Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Up in a wee corner, news of a cancelled plan

They must have just made the deadline, when the story broke about the cancellation of the Ridley Island LNG terminal planned by WestPac for Prince Rupert.

The Daily News featured a small quarter column blurb on the front page, with the promise of an analysis of the decision to come in Wednesday's paper.

You can get a head start on your reading, by checking out our post to this blog made earlier today.

Canadian Press
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Page one

VANCOUVER (CP) - A $2 billion project to build a liquefied natural gas import terminal and gas-fired power plant in Prince Rupert is being moved.

Instead, the privately held company in charge of the project says it will build the facility on Texada Island, in the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

WestPac LNG president Mark Butler says the new project is aimed at providing a secure supply of natural gas to the province and will help B. C. reach its plans for electricity self-sufficiency.

Butler says the company had been working for two years to locate the project in Prince Rupert, but changed its mind because of the soaring cost of materials.

he said the company may consider the North Coast city as a satellite facility in the future.

Butler says officials in Prince Rupert were notified about the company's change of plans in February.

See tomorrow's Daily News for analysis of what this announcement means for the city.

Homecoming week for Bernice Liu

One of Prince Rupert’s most famous exports returns to her hometown this week and the Daily News featured her return as their front page story in Tuesday’s paper.

Bernice Liu turned success at the Miss Chinese Vancouver pageant into a film, music and television career and has since gone on to find fame and fortune in China. She is returning to town to take part in her high school’s 10th reunion.

The Daily provided a sketch of her travels since she last walked the halls of PRSS. And we found a few things on You Tube that show what the PRSS grad has been up to of late.

Into thin Air
Bernice Liu at the Lady in Red Concert
Bernice Liu Performs On JSG

Bernice Liu, who is a major star overseas is also a born-and-raised Rupertite.
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Pages one and two

Prince Rupert has spawned many great people over the years, but perhaps none as famous as Bernice Liu.

If you’re not familiar with her, don’t worry, it’s not that you’re out of the loop, it’s because Liu’s celebrity is primarily in China, where she’s one of the most recognizable faces in show business.

With a starring role in one of the Hong Kong’s most popular television series Vitrues of Harmony, acting in several films, and a singing career that includes two award-winning television theme songs and three soundtracks, Liu may be one of the most successful people from the province let alone her graduating class at Prince Rupert Senior Secondary School, which is celebrating its 10 year reunion next week.

After winning the Miss Chinese Vancouver pageant in 2001, she went on to represent Vancouver in the Miss Chinese International pageant, which she also won. Her success brought the attention of Hong Kong’s leading television network, TVB, which has featured her acting and singing in more than 10 series and shows since 2001. Add to that her recent contract with Nike, which has posters of her promoting the brand all over Asia, and it’s not easy to see why she’s such a big deal these days.

Back in Prince Rupert on August 3, Liu will be spending some quality time with her hometown, hanging out with family and friends, and attending her high school reunion.

“Definitely everybody is happy to see her and she’s so happy to come home,” said her father Terry Liu, who along with wife Christina left yesterday to begin the long drive from their home in Vancouver.

“It’s where she’s from, and where she grew up, so everybody is looking forward to it.”

Her family has been buzzing with excitement for the last few weeks, anticipating her arrival on Aug. 3.

Aunt Amy Wong has been trying to arrange a welcoming party, while at the same time making arrangements for a celebration on Mon., Aug. 6 that will be taking place at the Lester Centre for Performing Arts from 2 to 4 p. m.
The homecoming reception is open to all who want to come and say hello to Bernice.

Prince Rupert's LNG project shelved in favour of Texada Island plans

The planned construction of an LNG facility at Ridley Island has been cancelled in favour of a larger development on Texada Island. The Globe and Mail featured the latest developments from WestPac LNG Corp. of Calgary.

The cancellation of the LNG terminal marks the second time that a proposed terminal has been scuttled for the North Coast, back in the eighties Dome Petroleum had proposed a terminal for the Grassy point area of Port Simpson, but market forces at the time scuttled dome before it could launch its plans.

WestPac had originally set their sights on Prince Rupert for their liquefied natural gas import terminal , but apparently began to have second thoughts over the feasibility of the north coast design.

From there it seems they just decided to go elsewhere, now planning on bringing the big LNG ships to Texada Island , where they will also construct a new gas-fired 600-megawatt power plant. How that will be greeted by residents of the sunshine coast and gulf islands remains to be seen.

WestPac LNG president Mark Butler suggested that the Prince Rupert project might be revived some day as a satellite terminal, should the need arise, however for now, the development of the project in Prince Rupert would appear to be on hold for what may be a very long time.

Interestingly enough, he is quoted as saying that he told local officials of his plans as far back as February, though there doesn't seem to have been any local announcement about the potential abandonment of the project locally at the time.

"Mr. Butler held out the hope the Prince Rupert project might be revived some day as a satellite terminal, adding stakeholders in the city were informed of WestPac's changed plans in February."

The cancellation of the Rupert project, comes as plans to develop a similar project for Kitimat continue on towards construction. This archive piece in the Vancouver Sun, quotes city and economic development officials as still suggesting as late as June, that there was room for both projects.

Prince Rupert had trumpeted that the project would provide for 300 construction jobs and 30 full time jobs at the terminal upon its completion.

As it turns out, there may only be room for one terminal, and the construction and operational jobs will be in Kitimat.

B.C. LNG plant now slated for Texada Island
Canadian Press
Globe and Mail
July 31, 2007 at 4:06 PM EDT

VANCOUVER — A liquefied natural gas import terminal planned for the port of Prince Rupert has been cancelled in favour of a much larger project to be built further down the B.C. coast.
The new $2-billion project proposed by privately held WestPac LNG Corp. of Calgary includes an LNG import terminal and a new gas-fired 600-megawatt power plant on Texada Island.

WestPac LNG president Mark Butler said Tuesday the new project makes sense because it provides a secure supply of natural gas, helps meet the B.C. government's goal of electricity self-sufficiency and taps into existing nearby gas pipeline and electric transmission lines supplying Vancouver Island.

“We believe that the project which would combine both a liquefied natural gas receipt terminal with a power facility offers a number of benefits to the people of British Columbia,” he said.
The new project has forced WestPac to suspend plans for a $300-million import terminal at Ridley Island, in the port of Prince Rupert, Mr. Butler said.

He blamed the cancellation on soaring materials costs and the Prince Rupert project's now-unnecessary role as a primary terminal to serve future satellite LNG facilities on the coast.
Mr. Butler held out the hope the Prince Rupert project might be revived some day as a satellite terminal, adding stakeholders in the city were informed of WestPac's changed plans in February.

Texada Island, in Georgia Strait midway between Powell River on the mainland and Comox on Vancouver Island, was also chosen because of its relative remoteness from major urban centres.
Unlike many of the pastoral Gulf Islands, Mr. Butler said Texada, which has about 1,200 residents, has been an “industrial island” since before Confederation, home to quarries.

The WestPac complex, slated to open in 2013 if it wins regulatory approval, would take Asian LNG, regasify it and use it to fuel the power plant.

Additional gas could also be fed into the existing pipeline to supply Vancouver Island, Powell River and, with the flow reversed, the Vancouver area, Mr. Butler said. The approach doubles the existing line's capacity, he said.

