Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve to our Podunkian followers

May you have an enjoyable evening amongst friends and or family and that you let go of the ghosts of 2009 and embrace the possibilities of a turn of the calendar and a brand new year.

Enjoy and stay safe as we usher out the last of the 365 days of 2009 and welcome in the new year.

May 2010 be a great year for all ye who wander by our little ole portal...







Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, December 31, 2009

Word from Canpotex but not what the locals wanted to hear, The Royal bank in Prince Rupert turns 100 first and the city offers up some new guidelines for development in 2010, some of the highlights of the news cycle on the final day of 2009.

Daily News, front page, headline story
No official word on Canpotex for Rupert as of yet -- The latest twist in the Canpotex saga, with the Saskatchewan based potash company apparently putting off any decisions on terminal construction and location for sometime in 2010.

The Royal Bank, like the City of Prince Rupert is set to celebrate a centennial. The Daily News highlights the one hundred year observations of the city's original financial citizen.

New development guidelines are set to be presented to council, when they return to work on the 11th of January. That as City Planner Zena Krekic provides a new path for local residents and business operators to work with for the new year.

The Sports section looks back at the Prince Rupert sports scene for 2009

(Archive for Daily News Articles for December 31, 2009 )

The Northern View
Canpotex decision delayed further -- A short review of the delayed decision on where Canpotex will locate its export facilities on the west coast. (see article here)

Canpotex announcement delayed -- CFTK TV offers up its interpretation of the events regarding Canpotex and its putting off until the future of a decision on a shipment terminal for British Columbia (see article here)
New Years Eve Revellers Warned to Be Careful -- The usual warnings to exercise caution over the New year's eve period are reviewed by CFTK (see article here)

CBC News Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
Daybreak is on Christmas break, a notice on their website advises that no new items are to be posted to their Daybreak site until January 4, 2010

Daily News, front page, headline story
No official word on Canpotex for Rupert as of yet
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Canpotex headquarters in Saskatoon confirmed Wednesday that there is no statement pending this week on the status of the Prince Rupert potash export terminal proposal, and no date has been set for the release of a statement.

Earlier the company had announced it would make a decision by the end of December 2009.
Internal discussions on the proposal are ongoing, said a spokesperson for Canpotex, meaning communities on the North Coast are going to have to wait to learn if Prince Rupert will be selected over Vancouver for a Potash Export Terminal.

According to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry, if Ridley Island is chosen for the potash terminal, Canpotex will develop a deepwater marine wharf, access trestle and all-weather ship loading facility capable of receiving a 180,000 (approximate) dead weight tonne (DWT) vessel.

“In addition there would be a 120,000 (approximate) tonne potash storage shed with associated conveyor and dust collection systems; - an automated railcar unloading and conveyor system; - a settlement pond for storm water and wash down water; - administration, personnel, maintenance, and storage buildings; - site services including water supply, natural gas and sewage,” states the agency website.

At a public information session held on September 22, people from Prince Rupert and the outlying communities almost filled the 700-seat Lester Centre of the Arts to hear about the proposal and show their support.

Vice President of Planning and Development of Canpotex Jon Somers told the crowd that evening he appreciated the time and effort the people of the North Coast communities has shown.

“We’re here to ask if we should go ahead with Prince Rupert,” Somers said.
Dave van Rensburg, engineer with Hatch Mott MacDonald, confirmed there would be 250 to 300 direct construction jobs for a two to three year period, and an additional 80 to 100 permanent jobs through transport and housing.

But back in September Somers warned if Prince Rupert was chosen there could be delays because of the world’s economic situation.

Canpotex has been working with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and CN over the past two years on determining the suitability of the Port of Prince Rupert for a new greenfield terminal development to support the expansion of its West coast export capacity.

It's the economy (Deccember 31, 2009)

What other pops are to come after the final champagne bottle of New Years Eve is opened, are you ready for Spidey Mouse?, and a mighty wind blows from China, some of the items of note for Thursday, the last day of 2009.

