive items from Global Television's National Politics Program The West Block.

March 22

A look at the lessons learned from the Canadian mission to Afghanistan, Prime Minister Harper says his comments on guns were taken out of context, how to deal with Russia

Friday, March 20, 2015

Province debuts 10 year transportation plan through BC on the Move program

Earlier this week the Province of British Columbia introduced its 10 year Transportation plan known as BC on the Move.

A 2.5 billion dollar project designed to grow the economy, as well as to maintain and replace aging infrastructure across the province  and provide support to B.C.'s expanding resource sector.

The final document delivered this week, was created through engagement sessions across British Columbia, where Ministry of Transportation officials heard concerns and received suggestions on transportation issues from a number of communities.

There were three sessions of interest from the North Coast and Haida Gwaii, opportunities for the province to gain some insight into what local residents were looking for, when it came to transportation issues of the region.

The thumbnail reviews for Prince Rupert highlighted concerns related to truck traffic both on the highway and on surface streets related to Port and potential LNG projects, with Highway 16 identified as a key link for any potential LNG development.

As well transportation issues related to the Prince Rupert Airport and a desire to see a walking/cycling trail created along Highway 16 were some of the other items outlined at those community sessions of last October and November.

You can review those items in more detail below.

(To enlarge the engagement points listed, click on each section, that will open the discussion points in a separate window)

Prince Rupert

Masset/Queen Charlotte City


Considering the amount of time dedicated to the Terrace stop and the volume of interest from that community, it's probably not a surprise that one of the first of the major projects announced following the launch of the program features improvements for that community.

As the Ministry of Transportation outlined details regarding a project designed to improve the Sande Avenue - Highway 16 intersection at Keith Avenue in Terrace.

To this point that project, has been the only improvement project announced for the Northwest region.

You can review more of the findings from the Northwest community sessions, as part of the Northwest Report.

The larger document for BC on the Move can be reviewed here.

More items on issues related to Highway 16 across the Northwest can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Shovels hit the ground for Phase Two expansion

They aren't wasting much time in moving the Phase Two project for Fairview Terminal ahead, as a number of local officials descended on the Container Terminal on Thursday for the ceremonial first digs into the dirt.

Groundbreaking ceremony at Fairview Terminal on Thursday,
photo from the Prince Rupert Port Authority

The project was announced on March 10th, as Port CEO and President Don Krusel outlined the much anticipated project would create space for another four cranes to be located on land that the Port acquired at the old Co-op fish plant site.

Maher Terminals will invest an estimated 200 million dollars in the expansion, which when completed in 2017, will bring the capacity of Fairview Terminal to over 1.3 TEU's annually.

Once the new addition is in operation, Fairview Terminal will feature a seamless 765 metre wharf stretching across the Prince Rupert waterfront, capable of receiving two container ships at the same time, as we'll as the expansion to the east will create increased holding space for containers.

Overview of expansion plan for Fairview Terminal,
new area to be constructed is in green

Thursday's photo opportunity signalled the start of the year and a half project , the more intensive shovelling and construction will be handled by Fraser River Pile and Dredge working with BEL Contracting.

For more background on Fairview Terminals see our archive page here, items related to overall port development can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, March 19, 2015

NDP members on Voice of BC

NDP MLA's  Carole James and George Heyman join host Vaughn Palmer to discuss a number of topics from the current session of the British Columbia Legislature.


Voice of BC - NDP Point of View from Voice of BC on Vimeo.

Pacific Future Energy makes Prince Rupert's ocean access a selling point for its refinery proposal

The British Columbia proponents of an oil refinery for the North Coast continue to work on their plan to make this area the centre of their focus for development, using Prince Rupert's unobstructed access to the Pacific Ocean as one of their main selling points to potential overseas clients.

Representatives of Pacific Future Energy recently took their message to Asia, where they outlined their proposal for a refinery and shipment terminal project for the North Coast. A major industrial venture which would see Alberta bitumen refined here and then shipped to Asian markets.

Senior Advisor Stockwell Day who led the group, also outlined the advantage that company officials believe Prince Rupert has over Kitimat when it comes to any form of oil terminal project.

During their Asian presentation, the company highlighted the difference in approach that it is taking when it comes to the concerns of British Columbians, suggesting that the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal approached their engagement from an Alberta perspective.

