Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31 -- CBC's Cross Country Check Up -- Is there something wrong with the way math is being taught?

Rex Murphy looks at the performance of Canadian students in Math, where results have been declining for a number of years now. The theme of the days program "Is there something wrong with the way math is being taught"

May 31st edition (audio)

May 31 -- CBC Radio's Cross Country Check Up -- Is there something wrong with the way math is being taught

Rex Murphy examines the state of the Canadian social safety net and asks the question Is there something wrong with the way math is being taught?

May 31st edition (audio)

Global TV: The West Block -- Peter McKay leaves politics, expanding the Canada Pension Plan and a conversation with Scott Brisson.

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

May 31

The departure of Justice Minister Peter McKay, expanding the Canada Pension Plan and flying with Scott Brisson.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

MLA's week, May 25-28, 2015

The final week of the Spring session and the start of a summer break for MLA's brings an end to the May work schedule in Victoria.

A week which saw the North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice raise a number of items in both the Legislature and Committee sessions to wrap up the Legislative time table.

The most dramatic note of the week coming at the very end of the Spring session, with the revelations of alleged deleted emails related to the Highway of Tears by staff in the Ministry of Transportation, a topic which gave Ms. Rice opportunity to share her thoughts on the issue late into the week.

As well, she had comments related to a scathing report from the Representative for Children and Youth and raised a number of health care related issues in the Legislature to wind up the Spring session.

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 four times in the archive of participants for the twelve sessions of the Legislature in the House, or those related to House Committee work listed for the week of May 25-28.

Among her contributions to the Legislature this week, her comments were part of a larger overview of the troubling allegations of the week related to deleted emails from the offices of the Ministry of Transportation.

May 29 -- The Highway of deleted information

As part of this weeks work of the Legislature Health Committee proceedings, Ms. Rice outlined her concerns over a recent report of health care services in the Northwest

May 28 -- Plans for Surgical services in Prince Rupert raised at Legislature Health Committee session

Other concerns related to paramedic services in the province raised during those Committee sessions of Tuesday afternoon can be reviewed here,  Ms. Rice's contribution to the discussion starts at the 15:00 mark

The week started off with a comprehensive review by the NDP opposition on a report released just before Victoria Day, a document that highlighted a number of concerns with the operations at the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

May 26 -- North Coast MLA raises Paige's story and issues of youth in Ministry care during Question Period

On Monday, Ms. Rice also participated in a session of the Health Committee raising a number of issues related to Rural Health Services, you can review that participation from the Legislature record for Monday, her commentary starts at the 17:00 mark.

The North Coast MLA is also a member of the Committee on Children and Youth, that Committee met on May 27th, however, Ms. Rice had no contributions to the discussion other than a few introductions at that session.

The Members of the Legislature will now await further instruction from the Speaker, with the summer break perhaps to be interrupted by the Liberal Government's plans to move forward with their recent agreement with the Malaysian energy company Petronas on LNG development.

Until that call to return to the debate, the MLA's will be returning to their ridings until the fall, the timetable of future sessions to be determined by the Government House Leader.

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, May 29, 2015

May 29 -- "In the House" with Michael Smyth -- The end of the spring session at the Legislature

Province columnist Michael Smyth is joined by Global BC's Keith Baldrey to review the Spring session of the Legislature which came to an end on May 28th.  Liberal Government House Leader Mike de Jong is also on the program to provide the Governments overview, while John Horgan will outline the NDP's thoughts on the session just ended.

In the House May 29 (audio)

Subscribe to the feed here.

Administrative changes ahead for 2015-16 at School District 52

School District 52 outlined a number of staffing changes yesterday that will shape the year to come for a few of the schools in the district.

The first item of some note, the announcement of the retirement of long time teacher and administrator Sheila Wells, most recently the Principal of Ecole Roosevelt Park Community School.

Ms. Wells who has taught in the School District system for 37 years was previously the long time principal of Prince Rupert Secondary School and was part of the transition during the merger with Charles Hays Secondary.

She has been a fixture on the academic, athletic and administrative side of education in the city over the years,  having made many contributions to education in the community through her almost four decades of service.

Her retirement is effective August 31st.

Shifting into the position of Principal at Roosevelt Park will be Ms. AndrĂ©e Michaud, who will add those duties at the school to her current position as District Principal of the French Immersion program.

Returning to the School District and taking up the duties of Vice-Principal at Roosevelt will be Ms. Stephanie Coates, she started with School District 52 in 2011 as a Learning Services teacher.

Roosevelt is not the only school that will see some change when September comes around.

Over at Prince Rupert Middle School, Ms. Pamela Groves will be shifting her passions towards the counselling department at the school, leaving her post as vice-principal.  Moving into that position at PRMS will be Ms. Sheryl Sadorski who crosses over from her duties at Pineridge.

The School District also announced that Ms. Michelle Cross-Pomponio will become the Associate Principal at Prince Rupert Middle School effective August 1st, filling the principal role as required, with Mr. Ken Minette continuing with his dual roles of Director of Instruction and Principal at the School.

Conrad Elementary also made the highlights page from yesterday's information release, with the announcement that Mr. Paramjit Khaira who stepped into the temporary position of vice-principal at the school will continue on with that position in the fall, working alongside Principal Keri Levelton.

