Saturday, January 31, 2009

Will Barack break our hearts?

Outside of some of the rapture across America these last few months, there has perhaps been no greater booster than Canada, of the hopes and goals of the now 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

From those long days and nights on the primary tours, through the November 4th election and on to Inauguration Day, Canadians seem to have come under the spell of the promise of a new regime and its Yes We Can spirit.

The only problem may be; that Yes We Can may mean that for Canada it’s a case of No You Can’t.

As the economic situation continues to worsen around the globe and especially in America, the call of the protectionists is starting to sound loud and long, with no greater champion than Vice President Joe Biden the clarion call of Buy American is starting to ring out across the states of the Union, and as it does, the prospect of the collapse of free trade seems to be high on the new administration’s agenda.

This week, the steel industry made its case through Congress, to the President and with the Vice President, the VP being a fellow that is well known around the steel foundries of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and beyond, it’s a case that is apparently getting a very thorough examination of.

If, as would be anticipated that America shall buy their steel first and foremost, there’s a good chance that Canada will be sideswiped in the stampede to Buying America. Steel, but the first of what could be an endless list of industries looking to prop up their hometowns and keep their economic engines working to some fashion, all the while as Canada’s export industry would come to a major slow down, if not an outright stop.

The latest move from the Democrats, who have never strayed too far from the protectionist agenda of late, could result in Canadians missing the laissez faire dis-interest of the Bush years, where things may have gone to hell in a hand basket economically, but at least Canada could still deliver their baskets across the border.

As they ponder the era of building trade walls another shot has been fired by the Obama team, this one from newly introduced Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner, who now having cleared up and paid up those embarrassing tax troubles from his past, is ready to lead the USA into economic battle, with his first target apparently China.

Secretary Geithner recently chastised the Chinese for their handling of the Yuan, suggesting that they were manipulating their currency at the expense of the American dollar and economy.

It’s a reproach that hasn’t been particularly well received in Beijing and sets up just one more bit of theatre to follow as the world’s economic axis tilts back and forth during troubled times.

While the world hailed Mr. Obama’s election as a positive change and the promise of much in the way of progress, world economic events may provide him with one of the shorter honeymoons with the global population in recent times.

By the time he arrives in Ottawa on February 19th for his one day visit, those protectionist walls may already be under construction and it’s our guess that America won’t be using Canadian wood or steel on them.

Hard times in America will mean hard times around the world, but if America decides to put back up the tariff walls and circle the wagons for their own priorities, the rest of the world is going to be sharing in a much greater amount of pain.

The President must be mindful of the current economic era and the echoes of the past, it was protectionist tariffs introduced by Smoot and Hawley in the early thirties that extended that era’s economic downturn that morphed into the Great Depression, a narrative that should be reviewed from the White House to Congress.

And while the world may still cheer his arrival in that White House, the President may soon find that the policies from some of his advisors won’t be quite as universally hailed as his personality has been.

Toronto Star-- Obama to review 'Buy USA' policy
Toronto Star-- Test for Obama on protectionism
Globe and Mail-- Buy American, spark a global trade war
Globe and Mail-- Obama vows to review ‘Buy American' provision
Globe and Mail-- Global trade wars or voter revolt? Let Obama's difficult decisions begin
National Post-- Only Obama can avert trade war
National Post-- U.S. stimulus plan's 'protectionist' clause concerns Harper
National Post-- 1930 all over again
National Post-- Those that fail to learn from history, get jobs as Congressional trade experts
CTV News-- Harper to lobby U.S. over 'Buy America' policy
CBC News-- Obama administration reviewing 'Buy American' clause
CBC News-- 'Buy American' rule in U.S. stimulus bill could cost Canada jobs
Montreal Gazette-- U.S. protectionism threatens us all
Winnipeg Sun-- American protectionism a bad racket
Canadian Press-- Winds of protectionism gathering strength in U.S.

Ah yes, the tell-tale signs of an upcoming election

While the date has been a fixed thing for a few years now, the first tangible sign that the provincial election is coming up came out this week.

Dennis MacKay, the Liberal MLA for Bulkley-Stikine, was probably pleased as punch to announce the five million dollar highway project for his riding, which will see two stretches of Highway 16, one near New Hazelton and the other near Telkwa resurfaced with hot in place recycled asphalt to preserve the pavement.

The work will get under way in April (just before that May 12 election date) and be completed by July 19th, at which time we suspect that MLA McKay is hoping he is still the MLA for the official ribbon cutting photo opportunity.

Friday, January 30, 2009

All in all, they’d rather have taken a plane

"We were completed our work two weeks early and we thought customers would be happy to have the ferry back"-- BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall providing the Ferry Corporations take on the resumption of services to the Queen Charlottes.

From the always popular, you can’t please everyone file, comes the latest bit of a backlash against BC Ferries over on the Queen Charlottes. That as the Ferry Corporation heard more than a few complaints about the end of their temporary airlift put in place by dock construction on the Charlottes.

With the Queen of Prince Rupert back in service last weekend, BC Ferries brought to an end their scheduled service of flights to Prince Rupert, deciding that with the ferry set to sail last Sunday, there was no need for a flight as well.

However, with weather delays slowing down the progress of the scheduled sailing, passengers now shifted back to the world of marine transportation found themselves adding an extra ten hours to their travel time. Leaving more than a couple of them wondering why the Sunday flight couldn’t have gone ahead.

The Daily news outlines the frustrations in Thursday’s paper.

Cancelled flight annoys some
Early return to service of ferry, scrapping of flight delays passengers
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Pages one and

Those left stranded on Haida Gwaii an extra day because of a BC Ferries decision to cancel its flight on Sunday from Sands pit will get no sympathy from the ferry operator. According to Communications Officer Deborah Marshall, the decision to cut the flight with Hawkair Saturday was made as a cost-saving move because running parallel services would have been a waste.

"We were completed our work two weeks early and we thought customers would be happy to have the ferry back," said Marshall.

There was a palpable moan from some who were stuck on the ferry, which did not depart for an extra 10 hours because of rough water in Hecate Strait. The Queen of Prince Rupert did not dock in Rupert until 3 a.m., meaning some missed a whole day of work on Monday and would be tired for work on Tuesday because of the cancelled flight and ferry delay.

Upgrades to the ferry docks to accommodate the arrival of the Northern Expedition were completed by Fraser River Pile Drivers in both Skidegate and Prince Rupert two weeks before the expected finish in early February.

Marshall could not provide financial details as to how much the air-service would have cost the ferry operator to make one last run.

"We had the ferry dock finished on

Thursday night and so we could not make the decision to open it sooner than that to alert customers about it," said Marhall.

She said the North Coast community had been telling BC Ferries to get the dock opened as soon as possible and certainly with the All Native Basketball Tournament, it is a logistical relief for the ANBT organizers to know that the ferry will get Haida Gwaii-based teams over to Rupert for the start of the event.

