Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Regional District outlines its Financials for 2014

As the City of Prince Rupert did earlier this month, Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District has released the details of its final Financial statements for the 2014 fiscal year, providing overviews on salaries and expenses for both sitting members and current staff.

Board Chair Barry Pages tops the remuneration list with a salary of $20,952, along with expenses claimed of $14,416. 

Below him on the list are thirteen names from the elected officials and Members of the Board, with three members from Prince Rupert listed for the transition year between old and new council representation.

Councillor Nelson Kinney received $13,427 in salary and claimed 862 in expenses, former Councillor Anna Ashley received $12,781 with 970 in expenses claimed and Mayor Lee Brain, who joined the Board of Directors in December received $1,114 for his first month of work on Regional District, to go along with the nine dollars in expenses that were claimed.

The total cost of Remuneration for the Board in 2014 was $147,663, with expenses of $57,427

The amount for 2014 marks an increase of $9,465 from amounts presented in 2013.

As for Staff employees, only two of the Regional District Staff made the list of over $75,000 that require reporting, with Joan Merrick and Robert Kidd breaking that salary mark. 

The two senior staff members accounted for $144,162 and $87,445 in remuneration and expenses respectively.

The remainder of the Regional District's employees, fell under the $75,000 reporting mark, collectively receiving $992,363 in remuneration, with $28,657 claimed in expenses for 2014.

In total, when all the number crunching was completed, the full remuneration and expenses statement for both elected officials and staff members at Regional District amounted to $1,457,717.

The full overview of the Regional District financials can be found here, as part of the Agenda for the June 19th meeting, the Statement of Financial Information review starts at page 19 and continues on until page 37.

When it comes to expenditures, Municipal Debt Servicing, Solid waste management on Haida Gwaii, Regional recycling and Administration claim the largest of sums of the four million dollars plus amounts that were provided.

Regional Recycling is among one of
the items atop the Expenditures listings
for Regional District in 2014
Regional District Revenues and Expenditures
for 2014 from the RD Financial Statement

Key information and the detailed breakdown on revenues and expenditures at Regional District can be found from pages 26 to 29.

The 2014 Statement of Financial Information was adopted by Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District as part of their June 19th session

Earlier this month, Prince Rupert City Council provided similar financial disclosure for both Salaries and Expenses that Financial Statement was presented at the June 9th City Council session.

For more background on Regional District items see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Northern Health to add mental health and substance use support program for Prince Rupert Regional Hospital

Prince Rupert Regional Hospital
will benefit from a new program at
Northern Health
The Ministry of Health in British Columbia has added some new funding for programs in the Northern Health Service area, with Prince Rupert Regional Hospital listed as one of three locations to benefit from a new focus on mental health and substance use issues.

To reduce the amount of time members of the RCMP spend with patients in the emergency department, a new psychiatric liaison nurse position will be added to the three hospitals in the Northern Health region, with Prince Rupert joining  Prince George and Fort St. John in providing for the service.

The nurse will support physicians and staff in the emergency department by quickly helping to assess the patient, and start determining the best supports — either community based programs or in-patient care.

That will allow attending RCMP members to return to their policing duties in a shorter amount of time after responding to calls that bring residents of the area to the hospital for evaluation, in the past the need to remain at the hospital with those in their care has taken members off the streets for lengthy periods at times. This new program will reduce the time involved in the transfer of responsibility for those that are brought to the hospital.

RCMP members will be able to return
to the streets sooner with the introduction
of a new program at Northern Health
 “Mental health and substance use support cannot come from a single organization, and instead need to be created in partnerships that wrap services around the patient,”“The new programs will help Northern Health better serve its clients, while getting the police officers back onto the road more quickly.” -- Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie introducing some of the benefits of a new program for Northern Health across the region

Prince Rupert will not be the only area of the Northwest to benefit from the increased funding, the Terrace area will also received funding for an expansion of the intensive case management team process to the Northwest, that program will see outpatient support teams provide street and community outreach services in the Terrace area.

You can review some of the background on the recent announcements here.

More background on the services for Mental Health and addictions through the Northern Health system can be found here.

For more information related to Northern Health developments in Prince Rupert see our archive pages here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, June 29, 2015

Westview waterfront area location of containment efforts related to abandoned fuel pipe

An abandoned fuel pipe
has been seeping old fuel into the
Prince Rupert harbour near the
Westview Pellet Terminal 

The Prince Rupert Port Authority provided an update this afternoon on an incident in the city's Westview waterfront area, which has seen a small quantity of escaped fuel to enter into the foreshore and waterfront near the Westview  Wood Pellet Terminal.

The incident was first reported to the Port on Sunday afternoon by workers at the Pellet Terminal, who had noticed a sheen in the water near the Terminal.

Upon further investigation by the Port it was determined that the seepage was originating from an abandoned pipe that passes under property owned by the Port of Prince Rupert.

The Port then put in motion its response plan, a process which has involved finding access to the area in question and then making preparations to flush and cap the pipe in order to prevent any further seepage of the fluid which is believed to be bunker fuel.

The Western Canada Marine Response Corporation was called in to handle the remediation work to the shoreline and surrounding area, they are currently working on both the containment issues and the cleanup response to immediate area.

As well, the Port has called in an environmental consultant who is currently on site to assess any potential impact to the area.

