Monday, November 30, 2015

Victoria Viewpoints: Monday, November 30, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

A glimpse at what goes on behind closed doors
Sacre Bleu! B. C. leaves a big carbon footprint at the UN Climate-change conference
Is Canada's massive delegation in Paris a waste of taxpayer's money?
Christy Clark won't commit to climate leadership team's recommendations
B. C. can help other countries lower emissions: Christy Clark
Why are So Many Dying Unnoticed in BC Supportive Housing

Ottawa Observations: Monday, November 30, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene for November 30.

Wall vs. Trudeau - Is paris a preview of 2019 race?
Justin Trudeau says Canada 'is back' at climate-change meeting
Liberal MP Mauril Belanger ends bid for Speakership after getting ALS diagnosis
Rookie Winnipeg MP withdraws from Speaker race following comments about role's influence over PM
Hollande gives Trudeau a pass on pulling CF18s from anti-ISIL bombing campaign
Paris climate summit opens with offers to help developing nations cope, adapt
Trudeau, premiers must match climate rhetoric with resolve
Canadians approve of Trudeau's 1st weeks in office, poll suggests
Justin Trudeau tells Paris climate summit Canada ready to do more
Niqab ban legal battle cost federal government more than $420K
Justin Trudeau meets with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for 1st time in Paris

For the Alaska Ferry, Everything Old ... is new Again!

Transportation items
claimed a key spot in the
Hays 2.0 plan last week

(from City of PR website)
Last week the City introduced its forward looking blue print Hays 2.0,  highlighting some of the key developments of the future that City Council sees for Prince Rupert heading towards the year 2030.

The project which has been advertised in full over the last five days, offers up a number of interesting themes for Prince Rupert residents to consider, though some may think that perhaps a few of the items are a little out of the scope of a municipal government.

Areas such as trade through the Northwest Passage, or some form of civic role when it comes to an International Affairs approach to Alaska/Canadian relations and trade issues related to the state to the north of us.

While fascinating topics for discussion over a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, we're not quite sold that there's a need for the City to worry itself about issues that perhaps are more suited to senior levels of government.

More importantly, we wonder whether those lofty issues resonate much with the city's residents and taxpayers, who for the most part probably just  want to see the roads paved and maybe have their ever increasing tax load reduced.

The Alaska Marine Highway System
was a key component of the
Hays 2.0 project release last week
However, one item which has a more direct impact on Prince Rupert and one worth a bit of a look, is through the Hays 2.0  focus when it comes to the State of Alaska's Transportation system and a possible shift of ports to Lax Kw'alaams.

That is a theme is that has just a bit of history to it, having been mentioned  any number of times in the past and capturing the imagination every time.

The concept of using Lax Kw'alaams as a port of entry, has been a recurring theme over the decades, mentioned by Alaska state planners, and followed up by a list of Prince Rupert Mayors since the days of Peter Lester.

A Juneau Empire article from 2000 notes some of that frequent attention,  reviewing then Mayor Don Scott's concepts during his term of office of at the time. Included in that review was Mr. Scott's plan featuring the use of two bridges to provide links, one to Metlakatla from Digby Island and the other providing access to Digby Island to Prince Rupert.

Six years later Mayor Herb Pond was touting the prospect of the Gateway Shuttle, a transportation plan which would again connect Ketchikan with Lax Kw'alaams shaving travel time on the water and replacing it with more time on the highway.

Once again, the main focus of some of those discussion was Mayor Pond's ongoing interest in securing a Fixed link to the Digby Island airport area.

Earlier this year Mayor Brain himself even revisited the prospect of Lax Kw'alaams as a port entry north of Prince Rupert for the AMHS.

Making it part of his presentation during a visit to the Alaska capital on March 17th, providing some background for a state Transportation committee on the plans that he had in mind for the North Coast.

And while we prepare to dust off the blue prints once again to the many proposed connectors north and west, there are a few things for the City to keep in mind when it comes to the current situation for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The first, the nature of the fifty year lease negotiated in 2014 between the State of Alaska and Canada and how that may affect the discussion, as well as what kind of an impact moving the terminal that far from the city might have on the local Prince Rupert economy.

When it comes to the AMHS service to and from Prince Rupert, those that regularly check our Transportation archive page will have made note of some of the growing challenges that the Alaskans are facing these days.

At the moment, the two that have the most impact on Prince Rupert involve the still stalled status of their Fairview Terminal rebuild, a story now one year old and one which has yet to find any form of resolution.

The other major issue involves the current state of the oil revenue dependent Alaska economy which is playing havoc with their state Transportation planning.

When it comes to the latter, it's an issue that Prince Rupert, nor British Columbia or Canada has any control over, like the Americans, the decline in resource revenues could have impacts of their own on many plans from all levels of government south of the A/B line.

However, the Terminal rebuild project is something that the City could help return to the front burner.

Perhaps by way of the City once again engaging the Federal representative Nathan Cullen and North Coast  MLA  Jennifer Rice in the issue, seeking their assistance to find a solution to the ongoing controversy and finally at least moving that vital infrastructure project forward.

Yes, that's kind of a short term plan and not the thing of a fifteen or twenty year vision, but it at least is an attainable goal, one that would serve to resolve an ongoing irritant and deliver a result which would have an immediate impact on the region.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Victoria Viewpoints: Saturday-Sunday, November 28-29

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

B. C. climate leadership team says raise the carbon tax
Christy Clark's plane to Paris for climate change conference delayed

Ottawa Observations: Saturday - Sunday, November 28-29, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene for November 28-29.

Paris climate agreement will be 'legally binding' but won't lock countries into emissions targets
Syrian refugee coordinator in Montreal to make $1,800 a day to welcome the newcomers to Canada
Trudeau wants to build a kinder, gentler government and parliament when the house resumes
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Bataclan, pays tribute to those killed in Paris attacks
Russia-Turkey conflict another reason for Justin Trudeau to pull out of Syria
Why Climate change hope is not misplaced
Liberals on a collision course with Quebec over medically assisted suicide
Pierre Trudeau's desk retrieved from storage for his son to us
On Climate change, Trudeau pulls a bait-and-switch
Trudeau plays politics with refugee crisis

November 29 -- CBC Radio's Cross Country Check Up -- Expectations from the Paris Climate Summit

A discussion on what Canadians are expecting from the Paris climate summit.

