Monday, April 30, 2007

Apprehensive tourist industry awaits Northern Adventure refit

Gary Coons, the MLA for the North Coast and NDP ferry critic, doesn’t really need much help in finding difficulties with BC Ferries, but when the issues present themselves as front page stories of numerous troubles then his job gets significantly easier.

Coons has been quick to express concern over the upcoming revisited refit of the BC Ferry Northern Adventure, which will be out of service on the North coast from May 9-May 19.

With a lengthy list of constituent concerns about the ferry introduced to the north coast less than a month ago, the MLA is suggesting that BC Ferries wasn’t properly prepared to bring the ferry into service.

With last years tourist season left in such disarray due to the sinking of the Queen of the North, Coons is finding that a sense of apprehension is forming again along the coast about potential limits on service.

The Daily News provided front page exposure to the story of the Northern Adventure and the MLA’s concerns over the state of ferry services on the North coast.

A matter of weeks after arriving, the Northern Adventure is in need of a refit
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, April 30, 2007
Pages one and three

After less than a month on her North Coast runs, the M/V Northern Adventure is being pulled out of service for a refit.

In a press release sent out Friday, B. C. Ferries said the vessel will be pulled out of service from May 9 to 19 and refitted at B. C. Ferries' Deas Pacific Marine Facility in Richmond.

While the company tried to categorize the refit as one that simply addresses "some issues following the initial introduction to the fleet," North Coast MLA Gary Coons said the problems are quite serious.

"The release makes it sound like the ship needs a new coat of paint, but it's more serious than that." said Coons, who is the NDP's ferry critic.

"The ship has apparently experienced problems with its electrical systems, its alarm systems aren't working properly, the public address system has experienced failures, and fire equipment and life raft systems still need work.

"There's also no working elevator or escalator."

"These aren't benign "issues"," said Coons. "They're serious safety concerns."

There has also been the "issue" of the sewage system backing up, which is not just disgusting, but a legitimate health concern, Coons said.

The problems have been so prevalent that the new vessel has been nicknamed the Northern Mis-Adventure by some passengers.

The ship only managed three round-trips to the Queen Charlottes and one Port Hardy/Prince Rupert trip before teething problems emerged and the ferry was docked in Prince Rupert for 30 hours while technicians scrambled to fix problems.

Coons said the news that the Northern Adventure is heading back for a refit is a major embarrassment for B. C. Ferries, and shows they didn't properly plan for the transition period for the vessel.

Communities up and down the coast and on the North Island already went through one summer tourist season with just one vessel on the route. As the 2007 summer season approaches, tour operators are now apprehensive about limited service again, said Coons.

"This is a serious blunder that could have serious ramifications for coastal residents who depend on their marine highway system."

The Northern Adventure was bought for $51 million after the Queen of the North rammed into Gil Island and sank 13 months ago, killing two people.

In March, after a $9 million refit at Victoria shipyards, the Greek-built ship, which holds 600 passengers and 101 vehicles, was rechristened Northern Adventure.

The vessel, which was built in 2004, was greeted in April by northern tourism operators as the saviour of this year's tourist season.

Coons has been getting anonymous calls from staff about safety management, training, and the variances that were approved by Transport Canada to allow the vessel to sail.

The Queen of Prince Rupert just finished a five-week refit and the vessel is now fully ready to return to service as the summer season approaches.

During the refit, the North Coast will once again be served solely by the Queen of Prince Rupert.

"We need to ensure our vessels are safe and affordable and reliable," said Coons.

"And there are questions about the Queen of the North being rushed out of refit."

The Northern Adventure is expected to return to service May 20.

The perfect sponsor for an event

We may not know too much about the Raid the North Extreme competition set for our area, but one thing is certain, the organizers have a handle on the local weather conditions and a sponsorship angle to go with it.

Frontier Adventure Racing announced by way of press release today an exclusive arrangement with Helly Hansen to be the official apparel and footwear provider for the extreme competition planned for the north coast.

The Raid the North Extreme challenge is set to take place over six days from June 23-30, which normally is a more or less dry period for the North coast, but as long time residents know it's best to be prepared, hence the deal with Helly Hansen we guess.

The event is to be filmed in High Definition for Global TV which plans on a one hour special later in the year, the finished product will also be broadcast in the USA on PBS and on various international outlets as well.

Tsimshian leaders revisit old concerns over Dundas Collection

The Royal BC Museum held its grand opening of the "Dundas collection" this past weekend, a gala affair that included representatives of the Allied Tsimshian Tribes, the Lieutenant Governor and representatives of the Thomson family which purchased the collection from a New York auction house last year.

The Collection recently was on display at the Museum of Northern BC in Prince Rupert and while at the time the invitation list here seemed to be the most controversial issue, apparently behind the scenes, the collection provided for its share of controversy locally, at least according to the Globe and Mail, which quoted Willy White, director of the Museum of Northern British Columbia:

White said the exhibit's opening in Prince Rupert was one of the most controversial he had witnessed.

"I couldn't even go out to get groceries without people coming up to me wanting to talk about it, whether their feelings were positive, negative or neutral. That's what true art does and I think it speaks volumes about this exhibit. Every one of those pieces is a masterpiece."

Overall however, the actual tone of the ceremony here, didn't seem to match the same level of controversy that the Victoria opening has resulted in.

Friday night's gala for the "Treasures of the Tsmishian", featured opening remarks provided by members of the Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla, a commentary which has certainly proven to be thought provoking as word begins to filter out about the tone and content of their thoughts.

The Tsimshian chiefs who travelled to Victoria made it clear that they are still not happy about the state of the collection as a form of travelling road show. James Bryant spoke on behalf of the Allied Tribes and his words and those of the other Tsimshian representatives are the ones that seem to be resonating the loudest some three days later.

"These treasures were intended to be passed from generation to generation," Bryant said. "The way they were taken was one of the biggest mistakes that was ever made, and has been repaid.”

The Globe and Mail provided a full report on the Friday opening and the fall out that has followed.

Of particular interest is the debate that the comments have created through the newspapers on line forum, the on line Comments section is filling up with a fair amount of reaction, which in some cases might be helpful to the debate and in others probably not quite so.

Native leaders vent anger at opening
Saying art belongs to their people, chiefs snub new owners of famous artifacts at B.C. ceremony ALEXANDRA GILL
From Monday's Globe and Mail April 30, 2007 at 4:00 AM EDT

VICTORIA — Old grievances die hard.

That was the lesson to be learned at the Royal BC Museum this weekend, after a gala ceremony to celebrate the opening of Treasures of the Tsimshian from the Dundas Collection turned into a dour political snubbing.

"It belongs to us," James Bryant, a spokesman for the hereditary chiefs of the Allied Tsimshian Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla, defiantly declared as the collection's new owners shifted uncomfortably in the audience.

"We cannot touch them ... we're still locked out," said Wayne Ryan, chief of the Xy'uup tribe, one of several elders who complained about the artifacts being encased under glass.

The 40 artifacts on display are the most significant items from the famed Dundas Collection. Of mostly Tsimshian origin, it is considered by many to be the finest collection of northwest coast native art in existence.

The collection's history dates back to its acquisition in 1863, at Old Metlakatla, near present-day Prince Rupert, where it was given up - or stolen, depending on your point of view - as part of the natives' conversion to Christianity to Rev. Robert James Dundas by Anglican missionary William Duncan.

Simon Carey, a London-based clinical psychologist and great-grandson of Dundas, took possession of the items in 1960. After decades of dispute with the collection's native claimants and unsuccessful negotiations with some of the world's top cultural institutions, he put the items up for auction at Sotheby's in New York last fall.

The record-setting auction, the first sale of so-called American Indian art to fetch more than $7-million (U.S.), attracted intense interest from bidders around the world.

