Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A full plate of events coming up at Chances in 2009

Prince Rupert's newest entertainment hot spot is ready to ring in 2009 in fine style and has many plans to keep those good times rolling along through the first part of the new year.

The New Years Eve edition of the Daily News featured a front page headline story on some of the changes on the way at the First Avenue dining, gambling and entertainment centre.
From movie nights to a string of special events timed to coincide with such events as the Super Bowl, Valentines Day and the All Native Basketball Tournament, Chances it would appear is going to continue to seek out new visitors, while holding their current clientele's favourites as well.

Gaming centre plans to keep evolving and expanding its services in the coming year
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Pages one and two

Since opening its doors to the Prince Rupert public just over a year ago, Chance Prince Rupert has added a number of new features to enhance the experience of patrons, including the recent addition of Food and Beverage Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Brett Kuntz.

Having worked in the Kitchen with Chef Barry Willis since the gaming centre opened in October 2007, Kuntz was ideal for the new position as Chances continues to increase its profile in the community and Northwest region.

In his new role, Kuntz hopes to take the hospitality side of things to a new level for 2009 - and the events he has already helped coordinate have proven successful.

"I'm excited about what we're offering for our Black and Gold New Year's Eve Gala, both downstairs in the convention centre and upstairs in our dining room," said Kuntz.

"We've had a lot of great feedback with our Kobe Beef promotion, and I think people have come to expect a high level of dining quality from us.

"From day one, Chances Prince Rupert has striven to provide a world class dining experience in our state-of the-art facility, and the upcoming year will see us continue to heighten our guests' experience in our lounge and dining room."

Kuntz is also behind several new initiatives, including the VIP Rewards Program, thought which points are awarded to patrons for every dollar spent in the dining room and Lush Lounge.

The points can be converted into gift cards that are good throughout the facility, and VIP cardholders will receive a two-for-one appetizer coupon as well as a monthly newsletter with exclusive promotions and specials.

“Another thing we're hoping to do in the new year is use our 20-by-20 projector screen for movie nights, with cult movies on Thursdays and classic movies on Fridays," said Kuntz.

"We want to transition from dining to a cool place to hang out later each night, whether its an old black and white, a Bruce Lee flick or something like The Godfather."

"And as we role into February with the All Native Basketball Tournament and Valentine's Day, we're hoping to host a dinner and dance on that Saturday night," said Kuntz.

Next month, will also see the introduction of monthly menu specials, with January being "A Taste of Canada" and February including foods considered to be aphrodisiacs. Kuntz also revealed that finishing touches are being made on a meeting/ dining room that will accommodate up to 16 guests for a private dinner or lunch that will enhance patron experience after dinner or when a Vancouver Canucks game finishes or event such as Wii sports Night or Sex and Music Trivia.

"We will also be introducing a new customer satisfaction survey and service standards that will give us the tools to enhance our customers overall experience," said Kuntz. "Special Days will also become yearly events at Chances Prince Rupert. In the works for January and February are events for Burns Night, Super Bowl, Valentines Weekend and Mardi Gras, and we are looking to present a food, drink, and entertainment package for each of these days."

Weather fit for a polar bear

With seemingly never ending snow, cold temperatures, the occasional northern breeze and a rather white landscape as the background, the annual Polar Bear swim is set to go on New Years Day at 1 pm at the Rushbrook Floats.

One of the heartier events for locals, the event while unofficially endorsed through the years has been a fixture for the Prince Rupert Rotary Club since 2003, making the afternoon swim a family affair, even for those that don't tip a toe (or any other body parts) in the rather frosty waters off of Rushbrook.

For those looking for more details on what is on the list of events for New Year's Day, the Daily news filled in the frosty agenda in Wednesday's paper.

Polar Bear Swim fun will help launch a new year
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Pages one and two

Gather your wits and bravery and put on your bathing caps. Prince Rupert's Annual Polar Bear Swim takes place on Jan. 1 at Rushbrook Floats, starting at 1 p.m.

There'll be prizes for the best team costume and the best male/female costume as well as free hot dogs and hot chocolate for everyone who comes out to participate - or watch.

The Prince Rupert Rotary Club has been organizing the event since 2003.

Each year, a group of Rotarians assemble a team entry for the occasion.

In past years, they've shown up as the Titanic, Yellow Submarine, a six-pack of beer, a deck of cards and the Village People. This year's entry - in the making since Dec. 12 - is a secret that will be revealed on the day, said Finn Conradsen.

"We're having a dress rehearsal Tuesday but we're keeping it a mystery until New Year's Day."

Rotary is challenging other clubs to participate with team entries and encouraging anyone and everyone to show up for the swim in a costume.

"The swim's all about having fun no matter what the weather is," Conradsen said.

The Coast Guard and BC Ambulance will be there and local firefighters will be setting up a tent.

The Big Fish doesn't always get to rule the tank

He may be the mayor of the largest municipality in the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District, but when the votes came in, Mayor Mussallem was on the outside as Barry Pages was once again selected as the chair of the regional district, his second term in that office.

Pages was elected to return to his post at the December 19th meeting, which saw both Mussallem and Area A representative Des Nobels come up short when the voting was done.

All three candidates for the position made their presentations to the Regional District forum, but Mussallem's quest to have his past experience and Prince Rupert's geographic location work in his favour didn't quite come to pass.

The full report on the activities at the December 19 meeting could be found in the New Year's Eve edition of the Daily News.

Mussallem edged out in race for district role
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Pages one and two

Barry Pages was voted in for a second term as chair for the regional district during the organization's first meeting of the new term on Dec. 19.

The Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District's initial meeting of the new session was like many government bodies after an election, with a mixture of the old and new.

The most significant parcel of news from the meeting was the naming of the new chair and vice-chair.

Three candidates were nominated, with two being mayors. Masset Mayor Barry Pages along with Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem were placed in front of the board, both having sat in the chair's role before, along with Area ‘A’ representative Des Nobels who threw his hat in the ring. All three made their case for the seat.

"In the three years I have been chair, the regional district has come a long way and I would like to keep it going," said Pages.

Mussallem reiterated his 19 years of local government experience, part of that, of course, sitting as the regional district chair. He also made his case based on geography, believing the short distance between city hall and the district office would make things easier for representation.

"We need a regional chair who can be here when senior levels of government visit, making it easier to meet face-to-face.

"It is expected that the chair will always be around for meetings," said Mussallem.

In the end, board members voted in narrowly in favour of Pages, giving him four votes to the three handed to both Mussallem and Nobels.

Mussallem was then voted in as vice-chair in vote over Nobels.

As for replacing former Prince Rupert city councillor Tony Briglio in the chair of the Northwest Regional Hospital District board, Pages was also given the nod over new SQCRD member Nelson Kinney, who was then acclaimed as the vice-chair.

The SQCRD will next meet on Jan. 16.