Piya Chattopadhyay is the host.

November 29th 2015 (audio)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

UFAWU outlines job loss strategy for Chamber of Commerce

The topic of lost jobs and community action was the theme for discussion at the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce this week, as union officials representing shore workers at Prince Rupert's Canadian Fish Company spoke to the business community at a Wednesday Chamber event.

As part of their presentation, UFAWU officials provided a review of the moves they have put in motion to address the issue of job losses at the Oceanside cannery and to seek the support of the business community in their efforts. 

Providing for the Chamber members a particular focus on their plan to seek the assistance of the Federal government, looking for Ottawa to develop  new community-friendly fisheries policies, key to that goal is the union's desire to have the Department of Fisheries and Oceans apply three east coast policies to British Columbia.

Among those three points of the east coast program that they outlined for the Chamber were:

Adjacency: the principle of adjacency would see fish caught on the north coast processed on the north coast.

Fleet Separation: a policy that prevents processing companies from owning licenses and quotas.

Owner-operator: a policy that says that a fishing license or quota must be fished by the owner. 

As the union explains it, these three policies would insure that northern fish could not be sent to the Lower Mainland or to China for processing.

UFAWU officials have also noted how these moves would invigorate the industry in rural coastal communities. Providing the opportunity for year around deliveries of the various species means year around work for shore workers.

According to the union, Fleet separation and owner operator policies would also mean better prices for fishermen as the companies would have to compete for fish. With the concept of fleet separation and owner operator policies meaning that there would be better prices for fishermen as the companies would have to compete for fish.

The National President for UFAWU-Unifor will be
in Prince Rupert on Thursday to update local
workers on the union's plans regarding job losses at Canfisco
Later in the week, the Fraser Street Union Hall advised the membership that the National President of UFAWU-Unifor, Kim Olsen, will be coming to Prince Rupert next week.

Mr. Olsen will meet with North Coast shore workers and provide an update to the membership regarding what is happening with the Union's plans to fight back against the announced shut down of the canning operations.

That gathering will take place on Thursday, December 3, at 2pm  at Fishermen's Hall.

More background on the union's efforts to take their message to Ottawa and Victoria can be found from the Prince Rupert local's Facebook page.

You can learn more about the closure plans from Canadian Fish and the response from local union officials and regional politicians from our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Friday, November 27, 2015

Victoria Viewpoints: Friday, November 27, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

Andrew Weaver returns to his roots for leadership bid
Raise  carbon tax B. C. advisors recommend
Increase carbon tax, extend B. C. reduction targets to 2050: report

Ottawa Observations: Friday, November 27, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene for November 27.

Justin Trudeau joins Commonwealth leaders in climate change push
Justin Trudeau's toast to the Queen elicits cheeky response
Paris emissions targets won't be internationally binding, minister says
Rick Hillier urges use of airstrikes or special forces to keep ISIS off balance
MPs to vote on cost of Canada's Syrian refugee plan
Outside the bubble, Trudeau's honeymoon has a lot of life left in it
Whacking the top one per cent with a tax hike not the banana Liberals hype
U.K. media psychoanalyzes Trudeau's 'patronising handshake' with British Prime Minister
Logistical challenge: If only the Syrian refugee airlift was as easy as 'all you need is love'
Canada sides with U.S. on emissions-reduction
The checkered past and uncertain future of 24 Sussex Drive

Transportation Minister Stone to deliver Highway 16 options in near future

Following this weeks Highway of Tears symposium held in Smithers, the Province's Transportation and Highways Minister Todd Stone provided some hints as to the immediate steps that he has in mind to address the many issues raised, not only at the symposium but over the last few years.

With suggestions that the province may provide some assistance to volunteer van drivers between the isolated communities of the Northwest, as well as expand the use of the Northern Health Medical bus for transportation options.

“This transportation symposium was an important step in finding solutions that work for the people in these communities, and I’m pleased to say, a lot of good work came out of this day-long collaboration,” ...“We’re now going to turn the discussions into action and to work on a plan that provides an effective model for transportation along the highway as quickly as possible.” -- Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone on this week's Highway 16 symposium

And while a statement by the Transportation Minister seems to suggest that there appears to have been some constructive discussion and exchange of ideas on the theme of the many issues related to the Highway corridor, there is still one large issue to be resolved that of the options of transportation available in the region.

And that appears to be one area where the Minister remains intransigent when it comes to the concept of introducing a shuttle bus along the Highway 16 corridor,  a theme that is an often made recommendation, and one that on Thursday Mr. Stone again stated was "a non-starter".

That most likely won't sit well with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who has made the shuttle option the key element of her frequent comments and questions on the issue in the Legislature.

Ms. Rice has been busy this week with a string of media appearances related to Highway 16 issues, making note of the lack of an official invitation to the symposium, though she did attend the event anyways as an observer.

So far however, she has not issued a statement or comment related to Minister Stones comments of Thursday through any of her usual platforms of her website, twitter feed or Facebook page.

Though in comments to the Canadian Press on Thursday, the MLA noted that she was disappointed that Stone continues to reject a regional shuttle bus, observing that "people have been calling for that for quite a long time", adding that "we spend more money on twinning highway."

As for Mr. Stone, while many across the Northwest have made their case for the need of a shuttle bus for the region, the Transportation Minister has yet to articulate why, other than what appears to be a rather tone deaf example of political stubbornness ( a growing trait of the Liberals of late), he is so against the notion, or why it remains something that he considers a 'non-starter'.

Perhaps he could expand on his reasons why he's so against the plan, when he delivers his updated transportation ideas in the days to come.

