Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mr. Stronach’s Opel

“We want to build Opel cars in Canada,”-- Magna chairman Frank Stronach

Canadians will soon be full fledged shareholders in the new General Motors (right after that nasty little bankruptcy business is taken care of) and of course we are all helping Chrysler to overcome it’s current financial travails, but while we contemplate what it may be like to be the owner (small share as it is) of a couple of car makers, there’s even more interesting news on the way for Canada’s automotive sector.

Frank Stronach, the owner of Magna parts, has been the successful bidder for the GM spin off company Opel Motors, the European office of the one time GM empire. Stronach realized a long cherished dream over the weekend, when he came out ahead of Fiat, which had also been in the hunt to buy the Opel brand and now perhaps will concentrate their interest on securing Chrysler.

For Stronach, the successful bid seems to have provided the realization of a long held wish to be more firmly in charge of a sector of the automobile manufacturing industry and securing a home for many of the parts that his company makes.

It also has allowed him to trumpet the potential of bringing to Canada it’s very own automobile manufacturing company, with his apparent long term plan to begin to build Opel vehicles in Canada for the North American marketplace.

It makes for an interesting dynamic, while two of the major North American manufacturers are busy securing loans, selling off their dealerships and seeking public ownership, the Canadian entrepreneur is trying to reclaim some of that same industry for Canada.

Stronach’s company will be a twenty per cent shareholder in the Opel brand, sharing the burden of ownership with Sberbank of Russia 35%, General Motors (the new one we assume) 35% and the employees of Opel who will have a ten percent share in the new venture.

Should he prove to be persuasive to his partners and move some of the manufacturing to Canada, it would be the first time since 1918 that a Canadian based auto maker Sam McLaughlin put a car into production and onto the roads, McLaughlin's company was eventually merged into General Motors, bringing an end to any development of a truly Canadian designed vehicle.

What remains to be seen if the Opel manufacturing comes to Canada, is if that brand will resonate with Canadians. Or considering that we now have such a huge investment into GM and Chrysler, if Canadians will end up buying cars more for a return on their investment than for personal preference.

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, May 29, 2009

The Daily News seeks for the community to rally, a review of the Chamber's weekend that was, all be it, last weekend and the urban planners share their vision, some of the key items from the Friday Daily News.

COMMUNITY MEMBER IS ASKING FOR A LITTLE HELP-- Friday's front page featured some background on a local cancer patient, who faced with prospect of an unsuccesful battle against her disease, has but one wish, to take her family on one real holiday. The Daily outlines the road she has travelled so far and how the community can come to her assistance to make her final wish come true (see story below)

The BC Chamber Annual General Meeting may have ended last Saturday May 23rd, but the record of the meetings success didn't get told until the Friday edition. Considered to be a very successful gathering, the local Chamber of Commerce is hopeful that the impressions left on the delegates will be lasting and that Rupert will be considered again for the annual gathering. During the course of the three day event, local chamber members met with those from across the province as well as the invited guest speakers, mixing business with social events.

Among some of the topics that they examined were The province's Recognition and Reconcilliation Act, and how it may impact on Chamber members and their businesses. The changes to the US border crossing procdures in the new era of enhanced security were also discussed, as Chamber members learned more about current changes and what may be coming further down the line.

For the local chamber, the meeting proved to be a valuable way of increasing the Prince Rupert chamber's footprint in the provincial association as well as providing for some positive tourist reports to be carried back home after the generous heaping of local hospitality.

The vision for downtown renewal was revealed this past week, as the consultants hired by the City of Prince Rupert offered up their thoughts in an open house on Tuesday evening. Joaquin Karakas and Tom Becker from Vancouver are working with Prince Rupert City Planner Zeno Krekic to deliver the new development guidelines for the downtown area.

From the Tuesday evening sessions the Daily News provided some of the feedback from local business operators as they offered up their interpretations of where the city should be going with its downtown plans.
Jack Payne offered up his belief that the downtown core has been fortunate that the city hasn't had an out-of-town sprawl like other communities. In particular, he pointed towards the recently cancelled Royop shopping mall as something that "would have set the community back", prefering it would seem to concentrate on development in the downtown core.

Glen Saunders, a business owner in Cow Bay observed that there are a good number of businesses in need of repair or painting in the downtown area, or storefronts that are vacant at the moment, and suggested that the city should follow the lead of Nanaimo which a number of years ago provided money for local businesses to paint their buildings. He also believes that one way to dress up the empty storefronts would be to feature displays in the empty windows for those businesses still open in the downtown area.

Interestingly enough, it was a backlash in Cow Bay that contributed to some of that empty storefront space in that part of town. Earlier this year, a move by some Cow Bay merchants forced the School District to alter their plans to locate a school in Cow Bay, forcing the Pacific Coast School to abandon it's plans for space in the Seasport building, instead taking the school and its staff and students into the downton core and the old Hecate Strait space on second Avenue.

The sports section featured a review of a recent trip to Japan by instructors of the local Karate Club, who travelled to Japan where they renewed ties with the senseis of Japan, refining their skills and learning more of the sport of karate.

Total pages in the Friday edition (16)

Front page, headline story:


Editor's Note:

The recession has caused a lot of worry for many members of Northern communities. People are concerned about the economy, the government, the environment, Title and Rights, employment opportunities and many other important issues.

But sometimes we need to remember what we do have - and what we can do to pull together as a community to help ourselves and our neighbours. When you meet someone like Ellen Pagens, it brings you back to reality with a jolt.

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Friday, May 29, 2009
Page one

It isn’t really asking for a lot.

Ellen Pagens, 38, was re-diagnosed with breast cancer a month and a half ago and learned the cancer has spread into her lung. She's been given six months to live and since learning that decided she would like to do one thing - take her four children and one grandchild on the family's first-ever holiday.

She hasn't set her sights on Disneyland, Hawaii or Europe either. She only wants a van that will fit eight and help to take her family to Edmonton in between chemotherapy treatments some time in the next few months.

"I picked Edmonton because I think there would be something interesting there for all my kids. Their ages range from 21 to 6 years old," she said.

Speaking in her moms home, where she's living these days while she goes through treatments, Pagens said the first time she was diagnosed with cancer she was 33 years old.

There are a lot of things Pagens hasn't done. She's never been to a concert and
on July 24 she hopes to get married. That's the date of both her mom and her sister’s

After finding a lump under her arm she went to the doctor and discovered that it was cancer and it had started to spread into her lymph nodes. Within a week she had surgery and has been in remission for four or five years.

She underwent chemotherapy in Prince Rupert and radiation treatments in Vancouver She had a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy because she was pretty young.

Wednesday afternoon was going okay - she has her good days and bad. Part of
she wants a second opinion about treatment and she's wondering if her doctor could refer her to a specialist.

“I know the cancer has gone into my lung and I would like more details. There was fluid in there, my chest was really heavy, and the fluid has been drained twice already,” Pagens said. “I’d like to know the way it spread and where it is.”

