Tire marks lead to a bus stop in Port Edward that was destroyed on April 21.

Tax hike for Rupert in the spring

A 2015 news review of April, May and June in Prince Rupert

APRIL

TAX INCREASE

City Council was confronted with a $220,000 budget deficit and blamed a provincial tax cap for industry development on port land for the need to raise taxes.

Council noted that small businesses pay a higher tax rate than industry on port land. The city approved of a two per cent tax increase for residential and business owners.

EVICTION CASES ON THE RISE

The caseload of eviction-related hearings rise from three to 56 in one year. Figures from 2013-2014 by the Prince Rupert Unemployment Action Centre show the change.

There were 35 eviction notices for residents at the Prince Edward trailer court and another 21 hearings were for residents of apartments and houses in Prince Rupert.

DP WORLD LTD. PROPOSED TO PURCHASE TERMINAL

A company owned by the government of Dubai, DP World Ltd., announced that it intends to purchase the Fairview Terminal from Deutsche Bank for $580 million.

The company is one of the world’s top three container terminal operators. The Prince Rupert Port Authority considered this to be a positive move forward.

THE MAYOR TRAVELS TO OTTAWA

Mayor Lee Brain went to Parliament Hill to meet with leaders at all levels of government to convince them of the LNG Go Plan in Prince Rupert.

Brain and city manager, Robert Long, spent four days in Ottawa to garner support for the plan and express how the city will manage development related to the liquified natural gas industry.

“We went there because Prince Rupert is becoming Canada’s trade gateway,” Brain said.

ARSON AND VANDALISM

The RCMP investigated a boat and a house fire that happened one weekend. The incident was considered suspicious.

One witness reported seeing containers of gas set on fire and thrown at the house and boat.

Later in the month, acts of vandalism to boats, a bus stop, on former school grounds and to the Welcome to Port Edward sign cost the district $7,000 to $10,000 to repair.

 

MAY

Wheeling and dealing

Dance Unlimited performed “Walk like an Egyptian” on the Lester Centre stage for the BC Annual Dance Competition Gala.

File photo/Northern View

Dance Unlimited performed “Walk like an Egyptian” on the Lester Centre stage for the BC Annual Dance Competition Gala.

BILLION DOLLAR DEAL REJECTED

Lax Kw’alaams were offered 2,000 hectares of Crown land in the Prince Rupert and Port Edward area if it agrees to the development of the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal and Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project.

The benefits were worth $1.14 billion. But the Lax Kw’alaams opposed the billion dollar deal and won’t give support for the operation of Pacific NorthWest LNG’s Lelu Island terminal. The offer was rejected at band meetings in Lax Kw’alaams and Prince Rupert. Concerns were raised about the impact for future generations.

$5 MILLION BUDGET APPROVED

City council approved of the budget to put $5 million into city operations over the next four years to deal with speculative growth due to the many LNG proposals.

$1.3 million each year will be distributed among six priorities: major projects and data collection, public engagement and consultation, additional planning, communications and engineering staff, decommissioning and redeployment of Watson Island and for recruitment and retention plan for city staff.

PIPELINE FINDS SOME SUPPORT FROM LAX KW’ALAAMS MEMBERS

In a press release Lax Kw’alaams members offered support for the Eagle Spirit Energy oil pipeline project.

The pipeline would ship refined crude oil to Grassy Point. Earlier in the year a press release from the Coastal First Nations stated the pipeline proposal didn’t have support from First Nations communities on the B.C. coast.

FORMER CHURCH TO BECOME HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

The former Baptist Church on India Avenue was approved for rezoning to allow multi-unit executive housing development.

The church will be converted into 17 single occupancy suites based on plans from Greenwell Asset Management. The decision was debated by residents who felt that the units will be built for rich people and not the poor who need low income housing.

PROVINCE SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH PACIFIC NORTHWEST LNG

The British Columbia government signed a project development agreement with Pacific NorthWest LNG.

The agreement won’t take effect until it receives final approval from the Legislative Assembly and all its members.

“Once the agreement is tabled and debated, it will be available for public viewing and scrutiny and I am sure that there will be no stone left unturned,” Premier Christy Clark said.

 

JUNE

Billions for Lelu Island

Dr. David Suzuki spoke to a the crowd at the Lester Centre of the Arts  about climate change and its impact as part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Coastal Connections Tour.

File photo/Northern View

Dr. David Suzuki spoke to a the crowd at the Lester Centre of the Arts  about climate change and its impact as part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Coastal Connections Tour.

HOUSING SHORTAGES

Prince Rupert Aboriginal Community Services Society tried to manage the swollen caseload of people who are homeless and provide shelter for some in the Moby Dick Hotel.

One man reported that the Salvation Army’s emergency shelter program was always full. After the closure of Neptune Motor Inn many of the former tenants became homeless and sought services at the Fishermen’s Hall.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson blamed the provincial government and BC Housing for not providing sufficient subsidized housing in Prince Rupert. City council passed a motion to address the shortage of affordable housing.

SURGICAL SERVICES TO STAY IN RUPERT

The provincial government proposed changes to medical services in the North Coast. The Rural Health Services in B.C. policy paper planned to move some services from Prince Rupert Regional Hospital to Terrace.

But despite the provincial government’s proposal to start using a hub-and-spoke model in the Northwest region surgical and specialty services will stay at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, according to Northern Health’s chief operating officer for the Northwest Health Services Delivery Area.

PIPELINE DISAGREEMENT WITHIN LAX KW’ALAAMS

Although a letter from several members of Lax Kw’alaams was in support of the proposed Eagle Spirit pipeline the mayor, Gary Reece, made it clear that neither the Band Council or the Band have taken that position due to concerns for the Flora Bank and the Skeena fishery.

The support came from a small band and doesn’t reflect the community as a whole, Reece said in a letter.

Meanwhile, Lax Kw’alaams hereditary chiefs, elected council members and community members claim that Mayor Garry Reece was “completely out of touch” with the membership and that they support the Eagle Spirit Energy pipeline proposal. These statements emerged after Reece’s letter.

ANOTHER BILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT

Pacific NorthWest LNG announced a conditional final investment decision of $11 billion for the Lelu Island terminal on two conditions: one, the company will push for Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency approval; and two, it will continue engaging with the First Nations, local communities, stakeholders and regulators.

CITY WANTS RESIDENTS’ OPINIONS

The city launched its Go Plan Survey to get input from residents on housing, population and social cohesion. The questionnaire was a way for the city to make informed decisions when it comes to making plans for the expected boom with the major projects expected to come.

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