Thursday, July 31, 2008

It'll be a little quiet on the Podunk front for a bit

Entries to the Podunkian portal will be few and far between for the next few weeks as we hit the road in search of that bright yellow thing that sometimes teases from time to time.

Should we find a few spare moments away from the quest we may post a few items that we come across, but downtime is always welcome and we suspect we'll take full advantage of the break from blogging.
However, should we be successful in our search for some of the solar intensification we seek, we have a feeling that we shan't be found anywhere near a keyboard...
Here are a few things to keep your fingers clicking till we return.





Lots of talk on the vandalism issue, but less in the way of action

"I have no doubt that we will deal with the broken window issue,"-- Mayor Herb Pond offering up the sentiment that the vandalism problems will be dealt with by city hall, though not providing much in the way of direction as to how they may do that.

The continuing debate over the rise in vandalism in the city, once again became part of the city council proceedings on Monday. Councillor Ken Cote, again raised his motion to the city take another look at the potential of a curfew for teenagers in the city. He had previously introduced the same motion on July 8th, and found much the same reaction then as he received on Monday.
It was a motion that did not receive a great upswell of support as councillors parsed the concept of a curfew and instead sought to find other ways to combat the spike in anti social behavior in the city.

At the moment the issue seems to be bogged down in a committee stage, with no set deadline for presentations or answers for the downtown merchants who are bearing the brunt of the vandalism spree.

The Daily News outlined the positions of a few of the city's councillors with a review of the debate in Wednesday's paper.

Council hopes to destroy late-night vandalism
But idea of curfew is shot down for second consecutive meeting

By George Baker
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Page Five

Smashed windows and the possibility of a curfew to curtail late-night vandals have not gone away as issues around the council table.

At Monday's city council meeting, Councillor Ken Cote again tabled a motion to look into the feasibility of a curfew for teenagers in Prince Rupert.

Cote repeated the motion he put forward at the last council meeting, on July 8.

He said he wanted the city to revisit the possibility of having a curfew that bans teenagers and pre-teens from accessing the downtown area after a certain time, though he made no mention of exactly what time that might be.

Cote also included in the motion the idea of having the city staff consider other options to tackle vandalism.

"I'm not suggesting we input a curfew. I just want to know if we can have one," said Cote.
"Let's put go to the next step and get the city staff and RCMP to discuss and meet with us so that we can move things forward."

Council members wanted to know when the city was going to hear back from the committee that is coming up with targeted ways to solve the vandalism issue downtown.

Cote's motion found little support worded as it was because councillors wanted curfew and other options separated from the motion. When Cote refused, the motion was defeated, though not without support for the spirit of its intent.

Mayor Herb Pond said that he appreciated and shared Cote's and the council's concerns about the rampant vandalism taking place downtown but he said that a curfew was not possible because it infringes on Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Councillor Tony Briglio was less cautious about his feelings.

"The word curfew leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I do not believe in curfews," said Briglio at the meeting.

Pond said that there was no exact time-frame for the committee to get back to council because it is an ongoing process. But he did add that he has asked RCMP Inspector Bob Kilbury, a committee member, to present some of the options possible in an upcoming council meeting.

"I don't want the public to think that we aren't doing anything," said Pond. "The issue is big and I take it extremely seriously, but the problem is complex."

Pond, a former retail shop owner himself, said that he was deeply disturbed by the way this anti-social behavior has painted his city.

"It's heartbreaking when you see a broken window. You know that not only is it going to cost the retailer money but that they sometimes have to get out of bed at four in the morning."

"I have no doubt that we will deal with the broken window issue," said Pond.

Lets meet the reporter

He's been on the job for less than a week, baptized with the taste of our municipal politics and apparently ready to get on with learning more about the north coast and its issues.

The Daily news introduced their newest scribe on Wednesday, with a how do you do feature with George Baker, who has taken over the various news beats of the recently departed Leanne Ritchie.

Baker happy to cook-up move to the Daily News
Journalist keen to take on challenge of reporting city's news
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Page three

The newest addition to The Daily News editorial team is George Baker, who hails from Richmond, B.C.

Before finding his way to journalism, Baker worked full-time and tried a brief stint at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Vancouver.

"I did general studies, which were a general waste of time because I didn't really have any direction at all," said Baker.

"I took political science because I thought I was going to be very political. I wasn't. I also took business communications because I thought it was the way to go. It wasn't."

Instead, Baker worked as a house painter, bartender and server.

"Working as a house painter was funny because I'm scared of heights. I would go 20 feet up the ladder, get scared, the wind would blow just slightly and I would run down the ladder and tell my boss that I was quitting," said Baker.

Painting was a seasonal job, but after falling off a ladder one time, he decided he didn't want to do it every season.

"I worked at Earl's for four years. The money was good - probably better than I'm making now - but it really felt like slave labour in some ways," said Baker. "For me, being a journalist is a much better option."

Baker knew he wanted to be a writer and decided to head back to Kwantlen to study journalism.
During his time there, he went to England on exchange, living in small city north of Manchester called Preston.

"When I got to that city, I wasn't really in love with England itself because the city wasn't very pretty," said Baker.

"But when I did travels around the countryside, I really fell in love with the culture, the people and the fact that you can drive two miles and people will be speaking a completely different version of English. To me, that was awesome."

Baker spent two years in England, interning at both the Lancashire Evening Post and the Liverpool Echo along the way. He was impressed by the British journalists' ability to use shorthand as a form of note taking.

"Shorthand is crazy, it looks like hieroglyphics," said Baker, who prefers using a tape recorder for his interviews.

Baker's affinity for the English came through when editor Earle Gale called him about a job at the Daily News.

"That was one of the reasons I jumped at the job because Earle was English and I really like the English," he said.

"I also want to work in the industry. I honestly love the journalism industry. I love the challenges of it."

Although Baker has never been up North before, the wilderness of Prince Rupert attracted him to the town.

"I like hiking and I like nature. That was one of the main reasons that I came here."

By pass or bridge, where will the support go?

A lively debate as they say, at the most recent City Council meeting as Councillor Tony Briglio once again raised the desire to see a truck bypass get to the planning stages. Briglio who has concerns over the amount of truck traffic that runs from the container port to points east urged the Mayor and council to consider laying the ground work for the route which would bypass the downtown core completely.

While the container port for the most part is expected to direct load trains out of Fairview there is still expected to be some container traffic heading mainly for the CBSA inspection warehouse which Quickload Terminals currently operates on Watson Island, an new warehouse is under construction on Ridley which at the moment would still require trucks to transit the city to gain access to the new site.

The concern for the councillor is that with Phase Two expected to add significantly to the container load for the port, the traffic load will likewise increase and Briglio would like to see the city get ahead of the curve on the issue.

While considering the container issue as important, the Mayor however is more inclined to try and spend any infrastructure dollars on the long cherished link to the Digby Island airport, a major project that always seems to come to life again just as an election is about to roll around.

The Daily News outlined the two positions in Wednesday's paper.

Councillor looking to gear-up bypass lobbying
By George Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Pages one and three

Monday's council meeting at city hall saw some colourful discussion as Councillor Tony Briglio and Mayor Herb Pond went back and forth over the possibility of the construction of a new truck bypass route to the Port of Prince Rupert.

The differences in opinion stems from the desire to divert container truck traffic entering and leaving the Fairview Container Terminal.

The main concern is that truck traffic will only get worse by the time the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) moves into the second phase of its growth plan for Fairview Container Terminal.