“By optimizing the use of this line we have the ability to reduce the tolls that are charged to the citizens of British Columbia,” he said, adding this would effectively cut the cost of gas to consumers.

The power plant would help reduce B.C.'s growing electricity deficit, in line with the government's goal of self-sufficiency by 2016, Mr. Butler said.

It would provide firm electrical capacity to back up green-power projects now on the drawing board, mostly wind and water-powered plants, he said.

Former B.C. attorney general Geoff Plant, who sits on the WestPac board of directors, said the province's forecast demand for electricity outstrips the capacity for traditional types of power facilities to supply it.

“It won't be good enough to rely on the weather,” he said. “There will be a continuing and growing need for always-available dispatchable energy to be there when demand is high and when the wind isn't blowing , when the sun isn't shining and the rivers aren't full.”

The new plant would also help with plans by B.C. Hydro to replace the inefficient, dirtier Burrard thermal plant near Vancouver by 2014, he added.

Co-locating the LNG facility and power plant optimizes the energy efficiencies of both, Mr. Butler went on. Heat to regasify the LNG comes from the power plant and cooling air from the chilled gas increase electric turbine efficiency, reducing greenhouse gases.

The project would create about 300 jobs during construction and 80 jobs once the complex is in operation, Mr. Butler said.
ARCHIVE: Fight for terminal
Michael Kane
Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
From Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Kitimat LNG Inc. has won a B.C. environmental assessment certificate that makes it the front -runner to build the first liquefied natural gas terminal on the North American West Coast.

The announcement came Tuesday as WestPac LNG Corp. formally began its proposal process for a $350-million LNG terminal near Prince Rupert.

Analysts say there is room for both terminals because natural gas imports will become increasingly necessary to meet North American demand.

The environmental certificate for Kitimat includes 243 commitments ranging from emission standards to protection for fish and wildlife, including the coastal tailed frog.

"It's a key milestone for our company and it really provides certainty for our project," Rosemary Boulton, president of Calgary-based Kitimat LNG, said in an interview.

"It's no longer if we are going to be built, it's when. It allows us to go out to the suppliers in the Pacific Basin ahead of 12 or 13 other projects proposed on the West Coast. It gives us first mover advantage."

Subject to federal environmental approval, which could come within four to six weeks, construction at Bish Cove, 14 km south of Kitimat, is due to begin in the fall and be completed in 2009.

The $500-million project is expected to create 700 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs. In addition to a terminal to receive insulated containers carrying gas cooled to a liquid state by suppliers such as Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, it will provide storage and re-gasification facilities, a three-kilometre access road and a 14-kilometre pipeline connection to the North American natural gas grid.

Boulton sees a local market, a regional market and a continental market for the terminal which will initially generate about 600 million cubic feet of natural gas daily, some of which could flow south into the Western States. Although it seems counterintuitive, some of the gas is likely to end up in northern Alberta where great quantities are used in oil sands processing.

In contrast, Calgary-based WestPac LNG is proposing to build a transshipment terminal on Ridley Island, an industrial park 11 km outside of Prince Rupert, to initially convert imports into about 350 million cubic feet of natural gas per day for the Northwest Coast, Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. It will be shipped out by barge, truck and rail, as well as linking to existing pipelines at the construction site. The project is expected to create at least 300 jobs during construction and about 30 full-time jobs once operational in 2011.

"There is room for both projects because they are based on different business plans and are targeting different end users," said Jim Rushton, manager of the Prince Rupert and Port Edward Economic Development Corp.

"Furthermore, by the time the projects come on line, offshore supplies of natural gas will be required to replace the decline in traditional supply currently satisfying North America's domestic need."

Mark Butler, president of WestPac, said that not only does the market have enough capacity to absorb gas from both projects but the Prince Rupert facility is designed to be expanded as demand grows.

Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond welcomed the WestPac proposal, saying a secure supply of natural gas will remove bottlenecks that have constrained growth in the past.

Come for the bargains, stay for the meatballs and a snooze!

From boing boing, comes this interesting tale of marketing and customer service from the folks at Ikea.

Ikea has opened up a dormitory like hostel in the Oslo store, where there will be room for thirty shoppers who just don't want to leave.

It seems that in Norway, shoppers treat a trip to Ikea almost like a visit to a theme park, so they can shop til they drop on Saturday's and then rest up for another session on Sunday, all without heading for the parking lot. And best of all, the beds will already be assembled!

Boom times, or blips?

While we have no doubt that the Fairview Container Port is going to change the landscape and the economy of Prince Rupert, we had to chuckle at the front page of the Daily News on Monday.

“Staff a hot commodity as city booms” declared the headline of a story about the misfortune of the local RONA store and its staffing problems this week.

What followed was an examination of the departure of a number of key staff members (three in one day apparently) all off to make fame and fortune in other industries rather than building supplies. From that bit of employment movement at a building supplies store, we are to believe that the boom times are now officially declared as on.

A situation which of course would be nice and welcome, if only some numerical evidence might back it up! While the longshoremen’s union apparently prepares to plunder the local businessman/woman, of his or her most valued employees, you would think that the job boards must be chock a block full of opportunity! But, a quick check today at the Service Canada on line job opportunities data base, tells a slightly different story it would seem.

With a crest of high paying opportunities seemingly slipping through our fingers here, we logged on this afternoon at 2:30, to see what great jobs we may have missed out on in just a few short weeks. Service Canada featured 4 (that’s one, two, three and four!) job opportunities available in our reporting district of the Northwest, one of which was actually over on the Charlottes.

For fun we then decided to see how the rest of the province was doing, as well as that iconic definition of boom times, Alberta.

It’s a bit overwhelming to count the number of jobs being offered on those boards compared to our “booming times” locally on the job boards. Remember these are just the jobs officially listed by Service Canada and does not count other sources such as newspapers, third party job boards or the ever popular old boys/girls network (apparently still the most popular way of finding work in Rupert by the way).

We avoided the large urban areas like Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton and instead checked out the mid to small size communities across the two provinces. In the space of ten minutes, we had logged on to the Service Canada sites across both Alberta and BC. The numbers seemed to jump off the screen, multiplying rapidly from the local count of 4.

In the Peace country, 110 jobs listed, 48 of them in Fort St. John, Prince George had 100 listed, the Cariboo, which includes Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House had 68 opportunities combined. The Kootenay’s had 88 opportunities to surf through, while in the Thompson region, Kamloops had 267 jobs listed. The Okanagan seems to be a hot place to look, as Kelowna had 345 opportunities listed, Penticton 112 and Vernon with 96 for a total of over 568 jobs where the sun reportedly shines every day.

And while all of that is pretty impressive, it seems to pale in comparison to what is still going on across the Rockies.

Taking the U Haul into Grande Prairie would find you searching over 450 job possibilities, while Fort McMurray listed some 297 opportunities. Medicine Hat is seeking out 196 would be workers, Lethbridge has jobs for 211. If the mountains are your thing, Banff had 305 listings while Jasper to Hinton featured 126 opportunities. Of the small to middle sized cities of Alberta, Red Deer is the employment leader. These would appear to be rather hectic days in central Alberta, with 585 jobs listed.