At the eleventh hour, after a special grant request made by the Royal BC Museum was rejected by the province of B.C. and it appeared that this important cache of Canadian cultural history was going to be scattered to the four winds, members of the Thomson family suddenly stepped up to the plate, spending more than $5-million to repatriate the collection. "It was so sad," says Sherry Brydson, a niece of the late Ken Thomson and resident of Victoria, who purchased 19 of the 40 artifacts.

Brydson, whose family is sponsoring the exhibit's national tour through its private investment firm Westerkirk Capital, says she had never purchased an item at auction before reading about the Dundas Collection's plight in a Globe and Mail article written by Sarah Milroy, published the day before the auction.

"I fussed and fumed and stewed for several hours," she explains, before she called up her cousin, Toronto's David Thomson, whose father, Lord Thomson, was a high-profile collector and donor of artworks until his death last year.

Together, she and Thomson spent $5.7-million on 23 objects that include a magnificent Tsimshian wooden face mask purchased for $1.8-million,and a clan hat, purchased for $660,000.

Rather than hoarding the pieces, they went to the other nine owners and initiated a national tour, which is being co-ordinated by the Royal BC Museum in Victoria and Donald Ellis, the Ontario-based native artifacts dealer who represented Brydson, Thomson and several other owners at the Sotheby's auction.

The exhibit's organizers have gone to great lengths to include and respect the wishes of the collection's original owners. The tour, which moves to the Art Gallery of Ontario in July, was launched on March 1 at the Museum of Northern BC in Prince Rupert, in traditional Tsimshian territory, at the request of the chiefs and elders of the Allied Tsimshian Tribes.

But at Friday's opening ceremony at the Royal BC Museum, which featured a ceremonial dance by the Gwis'amiihlgigohl Performers and a speech from Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo, the Tsimshian chiefs who travelled to Victoria made it clear that they are still not happy.

"These treasures were intended to be passed from generation to generation," Bryant said. "The way they were taken was one of the biggest mistakes that was ever made, and has been repaid."
The chiefs thanked the Songhees and Esquimalt Peoples of the Coast Salish First Nation for allowing them into their traditional territories. They thanked the Lieutenant-Governor for attending. They thanked the museum for making it all possible. And they thanked the "white people" who appreciate their "little baubles and stuff."

But not one of the seven chiefs who spoke made any reference to the new owners, a snub that could only be interpreted as deliberate.

"I found it unfortunate that a group of Tsimshian elders chose to use a day that should have celebrated the artistic achievements of Tsimshian artists and the actions of a group of Canadian philanthropists as a platform to air old grievances," Ellis quietly fumed after the ceremony. Willy White, director of the Museum of Northern British Columbia, shrugged off the slight, explaining that the feelings of resentment weren't necessarily reflective of his people.

"When we speak, we only speak the truth. The truth sometimes isn't nice to hear, but it's always going to be the truth."

White said the exhibit's opening in Prince Rupert was one of the most controversial he had witnessed.

"I couldn't even go out to get groceries without people coming up to me wanting to talk about it, whether their feelings were positive, negative or neutral. That's what true art does and I think it speaks volumes about this exhibit. Every one of those pieces is a masterpiece."

Among the many comments he heard, White says there was much praise for the new owners. "People said to me 'Thank God for them. If it weren't for them, we never would have seen it.' "

Tax Deadline countdown is on today!

For those that have procrastinated as long as possible, a reminder that the Revenue Canada tax deadline is midnight tonight.

You earn it, so they can spend it. And they’d like their share of your efforts by 12 tonight!

As you can see above, Rick Mercer once again has his finger on the pulse of the nation!

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, April 29

They say that Magna Auto parts may be in the market to buy a hunk of Chrysler this week.

Imagine Snoop dog with Belinda!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fairview Port gets noticed south of the 49th

The Port of Seattle and its shipping industry there is used to competition from the Port of Vancouver for a share of the lucrative cross Pacific container line traffic, the two cities have been engaged in a lively rivalry for years over which location offers the best value for shippers to land their goods on North American shores.

But now Seattle is looking further north as the Fairview Container Port gets closer to completion and yet another competitor joins the quest for global shipping routes.

The Seattle Times Editorial page offers up some interesting food for thought on the issue of global trade and the numerous North American beach heads in the process. It also takes a look at the Port of Prince Rupert and the impact that the Rupert Port may have on shipping through the Seattle Terminals.

Any port in a storm
James Vesely / Times editorial page editor
Seattle Times
Sunday, April 29, 2007

Just offshore of the messy and internecine Port of Seattle squabbles is the world around us, a churning place where ports and maritime industries compete with the ruthless ardor of combatants.

Let's drift our eyes north, about halfway between here and Anchorage, to Prince Rupert, B.C., where the Canadian and provincial governments are working to create a significant cargo terminal in the wilderness. Prince Rupert, now a town of about 18,000 people, mostly working in the timber industry, is the site of Western Canada's ambitious initiative. CBC News reported the following:

• Canada's federal government, plus the province, are putting up $30 million of a total of $120 million in expansion of a cargo terminal at Prince Rupert, expected to be operational by 2009.
• New Jersey-based Maher Terminals, the port operator, will add $60 million to the project. That company was just sold to a German firm.
• The B.C. hamlet is the closest land-sea terminal to Asia, and Canada is promising a "seamless" shipment of goods to rail from the new port. That would come with a large truck-transfer point 500 rail miles east of Port Rupert.

Had enough? B.C. highway, rail and border systems already have $3 billion committed to improvements. Combined with the ongoing commitment of its federal government, Prince Rupert will be yet another competitor to Pacific ports — from B.C. to Baja.

To a packed audience before City Club Thursday, new Seattle Port CEO Tay Yoshitani said the new Port Rupert terminal "will definitely have an impact on us" — less so with a potential new port at Lazaro Cadenas, Mexico, which would probably not compete with shipment through northern ports to Chicago and the Midwest.

Wishful thinking, I say. That big empty parking lot near Piers 90 and 91 that used to be covered with imported cars now sits empty. Port Commissioner John Creighton hinted a tenant is negotiating with the Port and the city for one of the best sites along the coast for light industry
The Port's wooing of the cruise industry now puts about 830,000 people through Seattle every cruise season. That's great, although in Alaska and other locations the reputation of the Port of Seattle is that it engages in a significant giveaway (also known as accommodation) to the shipping lines. That's amid a strong revenue base across King County. The Port's levy for 2007 is $68.8 million in property taxes, a rate of 23.25 cents per $1,000 valuation.

All this suggests that while Port salaries and Port machinations are titillating, they are largely symbolic — and trivial — to the larger questions about who will direct Port policy and in what direction with both the property tax and the competition from abroad.

Yoshitani on Thursday said he could not think of "a business model that might work for both Tacoma and the Port of Seattle" — although you would have to start with the easy equation that Seattle has the brand name and Tacoma has the land.

While we debate the local and the obvious, the world is moving on significant new routes across the Pacific and would just love to eat our bacon.

Highway of tears investigator suggests that a break in one of the cases may be at hand

The private investigator who has been looking into the Highway of Tears disappearances has claimed that he may be on the verge of a major break in his investigation.

Ray Michalko, the Vancouver-based private investigator says he has uncovered some information in the case of Nicole Hoar and plans on searching an area of bush west and south of Prince George in mid May.

He's in the process of looking for volunteers in the Prince George area to help him search the mostly two-square-kilometre area along Norman Lake Road, west of Prince George.

He provided details of his plans to the Sun media chain on Sunday.

Private eye makes break
Volunteers needed to search for Nicole Hoar's remains
Sunday, April 29, 2007

It could prove to be a massive break in the mysterious disappearance of a Red Deer woman on B.C.’s infamous Highway of Tears.