You can review the full announcement from the School District here. It features a fair amount of background on the changes ahead for staff, students and parents for 2015-16.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

The Highway of deleted information

We imagine that when North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice made her first inquiry about the status of some correspondences between residents of Highway 16 and the Ministry of Transportation, the twist of the story that Thursday brought probably wasn't a scenario that might have first come to her mind.

The revelations of a former staffer and with them the accusation of tampering by a political staffer in the Ministry of Transportation Office with what could surely be considered key information on the file, is a fascinating turn of events.

Just the latest chapter in what has become a long running quest for North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, who has been seeking to find out information related to meetings on Highway of Tears issues for months now.

The incident in question is reported to have taken place in November of 2014, when as former Transportation staff member Tom Duncan alleges in a letter to the Privacy Commissioner, a superior ordered him to destroy a number of emails related to the Highway of Tears issue.

As Mr. Duncan alleges, when he hesitated to do so, his superior took his keyboard and deleted a number of files from email correspondences on the theme of Highway of Tears.

Mr. Duncan, who it appears was still troubled by that act in the New Year, then recounts for the Privacy Commissioner of a January 2015 conversation with another political staffer, who called upon the script lines of a popular political television show of the mid 1990's  as the  apparent guiding principle on the topic ...

"It's like in the West Wing. You do what whatever it takes to win".

An interesting, if rather disturbing approach to government and public service, particularly when it comes to an issue that has long dominated the British Columbia news and still requires long overdue action from the provincial government.

Of larger concern however, is the nature of the act and how it took place after a request had been made through the Freedom of Information process, where procedures are in place to protect such information.

Ms. Rice has raised the issue of the missing documentation with Transportation Minister Todd Stone in the past, outlining her frustrations and the need for her eventual use of Freedom of Information process to try and track down the discussion points between Ministry officials and residents along the highway.

Discussion points, which if the timeline of Mr. Duncan is correct, had at the time of her comments in the Legislature been long since deleted.

February 26 -- MLA returns to Highway 16 Transportation concerns during Wednesday Legislature session
February 25 -- MLA Rice raises questions on Transportation consultations on Highway 16

In the wake of the revelations of Thursday afternoon, the North Coast MLA called the situation a complete slap in the face for the families of the missing and murdered women of the Highway of Tears.

Adding that British Columbians deserve a government that is open and honest, a government that does not sweep its mess under the rug.

"I am utterly appalled that the BC Liberals would go to such lengths to hide information about the Highway of Tears. This has huge implications as to the government’s failure to address the real life safety issues for women who are traveling on Highway 16. This blatantly shows how the BC Liberals are disrespecting the memory of each woman who has gone missing or been murdered along the Highway of Tears.”  -- North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice on learning of the deletion of information that had been requested through the Freedom on Information process.

With MLA's now finished with their Legislature duties for the summer, most of the inquiries and background requests on the deleted e mails will play out through the media and not through the usual platform of Question Period, a place where Ministers and the Government are held accountable.

Still, it would seem it will be hard for the Liberal government to duck and deflect this issue, the shocking accounts of alleged pre-meditated destruction of information will make for the theme for much of the summer.

Global BC -- Former B. C. Government staffer alleges sensitive documents destroyed (video)
Global BC -- Highway of Tears emails allegedly deleted by government (video)
CKNW -- Interview with former BC Government staffer Tom Duncan (audio)
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. Government accused of deliberately destroying Highway of Tears internal records
Vancouver Province -- Former B. C. staffer alleges Transportation Ministry destroyed emails regarding Highway of Tears
Victoria News -- Highway 16 records destroyed, ex-staffer
Georgia Straight -- Former staffer claims B. C. Liberal government destroyed Highway of Tears records
Victoria Times Colonist -- Ex employee says it's routine for B. C. government to destroy emails
Kamloops this Week -- Stone suspends staffer after whistleblower reports deleted emails
CTV News -- Highway of Tears emails deleted, alleges former B. C. ministry staffer
CBC -- E mails relating to B. C.'s Highway of Tears allegedly deleted
CBC -- Q and A: Tim Duncan explains why Highway of Tears emails were allegedly destroyed (audio)
CBC Daybreak North -- North Coast MLA reacts to Highway of Tears missing documents (audio)

While the mystery the of status of the missing information is now apparently solved, larger issues clearly remain.

As it always is when someone takes moves to hide information (in this case allegedly destroying it) has made for a situation that now leads to many, many more questions.

One imagines that at the top of that list might be the question of "What else have government or public service officials deleted over the years"?

Or perhaps a wider ranging concern of, "Is there a culture of such behaviour entrenched with the Government's ministries"?

Privacy Commissioner  Elizabeth Denham issued a media release on Thursday, advising that her office is now investigating the allegations, her findings will make for the next chapter in what would appear to be a disturbing abuse of procedure.

“On May 27 my Office received a letter outlining serious allegations of destruction of records by individuals within the Office of the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. The letter outlines an account where records responsive to an access-to- information request were willfully and deliberately deleted. 

“My Office has been in touch with the individual who raised these allegations, and I am now determining next steps in an investigation under section 42 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.” -- Part of a statement from Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham on Thursday regarding alleged destruction of records

The Commissioner's findings related to the deleted emails when delivered, will land at the doors of Transportation Minister Todd Stone and Premier Clark.