“The doctor said she could go on a family trip. He also said she’ll start deteriorating as time goes on. We’re thinking if we could all go together it would be great,” said her mom, Katherine Pagens.

Looking pretty tired and very thin, Pagens wears a red bandana. The hair started falling out immediately after the first chemotherapy treatment. A few days ago her mom, sister and dad and four other relatives shaved their heads in support of her.

Her brother Robert would really like to help his sister go on the family trip and is appealing to the community for ideas to help her wish be realized.

At the Urban Haida Graduation Celebration taking place on Sunday, the Haida dancers are going to do the blanket dance and any donations will go to Pagens, said Katherine.

The Pagens are a large and closeknit family and they've been through cancer once with when Katherine's husband got prostate cancer a year ago.

"My husband's mom had co on cancer and it seems like the daughters on my husband's side are the ones getting cancer," she said.

As she sipped from a cup of tea, but unable to finish her sandwich, Pagens said she decided to go through chemotherapy because it couldn't do any worse, although some days she wonders if it's worth it.

She's opted out of radiation this around because she’d rather be close to her family.

"We're thinking if it's not going to do anything and she's away from her children then it's not worth it. She's really between a rock and a hard place," said Katherine.

The Pagens can be reached at 250-624-6973. A trust fund has been established at the Bank of Montreal for Ellen.


On Monday June 1, The Daily News ran the following correction to the above story.


In Friday's paper (May 29, 2009) a story ran about a Prince Rupert woman with cancer. The main names in the story switched around.

Ellen Pages is the mom, her daughter Katherine is the 38 year old woman with cancer.

The Daily News apologizes for the error.

Work from home! Your opinion could make you money…

Taking part in the soon-to-begin environmental assessment over Phase Two of the Fairview container port could be a financially rewarding thing for you.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is making available 100,000 dollars for individuals or groups than may wish to contribute to the debate on the planned expansion of the container port and its impact on the environment.

To receive funding, successful applicants must participate in thecomprehensive study process. This funding is intended for activities that will follow the public consultation currently underway on the scope of the project.

The scope of that study includes an examination as to how the extending of the existing wharf structure and expanding the on-shore terminal will impact the environment and lifestyle of coastal users.

As well the plans of Canadian National Railway Company will come in for an examination as the railroad is proposing improvements to the associated rail infrastructure as part of the project.

Interested participants have until June 29th, 2009 to have their funding application in place for consideration. You can find out more details on the funding opportunity by taking a look at the CEAA website, where further information on the assessment and the funding possibilities can be found.

A walk for justice begins at a most symbolic place

Aboriginal human-rights activist Gladys Radek and more than three dozen other supporters of missing women began the long journey to Prince Rupert on Thursday, starting a "March for Justice" that will take them through the interior of British Columbia and on to Prince Rupert, all in a bid to continue to maintain interest in the missing women of the Highway of Tears.

Ms. Radek and her fellow marchers begin their journey from the site of one of British Columbia's most horrific murder scenes, as they left the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre destined for the infamous Pickton farm, the site of a number of murders, with the Vancouver pig farmer has been charged with killing 20 women and convicted in the deaths of a further six.

The choice of the Pickton farm to start the march indicates the concern that the marchers have for the missing women of the Highway of Tears, not wanting to let their names disappear into history.

While the investigation into those disappearances has continued, there has been little progress announced publicly into the various case files currently being followed.

Ms. Radek has a close family interest in the missing women of the Highway of Tears, her niece Tamara Lynn Chipman, went missing from the outskirts of Prince Rupert back in 2005. Last year she led a march over 4000 kilometres to Ottawa in order to press for a public inquiry into the string of disappearances that have plagued the Northern corridor over the last two decades.

Her group is currently trying to raise the funds to continue the march on to Rupert, hopeful to find support from communities throughout British Columbia. Their goal is to reach Prince Rupert on June 22nd.

The opening moments of the march and the plans for it to come were detailed in the Georgia Strait. The progress of the march can be followed from a site set up on Facebook.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rampage rivals skating on thin ice

In the short history of the Prince Rupert's return to competitive Senior Men's hockey, one of the key rivalries established has been between the Rupert Rampage and Terrace River King teams of the CIHL.

However, if things don't get sorted out in short order, that rivalry may be in peril, as the Terrace team suddenly finds itself in a state of limbo.

The Terrace Standard outlines the suddenly changing landscape for the River Kings, an owner who has left town for parts unknown, with more than a few debts unpaid.

Burny Carlsen, has apparently relocated to somewhere in Vancouver having put the team up for sale, but so far with few interested buyers ready to step up and provide the financing to keep the team in operation for this fall.

Carlsen was but one of two private owners of CIHL teams, most others including the Rupert one are community owned efforts, making things a little easier to work with in regards to financing and arena leases and such.

It's a model that many in Terrace hope to follow, though time may be running out on getting all the ducks in a row for a fall start to the CIHL season, of primary concern is the ability to gain ice time in Terrace, as the city has a policy of not providing ice time for those with unpaid bills from the previous season. The River Kings also are required to make a payment to the BC Amateur Hockey Association for registration and insurance purposes. Those two main concerns are but a number of the problems facing the River Kings without an identifiable ownership situation in place.

Unless the community gets the call out quickly and finds a way to not only provide support, but settle up on past debts, it could be that that Terrace will be faced with having the local team shut down its operations for the year that Terrace celebrates its status as Hockeyville.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Farmer Jack’s glad tidings arrive in the mail

Where your Taxes Go?

"Although your taxes are payable to the City of Prince Rupert, the City does not keep all of the tax monies for its own purposes.
The City acts as a collection agency for the Provincial Government for School Taxes, and other authorities for the funding of Hospitals, Regional District, the BC Assessment Authority and Municipal Finance Authority of BC” – From the Message from the Mayor, arriving with your tax bill sometime soon, explaining just what happens to all your money..

When Podunkians arrive home this afternoon and check their mail boxes they may have an almost automatic desire to grab their wallets or purses, as arriving in the day’s mail across town is the annual ritual mailing of greetings and salutations from the City of Prince Rupert.

It’s property tax time again, as the city makes an impressive turnaround time from approval of tax increases (but a few weeks ago) to delivery of tax bills to your home mail box.

In addition to the breakdown of your tax payments (and the approved upon increases 3.8 % thank you very much) not to mention the application for the Home Owner Grant (all be it in the smallest type possible, so don’t miss it!), the mailing offers a handy mailer from Mayor Jack Mussallem, outlining the City’s budget particulars, from both the ledgers of Revenues and Expenditures.

And helpful as they are, there is even an area to learn how you can make those payments by Cheque, cash or interac, but NO credit please!
Credit cards are strictly verboten when it comes to matters of property tax payment, after all, the city probably doesn’t want you to be borrowing beyond your means.

Whichever method you prefer, you have a time limited opportunity to contribute to the city’s financial picture, the deadline for payment of your taxes is July 2, 2009 at which point a 10 Per cent penalty on taxes unpaid will come into effect.