Ray Michalko, a Vancouver-based private investigator probing the baffling missing-persons case of Nicole Hoar, is turning his attention to an area of mostly bush just south of Highway 16 and west of Prince George.

“I’ve got three independent sources of information that are pointing to that direction,” Michalko, 59, told Sun Media Sunday.

Among the clues he will be looking for, Michalko hopes to find “clothing and human remains.”
The former Manitoba and North Vancouver RCMP officer said he will be focusing on a roughly two-square-kilometre area along Norman Lake Road, about 43 km west of Prince George.
But he can’t do it all himself.

Michalko is asking for volunteers interested in helping him search the out-of-the-way location.
“It’s far too big for me to consider doing it myself,” he said, adding he has already secured about half a dozen volunteers since scouting the area two weeks ago.

Michalko has also contacted the RCMP and Prince George Search and Rescue, but he isn’t expecting any help from those agencies.

While there are some residents living in cottages in the general area he plans to search, Michalko said there is next to no pedestrian traffic.

The search is slated to start at 9 a.m. local time on May 12.

Michalko is asking volunteers to meet him at the junction of Highway 16 and Norman Lake Road.

“Each volunteer should come equipped with drinking water, lunch, an object that can be used to prod the ground and greenery – such as a ski pole – and rain gear if necessary, as there is no shelter or other facilities available and the search will occur rain or shine,” he said.

Hoar’s parents couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday on the surprise development.

“This is a tough thing for the family involved,” Michalko said, admitting the search could come up empty.

“It’s a needle in a haystack. But just because of the information I’ve got, I’m compelled to look.”
Hoar was 25 years old when she vanished June 21, 2002, while hitchhiking on Highway 16 from Prince George to Smithers to visit her sister. She had been working in B.C. as a tree planter.

The highway, now known as the Highway of Tears, has been a Bermuda Triangle for hitchhikers.

Nine women have been murdered or have disappeared since 1990 from communities that dot the largely remote corridor that stretches almost 750 km from Prince George to Prince Rupert.

Hoar is the only non-native woman of the nine.

Northern BC real estate to see values increase and volumes drop

Supply and demand will rule the real estate market of Northern BC for the next few years, that according to a report released by the BC Real Estate Association last week.

The Association crunched its numbers and determined that the value of real estate in the North of the province will go up in value significantly over the next few years, but there will be fewer transactions.

The importance of the container port in Prince Rupert and the spin offs from it in Prince George are being credited with the turn around in the north especially in the corridor between the two cities.

Another positive trend is the sudden interest in recreational properties from Prince George west and north, an interest that is said to stem from the prospect of oil and gas exploration in inland areas of the province surrounding Prince George. The vast majority of those making the freshwater land purchases seem to be from Alberta, which has spurred the rumour mill to suggest that the long anticipated exploration around inland areas in the Central Interior is set to begin.

The Prince George Citizen provided a full report on the findings of the Real Estate Association on its website Friday.

Home sales drop forecast
Citizen staff
(News) Friday, 27 April 2007, 06:00 PST

Home sales in northern B.C. are predicted to drop a little over the next few years but prices are projected to rise significantly, says a report from the B.C. Real Estate Association.

According to the document, northern B.C. had 5,605 unit sales in 2006 and that number is projected to drop to 5,400 in 2007 and drop again to 5,290 in 2008.

However, the average price for a northern B.C. home was $165,380 in 2006 and that is projected to climb to $189,000 in 2007 and up further to $197,000 in 2008.

Marnie Scott, acting co-director of the Northern Real Estate Association, said simple supply and demand is fueling the housing statistics.

"We are having such a good economy in our region. We have a huge number of people who have come and bought which makes fewer homes to sell, and that pushes the price up," Scott said.
"I would hazard a guess that the numbers could even be better than that between Prince George and Prince Rupert because of the port that's opening there this fall and the inland port project for here."

This is in spite of new home starts which have been factored into the projections, according to the BCREA report. It figured that "a total of $26 billion worth of major projects are either under construction or proposed in the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board area."

The report also factored in the decline in population for the northern region that was revealed in last year's census.

Although the numbers are strong for the combined north (the NREA roughly covers from 100 Mile to the Yukon, from the Rockies to the Pacific minus Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and Dawson Creek), Scott said the expectations are particularly bright for Prince George.

"We feel we will have huge numbers of people moving here for jobs," she said. "We have unprecedented demand for skilled workers in B.C., and here for sure, so we expect to see a large increase in those people coming here."

She also said one emerging resource sector is already playing a major role in the housing stats in the North, including the entire Highway 16 corridor.

"It seems Alberta is buying up all our lake properties and recreation properties in the region, and we are hearing hints that it is because of the oil and gas exploration that is going to be going on around here," Scott said. "The people who know that industry are making these investments, and they seem to be in large part from Alberta."

One downside Scott said needs to be addressed is the need for affordable housing.
"Even though these are not products realtors sell, we need, really need, multi-family-unit developments," she said, and called on all levels of government to get moving on that in the Prince George area.

"We are lobbying government about that, they know the situation very well, they assure us they are looking into it and in fact the provincial government did take the step already of lifting the property transfer tax threshold from $200,000 up to $300,000 for first-time home buyers, but we believe that should be the case for all homebuyers and we believe that is only a start on what needs to urgently be done," Scott said.

Pictures of Podunk: The Mainline

These days the CN main line between Prince Rupert and Prince George isn't a particularly busy railroad, however in six months once the container port is in operation, that's going to change quite a bit!

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, April 28

Looking back at some Big names for the Big Mac.

Nothing but net!

Rhodos restaurant targeted by Arsonists

One of Prince Rupert's favourite eateries was the target of an arson this past week. Prince Rupert Fire Rescue responded to a call to Rodhos restaurant on 2nd Avenue last Monday, as the establishment was the victim of a suspected deliberately set blaze.

While the Fire Department did its work in putting out the fire, the RCMP began its investigation into what caused the blaze. As the night progressed it was discovered that local bar patrons had cornered to Two youngsters aged 14 and 12. Further investigation including the use of video surveillance resulted in the two being arrested on charges of arson, with the fourteen year old also picking up a charge of resisting arrest.

No injuries were reported due to the blaze as the restaurant was closed this week. So far there's no dollar value available yet as far as damage goes, as the owners of the restaurant were out of town at the time of the blaze.

The Daily News provided further details on the fire in Friday's paper.

Arson suspected in blaze
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Friday, April 27, 2007

It is not often that the investigation of a fire is solved in one night, but that may be the case after a suspected arson at Rodho’s restaurant on Monday night.

At 9:30 p.m., RCMP received a call that Rodho’s was on fire, and along with the Prince Rupert fire department, quickly attended the scene.

“A passerby noticed the fire and called the fire department, who then were able to put out the fire,” said Const. Steve Richards, media relations for the Prince Rupert RCMP.

Investigators believe the fire may have been deliberately set and they have two prime suspects in the suspected arson — a 14-year-old male and a 12-year-old male — who were allegedly found at the scene by passers by and held there for police officers.

The fire started as the Vancouver Canucks-Dallas Stars Game 7 had ended — meaning bar patrons next door at the Rupert Pub were in the process of heading outside — the fire was quickly reported, and contained to Rodho’s, and did not spread to the adjacent buildings or businesses.

“Maybe we’re lucky it wasn’t set later,” said Richards.

The two suspects were on scene watching the fire, said Richards.

“When we arrived, they were observed watching,” said Richards, who added that it is common for arsonists to want to watch the fire they’ve lit burn. “And after getting statements from various people, we were able to arrest them.”

He said the investigation was also helped by video surveillance.

Both suspects are being charged with arson (causing damage to property), and the 14-year-old is also being charged with resisting arrest.