As part of their update of Monday, the Port Authority observed that the amount of escaped oil is small and it is not believed that it will pose a risk to marine life and vegetation near the area.

More background on the incident can be found from this media release.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

NWCC highlights Bursaries available to Northwest students

For students and parents making their plans for the fall, an opportunity to help with the cost of tuition at the post secondary level is available for those looking towards the Trades program at Northwest Community college.

The college outlined some of the bursary opportunities that are there for the taking, many of which provide a focus on some of the key industrial trades programs currently found through NWCC, from Welding, electrical, carpentry and Heavy Duty Equipment training, to instruction related to the culinary program and automobile trade opportunities.

Overall there are some 79 trades bursaries to be awarded through the college, providing for 59,000 dollars in available funding.

The deadline applications for the Fall session fast approaching, with students advised to have their application submitted by July 15th. 

For those that may be looking at their studies for the winter session, the deadline for applications is February 15th.

There are two streams into the Bursary program, one available to Graduating students of area School District's the other for Mature Students, those who have graduated or meet entrance requirements for the individual trades programs.

You can learn more about the Bursary opportunities through the NWCC website. Information related to the variety of Bursaries can be found here,  while more background on Financial aid opportunities can be reviewed here.

See our archive page here, for more items related to post secondary education options at the various northwest campus locations for NWCC and CNC in Prince George.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

July brings more job opportunities with the City of Prince Rupert

The City of Prince Rupert's plans to continue to add to the civic workforce will move into July, with the latest of job opportunities just posted to the City's Careers page on their website.

The City is now seeking applications for those interested in working as an Engineering Technologist, a position in the Operations Department, which is related to range of responsibilities from public infrastructure to relationships with contractors and suppliers.

The main focus of the work will find the successful applicant employed in the field  of surveying and computer drafting services for the Engineering and Public Works departments.

You can review the full job description along with the Qualifications for the position here.

The position, falls under the unionized component of the city's CUPE bargaining unit.

The newest employment opportunity, adds to a growing list of recent positions that the City has been recruiting for over the last four months, with the major push to add to the civic payroll coming in the last month or so.

Other than Council's observations as part of their Planning for Major Projects in May, where the theme  of adding to the civic workforce was mentioned, there has been little actual discussion of that topic during the public Council sessions.

Particularly when it comes to the direction of the city's new hiring plans and exactly how many more positions may be added before the current drive for new employees is complete.

Heading into the summer months,  City Council and staff at this time seem focused on adding positions to the civic work force, with no mention made of exploring other options, such as using a contracting out provision for some of the work of some of these new positions.

Nor has there been much of a public discussion to this point as to why Council believes that there is the need to bump up the staffing levels as much as they have to this point, and at the pace that they have taken on.

A topic that didn't seem to be much of a theme for the then candidates for Council during the fall election campaign.

You can review some of the previous opportunities of the last few months below

City's hiring push continues on into June
City Hall  ... Soon to be the new hiring hall for the North Coast

For more items related to discussions and notes from City Hall see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Fraser Street Rehabilitation project is now underway

The First phase of the Fraser
Street rehabilitation project is
now underway
The first steps in Phase one of the Fraser Street Rehabilitation project got underway last week, as work began at the eastern end of the downtown core area, with work crews tearing up the road from Northwest Community College towards the Salvation Army location.

Excavators and workers moved into the area early last week, making quick work of the street surface black top, leaving for road closures at both ends of the phase one area, with access to the western side of the project limited to local traffic only.

The project was approved by Council in May, with the awarding of the contract for the remediation work to Adventure Paving, which submitted a bid of $1,185,228.56. 

The removal of the asphalt and set up area now in place sets the stage for the long delayed rebuild of much of the infrastructure of the street, it's anticipated that work on phase one of the project will be completed by the start of September.

The sewer system in the Fraser Street area is considered to be in the poorest condition of any in the city, while the surface road, sidewalks and gutters have been high on the list for remediation for a number of years.

You can review some of our previous items related to the project and gain more background as to what is ahead for it from the items below:

More items about City Council discussions and decisions can be found from our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Port's Green Wave initiatives continue to gain Kudos from marine industry

The Green Wave program is
proving popular with visiting
vessels for the Port of Prince Rupert

The work of the Prince Rupert Port Authority on environmental issues has been recognized by the international body that overviews green initiatives in the marine industry.

The Port's Green Wave program uses rankings from various environmental programs such as Green Marine, RightShip, the Clean Shipping index and others to put in place the standards that vessels arriving at Prince Rupert Port facilities should be seeking to achieve.

Right Ship CEO Warwick Norman, highlighted the evolving nature of the Prince Rupert program, which is now in its third year and offers a range of discounts to visiting vessels that meet various levels of success with the program.
Right Ship CEO Warwick Norman
had praise for the Porto of
Prince Rupert's environmental work

“The Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Green Wave program is one of the most successful environmental incentive programs we collaborate on with the GHG Emissions Rating ... With the program now in its third year and going from strength to strength, Prince Rupert is demonstrating industry stewardship to those ports considering an environmental incentive program.”

In 2014, participation in the program found140 vessels taking part,  accounting for close to fifty percent of the 494 vessel calls in the year. 2015 has seen even more progress in the year to year numbers the shipping industry learns more about the Prince Rupert approach to the program.