Making for yet another situation that requires immediate action on the part of a Liberal government that has for far too long looked to deflect the need for action when it comes to the Highway of Tears.

The House may not be sitting through the summer, but the political temperature it would appear is only going to get hotter for the Premier and her Minister.

Something that won't go away with the stroke of the delete key.

More background on the work of Ms. Rice on the Highway of Tears issues can be found from our archive of items from the Legislature.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

CBC's The National: At Issue Panel -- Canada Pension Plan Expansion

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

May 28th -- What has happened to Canada Pension Plan expansion plans?

Voice of BC -- End of Session

A discussion of issues related to the end of the Spring Legislature session.

Voice of BC host Vaughn Palmer interviews Government House Leader Mike de Jong,  speaking to items on finance, the global economy, First Nations consultation on LNG and some of the legislation of the recent session.

May 28, 2015


Mayor Brain to head for Edmonton for Federation of Canadian Municipalities Meetings in June

The Mayor will log some more travel miles in the month ahead, as Mayor Brain sets his compass for Edmonton and the June gathering of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The Mayor shared his plans with Council on Monday evening, noting how it will be the first time in seven years that a representative from Prince Rupert has attended the annual gathering.

The Mayor has had a fairly busy travel agenda since taking office in December.

Among some of the snap shots of his travels,  Civic business concerns in Vancouver and Prince George, as well as a trip with the City Manager to Houston to discuss the Tuck Inlet LNG project,

During the provincial budget preparations  he travelled to Victoria to meet with provincial officials.

There was also a visit to the nation's capital again with the City Manager, where the pair discussed the City's LNG GO plan with federal officials.

The Mayor led a delegation to Juneau to take part in the Southeast Alaska Conference, as well as taking part in the NCLGA gathering in Prince George.

A little closer to home, The Mayor and some members of Council will be off to Terrace in mid June for housing Forum.

As for the Edmonton conference, the three day conference and trade show will take place from June 5th to 8th, with more than thirty workshops and industry led seminars and study tours to take part in.

You can review some of the planned events for the conference here.

In his comments to Council of Monday, the Mayor noted the opportunity that the conference will provide him to re-connect with the national network of municipalities, as well as to meet with ministers and other officials that the city does business with.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Plans for Surgical services in Prince Rupert raised by MLA at Legislature Health Committee session

Health care in rural and coastal communities was the focus of discussion on Monday, with North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice raising a number of issues of interest on the theme, all as part of the afternoon session of the Health Committee at the Legislature.

With Health Minister Terry Lake in attendance at the session, Ms. Rice explored a range of topics related to health care and access in rural and coastal communities. Items up for discussion and review on the afternoon included travel assistance, Operational aspects of the Northern Connections transportation system, midwifery issues and maternity issues to name a few.

One topic of some note for the Northwest that came up for discussion during the Monday session, was the nature of a review by Northern Health on the delivery of surgical services across Northern British Columbia.

As part of that overview, Ms. Rice noted that while the paper hasn't been implemented as of yet, some of the recommendations, if put in place, would have an impact on the delivery of services at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and are of concern to surrounding communities that rely on the hospital for their health care

Among some of her key observations as taken from the report:

The paper, which hasn't been implemented — and I've now been assured that there will be public consultation, should those recommendations be implemented — proposed some pretty dramatic changes on how surgeries would be performed in the northwest. 

Specifically, it talks about a hub and spoke model, essentially removing a lot of services from Prince Rupert and centralizing them in Terrace, Prince Rupert now being one of the spokes. The same thing for the northeast — the same hub and spoke model is proposed. I guess I would just like to put on the record that I as well as many people feel that Prince Rupert is its own hub in its own way, in the sense that it does service a lot of outlying communities, including Haida Gwaii and a lot of aboriginal communities. 

I just wanted to put on the record that some of the aboriginal communities listed in the rural policy framework that we were just speaking of…. It doesn't even list all the communities within the northwest.  The actual catchment area of Prince Rupert is larger than is even documented in the ministry's own records. 

Again, those constituents that raised the issue of this internal report have expressed strong needs, that they would like the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital to remain as such, a regional hospital providing surgical services. I just wanted to make sure that that was identified here now.

For his part, the Health Minister outlined that the review was an external report, with Northern Health taking it under advice for consideration, he advised the Committee that Northern Health would not be implementing any of the findings or recommendations without first assessing if they make sense to the whole health care delivery system.

As well, the Minister noted that Northern Health would also be reviewing the report to determine what is acceptable to the communities affected.

You can review the full exchange on health care from the Legislature record here.

Ms. Rice begins her line of questions of the Health Minister at the 17:00 mark, continuing on through the session until its conclusion at 18:30

A video review of the Committee session is also available through the Legislature's Video Archive (Monday Afternoon Committee C),  the North Coast MLA's contributions begin at 17:00

For more items related to discussion points at the British Columbia Legislature see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

City still to make a decision on rent breaks for Civic Centre rentals

No decision yet on  Rent Reduction
Requests for Civic Centre use
One event is over, the other set to take place this weekend, but as of Monday's Prince Rupert City Council session, no indication has been given yet, whether the City will provide the rental breaks requested by two groups in the city.