Globe and Mail-- The Lost Decade
Globe and Mail-- Swords already drawn over Mackenzie report
Globe and Mail-- Five bubbles set to burst in 2010
National Post-- Bombardier wins Spanish rail contract
National Post-- Canada pipeline report may help unlock federal funds
National Post-- Liquidation World takes loss as turnaround continues
New York Times-- In Spain, a Soaring Jobless Rate for Young Workers
New York Times-- Asia Free-Trade Zone Raises Hopes, and Some Fears About China
New York Times-- Sparking a Savings Revolution
USA Today-- Stocks post biggest rebound in 2009 since Great Depression
USA Today-- North Korea bans foreign currencies
USA Today-- Marvel shareholders approve acquisition by Disney
Guardian UK online-- Iceland passes bill to repay Icesave losses to Britain and Netherlands
Guardian UK online-- Housing market's 2009 rebound caps record decade for prices – Nationwide
Guardian UK online-- Taxpayers make £26bn loss on stakes in Lloyds Banking Group and RBS
Times Online UK-- Banks tipped to boost mortgages in early 2010
Times Online UK-- Labour sees a City without honour
Times Online UK-- First post-Christmas retail collapse threatens 800 jobs at d2 Jeans
Telegraph UK online-- The economic 'experts' who stopped making sense
Telegraph UK online-- Is the emerging markets party over?
Telegraph UK online-- Miners lead the charge as FTSE 100 rises 22pc in 2009
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Japan Air Lines crisis deepens
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Shine could come off gold next year
Brisbane Times-- Lobbying culture a threat to financial stability: report
Brisbane Times-- Credit growth falls to 17-year low as business takes stock
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- How your life changes from tomorrow
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Crisis deepens for Japan Airlines
People's Daily on line-- Chinese govt to continue curbing coal chemical industry
People's Daily on line-- Foreign companies eye China's e-book market
China Daily-- China protests US duties on oil pipe imports
China Daily-- China to become world's 3rd largest wind power producer
China Daily-- Media praise China's contribution to climate talks
The Times of India-- States may get higher tax share
The Times of India-- No immediate withdrawal of stimulus: FM
The Times of India-- Great decade, but what after Ratan says tata?

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An update on the Sophia Z, the Chamber of Commerce looks for excellence and New years Day is a good day for a run and a dip, some of the items of note for the Wednesday news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
FIXING THE PROPELLER - THE STATUS OF THE SOPHIA Z-- The vessel has been tied up alongside the Northland Cruise Ship Terminal dock since the wind storm of earlier this month, the Daily News offers up an update on the progress of repairs to the Sophia Z.

The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce is seeking out nominations once again as they prepare to honour those businesses and personalities who have achieved Business excellence in our community. The Deadline for nominations is January 8th at 5pm, the winners of Awards this year will be feted at a gala celebration on February 27, 2009 at the North Coast Meeting and Convention Centre (which we assume is the gathering hall at Chances).

Prince Rupert's annual New Year tradition the polar bear swim is set for Friday, the annual gathering of the very hearty (or perhaps very foolish) will take place at Rushbrook Floats at 1pm, the truly inspired can also partake in a New Years Day run along the waterfront hosted by the Rupert Runners, start time for that event is at noon at the foot of George Hills Way.

The Sports section features a review of the Blue Knuckle Derby as well as continuing on with the review of sports for 2009

(Archive for Daily News Articles for December 30, 2009 )

The Northern View
No items posted for December 30th on the Northern View website

No items posted for December 30th on the CFTK website

CBC News Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
Daybreak is on Christmas break, a notice on their website advises that no new items are to be posted to their Daybreak site until January 4, 2010

Daily News, front page, headline story
Fixing the propeller — the status of Sophia Z
Grain Ship should be ready for sea by first week in January
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Thursday December 30, 2009

After going aground briefly near Prince Rupert Grain on Dec. 18, the grain vessel Sophia Z has been at berth at Northland Dock in Prince Rupert since Dec. 20 for repairs to its propeller and on the inside both mid-ship and back in the engine area.

