Monday, February 29, 2016

Victoria Viewpoints: Monday, February 29, 2016

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

Province to spend $400,000 to address drinking on campus
B. C. government to introduce 'world-leading' oil spill response law
B. C. Energy Minister says clean power projects aren't the priority
B. C. updates law on environmental spill response and preparedness
B. C. Hydro wins injunction against Site C protestors
Christy Clark should support a national climate plan
Opposition hammers B. C. premier's high-flying ways
Economy shaking confidence of B. C. workers
Finance minister deJong soft-pedals warning on Vancouver real estate
Controversy over Christy Clark's travel expenses highlights lack of transparency: critics
Three wacky accounting numbers for LNG and Shale Gas
Hey John Horgan, Lead Us to Leap

Ottawa Observations: Monday, February 29, 2016

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene from February 29, 2016.

25,000 Syrian refugees have landed, now for Phase 2, says John McCallum
83,000 low-income seniors to get overdue GIS payments - but no interest
Half of Canadians disagree with sticking by Saudi arms deal, poll suggests
Canada moves a step closer to ratifying 'gold plated' trade deal with EU
Liberals spend $3.5M in government advertising in first 4 months
After Stephen Harper, Conservatives confront questions of style and substance
Tom Mulcair slammed by Montreal riding president ahead of leadership vote
Clean-technology investors call for federal task force
Canadian agency given deadline by U. S. body to clean up food safety
Small business owners wait to see if Ottawa comes through on tax pledge
Syrian refugee arrivals could affect intake of other immigrants: Ottawa
Trudeau's trip to Washington offers chance to reset relationship
All parties' supporters disapprove of Saudi arms deal
Majority of Canadians agree pot should be legal: poll
How does the NDP begin its climb back to relevance?
Partisans, get a grip: Canadians need honest talk about deficits
To fix the economy, Trudeau taps global star in corporate world
Let's welcome more Syrian refugees
Return of refugee health care a redefining moment
ISIS has its eyes set on Canada
NDP miffed at Liberal stance silence on MP security oversight panel
Canada is making suicide a public service. Have we lost our way as a society?
Liberal minister hints citizenship guide's trumpeting of War of 1812 victory will be pared down
Tory convention could see return of social conservative movement after decade on the sidelines
Via Rail federal budget funding for $1.3B passenger car upgrade in Toronto-Montreal corridor

The Insiders -- U. S. Politics

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

February 29, 2016 : U. S. Politics


North Coast MLA makes plans for Maternity Matters tour of BC

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice
will be on the road through the
next three months consulting
British Columbians on maternity issues
Jennifer Rice will be taking to the road over the course of March and April travelling across the province to learn more about the challenges that mothers to be face in rural and remote communities of the province.

The North Coast MLA is launching the Maternity Matters Tour which gets underway this week when Ms. Rice holds sessions in the Bella Coola Valley from March 4th to 7th.

Later in the month she'll be heading into the Cariboo region, with stops planned in Quesnel, Clearwater and Ashcroft.

The main focus of her tour to hear from residents in rural and remote British Columbia to hear more of the challenges in accessing maternity care outside of larger centres and what issues face residents when it comes to care for their baby.

More trips are planned in April, May and June, though for the moment other than an April 22nd journey to Bella Bella, no other sessions are planned for the moment for the North Coast of Haida Gwaii.

You can review the MLA's itinerary and get more information on how to contact Ms. Rice from her media release announcing the tour.

For more items related to MLA Rice's work in Victoria see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Victoria Viewpoints: February 27 & 28, 2016

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

B. C Premier's office defends Christy Clark's private flight expenses
Christy Clark's office defends 'necessary' private-flight expenses
BC Premier Christy Clark criticized for spending more than half-million dollars on private jets
Rash of suicides by B. C. first responders sparks calls for more help
B. C. RCMP racked up $900,000 in overtime during undercover anti-terrorism investigation
NDP looking for a strict disciplinarian

Ottawa Observations: February 27 & 28, 2016

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene from February 27 & 28, 2016.