Once that finishes, both agreed that the city would need a proper truck bypass from the port to outside the city limits.

But things got fairly heated when Briglio questioned whether or not the city was doing its best to stay on top of the issue.

"Once the second phase is built, it will be too late to do. I'll tell you that if one of my kids was hurt or killed by a truck on the road that will be the last thing we want," said Briglio.
That did not sit well with Pond.

Mayor Pond cautioned Briglio about prioritizing the bypass over more pressing issues, none more important than upgrading access from Prince Rupert Airport on Digby Island.
Pond responded by saying that Briglio did not completely understand what was necessary in petitioning the provincial and federal government for funding to build city projects.

"With frustration you will bring us back to when we got nothing," said Pond.

According to Pond, the airport currently runs an annual deficit of $1 million and he believes that better travel from the Airport on Digby Island to Prince Rupert on Kaien Island would improve the airport's finances.

Briglio put forward the motion to bring up the truck bypass issue once every second public council meeting. Briglio wanted the motion passed because he wanted to make sure the city was on top of the issue.

Not surprisingly, after much questioning and the absence of two councillors, the motion was defeated by a vote of two-to-one.

Briglio countered Pond by saying that he and felt the council was being kept in the dark about the issue.

"You know what you have been doing, Mayor. But I do not," said Briglio.

Pond believes that the city needs to approach both the B.C. and Canadian governments with a 10-item wish-list that prioritizes what the city wants financial support for.

He said, that way the government knows what the city really needs and will respond much faster to such requests.

"If you ask for one thing then later ask for another then what you end up with is nothing. They will not respond. We have to do it the right way."

According to port authority spokesperson Barry Bartlett, the port is taking a wait-and-see approach on the truck bypass issue.

"We are not going to get a sense of what the truck traffic is until Phase 2 (of the port expansion), which we are a ways away from," said Bartlett.

Until then, the PRPA would rather wait to see what the discussion and decision comes to between the city and the ministry of transportation.

It was noted at the meeting that currently there is a 10 per cent decrease in container truck traffic. But that is considered a lull and not a good indication of the future load that will need to be addressed.

However, most of the container traffic leaving Prince Rupert is via rail lines because of the intermodal system on the docks. That system takes the containers off the docked ships and places them immediately on a train for further shipment.

Wet, Windy weather leaves Podunkians weary

Everybody is talking about the weather these days, what with a November like windstorm ripping through the early hours a few nights ago and the steady drenching of rain of what seems like the last four months, summer seems to be but a rumour these days.

Checking the stats and plotting the graphs, the Daily News found that Rupertites are convinced that this has been the worst summer in recent years, they outlined their findings as the front page story in Wednesday's paper.

Recent 'summer' weather has been cool, even by Rupert's modest standards
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pages one and two

With long-time residents calling the summer of 2008 the worst in Prince Rupert's recent history, The Daily News decided to crunch the numbers and find out if that speculation has any truth to it.
Even people who haven't resided in the rainy city of Prince Rupert can tell you that this is the wettest city in Canada, with an average of 2,500 millimetres of precipitation.

And, as the Canadian municipality with the least amount of annual sunshine, Rupertites take perverse pride in the fact that not everyone is cut out to thrive in the city's climate.

But when it appears people can count the number of warm and sunny days this season on two hands, even beleaguered residents are wondering what happened to the summer?

"Looking at June and July, the maximum temperature we typically see has been below normal," said meteorologist Chris Scott, forecast operations manager at The Weather Network.

"Normally, the daily high is around 16 degrees, and we've been a full degree below for the first 28 days of July. That doesn't seem like a big deal, but when it's over the course of the month, people do sense it.

"There's a big difference when it's 13 and cloudy versus 16 and sunny."

According to more than 40 years of data collected by Environment Canada, the hottest recorded temperature in Prince Rupert during June was on June 20, 1991, when it reached 27.4 degrees Celcius, a good deal hotter than the hottest day of June, 2008 which was 24.3 degrees on the 30th.

July's hottest temperature came on July 30, 1976 at 27.8 degrees Celcius, much hotter than the 19.7 degree high we experienced on July 25, 2008. In contrast, Prince Rupert's coldest June day recorded was in 1963, when on June 7 the temperature dropped to 1.1 degree Celcius - the coldest day in July was 2.8 degrees on Canada Day, 1972.

Scott said looking at precipitation averaged out over the two months in 2008, Prince Rupert hasn't seen a great deal more than usual

"With both months combined, we're slightly above normal in terms of rainfall," said Scott.

"But the statistic that really hits home is that over the course of June and July we've had an extra week of rain, or about seven more days where there's been some precipitation. Combine that extra week of rain with the cooler temperatures, and I think it's right so to say it's been a fairly lousy summer so far."

In June, Prince Rupert only received 108 millimetres of precipitation, which is well under the historical monthly average of 120 millimetres.

However, July has already surpassed it's historical average of 113 with 142 millimetres as of yesterday morning.

The wettest day ever recorded during June in Prince Rupert was June 11, 1987, when the city received 64.2 millimetres of rain. The wettest July day came a year later when it rained 67.2 millimetres on July 23, 1988.

As a city, Prince Rupert can be proud of its performance in many categories that rank Canadian cities by their weather.

Prince Rupert takes home the gold medal for the Canadian city with the coolest summers, at an average temperature of 15.7 degrees Celcius, compared to Canada's hottest summer city Kamloops, B.C., which holds an average temperature of 26.9 degrees Celcius.

But if Prince Rupert were to have a nemesis city at the opposite end of the spectrum, it would have to be Medicine Hat, Alberta.

While Prince Rupert is officially Canada's wettest city with an average of almost 2,600 millimetres annually and 240 wet days, Medicine Hat gets 266 dry days and is Canada's sunniest city year-round with more than 2,500 average annual hours of sunshine.

That's more than double the average of 1,229 hours of sunshine a year that Prince Rupert gets, making it the least-sunny city in Canada. And not only is Rupert the least-sunny, but residents of Rupert can also boast to having the cloudiest skies year-round, with 6,146 hours of cloud coverage.

What is good news for the city is that August is looking to be much warmer and sunnier than the month of July.

Beginning this Saturday, weather forecasts are calling for 10 consecutive days of sunshine with scattered clouds.

Even better is the fact that the daily temperature is expected to rise from a current average of 15 degrees to nearly 20 degrees by Tues., Aug. 5, with the average Probability of Precipitation for those 10 days only between 10 and 20 per cent.

"We like to be pretty accurate in our first few days of forecasting, but when you get to seven day forecasts and beyond, especially on the West Coast, we call it 'shaky ground,'" said Scott.

"You certainly don't want to make plans around that 12-day forecast, but the upcoming trend is certainly more favorable and the weekend is looking good."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Udderfest 2008 set for opening on August 6th

Prince Rupert's eclectic summer festival Udder Fest, is ready for another summer season theatre at numerous venues around the city.

Set to run from August 6th to the 10th, as the festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

11 shows will be featured during the five day run, providing a wide array of theatre for those looking for a summer time diversion.

The Daily News had some background on this years festival in Tuesdays paper.

Curtain set to rise on 2008 Udderfest
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Special to the Daily News
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Page Three

Udder Theatre Festival coordinator Sara Rowse has been busy as opening day is fast approaching.

This year's festival takes place from Aug. 6 to 10.

