The City of Prince Rupert released its 2011 Annual Report at the City Council meeting on Monday.
The report is required by the Community Charter, and is a run-down of what every City department has been up to last year and what their goals are for 2012, even though 2012 is now more than half over.
The city council was busy last year. It completed a review that shed a light on the dire condition of the City’s infrastructure, began the ongoing process of looking at constructing a new emergency services building, entered into a exclusivity agreement with a Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatala joint venture with hopes of selling Watson Island to them this year.
Last year’s goal of making progress on the Tsimshian Access Project – which would provide road access to Metlakatla and Port Simpson from Digby Island – has effectively stalled after the City met with its regional partners last October but couldn’t get enough resources to be committed. The City has instead refocused its efforts on improving access to the island and the airport.
Some of council’s goals for this year are to make a decision on the emergency building, completing the sale of Watson Island, work with the Port Authority to development a plan for the entire waterfront, come up with timelines and funding possibilities for infrastructure improvements, build a new yacht wharf, improve the City’s water supply security and work to implement curb-side recycling.
The Development Services department issued 1,158 trade licenses and 371 building permits last year, all of which brought in about $330,000 in fees into the City’s coffers. They have also done many different repairs and improvements to municipal buildings, and are planning more this year, including repainting City Hall.
The City’s Corporate Administration staff sold the building used by Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District last year and moved the Prince Rupert Archives from there to the basement of City Hall.
This year they are working on a resolution for council adoption that will limit the frequency of train whistles, which often go all night. They are also working on a possible referendum or alternative approval process that would allow the City to borrow the money required to build an emergency services building.
The IT department spent last year updating municipal software systems and helping with improvements to City buildings, such as helping install CCTV cameras outside the RCMP building. They also examined the possibility of remote connectivity to the Shawatlans and Woodworth dams.
This year, they are moving ahead with updating City Hall’s phone systems and are working on website improvements including a feature that would allow residents to apply for a Property Tax Homeowner Grant online.
The Fire Department replaced all it’s breathing apparatuses last year, installed a new emergency generator in the fire hall and has been talking with School District 52 about using Prince Rupert’s many closed school buildings for training purposes.
The City was also hoping to replace all of all of the Fire Department’s turnout gear, but couldn’t last year because there was not enough money for it. That is now one of this year’s goals, along with replacing 18-year-old rescue equipment and replacing the department’s hand-held radios.
On the policing side of things, the RCMP has been working on crime reduction initiatives like bike patrols and anti-drug programs at schools. Attempts to get more police positions in town failed last year due to the ongoing negotiations between the provincial and federal governments over the RCMP contract.
The local RCMP have been trying to improve its often shaky relationships with First Nations communities through cultural awareness training for officers and participating in events like the Gathering Strength canoe trip and forming consultative groups in communities like Klemtu, Hartley Bay, Kitkatla and Lax Kw’alaams.
This year, the RCMP is putting a large focus on gang activity. According to the report, the RCMP will “conduct targeted enforcement action against gang related activities,” as well as anti-gang education targeted at youth. City manager, Gord Howie, says that these initiatives do not mean Prince Rupert has a gang problem that the RCMP are trying to combat, but rather that these initiatives are prevention measures.
The Engineering department worked on many different projects last year, including the Hays Creek pumping station and sewer replacement projects, putting up new bush shelters and on the ongoing landfill expansion.
This year they will be focusing repairs to the sewer outfall at Rushbrook, complete a streetlight dimming project, begin blasting to make more room for the landfill, work on upgrades to the airport ferry float and create an emergency response plan and dam safety procedures for the Woodworth Dam
Public Works spent last year doing its regular maintenance of the city’s infrastructure such as roads, water, sewers, and parks. It bought a new street sweeper and worked with DFO to address runoff from the works yard. They responded to 1,463 service requests in 2011.
This year aside from their usual work they will be doing a review of equipment used by the parks and cemetery departments and selling any equipment that is too old to be useful anymore. They will also be working with the Fire Department on training for spill response.
Another big project will be repairs to the Shawatlans Dam. Last year a structural assessment rated the dam, which is critical to the community’s water supply, as being “fair”. There will be repairs done this year to address those concerns as well as developing a new emergency response plan and purchasing leak-detection equipment.
This is only some of the highlights of what the report says, so this certainly isn’t everything the City has done in the past year or what it plans to accomplish this year. If you want to read the report (it’s a pretty easy read as far as government reports go) you can see it here.