So while we are hopeful for an economic turn around in the Northwest, compared to our massive total of 4, we seem to be a few thousand jobs below the towns and cities that might want to use the old boom time’s moniker.

Until we are listing page after page of job opportunities, perhaps we could go easy on the breathless mantra that we’re living in a boom town. The statistical evidence isn’t quite living up to the bombast, just yet!

Eyes on the western horizon for arrival of giant cranes

The cranes that will soon change the skyline of Prince Rupert are on their way, Maher Terminals says that the cranes have set sail across the Pacific from the ZPMC manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China.

They expected to arrive at Fairview sometime between the middle and end of August. Their arrival will signal a turning point for the Port of Prince Rupert which has transformed the formerly under used bulk port into what they hope will be one of North America’s fastest growing container terminals.

The Daily News examined some of the background on the cranes and what they symbolize for both the port and the city’s future.

By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Monday, July 30, 2007
Pages one and three

The massive cranes that are set to dominate the Prince Rupert landscape in the years to come and which are an integral part of the development of the port of Prince Rupert are now making their way to the city.

Frans van Riemsdyk, the senior vice president of Maher Terminals says he is very excited about the imminent arrival of the Fairview Terminal cranes.

He said it is certainly a milestone event that complements the great progress the Prince Rupert Port Authority has made on the construction front.

“The cranes will be arriving mid the end of August and are on schedule,” said van Riemsdyk.

They had originally talked about having the cranes arriving as early as July, but the later date is not an impediment to the planned October start-up, he added.

Van Riemsdyk said it is an enormous part of the terminal operation to see the cranes arrive.

“We are also thrilled for the community of Prince Rupert, we recognize that this started off as a dream and there was a certain amount of skepticism about whether this would all come about,” said van Riemsdyk.

Second only to the arrival of the ships in October is the arrival of the cranes as a sure sign that the business will start flowing through Prince Rupert, said van Riemsdyk.

He said this year has been a very good year in terms of validating the confidence that they have all had in Prince Rupert, the Port Authority has overseen production on time and on budget.

He added that having signed China’s largest ocean carrier, China Ocean Shipping Company, to commence calling at the Port of Prince Rupert is a great show of confidence and viability in the route.

“So I think the combination of those two things underscore our tremendous confidence in the project,” said van Riemsdyk.

The cranes are en-route right now, they were manufactured in Shanghai at the ZMPC facility, probably the largest manufacturing site of container cranes in the world.

“We are looking forward to having them arrive at the harbour, from what I’ve heard they will be the tallest structure in Prince Rupert and will actually dwarf the Highliner Hotel, they will be big cranes able to handle the world’s largest container ships,” said van Riemsdyk.

The first port of call will be Prince Rupert, the crane delivery will emulate what ocean carriers will do in terms of delivering cargo to Prince Rupert through the quickest route from the Far East.

Van Riemsdyk said it will take a week or so for the cranes to be off loaded, there sill be some further commissioning and testing of the cranes along with local training. All of those steps are on schedule to support an October start-up of operations.

There will be a big celebration sometime during September, that the Prince Rupert Port authority will announce to celebrate completion of construction and arrival of all the equipment.

Prince Rupert’s newest resident is Maher Terminals general manager, he has arrived as part of their commitment to Prince Rupert.

“I think in terms of management employees that are now supporting the operation locally, we have built that up to about 10, so the early promises of generating jobs and economic spin-off is starting to show some real signs,” said van Riemsdyk.

Staffing shortages cause problems for Local building supply store

Suggesting that it’s a booming economy that is responsible, the RONA building centre has been forced to close its doors on Sundays due to a lack of experienced staff at the Cow Bay store. RONA recently lost five employees at their store, which they say is directly or indirectly linked to opportunities in town, related to the development of the container Port.

After losing three senior staff in one day, the local hardware and building supplies store is suffering from a staffing shortage that has forced them to rethink their weekend service plans. The situation has left them to give up a fairly lucrative day of business until they can find and retain enough workers to staff the store on Sundays.

Without knowing the staffing climate at the store or the background there, it may only be an employment blip related to one particular store in town, or a sign of a changing economy locally.
The Daily News decided to take the latter route, presenting the story as sign of a booming economy in its Monday edition.

Quality workers find their skills are highly portable
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, July 30, 2007
Page one

Due to the lucrative job possibilities being offered with the opening of the container port, local businesses are increasingly going to be hit with staff shortages, say managers.

“We’ve seen the good, and bad side of what’s happening,” said David Kroeker, manager of Rona/Tyee Building Supplies. “Our business has grown this year because people are spending money and moving to town, so we’ve seen the growth of our business due to the port. And of course now just recently with the hiring going on, we’ve seen the bad side of it..”

The problem for Kroeker is the store has already lost five employees, all of those directly and indirectly related to the port.

“You know when you’ve got the best staff in town, people want them and we’ve lost three senior staff in just one day, and previous to that two other senior staff members,” said Kroeker. “So we’re struggling to keep the customer service level that we’ve always had here. The staff that have left are trying their hardest, I hope the community understands that the small businessmen are going to be hit worst, retail-wise anyways, because unless we raise our prices so we can afford the bigger wages, it’s just a part of life that we’ll have to deal with.”

The loss has hit Rona/Tyee so hard that this Sunday was the last they will be open for the foreseeable future.

“With the loss of five staff members, I don’t have enough to carry a Sunday shift, so as of August 1 we’ll no longer be open on Sundays, until such time that we can get enough staff and knowledgeable staff to service the community,” Kroeker said. “Sunday is a good money-maker for us, but unfortunately I can’t close down Wednesdays or Thursdays because my competitor is open Monday to Saturday as well.”

The high-paying unionized jobs that have opened up in the city are proving too tempting for many residents to pass up.

“We had one (employee) that went to the longshoremen, we had one that went to another company who had lost an employee to the longshoremen. So they’re directly or indirectly related to the port. I’m sure the restaurant and café industry will be hit pretty hard as well.

While Kroeker is definitely disappointed with his current losing situation, he does know that it won’t necessarily last forever.

“In the long run, as more people come to town, it’s going to even out. I’m still positive about the port, I think it’s the best thing that’s going to happen to Rupert, but it’s going to take some time for things to level out and get back to normal.

Drug Bust Brings Mounties drugs, money and prohibited weapon

The RCMP website has details of an early morning arrest on July 25th, after investigations into two locations on the south west side of the city.
Members of the RCMP GIS and Drug sections armed with search warrants, investigated two residences on Fulton Street and one on Comox before placing two local residents in custody on a number of charges.

The full details can be found from their press release below and from the RCMP website.

Two Arrested during RCMP Investigation into Trafficking in Prince Rupert

In the early morning of July 25th, 2007 the Prince Rupert RCMP General Investigation & Drug Section executed three search warrants, as part of an investigation into the sales of cocaine from a residence in the 800 block of Fulton Street, Prince Rupert.

Three search warrants were executed on three separate residences. Irving Alexander (Scotty) BARTON was arrested and charged with the possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking cocaine and evading police arrest. Police seized cocaine, marihuana, and a prohibited weapon during the search of the residences. Police also seized more than $55,000.00 in Canadian Currency believed to be proceeds of organized criminal activity.