It's Rowse's first time doing the job, and while it's been getting stressful, she has been enjoying the challenge.

"I've been dealing with actors, getting ads together, gathering door prizes and donor packages, and working on signage," she said Friday afternoon at the Tom Rooney Playhouse.

She's put a call out for volunteers to work at the doors during the show or help with technical aspects backstage and noted there's training available if people are inexperienced.

Rowse graduated from Prince Rupert Secondary School in 2007 and recently completed her first year of sciences at the University of British Columbia.

Drama has always been one of her favourite hobbies. She was often part of school productions at both Annunciation School and Prince Rupert Secondary School.

Rowse was hired by Harbour Theatre Society, through a Service Canada grant, to help coordinate the festival and assist with the summer youth theatre camps, presently being offered Wednesdays through Sundays at the Tom Rooney Playhouse.

Because this year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Udder Theatre Festival, Rowse hopes it will be the biggest and best one ever.

The festival's five days will feature 11 shows with actors from Prince Rupert, Prince George and the Lower Mainland taking part.

"They are all really different and there's something for everyone. There are kids shows, stand-up comedy, a musical, dark comedy and straight-up comedy," Rowse said.

Show titles include: Harry Rotter, Josh Green Experience, SoulQuest, The Gingerbread Girl, Twisted, Vincent, Bad Things Travel, In the Doghouse, Rupert, Never Gonna Give You Up, Hansel & Gretel, Slaughter House, Real Live Girls Naked - Lunch Special Chicken Chow Mein and A Matter of Husbands.

The shows will take place at the Tom Rooney Playhouse and the Lester Centre of the Arts, with the addition of a puppet show at the Prince Rupert Library. That show is being developed by one of the library's staff members, Leah Cuthbert.

In addition to her role as festival coodinator, Rowse is acting in A Matter of Husbands, directed by Kristin Robinson, a PRSS graduate who studied theatre at both Malaspina College and UBC.
The play is about a woman who confronts a famous actress because she believes the actress has stolen her husband.

Robinson is also directing two other short plays.

Rowse is encouraging anyone who is interested in volunteering to help with the festival to call her 624-3626.

BC Ferries submits 61 million dollar claim for the Queen of the North

The last act of the ill fated Queen of the North will have been as the subject of discussion between BC Ferries and their insurance company, as the Ferry Corporation submits its annual report, the final claim for insurance was revealed as 61.3 million dollars.

The details of the claim were listed in Tuesday's edition of the Daily News.

Queen of North claim worth $61.3 million
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Page Two

BC Ferry Services Inc., the operators of the province's ferry system, announced on Monday that it made a $61.3 million insurance claim last year on the sunken Queen of the North vessel.

According to its 2007/08 annual report, the private operator claimed the value of the vessel, which ran aground and sunk near Hartley Bay on March 22, 2006, then used some of the proceeds from the one-time gain to help with the purchase of the Northern Adventure ship that replaced the Queen of the North and now travels the Port Hardy-to-Prince Rupert route.

The Northern Adventure was bought from Fiensburger Schiffbau Gesellshaft mbh& Co. KG (FSG) in October 2006 and was put in to service by March 2007 for the northern run.

The ferry was two-years-old when purchased and needed to be upgraded for service, including safety and security equipment.

BC Ferries also claimed in the report that it spent $2 million on introducing its new SailSafe program.

As a new safety initiative, it brings together BC Ferries management and employees so that they can identify current and potential security and safety problems.

Front line highway workers raise the alarm over standards

Their morale isn't particularly good at the moment and workers on British Columbia's highways who have just completed a maintenance survey are raising some flags about our highways this summer.

With British Columbia relying on contractors to handle the road maintenance requirements of the province, each district can at times feature entirely different road conditions from neighbouring ones, a system that many suggest leads to less than ideal conditions for those that travel the provinces highway system.

Tuesdays Daily News provided some background on the survey and the larger issue of road maintenance in British Columbia.

Highway workers call for improved standards
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pages one and two

A survey completed in June by 200 front-line British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union highway workers shows there are serious concerns about the province's road maintenance standards.

The survey outlines many of the frustrations with contractors and accountability by the government to enforce standards.

Six out of 10 highway workers surveyed said private contractors are not meeting standards that are set by the government. A further 11 per cent said those standards are only met some of the time.

Almost seven out of 10 workers are frustrated because not enough resources are being allocated to properly maintain highway infrastructure, and those workers suggest provincial roads and bridges should be brought back into the public sector.

Some 70 percent agree the situation is so bad that three out of four workers worry that declining maintenance standards are putting safety for the travelling public at risk.

On-the-job, worker morale has worsened during the past year, according to 62 percent of respondents while 63 percent say workload has increased.

The survey was completed as a random process which reached one out of every 10 highway workers in the B.C.G.E.U.

"Amid public concerns about the state of our transportation infrastructure, the poll results confirms that there are real problems in the current system," said Darryl Walker, BCGEU president.

"The insights and experiences of front-line workers point to the need for fundamental changes. The Campbell Liberals and contractors have to move quickly to restore standards, upgrade enforcement and deliver proper resources to get the job done. If they don't, then the only option may be to bring maintenance back into the public sector."

As a result of the survey, 39 municipalities have signed on to press the Campbell government to impose better services, including 100 Mile House, Alberni-Clayquot Regional District, Belcarra, Burnaby, Chase, Chetwynd, Coquitlam, Cumberland, Dawson Creek, Enderby, Grand Forks, Granisle, Greenwood, Kamloops, Kent, Kitimat, Ladysmith, Nakusp, North Saanich, Port Alberni, Port Alice, Princeton and Quesnel.

Other municipalities signing on include the Regional District of East Kootney, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, Revelstoke, Salmo, Sicamous, Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District, Smithers, Sooke, Squamish, Terrace, Trail, Ucluelet, Vernon, Warfield, Wells and Williams Lake.
For municipalities that have yet to voice their concern, BCGEU Communications spokesperson Stephen Howard said it is not too late.

"We would be honoured to have more municipalities, especially those along Highway 97 and Highway 16 for whom road issues are critical."

Alongside these accusations comes news from the province and the federal government that the two levels of government will jointly fund up to $231 million worth of National Highway System improvements in B.C., under the Building Canada Plan.

Premier Gordon Campbell made the announcement last week, alongside Stockwell Day, federal Minister of Public Safety on behalf of Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Kevin Falcon, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Ron Cannan, MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, and Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Al Horning.

"This investment is an outstanding example of our ongoing partnership with the federal government, and our continued commitment to deliver needed road projects throughout the province," said Premier Campbell.

"We're enhancing B.C.'s highway system to improve safety, enhance the flow of goods and people, and tap into new opportunities in trade and tourism."

The first project to receive funding involves building a nine-kilometre four-lane highway west of the existing two-lane section of Highway 97 between Winfield and Oyama. The province will contribute $44.3 million and the federal government will provide up to $33.6 million through the Building Canada Plan toward the total $77.9-million cost, with work on that project scheduled to be completed by 2012.

Port heralds the arrival of the biggest vessels

The size of the vessels calling on the Fairview container port are growing, as is the ports reputation for handling their cargo.

The largest ship to call on the port this year will arrive on Friday as the Cosco Napoli arrives at 8 am to unload its load of containers, with a capacity for 8,200 TEUs, the arrival of the Napoli showcases a significantly larger cargo load than in the past, which has seen vessels carrying 5,400 TEU's making the regular call.