The Best seats in the house are almost ready for you

Prince Rupert's makeover of the Russell Gamble Gymnasium is well on its way to completion, the Vancouver based work crew specially trained in seating installation has been working through the Christmas and New Year break, eager to make its deadline of late January for full installation of new seating for the Jim Ciccone Centre's basketball shrine.

The new look and expanded seating capacity will be ready just in time for the upcoming All-Native basketball tournament, a fitting celebration for the 50th anniversary of one of Prince Rupert's sporting and cultural traditions.

The update on progress was found in Tuesday's Daily news.

Bleachers replaced with soft seats at 'the Jim'
BY George T. Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Pages one and two

The sound of nails pounding into wood and power drills curling holes in brick walls are sweet to the ears of Jim Ciccone Civic Centre staff.

Finally, the new bleachers began arriving and with funding now 68 per cent of the way there for the seats, things are looking pretty sharp in Russell Gamble Gymnasium.

TaLedi Distribution is the company that was installing the new mould seats and bleachers, worth $350,000, during the Christmas period.

While most of the nine men brought here from Vancouver were set to go home for the holidays, some stuck it out to push the project toward its finishing date in January.

“We bring up people that are trained already” said TaLeDi Director of Operations Luc Bedard.

Because two of the trained workers are certified installers, the company has offered the city a five-year factory warranty on the bleachers, which is good news for the city because replacing these expensive black and-red seats would be difficult.

Bedard said having a highly skilled team with him makes him hopeful that the project can be finished by the end of this month.

"Maybe, if things go really, really well (work will be finished early)," said the optimistic Bedard as work began last week.

He said the reason for the smooth and fast speed of the project was the way the city's department of recreation and community services stepped up to make things happen.

"The centre had everything cleaned up and had everything empty so we had total access, we didn't have to clean up after someone else - people playing basketball or people cleaning up at night, things like that, which happens on some jobs," said Bedard.

The seats are being installed for one of Prince Rupert's most important annual events, the All- Native Basketball Tournament that is heading in to its 50 anniversary, which begins Feb. 6.

The plush foam seats come with armrests, comfortable backing and they tuck conveniently under the bleacher steps when the gym needs to be opened.

He added that the gym floor was nice and level, which considering the age of the building was great news for the workers, leaving him full of praise for the way city staff had helped expedite the process.

 "All things considered, it's been an ideal thing to set up," said Bedard.

The city originally had hoped to have the funding for the work completely in place by Sept. 12, but the fund was only one-third of the way there by that time work began and the city was forced to take out a loan to get the rest of the way.

There is still hope that the final 32 per cent can be found before opening tip-off.

Lack of action on Highway of Tears signage unacceptable on North coast

The discussions have gone of for too long, and the delay in construction of a sign warning women against hitch hiking along Highway 16, also known as the Highway of Tears due to its infamy in the death and disappearance of far too many women over the last number of years.

While other communities have been quick to action in regard to the signs of warning, the process for Prince Rupert has dragged on over the years, a situation that both councillor Joy Thorkelson and MLA Gary Coons find unacceptable.

The full story on the issue of the sign and the events that have made such a thing necessary was presented in Tuesday's Daily News as the headline, front page story.

Critics wonder why other communities have sign but Rupert is still left waiting
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Pages one and two

A road sign that raises awareness of the Highway of Tears is needed in Prince Rupert, but it needs to draw attention to the fact there is a killer on the road and not blame the victims.

"The killer is the reason women are dead, not because they are hitchhiking," said Grainne Barthe, Stopping the Violence counsellor with the North Coast Transition Society.

"When we blame the victim, we remove social and political responsibility on the parts of the government and its services and on society as a whole.

"We are all responsible for keeping women and children safe. Therefore in doing so, we need to be asking questions like why are women living in such poverty that they need to hitchhike? Why are aboriginal women completely overrepresented in the number of women who have gone missing on the Highway of Tears? And importantly, what is being done to solve these murders so that at the very least, the families of the dead and missing women can have some form of minimal closure?"

Barthe said that women do not hitchhike because they want to, but rather because they have to.

In larger urban centres such as Vancouver, public transportation is more readily available to cover larger distances. Whereas in rural and northern communities, public transit is only available within towns and not for getting from one town to another.

"A one-way Greyhound bus ticket to Terrace from Rupert is $28," said Barthe. "$28 is a fortune for women in poverty."

It's been over a year since City of Prince Rupert councilor Joy Thorkelson proposed that a sign be erected on the western stretch of Highway 16 near Prince Rupert, similar to signs in Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers.

Thorkelson suggested the city follow that direction and put up a sign to discourage hitchhiking, given the numerous disappearances of young women over the years.

''A number of those young women came from here, worked here or were murdered just out of here," said Thorkelson to fellow councillors in November 2007.

"There's a highway sign now in Kitsukalum," said Thorkelson.

"It would sure be nice to have a highway sign here. We could just probably copy somebody else's board, we don't have to be original. The two boards I have seen are pretty similar."

However, no further action has been taken to put a sign up locally. North Coast MLA Gary Coons has been a strong advocate for government action toward solving the many cases of missing and murdered women in Northwest British Columbia, having attended the Highway of Tears symposium and supported its key recommendations.

"This is a very important issue that needs intervention from both levels of government," said Coons. "If anywhere else had over 500 women gone missing or been murdered there would have been outcries of rage.

"But due to race, inaction has been the order of the day from both the federal and provincial governments."

Coons said in recent meetings in Prince George he and other elected officials had discussions with local First Nations who are concerned that the minimal provincial funding will lead to a total lack of progress in meeting the key recommendations of the symposium, one of which includes warning signs near each affected community.

"We need action," said Coons.

"We need an inquiry to find out what happened, who is responsible, and to prevent any more senseless deaths along the Highway of Tears and elsewhere."

School District has many options for the future to look over

With the consultants having delivered their report, School District officials, elected school board members and the general public will now have some time to look over the options as to how they wish to see the Education system in Prince Rupert evolve over the next few years.

With a number of choices to be made, the current set up of two high schools and a diminishing number of elementary schools may find some reworking as the next four to five years come to pass.

The Daily News outlined some of the ideas that were put up for consideration earlier in December.

Trustees are on the right track contends Mercer
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, December 29, 2008
Pages one and two

The preliminary report and recommendations for School District 52 schools was thorough and reaffirmed that the board has been proceeding in the right direction, said Superintendent of Schools Eric Mercer.

"I think people are still really digesting it, and there was a good turnout there," said Mercer.

"I was impressed to a certain degree that it didn't tell us much different than what we were already planning. It's valuable information that show we were on the right track in identifying what the challenges to our facilities are.

"The analysis looks at the complete community as puts forward at least two which are the most likely to be viewed by the government as real plans.

Now what we have to do is continue to consult with the community.