Residents on the Islands will have the opportunity to get over to the Prince Rupert a little earlier than expected, though. BC Ferries announced that it had modified many of its North Coast sailings, with a Feb. 4 sailing from Skidegate to Prince Rupert that leaves at 7 a.m. and docks in Rupert, if all things go well, at 2 p.m.

Sailing towards a BC oriented cruise industry

A professor from St. John, Newfoundland's Memorial University, has cast his eyes on the western horizon and offered up a few suggestions for British Columbians in their quest to wrestle some of those Alaska bound cruise lines away from above the 54 40.

Dr. Ross Klein provided some input (some of it apparently not quite received well) to local and provincial cruise authorities on how to best position British Columbia in the competitive cruise ship industry.

The main talking point of his examination is that British Columbia should develop a coast long approach to the tourism potential, making BC ports the destination ports rather than just the stop along the way to Ketchikan, Anchorage and beyond.

His thoughts were outlined in a front page, headline story in Thursday’s Daily News.

B.C. ports should be working together, not in competition says university professor
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Pages one and two

An expert on the cruise industry believes that Prince Rupert - and B.C. - could benefit greatly from a more cooperative approach to attracting cruise port -of-calls.

Memorial University of Newfoundland's Dr Ross Klein, an author of four books on the sailing tourism industry, said working together is the best way for Rupertites to get the most from the cruise industry.

"The Prince Rupert Port Authority and the City of Prince Rupert need to think about what they want to create and what they want the cruise ship industry to create for them," said Klein.

Last summer, Prince Rupert lost its Wednesday port -of-call to Victoria after Royal Caribbean announced it was taking its Rhapsody of the Seas there for 2009. While the PRPA remained quiet on the issue during the summer while in discussions with Royal Caribbean, locals reacted by wondering if there was still value in cruise activity.

Klein argued that the reason people are concerned about "value" is because of the relatively little value passengers bring to the stops they visit. The trouble, he said, was in the way the industry currently operates.

Right now, most cruise lines only make one port-of-call in B.C. on their long voyages from Seattle to points north in Alaska. They do that because the U.S. portage laws are such that if a ship leaves the U.S. coast and then returns, it must make at least one stop at a foreign port.

To Klein, the potential to make serious economic gains are there but unless provincial players recognize how to get to the point of a cohesive, comprehensive plan of business then it won't ever realize the true value.

"People aren't spending money in stores, the shore excursion is kicking back too much money to the cruise' industry and the focus, right now, isn’t really on generating income," said Klein.

He advised that the port industry in the province should place a common $20 port fee on each passenger that comes to any provincial stop and avoid undercutting each other on costs and benefits, such as the free waste disposal service that is offered in Rupert.

He also suggested that the port industry offer a British Columbia specific itinerary, meaning the industry itself would have to come up with a reason for foreign and national tourists picking a visit to the West Coast of Canada, rather than the State of Alaska.

It's all about exploring what the cruise passengers want and presenting that to the cruise companies both in a way that is sellable to passengers and that also provides a reasonable income for the cruise lines.

"For the cruise lines, it's economics they want to make money but the cruise ports also want to make money."

When asked about Klein's idea, Cruise BC Association administrator Jane McIvor said she questioned Klein's background with regards to the cruise industry, but said that the local players are working together to get something finalized.

"He's never contacted this association," said Mclvor.

"Our organization has been around since 2004 and we provide workshops with industry stakeholders, trying to provide leadership to destinations that currently do not have cruise stops."

Prince Rupert port Authority's Cruise development Officer Phil Westoby said that the cruise industry in B.C. has been working on delivering a B.C. specific itinerary since 2002 and while none of the work has come to fruition, he said that is quite normal given that it took Alaska 30-to-40 years to develop its cruise package.

"Building any cruise ship theatre takes a large period of time and with great difficulty, though they have had success in the past with a Pacific Northwest cruise theatre," said Westoby.

"It's not something we can do overnight."

Cowabunga Dude, c'mon in for an audit and meet some thetans

Homer and Marge may not be happy about this, their special little man Bart, has decided to share with the world the wonders of Scientology (listen here).

In a move apparently not endorsed by Fox the television home for the Simpson's or the programs producers, Nancy Cartwright, the voice of the perpetually troublesome cartoon tyke has provided a robo call to cast a net for potential converts to the world made famous by Cruise, Travolta et al.

Now no one is denying Ms. Cartwright to her uh, God? given right to follow the beliefs of whatever religion (or global organization that follows the unorthodox teachings of a science fiction writer) she chooses, but taking on her alter ego in order to attract followers is seen by many as not particularly on the up and up, what with the potential to grasp the likes of a little Milhouse or Nelson and change their outlook on life (audited or not).

More importantly, we're not sure that Bart is perhaps the best option one could come up with as a solid example of the proposed good works that Scientology could deliver.

We wonder if perhaps Reverend Lovejoy, or in an emergency pinch Ned Flanders, might be available for an intervention?

Of course, if we remember correctly , this is not the first time that a member of the Simpson family has gotten into trouble over robo calls...

City Council scoresheet January 26, 2009

The second council meeting for 2009 found itself highlighted by the Daily News, which provided their occassional scorecard of the votes on the issues they determined to be key from the night.

The most recent report providing details of the votes for the January 26th meeting, focusing on three questions that they felt commanded the most attention for Rupertites.

The feature appeared in the Wednesday, January 28 edition of the paper on page two.

Question one-- That Council introduce and give first and second reading to Zoning Bylaw Amendment 3724, 2009 and authorize a Public Hearing. (On January 6, 2009 the City received an application for Zoning Bylaw Amendment from the Board of Education - School District 52. This application is for the property located at 610-612 2nd Avenue West.)

How council voted:

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

Question Two-- That Council appoint a member of Council as the representative on the Ferry Advisory Committee. (Councillor Kathy Bedard has been the City's representative in the past and agreed to continue to serve on me committee.)

How council voted:

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

Question Three-- That Council, by resolution, approve the Charitable Flow Through Partnership Policy. (The City provides assistance in a variety of forms to Organizations in Prince Rupert which perform a public service. One form of assistance is to create a partnership sponsorship in the form of administrative support for various projects so that certain grants can be accessed and charitable receipts can be issued).

How council voted:

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

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seeking options to save a way of life

For most of this week, the Daily News has been reviewing last weekends environmental conference on Haida Gwaii, where Islanders reviewed past events and looked for ways to create a more sustainable tomorrow.

Throughout the weekend different options were explored, calls for action outlined and sense of community delivered as the Ocean Forum provided much in the way of information to consider.

The third installment of the Daily News review of the Haida Gwaii sessions was published in Wednesday's paper.