Though it would seem that Pacific Future Energy's observations of a BC focus, might be one for a bit of discussion on the North Coast.  As so far, the project hasn't moved much beyond the talking points phase, with little public engagement by Pacific Future Energy with anyone on the North Coast regarding their proposed refinery and terminal project.

One other aspect of their plan that may add to any potential conversation ahead, is the prospect that the company may make use of rail to transport bitumen from Alberta to its proposed terminal. 

It is a subject that in recent months has proven to be fairly controversial for small communities on rail lines across Canada, particularly after the derailment of the Lac Megantic disaster of 2013.

Still, an energy consultant for the company suggests that once a West coast refinery is added to the full overview, the prospect of shipping oil either by pipeline, or by rail will find some public support.  

As for the idea of launching an ambitious oil refinery project in a time of low oil prices, the consultant suggests that even in the current atmosphere the project would still make economic sense.

Brent Jang of the Globe and Mail, a long time observer and correspondent on the theme of energy projects in the province, has provided two instructive background pieces on the direction that Pacific Future Energy is looking to take for their proposal.  

You can review his work here and here

There hasn't been much in the way of an update provided to the Pacific Future Energy website in recent months, and what has been posted only speaks to general information, with little in the way of direct information for the North Coast as of yet.

The Pacific Future Energy concept is one of two proposed major oil related projects for the region.

The other from Eagle Spirit Energy would see the construction of a shipment terminal near Prince Rupert, with the actual upgrading of the bitumen to take place somewhere in Northeastern British Columbia, or Northwestern Alberta.

For more items related to Pacific Future Energy's plans see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mayor Brain outlines the Prince Rupert view of shared concerns with Alaska

Prince Rupert's delegation to Alaska's Southeast Conference will soon be making their way home, with the two day conference in Juneau coming to a conclusion later today.

For Mayor Lee Brain, it marked his first opportunity to exchange pleasantries and ideas with the northern neighbours and from the accounts of Ketchikan public radio, his debut appearance at the Southeast gatherings provided for some key discussion points with a North coast point of view.

The Mayor addressed the conference on Tuesday, with two main themes for the delegates.

First reviewing the importance of the Alaska Marine Highway System to both the state and Prince Rupert, highlighting the convenience that the Prince Rupert stop provides for travellers to the state.

“We see Prince Rupert as Canada’s gateway to Alaska. This is the quickest way to get to Alaska. Most people don’t want to drive through the Yukon up to Alaska. So, we see this as a very important economic and partnership opportunity to continue on with this link” 

Alaska Governor Bill Walker
Prince Rupert Mayor
Lee Brain
 met in Juneau
during the Southeast conference

(photo from Mayor Brain's twitter feed)
The second topic from his presentation, provided a larger overview of the opportunities ahead for Prince Rupert.

As the Mayor updated delegates regarding developments with he Fairview Container Terminal and background on some of the proposed LNG terminals planned for the region.

Areas of commerce that the Mayor suggested offers opportunity for trade for Alaskans.

 “We don’t see it as just as a Prince Rupert opportunity. We see it as an opportunity for Alaska as well, that there might be an opportunity for trade and commerce and increased tourism” 

Beyond the various sessions related to the conference agenda, the Mayor and his travelling party have also had opportunity for discussions with Senate Transportation representatives, as well as with Alaska Governor Bill Walker.

The KRBD report can be reviewed here.

More background on the Southeast Conference sessions can be found below:

Juneau Empire -- Keynote: A big slice of the renewable energy pie
Juneau Empire -- DOT Commissioner: Expect changes across Alaska
Juneau Empire -- Charting Southeast's economy through 2020

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

BG makes change at the top of its Canadian Unit

Madeline Whitaker from the BG Group
at one of her many past appearances
at Prince Rupert City Council
Some mixed messages regarding one of the proposed LNG projects for the North Coast, as  the BG Group shifts Madeline Whitaker away from the Canadian unit.

The company made its announcement on Tuesday, with word of it relayed through a number of business news websites in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Ms. Whitaker a familiar face at many BG functions and information updates in the community, is heading to England to take on duties at the energy giants headquarters.

The announcement of Tuesday added that the company at this time has no plans to hire a new President for BG Canada.

Two BG employees have been assigned to watch over the Canadian interests for the moment, Matt Sullivan, a Houston, Texas based director and Simon Nish, a VP for sustainability with an office in Vancouver.

