Ecotrust presents tech-savvy update to council; more from Oct. 24 meeting

Ecotrust update, PNW LNG presentation, enhancement grants, water funding application

A six-year old Prince Rupert non-profit provided Prince Rupert city council with an update of their activities in the area at a council meeting Oct. 24.

Led by Jean Pogge and Devlin Fernandes, president and senior manager of Ecotrust Canada respectively, the two representatives explored what Ecotrust has been up to in the Prince Rupert area and what the company hopes to achieve in the coming years in a delegation presentation.

“We’re probably the neighbour that you know well, but don’t really know,” said Pogge.

The representatives called their organization an ‘enterprising non-profit,’ which aims to start businesses ‘that benefit the place we call home.’

“We recognize that the current economy doesn’t always work for everyone and as it has been changing the last 10 years in particular, it has gotten harder and harder for many people to find a way to fit in and make a living … So we try and design new systems, companies and ideas to help people be located in the place they live,” Pogge added.

On the North Coast, Ecotrust has a plethora of intiatives including developing seafood technology to get fish plants to move away from paper and onto tablets with new software, starting a carbon tracking business, GIS mapping, data visualization, getting First Nations off of diesel-dependent energy and transitioning them into renewable energy, developing an elecronic monitoring tool for crab associations and informing businesses with maps, tools and more to help them make decisions that incorporate local knowledge.

The 21-year-old federally registered charity has its home office in Vancouver, employs four full-time staff in Prince Rupert and employs 1-12 seasonal staff depending on the year.

Coun. Barry Cunningham asked if Ecotrust works with LNG companies, or any other newer energy organizations that might clash with traditional energy.

“We’re not an environmental NGO. We’re sort of a combination between environment and economic. We really believe in the power of the market to move things forward,” responded Pogge.

“On the other hand, we have not engaged with the LNG-type organizations because we are focused on the one thing we do in energy – which is helping people transition from diesel fuel-powered electricity into renewable sources, which is cheaper, cleaner and much more reliable for industries to work with in their town,” she added.

Council Briefs:

Councillors quiz PNW LNG

Pacific NorthWest LNG head of stakeholder and corporate relations Tessa Gill and community relations advisor Derek Baker provided Prince Rupert city council with an update of the Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW LNG) project now that the Government of Canada has approved the project with conditions.

Coun. Barry Cunningham asked if the project will impact Shawatlan Lake, a possible potable water supply for residents of Prince Rupert, and Baker replied that it would be a great question for regulators of the project to see if it is affected.

“I don’t know all of the sites that have been identified,” said Baker.

“I do know that some of the air deposition modelling does identify some of the areas that are of particular interest. I don’t know for sure if Shawatlan or Woodworth [Lake], which are Prince Rupert’s primary water sources, have been identified in that. It’s worth raising that with the regulators, who in this case would be the BCEAO (B.C. Environmental Assessment Office) if it is a drinking water concern, as they will ultimately direct us to where they would like that monitoring gear to be placed.”

Cunningham also asked about the possibility of the company switching from gas turbines to electric and Gill responded that that may depend on the power sources available in the area.

“For the actual turbines for [gas] compression, for the ones that get installed, they would stay for future expansion. You have to look at the best technology — the power supply in the area for what’s available. Even when we’re considering expansion, if there are good, viable alternatives for power supply that are reliable … so that we can ensure consistent supply and if we have those things available in the region, those will certainly be considered,” she said.

City applies for funds for two water projects

Prince Rupert city council directed staff to apply for grant money for the Woodworth Dam Replacement and the Fern Passage Submarine Line projects. The cost of both projects together sum up to approximately $10 million.

“The dam is at the end of its lifecycle and a failure would be catastrophic to the community as a result. In order to minimize the financial burden to local taxpayers, the operations department is recommending the city apply for a replacement of the Woodworth Dam under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund,” said director of operations Richard Pucci.

The city is using a steel submarine pipe to transfer water from the mainland that was built in 1987, but has a service life of 40 years due to the ‘harsh marine environment.’ Two other pipes built in 1912 and 1967 are either flooded out or leaking.

The city would contribute 17 per cent of costs of the projects should grant funding be successfully obtained.

City donates one hour of rink time to BMO event

City council approved the donation of an hour of ice time free of charge for BMO Bank of Montreal’s “Days of Caring” event to be held soon. Families would participate in the event by donating canned foods and non-perishable items to the food bank and get to skate for an hour.

After some discussion, council chose to donate the time because the event helps a charity in need and the company itself is not benefitting from the event.

Cunningham inquires about enhancement grants

Coun. Barry Cunningham inquired to city staff as to how long it will take staff to get the Lester Centre of the Arts, the Prince Rupert Public Library and the Museum of Northern British Columbia on long-term operational contracts with the city, so the organizations wouldn’t need to apply for community enhancement grants in the future.

“I understand that these contracts are in negotiation but they haven’t been completed 10 months later and  these particular groups have now been asked to apply for enhancement grants,” said Cunningham, adding that their time could be better spent operating their organizations.

Mayor Lee Brain said that the process is a long one, and that they were asked to apply for the grants as a backup measure.

“It doesn’t happen overnight to have three organizations present long-term budgets based on their projections and working with us on our budgets and trying to figure out how to meet all those needs,” said Brain.

“There is that possibility that we don’t get [the long-term contracts] completely signed off in time, so as a backup plan it was encouraged that they still have their community enhancement process in place.”

The regular deadline for enhancement grants has passed and chief financial officer Corinne Bomben was asked to see if they had already applied or had been given an extension.

Remaining 2016 city council meeting dates:

– Monday, Nov. 14

– Monday, Nov. 28

– Monday, Dec. 12