Body found on waterfront
Prince Rupert RCMP were called to the waterfront at 7:51 a.m. on March 4 after reports of a body found in the water near the old CN station. The deceased was later identified as 21-year old Justin Brooks of Prince Rupert. Although the family was told Brooks was assaulted the night before his body was found and allege those involved confess to the assault, the RCMP ruled the death a drowning and no charges were laid in relation to his death.
Schools among the worst
The Fraser Institute released its elementary school rankings on March 4 and Prince Rupert’s public schools remained near the bottom of the list. Conrad elementary was ranked 750th out of 853 schools, Lax Kxeen was ranked 784th, Pineridge was ranked 817th. Roosevelt was not included as not enough students wrote the Foundation Skills Assessment test.
City budget issues arise
The City of Prince Rupert began budget discussions facing a $513,000 shortfall for the year ahead and a shortfall projected for the start of the following year’s budget consultations. Initial discussions looked at either cuts to city operations or a major tax increase to cover the cost. Later in the year, that figure would raise to more than $800,000, and was complicated by the lack of a $500,000 expected dividend payment from CityWest.
Corridor construction begins
On March 8, Prince Rupert Contractors broke ground on the $90-million Ridley Island Road, Rail and Utility Corridor. The project, which is designed to open up an additional 400 hectares of land on Ridley Island for future industrial development, includes an eight kilometre loop of five rail tracks, a two lane road and hydro lines. The Prince Rupert Port Authority and CN each paid $30 million for the project, while the provincial and federal governments provided $15 million each to reach the $90 million.
Emergency buildings on hold
Citing a lack of funds, the City of Prince Rupert decided to put plans to replace the RCMP detachment and fire hall on hold and rejected plans to build the facilities at Moose Tot Park and the adjoining tennis courts.
“At this point in time, the answer is we can’t afford to do it, but we do recognize that we need to do something,” said Coun. Gina Garon.
Boundary expansion planned
The City of Prince Rupert announced in late March that it would be undertaking a process to expand the municipal boundaries for the first time in over a century. The expansion included most of the property across the harbour, much of Digby Island, lands south near Port Edward and much of the lands across from Seal Cove. The move was met with opposition from the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District and the District of Port Edward.
Fraser enters election
The first opponent for NDP candidate Jennifer Rice in the May 15 election became known in late March as Judy Fraser was acclaimed to run for the BC Liberals in the North Coast riding.