As the City council members hosted what should the first of two session for February, the first public gathering since they cancelled their January 23rd meeting.
And despite that lengthy gap between engagements, Monday's Agenda offered up a fairly light workload, one which included a Public Hearing on their trial balloon of a one year prohibition on the establishment of commercial marijuana businesses in the city.
Along with the Public Hearing and a chance to hear from the public on the topic, Council members later in the evening would discuss the issue further before moving to approve the motion.
It was also a Presentation Night for Council, as representatives from Aurora LNG outlined the progress of their plans for the LNG terminal proposed for Digby Island.
Council also heard some background on a grant opportunity for the Old CNR Station on the waterfront, as well as passing a string of motions of support for a number of local organizations.
Some news out of a closed session in January was released, with the Library Board and the City's Business Advisory committee both receiving new members appointed by City Council.
The evening came to an end with council members offering up some comments on items of local interest and raising a number of concerns for consideration.
For some background on the items of note on the evening, the Agenda for the Regular Council session is available here.
Prior to the 7 PM meeting, Council also had a Closed Session Scheduled for earlier in the day, the notice to close it to the public can be examined here.
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 February 7, 2016
Mayor Lee Brain-- Present
Councillor Barry Cunningham-- Present
Councillor Blair Mirau -- Present
Councillor Wade Niesh -- Present
Councillor Nelson Kinney -- Present
Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa-- Present
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -- Present
Video Archive for February 7, 2017
( 0:00 -- 18:00 ) Public Hearing on the topic of the City's proposed one year to prohibit commercial marijuana establishments in the City for one year -- The Mayor read out the introductory notes on the format for the Public Hearing, and then explained how the City's proposed prohibition would only last for one year, ending in January of 2018.
Noting that the City intends to use the one year period as waiting period until they learn more about what the Federal framework will look like, he also noted that the city's prohibition does not include the area of medical marijuana.
From there he turned the topic over to the public.
Through the fifteen minutes of comment, four residents took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the discussion
Comments were generally supportive of the prohibition, with those participating in the public forum noting that it gives the city opportunity to review a range of issues related to the introduction of the industry once the Federal legislation is put in place.
The need for clarity for any regulation was also an area that the Hearing participants noted was important, suggesting that the city engage with local stakeholders and explore models and information from other communities to determine how the city's language and bylaw plans would be functional.
With no other members of the public gallery coming forward, the Mayor brought the Public Hearing to an end.
( 18:00 -- 19:00 ) Regular Council Session -- The Mayor read out the minutes of previous meetings and Council adopted both those minutes as well as the Agenda for the evening.
They opened their project review for Council with some background on the partners involved in the proposed development and outlined how Aurora would be accessing their natural gas from the Fort Nelson region and delivering it by pipeline to the proposed terminal location on Digby Island.
Mr. Hamilton observed that the Aurora project is not as far advanced as some of the other projects of note in the region, noting that they are in the early stages of their environmental process and would be involved with an Open House on Wednesday at the Moose Hall.
As for the path ahead, if approved the Aurora development would provide for 5,000 jobs at peak during the construction phase, with a work camp installed on Digby Island for the workforce. Upon completion the terminal would employ between 200 to 400 employees through the 20-50 year life period of the terminal. The timeline for construction would take place between 2019-2021, with the terminal to be in operation sometime in the mid to late 2020's.
Hamilton also noted that large anchor facilities would create a range of economic development and spin off jobs in the region, with local residents finding opportunity to provide for the services and supplies that are required. Something he observed would make projects such as Aurora to be neighbours of choice, towards that theme he offered up a number of locations in Western Canada that Nexen has located in and outlined how they worked with those communities.
As for the site selection which was chosen after an extensive search process, Mr. Hamilton observed that it was on Provincial Crown land on Digby Island with the company holding an investigative lease with the provincial government at the moment. The proposed terminal would host two LNG trains, with 12 million tonnes per year; included on the site would be two storage tanks, one berthing facility, some temporary and permanent liquefaction facilities and a material off loading facility in Casey Cove.