RCMP is reporting extensive damage was sustained by Rodho’s, but no estimate of the cost of repairs was available at press time.

The business happened to be closed this past week.

The restaurant’s owners were on their holidays.

Podunkian Music Club

The White Stripes- Seven Nation Army

They’re one of the hot bands of the day and they apparently love touring Canada.

And when we say tour Canada, we mean tour Canada! The Globe and Mail is reporting that the White Stripes are about to launch what is perhaps the most interesting tour of the Great White North that has ever been planned by a major recording act. From the Globe come details of the coast to coast to coast itinerary.

White Stripes' Canadian tour to include Iqaluit
From Friday's Globe and Mail
April 27, 2007 at 4:40 AM EDT

Toronto — Indie blues-rockers the White Stripes have got a hankering for Canada. The group, originally from Detroit, will be performing in all 10 provinces, as well as Nunavut, the Yukon and Northwest Territories this summer. Starting in Burnaby, B.C., on June 24, the band will hit Yellowknife, Iqaluit and Thunder Bay, among its many Canadian stops, before finishing in St. John's on July 16.

It's an unusual itinerary for such a major act. But as guitarist Jack White said on the band's website, "Having never done a full tour of Canada, [we] thought it was high time to go whole hog. We want to take this tour to the far reaches of the Canadian landscape. From the ocean to the permafrost."

The group will be celebrating its 10th anniversary with its July 10 gig in Glace Bay, N.S.

So in honour of the groups affection for life above the 49th (and the 60th too) we feature the White Stripes as our Music Club selection of the week.

The Detroit based band which brings to life the musical creations of leader Jack White has broken a bit of a rut of the music industry the last few years. Featuring a vital and energetic sound, the Stripes provide hard driving and fresh rock and roll. It’s quite different from the run of the mill classic and alternative rock that we had become used to, a sign that the rock universe has not been conquered by Hip Hop, Rap and all other contenders.

Born out of the garage rock genre of the late nineties, the duo first appeared in 1997 and quickly became one the hot new acts to watch. A rather complicated relationship between Jack and Meg gained quite a bit of mileage for the group, originally thought to be brother and sister, the story later changed to the two being ex-wife and ex-husband. An interpersonal relationship that makes for the duo to be the most angst ridden group since Fleetwood Mac’s public romances and splits became common knowledge and ruled the gossip sheets.

Regardless of the internal chemistry of the two, the duo has flourished for five recordings now, part of a strange but still developing story in rock.

And now they take their show on the road and caribou trails of Canada starting in June. A hot band heading for a cool country, both figuratively and climatically.

To warm up the crowds in the colder climates, our selection tonight Seven Nation Army should get you tapping your toes and working the air guitar as hard as you can.

Artist- The White Stripes

That's just not cricket!

I'll be the first to admit that i just don't understand the sport. Cricket to me is as alien as it gets, I have no idea what the players do, nor the way the game is scored or what the rules are.

And it would appear that I'm not alone, unfortunately for those playing in the World Cricket Championships in Barbados even the officials seem to have a handle getting a grip on the game.

As this story from the International Herald Tribune shows, chaos and crisis are the words of the day as the championship match deteriorated into high farce today.

A day which provided a collection of misadventures that will give us cause to ever question and NHL or CFL referee ever again.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Prince George making moves to capitalize on Fairview port

Earlier this week we mentioned plans afoot in Prince George to make use of land surrounding the airport in that city, with a desire to set up Light Industrial development and take advantage of the soon to be operating (well once the dust settles on local north coast issues we guess) Fairview container port.

The Prince George Citizen posted a story to its website today that shows that those plans are certainly moving ahead. A massive light industrial development consisting of 900 hectares is in the planning stages, with hopes to be developed in time as those first containers load onto a CN train for desitinations east.

It will no doubt provide a spark to the Prince George economy, providing jobs and tax revenues for that city.

Considering the recent concern over the few tax generating industries in Prince Rupert, perhaps we could take a page out of the Prince George planning book. That city’s government and local business community are certainly finding ways to make the best out of the port located some eight hours away!

Surely our local government and business interests can soon find ways to capitalize on the port that is certainly much closer in geography. We keep hearing the talk that the jobs are coming, but more than a few of them seem to be getting directed eight hours inland.

Credit Prince George with the foresight, vision and ability to get the job done, it seems that they are quite a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to making the best of the potential of the Fairview port.

Airport project planned
Citizen staff
(News) Saturday, 28 April 2007, 06:00 PST

A massive light industrial development is in the works for land west of the Prince George Airport.

Henry Rempel, a businessman based in New Westminster who owns apartment buildings and townhouses in Prince George, is heading an effort to assemble 900 hectares in the area and has hired L&M Engineering of Prince George to guide the venture over the bureaucratic hurdles.
The idea is to provide locations for the business spinoffs expected to emerge once the Prince Rupert container terminal, the airport runway extension and the CN Rail transload operation and intermodal rail terminal are completed.

The venture will provide a major boost to the city's economy if it goes ahead, said Prince George Chamber of Commerce president Garth Frizzell, particularly combined with the three other projects.

"People have to see (Prince George) as a credible centre of transportation if they're going to start locating businesses here and this will add another piece to the puzzle," he said. "A pretty central piece, too."

Initiatives Prince George president Gerry Offet said it will provide a 10-to-20 year supply of "very-high-quality" light-industrial land.

"This is planning for the future and I think it's good to see a private source is going through the expense of getting the land ready for development (as opposed to the city)," Offet said.

The venture will also have a significant impact on the city's transportation network. Plans drafted by L&M Engineering call for extending Boundary Road in the Danson industrial area across the Fraser River so Highway 97 South is connected with Highway 16 West and trucks carrying dangerous goods can bypass the city.

Heather Oland, a planner at L&M, said the first phase of development will likely occur northwest of the airport, near where the airport has plans for additional hangars, and consist of aviation and logistics-related businesses.

However, some major steps need to be completed first, beginning with winning approval from the Agricultural Land Commission for an application to exclude about 550 hectares of Crown land currently designated agricultural.

Advertising and notification of neighbouring landowners began today and the application will be submitted to city hall by as early as May 7 -- all the land is within city boundaries. City council will then have 90 days to makes its views known to the ALC's three-member north panel, which will make a final decision.

Getting the land out of the ALR should not be an issue, Oland said, because it's of marginal agricultural value and there has been a net gain of agricultural land in B.C. over the years, particularly in the North.

Agriculture and Lands Minister and Prince George North MLA Pat Bell said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the specific application because the ALC is a quasi-judicial body at arm's-length from the government. However, he said the ALC has had a history of allowing exclusions for marginal land.

It was about this time last year that city council turned down a request to make a "community-based" application to the ALC in part because a study commissioned by Initiatives Prince George on regional container market opportunities had not yet been completed and CN Rail's plans for the First Avenue yard were not clear.

That study has since been completed and CN Rail announced last month it will spend $20 million on an intermodal yard at the First Avenue yard, centred on an 84,000-square-foot warehouse with 10 acres of outside storage.

The aim is to have it ready by this fall to coincide with completion of the first phase of the container terminal at the Port of Prince Rupert.

Work on the airport runway extension, which would make it long enough to handle large cargo jets, was supposed to have started this month but will be delayed by as much as a year because federal bureaucrats decided a consultant should review the project's feasibility.

The 900 hectares will increase the amount of industrial land within city limits by about 50 per cent, but it's light industrial land, Oland stressed.

"It's clean type of industry, so it's not something that would be impacting the airshed," she said.
Rempel declined to comment, saying he preferred to let L&M do the talking for him.

Former Rupert journalist up for BC Book award

Long time residents of Rupert will remember the days of Iain Lawrence at the Daily News, Lawrence was the Jimmy Buffet look a like who had a wonderful way with words and eventually would leave the north coast and live a very Jimmy Buffet like life.