Matrix Planning Associates hired by the school district to deliver a comprehensive report on the state of the buildings currently housing the students of Prince Rupert, and compile data necessary for the school board to make decisions for the future of education in the community.

William Wood from Matrix presented the company's preliminary report at a special school board meeting held earlier this month that included a list of six scenarios recommended to SD52 to achieve the standard school capacities as set forth by the Ministry of Education.

The six scenarios would each bring the district to an average utilization rate above 85 per cent, and each would reduce the number of Prince Rupert schools by al least one building. Of the six scenarios Matrix recommended two, both of which call for a single secondary school, with maximum utilization and full funds available for educational programs and the upgrading of each elementary schools.

One would see both PRSS and Port Edward closed, while Charles Hays would be expanded, while the other would convert PRSS to a junior middle school, with Port Ed, Westview and Conrad all closed, and the French Immersion program moved to Roosevelt.

The estimated costs associated with the scenarios won't be known until Matrix delivers its final report in early January, possibly in time for the next regular school board meeting on Jan. 13.

However, even after the board has formally met to discuss the report, and members of the public have had opportunity to provide feedback, any major changes to the district won’t happen for at least two to three years.

"We could be as many as five years out still, but having a plan in place is crucial should the opportunity arise, so we are ready for it," said Mercer. "It would be a shame if we missed out on an opportunity to gain capital project funding for the district."

Port talks to resume on Saturday

Talks to avert a strike on British Columbia's waterfront will resume on Saturday, as the union representing 540 foremen and the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association strive to continue the progress they made on Monday.

The labour dispute which involves issues such as pension payments and working conditions due to technological advances, had been working against a January 2nd strike deadline, a deadline which has been pushed back by local 514 of the ILWU, while negotiations continue.

A port shutdown, would affect all marine traffic except for federally protected grain shipments and even the prospect of such a disruption has already resulted in container lines diverting their vessels to American ports in order to avoid any delays.

It's that uncertainty that has the BC Marine Employers concerned over the prospect of lost volume and loss of customers.

It was the potential of a labour disruption that saw Prince Rupert Port Authority President Don Krusel drop a line to the Federal Labour Minister, outlining his concerns that any disruption to the flow of trade may have on the Port of Prince Rupert.

While the negotiators and their mediators look over their briefing books in anticipation of Saturday's discussions, local marine labour commentators have been weighing in on the topic over at hackingthemainframe, with a lively and occasionally bare knuckle bit of negotiating of their own.

Other items of interest on the topic:

Journal of Commerce--Vancouver work stoppage averted, new talks scheduled
Shipping Digest-- Canadian Shippers need to consider contingency plans
Nanaimo Daily News-- Port hopes strike can be avoided
Opinion 250 Prince George-- IPG Boss Writes Minister of Labour

About that last election Mr. Mayor

"their expectations are unrealistic about what we can do."-- Burnaby Mayor Derrick Corrigan, explaining to his residents that they may be asking too much of his city and its workers...

The folks down Burnaby way may be re-thinking the wisdom of their electoral vote last November, after the Mayor of Burnaby suggested that they were being unrealistic in their expectations of snow removal for the Lower Mainland municipality.

Mayor Derrick Corrigan, having spent over 1 million dollars of the city's snow removal budget, seemingly to no avail, is telling his residents that the time may be at hand to reduce their expectations when it comes to plowing and sanding the streets.

Not inclined to spend the money on infrastructure that may only be used once or twice a decade, the Mayor instead feels that the people need to better acclimatize themselves to the reality of snow, slush and unplowed streets.

Instead of investing in plows, sanding trucks and such which are the staple of most Canadian cities in winter, the Mayor instead thinks that it might be a good idea for the city to instead put their money into a public awareness campaign for residents about snow management.

Not to be a Monday morning Mayoralty quarterback, but unless the snow management campaign includes the mayor dropping by to help shovel out the residents side streets, we suspect it won't be greeted particularly well.

For the Mayor's hopes of re-election in three years, we hope that Burnaby has a snow free future, otherwise we suspect it might be a Corrigan free future...

CBC News--Adjust your expectations, mayor tells snowbound city

Nathan Cullen anxious to educate the Finance Minister

With the fate of the Harper government hanging on a budget to be delivered at the end of January, the MP for Skeena- Bulkley Valley is hopeful that the Conservatives will be paying attention to the needs of the riding.

The NDP MP outlined his plans to hold economic forums in the Northwest in January as a way of learning the desires of the areas constituents, feedback that he will relay to the Finance Minister, as Jim Flaherty prepares for what will be his most important financial speech in his tenure in the office.

The Daily News provided some background on the forums and what they hope to achieve as the front page story in Monday’s paper.

Local MP says he will make sure the Finance Minister learns needs and wants of region BY GEORGE T. BAKER
The Daily News
Monday, December 29, 2008
Pages one and two

When Jim Flaherty unveils the federal budget on Jan. 27, Nathan Cullen is hoping there will be some provisos for the Pacific Northwest region and he hopes they will come out of discussions with his constituents.

Cullen announced that the Northwest would play host to at least four economic forums next month as he prepares information regarding economic interests in the Northwest for the federal budget that will be announced Jan. 27.

"We are going to be setting up four and probably quite a few more economic recovery forums across the Northwest. We are starting with the four communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers," said Cullen.

He said the forums would be held to engage local residents in the main issues and choices the federal government will face in regards to taxes, spending for infrastructure and economic stimulus, and what to do about environmental issues.

"It would be essentially a report card for me to take to Ottawa on the Northwest by which to judge the budget and to engage people on how it is we as a region can use what the government is going to offer to our best advantage" said Cullen.

Cullen added that because the Northwest has been living through its own economic recession for many years, residents have been forced to come up with themselves on how to address a downturn in finances.

He said he has been traveling in recent weeks discussing with his constituents what needs to be done.

Perhaps, he suggests, there has been a positive spin on the economic wobbles, having helped spur locals in to greater democratic participation

"The engagement level - I have never seen it this high in my four years in office. Folks are very much engaged on both sides of the issue," said Cullen.

On the open forums flip-side, it looks like the open house forums scheduled for the Northwest with regards to Shell Canada’s plans in the Klappan are off the table for now.

A series of forums had been planned for next month by Shell but with the recent announcement that the company would not pursue further exploratory drilling in the "Sacred Headwaters" for the time being, the plans were shelved.

"In terms of the Northwest, I think we have made the case to the provincial government and I hope to the region at large that this is dangerous stuff.

"Playing Russian roulette with our rivers is going to going to take a whole lot of convincing for the people of the Northwest to give in to," said Cullen.

Cullen said the larger question now at play is how does the region create wealth and how does it create energy, which he believes are a crucial component to the whole coalbed methane dilemma.

The reason for the January open forum was the possibility of drilling in the spring season.