On Friday, Port President and CEO Don Krusel offered up a snapshot of the growth of the program:
“2015 has already seen even greater year-over-year participation, which is a testament to the shipping industry’s awareness and support for increased environmental performance and sustainability ... By rewarding clean vessels, we are reducing local air emissions and connecting to a global effort to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.”

Green Marine is one of a number
of initiatives at the Prince Rupert
Port Authority
As well, Mr.  Krusel noted of the reception that the program has received from various elements of the shipping industry:
“These changes demonstrate the continual evolution of the program ... We are pleased to work with the shipping fleets, along with other ports and environmental programs, as we deliver on our ability to improve environmental sustainability in the marine shipping industry.”

You can find out more about the changes to the program here and what measures visiting vessels will be adopting as they qualify for further discounts by reaching a lower footprint on environmental impact.

More background on the Green Wave program can be found here.

For further items from the Prince Rupert Port Authority see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

NWCC Board approves 2015-16 Budget

The financial blue print for Northwest Community College received the approval of the College's Board of Governors earlier this month, finalizing the plans for NWCC as they head towards the fall semester in September.

As part of the financial plan for the year ahead, College management had identified 1.4 million dollars in cost-savings to address a shortfall in government funding and a decline in enrolment revenue.

Those savings were found through a number of paths, including early retirement and voluntary severance options across the college system, a solution that NWCC President Ken Burt touched on as part of a statement following the Board meeting of June 19th in Prince Rupert.

“We are sincerely grateful to our unions for the work they did with us to minimize the impact on people ... We are confident that the hard work done this year will put us on stable footing for the coming years and help us grow enrolments and revenues.” --  NWCC President, Ken Burt.

College Board Chair Herb Pond
offered up the thanks of the
Board over the work
related to the College budget for 2015-16
Mr. Burt, has only been at the helm of the college for eight months, having taken up his duties as the new President and CEO in October of 2014, with the budget issues one of the first items to be addressed upon his arrival at NWCC.

The Board of Governors offered up their own thoughts on the process that NWCC had to embark on to try and address their budgetary concerns, as well as any potential impact that those decision may have on campus locations across the Northwest.

Herb Pond, the Chair of the Board of Governors observed as to the tough decisions that had to be made by College administration over the last few months and the cooperation that was required to deliver the financial plan.

“These can be difficult issues to manage and we’re very pleased with the work our management team did with its unions to minimize the effect on people and programs in our communities”

The final approval process was completed, after an engagement process with staff, faculty and students across the NWCC system.

For more background on the budget announcement see this item from the NWCC website.

As we outlined on the blog last week, the NWCC President and CEO is hoping to have an opportunity to discuss issues related to the college with Prince Rupert City Council at a future Council session.

Further notes on developments at NWCC can be found on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 28 -- CBC Radio's Cross Country Check Up -- Should Canada accept more of the migrants escaping across the Mediterranean to Eurupe

Rex Murphy looks at the growing unrest of the Middle East and the increase in migrants trying to make an escape. Asking the question Should Canada accept more of the migrants escpaing across the Mediterranean to Europe.

June 28 edition (audio)

Global TV: The West Block -- Political Action Groups, Image in Politics and Margaret Trudeau's memoirs

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

June 28

A look at political action groups in Canada, the importance that photos and video clips play in politics, parting words from MP's, Margaret Trudeau's memoirs.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Jun 26 -- "In the House with Michael Smyth" -- The Challenges of Christy Clark

Province columnist Michael Smyth looks at the challenges that are currently facing British Columbia Premier Christy Clark

In the House June 26 (audio)

Subscribe to the feed here.

Prince Rupert to celebrate the life of Odd Eidsvik today

Prince Rupert's
Odd Eidsvik passed away
(photo CA of BC)

St. Paul's Lutheran Church will be the setting for a farewell to a longtime fixture on Prince Rupert's political, social and economic scene, with a Celebration of Life to take place this afternoon at the McBride Street church.

Odd Eidsvik, who served a number of roles in the community during his years in Prince Rupert passed away on June 12th, the notification of his passing touching many in the community.

A large number of residents of the city have fond memories of his time on the North Coast and the impact he had on those who shared a conversation with him.

Mr. Eidsvik leaves an impressive resume of service to the community, from his time on Prince Rupert City Council, where he served from 1984-1989 to his work on the political scene as a prominent fixture with the Liberal party over the years.

Normally found working behind the scenes on behalf of the Liberals in Federal campaigns, Mr. Eidsvik made his own run for office in 1988, an unsuccessful  bid for office in the era of the Jim Fulton years for the Skeena Riding.

He also took the political plunge on behalf of the BC Liberals on the provincial level in both 1972 and 1996, taking on the challenge of attempting to topple popular NDP MLA's of the times.

A chartered accountant by occupation, his time as a commercial fisherman made him a go to guy for many that once fished the commercial fleet on the North Coast. His work in the Financial Services industry provided him with many accolades and achievements over the fifty years that he dedicated to his craft.

Beyond his day job however, Mr. Eidsvik was known for the many other tasks that he took on in the community, from work with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and the Prince Rupert Airport Society to his membership in the Prince Rupert Rotary Club, service to community was part of the fabric of his life on the North Coast.