Some background on the Smithers symposium can be found below:

B. C. Transportation minister says changes coming to Highway of Tears
Stone says changes to Highway of Tears coming
Smithers Highway of Tears gathering: another roadblock or road to bus line?
Mixed reactions from Tuesday's Transportation Symposium
Minister promises action after Smithers symposium on Highway of Tears
Mixed reaction to Highway 16 Transportation Symposium
Todd Stone says he didn't attend Highway of Tears meetings, because he didn't want them politicized (audio)
Spoke and hub transit model bay be workable for Highway of Tears, says Rustad
Smithers Transportation Symposium being called a Success by Minister
Stone on Highway Transportation (video)
Highway 16 Symposium reaction (video)

You can review more of Ms. Rice's work on the Highway 16 issues from our Legislature Archive.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Hawkair decision leaves much up in the air for the community.

A familiar sight at YPR will be missing for the next six
months as Hawkair suspends service to Prince Rupert

(photo from Hawkair website)

Yesterday's confirmation of the suspension of service for Hawkair out of Prince Rupert airport leaves a few questions up in the air  for residents of the North Coast, particularly when it comes to air service for the community and the potential impact on the airport operations as well.

As we've been following over the last few days, the first indication that something was up with the city's second airline came through some twitter comments relayed through the Hawkair website on Wednesday.  Those were followed by yesterdays statement from the airline providing more details to their business plan ahead when it comes to flights in and out of Prince Rupert.

In that statement Hawkair outlined the soft nature of the off season for the North Coast which it would seem runs from at least December through to June or July, with passenger levels not at the point where the airline believes that the run is feasible.

For those months it appears that the airline intends to reallocate the aircraft used on the Prince Rupert run, for flight operations between Terrace, Prince George and Kelowna, which would suggest will be a more profitable route for Hawkair.

That shift in assets does leave a question in mind for the spring perhaps, when Hawkair has said it will consider a return to Prince Rupert for the summer schedule.

As North Coast residents might be correct in wondering why Hawkair would then turn around and abandon a route such as the Prince George-Kelowna option that they will have been nurturing for six months, doing so at the height of the summer travel season.

Still, travellers from the North Coast will be hopeful that they see Hawkair back in town when June arrives and summer travel plans are in motion.

As for Prince Rupert, first and foremost there is the impact of the loss of jobs in the community, with Hawkair set to issue lay off notices for the station agents that worked out of the Highliner Inn offices.

Considering the current nature of the employment situation in the community, any job loss whether small in number such as with Hawkair, or the larger setback of earlier this month at Canadian Fish is not a good indication for the local economy.

With the suspension of Hawkair service to Prince Rupert
Flight movements and passenger levels will drop

Then there's the question of the impact of the suspension of the flight schedule on the Prince Rupert Airport, both when it comes to passenger levels and on revenues to be received both from the airline landing fees and through passenger movements.

With a major renovation project currently underway, and a larger more expansive vision being considered, an impact could be felt on the repayment schedule for the loan for those renovations, not to mention the optics of having one of your major tenants decide to move out, even before the renovations are completed.

Perhaps even more worrisome for the airport and future passenger levels, is the prospect of those that formerly made use of Hawkair, now having to find alternative options now for their travel needs.

With Air Canada seats at times rather hard to get (particularly if you're using the air miles options) the Terrace airport and its larger selection of flight options, may prove to be a temptation that steals away even more passengers than it already has from the Prince Rupert facility.

Prince Rupert is not the first community where Hawkair has suspended flights, recently the company ended its service to the Smithers area, with those Bulkley Valley residents that enjoy flying with the airline now making their way to the Terrace airport.

As for Thursday's confirmation of the suspended service to Prince Rupert, the City has not yet issued any form of a statement on the Hawkair decision through the city website, nor has the Mayor made mention of it through his frequently active Facebook page.

Which means to this point we do not have any indication if the City had received any advance notice of the Hawkair plans, or if they had attempted to work out some incentives or other accommodations to keep the service at YPR active on a year round basis.

As well, no indication has been provided yet as to just how large a financial impact the six month vacancy at the Prince Rupert Airport will have on the airports long term plans, or what steps they may have in mind to seek out alternative air options.

For more items related to transportation issues across the Northwest see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Hays 2.0 gets splashy launch on City website

(from City of PR website)
The City of Prince Rupert has launched its rather ambitious visionary look at the path for the future for the community, providing an information presentation for the city's website revealing the background to Hays 2.0 on Thursday morning.

The on line project a companion piece to a degree for this week's press coverage in the city's weekly newspaper, a burst of sudden interest in municipal affairs by Black Press which provided the print version of the theme, complete with an editorial from the publisher.

The City's Internet portal perhaps offering an alternative for those that don't like to get ink on their fingers, or the need to squint at smallish typefaces.

The City website version does expand on the print version, providing as it does a full colour review of the five elements of the plan which does a lot of forward ruminating about where we'll all be in 2030.

Though it may be the first visionary statement that comes from a muncipality with a disclaimer ... something normally associated with the offerings that you might find on speculative investment notices.

(From City of PR website)
As for the content of Hays 2.0 it starts with a portrait of the man of the last century and a bit of history as to his vision, shifting from there to what the 2015-16 Council has planned for the years to come.

Focusing on five major elements of their plan, with such areas as becoming a Global community, a sustainable city, engaging in partnerships with First Nations, and the twin themes of Re:Build and Re:Design.

It opens with the Port and its importance to the community and those areas of global trade where the city is hoping to make its mark, with mentions of both the potential (but not the current troubles) of Watson Island and the prospect of development for the city's Lot 444 area.

Some background to the efforts of the Port Corporation, DP World which operates Fairview Container Terminal and CN Rail which provides the transportation network that makes the port work all get a shout out in the presentation, complete with maps.

The vision continues on into a review of the opportunities Prince Rupert may find  through geography and its proximity to the Northwest Passage of the Arctic areas, suggesting that there may be further trade possibilities to be found through that potential shift in the transportation of global trade.