A second person was arrested and subsequently released on a Promise to Appear. Prince Rupert RCMP will be recommending charges of Trafficking in a Controlled Substance and Possession of Proceeds from the Trafficking of Controlled Drugs and Substances against the 49 year old man from Prince Rupert. The investigation continues into the sales of cocaine in the area.

Those who have information pertaining to this are encouraged to contact Constable Kelly GRANT of the Prince Rupert RCMP General Investigations Section at 250-624-0700 or CrimeStoppers at 627-8477. For Cst Grant Prince Rupert GIS


Steve Richards, Cst.Prince Rupert Media Relations / Community Policing
100 6th Ave WEstPrince Rupert, BC V8J 3Z3
Phone: (250)627-0700Fax: (250)627-3013
Email: media.webmaster@rcmp-gr-.gc.ca

We'll be right back after this short commercial message, July 30

The best defense against the Bogeyman.

When you need to take care of things yourself!

Security precautions on the way for BC Ferries

With Saturday's bomb threat still the top story around the BC Ferries office this week, the province has weighed in with a few ideas of its own to try and make the coastal waters of BC safe and secure.

Minister of Transportation Kevin Falcon, ordered a review of the security of B. C. 's transportation sector last year and has plans to go to England in September, to investigate first hand how the British have increased their vigilance on security in the wake of the London tube attacks.

After reviewing his findings, Falcon says security changes could come to B.C. Ferries as early as 2008.

Province reviewing security on ferries
Changes could come as early as next year
Jeff Rud
Times Colonist
Tuesday, July 31, 2007'

New security precautions to battle potential terrorists and other threats of violence could be coming to B.C. Ferries within the next year, the province's transportation minister said yesterday.

Kevin Falcon said he asked the deputy ministers of B.C.'s transportation and solicitor general's ministries a year ago to conduct a review of security procedures on the province's public transportation systems, including ferries, airlines, SkyTrain and highways.

Falcon will also travel to England in mid-September for meetings with security officials of the subway and ferry systems in that country, which has experienced recent terrorist violence.
Based on that visit and the results of the deputies' review, Falcon said security changes could come to B.C. Ferries as early as 2008.

Falcon made his comments two days after a bomb-threat hoax shut down ferry traffic between Vancouver Island and the Tsawwassen terminal on the mainland for more than five hours.
While he refused to commit to anything, Falcon said that, if deemed worthwhile, the province would consider measures such as the bomb-sniffing dogs employed at Washington state ferry terminals. "I don't want to unnecessarily alarm the public, but I do want people to know that this issue of security is something high on the province's radar screen. ...

We'll probably have a better sense late in the fall, as to concrete steps we can take." Falcon said B.C. Ferries handled the weekend situation "very well." But he has been concerned in a general sense with security on B.C.'s public transportation systems for at least a year. "If something happens somewhere, I want to make sure that we've got a plan in place on how to deal with it."

When asked whether he sees B.C. ferry passengers enduring personal scanners or vehicle searches, Falcon said: "I hope not. ... You want to have a level of protection that is aligned with the threat assessment." He said it may be necessary to use a "step-up" approach to more stringent ferry security if RCMP or national security officials detect a pending threat.

B.C. Ferries is in the midst of spending $3.9 million in federal funding to enhance security at its terminals. That work includes new fencing and closed-circuit security cameras, but B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall would provide no details beyond that. The company expects to receive more federal money over the next two years for security.

B.C. Ferries does no passenger, luggage or vehicle checks. But Marshall confirmed the fleet does have plain-clothes security staff, although she refused to provide a total number or indicate where they are deployed.

The company doesn't keep a passenger manifest for its main routes. It began compiling those lists on its three northern ferries after the sinking of the Queen of the North.

"What we've got to do is weigh the risk," Marshall said. "If we were to get a passenger manifest or check every vehicle or search every passenger that goes on, say, the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay run, we certainly wouldn't be having 16 sailings per day."

Transport Canada will hold public consultations this fall, including one in Victoria, about whether to include domestic ferries under its Marine Transport Security Regulations, which govern international ferries and cruise ships. Transport Canada spokeswoman Julia Ukrintz could not elaborate on what changes B.C. Ferries would have to make should it be compelled in the future to follow those regulations.

Archives from the Smoking Gun TV room

We list our Smoking Gun finds here, our links to those items we discovered while searching the moving pictures archives of the Smoking Gun TV website :

August 3
July 29
July 26

Hospital Chair Briglio finds Abbott to be a boffo health minister

Tony Briglio seemed almost zealous with his words, so effusive was he in passing along the accolades about Health Minister George Abbott over the weekend, going so far as to say that “he has never seen a health Minister so in touch with the needs of the North.”

Briglio’s fervent bout of admiration came after Abbott touched on a number of shared concerns about Health care in the Northwest during a recent tour of the Northern Health services in the region. Minister Abbot seemed to be particularly concerned about the plight of seniors on the North coast, a cause that is close to the hearts of many on the local health care scene.

Of course being “in touch with our needs” and delivering our requirements may be two different things! So it will be with interest that we watch to see how Mr. Abbott’s impressions of the Northwest, translate into provincial health policy over the short and long term.

Then we’ll know if we all should pick up the song book and join in on the Briglio chorale.

All songs of praise were reported on dutifully by the Daily news, complete with a front page story in Monday’s paper.

Tony Briglio says George Abbot is in touch with the needs of the Northwest
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, July 30, 2007
Pages one and three

Tony Briglio has never seen a Health Minister so in touch with the needs of the North in his 25-plus years as a health care critic in British Columbia.

“I’d like to applaud Minister Abbott’s observations, and naming what the real issues in our community and the North are,” said Briglio, city councillor and chair of the Northwest Regional Hospital District.

“Recognizing that we do need resources for our seniors in particular in terms of the Acropolis Manor structure that we’re working on, and also the plight of the Northwest Regional Hospital District. Recognizing we’ve been working with Northern Health to have them realize that as a cost-saving measure, perhaps it would be a good idea to look at what the needs are going to be as we build, and perhaps add some additional capacity there from what the numbers are today.

“When you look at what we have, to what we’re going to have, it’s really only one bed more prior to Acropolis being scaled down,” he said. “As a starter, we had suggested to Northern Health not too long ago that they look at Acropolis Manor in the spirit of adding at least another 10 beds and perhaps save us a pile of money, when we’re going to have to do that anyway a couple of years down the line.”

Briglio’s praise of Minister Abbott comes a week after the head of provincial health took a four-day tour of the Northwest region, stopping in places including the Queen Charlotte Islands, Masset, Terrace and Prince Rupert.

The purpose of the minister’s visit was to speak with both health care workers and patients, to better identify the needs of the northern communities today and for the future.

“I think Minister Abbott certainly got a good flavour of what the issues are around our neck of the woods,” Briglio said. “He identified type two diabetes as being an issue among our demographic here, he identified the recruitment and retention issue, and although he points out the UNBC medical program, he doesn’t suggest that it’s the be-all to end-all, and rather that there are other things they are working on with the B. C. Medical Association to encourage more doctors and nurses to come. And from my perspective, I’d like to see what some of those things are, because that’s always been an issue with us, and it always has been an issue.”