Today's celebration of life takes place at St. Paul's starting at 1:30, a reception where many a tale of his exploits and remembrances of time shared will take place at La Gondola Restaurant, the opportunity to lift a glass and share a story goes from 3 to 6 PM.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

BG Group continues with community engagement programs

BG Group continues to contribute
to local groups and events
While there's been a bit of a lull when it comes to news related to the Prince Rupert LNG project for Ridley Island, the company behind the proposed development is continuing to keep its presence known across the Northwest.

The BG Group, which is the lead proponent for the Ridley Island  Terminal  proposal recently announced it would be providing further assistance towards the Vancouver Aquarium's North Coast initiative.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the two large LNG proponents of the North coast have also been making their mark with funding opportunities for training programs in the region.

Earlier in May, the BG Group along with Petronas led Pacific NorthWest offered up further commitment towards the Pathways to Success program which is a key industrial training program which will be offered through the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in both Prince Rupert and Terrace.

The main focus of the program is provide training opportunities for First Nations residents that could lead to job ready skills for use in not only LNG related occupations but for other disciplines and opportunities as well.

You can review some of their contribution to that program here.

The status of the BG Group's LNG terminal development however, still remains on pause, with few updates received since the departure of Madeline Whitaker earlier this year.

Still, the local office remains engaged with the local scene, contributing to local events and organizations.

Over the weekend the energy company received a commissioned work of art that celebrates the 9 Allied Tribes of the Tsimshian Nation, the art work created by  Russell Mather Jr. assisted by a number of helpers will be hosted at BG's Prince Rupert LNG offices on Second Avenue West.

You can find more background on the Prince Rupert LNG proposal from our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

SD52's Sm'algyax plans to be featured as part of national CBC program segment

The fall plans for School District 52 that will see the Sm'algyax language program expanded to all elementary schools will be getting a bit more notice across the country.

With CBC radio's program The 180 turning some of its focus on the project and the larger conversation on language instruction in Prince Rupert.

Program host Jim Brown interviews Roberta Edzerza the Aboriginal Education Principal for the School District, she provides an overview of the Prince Rupert education landscape and how the Sm'algyax education plan fits into community and what changes it may bring to partnerships in the region.

Ms. Edzerza noted the recognition of the region as Tsimshian territory and the current demographics of the SD52 system, which lists 62 percent of the students in local schools as Aboriginal in background.

As well, she observed some of the features of the cultural and diverse make up of the community and how residents engage within that richness and how the expansion of the language program may build on that spirit.

She also provides a glimpse into the some of the feedback from the recent moves to expand the
Sm'algyax program in the schools with a number of parents embracing and supporting the program.

Ms. Edzerza also offers up reflection when it comes to some of the impressions of those those that are still not as supportive as others, when it comes to the District's language plans.

You can read some excerpts from the interview and listen in to the Prince Rupert segment of the program here.

The 180 airs on CBC Radio One on Sundays at 11 AM and Mondays at 2 PM, for those with Sirius XM the program is available on Channel 169 at the same times.

Some background on the program can be found here.

For more items related to School District 52 see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Thursday, June 25, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issue Panel -- A Tight Race

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

June 25th --  A preview of what the fall election campaign may look like.

Voice of BC -- Promise of LNG in BC

A discussion on the governments themes when it comes to LNG development in British Columbia.

Voice of BC host Vaughn Palmer interviews Rich Coleman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Gas Development who outlines the  provincial governments plans for a summer session to move the process ahead.  Mr. Coleman also discusses Housing issues during the program.

June 25

Park Avenue proposal receives petition push back

Monday's Public hearing process and the observations related to the proposed development of a housing development in the Park Avenue has received a bit of a push back from some of the residents of the Graham Avenue Area.

And while a full overview of the Public Hearing can't be reviewed through the Council Video Archive owing to some technical issues related to the Monday broadcast, some of the feedback provided to CFTK TV suggests that Monday's session didn't reassure some of the residents in the area.

A bit of push back that suggests that Council might have to address a few issues before giving the proposed zoning changes a final adoption.

In an interview from Tuesday evening on TV 7, Graham Avenue resident Judy Warren provided some background to the concerns of those in the area when it comes some of the aspects of the overall Park Avenue project.

Among those concerns, a belief by some in the area that different information was provided at the public session than what is now being considered when it comes to lot size and renters for the property in question.

As well Ms.Warren relayed some of the concerns that residents have over increased traffic related to the construction development phase of the project and how that work may impact on their neighbourhood.

Councillor Mirau outlined the
path ahead for Park Ave zoning
through his Facebook page
As part of their response to the proposed development, a petition was presented to City Council on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Councillor Blair Mirau through his Facebook page provided an overview of the proposed path ahead for the Graham/Park Avenue zoning amendment.

Noting that City Council will sit in a Special Meeting on the topic on July 6th, "specifically to give final reading and adopt the amendment to the official community plan and zoning bylaw"

There was however, no mention of the concerns that the Graham Avenue residents might have expressed through their petition, nor any indication as to what steps the City might be taking to try and resolve those issues. 