After that we gather that the city will begin to act as its own “collection agency”, anxious to make sure that we all do our part as part of the big financial picture.

Tax Information from the City Website is available here.

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, May 28, 2009

They tinker with the real estate formula at Tinker realty, there may be more fish in the water but there will be no increase in catch limits this salmon season and success in Rupert is sending six performers to Saskatoon. Some of the items of note in the Thursday edition of the Daily News.

TINKER REALTY IS GOING THROUGH A METAMORPHISIS-- The local real estate scene is in the midst of a change once again, this time as Tinker Realty/Remax one of the major players in the real estate market offer up a different look.

The Tinker portion of the partnership is leaving the real estate portion of the industry as the Tinker brand now will be known only for property management on the North coast, those agents who will remain in the real estate business will be moving on to other firms or carrying the Remax flag from their homes, hopeful that the Remax brand will continue to attract buyers and sellers to those agents still ready to show homes. (See full story below)

The Daily however seems to have suffered some editorial confusion in their quest to always highlight the positives, as elsewhere in the Thursday paper is a story that surely should have been the front page headline story. That as DFO offers up some hope that the wild salmon stocks are starting to come back, but then promises more pain for local fishermen in order to keep that trend continuing. With the review of how DFO intends to cut the local catch limits this summer by 20 per cent.

Of a possible 2 million this summer, DFO has in place a total limit of 400,000 in allowable catch, a number that has UFAWU more than a little upset. Councillor Joy Thorkelson, who doubles as a UFAWY representative made her concerns known to council on Monday night, outlining the DFO trends since 2003 and how their decisions have all but decimated the gill net fleet in the region.

Even more alarming for local fishermen and those in the plants that depend on their catch, the Skeena Fish Commission wish list could see that no more than 225,000 pieces would be available for catchment, a number which Thorkelson suggests would not provide for more than 75 boats in the water.

A prospect that highlights how the continual decline of the fishing industry is continuing, taking it and the community far far away from the hey days of the last century when the fishing industry ruled the roost on the North coast.

This weeks Performing Arts BC Festival has provided a stepping stone for six talented young people, all of whom will represent the province at a national competition in Saskatoon. The six were part of the large contingent of performers who have been in town this week taking part in the festival, The week long activities came to an end on Thursday night with a Provincial Finals concert at the Lester Centre for the Arts.

The Sports page highlighted the wrestling career of former Prince Rupert resident and CHSS wrestler Stuart Brown, who has carved out an interesting personna known as the Mauler. Thursday's article outlined his travels on the east coast and Northern Canada.

The upcoming Seafest Basketball challenge also gained a preview as Conrad Lewis attempts to get the annual challenge back on track after a couple of shaky years in recent times.

Total pages in the Thursday edition (14)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, May 28, 2009

Page one

The long-time real estate firm that began under G.P, Tinker is getting out of the real estate sales game.

And the company will continue on with property management under Judy Park and. Elaine Hembroff.

A 'For Lease' sign sitting conspicuously in the window of a Third Avenue shop would not raise too many eyebrows in Prince Rupert these days, but when it's a real estate agency the perspective is different.

After many years as one of Prince Rupert's more recognizable businesses in town, Tinker Realty is closing its doors. But it's not a bellwether sign of doom with regards to the industry, said staff. The company is just changing priorities.

Located on Third Avenue across from city hall, the business as a real estate firm will close its doors this week as part of Re/Max's metamorphosis in how the company does business in town.

According to Tinker owner, Hembroff, the change will not be immediate because the company will look to find a tenant for its building first. But once that tenant is found, they will move their property management business to an undetermined new location.
For the real estate agents employed by Re/Max, who bought Tinker a decade ago, the changes will be noticeable. Well known agent Keith Lambourne has moved to Victor Prysray's Royal LePage organization at Rupert Square Mall. Other representatives will retire. But two agents will stick with Re/Max as agents; you just won't see them in an office any longer.

Mike Morse and Clayton Williams will now work out of their homes for Re/Max and while it might be curious as to why they aren't jumping ship, the two agents said that there is plenty of reason to stay the course.

"It's about giving people in town choice," said Morse on Wednesday as the office continued its clearing. "Rupertites deserve options."

Williams concurred, and said that the brand name was important for him, especially in a day of messaging; a brand name carries a lot of weight with potential consumers.

"It's a strong brand and for me that was a really important part of staying with the company," said Williams.

With such changes to the real estate landscape in town, and with the difficult times a -lower market has provided, Morse and Williams said, it won't likely make agents in town mote competitive, per se. They said the relationships between agents in town have always been good and that will continue.

"It's really more about the relationship between clients and customers and how that develops," said Morse.

Mr Veniez against the world...

While the forces gather to try and block his plans of privatization, Dan Veniez, Chairman of Ridley Terminals continues on with his letter writing campaign, eager to share his vision with anyone within the range of a news stand or a computer terminal.

As we highlighted on our blog last week, the always media savvy Veniez had taken his corporate concerns over perceived government interference on the privatization issue to the national media, offering up a number of rapid response pieces for a variety of newspapers.

This weeks installment of the Chronicles of Dan, find the Chairman outlining his thoughts on why he thinks having the Port of Prince Rupert take over Ridley Terminals would be a bad idea.

Writing a piece for the National Post, posted to their website on Thursday evening, Mr. Veniez, with the zeal of an evangalist, outlines what he believes are the flaws in the argument that the future of Ridley Terminals would best be served under the umbrella of Don Krusel and the Port of Prince Rupert.
Suggesting that the taxpayers of Canada may not appreciate the Port having to borrow more money to fulfill such an ambition.

While he goes about trying to gain momentum for his plans the private sector alternative, other community leaders are taking a more cautious approach. As the Northern View outlined on their website early Thursday afternoon.

In a story posted to their website, the Northern View reviews the thoughts of Prince Rupert mayor Jack Mussallem and the concerns of Port Edward council, as both bodies of municipal government feel that without further details, the prospect of a privatized Ridley would not bode well for the Northwest and leaves far too much at the whim of market forces.

As Mr. Veniez continues to send his opinions near and far, we can no doubt expect that more voices will be heard from those that are concerned about his plans and his push to privatize the assets at Ridley Terminals.

So far, Mr. Veniez has been but the sole public voice for the privatization option, while the opposition to the plan seems to be multiplying by the day. He may soon need to bring some fellow travellers to his side of the debate if he hopes to develop a sense of momentum for his ambitious plans.

The Ridley Terminals debate: Privatization still the best option
Posted: May 28, 2009, 8:40 PM

Handing Ridley to the Prince Rupert Port Authority would be a mistake
By Daniel D. Veniez

Mr. Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia, the association representing coal producers, praised efforts that made Ridley Terminals viable. But if he agrees that being viable is good thing, and it wasn’t viable before, how does giving it to the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) keep it viable?

The truth is that it doesn’t.