Lawrence was a news reporter and then editor at the Daily News in the mid 1980’s a rather successful era for the local paper, which frequently had its staff breaking local stories and providing some of the best in depth reporting the city had seen.
While he was no terror on the local softball fields playing for the Daily News team in the Prince Rupert Slow pitch league, he was certainly a hard working and dedicated reporter who got the story right and usually got it first.

When he left the city in the nineties he was just beginning to enter the world of writing novels and magazine pieces, a tentative step into a rather cut throat business where brutal disappointment can come with the morning mail.

Since those early days he’s become a rather prolific author, especially successful in the adult fiction genre, his bibliography consists of 14 novels published by Random House of New York. From the early days of The Wreckers, through to non fiction books about his sailing experiences, Lawrence has found a passion for writing that has found a receptive eye from the book buying public.

Random House sales figures show that Lawrence has sold over 1 million copies of his various efforts, an impressive figure that probably won’t resonate much with the rather shy author. A fellow who just writes for the joy of writing, though we suspect that going to the mail box is a lot more enjoyable now than in the early days.

He continues to write each day and has Books 15 and 16 on the way shortly, one called the The Castaways and the other called Seance; which is a look at the world of Mediums in the era of Houdini.

It’s great to see that his life long dream of writing has become such a success, Lawrence is up for one of seven awards today at the BC Books gala, a celebration of literature in British Columbia. He has been nominated for his work Gemini Summer, released last fall. His nomination is a well deserved accolade and an honour that places him among some of the elite in BC and Canada's writing community.

He still has many friends along the North Coast from his days at the Daily News and his tireless days of research spent at the Prince Rupert Library. A frequent fixture around town those days, having made the daily commute from Dodge Cove to the city to work on whatever his latest project of the day was.

It might be time for the Library to host an Iain Lawrence festival, bringing him back up to the north coast from his southern islands home, it might give him an excuse to get the sail boat out again.

Random House features a web page devoted to his biography and his works, which is a great place to discover what he's been up to since he left the north coast.

The Vancouver Sun has a terrific biography of Lawrence and his work on its website today. From it, we Podunkicize his life and times below.

Adventures in writing
AWARDS I BC Book Prize nominee Iain Lawrence loves his genre, and so do young readers
Shelley Fralic
Vancouver Sun
Saturday, April 28, 2007

With his history as a sailor, a fish farmer, a logger, a reporter and a forest-fire fighter, it's not much of a stretch to discover that this, from the young-adult novel The Wreckers -- "There was once a village bred by evil. On the barren coast of Cornwall, England, lived a community who prayed for shipwrecks" -- was written by Iain Lawrence.

Or this, from Gemini Summer: "In the quiet of Hog's Hollow, each member of the River family pursues a dream."

For if there is a common thread in Lawrence's books for young readers -- he's just polishing up his 12th for New York publisher Random House -- it's adventure. His stories are peppered with tales of prisons and pirates and shipwrecks and heroes and villains -- the kind of swashbuckling action kids dreamed about before PlayStation hijacked their imaginations.

It comes, he says, from a life-long affection for books like Treasure Island, which his father read to him and his brother.

Lawrence -- a finalist for one of the seven BC Book Prizes, to be awarded today -- was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 52 years ago. He lived a peripatetic Canadian childhood: 11 houses and nine schools, all told.

That may be why he craves privacy and why you'll find him settled in solitude in a little waterfront house on Gabriola Island, where he has lived since 2000 with his partner, Kristin Miller.

Getting him on the phone takes some doing, since he's not much for chatting about himself. This shyness will keep him from making the trek to Victoria to attend tonight's BC Book Prizes gala, where Gemini Summer is a finalist (for the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize), along with three dozen other books in varied genres.

This much Lawrence will talk about: He always knew he wanted to write.

He began turning out short stories after high school, but publishers weren't that interested, so he took odd jobs to pay the bills -- stream-clearing in the Rockies, forest-fire fighting on Vancouver Island and even daffodil- picking -- until one day he found himself enrolled in journalism at Langara College in Vancouver.

After graduation, he headed north, reporting for papers in Houston and Burns Lake before settling in Prince Rupert, at the Prince Rupert Daily News.

It was there that he found his real home. The newspaper, the ocean, the small-town life -- it was his West Coast paradise.

Before long, he bought a sailboat, met his girl, and once again felt the urge to write fiction. He wrote several children's novels, including one about a shipwrecked boy. But instead he ended up selling two non-fiction books about his sailing adventures.

It was a Chicago agent who encouraged Lawrence to concentrate on writing for young readers, so he dusted off the book that would become The Wreckers and reworked it. Random House came knocking.

That was in 1998, 14 books ago. The Wreckers was soon followed by The Smugglers and The Buccaneers, completing his High Seas Trilogy.

His forthcoming novel, The Castaways, is set for release this fall. And he's putting the finishing touches on Seance, a novel about mediums during Houdini's time, to be released next summer.
Most days, Lawrence turns on classical music and heads for his computer right after breakfast, taking only a mid-afternoon break to walk the dog.

He still has a sailboat -- his third, the 32-foot cutter Connection, built by Miller's brother -- but doesn't take it out as often as he'd like.

And, having survived years of rejection, he displays a startling lack of confidence in himself as a writer. Although he's successful at it, by all accounts, he doesn't know how many books he has sold. "I get royalty cheques, but I don't look at [the numbers] because I don't want to be disappointed. But I think it's more than a quarter-million copies of The Wreckers."

In fact, reports Random House, Lawrence has sold more than one million books in North America.

But he prefers to measure success another way.

"I think I have the best job. I love going to work."

4.3 temblor rattles along Charlottes

It's not the "Big one", but just another reminder that this part of the world sits on a couple of active fault lines, which occasionally shift and slip.

The Queen Charlottes were rattled by a "mild" 4.3 earthquake on Saturday afternoon, striking 10 miles below the surface to the west of Masset, at around 12:29 in the afternoon.

No damage or injuries has been reported and so far there have not been any more noticeable bursts of seismic activity in the area.

There are two sources to get earthquake information for our area, the Earthquakes Canada site and the USGS website which features a listing of all the seismic activity around the world in a very easy to follow list.

No tsunami warnings were issued for the incident which wasn't strong enough to warrant attention from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, April 27

When it's race day, nothing should get in the way.

It's all in the yum!

A halt to phase two expansion plans and no operations for phase one until consultations are completed!

The Daily News added some background information to the story we first discovered here two days ago, that of the possibility of “strong action” by two local First Nations bands, in response to what appears from their viewpoint to be the unsatisfactory state of consultations over the Fairview Container Port project.

The Daily News reviewed a joint press release from Chief Councillors Harold Leighton and Gary Reece that stated; “The Federal Crown has still not met its duty of consultation and accommodation in respect of the existing Fairview Terminal expansion. The consultation process on the Phase 2 expansion cannot proceed until the Phase 1 issues have been dealt with.”

And with that issue still unresolved, the threat of both local and national action is now added into the mix. The two First Nations representatives pledged to take strong action to protect their rights if necessary, including direct protest at home, and seeking allies outside of Prince Rupert.

The latest developments, including the response from the Port of Prince Rupert to the issue were provided as the front page story in Friday’s Daily News.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, April 27, 2007
Pages one and three

The Chief Councillors of the Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla bands are calling on the federal government to halt plans for the Phase 2 expansion of the Fairview Terminal and say they have no plans to allow Phase 1 to start operations unless consultations are completed.

However the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) says both it and the federal government have completed consultations on Phase 1 and have made offers to begin consulting on Phase 2.
“The Federal Crown has still not met its duty of consultation and accommodation in respect of the existing Fairview Terminal expansion. The consultation process on the Phase 2 expansion cannot proceed until the Phase 1 issues have been dealt with,” said Chief Coun. Harold Leighton and Gary Reece in a joint press release.