More background on the proposed development can be found from our Housing Archives as well as from our page dedicated to City Council Discussions.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Proposed condo development offers dramatic shift to downtown housing options

A proposed condo development for First Avenue West is certainly destined to become a popular conversation topic, with a photo presentation currently up for review that provides a stunning look at the footprint that the housing project would offer to the city's waterfront skyline.

The project which was introduced to Prince Rupert City Council on Monday night, and if approved for development, would be located in the lot directly across from the Harbour View apartments sweeping along the First Avenue West area and down along Bill Murray Way.

With Monday's City Council session suffering electronic gremlins, the presentation to Council (as well as the entire Council broadcast) was along the lines of a silent movie, leaving viewers at home with no audio to hear the finer points of the proposed development.

Councillor Blair Mirau however is helping to fill in some of the gaps from those electronic troubles, posting the photo found below to his Facebook page on Wednesday, providing some of the background to the project and asking for input from the community as to what they think of the proposed development.

Conceptual sketch of a proposed condo and commercial
development for 1st Avenue West across from Chances.

(photo from Coun. Blair Mirau's Facebook page)

The project, was outlined for Council by a group appearing at the Monday evening session,  with Jeremy Towning, Vice President and Franz Gehriger the CEO of the SwissReal Group out of Vancouver, along with Frank and Cynthia Pyde, listed as Owners/Parners in the condo and commercial development.

In the presentation Mr. Gehriger provided the background to the project which would provide for 80 units in seven storeys and dominate the waterfront vista in the area directly across from Chances and the North Coast Convention Centre.

The water side view would be one that takes full advantage of the Prince Rupert harbour view, while the city side faces onto a large open space that also features a secondary structure that would change our impression of that end of 1st Avenue West significantly.

Considering the lack of any large scale residential or commercial development in the city in recent years, the proposed development would make for a remarkable shift in focus for the downtown core and perhaps offer up the start of a bit of a rebirth in the long dormant area.

The Vancouver based real estate company has been involved in a number of impressive large scale developments in other British Columbia communities, you can review some of them here.

Those interested in offering their comments to the Councillor can provide them through the comments section of his Facebook page here.

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

Further background on housing issues can be found here, while notes on commercial developments in the Northwest can be reviewed here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Pacific NorthWest LNG outlines background to involvement with trades training programs

In the latest of a number of community engagement video presentations, Pacific NorthWest LNG has provided a short overview of the trades opportunities in the community that the energy proponent is contributing funding towards.

A focus on developing skills through welding, millwright and electrical programs offered in Prince Rupert is part of the two minute presentation.

The video traces some of the background to the Coastal Pathways Program, a portion of which receives funding from Pacific NorthWest LNG and other industrial proponents in the region.

Anne Rowse, the Western Regional Director for NorthWest Community College provides the short sketch of the cooperation between the college, School District and local industry and the benefits that the program offers local students.

Highlighting as well, the opportunity that local trades training presents for them to start their careers in their own hometown, allowing them to remain on the North Coast once they have their trades certification.

A look at some of the trades training opportunities through NWCC can be reviewed here.

The education overview can be found below, other videos in the series can be found on the Pacific NorthWest LNG Facebook page.

For more items related to Pacific NorthWest LNG see our archive page here, further background on education on the North Coast can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Legislature to be recalled July 13 to launch LNG legislation discussion

The date has been set by the Liberal Government for debate and discussion related to the introduction of legislation for the agreement with Pacific NorthWest LNG, the proponents of the Lelu Island LNG Terminal.

Mike de Jong, the Government House Leader outlined the process ahead for the agreement, noting the commitment of Petronas/Pacific Northwest LNG towards the project.

“The company has met its commitment to ratify the agreement we signed, which establishes the path to a final investment decision on the project ... Now it’s for the government to address our commitment, which will see the public release of the PDA and the introduction of legislation that would both ratify this agreement and enable future agreements with other proponents.”

In the statement of today, Mr. de Jong also noted that the Province continues to work with the Coast Tsimshian First Nation, other First nations and Pacific NorthWest LNG to seek out further engagement on issues of concern related to the proposed development.

The rare summer session of the Legislature will take place starting July 13th, as MLA's return to Victoria to review the agreement, offer their comments and concerns and then provide their vote on the bill.

Unless there is a rebellion of historical note within the Liberal ranks, which seems unlikely. the bill, will pass owing to the Liberal majority and will fulfill one of the two key conditions for Petronas/Pacific NorthWest related to their recent Conditional Approval for the project.

That will leave only the completion of the Environmental Assessment process (currently facing another pause for more information) to be delivered before the Malaysian led energy project could provide for its Final Investment Decision, something that would shift the project from proposal to development and should there be no setbacks, change the landscape of the North coast economy for the next few decades.
North Coast MLA will be called back
to the Legislature in July to
discuss and vote on LNG issues 

What will be interesting to watch during the Legislature discussion is how the NDP opposition approaches the topic and in particular what thoughts North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice may offer up during the debate.

Residents of the Northwest will most likely be quite interested the contributions of both Ms. Rice and that of Skeena MLA Robin Austin as the discussion moves forward next month, as well as how in the end they choose to cast their vote on the legislation.

You can review some of the past themes of LNG development among our entries on our Legislature archive page, while notes on the Pacific Northwest LNG project can be reviewed here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

NWCC President looks to meet with City Council for college overview

Prince Rupert City Council has a few answers now when it comes to recent decisions from NWCC. With the President of Northwest Community College offering up a written response to recent concerns from Prince Rupert City Council related to post-secondary education opportunities in the Northwest.