Richard Snow, diving supervisor with All-Seas Enterprises Ltd. out of North Vancouver — the company in charge of the repairs — said Tuesday afternoon the propeller has been fixed and the rest of the repairs should be completed by the first week in January.

“One blade of the propeller had a significant bend and the others had a couple of impact damages we had to cut out so there would be no mass imbalances. If we didn’t adjust the blades that could cause major vibration and could damage bearings and machinery,” Snow explained.

The repair job to the propeller involved two divers and a full day, and was all conducted underwater. Using a special tool, of which there are only five in the world, the divers were able to straighten out the bent propeller.

“It’s a very exclusive process and the tool we use was specially designed for us and our sister company, Subsea Solutions Alliance. We don’t let anyone see it and while it was here we had a big cover over the area where the divers were working so the crane operator couldn’t even see it,” said Snow, adding that there are only five copies of the tool in the world.

All-Seas owns three and its sister company owns the other two. The companies worked with a designer approximately seven years ago to come up with a prototype.
For the next stage in the repairs, workers will be putting sealed boxes outside the ship so that there is no water directly against the hull so that welding repairs can be done on the inside of the vessel.

The boxes will insulate the ocean side so the welds can be done properly and ultrasonic testing conducted afterwards, Snow noted.

As reported initially on Dec. 21 by the Daily News, there was no fuel leaking from the vessel or water getting in after it ran aground, but there had been some internal structure damage determined at that time that needed to be repaired.
Pointing to the ship Snow explained that its draft is at 3.6 m, which has made it easier to repair. Normally, he added, ships draft typically at 7.4 m.

Throughout the repair project Snow’s company has received help locally from Wainwright Marine Service, Certified Welding & Machining and Adams Diving and Marine Services Ltd.

“We’ve had lots of local support and been lucky to have so many skilled people in town,” Snow commented.

The Sophia Z, a 190 metre, 57,000 tonne bulk vessel with a crew of 21, is newly built and on its maiden voyage, having departed from China and scheduled to depart to Bangladesh.

Canpotex Decision delayed

The much anticipated decision of Canpotex regarding its plans for the placement of a shipment terminal, will have to remain as a much anticipated result for the foreseeable future.
The Northern View and CFTK TV 7 (with the Daily News providing some background from a conversation yesterday)are reporting that the Saskatchewan based company is going to leave the north coast up in the air for a little bit longer, with no definitive date planned for any decision.
Canpotex was to decide by the end of 2009 as whether to build a new facility on Ridley Island or consolidate with further expansion at its North Vancouver location, the company recently added capacity to that North Vancouver terminal earlier this fall.

As we have outlined on this blog in the past, the potash market has been hit hard by the global recession, with the company finding that its financial picture had been rocked a fair bit in the last quarter with a significant loss reported and with that Canpotex recently laid off a number of employees throughout its system to address those financial concerns.

All no doubt contributing to the statement of today announcing that they have no decision to provide as of yet.

Well that's gratitude for you!

News Item: A T and T drops Tiger Woods as a sponsor.

"We are ending our sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods and wish him well in the future," -- A rather succinct statement issued today from A T and T ending their affiliation with Tiger Woods.

Now we understand that some companies may have a problem with the current personal travails of the Tiger and may wish to take a break from their affiliation with him, especially those American companies that may espouse the cause of family togetherness and all of those heart warming chestnuts of American life.
So today, A T and T is joining that growing list, as the latest in corporate America to drop him from their roster of high profile public personalities that are affiliated with large American companies, apparently deciding that Tiger's Five (or more) isn't something that they should be connected to.

But really, considering the reported amount of late night calling and text messaging that Tiger has taken part in over the last number of years, you would think that AT and T would remain just a little more loyal, after all we would think with Tiger's proclivity with text messaging and phoning, that he certainly helped their bottom line on communication requirements alone over the last few years!

Victor Kumar remembers those heady days on the North Coast

"Prince Rupert, while I was there, was practically broke." -- Former Prince Rupert City Manager Victor Kumar, outlining some of the past highlights of his times for the Rossland Telegraph.