Former Liberal minister calls for Ottawa to revisit Saudi arms deal
Trudeau intent on seizing moment to forge national climate strategy
Liberals reach resettlement goal as 25,000th Syrian refugee arrives in Canada
Wanted: Tory leadership candidates who are comfortable with their own philosophy
After a decade of message control, electoral reform could be an opportunity for Tories
The Liberals have faced early trouble - but they still think they're on the side of angels
Trudeau government quietly shopping for military drones - in the midst of pressure to arm them
If deportation is appropriate for war criminals, why not for terrorists?
Committee of Senators, MPs steers assisted suicide debate back to Parliament 
Uniting Alberta's right: 'One hug at a time'
Maxime Bernier slams English-only Kevin O'Leary
After Stephen Harper, Conservatives confront questions of style and substance
Liberals drone shopping exercise sets stage for debate over lethal force
25,000th Syrian refugee lands in Canada
MPs looking for work-family balance may say goodbye to Friday sittings

Saturday, February 27, 2016

MLA's week, February 22-26, 2016

Prince Rupert didn't capture quite the same amount of interest this week as it did the week before, as the Legislature moved on to other issues beyond the state of water at some of the city's elementary schools.

The topic did receive a bit more exposure as North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice called for expanded testing of water in Northwest schools, taking one more run at Health Minister Terry Lake on the concerns over water in the region.

Ms. Rice also had some thoughts on the Provincial Government's treatment of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the Representative for Children and Youth, calling attention to a number of reports in recent months on the situation facing at risk children in the province and seeking a public statement  of support for Ms. Turpel-Lafond and the work of her office.

As we do at the end of each week of the Legislature session, we outline some of the main notes of interest from the North Coast MLA's work week.

Ms Rice was listed twice in the archive of participants for the seven sessions of the Legislature in the House, or for those listings related to her work on House Committees for the week of February 22-26.

On Monday afternoon, Ms. Rice returned to the theme of seeking answers related to the water situation in some Prince Rupert schools, seeking an expanded testing process for all schools of the Northwest.

MLA calls for expanded testing of water in Northwest schools

Monday morning found Ms. Rice seeking answers on the provincial government's treatment of the Representative for Children and Youth, asking the province to publicly declare support for the work of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafon and the work done through her office.

MLA Rice speaks out in support of Representative of Children and Youth

Ms Rice is also a member of the Committee on Children and Youth, however that Committee did not meet this week.

Members of the Legislature return to the Chamber on Monday morning.

There is more background on the North Coast MLA available from our MLA's Week Archive as well as our General Archive on the Legislature.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Victoria Viewpoints: February 26, 2016

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

BC Hydro applies to raise rates by four per cent
BC Hydro applies for 4% interim rate increase
Washington turns up heat for Victoria sewage plant, eyes travel curbs
Province considers court injunction to clear tent city
NDP looking for a strict disciplinarian
Christy Clark learned early to prove the doubters wrong
Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister fined for unregistered lobbying
Refinery plans in B. C. and Alberta seek to tip over conventional wisdom

Ottawa Observations: Friday, February 26, 2016

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene from February 26, 2016.

Hy's Steakhouse closes door on an era of Parliament Hill politics
Trudeau to urge pardon for man deemed a dangerous sex offender for being gay in 1960s
Trudeau's energy policies put national unity at risk: Preston Manning
Kevin O'Leary eyes run for Conservative Leadership
To fix the economy, Trudeau taps global star in corporate world
Ottawa should work with Ontario on guaranteed-income strategy: advocates
New Liberal government, same old litany
Jason Kenney's newfound energy signals that the Tory leadership has started in earnest
At the Manning Conference: Does a recharged right include social conservatives?
Federal conservatives meet with PCs and Wildrose leaders in bid to unite the right in Alberta
Trudeau government should move cautiously on right-to-die
Ottawa can't afford to bail out Bombardier
Peter MacKay would help unite Alberta's right
Terrorist scumbag doesn't deserve citizenship
Peter MacKay says 'smart' Tories can beat Trudeau
MPs look to adopt more family-friendly hours
Kevin O'Leary vows to be a 'nightmare for politician' on economic policy
Stephen Harper's former chief of staff says forget about election, think policy
Federal government says some form of carbon pricing is coming
Paul Kennedy to oversee review of misconduct at police college run by RCMP
MPs give themselves and House officers a $25M boost to office budgets
As a 'matter of principle,' convicted terrorists are fellow citizens
'Recharging the right': Conservatives headline Manning Centre conference
MMIW inquiry should include claims of police misconduct, says Human Rights Watch
In Canada, Housing is a Right. Right?