There are only three choices for this business. The first is continued government ownership. Cash injections would be required to fund operating losses, pension liabilities, capital maintenance and modernization programs, and of course, subsidizing users because they refuse to pay market rates. The second is amalgamation into the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA).In October, 2006, Don Krusel, CEO of the PRPA said before the House Finance Committee:

“The PRPA can only raise $22-million. What we would ask for is support for the amalgamation of federal assets in Prince Rupert, in the same way as it’s happening here in Vancouver, where the three port authorities look to be amalgamated. There is a Crown corporation in Prince Rupert called Ridley Terminals. We would like to see that amalgamated with the operations of the PRPA. It would provide us with funds that could be directed to this Pacific Gateway strategy initiative. It would also provide the Port of Prince Rupert with the leverage to borrow even more money in the public sector so we can fulfill this initiative.”

Is the fact that the PRPA needs to increase its borrowing authority sufficient justification for this swallowing up of RTI? We’re not so sure the taxpayer would agree with that.

The Vancouver “precedent” cited by Mr. Krusel is not a precedent at all. The consolidation of three separate port authorities operating adjacent to each other is different than the concept of putting the port authorities into operating businesses (with the result that a quasi-governmental authority would become a competitor to other commercial operators seeking to develop or operate a business).

The third alternative is a private-sector solution.

RTI is a public trust belonging to all Canadians. And Canadians deserve answers to the assertions made by Mr. Gratton. He should explain where, precisely, are the synergies to flow from an amalgamation between RTI and the PRPA? Or how he defines a “competitive” rate? So, if a rate is “competitive,” doesn’t that by definition mean that it is comparable or slightly better than other terminal operators in Canada and elsewhere? And if that’s the case, why does he think a private sector solution is such a bad idea?

Coal producers in B.C. have at least five choices available to them because there are many alternative terminals to RTI on the Pacific Coast. That being the case, what then is Mr. Gratton’s definition of a “monopoly,” as he describes us? And why would a private-sector participant impose “monopoly” rates?

Is Mr. Gratton proposing that the taxpayer fund the $50-million in maintenance and upgrade capital RTI needs in the near term to properly service its customers? On top of that, should the taxpayer subsidize coal producers through the PRPA or by funding RTI? In today’s poor global market, coal producers generate $110 per tonne in revenues. Will the mines that Mr. Gratton represents go out of business because RTI charges what its “competitors” charge?

The “competitive” rates referenced by Mr. Gratton were established at a time that coal prices for export hovered around $80 per metric ton. Metallurgical coal export prices over the past year have ranged from $330-$140 per metric ton. RTI has suggested rate increases ranging from 1% to 2% of current export pricing for coal. Those increases reflect the “cost” of the activity inclusive of the capital required to renew the resource. Is that, by any reasonable measure, “monopolistic” behaviour?

If Mr. Gratton believes that RTI’s public policy purpose is to develop coal mines in B.C., and therefore subsidize them, does he also believe that RTI must offer the same economic advantage to pellet producers, petroleum coke producers, potash producers and sulphur producers? And if RTI, a federal Crown corporation, subsidizes them through deeply discounted rates, shouldn’t other commodity producers that ship elsewhere in B.C. and Canada get equal treatment from the taxpayer?

It is up to the federal cabinet to decide RTI’s future. Our promise and duty to them is to protect RTI, its people, the customers that will need our services for many years to come and Canada’s taxpayer.Financial PostDaniel D. Veniez is chairman, Ridley Terminals Inc.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gary Bettman's headaches get a little worse...

Beyond the mess that has become the Phoenix Coyotes, away from the rumblings that more of those struggling franchise dominoes are about to fall across the southern USA comes another problem for the Commissioner that may give the NHL as black an eye as the ever popular financial troubles do.

Richard Thomas, and his wife, Sandra Thomas, of Lakeland, Florida were arrested after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and the local police raided their home and found $200,000 worth of drugs, part of a supply which if the stories coming out of the USA are proven correct could very well have been destined for some members of either the Washington Nationals baseball team or the Washington Capitals hockey team.

In the early moments of this investigation, the Capitals have issued a statement which says that they have no knowledge of “any aspect of this allegation.”. The NHL was quick to add however, that they planned to conduct a complete investigation into the charges.

For the most part, hockey's boosters have tried to portray the league as somehow immune from the sordid world of the steroid boosters, just featuring good strong lads who work out hard, play hard and probably do nothing recreational other than a few pops with the boys after the game.
It's a quaint illusion, but one that probably isn't reasonable in these times of performance enhancement.

While the issue of steroid abuse probably isn't in the same scale as made famous by baseball and professional football, the NHL has a pretty spotty record when it comes to testing and watching over its players.

Despite Gary Bettman's time in the spotlight with the other big sports leaders last year with the US Congress, the league's dedication towards the topic of steroids has been more pedestrian, than determined over the years.

That is what makes it ripe for the low lifes and bottom feeders to get a hold on some of hockey's players who may feel that they need an extra edge to hang on, maybe introduce a few of his team mates to his "friend" and from there the thing of trouble is made.

Eventually, as proven in Florida, the bad guys get caught, they look to save themselves and in the course of that process they will throw out as many names as possible, some maybe fanciful others caught dead to rights. Suspicion will replace fact in a good many cases, and in the fallout will come a shadow on the game.

If the Florida couple prove to be nothing more than a pair of drowning souls looking for a lifeline, then the NHL will have dodged a bullet. Perhaps using it as a warning to get a better handle on what their member teams are doing towards the goal of a clean sport.

If the naming of the names however brings out some unwanted news of some of the stars of the game, perhaps going beyond Washington, then Mr. Bettman's year from hell will only be getting worse, much worse than even he must surely have thought possible.

The NHL has always wanted to be considered one of the big four of sports in America, however we suspect that this wasn't quite what they had in mind in their quest for that goal!
The item above first appeared on my HockeyNation blog

Terrace eyes its weather forecast with a sense of foreboding

While many in the Northwest have been bemoaning the cool temperatures and frequent precipitation of the last few weeks, next weeks forecast for sun and hot temperatures is not being overwhelmingly welcomed to the east of Prince Rupert.

The Terrace Fire Chief, Peter Weeber has offered up a warning to residents that the time is at hand to begin preparations for potential flooding along the Skeena River, showing a concern over the potential events of the coming week and an eerie resemblance to the situation of two years ago.

It was the first week of June 2007 that saw a sudden heat wave send the record snow pack of the Coast mountains down into the Skeena watershed, laying waste to highway and rail connections between Terrace and Smithers to the east and Prince Rupert to the west.

Vast areas of the city of Terrace that year were under water, as the historic flood plains of the city overflowed their banks, a scenario that Fire Chief Peter Weeber fears could be reprised in the next week or so.

Those flood conditions in Terrace had repercussions in Prince Rupert as well, with the highway closed for a number of days and rail access shut down, local stores quickly ran short of staples such as milk and bread as locals began to stock up for what they feared would be a long siege.

