Friday, May 30, 2008

No more laws for the books, No more Premier’s dirty looks…

"With the Liberals now, you know when the start of the session is. You know when the end of the session is. Why wait so long to introduce bills and then ram them through? The only answer is that the Liberals don't want debate,"— Carole James, leader of the NDP expressing wonderment at the legislative calendar in the Premier’s office.

One month before the kids hit the beach, the provinces elected MLA's will be seeking out the best sites, as the matters of Provincial business come to an end for the summer.

With a rush to the legislative table on Thursday night, the Liberal government of Gordon Campbell sidestepped further debate and provided third reading to a number of bills that the government deemed urgent before breaking for the summer.

With the express lane of democracy now closed for the season, MLA’s will return to their ridings and gain some feedback from their constituents, or go work on their tans, whichever is the most pressing we guess.

In the interim, the CBC examined the final few hours of the spring session with views from the government which hastened its end, and the opposition that continues to wonder just what was the hurry.

Relieved of the burden of Legislature attendance, the pursuit of participatory governance won’t resume until October 6, making for a rather nice break from that tiresome chore of handling the people's business…
Strategic Thoughts-- 8 Bills "Passed" with Closure

Just in time for weekend driving

It was an interesting morning of price changing taking place at Podunkian gas stations earlier today, as the price of gas jumps five cents at two locations downtown, while one holds the line at 1.32 and Petro Can sits in the middle at 1.34.

Both Chevron and Esso had posted prices of $1.37.9 per litre this morning, while the Husky down the street held to it's current price of $1.32.9/litre (by noon hour anyways).

Petro Can which had jumped the two cents a few days ago, remains at $1.34.9/litre.
We were a little low in the tank, so we didn't head out to the Industrial site this morning or out to Port Edward to check their prices, which normally match the rest of the town's stations once the price goes up...

Fill em up and head em out as you desire...

New salmon agreement to cover five species over 10 years

The details over a newly negotiated agreement under the Pacific Salmon Commission, are starting to filter out, one which will provide a ten year blueprint for the controversial North American Pacific fishery.

It comes amidst a ticking clock highlighting some of the critical issues of the fishery, which this year has seen an outright ban from Washington State to California and possible closures anticipated in British Columbia.

The Canadian Press outlined some of the details last week, while the Daily News had coverage in Thursday’s paper.

The agreement has fans and enemies on both sides of the border, we look at some of the feedback below, with a number of links to articles pro and con on the deal listed following the Daily News story.

Canada and U.S. mull new salmon agreement
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Pages one and three

A newly drafted fishing agreement between Canada and the United States could set out new 10-year sustainable harvest sharing regimes for the resource if approved by both governments.

Last week, the Pacific Salmon Commission announced that after 18 months of negotiations, it was recommending a new bilateral agreement for the neighbouring countries that would represent a major step forward in science-based conservation and sustainable harvest of Pacific salmon.

The agreement covers fisheries occurring along more than a thousand miles of coast line and inland waters, from central Oregon to southeast Alaska.

"I think we can all be proud of this new agreement," said Dr. Jeffrey Koenings, chair of the Pacific Salmon Commission.

"This agreement will contribute to the massive efforts underway throughout the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada to restore and sustain the salmon resource, as well as bring greater stability and certainty to fisheries throughout the treaty area."

The new agreement would cover five species of salmon comprising thousands of separate stocks ranging from healthy and abundant to threatened and declining.

However, the Pacific Salmon Commission recognizes that the coordinating the management of salmon fisheries across numerous authorities spanning one province, one territory, four states and dozens of First Nations presents one of the most complex fishery management challenges in the world.

"From my position as executive secretary, it has been particularly gratifying to observe the commission's progress throughout these difficult negotiations, and to see that the commission now functions well enough to achieve this enormous success," said Don Kowal, executive secretary of the Pacific Salmon Commission.

"There was a time, prior to the 1999 agreement, when this kind of success simply was not achievable by the commission.

"The new agreement is designed to provide for effective conservation of the resource, and to address the interests of the people affected by it," he added.

Following the terms of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, the agreement will now be sent to the Canadian and American governments with a recommendation for formal approval.

In Canada the approval process will involve First Nations and other stakeholder groups, but because some of the affected salmon stocks are listed under the United States Endangered Species Act, approval by the U.S. will first require satisfying the legal requirements of that law.

If stakeholders in Canada and the U.S. both approve the agreement, the final step in the approval process will be an exchange of diplomatic notes between Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Secretary of State.

It is hoped that this final step will be concluded prior to the end of 2008, with each country's domestic management authorities implementing the agreement in 2009.

Tacoma News Tribune-- Putting the fate of salmon first

If we build it, they will sail... and maybe tie up too!

"We've been discussing this ever since I've been here on council, which is over 20 years, and it's probably been discussed before that,"— Councillor Tony Briglio reviewing the debate over the lack of pleasure boat mooring spots in Prince Rupert.

With the fear of missing the boat on thousands of dollars in lost revenue from the yachting class, City council once again does what many councils past have done before, talk about changing the situation.

Whether it falls between the cracks of larger issues as it has in the past remains to be seen, but for the moment with another summer sailing season underway, the prospect of boats sailing on by has the mayor and council thinking nautical.

The Daily News manages to cobble two days worth of news coverage on the quest for someplace to tie up a boat in Prince Rupert, having introduced the topic in Wednesday’s paper, they made it their front page story for Thursday...


Councillors to push for more berths and return of fish-filleting tables
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert Council is worried about the shortage of boat mooring spaces in town, and discussed the issue in full inside chambers Monday evening.
"It's the old cliché," said Coun. Tony Briglio. "Either fish or cut bait."

As reported in Wednesday's Daily News, representatives from the Prince Rupert Yacht Club made a presentation to council pointing out the club's concerns about the fact that recreational boaters were skipping a stop-over in Prince Rupert because of the lack of moorage spaces.

Council discussed the problem, and Briglio demanded that something be done.

"We've been discussing this ever since I've been here on council, which is over 20 years, and it's probably been discussed before that," he said.

"Maybe we need to meet with the (Port Edward) Harbour Authority, and maybe we should move staff to work with the yacht club and come up with a proposal."

Coun. Joy Thorkelson, who is heavily involved with the commercial fishermen's union, said it would be a good idea to bring all parties together - commercial, sports, and the harbour authority - to try to figure out a way to increase the number of available moorage spaces.

"It's more than just Rushbrook," she said. "Our floats are what's going to have a lot of people come up here. What makes sense is to have a decent amount of floats everywhere."

The other issue that is connected to the problem is the fact that the Port Edward Harbour Authority last year removed the fish-filleting tables at Rushbrook.

Their loss only made things worse said Briglio.

"The bottom line is the tables (are) something that has worked over the years," he said.

Mayor Herb Pond agreed.

"I'm fully supportive of getting the tables back down there," he said. "But the Harbour Authority (made it) very clear that they will not tolerate fish tables down there.

"There are reasons why it was pulled, and there are reasons why it's going to be hard to get it back."

"The problem the Harbour Authority had was the way (the garbage) was being disposed ... the waste was ending up under the docks. It was costing them money, and they were unprepared to do it," said Pond.

Coun. Ken Cote suggested that a broader meeting be set up with the Harbour Authority to discuss all the issues, never mind just the fish tables and lack of moorage spaces.

"I think we're making it more complicated," he said. "They do have that in Port Edward. They got opportunity, and they have a wishlist.

"They have a sizeable dock down there, and they do have a big wide ramp down there. A meeting should be broader than that ... not just fish tables."

Briglio then made the motion that city staff contact the yacht club to begin meetings and start working together to come up with some recommendations regarding moorage.

"I am aware of some potential interest," said Pond.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Motions from City council

The Daily News once again has detailed some of the key motions of Monday's council meeting, with a boxscore sytle chart highlighting where each councillor that attended the meeting placed their vote.