The Tuesday Daily News featured a front page story which examined the pending arrival of the vessel and how Maher Terminals plans on unloading it and showcase their "express gateway" concept for the transportation sector.

No other port on this coastline can handled a bigger ship than the 8,200 - TEU Napoli
By George Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Page one

In the highly competitive North American port industry, anything that sells your port to the shipping world can be big.

And if that selling point happens to be bigger ships floating into the harbour, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) is more than willing to welcome in more massive vessels.

On Friday, the port is expecting a container ship, the Napoli, to dock at the Fairview Container Terminal at 8 a.m. The ship holds 8,200 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) making it a new high in capacity for the young terminal (see photo on page 2).

The terminal is usually serviced by 5,400-TEU ships, making the Napoli significantly larger than the typical vessel that has called at the port to date.

The increase is not only in capacity but also in physical size - the ship is much bigger then the normal 280-cubic-metre boats that make their way into Prince Rupert.

According to Barry Bartlett, a Prince Rupert Port Authority spokesperson, the Napoli measures 355 cubic metres, which is 200 feet larger than the typical container ship that has been docking in the city of rainbows.

The Napoli is expected to dock for 24 hours during which time a full team will work round-the-clock to relieve the ship of its cargo. This is typical of the "express gateway" operations the port is characterized by, added Bartlett, and the speed by which ships are being unloaded has management at the Prince Rupert Port Authority very excited about the port's future and hopeful that more ships like this will choose Prince Rupert as a docking destination.

"Service through Prince Rupert is greatly exceeding expectations," said Bartlett of industry reaction to the port's capacity to handle such large container ships. He said that there is no other West Coast port that can handle a ship this large.

Since the beginning of the Fairview Terminal's operations last year, the port has had a 35 per cent increase in tonnage travelling through the port. The additional throughput points to more good news for a port that has increased business by 11 per cent from January to June in comparison to last year.

Before the Napoli, the previous largest vessel to ever stop in Prince Rupert was the Long Beach, owned by COSCO. That ship held 7,455 TEUs and docked July 19.

You won’t be able to get there from there for the next little while

It’s officially construction season in Prince Rupert as the City of Prince Rupert provided its first road closure of the summer season. Actually it’s a bridge closure as repairs to the Hays Creek Bridge will necessitate the closure of the bridge to vehicles from July 30th until at least mid September.

The seven week project is required to refurbish the aging transportation link between the east side and downtown and beyond.

While cars will be banned from the bridge, City buses will still apparently travel on their regular routes with only occasional detours through Cow Bay when structural components of the bridge are being replaced.

Likewise pedestrian traffic will be allowed to use the crossing during those periods of time when actual work on the sidewalk portion is not taking place.

Motorists will be required to use George Hills Way and Drydock road or travel as far as 11 Avenue East before they can complete their treks to and from the east side through the summer.

The Bridge Closure notice appeared in Monday’s paper/


Commencing on or about July 30th, 2008 the Hays Creek (6th Avenue East) Bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic for a period of approximately seven (7) weeks. The closure is required to complete structural repairs. During this time the bus service will remain as is, as much as possible, with some detour through Cow Bay when key structural components are being replaced.

Pedestrian traffic will also be restricted from time to time while the sidewalk is being upgraded.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this work may cause and will endeavour to complete the work as quickly as possible.

City Engineering 250-627-0950

First to the standard in Port Simpson

With the province of British Columbia promoting a new standard of approval for its fish products, the Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant in Port Simpson has become one of the first processing plants in the province to receive its accreditation.

The Daily News featured the details on the new level of sustainability as the front page story in the Monday edition.

North Coast facility already has approval that rest of B. C. is being urged to seek
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pages one and three

Salmon being processed in Port Simpson will be some of the first in British Columbia to carry a new stewardship stamp of approval before they reach the local and international marketplace.
On Wed., July 23, The Daily News reported that the government of British Columbia was putting forward funding to help B.C.'s commercial fisheries attain a certified level of sustainability.

Last week, Environment Ministry Barry Penner said a $100,000 commitment from the province would further the process of getting B.C.'s seafood industry renowned as best in the world.

"British Columbians are becoming leaders in the global drive for fisheries sustainability," said Penner.

"Credible eco-labelling is increasingly important for our industry to succeed in competitive markets, and it's an important part of our government's strategy to promote B.C. seafood."

Bob Jongewaard, general manager of the Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant said he applied for the MSE certification over a year ago, and the plant finally received their certificate of approval on Thurs., July 24, the day after the article appeared in the paper.

"I think it makes us one of, if not the first ones to have the certification in the province," said Jongewaard.

After hearing about the government plan to use $100,000 to help processing plants across the province receive the standard, Jongewaard wonders if they will be able to receive some retroactive financial assistance, as it cost nearly $20,000 to finally become certified after they applied for it June, 2007.

Built in the '70s, which makes the plant relatively new by industry standards, Jongewaard said the MSC auditors were impressed with the facility's clean, bright, and large setting and modern equipment.

"It cost a fortune with the travel back and forth, and getting audited by the MSE people," said Jongewaard. " ... the certificated is valid for three years, and they audit you every year. That's in addition to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency audit we have every year."

"So now, we have two agencies that govern us, and there will probably be some more around sooner or later," said Jongewaard.

With the Marine Stewardship Council certification, the MSC logo can now be carried on all Alaskan salmon products processed for Bear's Choice Seafood at the Coast Tsimshian Fish Plant.

The MSC logo is becoming recognized as the premier in sustainable seafood standards throughout the world, and some of the world's largest consumers of British Columbia/Alaska seafood are looking for that stamp of approval.

Major retailers in the United States, European Union and Japan are increasing demanding the MSC approval for imported seafood products.

Jongewaard said the Port Simpson plant is now back up to speed after sitting quiet for years, and this summer it will be processing a range of fish from hake, crab, salmon, and sardines.

"We're participating, and we didn't expect to do it all in one year, but certainly the product has been good with what we have done," said Jongewaard.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A growing pile of Alberta right here at Ridley Island

The Globe and Mail posted an interesting story in the Report on Businnes section of last Friday's paper, outlining how Suncor out of Fort McMurray is making use of the Port of Prince Rupert to ship out petroleum coke, taken from the giant processing pits of Northern Alberta.

Suncor's growing piles of petroleum coke, combined with the purchase by CN of a little known railroad in Northern Alberta point to perhaps yet another positive development for shipments out of Ridley Terminals.

It is a project that continues to build on the theme of Prince Rupert becoming Port Alberta, as that province takes advantage of its close proximity and growing links to the Port of Prince Rupert.

Suncor's coke solution? Ahoy, Port Alberta
July 25, 2008

PRINCE RUPERT -- The massive pyramids of coal on Prince Rupert's Ridley Island are anonymous, but one has a story to tell.

The coal pile in question belongs to oil sands giant Suncor Energy Inc., which is already shipping a half-million tonnes a year through Prince Rupert to Asian and Mexican ports. Suncor hasn't decided to branch out into the coal mining business. The coal - to be more precise, petroleum coke - comes from its upgrading operations in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Although it looks and feels like coal, petroleum coke is literally the dregs of the (oil) barrel, the leftovers after crude oil and other liquids have been extracted from gooey bitumen. Until recently, petroleum coke has been something only a step above industrial waste: worth little, but a potentially big environmental headache for oil sands firms that are far from any sizable market.