The two are familiar with the Prince Rupert LNG project, having worked on it at times over the last five years.

As part of the announcement, company spokesman David Byford told the Reuters news agency that the move does not signal any change to the Prince Rupert LNG project.

Still, removing the main point person for the project, certainly doesn't suggest that there is any shift in thinking towards the timeline for any final investment decision on the project.

The Proposed BG Group
LNG project for
Ridley Island
Those familiar with our archive page, will remember that BG put it's British Columbia plans on pause in October of last year.

Since that time, there has not been much in the way of information released related to what was previously thought to be one of the region's front runners for LNG development.

Earlier this month we reviewed the 2015 Global Overview that was released by BG and noted at the time that the Canadian unit was not mentioned as part of that information update for the year ahead.

Background on the announcement can be found below, as more items become available regarding the move we will add them here.

Reuters -- Head of BG Group's Canadian LNG project leaves, not being replaced

For more items related to the BG Group's Prince Rupert LNG project see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Looking for Allies for Prince Rupert's taxation cap fight with the Province

Last week,  while speaking to the theme of irritants between the City of Prince Rupert and the Province, Councillor Joy Thorkelson suggested that local residents might wish to get in touch with the local MLA and the Province's Finance Minister.

A letter writing project that she suggested could offer up some comments of support for the City's cause, particularly when it comes to taking on current limitations on taxation on port related lands in the region.

And while residents give some thought to the idea of a more personal approach on behalf of the city. Council members and Mayor Brain may want to perhaps look to writing some letters, or making some calls of their own. Seeking to build their own larger alliance of municipalities when it comes to concerns with provincial issues.

One place that City Council may want to approach when it comes to looking for similar interests is on Vancouver Island.

A story is percolating in Nanaimo at the moment, one that might offer up a chance for Prince Rupert politicians to seek out some common ground with elected officials in that community. As Nanaimo officials try to come to terms with issues related to some local dams in the Vancouver island city.

Nanaimo News Bulletin -- Mayor requests meeting with province over Colliery dams
Nanaimo Daily News -- Dams issue before Council Monday

Photo of local dam from  the City of
Prince Rupert Annual Report
And while the Nanaimo concerns are not quite the same as the current infrastructure issues facing
Prince Rupert, the commentary from taxpayers over increasing tax loads and how to address the issues related to failing infrastructure, may be an area of mutual interest for the two communities.

Nanaimo, like Prince Rupert is a Port city, with an industrial base and we imagine some of the same issues to deal with when it comes to taxation caps and the need to access revenue for infrastructure concerns.

There may be some things to learn from the Island city as to how they are managing their infrastructure situation and to learn if they have the same problems that Prince Rupert appears to have in getting their message across to the province.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice might wish to join in on the review as well, starting with a visit to the Legislature offices of Nanaimo area MLA's Leonard Krog and Doug Routley to determine if there's a joint approach to be had there.

Going further, she could then seek out other NDP MLA's to help make the taxation cap issue more than just an isolated item from the North Coast.

At last week's public forum Councillor Thorkelson observed that there is a need to show the province that the issue is more than as she put it, just the "whiners on Prince Rupert Council".

One way to achieve that goal, might be to engage other communities in that fight.

If nothing else, a little bit of communication between communities may find out if there are some similar issues in other municipalities outside of the Northwest.

Areas of the province with shared interests, that might help Prince Rupert officials when it comes to getting their taxation concerns a higher profile at the Legislature.

For more items related to City Council issues see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, March 16, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issues Panel -- Who's Really on Trial: Duffy or the Senate

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

April 16th edition: The Mike Duffy Trial, who's really on trial: Duffy or the Senate?

Pacific NorthWest LNG project one of three to participate in development agreement negotiations with BC Government

The process of delivering some forward momentum towards development of some of the province's LNG Terminal proposals is bringing the provincial government and three of the province's would be LNG Terminal developers together.

With the provincial government seemingly looking to create certainty for the would be investors, particularly when it comes to such items as tax rates, gas royalties and other issues related to the large scale developments.

Among the three groups reportedly engaged in those discussions are representatives of Pacific NorthWest LNG, which has proposed an LNG terminal to be developed on Lelu Island near Port Edward.

This weekend, the Vancouver Sun's Gordon Hoekstra provided some background to the under the radar process of those discussions, with this item posted to the newspaper's website yesterday.