The issue came up earlier in April, when the organizers of the 2015 Homecoming appeared at Prince Rupert council to outline their thoughts on the cost of rental for the Civic Centre facility and inquired as to the prospect of break on the rent.

Their appearance it seems caught the eye of organizers of the 2015 Charles Hays Prom, with a representative from the organizing committee also making an appearance in front of Council, this time to suggest free rent for this years Grads, as well as for those in the future.

Rent Reduction request
update from City Council
on Monday
On Monday, Mayor Brain in response to an inquiry from Councillor Randhawa, that no decision has been made in relation to either of those requests, with the issue to be addressed at some future point.

You can review the short discussion on the topic from the City's Video archive, it starts at the thirty three minute mark.

The Homecoming celebration took over the Civic Centre facility on May 16th, the Charles Hays Prom will be held on Saturday evening.

Some background on the two requests can be found below.

April 27 -- Civic Centre rent once again an issue for a local group
April 10 -- Homecoming Committee Rent reduction request to be examined by City Staff

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Councillor Thorkelson expresses frustration over ongoing issues of homelessness in Prince Rupert

Councillor Thorkelson outlined
her growing frustration with
BC Housing on homelessness
in Prince Rupert 
A good portion of Monday evening's thirty five minute City Council session was used by Council members to examine ongoing housing issues in the community.

With City Councillor Joy Thorkelson using her time to review some of her frustrations with BC Housing, upper levels of Government and the housing situation in the community, in particular the fate of some residents who once lived at the Neptune Inn.

Following a short review by the Mayor on the upcoming Go Plan survey, Councillor Thorkelson noted that the City will also be conducting an affordable housing survey at that time, in order to gauge the nature of the housing situation in the community.

She offered up some observations regarding the regional situation that has found other communities of the Northwest sending their homeless residents to Prince Rupert to try and find accommodation as housing options dwindle in those communities.

A practice that she hopes to learn more about when the City delegation heads to Terrace for a Housing conference in June.

She then turned her attention towards a review of the status of some of the former residents of the Neptune Inn who were forced to leave their accommodations when that housing location closed. Expressing a great amount of frustration at their situation, as they are soon to be moved from their temporary accommodation and have no location to be moved to.

She noted that in the weeks since the Neptune closed, some of those former tenants have been sleeping outdoors in areas of the city, with the police coming to move them on from where they have set up.

She also expressed her disappointment with BC Housing, which she says has not been of any help to those relocated out of the Neptune.

At one point, she observed that one option for those that have been forced onto the streets might before them to perhaps stay in the lobby of the hospital as a last recourse, in order to engage Northern Health into the issue.

She urged Council to push BC Housing, as well as the upper levels of government on the need to step up and address the ongoing issues of housing in the community.

Recounting for Council a recent appearance by BC Housing officials, noting that they had stated that they would not be adding to the housing stock.  Adding that in her opinion, that there is clearly a problem with the grant and subsidy program that they mentioned at that time.

She also passed along concerns she has heard of other apartment buildings and hotels in the city planning to close for renovations, putting those tenants out on the streets.

She spoke to the issue further, stating that it's something that Council has to address, offering up a motion that would have the City write to the Province and Federal ministers involved with housing, offering an outline of the current situation and to seek the assistance of the upper levels government on the issue of housing in the community.

The Mayor noted that the Go Plan initiative that the City is about to move forward, is designed to provide some information on the issue to better address the problems that have developed, adding that if there is any economic development related to LNG the situation may become amplified significantly.

Council then voted in favour of Councillor Thorkelson's motion to write to the provincial and federal officials.

You can review her notes on the situation through the City's Video Archive it runs from the 17 minute mark until the 31 minute point.

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

For further background on the discussion points at City Council see our Discussion page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Housing Survey set to move forward in weeks to come

The City's housing review will start with a knock at your door in June, as the City launches its data collection survey process on housing issues.

The much discussed community engagement campaign is set to take place between June 8th and the 18th, as the City looks for some hard data when it comes to assessing the level of the need for Housing in the community

At Monday evening's Council session, Mayor Brain provided the thumb nail sketch of the path of the Go Plan ahead, noting that the City will be providing the training for the volunteer force that will be going through the community to determine what kind of housing is required.

Called the Go Plan Survey, it will see a number of enumerators taking to the streets to collect data on the issues of housing. Those that sign up to conduct the survey on behalf of the city, will be compensated for their efforts as well as have the opportunity to win a prize for the most surveys collected  as part of their time with the project.

The Mayor did not outline the level of the compensation that enumerators will receive, nor provide any background on the cost of the ten day survey to the City as part of his overview of Monday evening.

Calling it a very unique project, the Mayor explained that once the data is collected it will be "plugged into the LNG GO Plan" to help the city prepare for any LNG related developments.

From the project, the City believes it will be able to provide information to the province and federal governments on housing issues related to rapid economic growth.

Further background on the Go Plan Survey will be made available shortly, by way of video and social media. There is also a plan to develop a website that will be also launched once the City is ready to introduce the surveys to the public.

You can review the City's plans for their housing surveys by way of the City's Video Archive the discussion on the Go Plan survey runs from the fifteen minute point to the twenty minute mark.

For more items related to Housing issues see our archive page.