Filling up with outrage at Northwest pumps

With a bit of time on his hands with the prorogation of Parliament, Nathan Cullen the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley has been doing some driving around the different communities of the riding, and with his journey has come a shared pain with his constituents, that of the high price of gasoline in some communities of the Northwest.

Last Wednesday’s Daily News outlined Cullen’s travels and thoughts on the price and pricing of gasoline.

Gas Price inequity angers MP
Nathan Cullen wants fairness on forecourt
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Pages one and three

Wildly fluctuating gas prices for customers from Smithers to Prince Rupert has Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen thinking that it might be time for the Canadian Competition Bureau to looks into the way different gas prices are reached.

"For anyone to believe that this is a free and open market in which prices are determined by open demand they are living on another planet," said Cullen during his latest bi-monthly teleconference.

Like many people in the Northwest, Cullen drives the roads and has seen the varying prices where, according a website dedicated to providing up-to date gas prices across the province,, the price for gas Monday morning in Smithers was 77.9 cents per litre and the price in Prince Rupert was 83.9 cents per litre.

"From the analysis of a bunch of energy economists, it's what will the consumer bear?" said Cullen.

The MP said instability in the Middle East caused a more compassionate consumer base when it came to high oil prices but when things calm down _ and petroleum prices drop as they have in the past month - consumers expect prices to reflect that.

The Associated Press reported that oil prices fell below $42 a barrel on Monday as reports from manufacturers including Toyota and Caterpillar pointed to a worsening global economic climate and serious deterioration in energy demand.

The Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries cut back 2.2 million barrels in production the largest cutback in history - in an attempt to push up the price.

"One, is what can consumers physically pay for and two is what can they intellectually tolerate. If the news is filled with higher oil prices or if there is crisis in the Middle East, then consumers will tolerate higher prices," said Cullen.

He criticized the fact that the supply and demand notion seems to be completely out the window and that when, both nationally and regionally, there are towns right beside refineries paying 15 cents more than towns a thousand kilometers away from refineries, the system is out of step with proper economics.

"Prices need oversight," he said.

First Nations seek more involvement in Northern Gateway project

We catch up with some news after the Christmas break by back tracking to Christmas Eve's Daily News and an examination of the Northern Gateway project, the Enbridge pipeline plans, which currently are working their way through environmental assessments and preliminary planning.

With a pipeline that will be snaking through many First Nation's territories, the process will involve consultation and reviews from across the northern part of the province, last Wednesday's Daily News featured the impact of the pipeline on the Carrier Sekani lands and where they stand on the process so far.

The story was the front page, headline item in the Christmas Eve edition of the Daily News.

Carrier-Sekani claim meaningful review of pipeline plan needed in addition to funding
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Pages one and two

Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council Elected Chief David Luggi said his band has been offered a combined total of $830,000 to sign on to the federal government's environmental assessment of Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway project.

The first $30,00 came from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, while the second was a whopping $800,000 offer from Enbridge officials.

But the elected chief thinks that really isn't enough to cover the cost of true participation and highlights why his nation wants an independent First Nations-led review of the project.

"What they are saying to our nation is if you want to participate in the (CEAA) process - or any other process - here is the form, you fill in the blanks and you get $30,00 for it," said Luggi.

The CSTC is currently seeking the right to conduct a First Nations Review process for the project following fears that the Stuart River and many creeks might be adversely affected by the project if there were oil spills.

The tribal council would need $2.4 million in funding to make the process work.

Luggi said the First Nation is not looking for a hand-out.

"We have been basically oppressed on our territories and been denied any chance for revenue-share in more recent years, governments have been deriving their revenues from production of natural resources - resources in our territories - fibre, minerals, and oil and gas. If you add up the requirements and call it a hand-out for infrastructure, it is a very tiny amount, if 'you add up the revenues that all the governments get compared to what we get," said Luggi.

Right now, First Nations have no decision-making authority in the process or the result and the decision making criteria under t IH' environmental assessment office legislation does not include any mandatory First Nations criteria.

In addition, the 2002 amendments to the Be Environmental Assessment Act removed a legislated role for First Nations from the process.

According to a letter sent to Luggi on June 22 by Enbridge's Director of Aboriginal Relations Leonie B. Rivers, the would-be pipeline builder offered the payment as part of a mutually agreeable protocol agreement on June 11 to CSTC Business Analyst Barry Vickers.

The offer came a full week before the company applied to have the project listed under review again after a two-year suspension.

"But what (Enbridge) said was we have to put on their handcuffs and get in to the National Energy Board process," said Luggi.

The letter, obtained by The Daily News, shows an offer that would have included clauses extending from confidentiality about the agreement itself, to an outline of communications between both Enbridge and csrc, and for the Tribal council to work hand-in-hand with Enbridge through the federal environmental assessment.

However, the CSTC rejected the offer on July 23, saying the federal EA was not sufficient to ensure its environmental concerns about the project were met and because the CSTC was not in a position to impose a protocol agreement on its eight member bands.
The federal government calls it consultation and that this is how the process works.

According to CEA Senior Communications Advisor Lucille Jamault, a letter was sent to 62 Aboriginal communities in October, including the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, inviting them to comment on the draft Joint Review Panel Agreement, which includes the panel Terms of Reference.

This comment period for Aboriginal groups comes prior to a 60-day public comment period on the agreement that will be held early in 2009.

"The agency is making available funding to Aboriginal communities to encourage their participation in the EA process and continues to provide information to these communities on how the EA process will function," said Jamault.

"Letters that were sent to FNs included an invitation to apply for participant funding (which is administered by the agency) along with a funding application form. To date, funding applications have been received however funds have not been disbursed for this project."

To be eligible for funding, Aboriginal groups must plan to engage in aboriginal consultation activities with the federal government that are linked to the EA of a project. Applicants must complete an application for funding. Successful applicants must sign a contribution agreement and submit a request for payment with supporting documentation before they can receive the funds.

Aboriginal groups are eligible to apply for funding if they can demonstrate that they have either direct local interest in the project, have community or Aboriginal traditional knowledge relevant to the EA; or have expert information relevant to the anticipated environmental effects of the project.

Luggi said that baseline studies and other data potentially completed by Enbridge to look a~ and analyze, requiring a lot more than $30,000 for the different experts needed to get beyond the opening pages of the such studies.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night..

Merry Christmas to all ye who visit our humble little site...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Coal in the Air Canada stockings this year...

If air travellers have their way, Air Canada will be finding coal in their stockings this year, with winter apparently a new phenomenon to the airline, Air Canada has all but closed up shop on its BC and Alberta flights on Christmas eve.

At the same time that officials at Vancouver International Airport were declaring that things were going smoothly as far as runway conditions (both YVR runways are clear and open) and airport operations were concerned, Air Canada was rattling off cancelled indicators on all short and medium haul flights in and out of Vancouver, on this Christmas eve not a creature was stirring at Air Canada except for those on long haul flights to Toronto and Montreal and International flights.

