Over the coming days the Prince Rupert Northern View will be taking a look back at the stories of 2012 here on the North Coast.
Assessments unchanged, but not for business
On Jan. 3 BC Assessment informed homeowners to expect a zero to 10 per cent increase in the assessed value of their homes, while businesses could expect a five to 15 per cent increase.
But for light industrial owners, particularly those in the Grassy Bay area, assessments were either close to or more than double the previous year. One land owner provided a copy of their letter from BC Assessment which shows the assessed value of their property would be going up from $106,500 in 2011 to $250,600 in 2012 and another business said theirs went from $244,000 to $455,000.
A record for the PRPA
After a successful 2010, in early January the Prince Rupert Port Authority revealed another record-breaking year in terms of traffic in 2011.
Fairview Terminal saw a 20 per cent increase in traffic, from 343,366 TEUs in 2010 to 410,469, Ridley Terminals shipped 9.64 million tonnes of product compared to 8.3 million tonnes in 2010 and Prince Rupert Grain saw a 17 per cent increase in its shipments.
In total, the tonnage handled by the Prince Rupert Port Authority was up 18 per cent in 2011.
Realty numbers stagnant
The Northern BC Real Estate Board released their year-end numbers in January and in total there were 116 properties sold in 2011 compared to 117 properties sold in 2010. Despite one less property being sold, the total value of sales for the year was up from $18.9 million in 2011 to $19.3 million in 2012.
Cold snap causes burst pipes
In mid-January temperatures plummeted to below -20 degrees celcius causing pipes in homes and businesses to burst. The damage, which included flooding at Northern Savings Credit Union and City Furniture, kept plumbers and contracting firms in town busy for months.
Containers lost at sea
During the Jan. 21 weekend the COSCO Yokohama hit some dangerous weather conditions in the Gulf of Alaska en-route to Prince Rupert, and in the rising and crashing sea a total of 29 containers went overboard. As well as the lost containers, a number still on board the ship were damaged and a “salvage” operation for the containers was done when the vessel arrived at Fairview Terminal.
Thousands protest Enbridge
On Feb. 4 the Gitga’at Nation hosted a “No Tanker” march and rally in Prince Rupert that over a thousand people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds took part in to show their opposition to the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.
The day-long event started at Mariner’s Park in the downtown core of Prince Rupert, where individuals started their march to the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on a closed-off McBride Street. The march concluded with a drum circle in the middle of McBride Street before protesters went inside the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre for the rest of the day’s events.
Ranking remains low
The Fraser Institute released its annual – and controversial – elementary school rankings on the morning of Feb. 6, and once again North Coast schools were in the bottom half of the rankings.
Annunciation, the lone independent school in the Prince Rupert School District, was the only one to perform well, placing 81st out of the 860 listed. All of the public schools in the Prince Rupert School District were in the bottom half of the rankings. The highest public school in the rankings, ironically, was the closed Westview elementary in 655th place
Population on the decline
Stats Canada released population information from the 2011 Census on Feb. 8, and the numbers show a decline in population for Prince Rupert and the North Coast.
According to the census, the population in the City of Prince Rupert fell from 12,815 in 2006 to 12,508 in 2011, a drop of 307 people equal to 2.4 per cent.
The Prince Rupert agglomeration count, which includes the surrounding area, fell by 2.5 per cent from 13,392 to 13,052. That decline was the fifth highest in the country and the highest drop in all of B.C.
Governments oppose Enbridge
On Feb. 17 the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District became the second local government to oppose Enbridge, followed by the City of Prince Rupert on Feb. 27.
Rail corridor funded
The Federal Government announced it would provide $15-million in funding for the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Railway Corridor project on Ridley Island. The announcement was the final funding step in the $60 million project.
Business excellence awards
The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce held its annual Business Excellence Awards Gala on Feb. 25. The Business of the Year Award for 2012 went to the Crest Hotel while the Rookie Business of the Year went to Power n’ Passion for Life. Small Business of the Year: Industry, Manufacturing and Transportation was The Electrician, Small Business of the Year: Hospitality, Tourism and Service was awarded to Pac 10 Tutoring, Small Business of the Year: Retail went to Mackenzie Furniture, The Aboriginal Business of the Year award went to Rainforest Books, The Community Involvement Award went to Hawkair and the Green Award went to Neat & Tidy Eco Friendly Cleaning.
The Business Newsmaker of the Year was Glen Saunders, The Volunteer Organization of the Year award went to the Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter and Chamber Member of the Year went to Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest.
Teachers go on strike
Parents in Prince Rupert and across the province were asked to keep their children at home starting on Monday, as British Columbian teachers were allowed to escalate job action as part of on-going negotiations between the B.C. Teachers Federation (or BCTF) and the Provincial
Government. The BCTF gave strike notice for Monday, March 5, after a province-wide vote was held on the topic, with a majority of B.C. teachers voting in favor of striking. The strike was a short-lived one.
Council talks emergency buildings
The City of Prince Rupert held the first of several meetings about the proposed emergency services building to replace the aging fire hall and RCMP detachment in early March. Meetings carried on over the next five months, and at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon there was talk of a fall referendum, but no decision on the fate of the building(s) was made by year’s end.
RTI sale talks spring up
On March 16, speaking to the Vancouver Board of Trade, Ridley Terminals president and COO George Dorsey made it known that a sale of the publicly-owned coal terminal was still possible. By the end of the year the government would announce their intention to put the facility on the market.
Teen burgers coming
In mid-March A&W confirmed it was looking to locate in Prince Rupert with a possible location in the upper mall parking lot. By year-end there had been no ground broken for the new restaurant.
Cullen places third
After a lengthy campaign to replace federal NDP leader Jack Layton, Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen survived three of four rounds of voting at the leadership convention to place third in a field of seven. Cullen would be named the House Leader of the Official Opposition by new leader Thomas Mulclair.
An unpleasant place to live?
On March 20 Moneysense Magazine released its list of the best places in Canada to live and Prince Rupert ranked 179 out of 190. According to the report, Prince Rupert leads the country in the number of days of rain with 239.7, and the unemployment rate is second worst in the country at 15.8 per
cent. The crime severity index is also among the worst, ranked 182 out of 190 and the violent crime rate is 187 out of 190 with 4,943 violent crimes.