The Tsimshian Access plans get another
shout out as part of Hays 2.0
(from City of PR website)
Alaska gets a significant amount of space in the presentation as well, with another review of the frequently suggested theme of relocating the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal to Lax Kw'alaams.

From there, the Tsimshian Peninsula Access plans get a return to our conversation, as it has through previous installations of City Council over the years.

This time the review features a proposed network of roads that would link the Lax Kw'alaams community with Metlakatla, the airport and Prince Rupert.

That project is suggested as one which would open up new opportunities for the Alaskans to realize more efficiencies from their Ferry system, which in turn would increase tourism and economic benefits for the region.

As part of their overview on their Alaska initiatives, the city includes its desire to look towards initiating communication between the two Federal governments to foster mutually beneficial policies.

The twelve page presentation wraps up with four final themes, the first a quest for meaningful partnerships with neighbouring First nation communities, something the City has targeted as one of its key priorities.

The document adds the City's support towards initiatives that relate to the improvement of relationships with First Nations, with the City joining in on the call for "a national inquiry into missing and murdered women", as well as "the execution of the recommendations of the truth and reconciliation commission".

The City's plans to rebuild its infrastructure make up the second of the concluding items from Hays 2.0 with the city noting that through it's Re:Build Rupert program it intends to allocate additional funding towards infrastructure renewal projects and asset management in the year ahead.

The city is also set to explore an 18 month engagement process called Re:Design Rupert, where topics such as housing, downtown revitalization, recreation, waterfront access and economic development to name a few will be discussed. More on that initiative is expected to be unveiled in January of 2016.

The final note from Hays 2.0 puts a focus on the concept of the Sustainable City, with plans to work towards making Prince Rupert a community which showcases a balance between economic growth and environmental protection.  One of the plans it would appear is to move forward in 2016 on the redevelopment of the McKay Street Park area, with the City looking towards making it into what is called an engaging neighbourhood space.

The twelve pages of a re-dedication to the 1910 ambitions of Charles M. Hays is an intriguing look at where this Council plans to take the community, though it will be interesting to see if all six Council members are on board with the far reaching goals of the proposal, that is should they ever discuss the program in Council chambers.

As well, we imagine as the second year of this Council's four year mandate comes around in 2016, more current and challenging issues will begin to dominate much of their thoughts.

With real time concerns perhaps intruding on the forward vision, as the here and now requirements of running the city continue to provide for the need for some creative thinking on their feet, not to mention the ability to handle any surprises that are sure to come Council's way.

To a fashion, the presentation calls to mind the old Jetson's TV show, offering us all an opportunity to marvel at what may be the future, though one without the flying cars we guess, as we didn't see one in the twelve page report.

However, as the community has learned a few times in the past, situations can change and developments can come along at a pretty fast pace to alter the best intentioned planning, requiring a an ability to shift focus for the city in a pretty dramatic fashion.

As many Rupertites who did not leave the city through the last two troubled decades know very well, it wasn't too long ago following the closure of the Pulp Mill, where there were some very real concerns when it came to the financial issues facing the community.

To move forward on an ambitious blue print such as Hays 2.0 will require significant access to funding and a consultation with and commitment from the taxpayers to allocate money towards many of City Council's forward thinking goals.

Much of the plan as outlined, will depend for the most part on the expansion of the population base, something that won't happen until there is a significant increase in employment opportunities in the region, the latter probably more dependent on Port related initiatives than anything else.

Still, like Charles M. Hays, it's always good to have a dream and to make plans for the future, you can examine this Council's reborn version of the 1910 concepts of the railway tycoon from the full online presentation here

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Victoria Viewpoints: Thursday, November 26, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

B. C. carbon tax: is it still a world leader?
B. C. Transportation minister says changes coming to Highway of Tears
About 200 privately sponsored refugees coming to B. C. in December
Andrew Weaver returns to his roots for leadership bid
B. C. can't afford to delay transition to clean energy economy
Stone says changes to Highway of Tears coming (audio)

Ottawa Observations: Thursday, November 26, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene for November 26.

'I left them in the dust': Trudeau uses BBC interview to rebuke Tory critique he was 'nothing but a name'
Toronto, Montreal to receive nearly two-thirds of first 10,000 Syrian refugees, documents reveal

Paris attacks raised doubts about Liberal's refugee plan among Canadians, Trudeau says
Liberals launch online ad campaign to promote refugee plan
Path to Canada may run through Jordan for 25,000 Syrian refugees
Small towns in Canada lack resettlement supports for refugees; advocate
Public Servants 'gaming the system' - take twice as many sick days as private sector workers: report
Action needed to protect indigenous women from serial killers, minister says
Leaders not pushing Trudeau to continue airstrikes, say advisers
Justin Trudeau's backtracking on refugee promise casts shadow over other pledges
Canada issues 928 visas, adding $100M in aid
Commonwealth leaders meeting a 'training camp' for Paris climate talks, says Dion
Progressive Liberals may muscle out NDP

Voice of BC -- Kids, Families and Health

The NDP's Doug Donaldson and Judy Darcy join Voice of BC host Vaughn Palmer to discuss issues related to the portfolios of Kids, Family and Health

November 26

Recreation Director outlines report details and request for increased fees for Recreation Services

Council discussed recreation issues
on Monday evening, moving forward
with fee increases for 2016.
At Monday evening's City Council session, Willa Thorpe the City of Prince Rupert's Director of Recreation and Community Services provided Prince Rupert City Council with an extensive review of the plan ahead when it comes to the deliver of recreation services over the next five years.

From her introduction of the topic and review of he report, Council then engaged in a lively discussion of recreation issues, the topic taking up almost half of Monday's one hour council session.

Ms. Thorpe opened up the discussion by outlining a number of findings from a 2014 report into Recreation services, which provided her department with a number of items to bring to the attention of Council for further consideration.

Among the twin themes from her presentation was the need to amalgamate the current fee structure, a process which will see an increase in fees to use recreation facilities in the city by about a dollar for adults, while lowering the overall impact on seniors and reinforcing the option for parents in need to access programs available through the Recreation centre.