Likewise, gas stations suddenly found large line ups forming as Rupertites filled up their tanks, a situation that puzzled many as with the highway closed one wondered where it was everyone might be driving to.
The situation deteriorated so bad in the city, that then Mayor Herb Pond had to intervene with a public plea for a little common sense and asked for a bit more community spirit to take over where the cabin fever mentality had set in.

Hopefully, the Northwest has learned from the drama of two years ago and will be better prepared should disaster strike and history repeats.
Chief Weeber offered up his thoughts to the Terrace Standard, providing some suggestions as to the steps that Terrace residents should be taking now, just in case nature offers up a few unwanted twists in June.
Terrace Daily Online-- Entering Flood Risk Season

City Hall Tracker May 25, 2009

Full attendance and a real debate (over parking fees at Atlin) highlighted the latest efforts of our civic councillors. Council also set up the process for a community garden at Kootenay Field as well as sending out a thank you to BC Ferries for the introduction of their new ferries.

May 25, 2009

Regular council meeting Agenda for May 25, 2009
Committee of the Whole Meeting Agenda for May 25, 2009
Notice of closed meeting for May 25, 2009

City council session for May 25, 2009

In attendance:

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

Regular City council minutes for May 25, 2009

(none posted yet)

Daily News voting summary

Wednesday, May 27. 2009 edition

Attendance at City Hall to date archives

Upcoming events-- City council meeting June 22, 2009

City Council Scoresheet for May 25, 2009

The Wednesday, May 27 edition of the Daily News featured their regular scorecard on city council issues, this one featuring the deliberations and votes from selected items of the May 25 session.
This weeks feature appeared on page three of the Wednesday edition.
Question One: To approve a 12 m x 12 m site in Kootenay Park for a Community Garden pilot project headed up by the Kaien Anti Poverty Society .
How council voted:
Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Question Two: That council adopt a fee schedule for the Atlin Parking Pay and Display Implementation in Cow Bay.

How council voted:
Mayor Jack Mussallem-- No
Councillor Anna Ashley-- No
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- No
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- No
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Question Three: That a small portion of the 8th Avenue East road allowance be closed and sold to Mr. Woodruff and Ms. Clark for the purpose of consolidating their property at 228 - 8th Avenue East. This was passed after being given its third reading, waitinhf recommendation from the Ministry of Highways.

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Question Four: To approved the Revenue Anticipation Borrowing Bylaw No. 3283, 2009 that enables municipalities to b orrow funds in order to meet cash flows. Locally the city has a banking agreement at CIBC that gives the City accesst to a $1,000,000 line of credit. Chief Financial Officer Dan Rodin said the City hasn't accesed this money for some time but each year the bylaw has to be passed.
How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes
Question Five: That the City of Prince Rupert send a letter to BC Ferries thanking them for the two new vessels that are serving the North Coast.

How council voted:

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

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A former Mayor heads for Hartley Bay, the School District considers the finishing touches from its All Budget Committee and the Wildlife Shelter gets more donations, the main items of note from the Wednesday edition of the Daily News.

DON SCOTT IS THE NEW FACE IN HARTLEY BAY-- He may have come in second in the recent Prince Rupert Mayoralty race, but Don Scott wasn't long between engagements. The one time Mayor of Prince Rupert has been introduced as the new CEO and Band Manager for Hartley Bay, the First Nations community due south of Prince Rupert. Scott will split his work time between the community and his duties at Prince Rupert's Northern Savings. (see full story below)

With sixty programs still to review, School District 52 is getting closer to delivering its revenue neutral budget next month. They have been paring down some of the costing expectations by as much as 20 per cent as they seek to fight their 405,000 dollar deficit. With more decisions to come, the input of parents and guardians will be welcomed at the Town Hall meeting on June 16th at Charles Hays Secondary School.
The School district has posted on their website a copy of a handout delivered to students this week, outlining the terms of the grade configuration debate, one of the key items for discussion on June 16th. School enrollment and the declining trends in the community and its impact on education will be one of the main issues of that discussion at that Town hall meeting.

The Prince Rupert Wildlife Shelter continues to benefit from the generosity of Rupertites, as Brigette Hausner provides them with a 354 donation, the proceeds of her recent haircut efforts to raise awareness of the Shelters efforts.

The Daily News also included their weekly attendance and issue check of Prince Rupert's city council (detailed in a seperate posting)

The Sports section freatures a preview of the return of the Seafest canoe race, which makes its return at this years festival which runs from June 11-14.

Total pages in the Wednesday edition ( 16)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Page one

The former mayor has been hired, as the new CEO and band manager of Hartley Bay, replacing interim manager David Benton.

Don Scott, who also ran for mayor of Prince Rupert last November, said that he was pleased with the opportunity to help the small Tsimshian community south of Prince Rupert as it moves forward with its plans to develop its economic fortunes.

"The position interested me, I applied for it and they decided to recruit me," said Scott by phone from his new part-time location in the heart of the Gitga'at Nation.

As per an agreement with the Hartley Bay band council, Scott will work part-time in Hartley Bay and part-time in Prince Rupert as he tends to his other role as vice-chairman of Northern Savings Credit Union.

Scott said that the his professional accounting experience and his role with Northern Savings related more to the he was about to do than his role as mayor, for which he sat until 2001.

He added that it would be more akin to becoming a city manager rather than a mayor.

“A band manager’s role is basically to carry out the wishes of those that govern,” said Scott.

Elected chief councillor Jack Clifton said that Scott's personal relationship with the nation was one of the reasons the council believed he was the man for the job.

"Hopefully he'll take us in the right direction where the band will be able to come forward, with all the environmental issues that are going to come up in the future, from where we are situated," said Clifton.

Among those items of concern are the pipeline projects that are proposed for the North Coast region and the sunken Queen of the North that sits west of the community near Gil Island.

Scott said he couldn't comment on Hartley Bay's position on what to do about the Queen of the North, but Clifton did say that Scott's focus would be on economic issues while other Hartley Bay employees work on the community’s environmental concerns.

Among the issues facing Hartley Bay is the establishment of its run-of-river, independent power station being developed for a one megawatt power service.

"There is significant interest in moving forward and governance and looking at sustainable job creation - and there are a couple of projects being considered," said Scott.

The community will be holding meetings in the fall with the Gitga'at nation members to discuss the potential economic projects that it appears Scott is there to help head.

The position had in effect been empty for the last year, but Benton had sat in the spot until the naming of Scott yesterday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Marry for love, Marry for money... Love comes calling to the funnies..

The world's longest courtship has come to an end, and in these economically desperate times, Archie Andrews apparently went for the money.

Archie comic publications announced this week that Riverdale's most sought after, never ending teenager at heart has finally made the plunge and chosen Veronica Lodge to be his intended.

A decision that apparently has left quite a few comic book aficionados and Betty Cooper boosters speechless.

It seems that having trolled the high school years and then college for these last sixty seven years, that the Riverdale gang are about to head off into the working world, with Archie and Veronica off to set up house.