The long term plan would be to expand the facility and to double the output to 24 million tonnes. Which would mean four LNG trains and an expansion of loading berths and an additional storage tank.
The current environmental process was also explained, with particular attention noted towards the Open House on Wednesday, where more background can be accessed as part of the public comment period that is currently underway.
When it comes to further consultation and engagement, Hamilton observed that the City is currently involved with that process with Aurora LNG through a working group. He explained that becoming engaged with the community is a key element for Aurora and noted the success that they have had on that theme in other communities in Western Canada.
The next steps include working their way through the environmental regulatory process, and continuing with their engineering studies on the site and to consult and engage with local governments, First Nation councils and other participants such as the Port Authority.
Hamilton also called attention to the number of archaeological sites on the Digby Site, advising that Aurora continues to work on the right approach to protect, inventory and preserve those items with a number of partners in the region.
Following the update, Council members had a number of questions for the two Aurora representatives.
Councillor Cunningham had observations on how the project might impact on Prince Rupert and the pressures that it could bring to the city and noted that to date he had not heard of any engagement with the City from the company.
Along with infrastructure and impact issues, he had questions on the work camp site and what plans the company has to upgrade the Airport Road on Digby Island.
Mr. Hamilton noted that the discussion on the airport issues has not taken place with the Airport Authority as of yet, and likewise other than the working group participation that he had noted earlier, the detailed examination of the impacts on neighbouring communities would be tied in with the environmental assessment process.
As the company works through that process they will better understand the impacts and then would sit down and review municipal service agreements and such, noting that Aurora does not want to impose any costs on any of the taxpayers, adding that Aurora LNG is determined to carry their own freight.
Councillor Cunningham also had questions related to the city's water supply at Shawatlans Lake, which the Aurora rep noted would have to be addressed by the company technical team.
The theme of the inclusion of Mills Memorial Hospital as part of their review process was questioned by Councillor Cunningham, Mr. Hamilton noted that because the project might impact on the overall region it was something that they had included in their larger overview element.
Councillor Kinney also had concerns about the interest in the Terrace hospital, noting that the City has its own airport facilities for medi-vac use and other issues.
Councillor Randhawa inquired about the proposed make up of the work force.
He was advised that once operational, the terminal would employ local residents as best they could, while some specialized jobs may see others move to the community.
As for the construction process, the need for 5,000 employees would mean that they would have to expand their search further, starting with BC First approach, followed by Canada second and then if required an international search.
Councillor Cunningham returned to the theme of employment asking about training opportunities for local residents. He was advised that Aurora would be requiring labour with skill sets that exist already, adding that as they move forward through the construction phase they would be looking to work with trade associations, colleges and other groups.
For the actual terminal operations, which Hamilton suggested would be about a decade away, they have plans for training and apprenticeships as well as placement with other facilities to get hands on experience prior to returning to Prince Rupert to operate the Digby Island facility.
Councillor Thorkelson had questions related to the Air Shed and Airport Safety precautions, asking what impact the operation of the terminal might have on flights into and out of the Digby Island airport as well as its proximity to the Airport site.
She was advised that Aurora has worked with Nav Canada and Transport Canada and that all their models show that the facility would work safely with the Airport. As for the location, the Aurora reps did acknowledge that the proposed facility would be one that is built closer to an airport than those that they have studied. With the distance between the two sites estimated to be 2 to 3 kilometres from industrial core to the runway, which Hamilton stated is within the limits established by Transport Canada.
Councillor Niesh offered up the statement that he wished that moving forward that Aurora LNG hear the City's position on the need for inclusion on the process, despite the fact that the proposed development is outside of the city's limits. Noting that Prince Rupert would be the one community most impacted by the development and that the company should work with the city and not shove it aside.
Mr. Gouw noted that those are concerns that have been raised by Mayor Brain on a consistent basis. He then noted that he had recently had an opportunity to visit Gladstone, Australia and tour their facility and talk to the local council there.
He reviewed some of the points that they raised for him on areas that would be of interest to Prince Rupert, noting that they were more than willing to discuss issues with the City Council in Prince Rupert, something that he would be willing to facilitate, calling it a good opportunity for the city to take advantage of.