As well, the need for long term capital expenditure planning was explained, with the Recreation Department looking for the city to allocate five percent of fees towards a Reserve Fund for future capital work when it comes to ongoing maintenance or future expansion of the facilities.

Members of Council offered up a number of observations on the theme, with the majority finding the prospect of the amalgamated fees and increases an acceptable trade off,  in order to see the Recreation  facilities provide an increased contribution to the financing of the operations.

Through the discussion a number of council members noted that if recreation facility users don't pay a little more now, the possibility of having to cut hours, or programs would be something that the City would have to consider in the future.

And while Councillor Randhawa made some valid points as he outlined a number of concerns that he had when it came to impacts of any increases on youth in the community, he was the only one in attendance on Monday to vote against the motion to increase the fees over the next five years.

Many of the other Council members reminded him and those watching the proceedings at Council chambers, or at home, of the assistance programs for those in need that the City have to offer at the Recreation Centre.

Once Council delivers the final adoption of the bylaw, most likely at its next meeting of December 7th, the rate increase would then go into effect as of July 1st, 2016

The decision to move forward with the five percent increase in admissions and fees related revenue, marks the second time that council has increased fees in the last year.

Last November, City Council voted to increase fees and charges by 10 percent for 2015.

The full range of the twenty four minute discussion on the recreation plans can be reviewed below from this video provided to the City's You Tube channel.

More background on Monday's discussion can be found on our City Council Timeline feature.

The full report to Council is also available through the Agenda package from Monday's Council session, you can review those notes here from pages 104- 125.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

BC Minister Fassbender tours Terrace area to speak on funding initiatives

BC Liberal Government Minister
Peter Fassbender was in
Terrace on Tuesday
Peter Fassbender, the province's Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development wrapped up a tour of a part of the Northwest on Tuesday, taking time to recycle some of the news out of Victoria when it comes to recent funding for a number of community development initiatives.

In a media release following the Minister's stop in Terrace on Tuesday, the province noted that Grants of one million dollars have been distributed around the Northwest to help communities update their bylaws and official community plans, as well as to update their local infrastructure needs to prepare for economic growth.

Among the various programs put in place through the program, the hiring of planning interns by municipalities was highlighted as one of the elements that have been used to offer support to communities.

Prince Rupert was one of the municipalities across the region to take advantage of that option that was offered by the province. The funding for the intern program across the region was delivered through the Northern Development Initiative Trust which is based in Prince George.

Mayor Lee Brain offered up his support for the provincial initiative, making note of how the City is making us of the provincial assistance when it comes to its Re:Build Rupert infrastructure program.

“The City of Prince Rupert has been diligently working on identifying priority items within our current infrastructure deficit and to address it, we are launching an infrastructure renewal program called 'Rebuild Rupert'. This funding will enable us to continue to build an effective management strategy for infrastructure assets that will help to ensure that our local residents and businesses have the services they need to prosper and succeed.” -- Mayor Lee Brain on provincial funding related to infrastructure needs.

The provincial contribution to the Prince Rupert plans was not broken down as part of the overall amount of  the 700,000 dollars plus distributed to this point across the Northwest.

More items related to Provincial government issues and initiatives can be found on our Legislature Archive page.

Notes on infrastructure issues for Prince Rupert can be found from our council files here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Grants in lieu of taxes process nets Prince Rupert 51,000 dollars for 2015

November is distribution month for the Province of British Columbia, when 56 communities across the province share in 17.3 million dollars in compensation on lands that are owned by the provincial government.

In Prince Rupert the largest provincial presence in the city is the Court House on McBride and from that property and other smaller parcels of land that may be owned by the province, the city has received $51,065.68.

The announcement of the distribution of grants was made in a media release by the Provincial government on Wednesday. The province notes through that information statement that the payments are a form of reimbursement for municipal services such as sewers, roads and fire protection.

The annual release of the grants in lieu of taxes monies provides a good indication as to the amount of infrastructure that the province has invested in hard assets in communities across British Columbia.

To give you some idea as to the lower profile of the province on the North Coast, Prince Rupert trails in the amount of the grants received compared to other areas of the Northwest, in Terrace the amount received was more than double, at $127,786.24

While Smithers also benefited significantly more than Prince Rupert from provincial infrastructure, with the Bulkley Valley community receiving $128,764.86 from this years transfers.

On Haida Gwaii two communities received payments from the province, Queen Charlotte Municipality with $2,606.48 and Masset which received $12,076.65

You can review the full list and the province's media release here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Victoria Viewpoints: Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Provincial scene.

B. C. Liberals forge ahead with Site C decisions
Contractors picked for Site C construction
B. C. Hydro set to sign Site C dam construction contract worth $1.5B
College could force doctors to use PharmaNet after study reveals most ignore it
New special prosecutor appointed to help investigate triple deletion of emails
B.C. ready to take in Syrian refugees but still needs details on federal funding
BC Hydro slammed by First Nations advocacy groups for Site C contract
Data privacy rules hamper health sector

Ottawa Observations: Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene for November 25.

Canada's refugee resettlement plan remains a work in progress
Trudeau is discriminating against single, straight male refugees. Why is he afraid?
Trudeau under pressure to detail Canada's new role in fight against IS
Canada has a proud history of doing the right thing for refugees
Liberals can admit they were wrong, but not that their critics were right
Justin Trudeau meets the Queen (for the second time) at Buckingham Palace: 'You were taller than me at the time"
Queen says it's 'extraordinary' to meet and Prime Minister Trudeau
Oil industry's future might depend on joining fight against global warming
What happened to the Liberal commitment to our cities?
Shipbuilding strategy needs work to get ballooning costs under control, ministers told
Bob Paulson, RCMP boss, wants warrantless access to online subscriber info

Hawkair indicates plans to reduce service to Prince Rupert over winter months

They haven't provided any details as of yet, but some bread crumbs on the Hawkair Website are indicating that the Northwest based airline is about to reduce its service to the Prince Rupert airport.

