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Port Edward still $1.2 million in debt for its school

District of Port Edward council briefs for June 27 meeting

Support for Intertidal Music Festival at the cannery

The North Pacific Cannery is looking for sponsors for its upcoming Intertidal Music Festival on July 15.

Conservation manager of the cannery, Steve Milum, spoke to council about the restoration work that has been done over the past decade to make this event come to life once again. More than a dozen bands will be performing at the event, and the cannery expects a turnout of approximately 1,500 people. But with bands coming in from Vancouver and other areas of the north, the cannery needs additional support from sponsors to make the event a success.

Chief Administrative Officer, Bob Payette, is also the board chair for the Port Edward Historical Society. He expressed why the district should support the event.

“The district is not putting any event on for Canada Day, as you know, and we haven’t put any money into any local events,” he said, adding that last year the district put tons of money into the 50th anniversary celebration.

“I feel that the cannery staff have stepped up for us this year, and they are doing quite a few events. This is an opportunity to put money into an event that we would have done ourselves,” Payette said.

Councillor James Brown agreed the district should help out financially and councillor Christine Mackenzie made a motion to be a silver sponsor for $2,500 to have the district’s logo on the signage.

“We all believe in support for Port Edward projects and I think this is another good one, we just can’t go overboard,” said Mayor Dave MacDonald.

2016 Statement of Financial Information for Port Edward

The district approved its 2016 financial report that demonstrated remuneration and expenses paid to employees and elected officials, as well as its debt, as of Dec. 31, and suppliers of goods and services.

Debt reported in 2016 totalled $1,319,208, of which $1,266,156 came from loans the district is still paying for building the Port Edward Community School. The district had approval to borrow up to $2 million for the project in 2012. Since 2014, the total indebtedness has dropped by 19.9 per cent as the district pays off its loans.

Port Edward’s school was built to accomodate 60 students, but currently there are only 14 students enrolled.

The report also shows that Mayor Dave MacDonald was paid $13,525 for his work, and he claimed a total of $9,200 in expenses. District councillors received $9,364 each for their positions and total expenses for council, including the mayor’s, was $40,845.

Chief administrative officer, Bob Payette, received $104,284 and had $15,320 expenses. The total payroll for elected officials totaled $50,981 and $722,073 for other district employees.

Trailer park update

The ongoing issue with the Port Edward trailer court may be edging closer to a court order, as Payette stated in the meeting.

“We’re having ongoing discussions with our legal council and we’re hoping to bring a report to the next council,” he said.

The Stonecliff Properties trailer park has been abandoned since December 2015. Nothing has been done to the empty residences since the property owner has been tied up in the Provincial Supreme Court after evicting the tenants.

Grant for rail crossings

The district continues to seek out grant funding to upgrade its five rail crossings to reduce train whistling in the community. The cost of the project is approximately $1.5 million.

Payette informed council that the district has received permission for a federal grant through Transport Canada’s Rail Safety Improvement Program to help with the cost of the upgrades.

“We submitted an application for each of the crossings, and we received a positive result on one of the crossings. To secure the grant we need to have a resolution from council and it’s due at the end of the week,” he said.

The grant is a 50 per cent funding match with the federal government, which will match up to $176,000 for the Skeena crossing at mile 85.99. The federal government announced $55-million fund for rail investments across the country in October 2016, and the district said it may still get funding for a second crossing.

The Port of Prince Rupert and Ridley Terminals Inc. have contributed $250,000 to upgrading the rail crossings.

All of council was in favour of the resolution and to see some of the funding.

Not enough notification

In council discussion, two Port Edward residents expressed their concern about the fire and smoke emanating from Ridley Island and the lack of communication to inform the public on what was happening.

See CONSULTATION story for more details.