This version covers the city council meeting of May 26, 2008

The Questions:

Question 1-- That Council revert to the Zoning Bylaw No. 2211, 1980 (regarding the pa4rcel of land currently owned by B. C. Hydro that was to be developed by Royop but has now been dropped ) back to the original zoning, meaning that the bylaw will be ammended to: A1 0 Ameintiy Zone and M2 - Light Industrial 2 Zone)

How they voted on this motion:

Mayor Herb Pond- In Favour
Councillor Ken Cote- In Favour
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne- In favour
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -In Favour
Councillor Nelson Kinney- Against
Councillor Kathy Bedard- Absent
Councillor Tony Briglio- In Favour

Motion 1 passed

Question 2-- That council approve the ordering of a new fire department pumper truck to be purchased during the 2009 budget year (and in doing so, replace a 32 year-old unit)

How they voted on this motion:

Mayor Herb Pond- In Favour
Councillor Ken Cote- In Favour
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne- In Favour
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -In Favour
Councillor Nelson Kinney- In Favour
Councillor Kathy Bedard- Absent
Councillor Tony Briglio- In Favour

Motion two passed

Question Three--That Council meet with the Port Edward Harbour Authority (and potnetial get a Rupert representative on the board) to discuss the mooring problems that currently exist in Prince Rupert, and the possiblity of bringing back the fish tables at Rushbrook.

How they voted on this motion:

Mayor Herb Pond- In Favour
Councillor Ken Cote- In Favour
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne- In Favour
Councillor Joy Thorkelson -In Favour
Councillor Nelson Kinney- In Favour
Councillor Kathy Bedard- Absent
Councillor Tony Briglio- In Favour

Motion three passed

City Council Tracker May 26

May 26, 2008

City Council session

In attendance:

Mayor Herb Pond
Councillor Tony Briglio
Councillor Joy Thorkelson
Councillor Ken Cote
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne
Councillor Nelson Kinney


Councillor Kathy Bedard

Minutes for May 26 council meeting .

Committee of the Whole Minutes
Regular City Council Meeting Minutes

Daily News voting summary--How council voted on May 26, 2008

Attendance at city council to date archives .

Upcoming event- Regular City Council session scheduled for June 9, 2008

Controversial coalbed methane expansion project meets heavy oppositionin Hazelton

Shell Canada learned first hand last weekend that the opposition to their coalbed methane project is going to be large, proactive and more than willing to express their views.

A session held in Hazleton drew 400 participants over the weekend, the vast majority quite against the plans and their potential impact on the Sacred Headwaters.

A coalition of First Nations, anglers, guide outfitters and concerned citizens joined together to oppose the project which had been expected to get underway in May, but now has been postponed to at least August or September, with many calling for a further postponement until public meetings can be held between Shell and the residents of the affected areas.

The full story on the protests over the weekend were featured in Wednesday's Daily News.

Coalbed methane foes pack heated meeting
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Pages one and three

Opposition to Shell Canada's proposed coalbed methane extraction project was loud and clear during the weekend as 400 Northwest residents packed Gitanmaax Hall in Hazelton, British Columbia on Saturday.

The Sacred Headwaters Summit brought together members of the Gitxsan, Tahltan, Wet'suwet'en, Tsimshian, Haisla, Carrier-Sekani, and Nisga'a nations, as well as guide outfitters, anglers and other concerned citizens, all united in their opposition to the prospect of coalbed methane drilling at the shared headwaters of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers.

Shell currently holds a 400-tenure for coalbed methane exploration, a project that opponents say poses more risks and delivers fewer benefits than any other project in the Northwest.
"It was a fairly lively and engaged group who definitely wanted Shell, and industry in general to understand that if they are going to come into their regions and territories, they deserve to be talked to and consulted with on these issues," said Des Nobels, chair of Friends of Wild Salmon.

"This event was an unprecedented demonstration of opposition by a united region. We hope both the B.C. government and Shell have heard the message that people do not plan to give up."

The day's keynote address was given by Jack Stanford, a salmon ecologist from the University of Montana who described how similar development has caused serious environmental destruction in his home state.

Greg Brown of the Pembina Institute also spoke about the probable impacts of Shell's project on wild salmon, and The Honourable John Fraser spoke from the floor to ask why the federal fisheries ministry had not taken a stand on a project that poses such significant threats to wild salmon.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen was also in attendance to deliver a message to Shell on behalf of his constituents, many of whom oppose the project .

"I think the opposition to Shell's plans in the Sacred Headwaters is growing with each and every day," said Cullen. "It was very informative and educational to be able to hear from experts on the issue, but I think it confirmed a lot of suspicions people had about the whole project."

Aside from Cullen, North Coast MLA Gary Coons and Skeena MLA Robin Austin, representation from the federal or provincial governments was noticeably absent at the summit, including the region's own MLA.

"Federal and provincial government are promoting this project, yet none of them seem to have interest or courage to present themselves," added Cullen.

Rhoda Quock, a member of the Tahltan Nation, spoke of her people's struggle against Shell, including road blockades and an ongoing court case, and told the crowd to a round of applause that they would not give up . More applause, feet stomping and cheering occurred when Shannon McPhail, executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, invited people to show Shell that residents will stand in solidarity until the company withdraws its plans.

Head of Shell's Klappan Coalbed Methane project, Kathy Penny, spoke only briefly, stating she had heard many important messages, but gave no hint as to whether Shell would cancel its drilling plans. Shell had been hoping to begin drilling as soon as this month, but has agreed to hold off until August or September. Cullen said he and other opponents will push for a further postponement, at least until public meetings can be held between Shell and residents in affected communities, including as Prince Rupert.

Ahoy there yacht Captains, throw us a line if you can find a space...

Prince Rupert is losing out on thousands of dollars each year as frustrated yacht captains seek out other harbours due to a lack of dock space in Prince Rupert harbour.

In a presentation to city council on Monday, local representatives of the Prince Rupert Yacht Club expressed their frustrations at the lack of a plan to develop the waterfront with space for visitors on boats, who could spend much in the way of cash if only they had a place to pull in and stay.

They asked Council to develop a plan or facilitate a private operator to investigate the opportunities that are being missed by Rupert's lack of proper mooring facilities.

At one time, the new Chances gaming centre had expressed a long range plan to look into mooring facilities off of the Gaming Centre property on the waterfront, but not much has been heard of that grand ambition since the same group announced their plans for a major investment in the Terrace area.

It's anticipated that some 300 feet of dock would be more than enough to lure some of those passing yachters ashore, in a if we build it they will come kind of prospect. The Daily News examined the presentation and provided further details into the project as their front page story in Wednesday's paper.

Lack of space to tie up means many boaters are sailing past Prince Rupert
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Pages one and three

Prince Rupert should be on everyone's map when it comes to marine opportunities, and specifically, boating.

But the problem is there is a serious lack of places to park one's boat for those travelling here, and both Mark Newbery (commodore) and Jack Payne (past commodore) from the Prince Rupert yacht club attended the Prince Rupert council meeting Monday night to voice their concern.

"The amount of business that's coming to town is passing us by, and that's unfortunate," said Payne. "It's not a business you have to chase - it's here right now."

The problem is that there is not enough mooring for visiting boaters, and at times, even locals have trouble finding a spot. The yacht club currently is full, and has a waiting list.

"Our docks are full, and it's not even busy yet," said Payne.

Newbery said that their attendance at the meeting was to alert council to the potential dollars that are being missed by the town, because of the lack of moorings.

He also pointed out that since 2005, the number of vessels parked at the yacht club by visitors to Rupert translated to somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 visitor days.

"Yachters are not short on money," he said. "They put a lot of money into Rupert. This is a missed opportunity, and we get bypassed by boaters.

