The Northern View Year in Review 2019: January - June

Prince Rupert’s news makers of 2019: Part 1

The Northern View Year in Review 2019: January - June

Prince Rupert 2019 Sports in Review: Part 1

JANUARY

Ed Landrath and his seeing eye dog Annie completed their training together at the Prestige Hotel on Jan. 11. Annie is the first seeing eye dog to come to Prince Rupert. (The Northern View)

City cleared to end boil water notice

The water advisory, which was in effect since mid-December had an impact on businesses around town who contemplated spending $1,600 on water filtration systems.

“It’s definitely had an impact on sales overall,” said Scott Farwell, general manager of The Crest Hotel, explaining that the lounge and restaurant couldn’t serve drinks with ice, and the coffee makers were hooked up to city water. They resorted to making coffee out of homestyle coffee machines, and were unable to offer specialty coffee.

One dentist in the city, Dr. Gursimran Brar,had to shut down her clinic for a day after the boil water notice was issued.

Sitting in for Mayor Lee Brain, Councillor Wade Niesh gave a presentation on the topic at the January council meeting, in what was the city’s first opportunity to publicly address the issue in front of residents. At the end of his presentation, Niesh commented on the furor that has taken place on social media, saying that the frustration there should be directed toward provincial MLAs and federal MPs for assistance.

Meanwhile, some residents had been filling their bottles of water at neighbouring town, Port Edward, where Mayor Knut Bjorndal has publicly invited Prince Rupert residents to take advantage of their “state-of-the-art system.” and Metlakatla residents were safe with their own award-winning water treatment plant.

After six weeks of consuming boiled and bottled water, on Jan. 25, Prince Rupert residents were allowed to return to their taps, following five or more consecutive clear samples for cryptosporidium.

READ MORE: How neighbouring North Coast villages avoided the boil water notice

READ MORE: Impacts on businesses under ongoing boil water notice

PRPA imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

On Jan. 17, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) announced a developmental moratorium on Flora, Agnew and Horsey Banks to ensure the protection of marine habitats.

Lelu Island and Flora Bank were the controversial locations of the Pacific Northwest LNG project, which was canceled in July 2017. Many Indigenous people, environmentalists, and the local politicians opposed development on this site, which was near the juvenile salmon habitat.

There were no plans in the works to remove the totem pole or structures on Lelu Island, said the CEO and president of the PRPA.

READ MORE: Port authority imposes ban on development around Lelu Island

Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Indigenous people from Prince Rupert joined protests across the country, on Jan. 8, in response to arrests made in Wet’suwet’en traditional lands southwest of Smithers.

They were members of Hartley Bay, Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, Kitkatla, Tahltan, Haida, Gitxsan and Cherokee First Nations.

“What is happening to them is outrageous,” said Lara Peterson, a Metlakatla member and one of the organizers of the protest. “They’re arresting elderly women and other women for standing their ground and saying they want clean water.

READ MORE: MP visits Wet’suwet’en blockade to support peaceful resolution

READ MORE: Anti-LNG pipeline in Prince Rupert shows support for Wet’suwet’en

FEBRUARY

Bella Coola women’s team wore shirts in support of the Wet’suwet’en who are protesting the Coastal GasLink pipeline. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)


Resident temporarily banned from city hall for threats

A Prince Rupert resident was banned from entering City Hall for six months after he made threats to city staff.

Adrian Devison took to protesting outside city hall, and on social media, to demand city staff restore a crumbling retaining wall outside his mother’s home on Pigott Avenue. He also raised the issue with the neighbouring home, which is derelict and sinking into the ground. He says this a fire hazard.

“Unfortunately, quotes for the project came back at three times the budgeted amount, which made the project beyond our ability to complete in the 2018 construction season. It has been rolled into the 2019 budget,” Veronika Stewart, city communications manager said.

READ MORE: Resident wants city to repair broken retaining wall, and board up derelict home

Wolf attacks dog

A Port Edward resident’s dog was killed in a wolf attack, prompting B.C. Conservation officers to urge diligence and care with pets in the outdoors.