A pair of notices posted to the twitter sidebar on the Hawkair website indicate that the airline is reducing capacity during the slower winter months, adding the note that they "hope to be back by summer" an interesting choice of wording that might provide for some concerns for the Prince Rupert Airport Authority and those that like to fly out of Prince Rupert by way of the Terrace based airline.
Comments posted
to the  Hawkair
Website on Wednesday

Hawkair says through their twitter notes that the reductions are a decision that they have made in the past, with the promise that more details will be released soon.

Something that local officials will no doubt be looking forward to.

As we outlined earlier this year, the airline suspended its service to the Smithers market in August, however the Smithers airport is still served by Air Canada and Central Mountain Air.

Hawkair recently signed an arrangement with Ginglox Enterprises a Nisga'a company to provide training and employment opportunities for members of the Nisga'a Nation, suggesting that the Terrace hub will remain the main focus of the company operations.

The reduction in Prince Rupert will leave residents with Air Canada as their only other option for air travel out of the Digby Island airport, a prospect which could see even more passenger traffic being driven towards the Terrace airport and its larger flight options.

We will update this story as more background from Hawker is provided to the public.

For more background on Transportation issues in the Northwest see our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council to reveal community vision planning this week

Mayor Brain outlined the background
to a new vision plan to be released
to the community
During Monday's City Council session, Mayor Lee Brain revealed that the City will be launching a media campaign this week to highlight its Major Community Vision for the years ahead.

Making use of a partnership with the weekly newspaper, the City will begin to provide some background on its strategic planning for the future, as well as provide more details on the various surveys that they have conducted over the last few years.

The details of their program will also be released through the City's social media presence, along with a media release designed to explain what the Vision program is all about. The city will be using the information release as part of its framework in presenting the project to the public.

At Monday's council meeting, the Mayor did not disclose how much money the City would be spending as part of its new partnership with the weekly paper, in order to help deliver his vision statements to the public.

The Mayor also noted that the city will be engaging with the public over the process in the future, with the City's residents offered the opportunity to comment on what the City has delivered in the way of information.

The new advertising campaign in conjunction with the weekly paper would seem to already be paying dividend for the Mayor and City Council.

With an editorial page submission today that was fairly enthusiastic about the Mayor and his plans for the community, even mentioning Mayor Brain in the same breath as that grand visionary of the North Coast, Charles M. Hays.

The editorial followed a three page review of the city's vision, which also features duelling portraits of Mayor Brain and Mr. Hays, to go along with the dramatic outline that the plans will be so massive that they rival those of Charles Melville Hays.

The full program, known as Hays 2.0 can be reviewed here.

You can review the Mayor's announcement by way of the City's Video Archive, it starts at the one hour ten minute mark.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Task Force created to address Canfisco job losses

The prospect of job losses related to the announcement of the closure of canning lines at Prince Rupert's Oceanside Plant  by Canadian Fish has brought a Provincial Government Task Force to town to offer up assistance in the process for those workers that have been affected.

Mayor Lee Brain outlined those notes as part of the tail end of Monday's City Council session, noting that the Task Force would be making use of the Hecate Strait Employment Services office to put the transition program into place.

While the Mayor had few details to offer as to what kind of assistance is available through the Task Force, the indication was that the local Employment Service Office would be offering help to those that have been affected by the closure.

Mainly by providing opportunities for training for other career options through their Work BC program.

Anyone looking for more information on what kind of assistance is available can learn more from
Hecate Strait at 208 First Avenue East or contact them at 250-627-4397

More background on the Canadian Fish Company announcement can be found on our Fishing industry archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Council moves zoning change process ahead for Prince Rupert Boulevard proposal

The Prince Rupert Boulevard
and Drake Crescent area may be
the next site for potential housing
Another new housing development may be on the horizon for the city, as Prince Rupert City Council moved forward with a zoning request for a property on Prince Rupert Boulevard at Drake Crescent.

The zoning request will see the process move forward to the public information phase, where the proponent of the development Intrawest, is expected to outline further their plans for a mixed use housing plan for the lot.

City Planner Zeno Krekic provided the overview for Council, noting how the request to change the zoning to allow for a higher density of housing falls within the city's desires as part of their Official Community Plan.

He suggested that while the proponent will outline the full scope of the project as the process moves forward, the prospect for development could see both a four story building and town home concept used as part of the development .

You can review the full discussion related to the zoning process from the City's Video Archive, it starts at the 30 minute mark.

For more items related to housing issues in the community see our Housing Archive.

More background on City council discussions can be found on our Council Archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Stiles Place Development to go to Public Hearing with new zoning designation

The Stiles Place condominium development proposed for the Downtown area will be going to a Public hearing process next month, after Prince Rupert City Council voted to move forward with a zoning change related to the project as part of Monday's council session.

The proposed development has provided for no shortage of discussion both at City Council and in the community, making for the subject of two submissions earlier in the evening by participants in the Public Comment period of the Community of the Whole Session.

City Planner Zeno Krekic provided the overview of the project for Council as part of the Regular Session of Council, with a large focus on what was involved with his recommendation to Council that the City adopt a spot zoning concept for the property in question in this instance.

That proposal would create a zoning allowance for the project, which would provide for a larger density and higher profile than what is currently allowed in that area of the downtown core.

Following Mr. Krekic's presentation, a number of Council members offered up questions related to parking issues, noise and the prospect of impeding the view of Pilsbury House for the community.

As the discussion came to an end on the topic, Councillor Mirau offered up his endorsement of the proposed use of spot zoning in this instance, noting that he would like to see the project presented to the public for their review and comment.

That opportunity will come up in December when Council holds the Public hearing related to the proposed development.

You can review the presentation and discussion surrounding the change in zoning from the City's Video Archive.

The conversation related to the Stiles Place proposal starts at the sixteen minute point and continues through to the thirty  minute mark.