"We need to get recreation boaters in town. Many tourists have been telling me they're better (off) in Kitimat."

Coun. Tony Briglio said that this particular issue isn't new, and in fact, it has been evident throughout his council career. He also agreed that something needs to be done, so Rupert stops losing out on those additional economical benefits.

"I've believed that for some time," he said. "There is a need. But we are also aware of the financial problems (in getting upgrades completed).

"(We need) the right people who would stop the talk, and do something."

Coun. Ken Cote asked if there was a business out there that might move in and build increased mooring, or perhaps even build a marina like they have in many other coastal communities, such as Campbell River (as noted in the yacht club's report).

"Is there a business case to build 300 feet of dock?" Cote asked.

Payne said that if such a venture came forward, the yacht club would work with a partner.
"It's like every new business case, and whether it's cost-recoverable. Probably not now ... but down the road, it probably would be. But the yacht club can't marshall that on its own."

Newbery said the loss of the fish tables at Rushbrook was not helping, and suggested council pushes to get them back.

Coun. Joy Thorkelson agreed with Newbery that not having the fish tables down at Rushbrook makes no sense and she suggested council find a way to get a member onto the Port Edward Harbour Authority board to work on reinstating the tables, and finding ways of expanding moorage space.

"Fishermen and tourists bring a lot of money into this community," she said. "We need to have those floats."

Council agreed to discuss the matter further. Find out what they came up with in Thursday's Daily News.

Mr. Smith heads for the hall

A long time promoter of Prince Rupert tourism is gaining yet another accolade, as Walter Smith makes the trip to Ottawa this weekend for enshrinement in the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame.

He will be awarded an award for a lifetime of achievement in the tourism field, covering a long and varied career of keeping Prince Rupert’s profile high in the tourism industry.

The Daily News featured his achievements in Tuesday’s paper.

National award for long-time Rupert booster
By Carla Wintersgill
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pages one and three

After 72 years of tirelessly promoting Prince Rupert tourism, a local man is being inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame.

Walter Smith heads to Ottawa on Sunday to receive his award for a lifetime of achievement in the tourism field.

"It's quite a shock actually," said Smith. "I never expected to be rewarded for any of this. I just did it because I enjoyed it."

Smith, 93, was born and raised in Prince Rupert.

He has been involved with the tourism industry since 1936 when he founded the Prince Rupert Visitors' Bureau to greet ships on their way to Alaska.

"He has had an extraordinary amount to do with promoting the North," said Bruce Wishart, manager of Tourism Prince Rupert.

Last October, Wishart’s organization created the Walter Smith Visionary Award to be presented annually by the Northern British Columbia Tourism Association to a pioneer of Northern tourism.

Smith was the first recipient of the eponymous award.

Throughout his extensive career, Smith has been involved with many of the significant changes to tourism in Prince Rupert.

“He was there for the creation of Beautiful British Columbia magazine, which did an incredible amount for tourism,” said Wishart about Smith. “He was there for the founding of B. C. Ferries and he organized the inaugural voyage of the Queen of Prince Rupert. He organized welcoming ceremonies when the Alaska State Ferry came into Rupert. He was instrumental in having the highway paved between Prince Rupert and Prince George.”

Smith was one of the original members of a committee that later became Tourism British Columbia. He was assigned to represent ‘Section G’, which was Northern B. C. from the Alberta border to the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Smith remembers meeting Ken Kierman, the minister of recreation and conservation, who told the committee that tourism was worth $300 million to B.C. and its job was to get it up to $500 million.

“I turned to the guy next to me and said, ‘he’s crazy. He’s talking $200 million like it’s 50 cents,” said Smith.

“Well, we got it up to $500 million and today it’s worth $13 billion.”

Despite retiring in 1974, Smith still stays active in Prince Rupert tourism.

He is a proud cruise ship ambassador and enthusiastically greets the passengers who come into town.

“You meet an awful lot of people. That’s what I like about it,” said Smith. “I like talking to people and getting them interested in my hometown.”

An avid traveler, Smith has been all over the world and promotes Prince Rupert wherever he goes.

“It’s my hometown and I have visions for it,” he said. “Look around. There’s no other place like it.”

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Learning some A, B, C's and 1, 2, 3's, for forty years

Fellowship Baptist church celebrates the fortieth year of childhood education this year, as their daycare centre carries on with a tradition that goes back to 1967!

The Daily News celebrated the grand occasion with a feature story in Wednesday's paper.

Nursery ready for big birthday
The Daily News
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Page Five

A Prince Rupert nursery school has reached the ripe old age of 40, and they're throwing a party to celebrate.

This Friday, the Fellowship Baptist Nursery School is holding a reception to celebrate its history.
The school was recently presented with the Childcare Legacy Award from the British Columbia Minister of State for Childcare, Linda Reid, in recognition of more than 40 years of outstanding childcare.

The reception will feature nursery school founder, Gwen Marshall, sharing her memories of the school's beginning as well as the recollections of some former students.

"There's probably three generations now that would have attended the nursery school," said Marshall. "A lot of them still live in the community and have very close ties to Fellowship Baptist."

Fellowship Baptist nursery school was founded in 1967, and it was originally a kindergarten. At the time, kindergarten wasn't a part of the public school curriculum.

The church was putting up a new building and decided to add a school portion.

"The church saw it as a way to serve the community," said Marshall. "I was already a kindergarten teacher so they asked me if I would stay, and I was happy to."

In that first year, there were two classes of 25 children, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, classes that Marshall supervised on her own.

Since then, kindergarten has been incorporated into the school system and the school now teachers three- and four-year-olds.

Right now, there are 76 students in total with a staff of seven full- and part-time workers.
Reaching 40 years is a rare feat for a nursery school.

"It is very unusual for them to be open so long," said Carol Hyszka, the current supervisor of the Fellowship Baptist nursery school.

The school provides crucial early learning for its students.

"They're learning to cooperate and work in groups," said Marshall. "The social part is the most important thing. They are learning to get along with other children."

Although it is a Christian-based pre-school, "Anybody can come of every faith," said Hyszka.
The anniversary celebration takes place on Fri., May 30, at the Fellowship Baptist Church at 7 p.m.

Still seeking infestation records four years later

It’s a battle that has been going on for four years now, pitting the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation against the Provincial government, all in the quest to release numbers of sea lice infestations in BC‘s aquaculture industry.

The Foundation has moved on to a submission to B. C.’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner claiming that the government is putting commercial secrecy ahead of the right of the people to know what dangers may lurk in the province’s fish farms.

The story was featured on Tuesday as the front page piece in the Daily News.

Environmental group wants official numbers for lice infestations in B. C.
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Pages one and three

The T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation is continuing a four-year battle against the province to obtain records of sea lice infestations that the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has gathered during visits to British Columbia salmon farms.

The Foundation filed a legal submission to B.C.'s Freedom of Information and Privacy Commissioner through Ecojustice this month, claiming the government is wrongly putting commercial secrecy before the public's right to know about the extent of sea lice infestations on sites owned by Mainstream, Canada's second-largest salmon farm operator.

Ecojustice (formerly Sierra Legal Defence Fund) Executive Director Devon Page said the government information data would help conservation groups determine whether farm operations are spreading disease and parasites into B.C.'s natural waters, what the magnitude of the problem is, and what can be done about it.

"The B.C. government has assured the public that salmon farms are not harming wild salmon, yet it refuses to release the data that would allow the public to judge that position, and does not even want the public to know results of environmental sampling conducted by public servants," said Randy Christensen, a staff lawyer with Ecojustice.