“Both the Federal Government and the PRPA have been trying to push forward and ignore our outstanding issues. The approach of the PRPA and the Federal Crown seems designed to take us down a continuing path of confrontation. We will not cease our opposition.”

Phase One is expected to open in October of this year.

“The PRPA seems determined to proceed with construction on Phase 1 without having dealt with our concerns. They do so at their own risk. We have no intention of continuing to be ignored, and we will do what is necessary to protect our interests. We will not allow Phase 1 to commence operations unless our concerns have been addressed,” said Leighton.

The two Coast Tsimshian Bands advised that they have met to develop a strategy to commence a more active approach to protecting their rights, and will be making a series of announcements over the coming weeks. The bands have also decided to seek the support of other First Nations.
“If necessary, we will take strong action to protect our rights,” said Reece, “including direct protest at home, and seeking allies outside of Prince Rupert.”

The Coast Tsimshian are in the process of taking their case on Phase 1 through the Federal Court of Canada.

They maintain that they have not been consulted adequately .

Despite this, the PRPA noted that it, in conjunction with Transport Canada, has initiated consultations with Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams (the Coast Tsimshian), Kitselas and Kitkatla First Nations bands for Phase 2 of Prince Rupert’s Fairview Container Terminal project.

“We are excited to be progressing on the planning and engineering for the proposed expansion of the Fairview Container Terminal and are committed to conducting ongoing meaningful consultations with the Coast Tsimshian on Phase 2,” said Don Krusel, Prince Rupert Port Authority president and CEO.

“We are making every effort possible to engage the First Nations bands by soliciting their comments on project plans, mitigate where possible any potential adverse impacts on current uses for traditional purposes of the lands, or provide compensation where these traditional activities may be lost. As part of this dialogue, we hope to explore how their communities, as well as other communities in the area, can benefit from the construction and operations of the container terminal.”

Letters inviting First Nations input into the project and participation in the consultation process for the Phase 2 expansion of Fairview Terminal were delivered last week.

And the federal government did make an offer of accommodation on Phase 1 of the Fairview Container Terminal on Feb. 28, 2006.

The $7.65 million offer of accommodation featured employment opportunities, human resource development initiatives, and support for First Nations business ventures associated with the port development. Around two-thirds of the offer was specific to the Coast Tsimshian, with the remainder aimed at other Tsimshian bands that also have land claims.

The Coast Tsimshian were advised by the Government of Canada in a letter dated May 22, 2006, that the Phase 1 consultation process was complete. However, says Krusel, PRPA and project contractors continue to live up to the spirit of the Offer of Accommodation by hiring local qualified First Nations people and subcontracting to First Nations-owned businesses whenever possible.

“We are disappointed that the Coast Tsimshian have chosen to take court action or threaten direct protest rather than respond to the Offer of Accommodation presented upon the completion of the consultation process,” said Krusel.

“We are confident the Crown will demonstrate to the court that meaningful consultation did occur, that the consultation was appropriate, and that indeed a generous Offer of Accommodation was made as a result of that consultation. We must stress that this issue is currently before the Courts and has been not been ruled on, contrary to statements made by the Coast Tsimshian. In the meantime, we welcome the opportunity to engage the local Coast Tsimshian bands in meaningful consultations to ensure they and their communities achieve significant and long-term economic and social benefits from the construction and operation of Phase 2.”

The dispute continues to make its way into the international media and was carried across Canada and the U.S. this week on Reuters news services.

When the sheep begin to grumble

Perhaps the sound of the bleating off in the distance has taken the Mayor and the City Hall Six by surprise. The latest announcement of yet another tax rate increase has not been received with a welcoming reception of the herd.

Instead, there is some less than quiet grumbling is being heard around the city and it’s starting to get a little bit louder, providing a bit of a backlash of residents wanting justification for the city continually heading to the taxation well.

The Daily News presented some talking points from the normally quiet populace over the almost 4% increase in taxes announced at this week’s city council meeting. Concerns such as past mistakes on key issues around town, a lack of inventiveness in finding new revenue streams and the always possible movement of residents out to Port Ed and its less onerous tax load, were all presented in the article.

The article could serve to be a warning to the mayor and his council that perhaps their subjects, er, citizens, have reached the limit of the taxation, even if it comes with representation.

The key now will be to see if that representation, takes the residents invocations into consideration.

After all there's nothing more dangerous to a politician than a herd of angry sheep!

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, April 27, 2007
Page one

After three consecutive years of tax increases, members of the public want council to justify another increase.

At a public hearing Monday night, several people relayed their concerns that homeowners have had enough and that council is not focusing enough on finding other sources of revenue.

“The big question is what’s to stop me from moving to Port Ed, paying a lot less taxes, using the city bus to come to Prince Rupert and use the Prince Rupert facilities tax free,” said Bob Wybou, a Prince Rupert resident who has to travel out of town for work.

“It’s getting harder and harder for me to justify living here when in my line of work I can live anywhere.”

“My other co-workers live in other parts of province, have houses worth three times my house and pay a third of the tax.”

This year, the city says it needs an additional 3.2 per cent in revenue, or $360,000, from taxpayers.

Jim Bruce, financial services manager, said it is very hard to compare tax rates between cities. “One of the things you have to look at are what services do you have and what are the value of the homes?” said Bruce.

He noted that in 1996, the average home in Prince Rupert was assessed at $120,000 and taxes were $900, This year, the average home is assessed at $138,000 and taxes are $1,235 (water, sewer and garbage fees are separate.)

“If you look at the past 11 years, your taxes have gone up by $335 overall. If you take a look at the cost of inflationary goods and services, you probably are getting a pretty good deal for your money,” he said.

Barry Cunningham, resident, said at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how the city cuts the figure, residents are paying more.

“You still have the same number of empty businesses on Third Street and a fair number of empty houses and a port development that won’t be bringing a lot more taxes because of the port grant (taxation cap). Not a lot has changed,” he said.

“We lost the industrial tax base because of the incompetence of the city and the way they handled the (pulp) mill. It’s now being stripped of assets and shipped away and I don’t see the city out there trying to take advantage of the property and the assets that are out there right now.

“I see them slowly shipping it out on chip barges and the city sitting back and saying maybe it might open one day. While the general public’s perception is that city council is living in a fantasy land if they think that is going to open.”

City administrator Gord Howie said the city is trying to get some cash out of Sun Wave Forest Products to help with this year’s taxes.

Sun Wave purchased the mill after its former owner, New Skeena Forest Products, declared bankruptcy and the mill has not operated since it was sold by the provincial Liberals in 2002. Various mill owners haven’t paid taxes since 1999, when the provincial government stepped in to try to save the beleaguered forestry operation.

(The province pushed the back taxes from 1999 to 2001 on to the new owner, who had an agreement to repay them but then, after three years of not operating, went bankrupt. The B.C. Supreme Court has since dissolved those taxes, so no one is under any obligation to repay them.)

“Part of the agreement with Sun Wave is to negotiate an amenity contribution for those years they are not paying taxes,” said Howie. “We are trying to get some cash out of them to try to help with this year’s budget.

Sun Wave bought the company in the summer of 2006, and 2007 would be the first year of the agreement with the city under which they do not have to pay regular property taxes. “Council has also written several letters now from our lawyers reminding them of their obligations to the city.”
The company has to produce pulp by Jan. 1 of next year or the tax agreement is void. “It seems like pretty weak action, lawyers talking back and forth. At the end of the day it is just costing us more money,” said Cunningham.