Chamber of Commerce to host LNG Development event March 1st

Supporting responsible LNG development will be the theme of a Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Tuesday at the North Coast Convention Centre.

Chamber organizers are looking for a large turnout of community members next week, hoping to attract those who may be curious to learn more about LNG and other industries proposed for the region.

From the luncheon information session, the Chamber is looking to build support in the region not only for LNG industry, but for other forms of development on the North Coast.

As part of the Tuesday event, the Chamber has assembled a roster of speakers from a number of areas of the community to share their thoughts on how the industry can benefit the community.

Among those scheduled to take part in the lunch time forum are:

Blair Mirau
Clifford White, Elected Chief, Gitxaala First Nation
Dave MacDonald, Mayor, District of Port Edward
Glen Edwards, President, ILWU Local 505
James Witzke, Tsimshian Environmental Stewardship Society

The Tuesday event takes place from 11:45 AM to 1:15 PM, tickets cost 25 dollars for members and Not-yet Members alike.

The Deadline for Reservations is 8AM of March 1st and reservations are required as No Tickets will be available at the door.

More on the Chamber event can be found here.

For a primer on some of the proposed LNG projects on the North Coast see our archive page here, a look at the industrial footprint in the region can also be found from Industrial archives here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Victoria Viewpoints: Thursday, February 25, 2016

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

LNG exports begin from U.S. as Canada sits on sidelines
AltaGas shelves Douglas Channel project near Kitimat
Students suffer due to lack of classroom supplies and support say teachers
Victoria homeless camp stages block party on planned eviction day
B. C. introduces minimum pricing for alcohol
B.C. government introduces new enforcement powers in response to Mount Polley disaster
AltaGas halts plan to export LNG from British Columbia's north coast
Surrey, Vancouver mayors urge B.C. to protect film, TV production tax credits
Catholic health agency's position on assisted dying reveals fault lines in B.C.
Liberals get a lesson in expectations
Class size not the only issue to be resolved
New penalties coming to B. C. mine regulations
BC Ferries fares won't increase thanks to fuel rebate

Ottawa Observations: Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene from February 25, 2016.

Parliamentary report calls for broad access to assisted dying
Canadian Olympic Committee spent $1.9 million on new boardroom
Committee rejects call to investigate discarded residential-school compensation claims
Ottawa has spent $32 million on flights for Syrian refugees
Morneau to push G20 leaders to deliver on pledge of global growth
Extreme Weather will cost Ottawa almost $1-billion yearly: PBO report
Liberals introduce bill to repeal many Conservative citizenship changes
Conservatives begin unofficial race for the leadership
Leaderless but united Tories a party in need of renewal
Trudeau's empowered cabinet struggling to settle in
Beware the deficit fix. It's easy to get hooked
C Series success will hinge on how well Ottawa and Quebec get along
Conservative leadership race could produce crowded field
Why provincial, federal budgets are destined to be billions apart
Cap and Trade: the next Liberal rip-off
Are the Syrian refugees actually refugees?
Dual nationals convicted of terrorism don't deserve to keep Canadian citizenship
Portrait of a Conservative Party in mid-reinvention: A dispatch from inside the Manning conference
As federal deficit soars, expected cuts could significantly gut Canadian Forces
Liberals’ untangling of shipbuilding strategy could ignite regional tug-of-war
Senate faces an uncertain future out from under the party whip
Liberals move to overhaul rules on revoking, granting citizenship
F-35 fighter jet purchase by Liberals may still be in the mix
Trudeau's 'new approach' to government appointments begins
Newfoundland and Saskatchewan face hundreds of millions in federal loan repayments
Liberals sunny on the surface, much fudgier underneath