While Canada's largest salmon farm operator Marine Harvest voluntarily releases some of its sea lice data to the public, the T. Buck Suzuki Foundation says Mainstream has consistently refused to. The T. Buck Suzuki Foundation's Executive Director David Lane is adamant the provincially collected data should be available, and was in Norway last week to present a resolution to Mainstream's parent company Cermaq at their Annual General Meeting.

Representing the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR), Lane made a request to Cermaq and its controlling shareholder, the Norwegian government, asking for full compliance with Norwegian state policies on sustainability for state corporations.

"It's outrageous that the Norwegian government professes to run sustainable state-owned companies, yet their salmon farms in B.C. are causing serious environmental harm and operate in a manner that would not be allowed in Norway," said Lane.

"The Norwegian government must take immediate action to ensure Mainstream Canada stops harming the B.C. environment and putting B.C. wild salmon runs in jeopardy."

CAAR maintains that Mainstream open net-cage salmon farms in the United Nations Biosphere Reserve in Clayquot Sound, the Northern Georgia Strait, and the Broughton Archipelago are depressing wild salmon runs and putting some stocks at risk of extinction.

Departures at Sun Wave keeps Watson Island in limbo

“Well I guess the disappointment is that they certainly haven’t performed to what they said they would do,” -- Forest's Minister Rich Coleman expressing frustration at the pace of events at the Watson Island pulp mill site.
It would seem that the departure of some key members of the Sun Wave Management group at the moribund Prince Rupert pulp mill continues to add mystery to the plans for mill and mill site on Watson Island.

The Terrace Standard features an on line article in which the Forest Minister Rich Coleman relayed details that neither he nor his staff have heard much from the mysterious managers from Sun Wave since some key managers apparently left the region.

It was suggested that they were still diligently working on their re-opening plans, though there has been little evidence of that locally in the three years that they purchased the remains of the then New Skeena Forest Products.

The Standard reports that one bit of business that they did complete before departing to was to ensure that the B line mill had been dismantled and shipped back to China.

With their back tax breaks now rescinded, the company owes 4 million dollars in back taxes to Prince Rupert and 250,000 dollars to Port Edward, all due to having missing a deadline of pulp production of December 31, 2007.

Minister upset with Chinese over Rupert mill inactivity
Terrace Standard
May 28, 2008

FORESTS MINISTER Rich Coleman has stopped short of directly criticizing the lack of progress a Chinese company is making in re-opening the closed Skeena Cellulose pulp mill in Prince Rupert it bought three years ago.

But he clearly was irritated with the inactivity from Sun Wave Forest Products, a unit of the Chinese-state owned China Paper Group.“Well I guess the disappointment is that they certainly haven’t performed to what they said they would do,” said Coleman last week while visiting Terrace to host one of his roundtable discussions on the future of the forest industry.“

The disappointment is that there isn’t something that integrates the forest sector up here. I guess what it does prove is that you really need deep, deep pockets.”

Sun Wave appeared in 2005, acquiring what was once a linchpin of the northwest forests industry for $3.3 million. The pulp mill at one time employed more than 500 people using fibre from interior and other mills.

Sun Wave’s purchase followed an unsuccessful attempt by former Skeena Cellulose executive Dan Veniez to open both that mill and the former Skeena Cellulose mill in Terrace. And that occurred after Skeena Cellulose shut its doors in 2001 after the newly-elected provincial Liberal government refused to carry on financing it as did the NDP.

Coleman said his top officials haven’t had any contact from Sun Wave for weeks, following the departure of some of its key people working on re-opening plans.

One thing Sun Wave did do was dismantle the smaller of the mills two production lines, called the ‘B’ mill and ship it back to China.

It then sold the wood licences that came with the purchase with a large licence going to Coast Tsimshian Resources, owned by the Lax Kwallam band at Port Simpson on the coast and a smaller in the Hazeltons going to a company controlled by Gitxsan hereditary chiefs.

Sun Wave also received a property tax break from the City of Prince Rupert based on a re-opening schedule it filed with the city.After it assumed control of the location, it said several times it was on the verge of lining up $100 million for start up costs.

As part of the sale, Sun Wave signed agreements with both the District of Port Edward and the City of Prince Rupert that would forgive the back-taxes owed on the land by its previous owners if the company were producing pulp by December 31, 2007. Since that deadline was not met, both municipalities voted to rescind the agreement, which leaves more than $4 million in taxes owed to Prince Rupert and more than $250,000 owed to Port Edward.

Sun Wave officials also met in 2005 with the Terrace Lumber Company, formed by Terrace investors to buy the Skeena Cellulose mill here the same year, but no business relationship ever emerged.

Coleman did note that the province spent more than $30 million in the early part of the decade at the mill site to clean it up after decades of residual pollution.“
When a company goes bankrupt, it becomes the liability of the crown in one way or another,” he said.As for predictions that Sun Wave would one day re-start the mill, Coleman said he was ever hopeful.“I think they have challenges with fibre of their own [in China] so I would think they will have to look for fibre [here],” he said.

Prince George residents cast a wary eye on the economic futures after a night of major fires.

The Prince George Fire Department found Monday night to be one of a historic nature, as a fire at one Prince George Sawmill, sparked a number of other fires across the city leaving a major employer devastated and other local industries counting their losses.

The initial fire at Canfor's North Central Plywood mill, flared up in the early evening of Monday sending burning, flying embers off in all directions a number of which landed in the BCR Industrial site and resulted in a warehouse and rail yard fire that was continuing to burn through the night and into Tuesday.

At one point during the night, City officials declared a local state of emergency in order to free up the Fire Department to seek out all resources to combat the string of fires, the most number of major fires ever in one night in the history of the city's fire department

When officials began to tally up the cost of Monday's night of flames, they were left with the prospect of one of the city's larger employers pondering its future and many others trying to sort out their own options.

Listed below are some of the numerous reports on the night's activity, above at the top of the piece is a YouTube entry posted today about the developments in Prince George.

Opinion 250-- North Central Plywood reduced to rubble
Opinion 250-- McInnis Lighting Damaged
Opinion 250-- Embers Touch Off Two More, State of Emergency Declared
Opinion 250-- Mayor Praises Fire Fighters
Opinion 250-- Canfor Issues Release About Mill Fire
Prince George Citizen-- What do we do now: Canfor employee
Prince George Citizen-- Fire sounded like a jet engine: Captain
Prince George Citizen-- Largest combined fire in city history
Prince George Citizen-- Slideshow of fire pictures
Prince George Free Press-- Fire destroys plywood mill
CBC News-- Prince George fire under control, state of emergency lifted

Show them some money!

“Deny, deny, deny. That’s all this minister does. This minister is the only one that thinks things are well,” -- North Coast MLA expressing frustration with the state of Education funding in B. C.
With Prince Rupert among a number of British Columbia schools suffering a huge budgetary shortfall this year, North Coast MLA Gary Coons to their case to the Legislature last week.

Coons explained the Prince Rupert situation in the legislature explaining how the pending 2 million dollar shortfall will affect local education in School District 52 and accusing the Liberal government of playing a “shell game” with monies destined for the education of the province’s youth.
Of particular interest to Education Minister Shirley Bond may be the news from her own backyard, where Prince George's School district 57 is anticipating a 4 million dollar shortfall this year, a huge number that may leave potential voters in next year's provincial election just a little concerned.

Coons educational thoughts were outlined in Monday’s Daily News.

Full school funding called for
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, May 26, 2008
Page Five

In an effort to find out how the ministry plans to address huge budgetary shortfalls in School District 52 and other districts in British Columbia, North Coast MLA Gary Coons informed Education Minister Shirley Bond of the crisis in the B.C. Legislature on Thursday.

Coons said that despite government claims about record funding for school districts, the reality across the province is that school districts are struggling to deal with huge budgetary shortfalls.