On Monday, city council will debate the public input they heard and determine whether to change the budget before it is passed.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Northern Misadventures

The Northern Adventure, BC Ferries shiny new vessel for the north coast is about to go south. It is to be pulled from service from May 9-19 and banished into refit, this after less than a month on the job.

With a number of problems cropping up on recent sailings, the Ferry Corporation has decided to return the vessel to southern waters and a refit pit stop at Deas Pacific Marine, hopefully to clear up all the annoying problems that have tarnished the launch of the cruise ship like vessel serving the North Coast.

The Ferry Corporation issued a press release on Friday, outlining its plans and trying its best to make an unwanted situation sound positive.

From fire extinguisher problems to malfunctioning elevators, silent PA systems to backed up toilets and sinks, the adventure on the Northern Adventure seems to be an ability to deal with far too many glitches on a vessel that holds its passengers captive for over 18 hours.

The CBC website had details on the numerous maladies of the ship and how they have impacted on BC Ferries this month.

New ferry needs work, faces refit
Last Updated: Friday, April 27, 2007 6:38 PM PT

Less than a month after its introduction, BC Ferries' newest ship is being pulled from service for a 10-day refit to deal with a host of onboard problems.

The MV Northern Adventure, which replaced the Queen of the North on the northern service, made its maiden voyage under BC Ferries colours on March 31.

It had been compared to a cruise ship and was billed as the centrepiece of the corporation's plans for an enhanced travel service along the B.C. coast.

But there have been a host of problems reported with the new vessel.

BC Ferries had to apologize to a passenger who had just had knee surgery because the elevators, the escalators and even a robotic wheelchair didn't work and she had a long and painful trek up and down the stairs during her trip.

She also reported problems with the public address system, the heat in some cabins and problems with toilets and phones. Another passenger told CBC Radio that there have been problems with the alarm system and that used water from the sinks and showers backed up and flooded the galley during her trip. Earlier, there had been a 24-hour delay on a southbound voyage to Port Hardy, which included a fire extinguisher on the vehicle deck that came loose and released dry chemicals, setting off the smoke alarm.

In a release Friday, the corporation said, "the Northern Adventure has been experiencing some issues following its initial introduction." The ship will be out of service from May 9-19, undergoing a refit at the Deas Pacific Marine facility on the Fraser River in Richmond.

The northern routes will be served during that time by the Queen of Prince Rupert, which has just undergone a five-week refit.

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, April 26

Presentation and style in the newspaper wars.

It's all about the words.

It was forty years ago today, the world came to Montreal to Play!

It’s the fortieth anniversary of perhaps the single most important festival ever held in Canada. Expo 67, Canada’s grand centennial coming out party opened its gates on April 27, 1967.

It was at the time, the largest single event that Canada tackled in the modern era. Expo 67 was a wonderful world’s fair of exciting visions of the future and presented the host country as a proud, vibrant and interesting place to come and share some time with.

From the modern subway system of Montreal (still one of the great systems of the world forty years later) that whisked you to the Ille St. Helene or Notre Dame site, to the Monorails that did the island hopping from exhibit to exhibit, Expo was a magical land that gave Canadians hope and optimism that the best was still to come for the still young nation. Three years later Montreal would be gripped by the October crisis and things would never seem quite the same, but on a spring day in 67 such thoughts were nowhere to be found.

It was by far, Mayor Jean Drapeau’s greatest moment, his vision of islands rising from the St. Lawrence to welcome the world would transform Montreal into a world city of the times, making it Canada’s first city for at least another decade, of course his glow of glory for Expo would eventually tarnish under the weight of Olympic debt in 1976, but for nine years he was probably Canada’s golden boy.

With exotic pavilions such as the American Geodesic dome, the Inverted pyramid of Canada Pavilion, Habitat’s strange looking building blocks and a world of other exotic examples of life from afar, Expo was a living, breathing history and geography lesson.

And for those that just wanted to cut loose and have a good time, La Ronde beckoned with some of the neatest amusement park rides that 1967 could offer.

There was no better way to get an education than to wander the islands in the St. Lawrence River. No better place to run into someone from some far flung corner of the world that had dropped into Montreal to see what was happening and left with an image of Canada that just couldn’t be created from a public relations firm.

Expo represented one of our greatest years, when the nation felt that anything was possible and nothing could stand in our way. Perhaps a little Expo magic can return for the fortieth anniversary, the nation would welcome the chance to dream again.

The Globe and Mail has posted an interesting retrospective on the world’s fair on their website today, including a photo gallery of some of the key exhibits of the day.

The Toronto Star as well, recounts the days when Canada was the IT country of the world, as hip as hip could be.

And the Montreal Gazette looks back to the days when Montreal shone on the world stage.

You can also step back in time by checking out the links below, which offer up a wide range of information about the World’s Fair of 1967 and Canada’s greatest event and introduction to the world.

Universal Newsreel about Expo 67
Expo 67 in pictures
CBC Archives: Montreal welcomes the world
CBC Archives: Opening day Canada and the world
Library and Archives Canada: Expo 67 Man and his world

Pictures of Podunk: Welcome Hill

Prince Rupert's welcoming hillside, located just over the McBride street bridge by the Civic Centre, the flags and hillside graphics welcome visitors to the city.

Council approves $28,500 for parking study

The long discussed issue of downtown parking will be sent to a study session from a Victoria based Transportation group.

Boulevard Transportation Group was awarded a contract to conduct an investigation into the many parking issues that have cropped up around the city.

Surveys will begin in the second or third week of May in a wide swath of the city, from Five Corners through to Cow Bay and Atlin Terminal and of course the downtown area.

The survey process is going to be costlier than the city first thought, at 28,500 dollars, the cost of examining parking in the city is coming in about 13,000 dollars more than the original budget of 15,000 dollars called for. Perhaps the prospect of pay parking in the future for the city will help to offset the cost over run on the survey process.

The Daily News had a synopsis of the decision of council to hire the Victoria group and what they hope to discover during their study period.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Page one

City council approved $28,500 Monday night to hire the Boulevard Transportation Group of Victoria to study parking in the downtown and Cow Bay areas.

The parking committee task force, represented by Gina Garon, said it had reviewed seven proposals from different companies and had chose Boulevard to provide an independent review of the parking situation.

“Seven proposals were received and reviewed with consideration given to demonstrated ability, expertise, research methodology, price and quality of submission,” said Garon, speaking to council Monday night.

“Upon review of the seven proposals the task force recommended the award to Boulevard Transportation Group.”

Boulevard has done studies for the Town of Sydney, City of Langford, City of North Vancouver, Ladysmith and Victoria.

“Our projects have involved identifying best practices in other communities, including further investigation into parking fee structures, enforcement and management that makes efficient use of the resource,” wrote Michael Skene of the Boulevard Transportation Group.

The final report is expected in mid August.

The study will include reviewing the study area and data collection through parking surveys in Cow Bay, the downtown core, Five Corners and other areas.
This is expected to happen during the second and third week in May, when the tourism season is underway and will take place on both weekdays and weekends.

They will also hold on-street interviews with members of the public and business owners to collect anecdotes on parking in the city during the second week in may and hold an open house.

The report will present ways to improve the use of underutilized parking areas, how to incorporate new parking into new developments, parking zone requirements for handicap and loading zones, employee parking during the high tourist season in areas like Cow Bay, pay parking technologies and recommended time limits and zone changes.

The cost of the park study is about $13,000 above the $15,000 budget council had originally suggested when they first tried to put together the parking task force almost two years ago, during the summer of 2005.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson also asked if the input gathered from the Official Community Plan will be included in the report or if the two studies were proceeding independently.

“We don’t know what the downtown is going to look like in the Official Community Plan and if you design parking for the way downtown is now, or if you design parking for the way downtown is in the future, it might be different. Does this dovetail with the Official Community Plan?” asked Coun. Joy Thorkelson.