“We don’t want people to be afraid, but we do want caution to be exercised,” said conservation officer Scott Senkiw, who was called to Port Edward following the Feb.6 incident.

Port Edward council expressed dissatisfaction that conservation officers have not found or killed any wolves in response.

READ MORE: Dog killed in wolf attack in Port Edward

Sundin steps down

For more than 20 years, Joy Sundin had been at the helm for the city’s most popular festivals, and in February she announced she is taking a step down. From Seafest to Winterfest, Sundin has steered the organizing committee at Prince Rupert Special Events Society as the community festival coordinator.

READ MORE: Joy Sundin steps down from festival coordinator role

Alaskan ferry cutbacks cost two teams a spot in the ANBT

Metlakatla, Alaska, used to be a staple at the All Native Basketball Tournament, but recent changes to the ferry schedule caused them to lose their spot in the famous event last year.

The Alaska Marine Highway System, AMHS, used to run twice a week from Ketchikan, Alaska to Prince Rupert – perfect for the teams representing the Metlakatla Nation to come and go to the tournament with ease.

Metlakatla sent teams in all four divisions as well as many fans and people from their villages to come and support their teams.

The AMHS costs around $130 USD per player, so to send four teams would have cost Metlakatla approximately $5,200 USD.

The problem for the team was not the price of the ferry — it’s the frequency of trips. The same ferry that would make that trip twice weekly, is now making the trip only once every two weeks.

READ MORE: Ferry schedules cost an Alaskan team a spot in the All Native Basketball Tournament

B.C. Ambulance crash

A B.C. ambulance slid off of the road on Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Port Edward on Feb. 21.

Cpl. Devon Gerrits said RCMP officer attended the crash at approximately 10 a.m. The ambulance was traveling east toward Port Edward when it slid off the north side of the road.

Both ambulance attendants in the vehicle sustained injuries as a result of the crash but were not considered life-threatening.

READ MORE: Ambulance crashes along Highway 16

MARCh

Young students Elise Caputo and Zoe McCoy (right) helped stage a city hall sit-in with signs that read “save the environment” and “ban single-use plastic” as they participated in the global school walkouts
for climate action on March 15. (The Northern View)

Rupert couple arrested for armed robbery

A Prince Rupert couple were charged following an armed robbery in Prince George on Feb. 22.

RCMP took Kyle Thomas Howden and Beverly Candice Cunningham into custody following the robbery.

Police received a call about the robbery at a business early the week before the chargers were laid. Witnesses allege Howden covered his face with a mask and entered the store brandishing a knife.

An RCMP investigation linked Cunningham to the offence and was arrested near the scene.

READ MORE: Rupert couple arrested in Prince George following armed robbery

Cullen calls it quits

Nathan Cullen announced in March that he would not be seeking re-election.

“I’ve had five elections and I’ve been humbled by the love and support that I’ve received across the Northwest for all that we’ve tried to do in our politic. I’ve been incredibly proud in some of our accomplishments; not just protecting the Sacred Headwaters, achieving the Great Bear Rainforest agreement, defending the North Coast from oil tanker traffic and fish farms, but also attracting more attention, putting Skeena back on the map, bringing national attention to what we’re doing in the Northwest because I think we have an incredible story to tell,” he said.

READ MORE: Nathan Cullen not seeking re-election

Mossman acquitted

Former CEO of the now-bankrupt Banks Island Gold Mine, Benjamin Mossman, was acquitted of one of his charges on March 6, where Judge Herman Seidemann delivered his judgment in the Prince Rupert courthouse.

Crown counsel was recommending that Mossman had committed an offence, under section 37.1 of the B.C. Mines Act, that the former CEO had obstructed, impeded or interfered with an inspector carrying out his duties.

Earlier that year, from June 24-25, heavy rains had caused mine waste from an exploratory site to overflow and discharge into the surrounding environment. Aquatic biologist for the mine, Allegra Cairns, had estimated the volume of unauthorized tailings, or mine waste, was 197 cubic metres of water and 116 kg of sediment.