Not only was Briglio pleased with the minister’s effort to get out of his office and tour the communities he is responsible for, but also that he genuinely understands what key problems places like Prince Rupert will be facing in the years to come.”

“The man obviously is either a quick studier or well-versed in terms of what the issues are here. So much so, that really I haven’t seen that in a minister before,” said Briglio. “It’s interesting that he took the time not only to come to our community but the surrounding area. That’s excellent.

”He’s recognizing that the North is an area where there’s a growth coming our way, and I think he’s being proactive here in terms of, hopefully, trying to assist us and garner us those things that we need for our community.

“He identified very clearly the issue of seniors, and when you speak to some government bureaucrats, the issue of seniors is not seen as one that’s of a growing nature in Prince Rupert, because historically in our area there’s been a young population base. But guess what? That young population base is guys like me who are getting on, and we’d like to reserve a room in Acropolis Manor.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

Alaska senator finds FBI knocking on the door

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens may have more problems than the sudden interest of Bill Moyers interest in his highway bridge developments. .
The New York Times is reporting that agents of the FBI and IRS raided his home on Monday afternoon, a continuation of their investigation to some remodelling done to the Senators Alaskan homestead and his links to a controversial Alaskan businessman who has pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators.

According to the Times, Stevens has been caught up in a larger corruption scandal, which has drawn a number of Alaskan state politicians under increased scrutiny, including Steven's son Ben. The Times also has reported that "Mr. Stevens is one of more than a dozen current and former members of Congress who are known to be under scrutiny by the F.B.I."

Depending on what the government agents come up with in their investigation, the 83 year old Senator may have to think about his plans to run for election one more time next year.

NDP calls for greater investment in Port of Prince Rupert

Provincial NDP leader Carole James has come out in favour of further provincial funding for the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert.

In a press release congratulating the Tsawwassen First Nation over their recent successful treaty negotiations, James touched on the party's position on the port development in Prince Rupert and how it could reduce the need for further expansion in the Lower mainland.

The issue of the planned expansion of the Delta Port container terminal has become a controversial bit of planning, as local residents and environmentalists have banded together to try and change the province's mind on the project, limiting the space made available to the container port in the already congested Lower mainland.

With a growing movement to stop the Delta port plans before they get too far along, the Port of Prince Rupert may find that its expansion plans get a faster track to travel on, a development that may see the excitement over the Fairview Terminal gain some important backers in Victoria.

The Admiral's blueprint

The Commander of the Canadian Navy on the Pacific coast Rear Admiral Roger Girouard will wrap up his days with the Canadian Navy over the next couple of weeks, already the change of command has taken place as Rear Admiral Tyrone Pile took over command last Friday in Victoria.

With just the paper work and retirement party left for Girouard he’s become a bit retrospective over his time in command on the West Coast, the Lookout Newspaper reviewed his career and reviewed some of the projects he’s left unfinished, including his hopes for a larger presence for the Canadian navy in Prince Rupert.

One file that has been handed off to Rear Admiral Pile, was Girouard’s hopes to have seen a reserve component set up on the North Coast. The Rear Admiral was following the development of the Fairview container port quite closely and would have liked to have been able to bring his plans to fruition a little quicker than the current pace seems to dictate.

From the Lookout, is this telling paragraph of what he had planned for Prince Rupert, a blue print that has now been passed on to his successor.

The other regret is not influencing a stronger appreciation by NDHQ on the issues ramping up in the Indo Pacific region. As trade increases across the Pacific — the new port in Prince Rupert is a testament to this — the potential for conflict and marine security issues are certain to follow.
If he had his way, the ground would be broken on a naval reserve unit in Prince Rupert, the West Coast would have another submarine at the ready to forward deploy to the western Pacific, there would be a mini operations centre manned by all the federal partners, the RCMP and Coast Guard in northern B.C., and frigates would be deployed around the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

The article suggests that Prince Rupert may yet become a major component of the navy on the North coast, bringing more than the usual port visits that we have become accustomed to over the years.

You can read the full article below:

RAdm Girouard commands his own destiny
Melissa Atkinson
Managing Editor
July 30, 2007

At age 50, RAdm Roger Girouard is hanging up his uniform. After a distinguished 34-year naval career that has taken him around the world, he's now plotting a new journey.

The timbre of RAdm Roger Girouard’s voice is soft and resigned as he answers the question about leaving the navy after 34 years of faithful service.

“It has to happen sometime — sooner or later you have to leave. So, I decided to be the master of my own destiny, and pick the time and place instead of running out the clock,” he says.
Last Friday he made the final step toward retirement when he handed over command of Maritime Forces Pacific to RAdm Tyrone Pile.

In a few weeks, he’ll enjoy a Hawaiian-themed retirement bash on his final day of naval service.
“If all else fails,” he says of the future, “I’ll garden.”

It’s unlikely a man with such intellect, charisma and eloquence will stay knee deep in topsoil and flower petals beyond the summer. He hints about teaching, and the very prospect of giving people the benefit of his experience is enough to animate him.

Writing on matters naval is also on his “to do” list; he’s been known to string together a coherent sentence or two he jests.

From the first days at sea as a reservist to his final moments as a naval officer, his 34 years is a book overflowing with thousands of chapters, strung together to make one remarkable story.
Even before he wore the naval uniform, it seemed people knew his destiny before he did, writing in his high school yearbook: “Rog is off to the West Coast to run the navy. We’re sure he’ll do well.”

He did, although he never aspired to become an Admiral. “All I ever wanted was my next job,” he says.

He’s had more Commanding Officer and Executive Officer time than anyone really deserves, he says. There’s no one “best job” or “best day”, it’s all been an amazing trip. That journey is chronicled in the dozens of artifacts he’s collected from postings and deployments throughout the years. His most prized is a nut and bolt — a widget he calls it, taken from Camp Zumalai in East Timor during his command of Operation Toucan. He’s most proud of it because it was a hard sell, but once built by the East and West Coast Naval Construction Troops, it became home to the 200-strong reinforced infantry company group from 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment of Valcartier, Quebec — the land component of Canada’s contribution to the International Force in East Timor.

The silver hardware will find a place in his “I love me” room at his Sooke home, along with a Bofors gun shell and a large ball cap collection. “There’s a time and a place and a ship and a deployment, and there’s a story about people with each one of these caps.”

For the last two years, as head of military forces on the West Coast, he’s managed to put a tick in his three top “to do” boxes: grow the navy and the skill sets of sailors, further Pacific outreach by sending ships to the Far East, and stand up Joint Task Force (Pacific) with little impact to the average sailor.

However, there are two areas he wished he could see to completion.

“I’d of liked to have gotten Victoria out of the ditch and underway,” he says. Despite a great crew and incredibly talented ship repair unit, supply chain and contractual issues have held up the docking work period. Victoria won’t make it out of drydock until 2009.

