Prince Rupert Council in Brief: May 9 meeting

Topics covered: Audited statements accepted, Poverty reduction plan supported, Off to Dawson Creek

Prince Rupert mayor and council passed a resolution supporting calls for a provincial action plans for poverty reduction in B.C. and Prince Rupert.

Audited statements accepted

The City of Prince Rupert mayor and council accepted its 2015 audited financial statements during the May 9 council meeting.

Chief financial officer Corinne Bomben reported to council the details of the statements, including the city’s debt load decreasing by $2.9 million due to the retirement of 10-year-old debenture debts in relation to 2005 Museum of Northern B.C. and Atlin Uplands loans.

“The retirement of debt is a positive thing, given it eliminates debt service and costs,” said Bomben.

“The city added to its assets largely in three areas last year. Approximately $4 million was expended on Cow Bay Marina. Approximately 90 per cent of this was funded through grants. The active landfill cell was expanded at a cost of over $1 million, funded 100 per cent through grants. The road paving and Fraser Street construction was funded 100 per cent through dividends and grants,” Bomben added.

The city’s general operating fund ended 2015 with a deficit of $173,000 due to overages in the ferry refit because of delays requiring the “unforeseen extension of substitute service and the impact of the change in the exchange rate”.

The city’s overall surplus decreased by $2.2 million due to dividends paid out of Prince Rupert Legacy Inc. And other fund surpluses.

“Overall, the operating department has operated closely within budget. Utility funds ended the year with modest surpluses mainly due to incomplete projects that will be finished in 2016,” Bomben summarized.

“The auditors provided a management letter stating the internal controls of the city continue to be strong and that there are no issues that need to be reported to mayor and council.”

Poverty reduction plan supported

In response to correspondence sent by SD52 Aboriginal family support worker Joanne Finlay, Prince Rupert mayor and council passed a resolution supporting calls for a provincial action plans for poverty reduction in B.C. and Prince Rupert and bringing the issue before the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) before the end of June to reduce the number of people in the province living in poverty by setting concrete targets and timelines.

The municipal resolution and Finlay’s letter states that B.C. is the only province in Canada with no poverty reduction plan in place and that the B.C. poverty rate remains among the highest in the country with one in 10 in the low-income bracket and one in five children in the child poverty category.

The resolution further explains that “Many impacts of poverty are experienced at the local level, and local residents pay for poverty in increased health care costs, higher crime, higher demand for community, social and charitable services, lack of school readiness, reduced school success and lower economic productivity.”

Coun. Joy Thorkelson voiced her support for the resolution, which was passed unanimously.

“I want to thank Ms. Finley for bringing this forward. It’s certainly something that applies to our community in spades,” she said.

Off to Dawson Creek

Mayor Lee Brain, Councillors Wade Niesh, Barry Cunningham and Joy Thorkelson and city manager Robert Long attended the 2016 North Central Local Government Association conference in Dawson Creek in early May, joining the Port Edward delegation also in attendance.

“We worked with many local communities, went through many different resolutions in the north that will be brought to the UBCM, and had an opportunity to meet with [Nechako Lakes MLA] John Rustad and [Peace River South MLA] Mike Bernier while we were there as well. It was a successful event and we got to network with local neighbours,” said Brain in his report to council on May 9.