Mr. Ken Burt, addressed a number of the items noted by Council, offering up his initial reply in a letter from June 8th. In the correspondence Burt looks to clarify some of the impressions taken from recent budget decisions made by the college that serves a number of communities across the Northwest.

The College has recently faced a 1.4 million dollar budget shortfall for the 2015-16 year, requiring a range of options to be considered, including course consolidation, particularly in courses with low enrolment and staff reductions through early retirements, voluntary severances and other initiatives.

The June 8th letter, delivers some reassurance for Council from the NWCC President that "University credit courses in Prince Rupert will remain an integral part" of the NWCC offerings in the city. A situation which will continue to allow Prince Rupert students to pursue Associate of Arts degrees and Associate of Science degrees through the Prince Rupert campus.

He also notes the current success of the dual credit programs for high school students, allowing for registration in courses that count for both high school completion and as first year college courses.

Back in April Council first expressed its concerns to NWCC over potential cuts to programs at the
Prince Rupert campus, following up that correspondence with one to the Ministry of Education that provided some background on those issues.

Prince Rupert Council has received two letters
related to their concerns over budget cuts at
Northwest Community College
The Ministry responded this week as well, directing Council's attention to the nature of the College and Institute Act and encouraging the city to work with the college to address any issues of concern.  

As for that engagement, the NWCC President has asked for an opportunity to meet with Council either informally or by way of a presentation to Council at a future Council session.

"Communication with the communities we serve is critical to ensuring developments at Northwest Community College are understood and that we have a clear picture of what our communities need" -- NWCC President Ken Burt, in a letter to City Council from earlier this month

Considering the interest that local parents may have in the options for their children as they leave the SD52 education stream, the most informative platform would most likely be through a presentation a City Council, which is broadcast on Cable 10 and available for viewing later through the City's YouTube portal.

That way, Councillors would have the opportunity to ask their questions, and make observations on their hopes for education in the future, while NWCC would be on the record when it comes to any impacts that their decisions may have on the community and what they hope to deliver to the region in the years to come.

Using the presentation to Council option would allow the information to reach as many people in the community as possible who might have an interest in post secondary education in the region.

You can review the correspondences from both NWCC and the Ministry of Education through the City's website, they can be found in the Information for Council Package for June 17th.

For more background on education in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City Questionnaire on Housing Needs to launch Thursday

The City has a few more questions to ask when it comes to their recent Go Plan Survey, with a new questionnaire to be be available Thursday to gauge the Housing needs for residents without a permanent Address.

The information which will complement the information gathered from the the recent Go Plan Survey will provide additional information for the City when it comes to decisions related to housing issues and accommodating and assisting residents who may be in need.

The survey will be launched as part of a Block Party to take place at Fisherman's hall this Thursday from 1 until 3 PM, that event will see Fraser Street shut down to traffic near the hall as part of the celebration that will feature free food and a chance for residents to learn more about the services available for those without a permanent address.

Fisherman's Hall will be hosting
a Block Party on Thursday, where
the Housing needs survey will be launched
From Thursday on, the Housing Needs Questionnaire will also be available to the public at a number of other locations including; The Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services office located at 151-309 2nd Avenue West, the Fisherman’s Hall on Fraser Street and the Go Plan Survey office located in the Ocean Centre on the 2nd Avenue West side.

The Survey is also to be made available at a number of other support services offices around the city to try and reach as many residents as possible for as full a review as possible.

The Survey period ends on July 2nd, with the City looking to release the findings from it in a report sometime in July.

You can learn more about the Housing Needs Questionnaire from this information update from the City of Prince Rupert.

For more background on housing related issues see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

UNBC celebrates 25 years of post secondary education for Northern British Columbia

UNBC in Prince George celebrated
25 years over the weekend
Twenty five years ago post secondary school students and their families gained one more option to consider for a University education, as the University of Northern British Columbia was created by the Province in June of 1990.

To commemorate that milestone, UNBC held a ceremony over the weekend to look back at the early start of the life of the university and to examine the success that has come from those twenty five years of higher education.

Advanced Minister Andrew Wilkinson celebrated the first twenty five years with a statement on Monday noting the growth of not only the institution but the recognition it has received both in British Columbia and beyond.

For residents of the North Coast, the opportunities at UNBC not only provide for one more choice for their children, but one that allows for them to remain close to their hometowns along the Highway 16 corridor.

Since the University opened its doors, many graduates of Northwest high schools, including Charles Hays in Prince Rupert have made the trip down Highway 16 to the mountainside campus above the City of Prince George.

Some of them taking advantage of the medical program at the University, one of the high profile opportunities offered through the university and one which is looking to lend assistance to Northern Health in its quest to deliver medical services across Northern British Columbia.

Over the last 25 years close to 12,000 graduates have passed through the hallways of the UNBC campuses, increasing the access to an university education to residents of Northern British Columbia who may not have taken that path a quarter of a century ago.

Some hints as to the success that UNBC has had in delivering grads to the working world can be found in the results of a recent alumni survey, that review found that 93 percent of those that attended the university were satisfied with their UNBC experience and have found their education helpful in their current job and for future opportunities.