“Once Victoria gets underway, she’ll be a tremendous asset to this coast,” says RAdm Girouard.
The other regret is not influencing a stronger appreciation by NDHQ on the issues ramping up in the Indo Pacific region. As trade increases across the Pacific — the new port in Prince Rupert is a testament to this — the potential for conflict and marine security issues are certain to follow. If he had his way, the ground would be broken on a naval reserve unit in Prince Rupert, the West Coast would have another submarine at the ready to forward deploy to the western Pacific, there would be a mini operations centre manned by all the federal partners, the RCMP and Coast Guard in northern B.C., and frigates would be deployed around the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

These items he’ll pass to his successor, a man RAdm Girouard has much confidence in.
As the days close in on his retirement, the Admiral says the hardest part of all will not be giving up the parking spot, or the uniform or the cool mess kit. “It’s leaving people behind that I served with and for and done amazing things alongside of.”

To the defence team of Maritime Forces Pacific, RAdm Girouard says he’ll always remember how quietly confident they are, and how they take on tremendous responsibilities, from domestic emergencies to the international situation in Afghanistan. “Folks just get on with it with a level of professionalism that I’ve grown accustomed to. They’re a fine, classy bunch.”
While he takes no credit for the attributes of the work force he’s commanded, he certainly did fit in just fine.

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

And the gold medal in gardening goes to.....

Hey, Joe Pro, how does your garden grow?

From the Smoking Gun TV files July 29

More tidbits from Smoking Gun TV

July 29--Bottoms up!
July 29--The perfect car for drunk driving astronauts
July 29--One last putt for glory, one last putt missed

The hockey camp where two a days might be asking a little much!

Summer time for many kids means hockey camp, a couple of weeks of intensive skating, passing, shooting, checking and goal tending. A rite of passage for many Canadian kids who hope that the one, two or more weeks of on ice activity in a sweltering summer may turn them into the next Sidney Crosby.

The CBC website has an interesting tale of a hockey camp that is becoming rather controversial for the lessons that they are providing for their young charges. Power punching is taking the place of power skating at the Derek and Aaron Boogaard Fighting Camp in Regina.

For a registration fee of $40, players between the ages of 12 and 18 get the one two of instruction in the art of on-ice scrapping, provided by two of the tougher customers in pro hockey. Derek and Aaron suggest that they aren't teaching kids so much how to fight as to be safe should things deteriorate on the ice to that stage.

But considering minor hockey is supposed to be trying to eliminate fighting completely, it's a course outline that isn't gaining much traction with the critics.

The Boogaard’s camp of course isn’t sitting well with some of the purists of the game and those who are wondering why we need to teach kids barely or not even in their teens how to make their knuckles do their talking. Some have called it a “goon camp,” while others are worried that those kids taking the camp will now think they have a green light to get into on ice scraps.

For some it's an idea that is deserving of not only a five minute major but a suspension as well.

The Fight Club for Puckheads has become a bit of hot story with a number of mentions in the media:

And needless to say the camp has managed to solicit more than a few comments on the CBC Your View page.

(Picture above from AP through the CBC Website)
The above item first appeared on my HockeyNation blog, for more items about hockey check it out

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"How come this place is not on the map"

The above is the question that local coffee shop owner Vince Amante relayed to City council on Monday night, as the current state of the city tourist maps became a hot issue for the city's government.

Amante who runs his coffee shop in 800 block of Third Avenue West was surprised to find his shop seemed to appear in a form of barren lands, taking Overwaitea, Galaxy Gardens and The Villa restaurants, as well as the Aleeda and Pacific Inn hotels off to Prince Ruperts version of Siberia.

The Daily news added some background to a story we first brought you on Wednesday, the Friday edition of the paper adds some colour to the debate, which has seen local businesses in the dark green zone start to see red!

Merchants furious as they are left off key tourist map
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, July 27, 2007

Page one and two

City hall will be asking Tourism Prince Rupert (TPR) to put the businesses on Third Avenue between Seventh Street and Five Corners back on the map that is being handed out to tourists.
On Monday, business owner Vince Amante told council that the map being handed out by the destination marketing organization to incoming cruise ship passengers does not include the area where Third Avenue Coffee and Gifts, Sisters, Overwaitea, Galaxy Gardens, and La Villa - among others - are located.

"I had two tourists come into my building one day and ask how come this place is not on the map?'" said Amante, who owns Third Avenue Coffee and Gifts.

"I asked to see the map. It was put out by Tourism Prince Rupert. It was paid for with taxpayers money to promote Prince Rupert."

The map includes Cow Bay in a red zone, a yellow zone covering downtown to Sixth Street and a light green zone to seventh street and then it goes dark green

"Our street is not even on the map anymore," he said.

While Amante has no problems with people paying money to have their business highlighted on the map, he said the basic map should include the whole business section of town.

"We built Prince Rupert, we taxpayers helped build that port. I am paying $18,000 a year for my little property there and when we are left out I think that's not acceptable."

The city contributed $3.5 million to the construction and redevelopment of the Northland Cruise Terminal and Uplands Development.

Although Tourism Prince Rupert is not run by the city, it receives much of its funding through a two per cent hotel tax collected by the city.

Each year, the city contributes about $200,000 to TPR.

Amante noted that the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce used to print a map that covered the whole city and did not just highlight sponsoring businesses, but included the things tourists wanted to see such as totem poles and local trails.

Amante has spoken with some tourists who have made their way to five corners and they told him this is the type of feature they would like to see included on the map.

He said they want something to see and do after they go shopping.

"This (TPR) map should be taken off the street and corrected. If anybody paid any money, they should get a credit for next year. But give the tourists a proper map," said Amante.

"We've got five or six businesses down there. It's not just me," said Amante, who has owned businesses in Prince Rupert since 1974.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson said she was very concerned about the map and its contents and asked city staff to contact Tourism Prince Rupert to see if they can get that map off the street and put out another map.

"I'm not a brochure expert but there must be an old brochure around showing the whole of Third Avenue," she said.

"I think the comments were very fair - that if you only show two-thirds of downtown and don't show the other third, it doesn't help anyone at all."

Thorkelson also said she would like to see the trail systems, boat facilities and other features that are part of the city's amenities included on any future map.

"I have real concerns city money is supporting a brochure that cuts off part of the downtown area."

Coun. Tony Briglio said as a funding agency, the city has a right to ask those type of questions.
"I think it should be communicated to Tourism Prince Rupert that council should at least have the ability to look at those maps before they are distributed," added Coun. Ken Cote.

Tiptoe through the gardens

While they got the day wrong, the Daily News did manage to capture the excitement that the annual Prince Rupert Garden Club tour holds for the residents of the city.

The Garden tour took place on Sunday and not on Saturday as was reported in Friday's paper, as Rupert's lookie loos wandered around town in the rain to check out the offerings of the six participants in the Clubs annual fundraiser.

Interest in garden tours is blooming
By Christian Webber
The Daily News
Friday, July 27, 2007

Page one

The Prince Rupert Garden Club is holding the fifth-annual Garden Tour fundraiser on July 28.
The Garden Tour fundraiser is aimed at raising money for community projects such as the Civic Pride Planters that are downtown and work to improve the cemetery.

The tour is self-guided. Tickets for sale comprise a brochure that shows the gardens taking part in the event and details of how to get there and a little information about teach.

"Then, people are welcome to visit each of the six sites between 12 noon and 3 p.m. then tea and plant sale at Andree's B&B until 4:30 p.m.," said Andree Fawcett, the organizer.

"We chose to do six gardens because that seems to be the right amount for the time they have, but there are lots of gardens," said Fawcett.