Suncor alone stockpiles three million tonnes of the stuff in a year; it burns a million tonnes to power its upgrading operations, but that amount is not likely to rise because of coke's heavy carbon footprint. So, every year, the stockpile in Fort McMurray grows ever bigger, with just a trickle dribbling out to the West Coast. Without an outlet, the best use of petroleum coke will be as landfill - far from an ideal material, if the seemingly eternal underground coal fires of West Virginia are any guide.

But a confluence of tectonic shifts in the energy market, and a somewhat obscure short-line railway, are radically altering the economics of petroleum coke. Oil sands production, propelled by soaring prices, is on a rocket ride. That will drive up the volume of petroleum coke, particularly at Suncor, which will be producing close to nine million tonnes by 2012, making it one of the largest sources of coal in Canada.

Rising coal prices are key. Even though petroleum coke sells at a discount to thermal coal, its price increased fivefold in the middle part of this decade, and has continued to rise since. What had been a problem for the oil sands could now be transformed into profits - if it can be brought to market.

And that is where Prince Rupert, and a little heralded acquisition by Canadian National Railway Co., come in. Last December, just before Christmas, CN issued a press release detailing its purchase of the line running from Fort McMurray to Boyle, Alta., a dilapidated line bought for a bargain $25-million, plus a vow to spend more than five times that amount on upgrades. Long-term volume guarantees from Suncor, and two other oil sands producers, OPTI Canada Inc. and Nexen Inc., were a cornerstone of that acquisition, according to CN.

By the time Suncor is pumping out nine million tonnes of petroleum coke in 2012, those upgrades will be long completed, opening the path for the export of an enormous volume of petroleum coke from Fort McMurray, through the Rocky Mountains, to Prince Rupert and Ridley Island - and on to Asia. At today's prices, that amount of petroleum coke would top $1-billion a year - even for an oil sands company, that is serious money.

For Don Krusel, chief executive officer of the Prince Rupert Port Authority, the prospect of handling mass volumes of petroleum coke, along with other Prairies commodities, is part of his vision of turning the shipping route in northern B.C. waters into a transit corridor snaking back into the middle of Canada. He's hoping that the upgrades to the port, including the new container ship facility, will shift the mindset in landlocked provinces, opening their eyes to the possibility of Asian exports, and to thinking of Edmonton, Lloydminster and Fort McMurray as part of one export system that leads to the open waters of the Pacific. Mr. Krusel has a phrase that sums up that shift in thinking: Port Alberta.

Petroleum coke is part of Port Alberta. Sulphur - another formerly unwanted byproduct of the oil sands - could be as well, if Ridley Terminals is successful in finally getting its specialized facility up and running. Canpotex's recent announcement that it will build a potash facility on Ridley Island is also part of the picture. Mr. Krusel sees a day, not too far away, when grain, sulphur, even beef and poultry, are flowing from the Prairies through to Asia.
Ahoy, Port Alberta.

A taste for how the northern users have felt

The talk shows in Vancouver and Victoria were all abuzz this past week with the news that BC Ferries was significantly increasing the cost of transportation on the south coast.

The rate increases which come into effect on August 1 will see fares for major BC Ferries routes increase by 10.3 per cent, while minor routes will jump by 17.6 per cent on minor routes and folks taking the Horseshoe Bay-to-Langdale route will need to find an extra 9.2 per cent before they can hop on board.

Since that Wednesday announcement, ferry users on the southern routes have been slightly outspoken about the pending increases, with some suggesting that the time has come for a BC Residents discount for those that use the ferries for everyday requirements.

While our southern neighbours get all worked up about the rising cost of sailing the friendly waters of B C Ferries, northerners have been provided with a bit of break for now, as rates on the northern routes will remain as posted for the foreseeable future.

The Daily News had details on the increases in the south in Friday's paper.

'Whopping' B.C. Ferries fare hike has critics in a fury
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, July 25, 2008
Page one

Luckily British Columbia's most northern ferry routes won't be affected by yet another increase in fares but the latest hike for some routes has many people wondering just how much more expensive travelling by water might get in the province.

The BC Ferry Commissioner announced Wednesday he had approved the implementation of a fuel surcharge to "help offset the company's continued rising cost of fuel."

As of Aug. 1, fares for major BC Ferries routes will increase by 10.3 per cent - by 17.6 per cent on minor routes - and 9.2 per cent on the Horseshoe Bay-to-Langdale route.

Passengers travelling to and from Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands won't be paying more this summer, but NDP ferries critic Gary Coons said it is appalling that the Campbell government is imposing another "whopping" fare increase on B.C. ferries the same week that the government's own ferry advisory committees strongly recommended against such a move.

"On Monday, the 12 ferry advisory committees sent a report to the Campbell government warning about the dire consequences of this government's record-breaking increases to ferry fares," said Coons.

"Yesterday, the Campbell government went ahead with ferry fuel surcharges as high as 17.6 per cent on some runs. Instead of listening to the advisory committees and stopping the fare increase, this arrogant government is making the problem worse with an unfair and ineffective gas tax."

The fares affect Vancouver and Lower Mainland routes and the Southern and Northern Gulf Islands.

Earlier this week, the ferry advisory committees reported that, "surging ferry fares could threaten the viability of BC Ferries' whole system and cause substantial economic and social trauma to coastal communities."

BC Ferries has defended the fuel surcharge, saying the smaller increase affecting current customers is not as bad as rate increases affecting future passengers who would have to deal with an increase of twice as much.

"The Campbell government is ignoring the warnings from coastal communities," said Coons. "Campbell is just plowing ahead with his own agenda no matter what the cost to families and businesses who live in ferry-dependent communities."

Pen and paper put away, as local journalist moves on to “future endeavours”

The Daily News finally caught up to the conversation theme that was working its way through Prince Rupert last week, with confirmation that lead reporter Leanne Ritchie was no longer working at the newspaper.

For the last week, more than a few residents had noticed that her byline on stories had disappeared from the pages of the Daily News since early July, with as many conspiracy theories making the rounds for her absence, as the Daily can provide pages for on a Friday edition.

Editor Earl Gale provided a tribute of sorts to Ms. Ritchie’s efforts on behalf of the newspaper, but shed little in the way of light as to what her future plans may be or the circumstances of her departure . Whether they may be moving on to a larger paper, free lancing, changing careers or maybe, writing the inside story of Prince Rupert that a few of our residents seem to believe she has tucked away in a notebook somewhere.

In the course of his editorial, Gale proclaimed that Friday was the final day of Ritchie’s tenure with the paper. Though it appears that she’s been away from the press room for more than a few days, with the last article of interest printed with her byline dating back to Tuesday, July 8th and a report on the slowdown of the Housing market in Northern BC. Since then, she’s been off the pages, with the remaining staff members taking on many of the stories that once were her domain.

While taking up her news beat here, for five years they say, from her vantage point of the numerous sectors of the news she covered over the years, she provided a fairly reliable sense of what was going on around the city. Though it did seem at times that the Daily News spell checking program and transposing machinery would let her down on the odd occasion, transporting her thoughts into an occasionally jumbled heap of letters, some of which made sense, and some of them that, er well, we eventually got the gist of it all. It’s a process that wasn’t limited to Ms. Ritchie alone however, as it has seemed to bedevil reporters, editors, and publishers through the years with many interesting interpretations of the events of the North coast.