"Last week, the Prince Rupert school district sent an SOS to the whole community to act immediately for the sake of their children," said Coons. "A $2 million shortfall is affecting vital school programs and services, resulting in the loss of 18 teaching positions and up to 40 support staff positions that has put the whole community in a crisis mode. The B.C. Liberals are playing a shell game with our children's education funding.

"What is the minister going to do to ensure this school district is adequately funded so they can deliver needed programs to our children?"

School District 52 has calculated that with the Labour Settlement funds removed from consideration in the budget, their actual operating grant is only 95 per cent of last year’s grant. This, along with other under-funded costs, translates into the district having $2 million less to operate school than it had last year.

Minister Bond responded to Coons by noting that the government has been committed to education and will continue to add record amounts of funding to public education in B. C.

“Not only that, we are very proud of the record we had settling the public sector contracts across this province which was historic,” said Bond. “In fact, we have fully funded the agreements that were negotiated.”

Coons said the minister continues to deny there are problems with funding in B. C. school districts, while parents, teachers and school district staff disagree with the assessment.

“Deny, deny, deny. That’s all this minister does. This minister is the only one that thinks things are well,” said Coons. “School district’s themselves have difficulty figuring out the minister’s formula. This has to change. Districts were promised funding protection to ensure districts would have, year-to-year, 99 percent of the previous year’s funding in the operating grants. According to documents put out by the secretary-treasurer, Prince Rupert will on get 95 percent, a devastating cut of 4 percent- a $2 million cut due to this minister’s broken promises.”

Opposition members also pointed out to Bond that other school districts in the province are being forced to cut teachers and support staff next year. Quesnel school district is short $1 million and Kamloops school district is laying off 24 full-time teaching staff and considering possible school closures. Coons and other NDP MLA’s called on the Education Minister to commit to holding up the 2006/07 agreement, which guaranteed that school districts would get no less than 99 per cent of the previous year’s budget for operating expenses, and admit that it is due to funding formula changes that students across B. C. are getting less than they deserve.

“Will the Minister commit not only to Prince Rupert, but to all school districts to fund here negotiated labour settlements and ensure funding protection at the 99 per cent level?” asked Coons.

“This Prince Rupert school district is losing almost two million dollars in funding. That money has to come from somewhere; it will be squeezed from crowded classrooms and vulnerable children who will no longer receive the help they need to succeed.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mindless vandalism not just a Podunk problem

While many in Prince Rupert have expressed alarm at the seemingly rising tide of broken windows and such in the downtown core, it would seem that we are not alone in the Northwest with the woes of vandalism.

Things have become so bad in Kitimat that business leaders there have called a meeting to address that town's vandalism problem and to protect "their investments".

An article in the Northern Sentinel out of Kitimat reports on a meeting planned for earlier tonight in the Aluminum city to investigate ways that the business community could respond to the problem.

It might be an idea for the Prince Rupert community to give them a call to see what they came up with and if it would work here as well...

Enough is enough
The Northern Sentinel
Kitimat, BC
May 23, 2008

Enough is enough.

That's the message from local business owners after yet another wave of vandalism in downtown Kitimat.

And they have called a meeting to discuss how they can protect their investment from this "wilful destruction".

It takes place Tuesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. at Pedro's Grill.

Changes at the top of the coal pile

“The board is looking for some new direction, and we’re hoping this will be an amicable departure,”— A short and succinct, comment from Byng Giraud of Ridley Terminals Incorporated, announcing the departure of senior managers at the Prince Rupert Terminal.

The Dan Veniez era took a little time to get started, but decisions made at Ridley Terminals last week and an announcement released on Monday signal a change in direction for one of Prince Rupert’s largest employers and perhaps the revealing of his long term plans for the North coast coal terminal on Ridley Island.

The controversial Veniez, the former president of the stillborn New Skeena Forest Products was frequently in the news and in the public eye during his stewardship of the forest company in the turbulent years of extinction at Watson Island.

He was the eye of the hurricane at the time, a frequent guest on a local talk show and ringmaster of the public debate over the future of the mill at that time, including a still talked about public town hall meeting during the tempest that became New Skeena. His arrival and departure was much discussed and debated at the time, with his comments leaving lasting memories in the city, which to this day can still stir up a heated debate.

Upon his return as Chairman of Ridley Terminals, many were waiting for the return of those emotional days, but over the last five months his has been a very low profile, perhaps more inclined to the details of the backrooms, than the airing of corporate agendas in a public forum.

Even with the dramatic news of the departures of President and CEO Greg Slocombe and Chief Financial Officer Cam MacIntye the commentary from Mr. Veniez has been quite muted, in fact news of the departures of the two senior managers at RTI was left to be delivered by Byng Giraud who spoke on behalf of the board members.

Taking over at the top will be George Dorsey who was named as President and Chief Operation Officer on Monday, Dorsey who was providing detailed consultations into the inner workings of RTI, apparently did such a thorough job that he was quickly tagged as the potential replacement at Ridley.

A number of news sources have tracked the story since the rumours first started filtering out over the weekend of “big changes at Ridley”, with three senior positions reportedly affected at the time. The Northern View posted a report on their website on Tuesday, while the Vancouver Sun provided an edited version of the Daily News coverage of Monday.

The Daily News had confirmed two of the names on Monday, featuring the developments as the front page story in the paper. Locals will be watching with interest over the next few months to see what next develops atop those piles of coal...

Greg Slocombe and Cam McIntyre move on as a new senior manager takes reins
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Monday, May 26, 2008
Pages one and five

Ridley Terminals Inc., announced Friday that Greg Slocombe, president and chief operating officer, and Cam McIntyre, chief financial officer and operations manager, have both resigned from the company.

The company made the announcement and indicated that effectively immediately George Dorsey has been appointed RTI’s new President and Chief Operating Officer,.

Speaking on behalf of the RTI board members, Chairman of Corporate Affairs Committee of the Board Byng Giraud described the scenario as happening by way of a “mutual agreement.”

The RTI board last met and discussed the executive shuffle last May 12, and it was a consensus of the board at that time that Slocombe and McIntyre were no longer the ideal persons for their positions.

“The board is looking for some new direction, and we’re hoping this will be an amicable departure,” said Giraud.

”In the long and short term our goal is to make sure (RTI) is on strong and sound financial footing and make sure this is an asset so the federal government can decide what its long-term future is. That would be the government’s decision, but our obligation is to make sure the place is not a drain on the public purse and that it’s a good stable source of employment and community building in that area.”

Giraud said RTI has certainly been a good, stable place to work in past years, but that there are certainly improvements that can be made to its financial viability and cost of operation, and said it has the potential to move more product through the facility. He said incoming President and Chief Operation Officer George Dorsey has considerable experience, and with the help of the board and the government will make sure RTI continues to be an asset that the people of Northwest British Columbia can be proud of.

Dorsey is Chief Executive Officer of Edgewood Holdings, LLC, and has served in senior management roles at Coffeyville Resources, Aquila Energy (senior vice president), Duke Energy (group vice president), Euro Brokers Incorporated, Associated Metals and Minerals Corporation, Pechiney Ugine Kuhlmann, and Merrill Lynch.

Dorsey’s industrial experience covers natural gas, oil, petrochemicals, air emission allowances, agricultural chemicals, metals, coal, petroleum coke, and other bulk raw materials. He serves on the board of directors of Traxys SA, with worldwide commodity sales exceeding $2.5 billion.

“RTI is a key strategic asset to Canada as a critical gateway to Asian and other world markets,” said Daniel D. Veniez, chairman of RTI.

“Our board and management team will place an aggressive and focused emphasis on attracting new business, developing creative and stronger partnerships throughout the supply chain, and investing heavily to improve our productivity and service to customers.”

Ridley Terminals Inc. is a bulk-handling terminal located on Ridley Island in Prince Rupert with a capacity of 16.5 million tones, and is a federal Crown corporation.