At Issues Panel -- Could the Trump Effect come to Canada

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

February 25: Could the Trump effect come to Canada

Voice of BC -- Site C, MSP and Disability Issues

British Columbia's NDP members Carole James and Mike Farnworth join Vaughn Palmer to discuss the alternatives to Site C, MSP premiums and disability benefits

February 25

AltaGas keeps focus on Propane Exports out of Ridley Island, while cancelling Douglas Channel LNG project

Two items of interest for the Northwest were found in a lengthy media release from Alberta based AltaGas as part of their Fourth Quarter and Year End Results report.

As the Alberta company outlined its financial picture form a troubled year in Alberta's oil and gas sector, highlighting some of it's plans and advising investors as to some areas where change is being made or has already taken place.

On the good news front, the company once again highlighted its plans to ship propane out of the proposed terminal site on Ridley Island.

On propane exports, AltaGas signed a sublease and related agreements with Ridley Terminals Inc. (Ridley Terminals) to develop, build, own and operate the Ridley Island Propane Export Terminal located near Prince Rupert, British Columbia on a portion of lands leased by Ridley Terminals from the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

The facility will be designed to ship up to 1.2 million tonnes of propane per annum and will be built on a brownfield site with a history of industrial development, connections to existing rail lines, and an existing marine jetty with deep water access.

AltaGas is working towards reaching a final investment decision in 2016 with commercial propane exports targeted for 2018, subject to First Nations consultations and necessary approvals. On February 11, 2016, AltaGas filed an application with the National Energy Board for a 25-year propane export license.

However, for those on the North Coast hoping to see some progress with the launch of the LNG industry in the region, AltaGas had some disappointing news.

Noting that their proposed development for Kitimat was now putting a halt to the plans for the Douglas Channel LNG project owing to economic conditions.

The DC LNG Consortium, comprised of AltaGas Idemitsu Joint Venture Limited Partnership (AIJVLP), EDF Trading Limited (EDFT) and EXMAR NV (EXMAR), announced today its decision to halt development of the DC LNG project due to adverse economic conditions and worsening global energy price levels.

AltaGas announced on Thursday that development on
the Douglas ChannelLNG project was being halted
That proposed development was a smaller scale LNG project, which planned to make use of a floating terminal concept in the Kitimat area.

You can review what might have been  from our archive page here.

For a look at the proposed Propane Terminal for Ridley Island see our archive page for more background on that project.

The full media release from AtlaGas can be examined here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Woodside Energy to host Open House on Grassy Point LNG proposal in March

Woodside Energy has plans
for an LNG Terminal
near Lax Kw'alaams
We haven't heard much in recent months when it comes to the proposed LNG development for Grassy Point, with the Australian energy company Woodside keeping their options pretty close to the vest for that area of the North Coast near Lax Kw'alaams.

That however does not mean that they haven't been following up on their plans for the proposed development, with the latest progress on the project set to be provided to the public in March.

Woodside Energy will share more information in a bit over two weeks, having scheduled an Open House for March 10th at the North Coast Convention Centre. Taking place in the Grizzly Room, from 4 until 8 PM, the supper time information session will also offer a Buffet Dinner between 4:30 and 6 PM. 

Residents who attend the Open House will be able to gain more background to the proposed development that would be implemented in two phases, with an initial production capacity calling for shipment capacity of between 6-15 million tonnes of LNG per annum, with the ability to increase overall capacity to to up to 20 million tonnes.

Before they can move forward with their application however, Woodside will require an environmental assessment certificate, the Open House and comment period is part of the process required to apply for that certificate.

Following the Open House, a thirty day period for the submission of comments towards the Draft Application will get underway.

Comments related to the Woodside Application can be directed to the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office website as of March 3rd.

Details related to the Draft Application Information requirements will be posted to that website as of March 3rd, with published copies also available at the following locations on the North Coast.

Prince Rupert Public Library
101 6th Avenue West, Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert City Hall
424 3rd Avenue West, Prince Rupert

Port Edward Municipal Office
770 Pacific Avenue, Port Edward

It's of interest to note that to this point, there is no indication that a copy of the Draft Information requirements will be provided for the community of Lax Kw'alaams, which would be the closest community to the proposed development site.