Hey Victor, thanks for the shout out, but you know, we're still almost broke!

Ah, yes a much discussed name from our Podunkian past has been profiled in a year end article for Rossland Telegraph newspaper, that as he completes his first month on the job as City Manager in Rossland, BC.

In the background piece, Mr. Kumar touches on those three years spent in the Northwest, buffing up his resume a bit, with some remembrances of his efforts while steering the good ship Prince Rupert through municipal governance.

Among some of the more interesting quotes from his self explained review, are his thoughts on some still topical talking points in his former stop on the municipal government merry go round:

On the topic of taxes:

Everyone says residential taxes are high. Rossland does not have the industrial tax base. I’ve had that in Grand Forks and Prince Rupert and in Trail it’s huge.

On how to provide for other revenue streams for a city:

Prince Rupert, while I was there, was practically broke. They were in debt and spent their taxes that were then not collectable so it caused a lot of changes. Before I left, I acquired them a big cable company and consolidated it into a utility company that runs telephone and cable company and Internet from Houston BC to Prince Rupert. That gave them a substantial revenue other than property taxes.

On the the difference in values from community to community:

As I travel around the province I find a different sense of values all over the place. I believe Nelson and Rossland are about the same on values. In different ways, yes, but the same values, I think, whereas Prince Rupert and Grand Forks had very different value systems. Up north, it’s a different value system than in the West Kootenays.

On how democracy works:

I’m much more people-oriented and much more participatory. I want to make sure that democracy works. It’s a process that you have to take into account. This is a process-oriented local government. You have to pay particular attention to how the process works so that everybody has their say.

On what he hopes to achieve for Rossland:

No, I think you covered it very well. I just would like to say that I hope I can be as successful here as I have been in other communities in the past, and I look forward to the challenge.

Of the snapshot above, Rupertites will no doubt find the CityWest expansion topic of interest, a still controversial move to this day, which can get the local blood pressure to rising in a pretty quick order.
Likewise, his thoughts on community values and participatory democracy will surely stir the memories of locals as well, especially those that perhaps found themselves sitting across the bargaining table, or inquiring at City Hall about some aspect of civic governance during those tumultuous three years.

In the Rossland piece, there is the hint of some of those potential discussions to come for Rossland residents, that as Andrew Zwicker inquired about a few recent interactions at Rossland City Hall.

One thing I learned this week in contacting city staff for information on a few stories is they mentioned a new policy whereby they can’t speak freely to the media without your consent. Can you clarify that policy?

Can you explain some of your reasoning behind the officer/delegation bylaws passed on December 14th that seem to give the CAO more power to make decisions without involving council, the people's representatives?

Ah yes, everything old really is new again, now isn't it!

The full interview can be reviewed from the Rossland Telegraph site, I'm sure that many citizens will find it a fascinating look and interpretation of his time on the North Coast which came to an end in August of 2006 (though he remained on the payroll until October of that year).

Those were three years which were marked by a fair bit of turmoil and controversy, though that perhaps is a topic for another Rossland review eh?

Mr. Harper takes a winter vacation

With the exception of the odd photo op at the Olympics, we suspect we won't be seeing much of Prime Minister Harper, as the Conservative government opts for the prorogue strategy of governance once again. A course of political action that seems to represent the ages old trick of running out the political clock on troublesome topics, or as Mr. Harper the would be hockey author might put it, ragging the puck until the final whistle.

Was it only a year ago that we were playing out the drama of the would be opposition usurpers seeking to relieve Mr. Harper of his duties? A less than well thought out plan that tumbled no shortage of dominoes on the opposition side, most directly that being of the employment status of former Liberal leader Stephane Dion, who went from hopeful PM, to backbench MP in the twinkle of an Iggy eye.

At that time Mr. Harper had sought out the counsel (or was that badgered) the Governor General to bring an end to the folly of the opposition's plans of a coalition government and to prorogue Parliament until things settled down and (the Liberal feuding could break out in strength.)

It at the time proved to be a successful course for Prime Minister Harper, who last fall had come quite close to returning the Conservatives to the days of aiming for the feet with both barrels and blasting away.