Ridley Terminals makes major changes to management
By Shaun Thomas
The Northern View

May 27, 2008

The board of Ridley Terminals in Prince Rupert announced a major shake up of the company’s management, parting ways with both President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Slocombe and Chief Financial Officer and Operations Manager Cam McIntyre.

“The board, which is almost entirely new, has a specific direction they would like to go in terms of operating the facility and it was felt that a new management team would probably be in better keeping with that direction. We worked with the existing management team for a while and it was determined that perhaps a different team would be more appropriate for the direction we wanted to go,” explained board spokesperson Byng Giraud.

“Change always brings uncertainty and we are conscience of the community of Prince Rupert and that this is a long standing asset and that there is perhaps some uncertainty. People shouldn’t feel that way… Our mandate is simply to run the place well and make sure that it is a stable facility that doesn’t cost the government money and creates jobs and we’re committed to that and the stability of the facility.”

Noting that the company made “fair concessions” to the departing staff, Giraud added that the newly appointed President and COO George Dorsey is someone who is quite familiar with the facility and its operations.

“We were using Mr. Dorsey as a consultant to assess the status of the facility as it stands. He’s not from the natural resource sector, he’s from the terminal shipping and materials sector, and we had used him to assess the status of the organization and what it’s potential was,” he explained.

“We found the work he had done was pretty exemplary so we decided to ask him if he would take over the senior position.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Mayhem around the Lougheed Way

It was the kind of television fare that seems common on Los Angeles Television but a rare occasion in Canada.

However Monday morning, Vancouver joined the big leagues of live television coverage of a in process police chase through the streets of Maple Ridge and on to some of the busiest roads in the Vancouver area.

The incident began shortly after 7 am in Maple Ridge when a driver took off in a large 5 ton truck leading the RCMP on a frantic trip through the busy streets of rush hour Vancouver, the chase was picked up by Global BC's traffic copter about twenty minutes in and came to an end shortly before eight am when the driver tried to back down the wrong lane of traffic and then ended up on a shoulder of the road at which time he abandoned the vehicle.

His run for freedom was short lived as he made a dash up the highway, only to be hit by an RCMP SUV and then taken down by the rest of the remaining officers on the scene.

During the course of his driving spree he had come close to hitting a number of cars driving down the road, hit a police car and provided for more than a few anxious moments for anyone that stumbled into his path.

CKNW news reported later in the morning that the incident began when a distraught man had challenged police to shoot him, then took off on his wild trip through the streets.

It made for an event which left the Global morning news crew to scramble to actually have to cover breaking news, as opposed to the lighter fare normally featured on that station in the morning period.

Vancouver Sun--Lougheed truck chase ends after half hour
Vancouver Province--Dramatic truck chase ends with injuries

Popular fishing derby won't take place this year!

One of the more popular of events on the North coast in the summer, the Legion Fishing Derby won't be taking place this year, the victim of a lack of volunteers as the Legion tries to rebuild its membership in the wake of the sale of the Legion hall a number of years ago.

The 36 year mainstay on the local scene will take at least a one year sabbatical as the Legion did not file the paperwork this year to hold the event with the BC Lottery Corporation, with Legion president Dorothy Millington-Jones expressing concern over the lack of interest from within the legion membership in the previous year to get things organized.

The Daily news featured details on the situation in Friday's paper.

Legion pulls the plug on big fishing derby
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Friday, May 23, 2008
Pages one and six

Fishing. It's synonymous with Prince Rupert, so it's no surprised that the Legion's Fishing Derby has been one of the most popular community events every summer.

Unfortunately, that run of 36 years as a major community event is over - at least for 2008 because there will not be a Legion Fishing Derby this year.

"It's just no volunteers," said Legion president Dorothy Millington-Jones.

"You need lots of people (to do it) and the people who did it are not attending the meetings."
When the Legion building closed its doors back in 2005, there was an underlying concern that not having an official presence - or building - within the community could cause a setback for the membership, and during the past two years, numbers at Legion meetings have dwindled.

However, the Legion Fishing Derby had still managed to hold two successful derbies in 2006 and '07, using Solly's Pub as homebase for the weigh-ins, celebration, and the awards ceremony.
Opinion seems to be divided as to whether the Solly's location was working.

"Because it's at a pub, you have to spend a pretty penny just to sit there," said Millington-Jones.
"At the Legion, you could sit around and socialize.

"At Solly's ... it was a little out of the way for some people."

But there are others who disagree. After all, in both 2006 and '07, Solly's was packed from one end to the other, as fishing derby participants waited excitedly to see if they had won, and who had snagged "the big one."

The annual grand prize of a boat or vehicle, or even just cash like in 2007, also helped create a buzz every year leading up to the event.

"People travel from all over to that derby," said Tobbi Gjelsvik, who alongside Bernie Alexander, has done much of the grunt-work for the derby.

"It shows a (Legion) presence in the community, and it should've been continued."

But at the end of the day, the main problem was whether or not the Legion had enough manpower to pull it off. When Legion meetings were happening back in the fall of 2007, members in the past who had helped organize the derby weren't attending, so Millington-Jones didn't feel comfortable applying for the required license (similar to what bingo halls and all other community functions that include some form of gambling), and didn't send in the paperwork.

"We have to apply for the license in the fall, and no one stepped forward," she said. "You apply every year for license, and it's the same with bingo and everything else."

After all, the event never really made that much money for the Legion, and in fact, barely broke even last year, according to Gjelsvik back in 2007. But because it did provide the community with an exciting event, and also gave the Legion a presence, Legion volunteers continued to get behind it.

"It was just a social function," said Millington-Jones. "We didn't make a lot of money, but even though we didn't make a lot, we didn't grumble a lot because of the social aspect."

But that manpower problem going forward relates back to the fact that the Legion currently does not have a building. The Legion has money in the account from the sale of the old building (that now houses Chances and the Convention Centre) and is still looking at possible real estate options, but that could still be years away before becoming a reality.

"It's sad," said Millington-Jones. "We'd like to get a building, and we've got real estate people looking for us.

"But the initial interest went when our building went, so they don't meet."

That said, the derby isn't officially dead, and everyone from the Legion - and probably Prince Rupert in general - is hopeful that it could make a successful return in 2009.

"The former organizers (feel) that it's something that should be continued at all possible," said Gjelsvik.

Millington-Jones added: "If they come to me and show an interest, call me. But if you don't, there's nothing we can do."

Podunkian Music Club, May 25

Katrina and the Waves, Walking on Sunshine

A string of sunny and hot days on the North coast has put a spring in many a step, the sun seekers heading for Diana Lake or out on the harbour, soaking in the normally elusive sunshine.

While the temperatures will be a little cooler, the promise of more sun this week is still in the forecast.

Perfect kind of weather for Katrina and the Waves to keep you dancing in the soon to be summer sun. Their huge hit from the eighties is still probably one of the most recognized of summer songs that there is out there...

Artist--Katrina and the Waves
Recording-- Walking on Sunshine

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Don’t give up on your shopping dreams just yet…

While it seems more like political spin than concrete evidence, Mayor Pond is keeping some of the recently doused embers of commercial development in Prince Rupert burning just a little bit, with comforting words of shopping to come.

With Royop bowing out of the shopping scene in Prince Rupert a couple of weeks ago, the city is still expressing optimism that the big name stores that have had Rupertites salivating over the last three years may still one day call Rupert home.

The Mayor outlined some of the roadblocks to the recent Royop plans over the last year, as part of a story in Friday’s Daily News. It was an article that once again brought the always topical discussion on shopping in the city to the front pages.

High cost of site preparation killed project but other stores may come
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, May 23, 2008
Pages one and three

Even though the Royop mall is no longer happening at its proposed location, the City of Prince Rupert remains optimistic that big-name stores will be opening up in the community in the future.