READ MORE: Ex-CEO of Banks Island Gold Mine acquitted of obstruction charge

False alarm for water advisory

Rupert tap water is safe to drink without boiling it, a release from the City of Prince Rupert said on March 15.

According to the release, the test result detected higher than acceptable levels of giardia and cryptosporidium in the water in Dec. 2018-Jan. 2019 was likely a false positive.

The release said the false positive was discovered after the City sent additional samples to an accredited microbiology lab that specializes in giardia and cryptosporidium.

READ MORE: In Our Opinion: Down the drain

READ MORE: City announces false positive led to the water quality scare

Port Ed left behind

A recurrent rift between the District of Port Edward and the City of Prince Rupert over a tax sharing agreement stalled negotiations over their emergency Mutual Aid Agreement in March.

“We tried to talk to them, and they said they won’t renew it,” said Bob Payette, chief administrative officer for Port Edward.

“If our [volunteer] guys can’t handle the size of the incident, or there’s a second incident, they won’t come out and help.”

To boot, the district’s long-serving fire chief Shawn Pettitt, who has volunteered since 1988, stepped down. An interim fire chief, Jason Giesbrecht has replaced him to lead the approximately 10 volunteer firefighters.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert fire crews won’t help Port Edward after negotiations fail

Submerged fisherman rescued

Three rescue vessels responded to a mayday call after a crab fisherman got caught in his gear and was pulled under water. The call went out at 12:20 p.m., on Tuesday, March 27 near Smith Island.

The fisherman was under 10 metres of water for 3-4 minutes. Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 64 (RCM-SAR 64) said in an online post that “his crew reacted quickly and recovered by pulling back on ground line.” Five minutes after the mayday call went out, RCM-SAR 64 dispatched three crew members on board the Bravo-Geoff Gould and within 14 minutes they were on the scene.

READ MORE: Fisherman trapped under water rescued near Smith Island

APRIL

Nancy and Gunther Golinia, from the Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter, were named recipients of the B.C. Community Achievement Awards in April. The Golinias have run the shelter for over 30 years and were recognized by the organization for their outstanding and important community contribution. Terrace-based conservation officer Gareth Scrivner nominated them for the award after seeing the selfless work the Golinias do to rehabilitate injured animals. (photo courtesy of Rose Ciotoli)

Raffles revamps

Raffles Inn was sold, and transformed into long-term housing.

Five Eight Investments Ltd. took possession of the hotel located at the Five Corners in Prince Rupert and they started renovations.

Since 2005, the hotel has provided a 12-bed homeless shelter that was organized by the Prince Rupert Salvation Army and funded by BC Housing. But due to multiple complaints about bed bugs, many people have refused to stay there.

READ MORE: New owners of Raffles Inn to revamp bed-bug ridden hotel

Attempted child abduction

Parents were advised to keep their children away from McClymont Park after two men tried to abduct a 12-year-old student near the trail in Prince Rupert on April 4.

Police said the incident happened between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. when the girl was walking to school on the 300 block of Sherbrooke Ave. where the trail leads to McClymont. Between Sherbrooke Ave. and the trail, she was grabbed by two men who attempted to pull her off the trail.

“A woman who was walking a dog on the trail disrupted the attack, and the two men took off running,” Cpl. Devon Gerrits said.

READ MORE: Two men tried to abduct student in Prince Rupert

Seal Cove and Kanata schools to be demolished

After 11 years since closing the school doors at Seal Cove and Kanata Elementary, the school district has found provincial funding to demolish the buildings once and for all in April. When the two Prince Rupert schools were closed in 2008, the heat was also shut off.

“They’ve been sitting there unheated for 11 years now, and the buildings are in very poor condition,” said Cam McIntyre, secretary-treasurer for School District 52.

READ MORE: Unsafe Seal Cove and Kanata schools to be demolished

MAY

Rupert Recognized: The play, “To Grow Up”, written and performed by Miranda Baker, a Charles Hays Secondary School student, received the B.C. National Theatre School Festival Award for Outstanding Original Script. Retired Prince Rupert radiologist Dr. Giles Stevenson, received the Distinguished Career Award from the Canadian Association of Radiology on April 13, an honour he said came as a total surprise.

Rupert fish processing facility under scrutiny

Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted what it describes as a large-scale forensic audit of a fish processing facility near Prince Rupert.

DFO said it was following up on reports of alleged illegal activity on the north coast that included fish bartered or sold in exchange for the cost of processing or other services, such as financial loans.

Conservation and protection officers urged the public to come forward with information.

DFO expected the audit to expose potentially illegal acts, but said it also needs to hear from anyone in the public who may have sent fish to the processing plant, which it does not identify in its statement.

Patrica Demille, the DFO’s detachment supervisor in Prince Rupert, said the names of those connected to the illegal bartering will b identified as the audit progresses through the forensic investigation, and is recommending those people come forward.

RCMP seize cocaine, pot in raid

Prince Rupert RCMP arrested a male and female for possession and purpose of trafficking cocaine and marijuana.

Police used a search warrant on Friday, May 10, to investigate a home across from the regional hospital, in the 1200-Block of Summit Ave.

Following the search, “police seized a significant amount of drugs suspected to be cocaine and marijuana. As well as a large amount of cash and two vehicles, which police believe were all related to a drug trafficking operation,” as stated in the press release.

READ MORE: RCMP seize significant amount of drugs in Prince Rupert residence

Senate committee rejects oil tanker moratorium bill

Critics condemned a Senate committee recommendation to reject Bill C-48, which would place a moratorium on oil tankers loading or offloading at ports along B.C.’s north coast.

On, May 15, five Conservative senators along with independent Alberta senator, Paula Simons, voted against the Bill C-48 by adopting recommendations that the Senate kill the act altogether. The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications is made up of 12 members, creating a 6-6 split vote thereby defeating the bill and producing a recommendation to not proceed with the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act (Bill C-48).

The Senate rejection, then Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said, called into question Canadian democratic processes. Cullen was concerned that more independent senators will allow big money to find its way further into the Canadian political system, undermining the mandates that citizens voted in favour.

READ MORE: Bill to ban oil tankers on B.C.’s coast defeated in Senate, but not dead yet

READ MORE: Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

JUNE

David Hill, 98, with a photo of himself as a young private during WWII where he helped with the defence of Prince Rupert and was later sent to the front lines in Italy. For the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy, Hill remembered his time served. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Port Edward threatens to cut off water to Watson Island

The District of Port Edward wrote a letter to the City of Prince Rupert notifying them that they have the authority to shut off the water supply to Watson Island if they do not meet their demands regarding the Mutual Aid Agreement.

“We gave them notice that we are able to do it but are not doing it at this point. But we have given notice and we are still waiting to hear back from them,” said Councillor Dan Franzen.

Pembina’s propane terminal is currently under construction on Watson Island, where there is a camp of 150 workers who could potentially be relying on that water supply.

Port Edward also supplies water to Ridley Island but it is unclear if the water supply for that island was also included in the letter. Neither the city nor the district will comment on why the district pumps water in both of those areas for Prince Rupert.

Without the aid agreement in place, the District of Port Edward will not receive help from Prince Rupert’s professional fire department in the event of an incident.

READ MORE: Port Edward may cut off water to Watson Island if Prince Rupert does not come to the table

Baaad By-law

Rupertites quickly fell in love with goats Hanny and Tanny at the Moby Dick Inn, but the relationship was not to last. Owner Teresa Lee had brought them from Hazelton to help tend to the inn’s lawn, but was unaware of a city bylaw that forbids livestock in the city.

At a city council meeting on June 10 councillors decided they will look into whether the law needs changing. But for now, the goats are gone. Lee said she plans to bring the goats back if the bylaw is amended at a later date.

READ MORE: Moby Dick Inn owner wants to keep goats to tame weeds

READ MORE: In Our Opinion: Baaad bylaw

READ MORE: Council Briefs, June 10: “Goat bylaw” in review

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