City of Prince Rupert passes $1.3 million Planning for Major Projects budget, moves mayor to full time

The City has passed a $1.3 million Planning for Major Projects Budget and will be providing an additional $17,000 for a full-time mayor.

The City of Prince Rupert has passed a $1.3 million Planning for Major Projects Budget and will be providing an additional $17,000 per year for a full-time mayor, though council says taxpayers will not be on the hook for the additional costs due to funding coming from Prince Rupert Legacy.

Included in the $1.3 million that will be allocated every year for the next four years is $220,000 for major projects and baseline data collection, $150,000 for public engagement and community consultation, $450,000 for additional planning, communications and engineering staff, $120,000 for the decommissioning and redeployment of Watson Island, $150,000 for a recruitment and retention plan for existing city staff and $210,000 for contingencies.

“Council has decided that we need more staffing capacity to handle the load that LNG and other developments have put on our existing staff” Mayor Lee Brain said in a statement.

“The next four years is the period in which LNG may or may not occur in our community. We need to prepare for all scenarios and move the community forward, but we needed to do it without financially impacting our residents or local businesses. This budget will enable us to reach new heights.”

Council has also approved using $1 million fro Prince Rupert Legacy Inc. to pay for improvements to road and sidewalks around Prince Rupert.

“We have heard loud and clear from the public – our roads are in poor condition,” said Brain.

“The reason why we created Legacy Inc. Is to help fund major infrastructure needs, such as roads, sidewalks, sewers and water lines. I think it’s time to inject more funding into our roads on top of our existing roads budget.

As well, the Spring 2015 update outlines council’s support for making the office of mayor a “full-time assignment in wake of major projects”.

The budgeting decisions were made in-camera due to “sensitive discussions around topics of land, legal and labour” and the Planning for Major Projects budget has a “sunset clause” of four years meaning if no LNG developments proceed, staffing levels will be returned to their existing level and the budget will not be carried forward.