A special marital edition of the comic franchise is planned for August, no doubt the Princess Di Wedding for the comic book set.

The drama has apparently been playing out on the blogosphere as well, with both Veronica and Betty offering up their deepest thoughts on the subject matter for the always faithful to follow and comment on.

Still, the dramatic decision has provided for some interesting commentary on the Globe and Mail webpage that carried details of the historic moment.

A storyline which provided some rather astute observations from the Riverdale crowd, the most telling of which came from that pragmatic bon vivant of Riverdale, Reggie, who clearly aware of the terrain ahead muses that if Archie has chosen Veronica, then “Betty is probably free Friday night. Maybe I should ask her out.”
We sense perhaps a double ceremony, maybe a triple if Jughead ever gets his act together.

But, if you think about it, after sixty seven years, shouldn't they all be more concerned about their social security benefits, than any marital ones?

Booms don't always resonate with the young

Much has been made of late that if Prince Rupert can only hang on a few more years, then the boom times of port development will help to reverse that drain of youth out of our community.

As it is now and has been for a number of years now, once our youth have their Grade twelve diplomas in hand, for the most part they are off down the highway seeking out higher education or better employment opportunities in places afar, destined to return only for those occasional Homecoming and Grad reunions to come.

The prospect of development of the port and any additional jobs that may stream from it has been held up as the talisman to our drain of population, but if a study from Alberta is any indication, that promise of the youth remaining to capture the lure of high paying port jobs may be an illusionary one at best.

Chris O'Connor, a University of Calgary PhD candidate spent a fair amount of time in booming Fort McMurray, expecting to find that the youth of that community would be anxious to be done with their studies and quick to take to the oil patch.

However, the results of his studies have shown that even with high paying and plentiful jobs on their doorstep, the lure of leaving is still strong.

Despite the doubling of the Fort McMurray population base over the last number of years, the sons and daughters of those that have arrived over the years, have instead decided that there is life outside of the boom town.

It makes for an interesting glimpse as to where the future of Prince Rupert may travel, if these heady boom times long promised ever arrive.

While the youth move out, others it seems will move in, anxious to pick up the jobs that will be left unfilled.

In that may prove to be the next wave of growth for the Northwest, helping to replace the exodus of the last ten years or so.

The full examination of the boom town challenges was found in the National Post, you can check out the story from their website.

Podunk Below the Masthead Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Performers rule the stage at the Lester Centre, the school district sends out mails out not so glad tidings and NaiKun records a loss and continues on with its review process. Some of the items of note for Tuesday's Daily News.

OPENING CONCERT A GRAND WAY TO START OFF FESTIVAL-- The opening night for the Performing Arts BC Festival features a number of entertaining and talented performers, the Daily news sent Monica Lamb-Yorski off to record the events (see story below)

The School District sends its regards, but asks that you resubmit your application for employment.

Well we suspect the letter didn't quite read like that, but with a smaller enrollment anticipated it appears that some "bumping" is soon to take place in the ranks of the teachers. The Daily News outlined how some 80 layoff notices were delivered to local teachers, though it's not anticipated that the pending layoffs will number quite that high, as those on the layoff list begin the process of reapplying for positions pending seniority provisions in the contract.

It makes for a confusing and no doubt stressful period of time for local teachers, with PRDTU president Gabriel Bureau expressing her and her memberships frustrations on the process in play.

Naikun may have lost over 7 million dollars in the last two quarters, but the company remains undeterred by their financial shortfalls. With an eye on the goal of acceptance as part of the BC Hydro Clean Power call, Naikun continues on with their plans for the public impact phase of the environmental review of their wind power projects on the North coast.

The multi million dollar losses were not an unanticipated part of the process, and despite having less cash on hand in March than they did last December, the company remains hopeful of pushing ahead and becoming part of the BC Hydro commitment to Clean Power.

The company will be holding a public meeting in Prince Rupert next week to examine the environmental assessment, the deadline for public input into that assessment comes up on July 12.

The Sports section features a review of the success of Charles Hays Secondary, as their grade eights triumphed over all at a recent Zones meet in Smithers.

Total pages in the Tuesday paper 12

Front page, headline story:

By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Pages one and three

The opening concert for the Performing Arts Be Festival featured a lineup of performers from Prince Rupert and Terrace.

Before the entertainment, however, Mayor Jack Mussallem received a plaque from PABC president Brenda Sleightholm, acknowledging the city for hosting the festival.

Sleightholm, here from Kamloops, thanked the city for welcoming her with sunshine, a view of the harbour and the bald eagle flying by her hotel room.

Jennifer Kloppers who was the evening's master of ceremonies said she hoped competitors and their families enjoy their stay in Prince Rupert.

"We may be known as the City of Rainbows but we are also the friendliest city in B.C.," she said. "I came here for two years and I'm still here eight years later."

The Pacific Mist Chorus Sweet Adelines, made up of female singers from both Terrace and Prince Rupert, arrived on the stage in cowboy hats, sparkling turquoise jackets and ready to sing Hey Good Looking and Can't Get a Man.

Always animated and appearing to have a lot of fun on the stage the Sweet Adelines offered a taste of what they've been working on as a chorus this year.

Musical theatre students Caitlenn Bull, Catherine Collins and Jessica Mokzycki from Spectrum City Dance sang Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof, a piece they performed for festivals this year.

Michael Onwood, one of the accompanists here for the week, expertly performed three preludes from George Gershwin on the Lester Centre's grand piano.

Onwood has been an accompanist for the PABC for the last five years.

A demi character piece, featuring 27 students from the Dance Academy of Prince Rupert, was a colourful addition to the evening. Clad in bright and colourful costumes, the students told a story about the feisty attitude of toys in a shop after hours.

Jiwoon Kang, a Japanese exchange student at Charles Hays Secondary School, performed Canon in D Major by Pachelbel.

It's rumoured he often brings his violin to school and randomly performs, so it was nice for those in the community who are not in school, to hear him play.

Sharing a song with local significance was the Prince Rupert Rotary Community Choir with a pieced called Man Who Fell From Heaven. The words are from a poem written by former Rupertite Andrew Wreggitt about the petraglyph near Metlakatla.

Peter Witherly, the choir's director, put the words to music for the four voice parts, sung by the choir's 27 members and the piano accompanist, Larissa Goruk.

One of the evening's biggest surprises was the singing of the Italian aria Per la Gloria d'adorarvi by Opa Sushi's chef, Daisuke Fukasaku.

A baritone, Fukasaku, studied music in the US, majoring in voice and traveled performing in choirs in Europe.

He received cheers from people in the audience and Cloppers said she wants sushi with Italian arias for next Valentine's Day.

Terrace was also represented by Classical Act, a group of six musicians who performed on flute, violin, cello and bass. The group appeared two times during the evening playing a Concerto in D Major, no. 4, Sailor's Song and Polka.

The evening closed with a tap number from Spectrum City Dance called Simply Irresistible. Wearing bright pink and polka dot costumes, the young dancers brought the concert to an energetic close.