It is a bit unusual that a departing journalist, especially one with five years service on the local scene is not allowed a farewell column. One of those thanks for being so kind Rupert kind of screeds, that leaves everyone feeling all warm and toasty inside. A few final thoughts on how living in Rupert changed and or helped yet another journalist to grow and develop his/her skills and how he/she will always take a bit of Rupert with them, yadda, yadda, yadda.

That absence (Oversight?; Conspiracy?; pick your favourite ) of a farewell column, more than anything else will no doubt keep the Prince Rumour mill working overtime, and provide more than enough fodder for the local hackingthemainframe chat boards, until enough time has passed that the former reporter becomes just another in a long list of scribes that have taken leave of the north coast.

The Editorial recapping her career and sneaking in a strangely placed introduction for her replacement (here’s your coat Leanne, sorry you can’t stay! Hey there’s George!) appeared on page four of Friday’s paper.

It invites Daily News readers to share story ideas with the new guy, one might very well be hey, "whatever happened to that Leanne Ritchie gal?"

Leanne Ritchie will be missed
Today marks the end of an era at the Daily News; the final day in Leanne Ritchie’s lengthy tenure with the paper
Earle Gale
The Daily News
Friday, July 25, 2008
Page four

Leanne has been one of the longest serving members of the Daily News editorial team in recent history, racking up an incredible five years on the front lines of news-gathering in our city.

Many of those years were spent working closely with James Vassallo (who moved on one year ago after four years at the paper), and Patrick Witwicki (who is still at the Daily News and who is himself closing in on five years on the job.

In and industry in which journalists frequently bounce around from paper to paper every year or so, and in a career in which reporters all-too-often burn out because of the long hours and ever-present deadlines, Leanne, James and Patrick became anomalies – reporters who stuck around.

During her five years at the paper, Leanne built up an encyclopedic knowledge of municipal politics an politicians, the pulp industry, First Nations communities from Victoria to Alaska and the international shipping industry.

She got to read and decipher the city’s budget each year, plough through endless council reports, environmental assessments and manifestos.

All time-consuming and detailed work that requires the depth of concentration and energy that can, all-too-often, leave reporters tired and jaded.

Leanne was great at boiling complex information down into salient points and writing about things succinctly for our readers.

And while the work of a reporter can be hard at times, it is often tons of fun as well and opens doors to many interesting places.

Leanne got to interview prime ministers, cabinet ministers, larger-than-life businessmen and celebrities along the way.

Even though today is the full-stop at the end of the Leanne Ritchie chapter of the Daily News story, Monday marks the start of the next page in that story- the arrival of Leanne’s replacement, George Baker, about whom readers will hear more next week.

George will be working with Patrick and Kris Schumacher, who has been a valuable member of our team now for more than a year.

The Daily News wishes Leanne well in her future endeavours and welcomes George to the paper. He will be taking over all of Leanne’s ‘beats’ and will begin by working his way down her ‘to do’ list. We encourage readers to share their story ideas with him.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Driven by a little old gangsta on Sunday's with crime on his mind

If you're looking for a new vehicle with a bit of history, then the BC Government has just what you are looking for.

The province has begun listing those vehicles seized while in the commission of a crime and well lets just say that the late nineties Cavaliers or Escorts aren't very popular with the gangsta class.

The highlight vehicle of the BC Auction's Asset Investment Recovery pictorials is the Denali or 2003 H2 Hummer, both of which are reported to have been involved in the drug trade of Vancouver Island.

You can view the pertinent details at the BC Auction site here, from the opening page click on featured items for the full story.

The Hummer is clocking in at $32,000 for bids with eight days to go, The Denali still a bargain at just $20,000 to bid with eight days to go.

Successful bidders must pick up their vehicle at the Surrey offices of BC Auctions and then hope like heck that the former owners are pre-disposed for the next ten to twenty...

Numbers trending positive for Port of Prince Rupert

"As a result, we are maintaining a high velocity in moving customers' cargo from point of origin to destination consistently on time, efficiently and quickly."- -- Shaun Stevenson, vice president Marketing & Business Development for the Prince Rupert Port Authority outlining the ports success so far in the container moving business.

The addition of a second vessel to call on the Port of Prince Rupert is only going to improve the throughput, that at least seems to be the indication from Port Officials who have released quarterly figures which show that the word is getting out about shipping through Fairview.

While Port representatives continue to seek out a third vessel stop, they are using the current numbers to express their belief that the future is very positive for the NOrth coast and it's place in the world of shipping.

The Daily News featured details of the ports figures as the front page story in Friday's paper, while a number of North American business sites picked up the details as well. We provide links to their reports and the full Daily story below.

Progressive Railroading-- Prince Rupert port boosts cargo, container volumes in first half
Port Strategy- The Prince of Intermodalism
Opinion 250-- Rupert Port Getting Busier
Vancouver Province-- $765 million sailing into B.C.
NorthWest Arkansas Times-- Canadian official says faster imports could help Wal-Mart
AHN News-- Study Finds Booming Ports Industry In British Columbia

COSCO executive says Prince Rupert facility exceeded expectations for service and speed
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, July 25, 2008

Pages one and five

With the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles facing problems with expansion of their container terminal operations, the future of Prince Rupert's Fairview Container Terminal continues to look bright.

The addition of a second weekly COSCO ship last month is proving the reliability of the intermodal container delivery network from the port of Prince Rupert into the U.S. Add to that the growing demand of shippers for an alternate corridor and the skyrocketing price of fuel, and the rainy North Coast is looking better than ever to shipping companies worldwide.

Howard Finkel, executive vice president for trade at COSCO Container Lines Americas Inc., said in a recent Journal of Commerce article that the system of uninterrupted rail movement and delay-free customs clearance for the 80 per cent of containers bound for the U.S. has worked almost flawlessly.

Finkel said the operation has "exceeded expectations," with containers often arriving at their destination ahead of schedule.

COSCO Canada executive vice president Dave Bedwell also had good things to say about Prince Rupert.

"COSCO certainly has been very pleased with the congestion free and fluid operations of their vessels calling at the Fairview Container Terminal in Prince Rupert," said Bedwell.

"What is interesting to witness is watching an entire community doing whatever has to be done and their pride taken in doing so, to ensure that their new venture in containerization will be successful."

The first six months of 2008 saw 42,555 TEUs (435,550 tonnes) moved through the Fairview Container Terminal, an average of 7,093 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) per month. Outbound containers accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the throughput, of which 39 per cent were fully laden for export to Asia.

Weekly container volumes through Prince Rupert have been steadily increasing since early April, from 1,232 TEUs to a record of 2,631 TEUs.

The Fairview partners couldn't be happier with the performance.

The performance is especially good when the increasing volumes are compared to the North American West Coast port trend of container import declines.

"All of the players involved in the Fairview Terminal, from labour and border security services to Maher Terminals, CN and COSCO, have been working collaboratively and diligently to meet shippers' needs and expectations," said Shaun Stevenson, vice president Marketing & Business Development for the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

"As a result, we are maintaining a high velocity in moving customers' cargo from point of origin to destination consistently on time, efficiently and quickly."

The largest container vessel to call at Prince Rupert since the intermodal container terminal began operations in late October, 2007, COSCO's 7,455 TEU Long Beach, also represents another significant milestone for the Port of Prince Rupert.