After the tour everyone is invited back to the B&B for a classic English tea.

"It's a beautiful tea, it's done up with all the fine china and the silver tea pots, it's a classic tea," said Fawcett.

The gardens were chosen by a committee of three people that had taken suggestions from various people about gardens that they thought would work.

One of the gardens they are including this year is the one at the Pillsbury house, which is a heritage house and a public garden.

The sunken gardens are always on the tour list because the garden club has been helping to restore them for a number of years.

"We're hoping to have everything done. We said we would take five years to finish the Sunken Gardens," said Fawcett.

She said the gardens in the tour are quite diverse. There are shade gardens, gardens that show that you cannot only grow beautiful flowers but vegetables and other plants. And they always try to show a garden with a water feature.

"Our biggest problem is trying to find something we all like and the deer don't, this is the biggest challenge in Prince Rupert," said Fawcett.

She said deer eat just about anything, roses are one of their favorites, and gardeners call them deer candy'.

"The deer are becoming so overpopulated in this area, they are experimenting with more and more flowers," said Fawcett.

She said it is pleasing to show people that even with the big issue of deer, there are still some beautiful gardens.

The gardens are spread out around the city from Atlin Avenue to Summit Avenue and each garden is totally different from the other one, some formal and some casual English-style gardens.
"It's a popular event. I have had people calling me since January. There are only 100 tickets to sell because I can't handle any more than that in my house," said Fawcett.

People can get tickets at the Four Season Flower store on Third Avenue, the Visitors Information Centre and through Andree.

City to create 2010 task force

With the Olympics coming to BC in 2010 and Prince Rupert celebrating it's 100th birthday that same year, City council is moving to form a task force to oversee preparations for the anniversary and to make arrangements to seek funding for projects tied in with the Olympics.

The task force will consist of seven voting members who will take on a number of tasks involved in the process.

City gears up for banner year in 2010
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Friday, July 27, 2007

The city will be establishing a task force to oversee the organization of the city's 100th anniversary and the coinciding 2010 Olympic Games.

"2010 is the City of Prince Rupert's 100th anniversary and is also the Olympic year for Canada and British Columbia. There is a need to co-ordinate both fundraising initiatives and the community events surrounding the centenary year," said Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

The mayor and Coun. Kathy Bedard have met with groups that will be organizing events and it has become apparent the city needs to establish a task force to make recommendations on projects for which the city will seek funding and also to assist organizations in realizing their biggest impact from 2010.

The task force will be comprised of seven voting members who will provide specialized resources. They will include a member of council, government liaison, media/communications, corporate liaison, First Nations liaison, events coordination and financial expertise/grant writing.

Rupert rental properties face major renovations and rising rents

As Podunk reported on earlier in the week, recent eviction notices given to Digby Towers and Sherbrooke Gardens residents are just the latest changes that have come to the Prince Rupert apartment rental market.

One company Macro Properties has become a major player in the Prince Rupert rental market over the last couple of years, as the property developer has been busy purchasing rental complexes across the city and renovating them. Macro Properties currently has 316 rental units under its corporate name as well as the Neptune Motor Inn, making them Prince Rupert's largest landlord.

At the same time as folks on Sherbrooke were going to their mailboxes to find they had to move out, similar notices were being delivered at the Boulevard Estates townhouse complex which also will undergo extensive renovations.

The sudden spate of renovations to affordable units has many in the community concerned about a rental crunch for many of those Prince Rupert residents who may have a problem finding similar accommodations at the same price structure. The Macro Properties website had rents listed in the 350-550 range in the Sherbrooke Avenue buildings, compared to rents ranging from 525-800 in their renovated properties elsewhere in the city, leaving the soon to be former tenants wondering if there is any financial room for them on the other Macro Properties listings.

The Daily News featured the changing landscape of Rupert's rental market as the front page story in Friday's paper.

Highrise landmark among rentals getting make-over
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, July 27, 2007
Pages one and two

The recent decision to renovate Digby Tower, Sherbrooke and the co-op townhouses of Boulevard Estates has many tenants wondering where they will be living two months from now.
The buildings were purchased by Marco Properties, who have been buying units all over Prince Rupert for the past two years. The company now owns 316 residential rental units and the Neptune Motor Inn.

Each of their new acquisitions has undergone extensive work and renovations after its purchase, in order to bring the buildings back to their original condition, or better.

"Bayview is now what it should have been years ago when it was approached by council. It was just awful a few years ago," said Leslie Ebdon, now the resident manager at the Helmsman Apartments.

"The neighbours used to phone me when I was managing it saying Would you please do something with those buildings'. And now you could sit on a lawn chair out front and rent them, because they look so nice and they're so nice inside. And that's the complete intention for Digby."

While renovations are usually welcome, tenants at Digby Towers, Sherbrooke and Boulevard Estates were all recently given eviction notices by mail, stating they have 60 days to vacate the premises as of July 24, leaving some disappointed at the prospect of having to look for new accommodation.

When Macro Properties came into possession of the buildings, tenants had been told that units would be renovated one at a time, and that as each was finished, they would have the option of moving into one of the completed apartments. So the news that they were being evicted came as quite a shock to some.

"I lucked out because I have a friend who found a place for me in the same area for the same rent, but I'm worried about everyone else," said Wendy Henley, currently a tenant of Digby Towers. "But other people are just devastated, they don't know what they're going to do, rents are so high out there."

"I don't like doing this to tenants, but I'm hoping that when we're done, they'll come back and stay in our places. It's not that we're trying to be mean or get rid of the tenants, it's just in order to complete the buildings and make them available to everyone, I have no choice," said Sharon Gregory, general manager of Macro Properties.

"I do have other accommodations available in Prince Rupert, at the Bayview and Helmsman. They're slightly higher than what these tenants are paying, because they've renovated units."
Presently, the tenancy of the buildings is fairly low, with only 10 or 12 occupied units out of 60 in Digby Towers, and only six tenants in Sherbrooke.

The work being done on the three buildings is quite extensive, including new electrical wiring, new plumbing and heating systems, new appliances and flooring, new roofs and windows, and other exterior renovations. It's hoped that the brand new look and feel of the buildings will have the same positive implications as at other Macro Properties that have had a complete makeover.

"People were saying how bad The Neptune was, and now it's really turned it around into a place where people are going up and having lunch again, because they've really fixed that up," said Ebdon. "And Cedar Ridge too, we can't fill them up fast enough with furnished units for fellows, and families. Even the Helmsman, it looks like an old 70s building on the outside, but we're going to take all the cedar siding off of it and put on brand new vinyl on the front, with flower pots."
With 160 units between all three projects, it is estimated that the entire overhaul will take nearly a year, although ideally it will be done much sooner.

"With the labour force, there aren't a lot of skilled trades," said Gregory. "I would love to pump out units within the next two months, and that might be a little ambitious just because of the limitations of being able to get skilled trades to do it. It's certainly going to be easier for Sherbrooke and Boulevard Estates, because townhouses you can finish and rent. But when you're dealing with construction in apartments, you don't want people to be at risk, or having to deal with construction noise."

While Macro does realize it's putting tenants in an inconvenient position, they don't want residents in the city to forget what they've been able to accomplish in the past.