Cover page of report
(from Woodside Energy website)

The two proposed terminal options for
the Grassy Point site
(from the Woodside Energy website)

When it comes to the project's progress, there hasn't been a lot in the way of updates to the Woodside Grassy Point LNG page  found through the Australian energy company's home page, with the most recent items on the project dating back to September of 2015.

Fact Sheet

Project Description

Public Consultation Consultation Plan

There also has not been much in the way of additional material posted to Government websites that track the flow of information on the major LNG projects in the province.

The listing of documentation provided to the Canadian Environmental Association to this point can be found here.

While background on the project provided to the British Columbia Environmental Office can be examined here.

The Woodside proposal is the fourth of the major proposals for the North Coast still in motion, with the CEAA set to complete its comment period on the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal on March 11th and then to hand the file over to the Federal environment Minister for further action.

The Aurora LNG proposal for Digby Island and the WCC LNG proposal for Tuck Inlet both are still in various stages of their consultation process.

While the BG Group's, Prince Rupert LNG project was put on  pause in 2014, with little in the way of follow up information provided since that period.

Since that pause of 2014, the BG Group merged with Shell in a 52 billion dollar mega deal.

Grassy Point is not the only North Coast location that Woodside is also involved with, they also have a share of the proposed Kitimat LNG project, partnering with Chevron on that LNG development.

For more items related to the proposed development by Woodside Energy see our archive page here.

For an overview of all of the proposed developments in the Northwest see our project listings page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Councillor Mirau seeks more background on Ridley Island Tax Arrangement with Port Edward

As part of the City of Prince Rupert's Budget consultation process, city council will be seeking a wider overview of the current arrangement between Prince Rupert and Port Edward when it comes to taxation collected from Ridley Island and how it is shared with the District of Port Edward.

Councillor Blair Mirau raised the item at Monday's council session, asking for some background on the topic from the City's Financial Officer Corrine Bomben and noting that he believes that the arrangement may be causing some pressures on the City's revenue challenges and cost pressures.

Mr. Mirau, noting that he had previous to his time on Council not been aware of the arrangement, suggested that it is a topic that warrants further investigation and discussion by Council.

Ms. Bomben provided a thumbnail sketch for council on the nature of the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement, observing how the current arrangement calls for the City to provide 17 per cent of the taxes collected by the City from Ridley Island sources would be directed to Port Edward. 

Noting for Council, that in the last year that percentage resulted in the City of Prince Rupert providing 700,000 dollars to the District of Port Edward.

From that information, Councillor Mirau noted that he believes that it's a tangible amount of money that has a significant impact on the City of Prince Rupert and provides for an important topic for discussion during the Budget process and something that warrants further consideration.

Ms. Bomben advised Council that she would provided with a more expansive overview in time for the Monday, March 7th council session and the information could be available as part of the larger public consultation session planned for the Lester Centre on March 14th.

You can review the discussion which came as part of the Budget Presentation from the City's Finance Department from Monday's Council session available from the Council Video archive, the full Budget presentation starts at  the 37 minute mark, while the portion related to the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement can be found at the 54 minute point.

For more items related to Budget preparation for 2016 see our Budget archive page here.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

City Council endorses Port Coquitlam plan on funding formula for Build Canada Grant program

On Monday night members of Prince Rupert city Council offered their support towards a correspondence from the City of Port Coquitlam, seeking a change in the formula for funding under the Federal Government's Build Canada Grant Program.

The letter from Port Coquitlam is part of a resolution from that community for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Union of British Columbia Municipalities that calls for a reduction in the municipal requirements for the Grant Program, calling the current level of one third of the cost as too high for local jurisdictions.

At the moment, according to the correspondence from Port Coquitlam the current level of funding rests at one third each from each level of government, with Port Coquitlam instead recommending a change in that formula, one that would see the Federal Government provide 50 percent of the funding, the Province to deliver 40 percent for significant projects, which would leave the municipalities to provide for the remaining 10 percent.

