Prince Rupert's Year in Review: July to September
Lax Kw’alaams spends millions on fish processing plant
Lax Kw’alaams Fish Plant Inc. announced it would be reopening the fish processing plant, after spending $7.8 million to modernize the 40 year old plant. Lax Kw’alaams Mayor Garry Reece said the plant would fill the void in groundfish processing capacity left by the closure of the MacMillan plant in Prince Rupert, while continuing to expand it’s salmon operations. The Coast Tsimshian Seafood plant opened in October.
Housing sales at four year high
The BC Northern Real Estate Board released figures in July that showed the numbers of homes sold in Prince Rupert during the first half of 2012 was higher than in 2011, and than in the first six months of the last four years.
City’s payroll $5.6 million higher than Terrace
The City of Prince Rupert’s Statement of Financial Information showed the City employs 45 people who make over $75,000, compared to 17 who make more than $75,000 in neighbouring Terrace. The City of Prince Rupert’s total payroll, excluding elected officials sat at $12.29 million, with the City of Terrace’s sitting at $6.68 million.
Minister visits Haida Gwaii to see tsunami debris
Terry Lake, British Columbian Minister of Environment, visited Haida Gwaii in July on a fact finding trip to see first hand the debris that was starting to arrive on the coast from the Japanese tsunami in 2011. Lake said his trip was to help him understand the level of the problem and to help inform him on what needed to be done to address the issue. Today consultations continue on Phase 2 of the the Tsunami Debris Management Plan, which is set to be released in early January.
U.S. government report challenges Rupert port claims
An investigation report released by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission claimed the Harbour Maintenance Tax (HMT) America ports are forced to pay is why many shippers have been choosing to go through Canada. The report also stated travel time may be shorter from Asian markets to Prince Rupert, but the amount of time goods take to get from Prince Rupert to American destinations is longer than going through U.S. ports.
City and WatCo sign Watson Island sale deal
The City of Prince Rupert and the Watson Island Development Corporation were satisfied with the idea of selling the Watson Island property for $5.5 million, despite it being a much lower price than the $13 million it was listed for in 2009. The property’s price tag was greatly reduced for a number of reasons, however the sale didn’t end up going through due to a number of unresolved conditions.
Prince Rupert is ranked eighth in Crime Severity
When Statistic Canada released the Crime Severity Index (CSI) for 2011 data put Prince Rupert in the top 10 worst communities in Canada. Prince Rupert was ranked as having the eighth highest overall CSI in the country, and the second highest in British Columbia. When it came to violent crimes, Prince Rupert was rated the fifth highest in Canada. In terms of non-violent crimes, Prince Rupert was ranked 12.
$13 billion oil refinery proposed in Kitimat Valley
David Black-owner and chair of Black Press- announced plans to construct a $13 billion oil refinery in the Kitimat area to process all of the capacity from the Northern Gateway pipeline before it would be shipped out of the country. Black, who created Kitimat Clean Ltd. for the potential project, said by creating a refinery the threat of offshore pollution from heavy crude would be gone. He also said the refinery would create thousands of jobs.
Ice season had a slow start
While local winter sports groups were gearing up for the season ahead, the City of Prince Rupert announced the arena’s aging ice chiller had broken down in mid-August. The City originally estimated ice would be back in the arena in November, however due to individuals and groups stepping up, sports groups were practicing on ice in Prince Rupert in early October. Since then the City has received the new ice chiller, which they will install at the end of the season.
School district, Port Edward agree on school lease
Despite it being summer, School District 52 trustees met with councillors from the District of Port Edward in August to approve funding and lease agreements for Port Edward’s new community school. The meeting allowed Port Edward to receive $500,000 of funding from the Ministry of Education for construction of the school, and had the school district enter into a long-term lease agreement with Port Edward, as well as a short-term lease agreement for the old school. The new school will open on Jan. 7, 2013.
Pellet terminal gets green light
Despite public concerns, the Prince Rupert Port Authority announced the approval of the environmental assessment of the Pinnacle Renewable Energy export facility at Westview Terminal at the end of August. In granting the approval, the port noted the terminal would have to meet conditions set out regarding air quality and noise.
Major gas line development announced
Shortly after the BG Group announced its intentions to create a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Prince Rupert, the Spectra Energy Corporation committed interest in creating the pipeline to serve the terminal. The potential project would begin in northeast B.C. and end at an export facility in Prince Rupert. Work on developing the project continues.
City cuts property tax exemptions
Prince Rupert councillors decided to roll back property tax exemptions by 40 per cent over two years in 2013 in an attempt to lower the City’s tax rates. By doing this the City would have had $20,000 in new tax money in 2013 and $40,000 in 2014, however at the following council meeting the rollback amount was changed to 20 per cent in 2013, with no cut backs to organization’s tax exemptions for three years.
North Coast MLA decides not to run for third term
After serving two terms as North Coast MLA, Prince Rupert’s Gary Coons announced he would not be running in the upcoming provincial election.
“Getting to know the people of this region and the issues that matter to them has been an incredible learning experience that I will never forget,” Coons said.
Coastal First Nations ban bearing hunting
10 First Nations groups on British Columbia’s North and Central coast declared a ban on bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest in September. The coalition of First Nations said they have been trying to resolve the issue for years with no outcome, and decided to take things into their own hands.
Lone CT scanner inoperative
The only CT scanner at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital broke down and was too old to bother repairing. According to Loretta Robinson, medical imaging manager, there were mechanical failures in the tech station and the scanner’s main CPU, with both needing to be replaced.
Largest ship yet docks at Fairview Terminal
Fairview Terminal welcomed the 350-metre-long COSCO Guangzhou on Sept. 22, the largest container ship to stop in Prince Rupert to date. The COSCO Guangzhou has a total capacity of 9,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and can carry up to 107,000 metric tonnes. When it arrived in Prince Rupert, the Guangzhou was at 89 per cent capacity. The ship arrived the same month the terminal celebrated the fifth anniversary of its opening
Census breaks down family composition
Statistics Canada released new information from the 2011 census and it showed there are roughly the same amount of single men and women in Prince Rupert. The census also showed that 4,550 of the 10,105 Prince Rupert residents older than 15 in Prince Rupert are not married or living in common law. Of these, 2,270 are men and 2,285 are women.
Cops for Cancer Tour de North ride raises over $250,000
RCMP members and their support team participating in the Cops for Cancer Tour de North ride finished in Prince Rupert on Sept. 20 after cycling 850 km through north central B.C. Prince Rupert’s own father and daughter team Bob Killbery and Jennifer Collins were happy to be home with their families after the ride that with their help raised $263,292 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
RCMP identify Colleen MacMillen’s murderer
The RCMP task force investigating murdered and missing women in B.C. announced a breakthrough in the Highway of Tears cases in late September, identifying U.S. citizen Bobby Jack Fowler as the killer of one of the Highway of Tears victims. Although Fowler died in prison in 2006, a DNA match linked him to Colleen MacMillen, whose body was found near 100 Mile House in 1974.