For more items related to Housing proposals in the city see our housing archive.

Further background on City Council discussions can be found from Council Archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City Council Timeline, Monday, November 23, 2015

With one councillor missing for the night and another participating by telephone, the remainder of the City Council Six and Mayor Lee Brain settled in for the final Council session of November on Monday evening.

Beyond the various zoning issues that were addressed as part of the Monday session, the bulk of the one hour meeting was taken up by a review of the city's plans to increase the recreation fees for city operated Recreation Facilities.

Ms. Willa Thorpe the City's Recreation Director provided Council with an overview of what the department hopes to achieve through their plan, which would see fees increase by five percent over the course of five years, while also putting money aside towards a capital expenditures fund.

Council also heard an update on the developments with the Housing Committee, a report from Councillor Mirau on his attendance at the Cities Fit for Children Forum this month in Vernon, while Councillor Cunningham noted the achievement of a local resident.

Mayor Brain had two notes to wrap up the night, with a short overview of the recent job losses from Canadian Fish and how residents can seek help in employment issues related to that announcement.

He also advised that the City is about to launch a major vision program, to provide residents with more background on the City's Strategic planning.

Monday was also a Committee of the Whole night, and four residents chose to make their thoughts to Council known during that part of the evening.

For some background on the evening's scheduled items of note, see the Regular Council Agenda for November 23, 2015.

Council also had took part in the latest of their Special Closed Sessions which was held earlier in the day at 5:00 PM.

Further information from our overview and placement in the video archive can be found below, with the permanent record of the minutes added as they are posted to the city website.

In attendance November 23, 2015

Mayor Lee Brain-- Present
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present (participating by phone)
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa--  Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- Absent

Video Archive for November 23, 2015

0:00 -- 13:30 )  Committee of the Whole Session for October 26, 2015 -- Four residents took part in the Committee of the Whole session, the first a resident of the downtown area who had concerns related to a proposed development of a condominium complex at Bill Murray Way and Stiles Place.

The public was advised by the Mayor that the project, if it moves ahead would be the subject of a public hearing in December.

The next speakers were Michael Gurney and Lucas Anders who offered an invitation to their production of Stones in his Pockets set to take place in December at the Lester Centre.

The third presentation involved a request that the City create a Climate Change Committee to address Green house gas reduction and ways that the City could lead the community by changing perspectives on the issue.

The evening's contributor noted that there are ways for the city to reduce its contribution to the issue, by way of converting vehicles to other sources of energy. He also had comments related to the plan to increase rates for use of Recreation Facilities and made note of the current situation which sees reduced rates for civic staff and RCMP members in place.

Councillor Cunningham offered up a number of points on rebuttal related to that presentation addressing both the Recreation Centre issues and the theme of city employees driving around the city.

The final presentation also involved issues of concern related to the Stiles Place condominium proposal, with a question related to why the City was not adhering to the Quality of Life Official Community Plan bylaws, when it comes to the single developer proposal. She also noted that the new building if constructed would block Pillsbury House from public view.

The Mayor again made note of the prospect of a Public Hearing on the proposed development, directing the public to make their comments on the proposal at that time should Council move forward with the proposal.

( 13:30 -- 14:00 )  Regular Council Session  -- Adoption of Past Minutes and Agenda for the evening. -- Council reviewed a number of past minutes and accepted the Agenda for the evening's Regular Council session.

Petitions and Delegations

( 14:00--16:00) Report from the City Planner related to a property on 8th Avenue East  --  Mr. Krekic then provided a short update on the nature of the request in front of Council, with the variance application to change the font set back of the property to provide for a covered entrance.

Council then voted to carry the motion and moved the process forward to the public notification process.

( 16:00--30:00  Report from the City Planner regarding the Bill Murray Way Development -- The City Planner provided some background to the proposal for a condominium development at Stiles Place and Bill Murray Way, as well as a review of the report previously delivered to Council over the summer.

Mr. Krekic then suggested a number of amendments to that initial recommendation, including that the property be the subject of spot zoning, with Mr. Krekic introducing a new zone to be known as C6 for that particular area of the downtown.

Councillor Mirau asked a few questions related to the aspect of parking related to the proposed development, looking for clarification as to how that would be examined.

Councillor Randhawa recounted the concerns of the presenter to the Committee of the Whole session, related to how the proponent of the development could address any issues of noise from the development.

Councillor Kinney asked for a clarification on what impact if any the project might have on Pillsbury House.

Councillor Mirau offered up his endorsement of the use of spot zoning for the proposed development and that he would like to see the project put to the people for their review.

Council then voted to give first and second reading to the motion and to move the process on to the Public hearing phase, with that hearing scheduled for December.

 ( 30:00--38:30 Report from the City Planner regarding rezoning for a proposed development for Prince Rupert Boulevard at Drake Crescent -- Mr. Krekic provided a short review of the nature of the rezoning request and what some of the particulars of the proposed development might look like. With the new zoning allowing for structures of up to four stories, with the indication being that it would be a mixture of densities planned for the area in question.

Mr. Krekic noted that if the zoning amendment was approved, the proponent would be required to hold a public information meeting as part of the process.

Mayor Brain asked about the nature of the types of housing proposed, Mr. Krekic noted that the full overview would be outlined as the process moves forward, at the permit development stage.

The Mayor followed up that he believes it would be a good idea for the applicant to provide some indication as to what he might have in mind for the property in question. Councillor Randhawa asked about any buffer zones between the proposed development and other housing in the area.

Mr. Krekic noted that the proposed development works within the guidelines of the City's Quality of Life Official Community plan. Councillor Cunningham observed that the proponent was basically looking to create similar accommodations as to those that are found on the other side of Drake.

Mr. Krekic also made note of some subtle differences between the density levels that might be found on the proposed site.

 Council voted to approve the motion, sending the proposal to the public information stage.