With little in the way of explanation, thousands of air travellers were suddenly left with the realization that making it to their destination for Christmas might very well be out of the question. Many suspect that the airline was having problems moving its resources around the province and or finding crews to staff the flights.

Interestingly enough, major American airlines and other smaller regional players and West Jet, Canada's alternate airline didn't seem to having near as many problems as the planes with the maple leaf on their tails, West Jet flights for the most part were leaving and arriving from Vancouver on time, or delayed by only a few minutes.

One suspects that perhaps they might wish to invest in a little more rolling stock for 2009, we have a feeling that there are going to be a large number of Air Canada passengers defecting in the New Year...

Air Canada travel advisory

Environment Canada forecasts

Update: A few more flights for Air Canada and a few coals for West Jet as well, who also had some troubles in the last few days fulfilling their customer service commitments

Port Delay may bring benefits in reduced construction costs when it comes time to build Phase Two

With BC about to enter into a recession, the delayed construction of phase two of the Fairview Container Port may at least benefit from a re-evaluation of labour and construction costs for such huge projects.

That is one of the small silver linings that a UBC professor has outlined for the Daily News on the details of Friday's Globe and Mail story on an eighteen month delay of the much anticipated expansion project.

The UBC professor put labour and construction costs as a possibility in the plus side of the ledger, an accounting of the project which features any number of other plus and minus situations for the eighteen month push back on the timeline for Phase Two.

The full review from UBC Professor Garland Chow was the featured front page, headline story in Tuesday’s paper.

UBC professor says easing off now may mean more affordable construction costs
The Daily News
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Pages one and three

According to one UBC port expert, there are pluses and minuses to Friday's news that the port will not begin Phase 2 of its expansion plans as soon as once hoped.

Garland Chow, an associate professor with the operations and logistics division of the UBC Sauder School of Business, said there are repercussions of slowing progress on Phase 2.

"There are two phases of economic development with regards to the port. One of them is the actual business that you have generates jobs.

"You have a terminal there, you have a port there, you have ships making calls and, yes they may lose some of that in this economy, but that's not going to stop the port from running and ensuring the jobs from what I can see," said Chow from Vancouver.

According to his UBC bio, Chow has been a consultant to a number of U.S. and Canadian firms in distribution and transportation as well as to provincial and federal government in both the U.S. and Canada.

His logistics and supply chain publications have dealt with the transportation purchase decision, the measurement of carrier service quality, the use of microcomputers in logistics, shipper evaluation of carrier financial stability, just-in-time logistics in Japan, global logistics trends, retailing and logistics strategy, outsourcing and location of warehousing and distribution in transportation sensitive industries.

"The actual benefit that the port provides to Prince Rupert today will be marginally impacted."

Chow said there is a plus and minus to Friday's revelation.

The plus is that the shortage of good labour and personnel in the province at the moment is mitigated by a down turn in construction activity, eliminating some of the inflationary costs from the past two years where original estimates for construction jobs were inflated by 25, 50 and sometimes even 100 per cent. Chow estimated that the construction plan then included the paying of very high end wages. So, if the PRPA delays that a little bit, possibly by a year, it may mean more reasonable construction costs.

"Let's face it. The economic downturn is happening all over North America and to be honest if (PRPA) had already negotiated construction contracts it would have probably needed to renegotiate them anyways, said Chow.

"But all over North America it's the same situation."

Chow said that the port cannot be blamed for the financial downcast and that even he would not have predicted this current money climate.

As for the minus, Chow said the multiplier effects (income and employment) that come with mega construction projects would be differed, as well as shipping business spin offs.

While the port has seen an increase of ships making call at Fairview bringing the total to 28,296 TEUs for the month of October and 131,084 TEUs for the year to date.

The October throughput is 52 per cent higher than September and a 177 per cent increase over the first month of operations in November 2007 when the terminal handled 10,225 TEUs.

Still the port can handle more, said Chow.

He added that Prince Rupert has in the past offered reliability because it was not at capacity.

"Prince Rupert still has the capacity to take more freight and still make a good claim to their potential customers that it has a better chance of moving freight reliably then the competitors down south because it is not even near capacity," said Chow.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Pope joins the cult of Apple

When it comes to meshing the old testament with the new technologies, it seems the Vatican gives its blessing to Apple. An endorsement (or embrace for those that feel uncomfortable about endoresements at the Vatican) that many other technology providers would probably commit any number of deadly sins to receive.

The Vatican has given the official okey dokey to an on line prayer book designed for use with the Apple iPhone. Known as the iBreviary, it provides instant, all be it one way communication with Vatican content providers.

Need some spiritual guidance in between phone calls, then simply punch up your Breviary prayer book application and find solace in any number of languages, the application also includes prayers for the Daily Mass and other specialized prayers for any number of er, applications.

At a cost of $1.10 with free upgrades, you could say that it's a steal, just remember to go to confession afterwards

Monday, December 22, 2008

Maybe Santa will bring you a snow shovel...

If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, this may be the year your dreams come true...

If the weather forecast as provided on the Weather network is correct, then Podunkians will be hoping that Santa has a healthy supply of snow shovels in his sack for distribution to good boys and girls.

This week's forecast from the weather prognosticators calls for 10 centimetres of snow on Christmas Eve, another 10 on Christmas Day, a break of only 1 centimetre for Boxing Day, followed by 5 to 10 centimetres on Saturday, another 10 to 15 on Sunday and then five more on Monday.

Grand total accumulation over five days of possibly 51 centimetres. Which would make for a whole lot of shovelling for the residents and perhaps a whole lot of overtime for the city workforce.

The long range fourteen day forecast is providing graphics that suggest the snowy weather will continue right through until past New Years day, making for white holidays for sure, but a heck of a lot of shovelling to go with it.

Of course, long time observers of the weather channel and of weather forecasting for the North Coast in general will explain that what they say, isn't always what's on the way.

Depending on your point of view, you are either hoping they are spot on with their forecast, or that once again they've gotten it all wrong.

Your back will advise you accordingly by New Year's Day which path was followed.

Baby waits for no traffic tickets…

An apparently over zealous Prince Rupert traffic enforcement officer is the highlight of Monday’s paper, as the Daily News recounts the tribulations of would be parent hood for a local Prince Rupert resident.

As Monday’s paper outlines, local tattoo artist Patrick Tutin missed the birth of his child last week, after running afoul of one of the provincial traffic regulations, waiting outside the Prince Rupert hospital for a traffic ticket while the Missus, was inside adding to the population of Podunk.

Tutin it is reported had made a turn without using his signal lamp, which led to some dramatics on the way to the hospital and eventually a missed debut for a baby girl.