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Legacy Fund won't be used for Fire Department purchase

City Council moved forward with a borrowing plan on Monday evening, putting in motion the process to seek a loan for the purchase of the City's new Fire apparatus vehicle, which as we outlined on the blog last week has now been received by the City.

Monday night, the City's CFO Corinne Bomben outlined the background of the decision from 2014, to take out the loan for $338,904 for the Truck, which is to be repaid over a period of five years. 

Following her presentation, Council reviewed the request for the authorization for the loan, but not before Council gave consideration to a request from Councillor Barry Cunningham over his concerns related to borrowing for the truck  and a suggestion to instead make use of the City's Legacy Fund to make the purchase.

Councillor Cunningham was on vacation this week and not in attendance at the Monday session, so his request was relayed by way of Councillor Thorkelson who outlined his concerns.

Though Councillor Thorkelson took time to distance herself from Mr. Cunningham's observations, noting that she was not in favour of using the Legacy Corp Funding for items such as this.

She outlined that in her opinion, that items such as equipment replacement should not be utilizing funds through Legacy Corporation, noting that at the moment there is rock bottom pricing for borrowing and that the City has always had a policy of borrowing over a time period for capital purchases.

As well, she noted that the City is not very heavily in debt, that at the moment the City is at the bottom end of borrowing in the province.

"I don't particularly want to whittle away the Legacy Fund for things that are, what I would just consider are the normal bread and butter of what a municipality should do. It's not because we have LNG that we're doing this, it's just normal business of the City and I don't think we should be looking at the Legacy Fund coming up with this money " -- Councillor Thorkelson providing her opinions on the nature of use of the Legacy Fund by the City

Councillor Kinney also spoke in favour of the borrowing plan for the Fire Department equipment, as opposed to using the Legacy funds for it.

The Mayor also offered up some thoughts on the issue of what sort of items or initiativies should or should not be used for Legacy Fund options.

"I agree with that  ... I think that there is a clear mandate for Legacy, we could get into a situation where we are always picking and choosing and I'm not sure we want to go down that road"-- Mayor Brain on the issue of Legacy Fund money for the Fire Department apparatus purchase.

You can review the discussion as it relates to the Fire Department purchase through the City's Video Archive, it runs from the nine minute mark until twelve and a half minute mark.

As we've outlined on the blog in recent months, the Legacy Corporation Funding has been used for a number of staffing position initiatives for the City, including such positions as a Resident Scientist, Communications Manager and a number of some of the other recently posted employment opportunities.

Council also made use of the Legacy funding when they chose to make Mayor Brain's position that of a full time occupation, topping up the Mayor's salary by 17,000 dollars per year, the funding for that increase accessed through the Planning for Major Projects Budget.

In its recent planning for Major Projects overview the city also moved 1 million dollars of funds from the Legacy Fund towards infrastructure items as outlined in their Spring update to Council.

For more items related to the Legacy Corporation see our archive page here, further background on City Council discussions can be found on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Vancouver Sun takes extensive look at BC Container Port links to criminal organizations

Container Ship at one of
Vancouver's terminals
The Vancouver Sun recently completed a look at a side of life on the waterfront that few probably think of, as award winning reporter Kim Bolan explored the impact that a number of criminal groups are having on the Vancouver waterfront.

A week long review of events and incidents that remind one of the HBO program The Wire and the season two focus on the waterfront and the reach of criminal organizations.

The Sun series goes back over twenty years, with Bolan accessing court documents, government reports and police files and explored the reach of some of the criminal organizations and how they have penetrated into the four terminals serviced through the Vancouver gateway.

While the majority of the focus of the report looks at Vancouver, Prince Rupert gains  a mention owing to its growing presence in the marine shipping world.

With some concerns expressed that Prince Rupert may become a port of entry for what are called precursor chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs, as criminal groups look to direct some shipments north in order to avoid increased enforcement efforts in Vancouver.

It was back in 2012 that the CBSA outlined the scope of a seizure of such chemicals that had been found coming through the Port of Prince Rupert.

There are differences in place however, between the operations of the ports in Vancouver and the one in Prince Rupert. The main aspect being that the Rupert gateway features a more seamless transit between ship and rail, with less reliance on truck movements as those down south, a key ingredient for the most part when it comes to the criminal activity of the south.

Still, as traffic increases through Prince Rupert, so too one imagines will be the prospect of increased interest from those who may believe it offers an opportunity for their activities.

The Sun series makes for a thorough investigation into one of the few down sides of increased trade through Canada's ports and what efforts will be required to not only keep a watch on the current situation, but the need to put forward programs that will increase the enforcement of laws at all of British Columbia's ports of call.

The full series can be reviewed below, including a pair of video presentations related to the topic.

Drug Pipeline: How crime groups infiltrate and exploit Metro Vancouver's docks (1)
Smuggler's messages reveal drugs easily pass through Vancouver port (2)
Longshoreman by day, smuggler by night (3)
When a Hells Angel nominates another Hells Angel (4)

The art of the CBSA inspection

Organized Crime at Port Metro Vancouver Part Two (video)
Organized Crime at Port Metro Vancouver Part One (video)

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Fraser Street Rehabilitation project to run through summer

September 1st is the target date for completion of phase one of the City's Fraser Street Rehabilitation Project, that according to the City's Engineering Coordinator Richard Pucci, who provided City Council with a timeline for the project on Monday evening.