In his review, Hoekstra interviews a number of industry observers, who offer up some analysis that notes that agreements such as these are more common in countries with high political risk.  The process often used to reassure large investors, designed to provide certainty over concerns that a change of government could result in revisions to business arrangements.

For the moment British Columbians apparently won't learn much about those discussions, as according to Hoekstra's work, Natural Gas Minister Rich Coleman, has said that the details will not be made public until after a company makes a final investment decision.

The latest timeline regarding the Petronas led bid for the Pacific NorthWest LNG project anticipates a mid summer announcement regarding their Lelu Island proposal.

However, in recent weeks, the Environmental Assessment process for that project has been put on pause, as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency seeks out more information on aspects of the proposed development.

Any  potential delay to the end of the EA process, could  have some impact when it comes to Petronas selecting a date for that highly anticipated Final Investment Decision.

For more items related to LNG development in the province see our general information archive, for notes related to the Pacific Northwest project see our archive of items for that proposal here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Prince Rupert delegation heads north for Marine Highway discussions

You  might have heard some of Willie Nelson's On the Road Again wafting through the Prince Rupert air on Sunday afternoon, as Mayor Lee Brain and a delegation of Rupertites headed north to Alaska to take part in mid session discussions of the Southeast Conference.

This years event is being held in the Alaska capital of Juneau, taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. A full review of the draft agenda for the Mid-Session summit can be found here.

The Prince Rupert group heading for Juneau includes: Mayor Lee Brain representing the City of Prince Rupert, John Farrell, Herb Pond and Rosa Miller on behalf of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, Scott Farwell from Tourism Prince Rupert and Maynard Angus representing the Prince Rupert Port Authority

The six  North Coast travellers, have plans to join in on discussions regarding the Alaska Marine Highway and other items of shared interest across the A-B line.

The Mayor posted a photo to his twitter feed and Facebook page on Sunday, making note of the delegation as they prepared for their flight.

The Prince Rupert delegation to the South-East
Mid Session summit prepare for their flight
to Juneau for meetings March 17 and 18

(photo from Mayor Lee Brains, community
Facebook page)

According to the Mayor's twitter account, among the other events related to their northern travels will be an opportunity to meet with Alaska Governor  Bill Walker and other Alaska Government Committee members.

Occasions, where Transportation concerns will make for much of the talking points for the trip.

The Alaska Marine Highway has been a frequent topic of discussion on both sides of the border in recent months, particularly with planned service reductions and the controversy related to the proposed renovation of the Prince Rupert Terminal.

Topics which we imagine will be among some of the points for discussion during the journey north for the Mayor and his travelling party.

For more background on those Alaska Marine Highway issues, see our archive page here.

To learn more about some of the discussion points and topics of note at these gatherings, some background on last years Summit can be reviewed here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Global TV: The West Block -- Canada's Mission to Iraq, ISIS recruits female members, a talk with Finance Minister Joe Oliver

Archive items from Global Television's National Politics Program The West Block.

March 15

A look at Canada's Mission to Iraq, Female ISIS recruits, a talk with Finance Minister Joe Oliver

Friday, March 13, 2015

"In the House" with Michael Smyth March 13 edition

Province columnist Michael Smyth is joined by guest NDP Leader John Horgan.

In The House March 13 (audio)

Subscribe to the feed here

Council urged to "think outside of the box" when it comes to some infrastructure issues

Photo courtesy of
Prince Rupert Annual report
As part of Monday's Council Budget presentation session at the Lester Centre, those residents that took the time to sit in on the evening had opportunity to share their thoughts on budget related items.

One item that came up as part of the public engagement session, was a suggestion to Council that they need to perhaps examine different options when it comes to replacing such infrastructure items as the city's two aging bridges of 2nd Avenue West and 6th Avenue East.

That topic came up as one resident took to the microphone to explain the need to "think outside of the box" calling into question the city's focus on replacing the bridges, when work around surface routes might be a less expensive option.

With the question asked if the City has given thought to alternatives with doing away with the bridges  completely, instead of saying that the bridges need to be replaced. Suggesting that instead the city should consider other access points to those areas in question.

Stressing his concern that council constantly seems to shift to the choice of raising taxes at every budget period, rather than looking for ways to keep taxes at primary levels.

The Mayor provided some background on the topic and also asked Ms. Bomben to provide the City's options when it comes to the bridge replacement issue.

