Prince Rupert City Hall

Prince Rupert city council in brief: Oct. 11

ReDesign Rupert provides update, City attends UBCM, Discussions continue with PNW LNG, Thorkelson reports on fishing hours worked

ReDesign Rupert provides update

Krystin St. Jean, senior facilitator with Community Development Institute (CDI) out of the University of Northern British Columbia, gave a brief update to Prince Rupert city council on Oct. 11 detailing the results of the first phase of ReDesign Rupert.

St. Jean told council that the ReDesign initiative, one of more than 70 projects that CDI has experience in building strength and resiliency in communities across northern B.C., has five steps for a forward direction in redesigning the city with burgeoning industry and economic activity: what do we want to achieve, where is our community today, what do we imagine for our community, how can we mobilize and stay connected and on track, and how will we measure success?

After attending 18 different events and functions throughout the community since January, the ReDesign team has talked to approximately 1,200 residents and collected 2,700 points of data. This data has been grouped into five major themes that have emerged: public spaces, community culture and heritage, housing, economy and livelihood, and children, youth and families.

“We are now getting ready to move into the next phase of the project and to kick off the conversation and find some opportunities to start moving forward,” said St. Jean.

ReDesign Rupert Recharge will be hosted at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the team will look for residents’ input on shaping Rupert’s future. A pancake breakfast, kids’ activities and door prizes also await attendees.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson asked if lower-income residents are having their input taken and St. Jean responded that the team has visited areas like the Salvation Army and Friendship House to get those voices heard and will continue to seek similar places.

City attends UBCM in September

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain and Coun. Blair Mirau, Wade Niesh and Gurvinder Randhawa attended the 2016 Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) in Victoria in late September and discussed North Coast issues with various ministers and the Premier.

The first was the Prince Rupert Air Corridor Analysis (PRACA), the road network link connecting Prince Rupert, Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams to the airport on Digby Island.

“Lots of traction has been made on that. There’s a whole variety of work being done and [a stakeholder committee] are working on design works and engineering that the province has committed to, and that was just outlining some of the progress that’s been made there and opening up the region to economic development … It’s one of those ‘dream big’ things and we’ll see where they land,” said Mayor Brain.

Affordable housing and the ferry systems were also discussed at UBCM. The city made an application to the multi-million dollar fund available for affordable housing from the province, and discussed moving people in and out of the city through ferries should LNG projects go through.

Discussions continue with PNW LNG

Mayor Brain provided an update of the city’s discussions with Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG) on an Impacts Benefits Agreement.

“The project is technically not in our jurisdiction, however as we all know this area is primarily the City of Prince Rupert and the majority of impacts will be here, so we’re ensuring that all our needs are met through that benefits agreement and at the moment we have a variety of things that have been laid out and we will continue that discussion,” said Brain.

The city has a staff member assigned to analyzing the approval report with conditions from the province to see if what the city has asked for during the environmental assessment process has been met. PNW LNG told the city that a decision won’t be made concerning proceeding with the project until 6-8 months from now.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson introduced her own notice of motion for the next council meeting that the city not support the PNW LNG project until the project is moved to another area and not in the estuary of the Skeena River allegedly threatening commercial and recreational fisheries, the proponent consult with local governments and its residents as well as First Nations, the city’s water supply is monitored, negative social and economic impacts are identified and adequate solutions are found, contributions to rebuilding and maintaining infrastructure are agreed to, and alternate forms of clean energy are identified and developed for use in the project.

Another meeting with the company is scheduled for this week, said Brain.

Thorkelson reports on fishing hours worked

Coun. Thorkelson told council that despite almost twice as much fish being worked on at Canadian Fishing Company (Canfisco) this year compared to 2015, rough calculations conclude that there were 33,000 hours worked at Canfisco this year, a loss of almost 80,000 hours had canning been added.

“If we had canned that fish that was just brought in, unloaded the roe stripped from the fish and shipped it out – if we had canned that fish, we estimate there would be 118,000 hours [total],” said Thorkelson.  The councillor also said that the company has removed “our best seamer” – the machine that creates a vacuum and a seam on the cans, and sent it to Alaska. Three salter units attached to the canning machines have also been removed.

“They’re slowly dismantling that equipment and sending it to Crystal Bay (Detroit River) we think,” she said.

Canfisco eliminated and reduced canning operation jobs late last year in an effort to move canning to Vancouver.