Mr. Pucci, provided some background on the long delayed project, noting that it is at the top of the City's Ten Year Capital plan and that the infrastructure of the street is in poor condition and in need of major work.

He then offered up some notes on the two bids received for the work for Phase One, with a recommendation to Council that Adventure Paving be awarded the contract for the work to be done, at a bid of 1,185,228.56 dollars.

An amount which will result in an 80,000 dollar budget shortfall for the project, something that Mr. Pucci recommended be absorbed through the use of the Gas Tax Fund.

He noted that the City would seek to work with the proponent to find cost saving opportunities related to the work to be done.

After a short discussion, Council moved to adopt the motion and award the contract to Adventure Paving.

The project is scheduled start by June, with a completion date of September 1st.

Phase one is to take place in the section near the Salvation Army area of the Fraser Street neighbourhood.

Phase One of the Fraser Street Rehabilitation project will take place
near the Salvation Army, work will start in June ending in September

When the time to consider Phase Two comes around, that area of work will take place at the western end of Fraser Street near the Fishermen's Hall.

You can review the Engineering Coordinator's presentation to Council through the City's Video Archive, his review runs from the three minute mark to the five minute mark

For more items related to the City's infrastructure issues see our archive page here.

More background on City Council discussions can be found on our Council archive here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

North Coast MLA raises Paige's story and issues of youth in Ministry care during Question Period

When we last left the Legislature prior to their week long break of last week, the MLA's had been left with a scathing report to review.

A 76 page examination of the issues related to care of youth who have transitioned out of the care of the Ministry of Child and Family Development.

The main focus of the review was a look at the life of one young woman in Vancouver's downtown east side, who had clearly been failed by the system designed to protect her.

The report (which we explored earlier his month) was prepared by the office of the Representative for Children and Youth, called Paige's Story: Abuse, Indifference and Young Life Discarded. 

With Monday the first session back for the Legislature since the report's release, the topic of Paige's Story made for much of the discussion for the day in Victoria.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, was among those from the NDP who had a number of questions for Minister Stephanie Cadieux during Monday's afternoon question period.

"In February of 2013 the Minister of Children and Families pledged that she would "strengthen safe living options and life skills education for youth in care who are transitioning into adulthood." 

A month later Paige was forced out of her foster care at age 19. She died soon after. My question is to the Minister of Children and Families. How could this government have failed Paige so badly?

Less than a year after Paige died, the current minister was asked about providing extended supports to children after age 19. She responded by saying the government provides sufficient services for youth who have aged out of care. Having read about Paige's life and death, does the minister still believe that's true?"

Minister Cadieux spoke to the concerns related to the work of the Ministry, outlining a number of initiatives that the Ministry has engaged in to try to address the issue, noting how the government continues to look to form partnerships with community groups to address the challenges that the shift from Ministry care to life on their own can provide.

The full discussion on the issue can be reviewed from the Legislature record starting at the 1400 mark.

You can review Ms. Rice's question period session related to the topic of the report below:

A thorough review of the case was also provided by the weekly Shaw Cable public affairs program Voice of British Columbia.

During the course of the May 21st program, host Vaughn Palmer discussed the issue with Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and explored other concerns related to the work of the Ministry of Child and Family services.

Update: Ms. Rice returned to the topic once again during Tuesday's session of the Legislature, her comments and questions for the Premier and Minister can be reviewed here.

For more background on the work of the North Coast MLA at the Legislature and other items of a provincial nature  can be found on our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Familiar names return to Tourism Prince Rupert Board

The Board which oversees the direction of Tourism Prince Rupert has turned once again to some familiar names in the community to lend a hand, with City Council on Monday evening appointing Scott Farwell and Jack Payne to the Board of Directors for a two year term.

Both have been key participants in the past when it comes to Tourism related initiatives and issues, with Mr. Farwell recently travelling with a Prince Rupert delegation to Alaska to give the Prince Rupert view on the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Tourism Prince Rupert, a non-profit society, is a membership driven organization, its main responsibility is for the overall development and presentation of the Tourism industry in the city and the Northwest Coast.

The main focus of the Board is to work with the Tourism Prince Rupert administration to determine policy and direction.

You can learn more about Tourism Prince Rupert from their website.

For more items related to Tourism in the Northwest see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Conservatives select former Rupertite to put up Skeena-Bulkley Valley challenge to incumbent Nathan Cullen

Skeena-Bulkley Valley Conservatives
selected Tyler Nesbitt as their
candidate for the anticipated fall election

(photo from Mr. Nesbitt's Facebook page)
The federal election may be months away yet, but with summer almost upon us, the Federal parties are starting to roll out their candidates for the anticipated election call of the fall.

While the NDP will once again put forward incumbent MP Nathan Cullen as their candidate, the other parties are now looking to find a challenger that may topple the long time NDP MP in the region.

A pretty formidable challenge, considering that Mr. Cullen has held his seat in the House of Commons since 2004 and has become one of the higher profile NDP MP's in the House of Commons.

For the Conservatives that task will rest with Tyler Nesbitt, a former Prince Rupert resident who is now living in Terrace. Mr. Nesbitt claimed the Conservative nomination over the weekend, topping fellow Terrace resident MaryAnn Freeman in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding nomination vote.

