Residents of Prince Rupert should quite quickly get a feel for the council that will represent the city for the next four years as the newly-elected officials are thrown into the deep end of municipal politics.
While some rookie politicians have the luxury of taking a backseat and listening and learning from their more experienced counterparts for weeks or months on end, that is not the case for Mayor Lee Brain or councillors Blair Mirau, Wade Niesh and Gurvinder Randhawa. Those four, accounting for the majority of Prince Rupert City Council, will enter chambers at a critical time in our development and facing a double barrel of development — the proposed WCC LNG terminal on Lot 444 and the work camp being proposed behind the trailer court.
Both have significant benefits and substantial concerns around them and both are hot topics within the community.
WCC LNG moving ahead would potentially bring millions of dollars in annual tax revenue and millions more in exclusivity payments, in addition to creating hundreds of jobs, but the terminal isn’t without opposition from those concerned about the impact to the Prince Rupert watershed, airshed and harbour.
In the work camp development, you have a project that would add to the tax roll while putting thousands more in the community to spend their money at local businesses, but you have concerns about the proximity to an existing residential area and impacts to traffic, recreation and safety.
With the future of such contentious projects being decided at the same time as Mayor Brain bangs the gavel for the first time, there will be an extremely sharp learning curve for the incoming council who were elected in a campaign that saw a wave of change driving the electorate.
Make no mistake about it, the politicians who have never served before are being thrown into the deep end — it is now up to them to sink or swim.