Corinne Bomben, the City of Prince Rupert's Financial Officer read the correspondence into the record at Monday's Council session and offered up an explanation for Council members of the details related to it.

At the conclusion of her presentation on the topic, Council members followed up on a motion from Councillor Mirau to offer their support to the proposed resolution from Port Coquitlam.

You can review the short discussion on the topic from the City's Video Archive starting at the one hour one minute mark.

The full correspondence from Port Coquitlam can be found as part of Monday's Agenda Package on page 15.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

City's Finance Department offers up taxation tutorial for residents on mill rates

The mill rate, It's a term that can create a furrowed brow and at times a bit of puzzlement from local residents, perhaps wondering what the abandoned pulp mill on Watson Island has to do with their tax load.

And while somewhere in a line item in the Finance office, the actual pulp mill probably does represent something in the expenses and revenues categories for the City of Prince Rupert (see pages 11 and 12 of the Budget Report from this weeks Council Agenda), in the case of determining how much your tax bill will go up in July, this mill rate term refers to something else completely.

To help better understand all of that financial jargon, the City's financial department has put together a tutorial page and info-graphic on the city website, designed to help residents determine what kind of increase they might be looking at with Council set to consider a proposed 2 per cent increase come this spring.

The three step process requires the home or business owner to have their assessed value from the recently delivered Provincial property tax assessment, with the resident then to find the proposed mill rate for your property class, followed by the use of a formula provided by the Finance Department to calculate the impact of the proposed mill rate.

A mill rate calculation chart from the City of Prince Rupert
(click to expand)
You can click on the image below to view the chart, or go to the city website where the chart can be found as well.

For more items related to the 2016 Budget process see our Budget archive page.

Further background on issues from Prince Rupert City Council can be reviewed from our Council Archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Victoria Viewpoints: Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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

B. C. Finance Minister says province can't afford film, TV tax credits
B. C. anti-logging petition warns of a Kootenay region toad road to nowhere
Stephen Smart hired as Christy Clark's new press secretary
Something familiar about de Jong's business tax review
Leave the disabled's bus passes alone, Premier Clark
No increase in ferry fares this spring
Weak and muddled thinking on MSP premium
Outcome of tent city eviction uncertain
Air Christy climbs to Half Million Dollar Mark
B. C. Sport minister issues #Stopsportbullying challenge
Pink Shirt Day just a Band-Aid
B. C. budget reflects Liberals' zeal for balancing the books at all costs

Ottawa Observations: Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Our compilation of some of the stories of note from the day, reviewing the political developments from the Federal scene from February 24, 2016.

Canada to stay in program of F-35 jet buyers despite pledge to withdraw
Three more cities to accept Syrian refugees as total number nears 25,000
Resource development: Stuck at a yellow light
Union Pearson Express train fiasco: Hey Ottawa, are you paying attention?
Politicians' daily balancing act between work and family
Give Parliament the power to scrutinize spy agencies
Lessons from Canada's refugee-health saga
Trudeau Liberals much more adept at selling their message than implementing it
If Liberals would read an economics textbook, they'd realize low productivity is Canada's real crisis
'Recharging the right': Conservatives in dire need of an ideological and policy reset before leadership race
Liberals considering amnesty for past marijuana crimes, but won't halt prosecutions in the meantime
Rise of the celebrity prime minister - a figurehead little more engaged in running the country than the Queen
Liberals have no schedule for legalizing marijuana, Bill Blair says
Harper's former chief of staff pushes for proportional representation
Syrian refugees resettled in more towns as Ottawa nears target
Arbitrator set to report on questionable Senate expenses within days
Should have left the Taliban in power, says retired Canadian who led Afghan fight
Nishnawbe Aski Nation declares health emergency over 'atrocious treatment'
Woodstock, conservatives and Bill Morneau
P. E. I. beats stiff competition in government waste awards
Don't weaken citizenship laws

Ministry of Transportation to host Open House on Tuck Road project in Lax Kw'alaams

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain's plans for a lengthy stretch of roadway connecting, Lax Kw'alaams, Metlakatla and the airport may still be in the long range planning phase at the moment

However, the Province is moving forward on a more immediate road project for the First Nation community, one focused on the existing road that runs to the North end of Tuck Inlet.