( 38:30-- 1:03:00) A report from the Recreation Director on the results of a study on fees at the Recreation Centre -- Ms. Willa Thorpe outlined some of the key findings from a recent staff review from 2014 regarding the Recreation Department, which explored areas such as usage, as well as fees and charges and how to streamline them to provide access to recreation options for a wide segment of the community.

The findings of the report included the three key results highlighting how 75 percent of the operations budget of the recreation department is subsidized by taxpayers.

Ms Thorpe noted that if the City maintains the same fees that are currently charged, by the year 2020 they will find themselves 27 to 42 per cent lower than the average of similar communities as Rupert, highlighting as well how there is a necessity to streamline the fees and charges to improve the ease of use and accessibility to the facilities.

She called attention of Council to two of those pieces that need to be keyed in on, the first is to maintain or improve the ability for low income residents to access recreation facilities and also to amalgamate the rates to provide opportunities for Seniors to have access to the facilities.

Staff is requesting that Council provide first, second and third reading to the bylaw as well as to establish a Recreation Capital Reserve Fund in the amount of five percent of all recreation revenues annually, which will be used towards facility maintenance and possible expansion of services.

The Mayor then provided a few observations on the nature of the request noting that the taxpayers are currently subsidizing the recreation centre by 2.5 million dollars, with council facing a challenge between a fair balance between fees and taxes when it comes to the Recreation Centre.

He also asked Ms. Thorpe to provide a short explanation of the Recreation Access Program which is in place to provide assistance to those families below the income cutoff rate threshold. It was explained that the program provides the opportunity for those in need to receive 53 admissions to the complex, as well as reduced fees for programs, up to 300 dollars per allowable individual.

She also provided the background to the proposed amalgamated rate which would in effect reduce rates for Seniors, with an increase of one dollar for adults as part of that plan.

The Mayor then asked for an update on the new recreation software to be put in place by 2016 and what it might be able to provide for the city as far as information on recreation centre usage.

Ms. Thorpe provided some anecdotal information related to usage and the public impressions of the Recreation Centre, noting that usage appears up and that those taking advantage of the facility are reporting that it is in better condition than it has ever been in.

As for Capital Improvements planning, the five percent requested would be directed towards putting aside money to work on issues as they arise at the various facilities at all of the city's recreation facilities.

Councillor Cunningham offered up some observations related to the five percent increase request, suggesting that the capital projects would in the end be required and the city will have to address them through taxation.

As well, as part of his narrative on the theme, he observed that the prospect of cutbacks to services and programs could be something to be concerned about, should the City not find additional streams of revenue for the facility.  He also noted that there has never been a Capital Asset Fun in place for the Recreation Centre before.

Councillor Kinney complimented Ms. Thorpe on the report and then asked if a lift was among some of the plans for the stairs at the two complexes, he was advised that those plans were already in motion.

Councillor Niesh also expressed his thanks for the report and suggested that the public review the document to get a better understanding of the nature of the increases and what the incremental approach may provide for residents.

Councillor Randhawa expressed his concerns over the rates for youth and noted that with more job losses in the community families may have problems accessing money for recreation, asking for a rate break for youth and families.

With no seconder for the motion, that initiative found no traction, however the Mayor asked that Ms. Thorpe outline more of the background related to the initiatives in place for youth at the Recreation Facilities.

Councillor Cunningham noted that youth at risk and others with financial challenges have been well taken care of, he returned to his theme that unless the Recreation Centre was able to start to contribute to its own economics, the City might be faced with having to reduce services.

Mr. Cunningham also recommended that Council make the rate increase be put in place for all users. 

The Mayor brought the discussion to a close by observing that at the end of the day the City won't be turning away any child away from the Civic Centre.

Councillor Mirau also voiced his support for the program noting the need to address the capital costs associated with the Recreation Centre, while Councillor Niesh asked for a bit more background on the initiatives that the Recreation Centre have in place to make the public more aware of their programs and assistance available.

The Mayor also noted that the city's Communication Manager would be using Social media to alert the public to the city's new plan and the programs of the Recreation Centre.

Council then provided first, second and third reading to the motion, with Councillor Randhawa voting against the motion.

( 1:03:00 -- 1:04:00) Report on the Housing Committee -- The Mayor updated Council on the latest developments, noting that through the Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society a new consultant has been hired to move forward the Affordable Housing process. He expects that more momentum on the issue will be found by March, with hopes to have plans to get something off the ground to be in place by March of 2016.

(1:04:00 -- 1:11:00) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council

Councillor Mirau provided a short overview of the Cities Fit for Children Summit in Vernon, noting that he, the City Planner and Kate Toye from Success by Six took part in a number of sessions and workshops that related to Child Friendly options for cities. He in particular was impressed with the concept of the Children's Bill of Rights and suggested it would be a great statement for the City to make.

Councillor Cunningham called attention to the success of Lonnie Wishart, who has compiled a book of photography that has been selected by Scotia-Waterhouse for further distribution and mention across Canada.

Councillor Kinney offered up his congratulations to the newly elected Mayor and Council of Lax Kw'alaams and expressed how he was looking forward to working with them in their new term.

The Mayor commented on the recent announcement of job losses at the Canadian Fish plant in the city, noting that the City is still working with the company to determine just how many jobs will be lost.  He also advised that a Task Force has been created to address the job losses being handled through the Hecate Strait Employment Centre, providing assistance in job searches and other aspects of the situation.

He also passed on best wishes to a resident celebrating her 100th birthday.

Mayor Brain also outlined that the City is launching a major community vision project for the public this week, teaming up with the city's weekly newspaper.  The five part vision program will make use of social media and provide a media release to explain what the program is about, outlining some of the strategic planning and surveys that the city has conducted.

You can access the City Council Review for November 23rd here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to media coverage of it can be found.

As always, our Council Timeline is only a reflection of our observations from the Council session of the night. Be sure to consult with the official minutes from the City, when posted to their website for further review.

Minutes of the Regular Council Session from November 23rd, 2015 (not available yet)

Council next meets in Regular session on December 7th in Council Chambers at City Hall. That will mark their final scheduled meeting of the year for 2015.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review