A look at the full range of programs and courses offered through UNBC can be found here.

UNBC provided some video overviews of the weekend event which you can view here.

You can review some of the events from the 25th celebrations below

UNBC Turns 25
UNBC celebrates 25th Anniversary
UNBC Celebrates 25 years in Prince George

For more items related to developments at UNBC see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, June 22, 2015

CBC's The Insiders: Campaign Strategy

Our archive of the Insiders segment of the National, the flagship news program from the CBC, featuring political insiders reviewing political events.

June 22: Campaign Strategy


Social and Non-Profit Housing issues discussed at Terrace conference

Three representatives from Prince Rupert City Council were in attendance last week as a Social Housing conference took place in Terrace, where a range of ideas were exchanged to try and find solutions to a common situation in many Northwest communities.

Mayor Lee Brain, Councillor Barry Cunningham and Councillor Joy Thorkelson were on hand for the City of Prince Rupert, providing some of their notes from ongoing efforts in this community on the topic, while looking at what other communities of the region, province and nation are taking on to try and address a number of issues related to housing.

As we outlined on the blog back in May, the June 18th housing conference was to provide background on developments in other communities when it comes a range of non profit housing requirements.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain
led a delegation from Prince Rupert
to a Terrace housing forum
last week
That theme was explored in depth during the conference, with one of the main talking points providing for the observation that the Federal Government needs to increase funding to communities for their housing needs, particularly with attention required to homelessness situations across the country.

That however was not the only focus of the wide ranging discussion, with the topic of affordable housing for those with lower incomes also part of the discussion, particularly as rents and availability in the Northwest becomes more and more of an issue as major development projects begin to appear in the region.

You can review some of the events and conference items that were available to the Prince Rupert participants from this online introduction to the conference.

Some media reviews of the Terrace event can be found below, check back later to see if there are any other items to be added to that archive of the housing conference.

Head of Non-Profit Housing Association says Federal Government must step up funding
Affordable housing needed in Northwestern B. C.

Also joining the City Council delegation to the Terrace meetings were members from the  North Coast Transition Society and the Prince Rupert Seniors Housing Committee.

A review of some of the Prince Rupert Housing Committee's work in recent weeks is on the agenda for tonight's Council meeting, offering up an opportunity for the Council members that took part in the forum to provide a report on what they learned during their time in Terrace and how it could be transferred to situations around the city.

For more background on housing issues in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Policing expenses, Pension payments and legal fees top the list of City's payments for 2014

The fiscal year end reviews have been posted to the City's website, the overview part of tonight's Prince Rupert City Council session, which will seek Council's approval of financial notes compiled by Financial Officer Corinne Bomben.

When Council reviews the payments side of the ledger they'll be examining a string of financial commitments. With all expenses over 25,000 dollars listed as part of the report.

The top item of the Suppliers costs for 2014 comes through the City's arrangement with the RCMP for policing services, which saw the City of Prince Rupert sending two payments to the Receiver General, $1,720,281 for Payroll deductions and $3,180,384 delivered for E Division services.

Municipal superannuation payments claims the next highest level of civic expenses from the last year, listed at $971,897 for 2014.

First Canada ULC provided a bill for $785,990 while Maunlife Financial received $617,746 for its services in the last year.

Fuel costs to keep the city's vehicles moving provided for a sizable payment of $607,928.

The City's ongoing issues related to Watson Island and any other legal requirements would appear to be keeping their legal representatives busy, the Valkyrie Law Group is listed as having received $699,891 from the City in 2014.

The remainder of the financial breakdown outlines such payments for services such as Paving, Hydro, vehicle purchases and assorted other costs with a number of vendors both local and from beyond the city.

Purchases and services under the 25,000 dollar mark totalled 778,416 dollars.

In total, payments made to Suppliers and Service providers came to just over 20 million dollars for the year ending December 31st, 2014.

You can review the full list of Supplier expenses from the City's Financial Review of Monday, it can be found from pages 17 to 20 of the Agenda Package for the evening.

City Staff has also released a report on Civic remuneration and expenses you can review that breakdown of financial requirements here.

For more background on City Council topics and discussions see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City of Prince Rupert provides overview of Civic salaries and expenses for 2014

As the final part of Budget season for the City of Prince Rupert's financial department, tonight will see Council asked to receive a report related to city salaries and expenses for the year ending December 31st 2014.

The review, which is provided at this time every year provides a detailed list of the salary and expenses related to elected officials and a baseline salary notice for those employees of the City making over 75,000 dollars per year.

The documentation begins with a look at the City Council members, combining the financial notes of the members of the last Council of 2014 and the early figures for those elected in the November 2014 election.

The numbers for those elected in November will only take into account their salary and expenses for the month of December, a much more solid review of their financial salary and expenses will come this time next year, when the current council has served its first year of the four year mandate.

From the Council review, the total amount of remuneration and taxable benefits for the Mayor and Council provided for a total of $157,610 to the end of December 2014.

Of note of the review for current council members, is the expenses category for Mayor Brain, who has claimed 1,766 in expenses in his first six weeks as the City's top official, to go along with his base salary of 2,497 up to December 31st of 2014.