The Province of British Columbia announced  its plans for an Open House this week,  looking to provide further background for the proposed road work that will see paving work and safety improvements such as concrete barriers, speed reader boards and pullouts to be made along the 17.5-kilometre road, including the replacement of  one bridge.

The work is part of a remediation plan for the road that leads from Lax Kw'alaams, to the ferry dock at the north end of Tuck Inlet, providing for the current link for the community to Prince Rupert and beyond.

Thursday's Open House will take place from 3 until 8 PM at the Lax Kw'alaams Recreation Centre.

The project, part of the Ministry's 10 year Transportation plan, follows up on a Memo of Understanding (MOU) which was singed last year with the community,  signalling the start of engineering work on the project.

The start of the major construction project is expected to begin this summer.

You can learn more background on last year's memorandum of understanding on the project here.

For more items related to developments in Lax Kw'alaams see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Drake Crescent zoning decision deferred until March session

Kevin Stunder, the proponent of a
proposed housing  development
for Drake Crescent appeared at
Council on Monday evening
to outline the project
Prince Rupert City Council has decided to wait two more weeks before making a decision on a request for zoning changes to a parcel of land on Drake Crescent, with Council looking for further information from staff and its work with the developer on amenities and on how many units will be built before moving on the zoning issue.

Monday's Council session featured a Public Hearing on the issue, though no residents appeared in Council Chambers to outline any concerns related to the proposed development during the course of the session.

Council did hear from realtor Keith Lambourne, who speaking as President of the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce voiced that group's support for the proposed development, noting that there is an immediate need for more housing in the community, with many rental groups in the city featuring no vacancies at the moment.

Kevin Stunder, the proponent of the development for Drake Crescent also provided his thoughts on how the project would come together, calling on some of his past experience in other communities on property development.

On the topic of when the housing development might start, Mr. Stunder did note that no decision would be made until there was some indication of forward movement provided by the major proponents of major industrial projects in the community. Adding for Council that he hoped to have a better idea as to what form his development would take and the timeline for it by the summer.

He also observed that he hoped that Council could see the value in moving forward with some housing for the city on a parcel of land that fits in with the City's Quality of life official community plan.

The full overview of the Public Hearing process can be found on our Council Timeline Feature.

A multi unit housing development has been proposed for
Drake Crescent at Prince Rupert Boulevard

Later in the Council session, Council Members returned to the zoning issue, as part of the Regular Council Agenda, reviewing the findings of the public hearing and discussing further the desire to see parks and amenities included as part of the proposed development.

City Manager Robert Long provided some clarification on the topic for Council, while City Planner Zeno Krekic also outlined some guidelines as to how the process works.

When it comes to the theme of the proposed amenities for the area in question, the City Manager noted there were two paths that the developer could follow, one being through a financial contribution, or as discussed earlier by way of active participation in the development of those amenities.

Councillor Niesh spoke in favour of the proposed zoning change, noting that there has been no opposition expressed regarding the proposed development. However he noted rezoning the land at the moment was not urgent, as the developer had observed that he won't be moving ahead until some indication of major industrial development in the community is moving forward.

Councillor Kinney noted the contribution of Keith Lambourne and  his perspective on what is required for housing in the community at this time.

Councillor Thorkelson then put forward the motion to direct staff to discuss and work on a proposal and contract with the developer, regarding amenities and the number of units to b built on the property in question.

Adding the note that the finished agreement be provided to Council first, so Council could hold further discussion on the issue before taking the zoning requirement to a final vote.

Councillor Cunningham asked that it be brought to Council as soon as possible, with hopes of having it added to the Agenda for the next meeting of March 7th.

By way of a final look at the issue, Councillor Mirau outlined his one concern on the process, offering his belief that the city remain consistent in their policy development with this development and any other developer that may follow.

Council then put any final decision on the zoning issue off until next month.