Voting for the Conservative nomination took place over the weekend, making use of a mobile polling system that stopped in a number of communities across the riding to consult with Conservative members.
Map of the
Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding

The successful nominee made mention of the end of the nomination process through his community page on Facebook over the weekend.

More on his view on politics and the Northwest can be reviewed here.

Word of the new flag carrier for the Conservatives however hasn't quite made it to the head office, Mr. Nesbitt's success of the weekend has yet to be noted on the Conservative candidate page for 2015.

And while the NDP and Conservative roster is now set, the Liberals and Green Party have yet to select a candidate for the anticipated election of the fall.

The website provides an in-depth look at the history of the riding, tracking the various shifts in both geography and political influence over the years.

For more on items of interest from the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding see our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Monday, May 25, 2015

CBC's The Insiders: Debating the Debates

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

May 25 : Debating the Debates

Time for the City to pay for its new Fire Department ride

You've probably noticed the latest addition to the Prince Rupert Fire Department's fleet around town in recent days, as the city's firefighters get the feel of their new ride.

As we noted earlier this month, the PRFD's new Apparatus vehicle has arrived and as it moves into regular service, the time to forward the payments has arrived for the City of Prince Rupert.

At tonight's Council session, Council members will receive a recommendation from the Chief Financial Officer to authorize the borrowing of $338,904 from the Municipal Finance Authority for the purchase of the new vehicle.

The move for the most part is a procedural item for the night, Council last year gave the nod for the purchase of the truck, which will replace the aging apparatus/support vehicle that served for over two decades.

The vehicle was built at the Rocky Mountain Phoenix plant in Red Deer Alberta, more on the purchase as it was outlined in March of last year can be found here.

You can review the background on tonight's request from the City's Agenda page, it can be found on page 16

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

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

Paving plan posted to City website for 2015

With the summer months comes the paving season and as those travelling around Prince Rupert can attest to, things are already in full swing for the summer of 2015.

Residents across the city who may be wondering if the city's 2015 paving project will reach their street will want to keep this link in mind for future reference, with the City providing updates on the progress of this years street remediation program.

The listing to this point features a number of projects that have been completed or are in the works for the year ahead, with the prospect of more to be added as the months move forward through the summer.

In addition to the more comprehensive paving project for the year, the City is also working to address the pot hole situation in the community.

Should you have a problem area in your neighbourhood, or have noticed an area that may require immediate attention, you can contact the city's public works department  at 250-624-6795 to give them the heads up on where investigate further.

More items from discussions at Prince Rupert City Hall can be reviewed through our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Four to be named to Prince Rupert Airport Board

Prince Rupert council will name for members to the Prince Rupert Airport Authority board at tonight's session, confirming the appointments of Dave Smith, Michael Cote, Erminio Pucci and Judy Fraser.

The successful appointees are set to serve a two year term.

The search for Board members began earlier this year, when the City of Prince Rupert issued the call for those interested in serving on the Airport Authority Board to submit their names.

Council members made the appointments during a closed session in April, the resolution will be released as part of tonight's Regular Council session.

The Airport Authority Board provides guidance to City council and oversees the operations of the Digby Island airport.

The full scope of their duties can be reviewed from the Prince Rupert Airport Website here.

Background on issues related to air travel in the Northwest can be found on our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.

Council to move Fraser Street Rehabilitation project forward at tonight's meeting

Prince Rupert will look to move forward
with the Fraser Street Rehabilitation
Project at this evenings session
The long delayed, much anticipated rejuvenation of the Fraser Street area should finally see some forward movement tonight, with Prince Rupert City Council set to receive a report from the City's engineering department.

The review of the proposed work to be done will be presented by Engineering coordinator Richard Pucci, who will outline for Council the first stage of the project, which will include a recommendation to accept a bid from Adventure Paving, which has pegged the work to be done to have a cost of $1,185,228.56.

That amount is slightly over the approved budget for the project and provides for an 80,000 dollar shortfall, something which the Engineering Department recommends be funded by using the Gas Tax Fund.

The recommendations to council come as part of a review from the Engineering Department and McElhanney Consulting Services, which outlines the work to be required under the Fraser Street Rehabilitation Project.

At completion, the work ahead will provide for a rebuild of the road base, sidewalks, curbs and gutters which have all deteriorated over the years.

As well, the sewer system in that area is considered to be in the poorest condition of any in the city.

In his report, Mr. Pucci notes that the Fraser Street concerns are at the top of the City's list under its 10 Year Capital Plan and has been noted in the past is now behind schedule.

You can review the report from the City Council Agenda for this evening here, it can be found on page 14 of the document.

Work on Fraser Street was first considered a few years back, deferred at the time owing to the city's financial situation, though it did make for a timely topic during the November election campaign.

Following the review of the report, Council will vote on whether to approve the recommendations and move forward with Phase One.

You can find more items related to the city's infrastructure issues here, other items related to Council discussions can be found on our archive page.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

City Council Preview, Monday, May 25, 2015

The Final Council session for May  offers up an opportunity for public participation through the Committee of the Whole session prior to tonight's Regular Council Session.

That once a month opportunity to address concerns or ask questions Council members will provide for the start of the public portion of the Council night.

Once the Committee of the Whole session and public participation comes to an end, Council will settle in for a short agenda for the Regular Session.