The Long Beach docked on July 19, and is the second vessel of a string of five of the new CEN weekly service by COSCO and the CKYH Alliance that began July 8. To everyone's satisfaction, within 24 hours 1,956 TEUs were offloaded and loaded. This is the new service by the Alliance is comprised of vessels up to 8,200 TEUs, significantly larger than the nine 5,400 TEU container ships that make up the first weekly PNW service.

"The container volumes at the Fairview Terminal are continuing to increase almost on a weekly basis while the West Coast trend is a decrease in container imports," said Stevenson.

"This is a validation of the value proposition of the service from shippers provided by this new express trade corridor anchored by the Port of Prince Rupert."

The throughput is expected to increase substantially as both weekly service calls continue to ramp up, and the Port of Prince Rupert's overall performance continues to improve as well. Total volume throughput from January to June was 5,517,337 tonnes, up 11 per cent compared to 5,021,819 for the first six months of 2007. The container volume of 435,550 tonnes and Ridley Terminals' 2,741,906 tonnes (up 8.5 per cent) led the increase in throughput, while product through Prince Rupert Grain decreased 8.5 per cent from 2,607,407 to 2,170,643 tonnes.

Podunkian Music Club July 27, 2008

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-- Refugee

The Tragically Hip-- Poets

Coldplay-- Speed of Sound

Summer time and the music festivals are overlapping.

This past weekend Pemberton was concert central for British Columbians looking for some sunshine and rock and roll for their weekend entertainment.

So, for those of us that couldn't make the commute, a trio of headliners from this weekends festival.

We kick off the review with Tom Petty always a crowd favourite with Refugee.

Canadians held the flag high when the Tragically Hip took to the stage.

And the latest, greatest thing as they say Coldplay, closed out the festival, so they'll get the honours to close out this weeks edition of the Music Club.

Pictures of Podunk July 27, 2008, Butze Rapids

One of the more popular tourist attractions in the Prince Rupert area, the lookout just off Highway 16 overlooking Butze Rapids. The more adventurous can take a trail system down to the waterside for an interesting commune with nature.

Missed, while you were surfing (July 27 2008)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Above and Beyond progressing with the mission and posting as they go

A pair of adventurers, Leonardo Silveira and Benjamin Jordan left Prince Rupert earlier this month with a mission to travel by paramotor across the province, with the destination of Nelson and a goal of arrival on August 8th, an arrival which will more than likely be the talk of the Shambhala festival in the southeastern corner of the province .

Along the way they will be dropping in on a number of communities across the province, raising awareness about deforestation and creating a documentary on their journey as they go along. With camera apparatus as part of their main equipment on the paramotors, they are providing some fascinating pictures of the Northern part of the province, highlighting their concern over the state of our forests.

They have been posting photos and commentary as their tour progresses, with the most recent ones posted from the Smithers to Burns Lake leg of their journey.

You can follow along with their progress from their website Above and Beyond Canada, which provides a fair amount of background about them and the message they are delivering from the air.

The YouTube video at the top of this article is from Day one of their project as the pair departed Prince Rupert and began their journey to Nelson.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

CN reasserts their ownership of the waterfront rail yards

It has always been an uneasy relationship between CN and the folks of Prince Rupert, the residents seeking to have some form of access to waterfront areas of the city, while CN of course has a railway to run.

With the summer months bringing more people down to the Waterfront park and the walk between the old Rivtow yard and the Atlin Terminal, CN is once again reminding people that wandering off that thin stretch of road and onto their tracks is not only dangerous but against the law.

Once again declaring the railroad tracks and all the lands between them and the cliff sides as out of bounds, CN advises that they will again be on the look out for tresspassers who do not heed their warnings.

The official warning came in a front page story in Thursday's Daily News.

People reminded that area next to waterfront is dangerous and out of bounds to public
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Pages one and two

With the middle of summer vacation upon us, the CN Police want to give the public a friendly reminder about the importance of rail safety and the dangers of walking on or near train tracks.
"Look, listen and live" is the message that CN is delivering to B.C. families as their children are out of school for the summer holidays and are frequently playing outside.

People may think that exercising caution when using rail crossings is a no-brainer, but statistics show that since 2001 there has been a continual increase in trespassing incidents, serious injuries and fatalities relating to railway tracks across the country.

In recent years, the numbers have gone from 83 trespassing accidents in 2005 to 92 in 2006, and a staggering 100 in 2007.

The numbers are particularly worrisome considering that more than 90 per cent of accidents result in either death or serious injury.

"There haven't been any incidents since the container terminal started operating, but we have had an increase of trespassing activity in the Prince Rupert yard," said Kelly Yendrys, a CN Police official responsible for Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers.

"People are walking through the railway tracks, underneath cars and all over the place down there. We just want the community to realize that rail yards are dangerous places."

The Prince Rupert yard is located on the waterfront between Kwinitsa Station and the CN access road, and although the gravel road and waterfront area is open for public access, the area between the first set of rails and the hillside is private property and not to be used by pedestrians or other recreationalists.

Trespassing includes walking, playing and running on or beside the railway tracks, and driving a bike, a car, an ATV, or any other vehicle on or beside railway tracks.

People are also trespassing by taking a shortcut across railway tracks or railway property, or entering railway yards at any time.

Yendrys said the major safety issue for Prince Rupert involves warning the public about the dangers of the CN railyard, but that in Terrace they face a much larger problem.

"We have a huge problem in Terrace," he said. "I've been here for two years now and it's getting a bit better, but the railway yard cuts the town right in half. So, for shortcuts, people will go through the railway yard instead of using the overpass. We've even had incidents where parents will push baby carriages under rail cars. You've got to see it to believe some of the things we are seeing."

Yendrys is one of many CN Police members who speaks to more than 300,000 children and adults every year about the importance of paying attention to signs and signals at level highway-railway crossings and the dangers of walking on or near railway tracks. In fact, more than 53,000 students attended CN Police's All Aboard for Safety presentations that include safety blitzes at level crossings, simulation train-vehicle collisions, safety displays at community events, safe driving for school bus drivers and truckers, and rides for children on CN's safety train, 'Little Obie'. Yendrys made several presentations to Prince Rupert students last year, and plans to visit the community again in the fall to speak at schools and any other businesses or community groups that want to receive railway safety presentations.

CN's All Aboard for Safety community education program aims to help prevent injuries and fatalities, as well as form partnerships with community groups to help deliver the safety message. Partners include: Operation Lifesaver, Safe Communities Foundation, SMARTRISK, Safe Kids Canada, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada). During the past decade, The All Aboard Safety program has helped reduce the number of fatalities and injuries at rail crossings and on railway property.

CN Police have 10 tips for railway safety that they hope will help save lives and serious injury to Canadians in the future: Walking or playing on train tracks is dangerous and illegal. Be prepared to stop at crossings. Cross train tracks at designated highway/railway crossings. Look for the crossbuck sign, lights or gates at crossings. Listen for warning bells and whistles. Obey the signals. If one train passes, make sure that a second train isn't approaching on another track in the same or opposite direction. Obey the directions of a police officer or member of a train crew directing traffic at a crossing. Cross the tracks in low gear; do not change gears while crossing. If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out quickly and move away from the vehicle and tracks.

Schools, businesses and other organizations interested in organizing a CN Police presentation can feel free to contact Kelly Yendrys at 250-641-2884.

If you're a despot on the run, the barber was the first to go!

We have an interesting photo array for your viewing today, as we take a glimpse at some photos of the world's more notorious pair of bad boys.
From the latest picture of the recently captured War Crimes Suspect Radovan Karadzic we then wander back to a time when another of the World's baddest guys was pulled out of his spider hole retreat.