Correction: We are advised that Gabriel Bureau is a he, not a she, as indicated in our School District item, we apologize for our mis identification.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Council realizes field of dreams for Kootenay area

Prince Rupert City Council has given the go ahead for the Kaien Anti Poverty Society to commence with a little urban farming on the western side of the city.

The Community Garden will take up an area 12 meters by 12 metre in the area around the old Kooteny Ball Fields, the Garden is but one phase of a three part development which will also see a picnic area and recreation space created on the site.

The process of turning the scrubland into a community garden will take place over the summer, as area residents begin to turn the ground into a fertile growing area.

It's not the first time that a community garden concept has been given a green light, at one time there was to be a similar style of development on the area of land immediately east of Roosevelt School, but that project never seemed to get off the drawing board, other than for the cutting down of some trees and a bit of preliminary work on the land in the area.

It's hoped that with this project adjacent to a housing development in the vicinity that the community around Kootenay Field will adopt the project as their own and turn the concept of a Community Garden into a reality.
CJFW FM had a short piece on the project posted to their website.

Fairview Terminal set for Environmental Assessment for Phase Two plans

The call has come for submissions for what is called a scoping document, part of the process of the Environmental Assessment phase of the expansion plans for the Fairview Container Terminal.

The project known as Phase Two, would see the Container port expand to the west to add additional capacity to the Northwest Gateway to Asia. But before the first bulldozer arrives or the first pile gets driven and we talk of boom times again, the proper documentation needs to be taken care of.

In a press release from Tuesday, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency outlined what the scoping document will provide for the process, incorporating the requirements of the federal environmental assessment process and identifying the key issues to be addressed in
the comprehensive study.

The public is invited to provide their submission, with a deadline set for June 26th for those who wish to have their comments considered in the document.

All of the written submissions received will be considered public and will become part of the public registry.

Should you be interested or belong to a group that has concerns you are invited to send your comments in the official language of their choice to the Agency at the following address:

Fairview Terminal Phase II Expansion Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Suite 805 - 1550 Alberni Street
Vancouver BC V6G 1A5
Tel.: 604-666-2401 / Fax: 604-666-3493

As part of the process there will be two open houses hosted; one in Prince Rupert on June 9th, at the Crest Hotel from 4:30 to 7:30 pm

The second open house takes place in Terrace the following day, June 10th at the Coast Hotel from 4:30 to 7:30 pm

You can review the terms of the Environmental Assessment from the Agency website, which outlines the scope of the process to take place.

More free time for Ridley Workers on the weekends

Ridley Terminals has announced that starting on June 22nd the coal terminal will be reducing the work hours of the operations at the terminal.

A May 25 memo from management announced the decision to close the coal facility for operations on weekends.

The reduction amounts to a 28 per cent decrease in the time available to Ridley's customers, with the terminal operating on a 24 hour basis for the remaining five days of the work week. Though you have to wonder what impact that the decision to shut down the terminal on weekends may have on potential customers and whether it may result in further layoffs of workers further down the line at RTI.

It marks the second time that Ridley has made a refinement to its coal shipment schedule and comes as President Dan Veniez has been embrolied in a public spat with Conservative MP Jay Hill over the fate of privatization of the facility.

The Northern View outlined the schedule changes in a story posted on line on Tuesday.

And with the flick of a switch the lights came back...

A pair of mysteries were cleared up by BC Hydro on Tuesday.

Power across the Northwest went out late Tuesday afternoon, after a pole fire between Terrace and Kitimat knocked out the power connection between the Northwest and the Alcan smelter in Kitimat.

The aluminum plant was providing power to the region at the time, while BC Hydro workers were working on the main line across the north from Prince George.

When the fire knocked the power off the grid from Kitimat, Hydro crews quickly re-connected the main supply from Prince George to get the Northwest back on line roughly an hour and a half later.

The discovery that we were operating on Alcan power explains the rather strange sense of time around Prince Rupert these last few days, a situation where clocks run fast and rarely keep time with each other in a home let alone from home to home.

It's the latest in a number of annoying power failures for the city, most of which have the inconvenience to arrive in late afternoon just as the dinner plans begin to fall into place. No doubt making for a surge in propane sales in town, just in case...

The full account of the day's power troubles can be found on the TV 7 website .

Podunk Below the Masthead Monday, May 25, 2009

The PRSS Grads take their bows, a skills fair for the youth of the city and the Auditor General finds flaws in DFO's compliance when it comes to Habitat policies. Just a sample of Monday's offerings in the Daily News.

PRSS GRADS RECEIVE ACCOLADES FOR JOB WELL DONE-- The First of the grad ceremonies this year took place on Friday night as the students of PRSS celebrated their achievements over their time at the west side secondary school. The PRSS Graduation ceremony took place at the PAC on Friday, with proud parents, teachers and administrators wishing well to their departing class (see full story below)

A chance for local youth to show their skills comes up in June as the North Coast Youth Career Awareness project holds a Youth Skills fair at the Civic Centre Auditorium on June 3rd. 38 people have confirmed participation thus far all anxious to show would be employers their skills and ideas. The fair is designed along the lines of a reverse career fair, where the job seekers or young entrepreneurs of the city can showcase their capabilities. Admission to the fair is free and it runs from 1 until 4.

The Auditor General gives the Department of Fisheries and Oceans a bit of a wrist slap over the lack of compliance when it comes to salmon habitat. Sheila Fraser outlined how in her determinations it is her belief that the DFO "cannot demonstrate that they are adequately administering and enforcing the Fisheries Act, and applying the Habitat Policy and the Compliance and Enforcement Policy in order to protect fish habitat from the adverse impacts of human activity."

It marks the second time that the Auditor General has taken DFO to task over the issue, having commented on their shortcomings back in 2001 at the time of her last audit. DFO has hopes to work harder on those issues as outlined by Fraser, with a tentative deadline of March 2010 to determine what actions are needed to fully implement the Habitat Policy.

Slow Pitch was the focus of the sports pages on Monday with two pages dedicated to the Ice Break tournament that gets the 2009 season fully underway.

Total pages in the Monday edition (12)

Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, May 25, 2009
Page one

Wherever their path forward may He, the graduating students of Prince Rupert Secondary School have much to leave behind.

As the 94 graduates celebrated their coming of age Friday, they also may have thought much about what had been encountered on their way to adulthood: notepads, lectures, projects-, curfews and that particular smell of the gym change rooms.

But the city of Prince Rupert, along with the parents and families of the graduates, spent time Friday night letting each student know that they were proud to see what they have accomplished.

"These graduates are definitely the new generation: they live life to the fullest and they have fun," said PRSS principal Sheila Wells.

Graduates Kerri Wilson and Micheal Hill gave a speech in s'malygex, and an English translation thereof, that thanked all the teachers, parents and administration for helping the students achieve their dreams, a sentiment that was echoed by civic representatives throughout the evening.