The look back to 2014 found Mayor Mussallem's total salary and expenses for 2014 reported at $60,648.

Next year will see Mayor Brain's salary level increased from that which Mayor Muassallem received, with Council having approved the Mayors salary increase of 17,000 dollars in May. That addition to the Mayor's salary will come through funding as part of the Planning for Major Projects Budget announced in late May.

As for City staff, the majority of the City's senior staff members can be found above, or close to the 100,000 dollar mark.

City Manager Robert Long claims the top spot of staff members at $191,298 in salary and benefits with an additional $26,825 claimed in associated Travel and other expenses.

The City's CFO Corinne Bomben made $121,877 with expenses of 11,000 dollars.

While Rory Mandryk, the Corporate Manager is listed just below the $100,000 mark with $94,194 in Remuneration and Benefits with $6,931 claimed in assorted expenses.

The remainder of the list covers a number of positions both unionized and civic staff that are exempt from union representation.

The City's Fire Department, Ferry staff and other Operations, Engineering and other civic staff make up a good portion of the 75,000 plus listings as well.

Overall from the list of 49 that is required to be made public, 21 employees of the City made over 100,000 dollars a year, 10 made over $90,000 with 10 also making over $80,000, 8 employees can be found on the list earning between 75,000 and 80,000.

The list of 49 adds four additional names to the 2014 listings of those who made over the $75,000 salary break point from the review of last year, that review found 45 on the Civic payroll making over 75,000 dollars for 2013.

The overall total of remuneration for those over that level came to $4,820,107 in 2014.

The remainder of the city staff positions are under the 75,000 dollar a year level and are not required to be listed as part of the final year end review. Those salary requirements came to a total of $7,764,4469.

One aspect of the civic payroll not part of the salaries review is that of the salaries required for policing in the city.

The City of Prince Rupert has a contract policing arrangement with the RCMP and those financial numbers can be found in our review of the City's listings of Supplier Payments.

You can review the full listings as part of the City's Financial Statement found from pages 8 to 24 of the City's Agenda Package for the evening.

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

As well our archive page provides an overview of a range of items associated with the City operations and issues it can be found here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 21 -- CBC Radio's Cross Country Check Up -- What's your reaction to the long, unofficial federal election campaign

Rex Murphy looks at the growing election discussion taking place across the country as the Federal parties prepare for this fall's election. He asks the question: What's your reaction to the long, unofficial federal election campaign? Do you like what you're hearing

June 21 edition (audio)

Global TV: The West Block -- Justin Trudeau's electoral reform ideas, More Conservatives to sit out election campaign

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

June 21

A look at Justin Trudeau's political platform, more Conservatives sit out the next election,

Friday, June 19, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issue Panel --Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Face Off

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

June 19th --  A preview of what the discussion between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader may look like on the campaign trail.

Port's Annual review highlights growing trade, future opportunity

The Annual review of the state of the Prince Rupert Port Authority took place yesterday, as Chairman and CEO Don Krusel along with a string of other port officials highlighting the developments of the last year and offering up a steady as she goes approach for the future.

The Annual Public meeting delivered a string of statistical overview, which noted that while total tonnage was down in 2014, it was  a record year in a number of areas.

A trend that provided a strong indication as to the importance of the diversification of imports and exports through the port facilities.

The Port increased its presence as one of the key economic engines for Northern British Columbia, with Mr. Krusel noting that in the last five years, direct jobs related to port operations have doubled to 3,220, providing for over 200 million dollars in wages.

Over those five years, the Port has become the third largest port in the nation by revenue.

Bud Smith, the Chair of the Prince Rupert Port Authority Board noted that the volume of Canadian exports flowing through the Ports facilities amounted to over five billion dollars annually.

Beyond the success of the container facility which continues to increase its throughput, most recently by 15 percent other port terminals are recording positive trends as well.

Prince Rupert Grain provided stellar numbers for 2014 and during the course of the  Thursday review
the opportunity for new markets that the Westview Wood Pellet Terminal is starting to provide for was reviewed.

The Port acknowledged some of the challenges that the development of the Westview Terminal provided for, offering up the success of the implementation of an adaptive management plan for the terminal that has found some success with concerns related to dust and noise.

As for future development, the port outlined its continued engagement with proponents of LNG development for the region and expressed encouragement with some of the advancements that are being found through the CEAA process.

Coal continues to be the one area that isn't performing very strongly at the moment, with shipments down over 40 percent from last year, and for the moment the industry remains stalled in its current malaise.

The Port however notes that it is poised for a recovery in that market, with the recent expansion of the Ridley Terminals storage area, which has added to the potential capacity of the terminal to up to 18 million tonnes.

Included in Thursday's presentation, was an announcement of the contribution of $125,000 towards the cost of roof repairs for Lester Centre of the Arts in Prince Rupert.  The funding comes through the Port Authority's Community Investment Fund which has provided funding for a number of local initiatives over the years.

You can get a sample of some of Port President And CEO Don Krusel's talking points from a video presentation included as part of the online version of the Annual report made available yesterday.

The full overview of Thursday's presentation can be found on the Prince Rupert Port Authority website.

As we outlined on the blog yesterday, the newly redesigned online presence for the Port provides a wealth of information and makes much larger use of social media options for those looking for more background on Port activities.

For more items related to Port developments see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review