"The deal between BC Hydro and Royop Development Corporation was not completed and it's really the cost of land development which is the challenge, which, of course, is a Rupert reality that we understand," said Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond.

"We understand there is still a great interest from major retailers, but it has to be at a cost that makes sense to their business format. We just have to find the right sites, in the location they want, where the land development costs will make sense to their business format."

An obstacle for the national and multi-national chains is that they advertise prices of products at one price throughout Canada, and they cannot afford to have a rent situation out of line with other stores due to high development costs. Prince Rupert presents a particular challenge for development as there's a great deal of rock and muskeg that need to be removed from a site before meaningful planning and construction and can occur.

"We worked on it for almost three years, and it just isn't coming to fruition," said Melvin Foht, vice-president of development with Royop.

"We looked at two sites, mainly the BC Hydro site. Looking at the topography of the site there's a small creek we would have to remediate, there's quite a large hill, so we'd have to remove trees and then blast, and there's also some muskeg. The cost of preparing and servicing the site for somebody is higher than what potential users are willing to absorb, which is the bottom line."

The land for the proposed site is being re-zoned back to what it was prior to the development. As it will be zoned back to an Amenities Site, it will be zoned for a drive-in theatre, shooting range, marina, ski course, golf course, log booming and sorting, logging operations, quarrying and tire marshal.

Even though BC Hydro doesn't fit into those categories, they fall under what's known as 'existing non-conforming use' and are allowed to stay in that zone until such time as they cease their business.

"We're still optimistic, but we're rezoning the land back because the zoning was very specific to that [proposed] development, and obviously in the future, if somebody brings us a project on that site that matches what the community wants, we'll be quick to zone it appropriately as we have in the past," said Pond.

The public hearing for the rezoning of the land will happen at the next city council meeting. Pond said that if BC Hydro had another buyer or developer who wanted to do something with the property, the city would be excited to hear about it and work to make it a possibility. And Foht says that Royop hasn't entirely ruled out Prince Rupert as an option for development in the future.

"Prince Rupert has a great story, and your mayor has done a great job in bringing Prince Rupert forward," said Foht.

"He wants to see these stores go there, and I feel bad about not being able to deliver a site to these tenants, but it just doesn't work for them at this time."

Writer’s cramp settles in on the North Coast

Canada Post has been a winner in the last five days as a number of Prince Rupert residents take pen and paper and send in their thoughts on the City of Prince Rupert’s free passes for civic workers announcement of last week.

Since council voted in favour of the project at the last council meeting, the Daily News has found that it’s a rather hot topic and one which has sent many a Rupertite off to express indignation with a letter to the editor.

With terms like dictatorship, rotten apples and favouritism, the tone of the letters is one of concern over city council’s drift and the citizenry's percolating anger over the perks packaging for city workers.

The week of responses is provided below…

Letter to the Editor
Prince Rupert Daily Mews
Friday May 16, 2008
Page 4


To the Editor:

I was forced to write this letter to the editor as soon as I read this issue which was voted on by our city council (City staff to get free access to recreation facilities, Daily News, May 15)

City staff are to get to use the recreation centre at no charge.

I read that the city has a committee trying to make life easier for people with disabilities, people who cannot afford the luxury of swimming or taking part in any form of activity.

Then, we have the seniors who have not much left to themselves, especially if they will be faced with 4 or 5 percent tax increase.

Do the city workers not make good money next to the person who is disabled, or the senior who trying to keep up the kind of life they once knew?

I believe that once again someone is confused as to who really needs help in this community. Please think this silly move over, members of city council. Consider the people whose hands you kissed and babies you shook to get your seats.

On one good day the city workers get a fairly good contract and on the other day you raise the tax of all homeowners young or old. If this will not be thought over by council then I ask people to let their words be heard now and again in November.

Give us a chance to get ahead of the game for once, you who we voted for
Should the recreational director explain where these ideas are coming from the community?
One concerned citizen of this community

Myles Moreau

Letter to the Editor
Prince Rupert Daily Mews
Friday May 16, 2008
Page 4


To the editor,

An open letter to mayor and council.

Regarding your decision to give free access to use the recreation facilties to city employees, it just plain stinks,

With the exception of Ken Cote, I think all your brains have dropped to your feet.

I stood by while you gave free passes to RCMP and firefighters, but this is just plain nonsense now to include city workers.

I am sure the RCMP, firefighters and city workers all make a very good wage to be able to afford the use of the facilities.

By the way didn’t city workers just get a three per cent raise?

It was not long ago that you talked about cutbacks on hours, staff, etc because it was not making enough to keep things going.

As for your reasoning, that it would keep WCB rates down, I’m quite sure those same people would not use the facility if they didn’t before.

And while we’re at it, there are a lot of working people out there that have children that are having a struggle to make ends meet that pay to use the facility and don’t make near what the RCMP, firefighters and city workers make, so let’s use some common sense and have everyone pay (user pay).

The only ones that should be exempt are seniors and supported documentation for health reasons.

This really looks like a rotten apple in my hand when I think my taxes are going up so that the city workers, RCMP and firefighters can have free access to the recreation department,

Thanks for letting me have my say.

Jenny Mclean

Letter to the Editor
Prince Rupert Daily Mews
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Page 4


To the Editor,

As a recently retired couple on limited income, we spend an average about $1,000 per year on the Earl Mah aquatic facilities. We do so in order to maintain a healthy level of physical fitness.

We have also contributed to the local economy through the payment of property taxes during the past 20 years.

We are appalled by the city’s recent decision to provide aquatic and other recreational services to its well-paid employees free of charge. Even more outrageous is the likelihood of the extra cost for these unnecessary perks being offset against the recent increase in property taxes.

Clearly, this situation is tantamount to an abuse of power. Unlike a dictatorship, where favouritism reigns supreme, this sort of thing is just not supposed to happen in a free and democratic Canada.

We only hope that those members of city council who voted in favour of this misguided high-handed decision will face reality, reconsider, and allow the principle of fairness to prevail.

Mike and Lynn Carr-Harris

Letter to the Editor
Prince Rupert Daily Mews
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Page 4


To the editor,

Our thanks to Ken Cote for being the only person to arrive at last week’s council meeting with his heart and his brain. We appreciate his attempts to stand up for the taxpayers of Prince Rupert.

It is just a few months since city council raised fees at the pool and only one short week since a 4 per cent increase was announced for city taxpayers and yet, last week, suddenly the city was rich enough to give all city employees free access to recreation facilities.

It wasn’t too long ago city council announced free use of recreation facilities for policemen and firefighters and there was a huge outcry from citizens against this idea and now once again, city council has chosen to ignore the people who voted them in.

Mayor Pond keeps telling us all about the financial woes of Prince Rupert and if that is truly the case, then we should be tightening our belts, spending less and looking for ways to increase revenue, not giving more away.

How do you ask taxpayers to pay more to use recreation facilities, pay more in taxes and then designate an “elite group” that doesn’t have to pay to use recreational facilities. What a slap in the face that is to all the taxpayers of Prince Rupert! As regular users of the pool, we feel that if anyone is given a break it should be seniors, people using the pool for therapeutic purposes and children whose parents could not afford to send them without help, not people working and earning a good way.

Yours Truly,

Judy Fraser
Judy Levelton
Edie Rothenberger
Tove McLean

After five years Port Edward finally faces a tax hike

It’s been a pretty rewarding five years to be tax payer in Port Edward, in that time span the District’s government has held the line on tax increases refusing to pass along the cost of the district’s operations to its tax base.

However, all good things they say will come to an end and so it is with the string of years of no increases. With this years budget, Port Ed residents will be looking at a slight increase on this year’s tax bill.

Five per cent is the operating number that Port Ed council has agreed on, the details of which could be found in Thursday’s Daily News.