Councillor Cunningham also offered up some thoughts on the topic, suggesting that the city would be examining such alternative concepts by way of surface routes around the bridge.

Especially if it was found that the financial burden would be insurmountable when it comes to any  bridge replacements decisions.

You can review the discussion on the bridge concerns from the City's Video archive, it starts at the 34 minute mark and continues on for about six minutes.

For more items from Monday's Council session see our Council discussion page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday night delivered a glimpse of the future for community engagement from City Council

Audience participation levels may have been low, but the experiment of participatory consultation seemed to work out fairly well on Monday night, as Prince Rupert City Council introduced an electronic approach to gauging interest on civic initiatives.

Using smart phones, computer options and old fashioned paper ballots for those in the Lester Centre not yet fond of electronic devices, City staff put a number of questions up for consideration.

The Mayor opened up the consultation session by outlining how the audience participation process would work and then together, those in the Lester Centre and those watching at home went over the four questions listed for the exercise.

The Questions and the accompanying vote totals can be reviewed below:

1) Do You consider a 1.9 per cent increase to the mill rate to be reasonable?
Yes ( 25  )    No ( 9 )

2)  Do you agree that the City needs an asset management plan?
Yes ( 29  )    No ( 1 )

3) Do you support using Legacy Inc. funds to provide the capacity the City needs to plan for major projects?
Yes ( 29  )    No ( 3 )

4) Do you support a full time Mayor
Yes ( 27  )    No ( 5  )

And while the audience participation from Monday night's sample was obviously not large enough to offer up a true reading of how the community may feel about the issues presented, the concept of seeking consultation from the public through the electronic options is something that could prove to be instructive once it gets wider acceptance.

You can review the exhibition of participatory consultation from the City's Video Archive, the presentation and community voting process starts at the one hour eight minute mark.

The Mayor and City staff haven't expanded as of yet on what the new era of consultancy might look like moving forward, but residents may get a bit more of a review in the not too distant future.

As part of Monday night's presentation the Mayor offered up a quick review of his plans to host more public community engagement sessions in the future, with the Town hall concept hopefully to start sometime in April.

For more items related to Prince Rupert city council developments see our Council Discussion page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, March 12, 2015

March 12 -- CBC's The National: At Issue Panel -- The politics of the Niqab

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

March 12th edition: Expectations to the election date, The Politics of the Niqab

Bill Bennett on Voice of BC

Vaughn Palmer's political affairs program Voice of BC features Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines discussing a range of topics.


Voice of BC - Energy Matters from Voice of BC on Vimeo.

City looks to pick up RCMP detachment replacement issue where they left off in 2012

They're still in the very early stages of re-engagement with the issue, but in the wake of a final letter of notice from the RCMP regarding the need for a replacement detachment, Prince Rupert City Council is dusting off the last notes they had from previous years on the issue.

Something they no doubt hope will provide a bridge for the timeline between the RCMP and the city, when it comes to replacing the city's aging detachment.

The discussion came up for discussion at the City's Budget Presentation at the Lester Centre on Monday evening, as former city Council member Gina Garon asked about the status of the situation related to the RCMP detachment, which now has returned to the forefront of civic concerns.

The City's Chief Financial Officer Corinne Bomben provided the update, noting that the city is picking up the project where they left it off at, with a plan to revisit the concept that was in place in 2012.

That was a proposal to address issues for both the City's RCMP detachment and aging Fire Station, making use of two lots located where the current Tot Park and Rotary Tennis courts are located at McBride and Sixth Avenue East.

Towards reviewing those plans, the previous contractor will be consulted and a report will be provided to bring things up to speed. Though Ms. Bomben did add, that at the moment, there  is no money in the budget to move the project forward.

A bit later in the evening, Councillor Thorkelson returned to the RCMP building issue and highlighted many of the challenges that the design of the proposed detachment offered

Commenting on the number of conditions in place by the RCMP, which include key elements such as the location of the building and the special requirements related to it.

Those conditions she suggested,  made the task harder for the City than might normally be the case.

"We've got this RCMP building, another requirement, and I'd like to say that the some of the requirements your Worship for the RCMP building are ridiculous  ...  there are so many things that we couldn't do when we looked at all the sites, and those are regulations not by ourselves, but from Ottawa " -- Councillor Joy Thorkelson with some thoughts on the RCMP replacement building issue, speaking at the Lester Centre on Monday evening.