Mayor Brain brought the question period to an end with a pair of notes of his own.
First noting for Aurora LNG of the city's own planning for Major Projects initiative and suggesting that the company may wish to review the city's findings on shadow population and the impact that it could have in an era of rapid growth. Adding that it is the responsibility of a company to help to mitigate population increases as the project moves forward.
He also inquired as to their engagement with Dodge Cove and how that process is proceeding.
Mr. Hamilton advised that they would be interested in the city's information and material on potential impacts, on the theme of Dodge Cove he observed that they have tried to engage with the community but that it isn't the easiest relationship at the moment. He added that Dodge Cove had requested that they not be in attendance at an upcoming session that the community has with the Environmental Assessment Office.
Following up on the theme of engagement with Dodge Cove, the Mayor noted that as they are a small community they don't have the same type of capacity funding to participate in the EA process, and inquired if Aurora would be providing the community with funding to interact on the EA.
The company reps noted that the topic was not one that they had discussed with the Dodge Cove community reps to this point, but that they would have a discussion on the theme if the community requested.
( 52:30 -- 37:30 ) Reports and Recommendations -- Report from the Corporate Administrator on a Grant application for assessment of the CNR Station on the Waterfront -- The city's communication Director provided the overview of the city's plans to apply for a grant that would offer up the opportunity to assess the CNR station and outlined how the work would fit into the Redesign Rupert engagement project and the city's plans for waterfront development.
As part of the discussion, Councillor Thorkelson asked for a clarification on the cost of the grant application and follow up commitment to the city.
Ms. Stewart noted that the cost of the project would require 20,000 dollars from the city if the grant application is successful and the structural assessment moves past the first phase.
Councillor Cunningham asked that should the building be found to be restorable would the city be able to apply for other grants, he was advised that was the hope for the property moving forward, following the grant application process.
Councillor Randhawa inquired if the city had 20,000 dollars available for it's portion of the required funding. The City's Finance Officer noted that providing that the grant application was approved, that 20,000 dollar requirement would then be addressed as part of the city's budget discussion which has still to be considered.
Council voted to move forward with the Grant application, with the Mayor commenting that he believed it was a great project and one that was much needed in the community.
( 57:30 -- 1:01:00 ) Correspondences for Action -- Council heard and approved five Requests for Action which included:
Request for support for a grant application from the Prince Rupert Special Events Society for a grant of up to 2,500 dollars from NorthWest Regional Development for the Children's Festival.
Request for a proclamation from Council that will proclaim that February 20th to 24th to be known as Chamber of Commerce Week.
Request for a proclamation from Council that will proclaim that the month of February be known as International Toastmasters Month in Prince Rupert.
Request from My Mountain Co-op/Shames Mountain seeking a letter of support for their application to purchase equipment for the ski hill.
Request from the Prince Rupert Seamen Rugby Club, seeking a letter of Support from Council towards their application for a grant from the Port Authority's Community Investment Fund.
( 1:01:00 -- 1:03:00 ) Resolution from Closed Meeting -- The city released information from the January closed session from January 9th that announced the names of those city residents that have been appointed to local Boards or Committees. That announcement included the following:
Appointment of Chelsea Keays and Glen Groulx to the Prince Rupert Library Board
As well Council approved the Appointments of Charmayne Carlson, Irene Mills, Marc Page, James Warburton, Brian Musgrave and Craig Outhet and one other member as selected by the Chamber of Commerce, to the City of Prince Rupert's Business Advisory Committee.
While Council approved the Business Advisory Committee makeup, the agenda for the night did note that Councillor Joy Thorkelson was not in support of the motion, though the Councillor did not expand on her opposition during the course of the announcement advisory.
( 1:03:00 --1:04:00 ) Bylaws -- Road Closure Bylaw for Third Avenue West Closure -- The City Manager Robert Long noted that the item had already been addressed in a previous council session and that it was a case of correcting a clerical error.