Among the notes for the evening, a report on the Fraser Street Rehabilitation project, a request to borrow to pay for the new Fire Rescue Vehicle for the PRFD and the announcement of appointments to the Board of Directors for two local groups, the Prince Rupert Airport Authority and Tourism Prince Rupert.

Beyond those items, Council has little in the way of work indicated in such areas as Reports, Bylaws or petitions and delegations for tonight's session.

The full review of the evening ahead can be found from the Agenda Package for May 25.

The Committee of the Whole agenda for tonight can be reviewed here.

And while the public session is fairly light in material, Council will once again also sit in a closed session this evening starting at 5 PM .

The session that is closed to the public will consider: negotiations and related discussion respecting the proposed provision of municipal services that are at their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality if they were held in public

Below we'll highlight the different elements of this evenings work from the Regular session Agenda, for further background on each item, the page number from the Agenda is listed in red.

The session starts off with the regular adoption of agendas and minutes.

Petitions and Delegations

Any Unfinished Business is then up next on the Agenda.

Followed by Reports and Recommendations

Report from the Engineering Coordinator on the Fraser Street Rehabilitation project -- With approval requested for the recommendations of the Engineering Coordinator and McElhanney Consulting Services and an awarding of a contract to Adventure Paving for Phase One of the Fraser Street Rehabilitation project (see page 14 of the Agenda Package)

Report from the Chief Financial Office -- Authorization to Borrow $338,904.00 for Rescue Truck.  -- Authorization to borrow $338,904 from the Municipal Finance Authority for the purchase of a new Commercial Rescue Apparatus for the Prince Rupert Fire Rescue Department.  The repayment of the loan will be made over five years with no provisions for renewal (see page 16 of the Agenda Package)

Requests follow next.

With two Correspondences for Action listed:

A proclamation Request by the Community Response Network regarding World Elder Abuse Awareness Day ( See page 17 of the Agenda package)

A request for a letter of Support from the Friendship House of Prince Rupert -- The organization is seeking a letter of support in regard to their application to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for an onsite AED (PAD) Defibrillator (see page 19 of the Agenda package)

Resolutions from previous Closed Meetings of Council.

Two announcements from previously Closed Meetings

The City to Release the names of those members appointed to the Prince Rupert Airport Authority Board: They include,  Dave Smith, Michael Cote, Erminio Pucci, and Judy Fraser.  Each will serve a two year term on the Board.

The City to Release the names of those members appointed to the Tourism Prince Rupert Board of Directors: They include Scott Farwell and Jack Payne, each will serve a 2 year term on the Board.

Bylaws mark the next item of the Agenda on the night.

The evening then wraps up with Additional Items from Council members, as well as Reports, Questions and inquiries from Members of Council.

The Live broadcast of the City Council session can be found here, a video archive of past sessions is available here.

Our Archive of the May 25th session can be found here.

While our archive of all sessions of 2015  for council  is available here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review

With signing of MOU, Petronas looks to secure Conditional Final Investment Decision within weeks

Petronas President and CEO
Wan Zulkiflee says that a
conditional FID  on the

Pacific NorthWest LNG
project should be achieved 
in the coming weeks
Now that the Province of British Columbia and Petronas have worked out the details in their Memorandum of Understanding on the proposed LNG development for the North Coast, it would seem that the prospect of a Final Investment Decision is getting closer.

With the Malaysia company looking to move forward in what appears to be a a timeline that points to sooner, rather than later, when it comes to the much anticipated financial plan for the proposed LNG terminal near Port Edward.

“With this recent development, we are looking to achieve a conditional FID in the coming weeks,” -- Comments last week to the Malaysian media by Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, President and Group CEO of Petronas, speaking to the recent agreement between the BC Government and the energy company

Business in Vancouver magazine, was among a number of financial publications which reported on developments from Malaysia on Friday.

Noting that the Malaysian energy giant is looking to announce a conditional financial investment decision in the coming weeks, while at the same time, continuing to work to address issues with Lax Kw'alaam First Nation representatives in order to move forward with the Pacific NorthWest LNG project proposed for the Lelu Island area.

That confidence in resolving the outstanding issues with Lax Kw'alaams was something that the President of Petronas relayed to Malaysia media last week, speaking to the work of both the Federal and provincial governments on the issue. With the Petronas CEO outlining how both levels of Government in Canada "are working with Petronas to bring the project forward ... we will continue to have constructive engagements with First Nations, and keep all avenues open"

The comments related to LNG development in Canada came as part of observations on the current economic picture for the Malaysia company, with the Petronas reporting a 39 per cent drop in quarterly profit owing to the drop in world crude prices

Background on last weeks agreement between Petronas and the Liberal Government can be reviewed here and here.

More accounts of the notes from Kuala Lumpur and their British Columbia aspirations can be reviewed below

The Star On Line -- Petronas confident of resolving Canadian issues
Malaysian Insider -- Petronas to announce "conditional FID" on Canadian LNG project in coming weeks
BloombergBusiness -- Petronas First-Quarter Profit plunges on Oil price slump
Reuters Canada-- Petronas says to announce 'conditional FID' on Canada LNG project in coming weeks

Further items related to the Pacific NorthWest LNG project can be found on our archive page here.

Cross posted from the North Coast Review.