You can review the discussion on the RCMP detachment from the City's Video Archive, it takes place throughout the Consultation period, which runs from the 12 twelve minute mark to the one hour eight minute point. Councillor Thorkelson's observations on the issue can be found at the 56 minute mark.

For a bit of background on where the City "left off" when the process of replacing the current detachment came to an end, see our items from 2012 and 2013 below:

March 15, 2013 -- City Council clicks their heels and hopes for the best
December 17, 2012 -- City Council kicks the emergency services building debate down the road until March
March 6, 2012 -- Discussion begins on emergency services replacement building

For more items related to City Council issues see our Council Discussion page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council points to Province and Feds for joint ownership on some of the City's current woes

Monday's Budget Presentation at the Lester Centre provided for a fair amount of time for members of Prince Rupert Council to share their frustrations when it comes to Budget planning.

Particularly when it comes to a number of moves by senior levels of government that make the process a complicated one.

Monday night, Mayor Brain and Councillors Cunningham and Thorkelson, took advantage of the Budget Forum to point to regulations and decisions by the two other levels of government, offering up their observations on issues that they say puts Prince Rupert in a tough situation.

CFO Corinne Bomben at
Monday's Council Session
The topic of caps on industrial lands, primarily those related to port development in the community, was one of the major themes for the three members of Council, as they expanded on an overview from the City's Chief Financial Officer.

In her presentation earlier in the evening, Corinne Bomben provided a thumbnail sketch of the situation for the audience, examining the areas where the City is limited in its ability to secure more revenue from industrial options.

Highlighting how that impacts on local taxpayers, who through residential and commercial taxes pay more owing to the city's inability to gain more money from industrial taxation.

Following her short overview, the Council members took charge of the discussion on the theme, explaining how there is a need to reinforce with both Federal and Provincial officials as to the burden that they are creating for municipalities.

Mayor Lee Brain at the Lester
Centre Public Consultation
The Mayor expanded on those conditions that the province has put in place related to industrial caps and commented as to how the City can't access a full share of taxation revenue because of those limitations.

While in the past the issue of caps on port lands has resulted in some serious finger pointing by some on Council at the Prince Rupert Port Authority, on Monday the Mayor stressed how this was not a port issue, but rather one of provincial legislation.

Councillor Cunningham also spoke to the issue, observing how he had it wrong last year when he was constantly addressing his concerns towards the Port Corporation, stating that he now believes that the real issue is related to the provincial government's moves on the issue of industrial caps.

Councillor Barry Cunningham, offering
up some points related to the Budget
He made a point of reviewing the rates that industrial groups such as Maher Terminals are capped at, while observing how the commercial and residential rate payers have to carry the larger burden.

He also stressed his desire and determination to get the message across to the provincial and Federal governments and to have them address the issues.

Councillor Thorkelson however, was by far the most adamant on the evening when it came to the issue of the impact on the community from the provincial and federal regulations.

Leading off her thoughts by observing that if residents want their taxes to go down, that the City would not be doing it by reducing city services any further.

Highlighting that the increases of 1 or 2 per cent or so of recent years just cover off the costs of living that the city has to meet.

Councillor Joy Thorkelson spoke to
issues related to Port caps on Monday
evening at the Lester Centre
To work on the issue she suggesting that Council and the city's residents need to ask the MLA to address the issues of the port cap in the Legislature, while also recommending that residents also write letters of their own to both Provincial and Federal officials.

Urging local residents to tell the upper levels of government that it's unfair how municipal governments are being put in the position that they currently are in.

She also outlined how the City, through its work with the newly formed Northwest alliance should work together with other communities in the region. Looking to get the attention of the Provincial government and to gain better access to revenue streams, through revenue sharing agreements from such regional projects as mining and other industrial developments outside of municipal boundaries.

She wrapped her review of the ongoing concerns related to the taxation issues by recounting how over much of her time on Council over the years,  the taxation issue continues to dominate Councils  considerations.

Adding that she doesn't know where else the city can cut and that there is a need for the provincial and federal governments to understand the issues that municipalities face.

You can review the wide range of talking points on the taxation troubles from the City's Video Archive.

The key elements start with Ms. Bomben's financial review from the 1 minute mark to the twelve minute point, while the Mayor and Council engage the topic throughout the remainder of the Budget consultation through until the one hour and nine minute mark.

For more items related to City Council issues see our Council Discussion page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review