You can review both the Public Hearing aspect of the issue and the discussion on the proposed zoning issue from the City's Video Archive.  

The Public hearing portion starts at the beginning of the evening's proceedings , while the zoning discussion takes place starting at the 1 hour one minute mark.

Further background on Housing issues in the Community can be found here.

While more items related to City Council discussion see our Council Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

City's CFO charts the Budget process ahead for City Council

CFO Corinne Bombern outlined the
start of the City's Budget Process
on Monday evening
Prince Rupert City Council received an update on some of the budget issues that they will be considering this spring as they move forward with the City's budget process, with the City's Chief Financial Officer delivering her report on where the city's finances are at heading as the City moves towards the Budget consultation sessions.

Monday evening, Ms. Corinne Bomben offered up the annual review of the City's financial situation, providing a video display session which outlined the details of the financial plan for the year ahead.

The report opened by providing some of the service challenges that the city faces each year at budget time, highlighting the expenses and the limited options in revenue collection.

Starting with the operation of the Digby Island Ferry, Ms. Bomben explained how neighbouring communities benefit from their proximity to the service but only pay a user fee. Further noting for Council that the residents of Prince Rupert not only pay the user fee but provide a subsidy, which for 2016 is expected to be at the 1 million dollar mark.

The ongoing issue of Provincial Tax Caps on major industrial operations was explored, with a revew as to how all of the city's industrial operating activity qualifies for these capped rates. Something which means that the city receives diminishing revenue from those areas.

To go along with the industrial cap issues, Ms. Bomben also outlined the nature of the low returns the city receives from the provincial offset grant process.

The Tax Cap Legislation burden that is found from those conditions placed on the city was highlighted, showing the impact that is found on residential, light industrial and commercial sectors which require increases each year to make up for the transfer of that burden. Which is the main contributing factor towards the tax rate increases in the community.

Ms. Bomben  made a point of noting that all of the Port of Prince Rupert's tenants in the area pay the full 100 percent of taxes that the city bills them, but that its the limitations that are in place by the provincial legislation that is providing for challenges for the City.

Budget requirements related to preparing for growth were reviewed, noting that the city will continue to fund planning for Major Projects initiatives through Legacy Inc, those programs last year provided for studies on land base use and population surveys, as well as the start of the Re:Design Prince Rupert program through UNBC's Community Development Institute.

This years budget will provide for the same level of funding to the Major Projects initiatives.

There will be no increases to the mill rates when it comes to the funding of civic operations, however to focus on reserves and future capital replacement issues, the Finance Department is recommending a 2 per cent increase to the mill rate for 2016 for those purposes.

To help those following at home, Ms. Bomben then outlined how the mill rate works and how home owners could determine how it would be applied. Noting that the "mill rate" would be reduced once again as it has over the last four years and explaining how that would impact on Taxpayers in the community.

Ms. Bomben also outlined the variety of grants and tax deferral options available advising residents to contact City Hall to learn more about them.

As well, she noted that BC Assessment will release their revised roll which could provide an impact on the proposed mill rate.

To close her presentation the City's Financial Officer noted that the public will have two opportunities to offer comments on the Budget Process, the first at a community forum at the Lester Centre on March 14th, the second at the March 21st session of Prince Rupert city Council.

Council was asked to defer any decision until after those public consultation sessions in March.

Council members asked for some clarifications on the industrial taxation levels and how much revenue the Recreation Department would be receiving through the increase in fees adopted earlier in the month.

Councillor Mirau asked for some clarification and discussion on the nature of the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement on Ridley Island between the City and the District of Port Edward, she provided some background on the topic and offered to provide a more expansive report on the situation for the next council session.

Council then accepted the Report for further consideration.  You can review the documentation that accompanied her presentation from the City's Agenda package on Page 7, it features a number charts on revenues and expenditures for further examination.

More on the Budget Presentation and the full Council Session of Monday night can be found on our Council Timeline Feature.

You can review the full presentation to Council from the City's Video Archive it starts at the 37 minute point and continues until the sixty one minute point.

You can follow the 2016 Budget process through our archive page here.

While further items related to City Council discussions can be found on our Council Archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.