"I think we've contributed a lot to Prince Rupert thus far, and I think the residents in the neighbourhood of the Bayview and Helmsman are delighted that we've taken those properties and restored them, and probably added value to their properties by doing so," said Gregory. "If you look at our Bayview apartments, some of those buildings were actually condemned and not even livable when we closed [the deal]. And you look at them and see how they've been totally refurbished, and we're going to do even better with Digby, Sherbrooke and Boulevard Estates."

Senior’s advocates press Northern Health for more living units

When the new Acropolis Manor is completed there will be only one new bed added to the senior’s facility, a situation which seems rather silly considering the need in the community and a result that will not provide much comfort for those that currently sit on a waiting list for a spot in the local senior’s care residence. With that nugget of information made public, local advocates have begun the process of urging Northern Health build more units for seniors in need in the area. They began their journey by approaching city council last week, briefing them on their concerns and solicit their support for expanded care facilities for local seniors.

The current state of senior’s care on the North coast presents a situation that has many asking Northern Health to keep the current Acropolis Manor up and running as well, in order to provide services to those in the community.

The current long term care facility is slated for demolition upon completion of the new Manor; a decision which many feel is rather foolish, considering the ever expanding need for services in the province. The efforts of those advocates were outlined in Thursday’s Daily News.

New building means only one new bed: advocate
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Page one

The new replacement facility for Acropolis Manor will do nothing to help those who are on the waiting list for assisted living facilities, said a local health advocate.

Retired nurse Peggy Davenport told city council there is no way Northern Health (NH) should demolish the current Acropolis Manor until the health authority addresses the need for assisted living facilities in Prince Rupert.

“It has been publicly acknowledged by Susanne Johnston, former chief operating officer, and Sue Beckermann, former Northwest administrator, that the plans for the new facility does not provide enough space for the current people in need of complex care and assisted living housing when those currently at Acropolis, in the hospital and on the waiting list are counted,” said Davenport.

While the new facility is being designed so additional units can be added on at a later date, once the old facility is demolished, anyone currently in need of assisted living (able to live on their own but in need of access to a caregiver 24 hours a day) will be left with “inadequate and unsafe care until there is some sudden event, such as an accident and the person will lie in a hospital bed.”

She said there are currently a number of Rupertites, including two who are blind, who are not properly cared for through home support services.

“Why destroy Acropolis Manor to make a parking lot? It doesn’t make sense financially except for the one thing that comes to mind. NH does not want to hire support staff.

Coun. Tony Briglio acknowledged that the new facility will not add new spaces.

“I fully concur with Peggy Davenport’s report in terms of the need for additional units at the new facility,” Said Briglio.

Acropolis Manor, when it was originally built, had 50 beds, and then there were 20 beds at the fourth floor of the hospital for a total of 70 beds.

However, with the deficiencies at Acropolis Manor, 20 beds were closed knocking the number down to 30 and the total to 50.

“Anybody looking at that today would say we had 50, we are going to 71 (at the new facility), that’s 21 more beds. But we don’t we actually have one more bed than we had.”

However, he does not believe NH has said “no” to additional units, but rather they were still in discussions.

“They still have not come out and said “no” in respect to that.”
He added NH”s perception of the current requirements may come from census numbers that do not reflect the future of the community.

“We did not want to get into a debate with Northern Health about numbers and delay the project any further,” he said.

As for Acropolis Manor, it is a legitimate question to ask what else the facility could be used for, said Briglio.

“As much as I know, there are people in Prince Rupert, perhaps myself included, who would like to see something done with the facility, ultimately it is Northern Health’s decision,” he said. “And they have been getting the message loud and clear they need to make greater use of it than simply demolishing it.”

Council will send letter asking NH to consider additional assisted living units for new care facility, knowing the population is increasingly aging. Council will also ask if Northern Health has come to a conclusion about Acropolis and how it was made.“I think the community needs to know that,” said Briglio.

Bill Moyers travels along the road to the Bridge to nowhere

The folks in Ketchikan will be watching their local PBS affiliate with a bit more interest this week, as the Bill Moyers Journal takes a look at the plan to build a $223 million dollar bridge to the Ketchikan airport. The Gravina Island bridge is one of those issues that can quickly draw lines in the sand, as those that are in favour of the project battle those that suggest that the plan is pure folly.

The backlash from outside of Alaska has provided elements of pork barreling and conflict of interest to add to the boiling pot.

The project which is an idea that might sound rather familiar to Rupertites, has some residents in Ketchikan hoping to finally have road access to their airport, which like our Digby Island airport is separated from the city by a channel of water. The long discussed plan is the staple of letter to the editor writers across the state, an example for some of state representatives finally standing up for their state and for others it has become one of the posters for government spending running amok.

The controversial nature of the plan to bridge that gap is that it is part of the earmark process of American government, a trade off of sorts that sees politicians in one area supporting a project of no importance to their constituents, in order to receive backing for a project in their corner of the nation. Alaska Representative Don Young and Senator Ted Stevens have been in the forefront of the development of the Gravina Island bridge and have been receiving a fair amount of interest over their political maneuvering on behalf of the state and the Ketchikan area.

The Moyers documentary examines the bridge as part of a larger issue of the earmarks process, the program explains how earmarks are a staple of the US system that is described as the “trading currency of Congress.” They are used to entice members to vote for a bill they wouldn't otherwise support. The Ketchikan bridge, is but one of a number of examples that the program looks at where the earmarks process has provided some controversial funding for local favourite programs or projects.

Moyers interviews Steve Ellis who works for the public interest group, Taxpayers for Common Sense.

They look at the Ketchikan airport bridge plans as "the bridge to nowhere." $223 million dollars earmarked for a bridge to a small local airport and fewer than 100 constituents living on island in Alaska. The earmark on it had been the work of Alaska's representative Don Young (then head of the House Transportation Committee), and his colleague in the Senate, Ted Stevens (then chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.)

Between the two Alaskan politicians, the process of the earmarks and the horse trading that goes with them seemed to be a recipe for fast approval for Ketchikan and a connection to their airport.

However, any easy passage of the plan became sidetracked with the backlash to the handling of Hurricane Katrina and the near destruction of New Orleans. From that point on, it would seem that money matters are receiving a more intense review and when a red flag gets hoisted up on the flag pole, some projects don’t move as fast as they were once destined to.

The Gravina Island Bridge hasn’t been built yet, but the project is by no means dead yet either. The Department of Transportation has been conducting some preliminary work on Gravina Island, while Alaska's government officials remain committed to construction of the Bridge and another likewise controversial crossing in Anchorage.

Though it seems the winds of fiscal responsibility seem to be flowing towards Ketchikan, The Alaska Public Radio Network has a report that earlier this month the Alaska Department of Transport suggested that if Ketchikan wants a bridge, a less expensive version is in their future. Considering the growing backlash towards their plans, if the bridges in Ketchikan and Anchorage are ever built, they will be the most closely watched construction projects in recent history.

The Moyers program provides a fascinating look at how the US system works and what it takes to move a pet project along the food chain.

The PBS website has a page dedicated to the Bill Moyers Journal, you can find some background and video on the program featuring the Bridge to nowhere at this link.

Below, for those of us that haven't been following this as closely as others are some other links about the project: