The Alaskan dock was scheduled for an upgrade but a dispute over where the materials to build it would come from put the renovations on hold.

Rupert starts year off in national spotlight

A 2015 news review of January, February and March in Prince Rupert

JANUARY

GUNSHOTS AND BEAR SPRAY

A New Year’s party ends in the early morning with a visit from the RCMP in response to an assault in a home on Hays Vale Drive.

One person had a non-life threatening gunshot wound and several people were suffering from the effects of bear spray. This was the first shooting case the RCMP dealt with in over seven years. The RCMP said that it was a targeted event and there was no threat to the public. The suspects still haven’t been charged.

AIRPORT WOES AND HOPES

Passengers were stranded at the Prince Rupert Airport for more than 10 hours due to equipment failure. The de-icer for the planes, owned by Air Canada’s contractor, malfunctioned and passengers had to wait  on Digby Island while the airline searched for a working replacement. A couple weeks later, the manager of the Prince Rupert Airport, Richard Reed, said the renovation project to improve the airport is on schedule to be completed by the end of the summer.

CROSS BORDER DISPUTE OVER ALASKAN DOCK

The State of Alaska temporarily postpones its plans for a $15 million dock upgrade for the Alaskan ferry terminal. An international disagreement ensued when Canadian politicians heard that Buy American legislation would have required the steel for the renovations to come from the U.S. despite the terminal being on the Government of Canada’s land. Minister of International Trade Ed Fast said he wouldn’t allow that to happen and the Canadian government signed an order under the Foreign Extraterritorial Measures Act to prevent the Buy America provisions.

EMPLOYMENT SURGE

An economic impact study by the Prince Rupert Port Authority demonstrated that employment related to the Port’s activity has grown 110 per cent over the last five years. There has been $1.2 billion in economic activity from port-related exports and imports. Since 2009, there was an increase in 1,600 jobs and more than 800 were created in the last three years. Annual wages have also increased by $4,000 since 2011.

GITXAALA SIGN PIPELINE DEAL

The Gixaala Nation of Kitkatla signed on to support the liquified natural gas pipleines in the Northwest. The deal was touted to be worth more than $4 million. Gixaala could benefit from both the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project and the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission pipeline. The agreement offers payment and for members to participate in skills training and environmental stewardship.

 

FEBRUARY

Mayor focuses his efforts on city hall

Prior to the opening ceremonies at the 56th Annual All Native Basketball Tournament, members of the three-time defending champion Skidegate Saints called for an end to oil and gas industry sponsorship. FILE PHOTO/NORTHERN VIEW

File photo/Northern View

Prior to the opening ceremonies at the 56th Annual All Native Basketball Tournament, members of the three-time defending champion Skidegate Saints called for an end to oil and gas industry sponsorship.

FULL-TIME JOB FOR THE MAYOR

Mayor Lee Brain resigned from his position at the Prince Rupert School District to focus on his work at city hall. The mayor said he was doing full-time work as mayor while also working at the school district.

The transition isn’t about getting more money, Brain said.

“We have so much going on in town that for us to hit the mark we could be hitting, I need to be available in a full-time capacity.”

Changing the mayor’s pay to reflect his new full-time position came up in a council meeting on Jan. 12 by Coun. Barry Cunningham. An increase for the mayor’s salary will be tabled when budget discussions begin later in the year.

CALL TO END INDUSTRY SUPPORT FOR ALL NATIVE TOURNAMENT

Companies associated with the oil and gas industry were asked to not sponsor the 2015 All Native Basketball Tournament.

In a letter, 14 members of the three-time defending Seniors Division champions, the Skidegate Saints, called to end oil and gas industry support for the event. They called it a “compromising” sponsorship including the support from Pacific NorthWest LNG and Aurora LNG.

The Saints claimed that the presence of industry sponsorship spoiled the enjoyment of the past few years. The players and coaches receive a per diem of $45,000 but this year some Saints members said they could do without.

ALASKA FERRY REDUCES TRIPS TO RUPERT

The Alaskan government proposed to cut the number of sailings to Prince Rupert in half and there would only be two trips per week in the summer months.

Reductions in the Alaska Marine Highway System service were an effort to cut costs. The state government faced a multi-million dollar budget deficit due to falling oil prices and estimated it could save $3 million a year.

OIL BAN BILL

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen put forward a private member’s bill in Parliament to keep oil tankers off the north coast.

The Act to Defend the Pacific Northwest would have amended the Canada Shipping Act to prohibit the transportation of oil in oil tankers in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.

If the bill passed it would also enforce the National Energy Board to give more weight to public feedback on proposed projects. In April, the bill was defeated 141 votes to 120.

 

MARCH

Investments, projects and upgrades

The expansion of the Fairview Terminal was announced after Maher Terminals committed to invest more than $200 million. File photo/Northern View

File photo/Northern View

The expansion of the Fairview Terminal was announced after Maher Terminals committed to invest more than $200 million.

HISTORICAL INVESTMENT FOR THE PORT

The Prince Rupert Port Authority and CEO Don Krusel announced plans for the largest investment in the Port’s history.

Maher Terminals made a commitment to invest more than $200 million into the Fairview expansion. The project will add four additional cranes, four more rail tracks and will reclaim about 3.7 hectares of land to create a 155-metre wharf at the northwest end of the terminal.

The project is expected to provide 600 new jobs over the construction period.

COW BAY PROJECT

A $3.8 million project was announced for Cow Bay Marina.

The upgrade would provide moorage for 51 vessels between 40 to 80 feet and a 12-foot-wide, 600-foot-long wooden breakwater will be built to protect the private marina and extend a public wharf into the harbour between Northland cruise ship dock and the Yacht Club.

FAIRVIEW TERMINAL PHASE TWO GROUNDBREAKING

The expansion of the Fairview Terminal officially began expansion to accommodate an extra 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs).

The construction is expected to be completed by mid-2017. Mayor Lee Brain said the completion of the terminal will bring much-needed employment growth and will add revenue to the municipality. The groundbreaking was held on March 19.

THE LNG GO PLAN

City Hall revealed details of its LNG Go Plan. Mayor Lee Brain presented how the city will meet the projected boom from the liquefied natural gas industry.

The first phase of the plan was to revise airport access. Also included in the plan was new ferries, ramps and ramp locations to be considered as well as helicopter pads or hangers, the Tsimshian Access Project and housing to prepare for LNG.

ILLEGAL TARGET RANGE SHUTTERED AND CLEANED

The Prince Rupert RCMP shut down an unofficial and unlawful firing range located only 250 metres from Highway 16.

Later in the month, a social media campaign called Positive Prince Rupert drew volunteers to help clean up the mess from the range.

The Good Samaritans cleaned up debris from target practice and shotgun shells.

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