Islanders grapple with the best way forward
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Page three

Guujaaw has hope.

The President of the Council of Haida Nation said he was hopeful that last weekend's Ocean Forum in Skidegate will be the continuation of thoughtful dialogue about the ocean's future in the Northern Hemisphere.

As reported in Monday's edition of the Daily News, Gaaysiigang was held last Friday and Saturday on Haida Gwaii to bring about informed solutions for ocean management.

On Saturday, the hereditary chiefs of Haida Nation signed a protocol agreement reaffirming their commitment to finding sustainable solutions for the fishing industry and marine wildlife.
Their elected chief also affirmed his commitment and provided comments on what the North Coast is facing at the moment.

"The answers are as complex as the ocean is complex," said Guujaaw.

"But the answers have to come from recognizing we are part of it.

"We are not the ones who should assume we have the right to dominate and exploit everything to extinction because we ultimately pay the price along with everything else."

Right now, on Haida Gwaii there are five marine planning processes underway for the surrounding waters, including the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA), the CHN Marine Use Planning, Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, the Sgaan Kinghlas (Bowie Seamount) Marine Protected Area and the Linking Land and Marine Use Planning in Coastal and Northshore areas.

But none are as large as 30 per cent of the regional fishing grounds, which marine-life researcher Dr Jeremy Jackson, who reported that the one-third protected area of the Great Barrier Reef was working well for the Australian-located marine wildlife.

In fact, the current protected areas only cover one per cent of all B.C.'s ocean, which compared to 12.5 per cent of land protection, appears tiny.

And the size of the available fishing stock have taken a hit since the early 90s.

According to figures in a 2002 PNCIMA report, the drop in B.C. salmon stock has been massive, with only 33,000 tonnes caught that year compared to 96,000 tonnes caught in 1990.
Who is to blame?

At this point, that seems to be the wrong question. The better question seems to be what to do next?

While there was some talk during the weekend about whose fault it is for the degradation of ocean life and the depletion of fishing stocks, there was also talk about possibilities.

Many voices called for action at the forum, if even reluctantly, to increase the size and scope of some protected sea areas, that would in effect eliminate fishing in those zones for the foreseeable future.

Jackson's proposal seemed to have made a mark with the elected leader of Haida Nation, who is optimistic that there are options to save his community's way of life, too.

Guujaaw said that the islands were still home to relatively clean water that was populated with stocks of genetically diverse species and that what was now needed was a concrete and comprehensive approach to planning how to integrate different aspects of water management.
That could be in the form of capping and reducing nutrient runoff and carbon emissions and stop the overfishing within the next 20-to-30 years.

Or it could take the form of simply bringing under control the overfishing and nutrient runoff.
While both of those choices are just two examples of how marine management might look like on the North Coast it both would certainly come at a cost for the short-term, and possibly the long-term, with how locals access fisheries in the future.

And it could be difficult to keep those people with fishing licences away from the water when a good run swims by.

But something substantial needs to be done, said Guujaaw.
"What we have started here is the cutting edge of the northern hemisphere for marine planning and we know that there are examples in New Zealand and Australia that are already paying off," said Guujaaw.

And he left plenty of room for criticism, too, adding that it will not be as simple as a community-led initiative to ease the difficulties in the ocean.

"What we are up against is the self-interest of powerful fishing interests and licence holders, and the self-interest of political people who are going to be more concerned about being re-elected rather than how do you turn this around and save the ocean."

Council hears numerous presentations on issues of concern

Monday night's Prince Rupert City Council featured a number of presentations to the Committee of the Whole, all of which outlined concerns or developments on a number of issues of concern to the community.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons led off the parade of updates, examining a number of infrastructure hopes, the session was closed a pair of local carvers concerned over a recent eviction notice from the carving shed. Through the presentations city council learned about a new year for communities in bloom, a review of North coast Health Advisory council and a look at the small craft harbour situation at local marine locations in the city.

Wednesday's Daily News featured some of the highlights from the Monday night seminars.

MLA keeps council up to date with his issues
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Page five

Monday night's committee of the whole meeting of city council saw five delegations and presentations from the public.

The first presentation was made by North Coast MLA Gary Coons.

Citing phase two of the port, the fixed link project, alternate energy sources, EI, retraining and vocational development as some of his main concerns, Coons said it's important for all levels of government to work together to push the needs of the region.

One of the key things, Coons said, is health care and the shortage of doctors.
"We as a community have to take charge and play a key role," he said.

Citing the possible demolition of Acropolis Manor in the near future, Coons said the community needs to be assured that the building needs to be torn down.

"Could it be used as a mental or rehab centre, rather than a parking lot?" Coons suggested.
Shaun Thomas and Treena Decker from Communities in Bloom (CIB) asked city council to consider covering the $750 entrance fee for Prince Rupert to participate in the CIB program in 2009.

Councillor Joy Thorkelson said she was impressed with the group's efforts last year and recommended the community should participate again.

The third presentation came from Peggy Davenport and Corinna Mohart from the North Coast Health Advisory Committee (NCHAC) who proposed changes to the Terms of Reference under which the committee operates.

NCHAC is an ad hoc committee of the Prince Rupert council with a purpose of gathering information, informing and providing recommendations to council on health issues.

Changes proposed by the committee suggested membership include an elected member of city council who is also the city's appointee to the North West Regional Hospital District to chair the meetings and that the number of members from the community at large be increased from four to six.

The change in membership would help the committee meet its intent to "make every effort to access input from the community", a change they also want to make under the heading of 'Tasks & Duties'.

Mohart also asked if the meetings could take place at city hall and requested that the city provide a secretary to record minutes.

"If we have our meeting off site from the hospital it will really open the committee up to the community," Mohart said.

When Davenport reminded council that the committee was created by the city, Mussallem assured her that the committee is an advisory committee to city council.

Howard Gray, representing harbour users in Prince Rupert, voiced concerns about the structure of the Port Edward Port Authority.

"I would like to see discussions between the city and Port Edward and see the structure of the Port Edward Port Authority changed," Gray said.

"There seems to be a willingness on the part of the new Port Edward council to make changes. Some of the things that have happened in the past have been a little ridiculous - not coming from harbour users but rather top down," Gray added.

With news of possible infrastructure money being made available, Gray said he felt harbour users and the city were in a poor position to go forward to ask for money for projects.
"It's being done outside of the city's control," Gray said.

Mayor Jack Mussallem responded by stating that the city is not the owner of the waterfront but in the Official Community Plan, the city is working on a new zoning bylaw, development permit areas and a waterfront development plan.

When asked about possible work being done at Cow Bay Floats by the Port Edward Port Authority, Mussallem told Gray he was aware of $700,000 to a million dollars being targeted to re-deck and repair the docks there.