While it appears that the RCMP have decided to cancel the ticket, Mr. Tutin is still upset after having missed the arrival of his child and is seeking a full apology from the RCMP for their traffic officers vigilance in maintaining the law, without giving thought for a break for extenuating circumstances.

The Daily News provides the background of the Tutin’s side of the story, as well with the RCMP interpretation of the night’s events.

Police officer refused to bend rules as man rushed to the hospital
The Daily News
Monday, December 22, 2008
Pages one and three

As tattoo artist Patrick Tutin franticly drove his wife Jennifer to the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital last week, likely the last thing on his mind was the trouble he was about to get into with an RCMP officer intent on writing him out a ticket.

With his pregnant wife on the verge of giving birth, Tutin made his way to the hospital along East 11th and McBride, hoping that he would get to hospital in time. Never did he imagine that an RCMP traffic officer would stand in his way.

"I was driving to the hospital and (the officer) said 1 didn't signal and, he wanted to pull me over," Tutin recounted for the Daily News.

Tutin said he was not speeding and decided he would continue his journey to the hospital because getting his wife and soon-to-be-newbom to the waiting professionals was more important than explaining himself to the traffic officer.

"I was waving my hands out the window that 1 was going to the hospital and he pulled up beside me and he was freaking out beside me that 1 needed to pull over but 1 just kept waving at the hospital and screaming at him to tell him I was going to the hospital."

According to Tutin, the officer eventually pulled in front of him just before Roosevelt Elementary School and slammed on his brakes bring both to a hard stop.

"He got out and started freaking out at me. I was trying to explain to him that the baby was coming but he sat there and argued with me for three or four minutes," said Tutin, whose wife Jennifer then began screaming that time was of the essence and that they could not go over proper driving conduct when there was a more pressing need.

The officer eventually backed off a little and escorted the Tutin’s to the hospital, where Patrick ran his wife to the nurses and then returned to deal with the police officer. 

Unfortunately for Tutin, by the time he had finished with the by-the-book officer, his new daughter Abby-Lynn was already born. It only took eight minutes but according to Tutin he has been robbed of a memory of a lifetime.

“I was blown away, I walked into the room and staff said ‘It’s a girl’, I was like what?

Even though the officer paid a visit to Patrick at his tattoo shop to tell him to forget about the ticket, Patrick said it does not go nearly far enough to square up for what he has lost.

“This is the birth of my daughter. He didn’t say sorry he just told me not to worry about the ticket.”

Tutin now wants an official apology from the RCMP for the way he and his wife were treated during the ordeal.

Community Policing Officer Krista Vrolyk said that the RCMP is aware of the incident.

“I think it is really important that everyone knows that the police officer involved is a father himself. He had no intention of the events going the way they did. No one could have anticipated the events going that quickly including the father,” said Vrolyk.

“The police officer’s priority was to get them to the hospital so that they would receive medical attention and deliver the baby at the hospital,”

Vrolyk confirmed that the violation ticket would not be proceeded with and that Prince Rupert was looking into what next step to take.

Whether it be an official form of an apology or not, she could not say at this time.

Opinions by the container load over recent Globe and Mail Port story

Last weeks Globe and Mail report, first outlined early Friday morning locally here on the Podunk blog, has quickly become the talk of the town, as the Daily News featured some reaction to the Globe and Mail’s examination of future development for phase two of the container port.

Monday’s front page, headline story in the Daily News featured more feedback from Port President and CEO Don Krusel, who reiterated his view from the weekend that there really was nothing new in the Globe and Mail story.

The Daily also sought out some comment from the community, with a local realtor and the Mayor weighing in with their interpretation of where the port project stands as far as impact in the community.

Of particular interest to Rupertites is what is almost a throwaway disclosure regarding the Economic Development Office for the city, which apparently has not had anyone heading up the organization as manager. As things heave developed in Economic Development, former manager Chris Colussi apparently has followed his predecessor at PREDC, Jim Rushton onto the waterfront.

Mr. Rushton left economic development to move over to Maher Terminals, while the Daily News provides the word that Mr. Colussi has joined the workforce at Fairview Terminals.

Leaving the Economic Development managers office apparently left vacant for who knows how long, something that might have been of interest to the community, wondering if the City is working to any degree to attract new industry to the struggling economy.

With the port project pushed back on its timeline, the call has once again been made for diversification, of course, at the moment one wonders who would answer the inquiries for such diversification if there’s nobody running the shop at Economic Development.

The details on both angles of what started from the Globe and Mail story could be found in Monday’s Daily News.

Port boss Don Krusel says news reports of a slowdown on phase two are not accurate
The Daily News
Monday, December 22, 2008
Pages on and three

One day after the announced plans for the Rio Tinto Alcan Modernization project were slowed in Kitimat, a national newspaper was reporting that the Prince Rupert Port Authority's expansion plans were also slowing.

But President and CEO of the port authority Don Krusel is adamant that the slower progress is not new news.

Responding to a Globe and Mail story that appeared Friday, Krusel said the story implied that plans for Phase 2 for Fairview Terminal had changed recently because of the global recession and resulting financing woes.

"Nothing has changed," said Krusel from his office in the Atlin Terminal building Friday. "For the record, the port authority and all the partners remain committed to expanding Prince Rupert in an appropriate and timely fashion."

The Globe and Mail reported that, according to a confidential study commissioned by Transport Canada and the port authority by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the PRPA had hit a debt wall and was about to breach $22-million-worth of loans.

It also mentioned that the PRPA's limited cash flow and inability to borrow against its lands meant it could not support a $200 million increased debt burden purportedly needed to get Phase 2 going.

Krusel refuted that, stating that the $200 million in lending was not necessarily needed for Phase 2. He also said the PRPA has not even seen the report and said it was not clear where the information referenced came from.

"We still have not, with the commercial partners, we still have not confirmed or finalized the make-up of the financing of Phase 2 and so it may not be necessary for $200 million in financing for that project to move forward."

Things have changed since 2005 when the PRPA was eager to get going on Phase 2, and even since Oct. 1 because the global shipping market has fallen upon hard times along with the rest of the world's economy.

Just three years ago, the PRPA had hoped to get Phase 2 up and running by 2009, with the first shovel breaking ground by 2007.

"Right in time for the winter Olympics," Krusel told the Daily News at the time.

It's quite possible he could have meant the winter Olympics - Sochi, Russia in 2014 - because that is when Krusel is now expecting the first ship to dock at the Phase 2 facility.

An example of how things have soured for the shipping world would be major Fairview Terminal customer COSCO. On Saturday, it was revealed that the Chinese shipping titan, the largest shipper to Fairview, made losses of $585 million in the last quarter because of its commitments to Freight Forward Agreements (buying future freight contracts with the hopes they would be cheaper than the future rates), after betting that freight rates would remain higher than their future contracts.

Tightening shipping margins have greatly impacted port revenues on the West Coast creating a business scramble among ports from Long Beach/Los Angeles to the Port of Vancouver, with the IA port targeting business in Prince Rupert as a main opportunity to suck business back in.

Just over a month ago, the Californian port said it was contemplating a short-term incentive program to pay tenants $10 for every new TEU they bring to the port by either adding a new service or luring an existing service from another West Coast port.

But Krusel denies that has anything to do with the port's expansion plans.

"When Prince Rupert first opened up the main competitive advantage was we were bringing new capacity online into an industry that was capacity starved. Now, with the downturn in the economy, other factors are more important in the competitive territory.

"In reality, it is actually putting Prince Rupert on show and demonstrating that we actually have the superior competitive advantage compared to all of the other West Coast ports," said Krusel.

He said that the new competitive market share is allowing the port to become a winner because Prince Rupert's much-ballyhooed intermodal system is delivering containers faster, more economically and more reliably than any other trade corridor on the West Coast of North America.

According to a Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters survey released last Thursday, exporters are being knocked around worse than Rocky Balboa, with 67 per cent of British Columbian respondents claiming business was down, 52 per cent across the nation, with primary metal" taking the biggest punches.

Concerns have also been raised by local MLA Gary Coons that both the Conservative federal government and the B.C. Liberal provincial government have not been fully committed to investing in the port, suggesting per haps that the provincial government is spending too much time focusing 011 the controversial Deltaport rather than the much
embraced Port of Prince Rupert.

Krusel dismissed those concerns, suggesting that while funding is always important it is not critical to the success or failure of the expansion plans.

And for the future in container shipping, Krusel remains buoyant that we will see increased traffic coming through Fairview Terminals.

"The long-term prognosis for container volume on the West Coast of North America is quite bullish and the anticipated demand is expected to proceed in both Vancouver and Prince Rupert."

Leaders say time is right to diversify economy
The Daily News
Pages one and three

Local reaction to news that phase two of the Fairview Terminal expansion will not happen until 2014 did not include much shock among North Coast leaders.

And it seems that community leaders are saying now is the right time to diversify the economy, if nothing else.

"In the short-term it means that we need to continue on and in some cases redouble our efforts to ensure that there is support for port facilities in Prince Rupert and to let people know that we are solidly behind that and that port development is part of our future," said Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem.

Mussallem said enhancement expansion of port facilities would playa key role in our community and renewed development and beyond that the city would keep pursuing other opportunities for other port facilities.

"People are well aware of the possibilities of a potash terminal here and there are other thing that we would be looking to get done through our economic development, through investment opportunity programs," said Mussallem.

Currently, the Prince Rupert Economic Development Corporation has no one leading the charge. Former economic development manger Chris Collussi left to work for Fairview Terminals and has not been replaced.

Perhaps reinvigorating that might change local fortunes but Mussallem said he saw more opportunities opening up regionally.

"Regionalization of some services and some other programs putting the emphasis on the North Coast."

In Port Edward, District Manager Ron Bedard said that this news obviously meant, economically, it would affect the bedroom community's property sales.

"Property we have for sale for subdivision and housing is not going to happen and the number of people moving to the community is going to be impacted," said Bedard.

After a strong year for all communities in the Northwest region in 2007, the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board (BCNREB) had a very positive outlook for 2008, although it did expect the real estate market to settle down.

The median average price of the single-family homes sold in 2008 has increased to $172,500, up from $164,727 at the end of 2007.

However, the increase is much less dramatic than in the two years prior, given that the average home in Prince Rupert sold for $118,738 in 2005.

That was before there was any serious talk around the world of an economic recession.

Local real estate agent and B.C.Northern Real Estate Board member Victor Prystay said he received news from a friend in San Francisco through an email and said he couldn't say he was surprised.

"Given this current international financial morass that's going on ... you know the business plan is still good and it may be put off for a year or 18 months but I would think the port is being conservative and being a pollyanna because I think it will be sooner," said Prystay.

Ever the optimist, Prystay hopes the economic downturn will end sooner rather than later.

He said the promises of a Northwest gateway have been envisioned for some time as a logical geographical delivery point for Asian goods.

"Charles Hays had it right one hundred years ago and we are proving that it's right even if the container traffic diminishes I gotta believe that (shippers) want to get their product to where they want to get it in the most efficient, most economic fashion and we are it," said Prystay.

In recent months, house sales in the north have fallen by 22 per cent.

"I think our downturn this year was the consequence of the first eight months of the port in operation (workers) only got 20 hours per week.

"Since then we have had five months of 40 hours a week, so I think that by spring those people who are working down there are going to be a position where they are going to be able to buy," said Prystay.

Prince Rupert Port Authority President and CEO Don Krusel wants Prince Rupert take a breather at the news that Phase 2 will not be online until 2014 at the earliest.

"We remain focused and committed to expanding Fairview and to continue building this gateway and the success is there and we remain confident that we are going to be pushing forward with our vision," said Krusel.

"Our timeline is to start (construction) in 2010 and the first ship is to arrive in 2014”,

He said the evidence of who is providing the best service is in the numbers. .

"The numbers are the Port of Prince Rupert is the only port on the West Coast of North America that is showing good healthy volume of containers," said Krusel.

Mussallem had more direct words for locals.

"We are not going away.

"We're still here and we are going to continue on. With mega projects there are delays but it is not the end," said Mussallem.

City Hall Tracker December 8 2008

The first special session meeting for the newly elected Prince Rupert City Council took place on December 8, with a controversial land use zoning application as one of the highlight topics for the night.

December 8, 2008

Special Session Metting agenda for December 8
Notice of Special council meeting for December 8
Notice of Public Hearing for December 8

Special City Council session for December 8:

In Attendance:

Mayor Jack Mussallem
Councillor Anna Ashley
Councillor Gina Garon
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne
Councillor Nelson Kinney
Councillor Joy Thorkelson

Absent from Council:

Councillor Kathy Bedard

Minutes for December 8, 2008

Minutes of Special session meeting, December 8, 2008

Daily News Voting summary (no summary printed in paper)

Attendance at City Hall to date archives

Upcoming events-- Council Meeting January 14, 2009

It's another Monday night, just what has your council been up to?

Freshly elected to their new positions at Prince Rupert City Council, the six councillors and new Mayor are anxious to get to work on behalf of the citizens of Prince Rupert.

Below we will track the hopefully transparent and accountable trail of democracy, with links to the agendas, minutes and other pertinent details of Municipal life. All of our information will be taken from the City of Prince Rupert website for the most part, with the agenda posted at the top, the attendance at council in the middle and the minutes and outside notes if any provided at the bottom. All of this information can be found by clicking on the date for the session which you wish to learn more about.