Pastor Alex Hogendoorn spoke to the students about never forgetting about where educational values come from and how best to treat each other in the future. .-

"Living your dreams does not give you license to be selfish," said Hogendoorrn. "But you have made so many people here tonight proud."

School Board Chair Tina Last spoke for school trustees and told the students that it had been a pleasure for the school district to help guide the graduates from their first day in kindergarten to their last day in high school.

"To be with you, here tonight, is one of the best parts of being a trustee. This ceremony reminds us why the school district must work hard to provide the best education possible,'
said Last.

Acting superintendent Dave Stigant agreed.

"Congratulations to all tonight. I not only congratulate the students but the parents, the staff and the support of the community. Well done to all the community partners in helping your students attain education,' said Stigant.

City Hall was represented too on Friday as councilor Sheila Gordon-Payne reminisced over how she had known many of the students over the years and that she had noticed how good of a job they had done.

"Where you go, wherever you pursue your dreams, don't forget your hometown. We'll always be proud of you," said Gordon-Payne.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Herb Pond looks to his next move.

Having had some time to reflect on the outcome of the recent provincial election, former Mayor Herb Pond, the unsuccessful Liberal candidate in the May 12 election offered up his thoughts to the Queen Charlotte Islands Observer.

He outlined his impression of the campaign, paid tribute to the democratic process and gave some thought as to what his future may be.

With campaigning out of the way, it would appear that it's time for him to catch up on some household chores and examine some opportunities. So perhaps we can all compare notes on the campaign while wandering the aisles of Rona or Home Hardware.

The plan for the former Mayor for now is to stay on the North coast and seek out "some ways to serve our communities."

The full article was posted to the Observer website on Friday.

Pond disappointed, but moving on
Queen Charlotte Islands Observer
May 22, 2009

Defeated Liberal candidate Herb Pond says he's disappointed with the results of the May 12 election, but says the people have spoken and he is a big believer in the democratic system.

"We ran a good campaign and got our message out there," Mr. Pond told the Observer in a telephone interview from Prince Rupert, "we just did not break through, in my view, with that large group of people who are still living in poverty."Mr. Pond was defeated by a wide margin-almost 2,000 votes-by NDP candidate Gary Coons.

He is not sure what's next for him, but plans to do some work on his house and look around at new opportunities."I plan to stay on the North Coast and still find ways to serve our communities," Mr. Pond said.

Mr. Coons received 4,940 votes of the 8,579 cast, while Mr. Pond polled just 2,981.

Podunk Below the Masthead Friday, May 22, 2009

Tricorp looks to power up its investments, the Chamber gathers in Prince Rupert and the potential of RTI Privatization is back in the news.

TRICORP IS LOOKING AT IPPs FOR INVESTMENT-- With past some of the key regulations for investment now change, Tricorp, the First Nations investment firm from the Northwest is changing its investment direction. The investment group is moving away from just the funding of local business opportunities for First Nations residents to a more diversified portfolio. One which will dip a toe in the current hot topic of Independent Power Production.

The Friday edition of the Daily News outlines the new direction for Tricorp as they prepare to invest their cash resources into IPP projects across the province (see story below)

Other items of the Friday paper had a familiar Podunk blog ring to them.

A page one review of the Chamber of Commerce gathering (catching up to events one day after the event got under way) outlining the guest list and events planned for the three day gathering of Thursday to Saturday night. Of course sharp eyed Podunkian readers read up on the details on the blog on Wednesday.

Likewise, the Daily caught up to the latest ruminations from Chairman Dan Veniez of Ridley Terminals, who has been outlining his concerns over recent events out of Ottawa, which are slowing down his quest to take RTI to privatization. It was an item we highlighted on the blog on Thursday.

The Sports page previewed the beginning of the auto racing season on the North coast, as the Northwest Drag racing season was set to begin in Terrace over the weekend.

Family and friends of the PRSS grad class of 2009 would be snapping up all those free papers from those fancy black boxes around town this weekend, as the Daily News provided the always popular Grad class photo tribute in Friday's paper spanning pages 16 to 18.

Total pages in Friday's paper 20

Front page headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, May 22, 2009
Pages one and five

The Tribal Resource Investment Corporation has been looking for the right investment opportunity over the last eight months.

It appears that the Prince Rupert First Nations investment firm has found it in independent power production (IPP) projects.

Tricorp has entered into an agreement to fund around IPPs around the province, hoping that its portfolio will bloom during what seems to be a stormy spring for most investment firms around the world.

It's a change of pace the company has been looking to make for some time as it gears up to becoming even more relevant as not only an Aboriginal investment firm, but a provincially competitive firm. .

"TRICORP has historically been very reactive to what is happening in the economy, so whatever is happening in the economy is normally reflective of what TRICORP's portfolio would look like," said TRICORP chief operating officer Peter Lantin.

In the past that meant investment, especially in the northwest, was fishing and forestry. But those industries are not what they used to be. For TRICORP, that means for the organization to move forward it needed air- or energy - to breathe.

. As one of 24 Aboriginal capital corporations around the country, Tricorp has mainly focused on supplying small -business with development lending because of certain legal restrictions holding back other investments.

The Indian Act made it difficult for banks to lend capital to Aboriginal entrepreneurs living on First Nations reserves, which is where an organization such as Tricorp filled in.

A funding agreement signed by Tricorp with the federal government in the late 1980s meant their investments had to be focused on first -time First Nations entrepreneurs. But that agreement ended on March 31, 2007, opening a door for new types of investment.

With new possibilities come new responsibilities. Reactive investments and management is out for Tricorp - and investments in what could be are in.

"We are now looking at being proactive and longer-term, looking at a more diversified portfolio for Tricorp in the long run," said

"Through this unique approach, we are maximizing the benefits, of our investment in Aboriginal economic development by leveraging capital from the private sector and other partners."

One partner that has stepped up to the investment plate is ECOTRUST, a Cascadian environmental investment concern. The company, with directors from California to Kitimaat Village, has an economic opportunity, social equity and environmental well-being focus to its investments.

The company has a history of working on the North Coast, working with the Haisla First Nation to protect the 8OO,OOO-acre Kitlope River rain forests watershed in British Columbia, perhaps the largest watershed of its type remaining in the world.

"We have two goals in launching

the First Nation Regeneration Fund," said Ian Gill, president of Ecotrust Canada. "By investing in run-of-river hydro-electric projects, we want to generate green energy to help meet B.C.'s carbon reduction targets and we want to regenerate Aboriginal economies which are suffering from high unemployment and stagnation."

Given the current dialogue about IPPs in the province, especially run of-river projects, the fact that ECOTRUST's mandate and council advisors are as well-versed on "mutual" economic and environmental concerns was a key reason Tricorp signed on to the fund.

But under the BC government's current call for green power, there is no limit to how many IPPs can apply for power production permits, leaving First Nations communities feeling pressure to have an answer to the many projects being proposed in B.C.

"In every community we have visited in the last year, IPPs are normally on the table. A developer has either approached these communities or some sites have been identified," said Lantin.