Leaving us to realize that clearly when your on the run from the world, the theory is the more facial hair the better...
In the end however, things didn't work out too well for the guy on the right, and we suspect that things won't be much better for the fellow on the left, clean shaven or full fluff..

And judgment day has arrived!

"We don't win by an award, but what we do. If we look at home much this community gives and volunteers, we walk away winners." -- Mayor Herb Pond providing the background scene setting to the welcoming night festivities for the Communities in Bloom judges.

With sunny skies and a warm breeze the Communities in Bloom judges have begun their investigation of Prince Rupert's community spirit and how it shapes up against other communities involved in the program that spans the nation.

Judges Peter Cranshaw and George Mitchell seemed quite taken with Mayor Herb Pond's opening remarks, which provided a generous bit of praise for the work of the local group that contributed to the work required to spruce the city up.

The two judges arrived in town on Tuesday and judging was to commence today, as the two representatives of the program made the rounds of the city examining and taking in many of our natural scenes.

The Daily News reviewd their arrival and what the program is all about.

Judges get first look at Rupert
Communities in Bloom officials impressed by city's community spirit
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Pages one and three

Although the judging was not due to start until today, Prince Rupert immediately impressed the two Communities in Bloom judges after their arrival in town yesterday.

"One thing we've noticed in the past five hours is that you people are incredible," said judge Peter Crawshaw.

"The community spirit is impressive, it's obvious the people help each other."

Judges Peter Crawshaw from Nanoose Bay and George Mitchell from Qualicum Beach were treated to a welcome ceremony at the museum of Northern British Columbia, which featured traditional drummers as well as speeches from Mayor Herb Pond, Communities in Bloom organizers Treena Decker and Shaun Thomas and members of the various organizations in Prince Rupert that contributed to the beautification of the city.

"It's my view that we're winners already," said Pond.

"We don't win by an award, but what we do. If we look at home much this community gives and volunteers, we walk away winners."

Judge Crawshaw echoed Pond's sentiment.

"When people hear Communities in Bloom, they all think about flowers. But it's not all about flowers. It's about community," said Crawshaw.

"The most important part is community involvement because without it, the community would just not exist ... community pride is the main winner. Communities in Bloom is just a way to show off all the good work that's already being done in town."

Crawshaw and Mitchell will be judging two other communities before heading back down south. This is Crawshaw's third year as a judge, while it is Mitchell's first.
Both men volunteer their time to do the judging.

Mitchell is retired, while Crawshaw takes time off working for the City of Parksville to do judging.

"It's my way of giving back," said Crawshaw.

Parksville has been involved with Communities in Bloom for the past five years and now competes on an international level.

Crawshaw said it is his city's chance to show off what it does best. He said every community is unique and pointed to the fact that Prince Rupert has incredible natural scenery.

"While Mayor Pond was talking, I was trying to pay attention but I was distracted by this beautiful eagle that was flying in the sun's rays," he said.

"You live in an incredible place."

Decker thanked all the volunteers who supported the Communities in Bloom effort during her speech.

"I'm really proud to be in a room with all these people because I think we have such an amazing community," she said. "It doesn't really matter what score we get."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

RCMP looking to rebuild Auxiliary program

The RCMP will be holding an information session on Thursday night at 7 pm at Northwest Community college, designed to provide information to local residents that may be interested in volunteering some of their time to the RCMP auxiliary program.

For some it's a chance to give back to the community a bit, providing assistance to the regular force and freeing them up for priority policing duties. For others it could very well be the path to a full time position with RCMP at any one of the detachments across the country.

The local auxiliary program has seen its numbers dwindle over the years, partly due to the exodus of residents due to the economy, while some others left the program when sidearms were no longer issued to those working as auxiliary officers.

Auxiliaries provide a number of services from community policing functions to ride along duty with regular officers on patrol. The age limit for participants in 19 and potential auxiliaries must have a high school diploma or equivalent, possess a valid B.C. drivers licence and be in good physical condition. Any applicant must also be able to successfully obtain an RCMP Security Clearance.

The Wednesday Daily News featured details on the Thursday night information session and some background information on what the program is all about.

Local volunteers now on RCMP's most-wanted list
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Page two and three

Tomorrow night the Prince Rupert RCMP is on a mission - recruiting the next generation of Auxiliary Constables in the community.

At 7 p.m. on Thurs., July 24, three experienced Auxiliary Constables will host an information session for anyone interested in becoming a member. The session is set for Room 155 of Northwest Community College.

Volunteering their time in the community, Auxiliary Constables are citizens who perform authorized functions in support of strategies to enhance public safety in the cities, towns and villages they live in. While their primary function is to participate in community policing activities aimed at public safety and crime prevention, Auxiliary Constables like Dan Trask and Mike Pilon are also called up when there are big events in town or when serious situations escalate and the police need large numbers to coordinate things.

"During the All-Native Basketball Tournament I go out four nights in a row, and Seafest two or three nights in a row," said Trask. "And (Monday) night I was out until midnight helping out with the gas leak, so there can be some long hours. But I enjoy helping out, it's great to give something back to the community that I've lived in almost all my life."

Trask said when he became an Auxiliary Constable six years ago, there were as many as 13 such members. But with several people eventually taking full-time jobs with RCMP detachments in other cities, and a few not able to dedicate the necessary 160 hours a year any longer, the volunteer force fell down to only five or six dedicated members.

Prince Rupert RCMP Community Policing officer Const. Krista Vrolyk said taking the program can be a way to become a full-time RCMP member.

"We ask for a two-year commitment to the program, and it gives some people who are sort of interested in law enforcement a taste of what it's like," said Vrolyk.

"Which means essentially, you'll have a year to do auxiliary work, write the exam and then if successful within a year get a call to go to depo."

The RCMP will be offering winter training classes for the Auxiliary Constable Program starting this fall, with the new group graduating in Spring 2009.

Auxiliary Constables in Prince Rupert are active in crime prevention programs, home and business safety checks, child identification programs, personal safety lectures and demonstrations, community and special events, SpeedWatch as well as police ride-a-long functions.

In order to qualify to take the program, people must be a minimum of 19 years of age, a Canadian citizen, be of good character and reputation, must have a high school diploma or equivalent, possess a valid B.C. drivers licence, be in good physical condition, and successfully obtain an RCMP Security Clearance.

"One of the things the RCMP members really enjoy is that these guys are locals. They know who's who, they know the fastest routes and where we might find people," said Vrolyk. "Their local knowledge really helps us because a lot of us are just coming into town from another community, and most auxiliaries have been here forever."

Auxiliary Constable Mike Pilon said that in addition to giving back to the community as a volunteer member, auxiliary members also get to see a side of the community that most residents normally don't see.

Pilon and Trask both came through the program at the same time six years ago.
They said they've learned a lot in that time about the city.

"There's really no downside to this, other than committing some hours," said Pilon. "It is a commitment; something you and your family have to be prepared for, and the training period is 96 hours of classroom training and 40 hours of physical defence training. And when you're local and lived here your whole life, sometimes people have to put the law between them and their friends, which could be hard for some people. But overall it's a great opportunity and it's a very rewarding way to spend a few hours a week."

Anyone with any questions about the RCMP Auxiliary Constable program is asked to attend the information session on Thursday or contact Const. Krista VROLYK at (250)-622-7700.