( 1:04:00 -- 1:12:00 ) Report from the Director of Community Development to Temporarily Prohibit the establishment of commercial marijuana operations for a period of one year --
Mr. Hans Seidemann provided the background to the report, noting that the City had conducted the required Public Hearing on the issue. He then outlined the nature of the bylaw elements under consideration by the City as they relate to the proposed one year prohibition for commercial marijuana operators in the City which would end in January of 2018.
Councillor Thorkelson first introduced an amendment related to the issue of medical marijuana, that question and the Mayor's request for clarification from Mr. Seidemann produced some confusion during the course of the discussion, as well as a warning from the City Manager, who advised council that as the Public Hearing had concluded, that Council could not raise new issues.
From that guidance, Council members then discussed how the process might proceed.
Once the Mayor had clarified his explanation as to how any potential medical marijuana operation might work, Councillor Thorkelson withdrew her amendment.
From that point Council then moved forward and approved the motion
( 1:12:00 -- 1:20:00 ) Reports, Questions and Inquires from Council
Councillor Randhawa raised issues related to cel phone service in the community and asked what kind of arrangement the City had with Telus after having sold the CityWest cellular service. He noted for council that he had received a number of complaints from residents of the city highlighting a number of areas where service is non existent.
The Mayor also noted that he too had received complaints from residents, noting that the City had forwarded a correspondence to Telus related to the issue.
He further advised Council that the City was investigating the potential addition of boosters on telephone poles as a solution to improve the signals to the areas that are affected. Observing that one person that he had heard from was an emergency responder on the east side, who has no signal at her home. An issue which he believes is a safety concern and that it's a topic that he has been working on for the last week.
Councillor Cunningham paid tribute to the Lester Centre's 30th Anniversary Celebrations over the weekend and congratulated Crystal Lorette and all those who have been involved with the Lester Centre over the last thirty years.
Mr. Cunningham had a second issue for council calling attention to the recent mailing campaign in Prince Rupert seeking support for the efforts of Terrace to seek improvements for Mills Memorial Hospital.
Noting that he has no problem with those replacement plans, adding that he does believe that Terrace does need a new hospital. But he also alerted City Council to a concern that he has that should Terrace officials find success in having Mills Memorial upgraded to a regional Trauma Centre, how there could be significant impact on services in Prince Rupert.
Towards those concerns he stated that he would like to see the current MLA and anyone seeking the North Coast seat in the upcoming election to make their voices heard in Victoria, stressing that Prince Rupert Regional Hospital is a large and important asset for the North Coast and Haida Gwaii.
He observed as to the growth that he believes is on the horizon for Prince Rupert and how that will make the North Coast region the one with the most growth in the future.
He also made note of how with service through our airport, he sees no need for such a high level Trauma Centre to be located that close to Prince Rupert.
Adding that we have to be very careful with the situation as is hoped for in Terrace, noting that once they start consolidating health service it would leave an impact on Prince Rupert with the potential of lost services in this community.
Councillor Thorkelson offered up some observations from a recent reconciliation conference held in the City that she and the Mayor had attended. Noting that a number of recommendations will be written up and that once they have been compiled, that the city should distribute them.
Among some of the topics reviewed over the weekend that were of note to her, involved a review of what could be done at City Hall. With one item of importance related to more inclusion at City Hall, by way of promoting First Nations participants through affirmative action initiatives for committees and commissions.
She also called attention to one area that the city could immediately address, which while not brought up on the weekend was an issue she has long had a concern about, that being the city's recreation guide that is delivered to area homes.
With the councillor noting that while it has improved, the publication does not reflect what this community looks like, calling for more photos that feature the diversity of faces from Prince Rupert youth that make use of the City of Prince Rupert's facilities.
With no other items to address on the night the session was adjourned.
You can access the City Council Review for February 6th here, where a number of items regarding the council session, including links to local media coverage, if any, 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.
In addition to the city's official minutes, the City's Video archive provides a helpful record of the events from each public council session.
Official Minutes of the Regular Council Session from February 7th, 2017 (not available yet)
The next regularly scheduled Council session takes place on February 20th.
Cross posted from the North Coast Review