Port Ed residents to pay a little more
Property taxes are set to rise slightly for first time in more than five years
By Patrick Witwicki
The Daily News
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Pages one and three

For the first time in more than five years, Port Edward residents will see a slight increase in their taxes this year.

The district of Port Edward approved the final reading of its five year financial plan, which included the tax-rate on homes and businesses.

Despite the difficulty of the area’s economy during the past decade, including the loss of revenue from the defunct Skeena Cellulose pulp mill, the District of Port Edward had managed to tow the line, aware that their residents would be in just as much difficulty as the rest of the region.

But council finally had to take action this year, and while they haven’t proposed a percentage increase on residential taxes, they have left the mill rate alone, meaning the majority of Port Edward residents will see a small increase on what they owe in taxes this year.

“It’s unchanged from last year,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ron Bedard. “So (at 5.0 per cent) that’s $5 per every thousand dollars.”

The majority of homes in Port Edward have also seen an increase in their assessed value, so that will also cause taxes to increase. But unlike the city of Prince Rupert that tacked on an additional four percent for the 2008 taxation year, Port Edward will remain with the same rate as of 2007, aside from the mill rate.

According to the letter that Mayor Dave MacDonald sent to all of the Port Edward residents on April 23, by using the current mill rate, the budget is calling for an additional municipal tax contribution from the average home of $100.

“As a council, we are concerned about increasing taxes, but we cannot hold the status quo any longer,” said MacDonald.

The five-year financial plan report stated that the district has budgeted on a predicted revenue of $2,300,444 while the district believes expenditures will wind up being $2,238,431. that leaves a potential surplus of $61.613.

Budget shortfall means wide ranging job cuts at School District 52

With 2 million dollars no longer in the Prince Rupert School District budget, job losses are on the horizon at SD 52.

It’s anticipated that job reductions will be implement across the system from teaching to support, as well as administration and management staff.

Faced with declining enrollment, collective agreement arrangements, an elimination of the previous surplus and a reduction in funding from Victoria, the local School district is left to face perhaps one of its most dire of circumstances in many years.

The Daily News featured the latest developments in Thursday’s paper with a front page story.

Needing to save cash, jobs are top of the list of items to cut says district
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Pages one and two

With decreased funding and budget challenges, School District 52 will be removing nearly $2 million from its spending on wages, benefits, service and supplies during the 2008-09 fiscal year.

School District 52 Secretary-Treasurer Kim Morris sent out a press release to local media this week that confirmed the district will experience a serious budget shortfall for the upcoming school year, as it attempts to build a budget with only 95 per cent of the previous year’s funding.

“Since all school district’s wages and benefits consume anywhere between 80 per cent to 95 per cent of a school district’s budget, the cuts will be made heavily to wages, and in fact jobs,” said Morris’ report.

“There is some natural reduction in work force as a result of declining enrollment but not enough to nearly cover the shortfall.

“School closure savings have been committed to enhance programs and will not be included in the district’s plant to meet its budget shortfall,”

The district’s workforce will be reduced at all employee group levels,, including teaching, support, administration and management staff, and will affect the local International Union of Operating Engineers, Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union, the Prince Rupert Principal’s Association and exempt staff at the board office.

The situation is one that School District 52 has not had to deal with before, a result of declining enrollment, collective agreement increases, surplus elimination and funding shortfalls.

Although SD52 receives the same $25,209,564 Operating Grant for 2008-09 as it did this year, after removing the $3,026,459 Labour Settlement Grant from the equation, the district is working with less money to accomplish its goals than in the past and is not receiving “funding protection” on 99 per cent of last year’s budget.

What SD52 will be working to accomplish during the coming months is the balancing of the 2007-08 budget, reducing the effect of cuts on students in classrooms, looking for additional efficiency, continuing with plans for the alternate education program, and starting to project the possible shortfall for 2009-10.

Senior management is encouraging all interested parties to attend the next Advisory Budget Committee meeting on Wed, May 28, which will be held at the Meeting Place across the street from the school board office.

The ABC meeting agenda and supporting documentation is available at the school board office beginning today, Thurs. May 22.

Anyone wishing to view other pertinent information, such as operating grants, budget instructions and other school districts’ funding can visit

Friday, May 23, 2008

Second time is the charm for Conrad Elementary School

Persistence and a love of books has paid off for the entire school community at Conrad elementary, as the east side school is about to benefit from three large grants to help increase literature programs at the school.

Conrad was advised of their successful bid, by Heather Resiman the CEO of Indigo and one of key organizers of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, who had encouraged the school to try again this year after an unsuccessful attempt a year ago.

As only one of two schools in the province to be successful in the nation wide competition, Conrad will receive 51,000 dollars over three years to help promote and develop literacy programs at the school.

250 schools across Canada made their presentations to the Foundation, with Conrad providing a determination that caught the eyes of those making the tough decisions for this year’s campaign.

The Daily News featured their remarkable achievement with a front page story in Wednesday’s paper.

The population of Conrad works hard to land big grant to boost literacy levels
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Pages one and three

Thanks to the dedication of the entire school community, students at Conrad Elementary School are poised to reach new academic heights in the next few years.

It was announced recently that Conrad was one of 20 high-needs schools across Canada that will receive large three-year literacy grants from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. And after hearing just how much time and effort was put into the application process by Conrad staff, students and parents, most people will likely not be surprised that the school was selected from a list of 250 schools that applied this year.

One of only two schools in British Columbia to receive the grant, Conrad will be receiving $17,000 each year for the next three years for a total of $51,000 in funding aimed at facilitating literacy initiatives.

Conrad Principal Marcy VanKoughnett and several teachers worked on the application for the Love of Reading grant last year, and although they were unsuccessful, the foundation encouraged them to reapply this year.

“When we started again this year, realizing that it was quite a big application process, we put it forth to the staff to see if there were more people who wanted to help, and there were,” said VanKoughnett. “It’s quite an involved application and the staff agreed they wanted to do it, so we had a working committee with different roles for each person working on it.”

From December 2007 until February 2008, volunteering teachers collected necessary information for the application. They were required to explain why they were a high-needs school, what literacy projects already existed in the school, and more. In addition to the indepth 20-page application the team put together, they also created a DVD with video clips of teachers, students and parents speaking about the school.

“The DVD is about 10 minutes long, which we also sent with our application,” said VanKoughnett.

“We figured out that we needed to make our application memorable, something they would open up and say ‘Wow, they’ve done a lot of work and isn’t this unique.”
Another Conrad teacher had the idea of submitting the application in the form of a Bentwood Box, a traditional First Nations art piece in which a single plank of wood is grooved and bent with heat and moisture to form a four sided shape. The box has many purposes, and in the story Txamsm Brings Light to the World, the Bentwood Box contained the moon that was then released to provide light in a world that was in darkness.”

“The idea was that by opening our Bentwood Box, they would be giving light to all the children at Conrad School and giving them their future – that being books,” said VanKoughnett.

The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation recently announced $1.5 million in funding for the next three years, and is excited about providing another round of funding to schools with high literacy needs.

The foundation followed up with past participating schools, and said they have shown dramatic changes in the reading skills of students, including a marked increase in students’ achieving the provincial standard.

“The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation focuses attention on Canada’s most valuable resource, our children,” said Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books and Music Inc.

“By providing schools with funding for books, we are, in a small way, helping to brighten the future of young children and mitigate the literacy crisis in Canada. In addition to our direct work with schools, we remain committed to encouraging provincial governments across Canada to follow the Ontario Government’s lead to invest more boldly in school libraries and librarians.”

VanKoughnett said the successful application would not have been possible without the participation and dedication of the school staff, students, parents and even grandparents, school board trustees and North Coast MLA Gary Coons.
She said that while they are still working on the exact details of how the money will be spent, 90 per cent of the $51,000 total will be specifically for books in Conrad School.