The final delegation was from Tsimshian Carver Henry Green and his wife, Jennifer Davidson, who are concerned after being asked by the Museum of Northern BC to remove their carving supplies from the museum's carving shed.

"We received a notice dated Jan. 17 telling us the shed is going to be renovated and we have to have our things out by Jan. 31," said Davidson.

Green said he felt there has been no consultation with the carvers.
In response, Mussallem encouraged the pair to approach the museum or its board of directors.

Flaherty's fixation on fixer uppers leaves Cullen cold

While they probably had the talking points already prepared, NDP MP's fanned out across the country to provide their feedback on this weeks Conservative budget.

In NDP ridings across the nation, the prospect of Jim Flaherty's economic recipe to tackle the oncoming financial storm didn't seem to resonate very positively with Jack Layton's fellow guardians of the left.

In Skeena-Bulkley Valley, MP Nathan Cullen was quick to get his thoughts to the media, with interviews set up with both the Northern View and the Daily News, outlining his disappointment with the tone and direction offered by the Conservatives, built along stimulus packages which Mr. Cullen and the NDP don't believe will be the best path to follow.

His thoughts were featured on line on the Northern View site on Tuesday and in Wednesday's Daily News as the front page headline story.

Finance Minister does not offer hope to our communities claims MP Nathan Cullen
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Page one and three

Well at least Rupertites can build a deck.

In what is being called a "missed opportunity" by critics, a budget that was given luke-warm praise at best was unveiled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty yesterday.

It was attacked for having few real solutions for struggling municipalities trying to get access to funding grants for infrastructure improvements.

As expected, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen came out firmly against Flaherty's $34 billion gamble to rebuild the national economy through stimulus packages.

Cullen could not believe that the budget concentrated on helping Canadians rebuild their homes rather than focusing on municipalities' ability to rebuild their infrastructure.

"I don't know what municipalities are to do at this point. They are over a barrel if this budget passes because the poorer get poorer and the richer get richer," said Cullen.

Cullen was in disbelief that Flaherty would focus on home renos when, in his estimation, the day called for serious availability of funding for municipalities.

"When your economy is hurting, by definition, there is less tax base in your community. This budget does not help communities in that situation."

According to the budget, the proposed Home Renovation Tax Credit would provide a temporary 15-per-cent income tax credit on eligible home renovation expenditures for work performed, or goods acquired, after Jan. 27, 2009, and before Feb. 1, 2010, pursuant to agreements entered into after Jan. 27, 2009.

Projects that are listed 'tax exempt' are renovating a kitchen, bathroom, or basement, new carpet or hardwood flooring, building an addition, deck, fence or retaining wall, a new furnace or water heater, painting the interior or exterior of a house resurfacing a driveway and laying new sod. The credit may be claimed for the 2009 taxation year on the portion of eligible expenditures exceeding $1,000, but not more than $10,000, and will provide up to $1,350 in tax relief.

And the goal was to allow for more construction projects for carpentry firms around the country, allowing carpenters to stay employed as housing starts around the country slow.

"I just don't know how Prince Rupert and Terrace, and all down the line, are able to access any of this without raising bonds or raising the tax level in their community, which hurts them further," said Cullen.

Hurting municipalities may seem to be left wanting. The federal government has made $4 billion in funding available for provincial, territorial and municipal projects but will only cover up to 50 per cent of any given project, meaning the provinces and municipalities will have to come up with the rest.

B.C.'s Minister of Finance, Colin Hansen, said he was actually pleased with the announcement regarding the HRTC, claiming that it would help the lumber industry.

"It will create additional demand for wood product across Canada," said Hansen.
Hansen also said that hurting communities might not need to come up with the matching money on some infrastructure projects.

"We recognize as well that not all communities have the ability to come up with the one-third dollars. So, we're looking at a lot of infrastructure initiatives that we are prepared to fund and that would not require participation by the cities," said Hansen.

Some non-governmental organizations were not jumping for joy with the budget but many said the budget was a good start.

Association of Mining and Exploration BC President and CEO Gavin Dirom gave the budget a mixed review but was specifically not impressed with the lack of infrastructure help for communities.

He said there are, right now, 25 mining projects in B.C. and that infrastructure has been key in getting those up and running. For communities dependant on raw commodities it becomes more important to provide the necessary roads and hydroelectric facilities to facilitate projects. "

With infrastructure near-by it enables that to possibly happen. From the community perspective that perhaps is a missed opportunity," said Dirom.

Cullen agreed and said this is a bad idea for municipalities in his riding because they are not exactly flush with cash.

"If your municipality is in the black, with millions of dollars to spend then you can access some of these things and leverage more funding. We are not in that situation in the Northwest and in most municipalities in Canada," said Cullen.

Cullen says budget 'a missed opportunity'
The Northern View
Tuesday, January 29, 2009

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled a federal budget on Tuesday that contained projections of an $85 billion deficit over the next five years and, while the NDP had said they would vote against it before the budget was tabled, MP Nathan Cullen said he was still thoroughly unimpressed with the what he heard in the House of Commons.

“In a general sense I would call this a missed opportunity and, in a way, a cynical budget. There is no help for the unemployed and there is no vision for where the country is going…It is a failed opportunity with no vision and no hope,” he said in a media call following the tabling of the budget.

“Money to renovate your cottage? What planet are these guys on? I have never seen such an unfocussed budget in all my time as a member of Parliament.”

The federal budget includes $7.8 billion for housing, more than half in the form of a renovation tax credit of up to $1,350 for each family. The remainder is intended for social housing for seniors, the disabled and aboriginal people, as well as low-cost loans to municipalities to fund housing.

Flaherty announced the extension of Employment Insurance payments for an extra five weeks for the next two years to cushion the blow for people losing their jobs in an international recession.

Federal tax cuts include an increase in the basic personal exemption amount to $10,320 for the 2009 tax year. The upper limits of the bottom two tax rates are being increased for 2009, meaning the first $40,726 of earnings will be taxed at 15 per cent, and earnings from there up to $81,452 will be taxed at 22 per cent. Income above that point is taxed at the highest federal rate, 26 per cent.

While noting that he is concerned that the portion on the Green Economy is only a half page in the budget document, Cullen said his biggest concern is that the money for infrastructure is still being tied to matching grants from municipalities and the province.

“During my economic forums I heard that people want the government to be a willing partner, and from municipalities there was a very clear message that they did not have the money to meet the requirements of these matching grants. Communities in a tough position are made worse by this while those that are prospering will be able to access this money, and that is not a formula for economic recovery. You don’t help a Whistler or Kelowna, you help a Hazelton or Prince Rupert, because they need the help,” he said.

“Municipalities are really going to be over a barrel if this is the budget that passes…I just don’t know how Prince Rupert or Terrace or communities down the line can access this money.”
As for the political implications, Cullen said that he believes, “Mr. Harper has been politically wounded by this budget. Perhaps fatally wounded.”

If you won’t go to their films, they’ll bring their films to you!

The National Film Board has moved into the world of convergence, launching a new service on line that allows film lovers around the world to sample some of their better known (and lesser known) works on a weekly basis.

This week showing on line at the NFB Cinema, is that ages old staple of many a high school media class, Neigbhours. Also on the bill is another humourous staple of the NFB, 1985's TheBig Snit.

Both films explore the anger management genre, with Neighours featuring the battle over the property line, which was launched by a solitary flower. And for those that need warnings for everything they do these days, it comes with the obligatory warning that it does contain scenes of violence, though compared to the works of Tarentino et al that seems rather quaint.

Neighbours which first appeared back in 1952, is one of many films that the NFB will feature online, an interesting project that should help to direct more traffic to the NFB site and perhaps increase awareness of the award winning Canadian short industry, one which we only seem to think about when they hand out the Oscars each year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Drugs intercepted en route to Lax Kw’alaams

The Prince Rupert RCMP’s Rural section arrested adult two males on January 21st, as they were preparing to board the Spirit of lax Kw’alaams ferry. Upon investigation 1.5 kilograms of marijuana were seized, allegedly destined for the North coast community.

The Daily News provided some background on the incident and on the RCMP’s drug interdiction program.

Drug haul found on Simpson ferryboat
The Daily News
Tuesday, January 27, 2008
Page one

Two people were arrested last week after allegedly attempting to board the Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams ferry with 1.5 kilograms of marijuana.

The two adult males, both residents of Lax Kw'alaams, were arrested on Wed., Jan. 21 by Rural Section members of the Prince Rupert RCMP before boarding the ferry in Prince Rupert.

Rural Section members consider the 1.5 kgs of marijuana to be a significant drug seizure, and believe the drugs' destination was the small coastal community. The RCMP is dedicated to targetting drug trafficking and always asks for public assistance to identify and report any information regarding trafficking, especially in the rural communities.

Anyone with information regarding drug trafficking is urged to contact the Prince Rupert RCMP at 627-0700, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222- TIPS(84 77). People calling CrimeStoppers are completely anonymous, and they are never asked for their name or phone number. Call display is never used and callers will never have to testify in court. CrimeStoppers pays up to $2,000 cash rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Prospect of oil tankers looms high as the focus of day two of the Ocean Forum

With day one providing a review of the environmental situation on Haida Gwaii to date, day two looked ahead to potential threats, none greater to the residents than the possibility of ocean tankers transiting along their waters.

With the potential of more tankers to come, especially with the Northern Gateway project in Kitimat, those fears are becoming even more pronounced as residents worry about potential oil spills and damage to their vulnerable ecosystem.

The findings of that review were provided in Tuesday’s Daily News, once again featured as the front page headline story.

Day Two of gathering features talk of how a spill might impact the Queen Charlottes
The Daily News
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Pages one and two

There are grave concerns about ocean tankers floating off the West Coast of Haida Gwaii after departing from Alaska en route to the West Coast of the mainland United States.

Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway project will bring a significant increase of tanker traffic to Kitimat through Hecate Strait, when by 2014 there will be 280 extra ships calling to the port.

Day two keynote speaker Rick Steiner of the University of Alaska Marine Advisory Program said at the Gaaysiigang Ocean Forum in Skidegate on the weekend that spills could be devastating to the ocean's health and also to the community's health.

Steiner said that of the more-than 30,000 plaintiffs who sued Exxon following its spill in the Prince of William Sound after the Exxon Valdez sunk in the 1980s, 8,000 people have died.

Exxon has also successfully decreased the original punitive damages of $5 billion awarded in 1993 to $500 million in 2008, which they have only now begun to pay back.

"The impact of the Exxon Valdez spill on human cultures was devastating. There is no way around it. Everyone was scared of the future, took the money from Exxon and moved away," said Steiner.

He said in the small communities around Prince of William Sound, where the spill happened, there was change for the worse after the spill. Those who stayed, bore witness to increases in domestic violence, substance abuse and depression. There are other challenges, including forestry, which has taken a huge hit on the islands. A decline in U.S. home starts has shut Western Forest Products' operations on the islands. Officially, it is for now an indefinite closure, perceived to be forever.

But for those who have dedicated their lives to living on the islands, Haida and non-aboriginal, the goal is that there be a healthy ocean for their children and grandchildren to enjoy through the long-term.

It won't be easy. The ocean has not only a cultural link to people living on Haida Gwaii. It also has an emotional link, as well.

Negative interactions between farmed and wild salmon have been scientifically documented and include both ecological interactions and genetic impacts of inter-breeding. Inter-breeding of farmed with wild salmon can result in reduced lifetime reproductive success, lowered fitness and decreased population productivity over at least two generations. Wild salmon can also become infected with disease and parasites spread from farmed fish.

"We urge the province to provide adequate infrastructure to support current and future expansion of the industry," said Ivany.

"It must act quickly to finalize an aquaculture health management plan, and implement a comprehensive inspection system to discourage flaunting of the rules, which the auditor general indicates presently lack the power of effective legislation."

Rainbow Responder replacement on the horizon

There is still a bit of fundraising to complete, but a new ride has arrived for the Prince Rupert Marine Rescue Society which has introduced a new vessel to patrol the waters of the North Coast.

The 20 year old Rainbow Responder had been a welcome sight on the north coast for the last two decades, but the new vessel will provide much more modern conveniences and abilities for the rescue society.

They currently are seventy thousand dollars shy of the 300,000 dollar purchase price, with a number of fund raising plans in the works all designed to cover the cost of bringing the vessel to the north coast.

The Daily News featured details on their plans in Monday’s paper.

New rapid response boat for Rupert
The Daily News
Monday, January 26, 2009
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert has been fortunate to have a reliable Auxiliary Coast Guard boat in the Rainbow Responder for the past 20 years, but soon the city will reap the benefits of a brand new replacement vessel.

Recently the Prince Rupert Marine Rescue Society (Coast Guard Auxiliary) successfully secured significant funding from BC Gaming Corp. towards the purchase of a new rapid response vessel to replace the venerable but aging Rainbow Responder. The 23-foot rigid hull inflatable Responder was purchased by the Society in 1988, and in that time has been used to perform well over 300 search and rescue missions.

According to Soceity Director Geoff Gould, the new vessel will be manufactured by Titan Inflatables, the company that supplies Canadian Coast Guard certified vessels along the west coast. However in order to purchase the vessel, the PR Marine Rescue Society must raise another $70,000 before the $300,000 vessel can be launched in local waters. In addition to planned fundraising drives, the group is seeking corporate donations to help fund the purchase of this much-needed vessel.

The new vessel, which will comply with modern Coast Guard standards, will have a heated interior, which Gould said is crucial for assisting hypothermia patients. It will also include state of the art electronic search and rescue equipment, and an estimated top speed of 40 knots (75 km/h). The addition of this new vessel will allow the Society to continue the work it has been doing since its formation in 1986. As Prince Rupert is one of the most northern and remote locations on the British Columbia coastline, the local unit is a particularly valuable resource in time of crisis. This unit is on standby year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and responds within minutes to assist people in distress.

The Prince Rupert Marine Rescue Society is a part of Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, a nationwide organization of volunteers, and provides services to commercial and recreational users of the waters surrounding Prince Rupert and along the North Coast. In addition to seeking individuals interested in contributing to the worthwhile project of securing a replacement for the Rainbow Responder, the Society is also always looking for new members. Those interested in joining the Society or making a financial contribution can contact Geoff Gould at 250-624-4138, or by email The Prince Rupert Marine Rescue meets the second Wednesday of every month in the hut behind the Performing Arts Centre Parking lot.

Haida Gwaii’s front row seat to climate change

A symposium held on Haida Gwaii has examined the impact of the changing environment on the resources and traditional ways on the islands.

Day one of the Ocean Forum provided some pretty depressing details on the state of the environment and the ongoing changes to the structure of both the ecosystem and the concerns they bring for the future for residents of Haida Gwaii.

In the first of what becomes a two part examination of the forum, the Daily News outlines the events from the first day of the sessions; the review was featured as the front page headline story in Monday’s paper.

The impacts of climate change are in plain sight for all to see on Haida Gwaii
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, January 26, 2009
Pages one and three

Billy Yovenovitch knows that what happens next is important when it comes to the ocean. The 17-year-old from Skidegate, by no means an expert on ocean management planning, doesn't need a degree to see that planning for the immediate and distant future of the ocean is necessary.

He can plainly see right in front of his face.

"I don't think it is very good right now and here on Haida Gwaii it seems to be the worst because we are surrounded by the ocean," said Yovenovitch. "None of the fish seems to stay here anymore, it is all going away. It's kind of sad and it's kind of scary at the same time because I see the fishing industry going away in my lifetime."

It's not just Yovenovitch who feels that life through the ocean is becoming untenable.

The Haida youth was joined by elders who spoke about watching the ocean depleted during their lifetime.

One Haida woman said that there used to be 51 troller boats in Skidegate but now there was none and it appears to them the viability of commercial fishing has dried up.

And for those living on Haida Gwaii, much like many who live on the North Coast, are dealing with an ailing ocean and a declining standard of life so dependent on the water and its rich resources that for so long it has been inconceivable that what is produced from it won't be there.

But there may be hope yet.

Much like Prince Rupert's Together on the Coast, the Gaaysiigang Ocean Forum in Skidegate was about discussing a change in how North Coasters view the ocean and from a grassroots level, how they advise those who make decisions on the ocean can fulfill that change.

While the feeling is that things are progressing with how to manage the ocean, there is also a sense of fear that what has stood as a means to life is being drowned by competing interests in the deep waters.

Lodging, corporate fishing fleets, ocean tanker traffic and oil pipelines have caused many locals on the islands consternation over the future of their lifestyle.

And the experts asked to speak at the forum gave them good reason to worry.

From the Scripps Institution of Oceonology, keynote speaker Dr Jeremy Jackson opened the Ocean Forum on a dower note, explaining how the cod fisheries has been so depleted in the Atlantic that he believes it has been killed off from ever producing a sustainable economy ever again.

"In a lot of cases you have to stop fishing - not slow down - stop," Jackson warned the large audience at the Kaay Centre. "You need to protect at least 33 per cent of your marine management area to insure your future. The bottom line is you have to stop the massive killing of fish if you want it to continue."

Jackson's current research is looking at the long-term impact of human activities on the oceans, coral reef ecology, and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the gradual formation of the Isthmus of Panama. According to him, humans pose both a risk and a solution to the ocean.

"A possible response going forward is to stop most fishing and develop ecologically responsible aquaculture on a massive scale."

And Jackson had a basic reason for his aquaculture theory.

"When was the last time (we) went out and hunted deer? We farm cattle and chicken because we can manage it," said Jackson.

He pointed to Australia where they have cordoned off 30 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef area from any sort of human interaction. He said that kind of large marine planning safe zone would have lasting strengthening effect on the ocean.

Jackson also argued that the local management is destroyed by the external market on the islands that local management is key going forward, something that the Council’ of Haida Nation have fought long and hard for.

Jackson discussed the idea of tragedy of the commons of the seas, or the idea that people have an unlimited right to fish. That was one of the largest reasons he said there has to be as much of a cultural change as a political change and management change to help save the oceans.

Jackson was followed by panellists and speakers all with a similar fear but also important message of hope.

Local commercial fisherman Lyndsey Doerksen said there needs to be a slow down in fishing lodges and the piloting of southern B.C. boats in northern waters.

"We also need to separate fisheries, one for the Atlantic and one for the Pacific. There is no one skilled enough to manage both, it is too complicated."

Certainly day one in Skidegate was by far the most depressing day. The tough medicine that those on Haida Gwaii had already known they would have to swallow was administered by a panel of guests who presented the perils of the ocean's future on the North Coast and the different players that will both live off of and effect the future of its survival.

As the day progressed, so did the discussion which transformed from the affect of lodges on the fish stock to the way the department of fisheries mismanagement has historically mismanaged the fishing industry on the north and then to the proposed pipeline projects.

And while after day one, there were no concrete resolutions, the day did produce a feeling that things could get better if managed properly.

Later at the Skidegate Community Hall, forum guests were treated to a local seafood dinner prepared by Gladys Hans and Crew.

HlGaagilda Children's Dance Group performed a tribute to fishermen and then everyone there feasted on the ocean's bounty.

But Yovenovitch had more to say about his own future and how it was tied to the water.

"I'll probably leave to go to school but I can't see myself leaving here for the long-term. It's a great place," said Yovenovitch, who was also pleased with the weekend's events.

"This forum is a great thing too because there are people from out of town and people from in town and they are all talking about ways we can solve our problems of the ocean. Something good has to come out of it."

Jack and Gilles fall off the hill and need something stronger than water!

It’s never easy to be spurned, in any relationship comes that time when sometimes things just don’t work out, such a time has come for Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe, their hopeful three amigo dream with Michael Ignatieff apparently not to be continued.

As Ignatieff waited for the National Press theatre technicians to fix the sound (never a good thing for a politician when no one can hear you and offering up reminders of Stephane Dion's last public appearance), Jack Layton was doing is Sonic the hedgehog hissy fit thing in the foyer of the House of Commons.

Declaring that the coalition a brave attempt at nation building (and perhaps the only chance Mr. Layton will ever get for a cabinet position) was dead, the Liberal leader deciding that a Conservative budget that looked like a Liberal budget was better than a couple of swings around the dance floor with socialists and separatists.

It was not an unexpected move by the Liberals, after all they had been putting the signals out there for two to three weeks now that as long as the Conservatives brought in a sensible budget, one that didn't fill the bank accounts of the rich with more money, then they were likely to give Mr. Harper a reprieve from his self inflicted near death experience.

As it is, the budget which looks rather familiar to Liberals with a bit of a memory of the eighties, covers off most of what the Liberals would have wished for, perhaps a few more dollars for their target groups would have been nicer, but in the end the prospect of bringing down a government because they didn’t have a larger than 80 billion dollar deficit over a few years probably wasn’t going to wash.

Now, the Liberals having shed themselves of the optics of securing the favour of the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois, or worse having to actually coexist with them in governance, will be able to concentrate on rebuilding the war chest for the next election.

At the moment that wasn't something that they were ready for, mindful no doubt that the idea of them taking power with the NDP and the Bloc without benefit of an election probably would have been something that would have lost them votes in the long run. So better to prop up Mr. Harper today, in order to topple him another day, one day when the party is better placed to offer up a more palpable alternative than the alliance that Mr. Dion had hurriedly cobbled together with Mr. Layton and Mr. Duceppe.

Even more important for the Liberals probably is the realization that the next year for the nation as far as its economy goes will be a very ugly period, better to let Mr. Harper stew in those juices, suffering the daily announcements of job losses, unemployed Canadians looking for work that may not be there and the many other storm clouds that always gather when the economy stumbles as it is suspected it will.

In about a year (maybe sooner depending on their patience), the Liberals could then begin to turn the tables on the Conservatives, ready to bring down the government and of course ready to resume what they seem to believe is their rightful place as the governing party of the nation.

Subject to the voter’s endorsement of course, something that this would be coalition wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about seeking it seemed.

As for the dynamic duo of coalition building, they now will be turning their attentions on two targets, the Conservatives over their handling of the economic troubles of the year to come and their former counterparts in the coalition process, who have thrown them under the bus in their return to the traditional political structure in the capital.

If they're looking for a friendly ear we suggest they look east, Newfoundland Premier
Danny Williams might find some common ground with them as far as enemies go.

Reuters-- Canadian government survives budget crisis
National Post-- Layton livid as Tories likely to support Liberal budget amendment
Globe and Mail-- Tories put on probation; coalition declared dead
Canadian Press-- Coalition implodes
CBC-- Ignatieff puts Tories 'on probation' with budget demand

Fix your sink to fix the economy?

Alan MacEachen delivered Pierre Trudeau’s federal budget yesterday, ooops sorry, meant to say that Jim Flaherty delivered Stephen Harper’s federal budget, it's sure getting hard to tell the two eras apart all of a sudden, must be a lot of smiling ghosts rambling around Parliament Hill these days.

Mr. Flaherty introduced an incentive laden document as he arrived on Parliament Hill yesterday, one that had something for everyone, almost a chicken for every pot and anything and everything including a kitchen sink. All of it designed to pull Canada away from the global economic carnage that is reported on a daily basis now.

According to the National Post which apparently still has enough employees for such things as counting, there were 109 separate initiatives listed in the 360 pages of five books delivered with the budget, a smorgasbord of spending, tax relief and financial assistance all provided with the frequent reminder that these will be challenging times for all Canadians.

Not since the era of Pierre, has a Canadian government offered to spend so much money, every corner of every province seemingly will find some kind of federal money arriving in the electronic mail as bridges, roads, schools and hospitals all get at least a fresh coat of paint all part of the group effort to aid the economy.

Interestingly enough, the Harper government is going to fund the arts again, it was their reticence to do so in the last campaign that cost them their much cherished majority in the last election, as the artistes of Quebec recoiled at the thought of not receiving any more federal dollars. Now in a grand announcement worthy of the Trudeau ear, those Brinks trucks will roll again, perhaps far too late to rebuild the Conservatives brand in that province, but perhaps enough to keep grateful mimes, chanteuses and poets off the EI lines for the next few years.

Overall the budget seems to come down to some key points for the rest of us.

If you’re a city, with or without financial troubles those potholes and sewers may not yet get any attention, as part of the federal/provincial financing of infrastructure, communities will still have to pony up a share (as of yet undetermined but anything over a buck may be a problem) of the cost or those projects won’t happen, and by the way cities you only have a two year window to grab the treasure.

If you’re a Canadian on EI or about to go on EI, you’ll have five extra weeks to worry about finding another job, the claim period was extended by five weeks in a nod to the growing difficulty that Canadians may find in their new job quest.

If you’re a lending institution (we gather that means banks, credit unions, Tony the thumb, etc) check the mail, the government is backstopping the lending industry with some 50 million more for the Insured Mortgage Lenders Program, designed to loosen up the credit for would be home owners or business developers.

And if you’re looking to renovate the house, this apparently is the time to do it, under the Household infrastructure section of the budget; the government apparently will let you write off a number of those expenses when it comes to fixing up the house. Make sure you register your renovations at City Hall though, just in case the two governments decide to share information. Nothing worse than getting a tax break, especially if you didn’t take out a building permit…

Just think, your leaky faucet and desire for a new kitchen may be the key to the economic turn around, so make your decisions wisely. To borrow a phrase from President Obama, Yes You Can...

Speaking of decisions now comes the part where the opposition has to decide whether they will support the epic financial wishes of the formerly miserly Conservatives, suddenly reborn as big picture Liberals.

The Bloc and the NDP apparently not inclined to read the document having already decided that this government must come down (preferably with the dream team of the coalition to take its place) their No’s already proclaimed even before Mr. Flaherty made it into the House of Commons.

The Liberals slept on things, Michael Ignatieff waiting until 11 am in Ottawa, 8 out here in infrastructure land, finally deciding that the 37 billion deficit this coming year doesn’t need the extra cost of an election tagged onto it.

And while he made all the noises about putting the Conservatives on probation, in reality what he’s doing is biding his time. Better to let Mr. Harper suffer the horrors of a severe financial downturn, able to sit across the aisle and offer up advice through the year and then when the Liberals have their internal and financial ducks in a row, say enough is enough, outline how he believes the Conservatives have mismanaged things and then bring down the government.

That is of course providing that your renovation plans don’t single handedly turn this economic titanic away from the oncoming ice berg.

Fix your sink, repair the floor, spend a bit and maybe borrow some more… (though we seem to remember this is how the world got into the mess in the first place isn't it?)

The pundits and observers have weighed in on the latest details of the Conservatives sudden conversion to deficit financing. A hopeful gambit that they seem to think is their best hope at coping with the fast oncoming events of these days, it will be with interest (and perhaps a little fear) that we all go along for the ride with our elected officials. Tory Remedy

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who brings the flowers, who brings the candy?

Those two estranged partners, the ILWU and the BCMEA will gather again just before Valentine's Day, perhaps hopeful that the season of romance will help them put aside whatever differences remain in the way of a settlement of their ongoing dispute.

In an advisory to members issued today, the BCMEA advised that the two sides will meet at ten in the morning with mediators on Thursday, February12 and Friday, February13, leaving west coast ports with at least two more weeks of uncertainty and perhaps more diversions of ships to American ports while the two sides sort out their issues.

The talks have been ongoing since the first few days of January, with the threat of job action always in the back of the mind of shipping and port officials up and down the coast.

The Northern view posted a short story to their website today.

Partners in flow, but how much do we know?

An interesting recommendation was reintroduced to Prince Rupert City Council on Monday night, as council was asked to consider putting the city into a form of partnership with Hecate Strait Employment Society, a partnership which would allow the society to access funding for programs which it hopes to operate.

As we outlined a few weeks ago on this portal, the original discussion was to take place at the January 12 session, but the agenda item was withdrawn by the Mayor (page three of the minutes), sending it back to staff for further discussion and advice.

The two weeks of study apparently provided the answers to whatever questions that the Mayor may have had about the issue, as it was once again placed on the agenda for the January 26th meeting (pages 37 and 38), this time however without reference to the request from Hecate Strait, worded more as a generic request for consideration.

Perhaps the caution on the issue by the city was just a case of the city being mindful of the fact that the Executive Director of Hecate Strait is city councillor Kathy Bedard, who in effect is asking council to help her organization to access money for her operations.

As Ms. Bedard outlined in a letter back on December 5, 2008 (found on pages 27 and 28 of the January 12 agenda)these are monies that apparently cannot be accessed by Hecate Strait on its own as it is not a charitable organization, but if partnered with the city can be requested and if granted would thus flow through the city of Prince Rupert.

In their second briefing on the issue on the January 26 edition of the agenda, the city outlines in generic terms how the process would work, advising that we have done this in the past, (all be it not for a sitting councilor we assume) however it’s been on an ad hoc basis with no particular policy in place as to who may or may not qualify.

While the council was asked to look over a new policy initiative on the issue, there hasn't been much information made public about the terms of this arrangement, how it will work, or what the monies will be used for. We look forward to subsequent news coverage and information from the city about the process involved and how it will be implemented in an open and accountable way.

As it reads on the policy page of the agenda item, once the city receives the money they deposit it to a city account, write a cheque and or income tax receipt, then turn things over to the organization who are expected to complete the paper work and spend their money as planned. However there is little background on the process involved, what the city must contribute to the flow through, if there are any costs involved and if any take place how they may be recovered.

This is where things may get sticky for the council and the city, if Hecate Strait which has self identified itself as non charitable, should be successful in its bid for funding for whatever project they are hoping to implement. We could imagine that there must be more than a few organizations or groups along the lines of Hecate Strait, which might wish to avail themselves of such an arrangement.
What happens if and when such a group in the city applies for the same accommodation from the city and should be refused?
There could be more than one person in the city that might suggest an original conflict of interest, and if another organization is denied their request then one wonders how long it would take for them to claim a sense of favouritism wafting through council chambers.
Others will no doubt be watchful of the articles of the community charter for BC municipalities, ensuring that the city maintains the spirit of that guidance in all occasions.

Such are the things that hornet’s nests are made of, a move that if not outlined clearly and in a very transparent way, may come back and haunt them for the duration of their three year term.

City Hall Tracker January 26 2009

The second gathering of 2009 for council and mayor, as they begin to get into the swing of this municipal governance thing.

Included once again on the agenda was an interesting request for partnership with the city from the Hecate Strait Business Society, so the Business society could access funding that isn't normally available to a non-charity operation (page 27 of the January 12 agenda).

However as we discovered through the minutes of the January 12 meeting (page three), this item was withdrawn for consideration at the last minute two weeks ago pending further discussion and infomation from staff. Those discussions apparently successful, it placed back on the agenda for last night's meeting see (pages 37 and 38 of January 26 agenda).

However, once again, as it was two weeks ago, there was little in the way of detail provided on the agenda regarding what the request is for, or how it would work. That would apparently be explained during the presentation.

Beyond that item, council was to look at such things as an extension to a demolition order, receive the findings of the ferry advisory committee and review some bylaw recommendations.

In committee of the whole they were to hear a report from MLA Gary Coons and take in a presentation from Communities in Bloom, the health Advisory Committe and from Howard Gray on waterfront development.

January 26, 2009

Agenda for Regular Council meeting January 26, 2009

Agenda for Committee of the Whole meeting january 26, 2009

City Council session for January 26, 2009:

In Attendance:

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

Minutes for January 26, 2009

Regular City council meeting Minutes for January 26, 2009

Committee of the Whole meeting minutes for January 26, 2009

Daily News Voting summary

Summary from January 28 edition of Daily News

Attendance at City Hall to date archives

Upcoming events-- Council Meeting February 9, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Highway 16 closed to Terrace

Monday's wild weather has resulted in the closure of Highway 16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert, at 915 pm, Drive BC listed the highway as closed in both directions from Prince Rupert to Rainbow Pass due to a high avalanche risk.

The closure is in effect until at least 11 am on Tuesday, with an update expected to be provided at 10 am.

Through the day travel advisories had been posted along the highway due to heavy snowfall inland, with no travel recommended unless absolutely necessary.

The Drive BC advisories were as follows:

Highway 16 both directions

Closed in both directions from Prince Rupert to Rainbow Pass (15.8 km) because of High Avalanche Hazard. Will remain closed until 11 am Tuesday, January 27; confidence moderate. Next update Tuesday, Jan 27 at 10:00 am. Updated on Mon Jan 26 at 9:15 pm. (ID# 75489)

Jan 26, 2009 09:15 PM

Highway 16 Both Directions

Heavy Snowfall from Agate Creek Bridge to Terrace (93.6 km). Travel Advisory in effect. Travel is not recommended unless absolutely necessary. Updated Mon Jan 26 at 6:58 pm. (ID# 75449)

Jan 26, 2009 06:58 PM

Highway 16 Both Directions

Heavy Snowfall from Terrace to Big Oliver Creek Bridge (49.4 km). Travel Advisory in effect. Travel is not recommended unless absolutely necessary. Updated Mon Jan 26 at 6:50 pm. (ID# 75448)
UPDATE: The latest advisory from Drive BC had the highway reopened late Tuesday afternoon, however with an advisory of a High Avalanche Hazard 34 km east of Agate Creek Bridge to 55 km west of Terrace (4.6 km).
The Drive BC website will have updates posted in the morning regarding the status of highway conditions.