City administrator Gord Howie said the draft report of the Official Community Plan will be presented to council at a meeting at the beginning of May with some open houses planned for mid-May.

“I think the two things will mesh together fairly well as neither one will be cast in stone,” said Howie.

Mistrust and dysfunction continues at Regional District

The acrid atmosphere at Regional District doesn’t seem to be improving much as time goes by; the latest bit of in fighting around the table finds some of the directors claiming that they are being left out of decisions that impact on the workings of the government body.

The latest happenings certainly lead one to wonder if any of the current members have read their own title page to their website which talks about cooperation and service to the North Coast! Perhaps it's time for a new mission statement to reflect the current sense of confusion at the organization.

The last few months at Regional District have been rather testy and chaotic, a long time employee was apparently terminated, a new administrator is apparently soon to be hired and yet a few of the directors suggest that they are being kept in the dark on developments.

It’s an apparent ongoing power struggle, which is pitting rural and urban directors in a nasty bit of public bantering, that isn’t doing much to secure the organizations reputation as a viable forum for debate, let alone one which should have spending authority.

The entire process is coming across as far too secretive and just a tad dysfunctional, which should send alarm bells ringing for those of us who pay the taxes that keep the organization up and running.

Maybe it’s about time that the festering issues of the past and the plans for the future were given a complete public and transparent hearing, allowing residents of the Northwest to get a better handle as to just what is going on at an organization that many of us know nothing about.

The Daily News provided some of the pieces to the continuing puzzle in a front page story in Thursday’s paper.

Some politicians complaining that they are being left out of ‘the loop’
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
April 26, 2007
Pages one and three

In another sing of the level of mistrust festering between the regional district board members, director Ian Hetman alleged some members of the board have been totally cut out of the process of changing administrations.

At Friday night’s meeting, Hetman said he had tried to find out where the board was with negotiations in the process of terminating its former administrator Janet Beil by contacting the district’s lawyer, chair and vice chair but he said he could not get any information.

“We are coming up to the point where we are going to hire an administrator and that administrator is going to be my administrator and I want to be completely in the loop,” said Hetman. “I want to be involved with seeing who applies, who’s on the short list and who is doing the interviews. I don’t want to be left out anymore.”

The board began the process of dismissing Beil, who had been with the regional district for the past 19 years, three months ago.

Hetman was one of three directors who reportedly opposed the dismissal of Beil during the in camera meetings. The other directors who opposed the dismissal are thought to be Des Nobels and Karl Bergman.

Bergman also expressed his concern about being left out of the loop.

“I remember about a year ago at big (strategic planning) sessions where we all got together and agreed we were going to tell all our secrets and it seems to be the same problem these days, I did not know what was going on,” said Bergman. “When I am asked, what am supposed to tell people? I have no idea.”

However, vice chair Tony Briglio said there was no reason for concern because no one on the board had seen the names of those who had applied and they would be choosing the short list for a new Chief Administrative Officer during an in-camera meeting.

As for dealing with the solicitor, Briglio noted that the board had passed a motion that only the chair Barry Pages was authorized to deal with the solicitor.

“If we are going to go that way, then the chair needs to advise us,’ said Hetman.

“And he will do that tonight”, said Briglio.

“Things have been going on since more than the last week and the last meeting and we haven’t been in the loop at all,” said Hetman.

“Then what is it that you believe is going on, because that would suggest you know something that I don’t,” said Briglio.

“For example, what proposals have been going back and forth about Ms. Beil. We talked at one meeting about what the proposal would be and I haven’t heard anything since,” said Hetman.

At this point, director Carol Kulesha pointed out they were moving into personnel issues, issues that are supposed to take place in-camera.

However, Briglio said this was a discussion about process and as such should be carried out in public.

“I think you‘ll find during the discussions at the in-camera session that the specifics of what you may think are the facts or what others may be telling you are the facts aren’t necessarily the facts. Give us the opportunity to have that in-camera session and I for one think you’ll be quite comfortable,” said Briglio.

“I understand what Mr. Hetman is saying and Mr. Hetman will be in the process just like every other board member will be in the process,” said chair Barry Pages. “We will be dealing with it in camera Mr. Hetman and you will be part of the decision and part of the process, just like every other board member will be a part of it.”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Trade show set to open Friday

A weekend of exhibits opens up at 3 pm on Friday, providing local and out of town businesses and services to showcase their products and opportunities and local residents to learn more about what’s available in the community.

The “Year of Opportunity Trade Show” is a co-production of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce and the Northern View weekly newspaper taking place at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre from April 27 to 29.

The exhibit space is sold out with a diverse group of participants ranging from the ever present car dealers to Bounce a lot, the portable kids’ playground (which if inflated, is probably destined to be the most popular exhibit we suspect).

Trade shows have been hit and miss affairs over the years in the city, some years they are great successes, other years have the exhibitors left to talk to themselves as the population takes a pass. In more recent years gone by, the state of the economy deteriorated so far that the Trade show didn’t even take place.

The Daily News provided details on Tuesday, of the planned exhibits for the weekend, though they danced around mentioning one of the co-sponsors, The Northern View too much, which of course is a competitor in the increasingly crowded Prince Rupert printed media world.

Click on this link for a map of the configuration of the exhibits in the arena and other information from the Trade Show download.

By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Pages one and three

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with a local business to host the 2007 Prince Rupert Trade Show.

Called the Year of Opportunity Trade Show, the event takes place at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre Arena between April 27 and April 29.

On Friday, it starts at 3 p.m. and runs until 9 p. m., on Saturday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. and Sunday, from 10 a. m. until 2 p. m.

Wendy Prystay, president of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has historically been involved with the trade show and they hope to continue that involvement on an annual basis.

“It’s an opportunity for our businesses to showcase themselves and perhaps attract new customers,” said Prystay.

“Given that the chamber of commerce is the voice of business, we are looking forward to mix and mingle with the public and talk about business that provides services in Prince Rupert.”

Prystay noted that generally people make a lot of assumptions of what kind of services may be available in town.

“There’s no better way to find out what actually is available than to have a chance to meet with a whole bunch of businesses at once, ask some questions and perhaps find out things you didn’t know, see products your weren’t aware of or didn’t know were available,” she said.

The event is being hosted by the Northern View in conjunction with the chamber of commerce.

Currently, there are only three booths left for the show.

On Saturday, there will also be a meet and greet session with the participants of the trade show.

Because this is a chamber-sponsored event, chamber members are being invited to attend this event as well.

The meet and greet takes place Sat., April 28 at the Underground at Prince Rupert Coast Hotel at 7 p. m. and there will be a buffet dinner provided.

Tickets are $30 dollars and can be purchased from the chamber.

Some of the businesses that will have booths at the trade show include Port City Ford, Sherman GM, Sight & Sound, Rupert Rides, Prince Rupert District Chamber of Commerce/Rising Stars program, the Ministry of Forests, Northwest Community College, Twilight Spas, the Skeena Native Development Society, the Queen Charlotte Islands Chamber of Commerce, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, Van Houtte, bob on the Rocks, Investors Group, Speedee Printers, Rainbow Chrysler, Creative Systems, Prince Rupert Port Edward Economic Development, Tourism Prince Rupert, All West Glass, Anna’s Couture, Occasions to Remember, Hawkair, Rough Acres Camp, Finex, Silvertip, Coast Prince Rupert Hotel, The Northern View, CFNR, North Coast Professional Driving School, Northern Stitches, Hecate Strait Employment Development Society, Port Edward, Prince Rupert Port Authority, Northwest Science & Innovation, CMO Data, CityWest, SPCA, Bounce-A-Lot, Bandstra, Paintball Exhibit and Digital Printing.

However, the list is not necessarily complete and other businesses may be added to the list of participant as the week progresses.