As well we will have a link to our session to session tracker, so you can see which of our municipal representatives are diligent in attendance and participation and which ones tend to stay away from the Monday night gatherings.

Scheduled City Council sessions in 2009

City Council attendance tracker 2009

Regular city council sessions (22 meetings so far in 2008/09)

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- In attendance for 17, absent for 5
Councillor Anna Ashley-- In attendance for 22, absent for 0
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- In attendance for 18, absent for 4
Councillor Gina Garon-- In attendance for 22, absent for 0
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne--In attendance for 21, absent for 1
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- In attendance for 21, absent for 1
Councillor Joy Thorkelson--In attendance for 18, absent for 4

Click on dates below for more information

December 14, 2009
November 23. 2009
November 10, 2009
October 26, 2009
October 13, 2009
September 21, 2009
September 8, 2009
August 17, 2009
July 27. 2009
July 6, 2009
June 22, 2009
May 25, 2009
May 11, 2009
April 27, 2009
April 14, 2009
March 23, 2009
March 9, 2009
February 23, 2009
February 9, 2009
January 26, 2009
January 12, 2009
December 1, 2008

Special city council sessions (2 so far in 2008/09)

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- In attendance for 2, absent for 0
Councillor Anna Ashley-- In attendance for 2, absent for 0
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- In attendance for 1, absent for 1
Councillor Gina Garon-- In attendance for 2, absent for 0
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- In attendance for 2, absent for 0
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- In attendance for 2, absent for 0
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- In attendance for 2, absent for 0

Click on dates below for more information

June 8, 2009
December 8, 2008

Information provided up to November 10, 2009 session

Archive of the Past Council sessions of 2008

City Hall Tracker December 1 2008

The inaugural meeting for the new class of councillors and a familiar face at Mayor took place on December 1, as the new council members were sworn into office and conducted their first meeting in the pursuit of local democracy.

December 1, 2008

Agenda for December 1

City Council session for December 1:

In Attendance:

Mayor Jack Mussallem
Councillor Anna Ashley
Councillor Kathy Bedard
Councillor Gina Garon
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne
Councillor Nelson Kinney
Councillor Joy Thorkelson

Minutes for December 1, 2008

Minutes of Inaugural meeting, December 1, 2008

Daily News Voting summary (no summary printed in paper)

Attendance at City Hall to date archives

Upcoming events-- Council Meeting January 14, 2009

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jim Fulton, former MP, environmentalist passes away at 58

Jim Fulton, the long time Member of Parliament for Skeena through the eighties and life long advocate for the environment, has passed away from cancer at the age of 58.

Fulton entered politics in the federal election of 1979, defeating Liberal cabinet minister Iona Campagnola and starting a fourteen year reign as the Member of Parliament for Skeena, a passionate debater he is perhaps best remembered for dropping a dead salmon on the desk of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney after a particularly heated exchange over the West Coast fishery in the House of Commons.

Re-elected time and time again, Fulton served half of his fourteen years as the NDP's environmental critic, a post that was close to his heart and provided the foundation for his later years as the long time head of the David Suzuki Foundation. He also held the post of forestry and fishery critic during his lengthy stay in the nation's capital. He was a larger than life figure in the riding and probably one of the more automatic of candidates that the region has seen in a good many years, frequently re-taking his seat by sizable margins of victory.

His formative years in the Northwest were spent on the Queen Charlottes.where he worked as a probation officer, finding that life on Haida Gwaii was to his liking, a lasting impression that he took with him from politics to the environmental movement.

The Haida accepted him as a good friend of their people , going so far as to confer upon him the honorary Haida name of Skilcutlass. A sign of respect from the elders of the Islands, for his work and respect for the traditional life on Haida Gwaii

That work in Ottawa on behalf of the Haida and all First Nations for that matter is one of his lasting legacies from his days in politics, as is his passionate and occasionally heated defence of the environment.

There will be many sad faces around the Northwest as news begins to spread over Mr. Fulton's passing, so far there have been a few articles of remembrance posted on the News services in BC and Canada, we'll add those below and more as they come along down the line.

Globe and Mail-- Jim Fulton, 57

Photo above from Vancouver Sun website...

Slow state of labour negotiations scares off containers from Canadian ports

The good news is that the ILWU and the Marine Employers Association are apparently still talking, the bad news is that even the threat of a labour disruption along Canada's west coast ports has shippers seeking alternative landing spots.

The Vancouver Sun on Friday, outlined how some shipping lines have already decided to move their cargo from destinations in Vancouver or Prince Rupert to other west coast ports in the United States, most likely Seattle and Tacoma.

With negotiations continuing on down to the wire, the ILWU supervisors will be in a legal strike position on January 2, it's that tight deadline that apparently has shippers looking for alternatives, rather than have their cargo stuck behind picket lines for the debut of the new year.

Should there be job action on January 2nd, it will be with great interest that maritime shipping observers watch the Vancouver and Rupert port totals to see if the lost shipments of late December and January will be recovered by the Canadian ports, or if those customers will be lost for the foreseeable future.

From the Podunkian archives:

Bargaining still planned in port dispute
Trouble on the waterfront

Vancouver, Prince Rupert ports lose container traffic as strike looms
By Fiona Anderson

The Vancouver Sun
December 19, 2008

A threatened strike at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert has already affected container traffic, and the dispute could shut down the ports completely if it is not resolved soon.

Talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents more than 400 foremen at the ports, and their employers, represented by the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, are progressing slowly, an employers' representative said earlier.

And while the two sides were scheduled to meet with a mediator today, the workers will be in a legal strike position on Jan. 2. A strike by the foremen would shut down all activity at the ports, except for the movement of grain.

Some shipping companies have already decided to reroute containers to other ports rather than risking them arriving during a work stoppage, Capt. Stephen Brown, president of the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. said in an interview.

Container ships must declare where they plan to drop off goods before they leave their home port, Brown said. With trips taking 12 or more days, some have chosen to name a destination other than a B.C port for some of their containers.

While Brown did not know exactly how many containers have already been diverted, he suspected Seattle and Tacoma will be the ports that benefit.

"We know for sure that some of the volume is being diverted, the more time-sensitive products are being diverted," Brown said. "We know for sure that some of the big shippers have decided not to take the risk."

And that's a big issue.

"It potentially is a very big issue because the Asia Pacific Gateway is vitally important for the whole country, and not just for British Columbia," Brown said.

The timing is "particularly unfortunate," coming shortly after a large delegation from the Port of Vancouver, the employers' association and the major container terminals returned from a marketing trip to the Far East "promoting the stability and sustainability of the Gateway," Brown said.

The foremen have been without a contract since March 31, 2007. A new contract for rank and file workers -- who had also been without a contract since that date -- was reached earlier this year.

Neither the union nor the employers would discuss what issues were being negotiated, citing a blackout agreement.