While the nation turned 2008 into 2009 and the economy continued on along its treacherous path, the Governor General ruminated a bit and in the end decided that a change of government wasn't in the cards, nor it seems would be another unwanted election for 2009.

With his grasp on the government tiller still strong, Mr. Harper managed to run a fairly solid little bit of governance over the rest of 2009, while offering nothing of the earth shattering variety, his government did seem to negotiate the rigours of the recession fairly well and for the most part never seemed to tempt fate with the would be electorate. As far as minority governments go, 2009 was about as stable as things could get.

The Conservartives wandered through the last year, never shooting too high above the polling numbers of the last few years, but neither falling into a tailspin to offer comfort to the opposition that victory may be at hand.
In fact, with Jack Layton suddenly finding he was onside with the Conservatives through the fall and the Liberals continuing to struggle to find a message or a resonance with the public under their new leader Michael Ignatieff, it seemed as though the Prime Minister had found the right balance to keeping the keys to 24 Sussex for a little while longer.

So it's a tad surprising to find that the Conservatives, seemingly still on that happy track of governance, apparently don't want to have much to do with the actual workings of Parliament until after we snuff out the Olympic flame for the last time and count our hopeful bounty of medals.

The move to put aside the public debate and accountability of Parliament doesn't do much to enhance the Prime Minister's reputation. Already suspect with many, he now has decided that the floating middle of Canadian politics won't mind if the normal course of discussion, debate and legislation takes a holiday.

A choice that could prove to provide more trouble than facing up to any potential issues might. The upcoming session of January was going to deal with the Afghan detainee question, as well as the Environment file, two areas where the Conservatives aren't strong, but one where the public isn't particularly engaged with too much either.

With Canadian soldiers fighting and dying in the Afghan scrub lands, the debate over the handling of Taliban combatants more than likely wouldn't have been a high value debate for the Liberals or NDP. Though further discussion of the actual Afghan mission and Canada's involvement in it would certainly be a welcome talking point for Parliament to spend some time on.

Likewise, while Canadians are a few steps to the left of the Conservatives when it comes to environmental policy, the prospect of laying waste to Alberta's energy sector in the goal of complicated carbon credit trading schedules and other idealistic schemes probably in the end won't find wide acceptance, a project that is not only a hard sell, but a divisive one for the nation.

On both of those items that were on the board for late January, the Conservatives could probably have run out the Parliamentary clock with endless discussion in committee, taking that governance train right up to the March budget, where once again we'd probably see some voter friendly incentives to offer up some kind of suggestion that there is a plan and we all can share in it .

Instead, they have once again provided the opposition with a fair amount of ammunition to pound away with over the next three months. Each day highlighting how the Conservatives who so clamored a year ago, about democracy; deploring the unusual plan to wrest power than came from the coalition's efforts and frequently repeated the mantra of the theme of letting the people decide the fate of the government; will now turn away from the actual process of participation by the elected officials of the people and instead seem content to run the nation on an order in council basis until the winter sideshow of Vancouver is out of the way.

The Conservative plan is a puzzling bit of political theatre, which does shine a light on the fact that for the most part, this past Parliamentary session offered up little in the way of effective legislation, nor any grand ideals from the governing party that there is a bigger picture for us(though the opposition are just as much to blame when it comes to the bankruptcy of forward thinking).
And now apparently so drained of ideas or solutions it appears that they would just rather shut the whole thing down for a while.

Instead of an engaged, energetic debate and/or defence of the issues, we now will watch as a government decides that the trappings of power, are apparently more important than the actual process of exercising that power in an accountable and open way.

It was wrong when the Liberals of old used the same conventions to run their political agendas, for many it was wrong last fall when the coalition trio sought for their un-endorsed grab for the reins of power, and it's wrong again when it's the Conservatives who use the same kind of tactics.
In the end, avoiding the democratic mechanisms that Parliament provides can surely only cast suspicion on the governing party. If the Conservatives want to be the government, then they should accept the process that Parliament offers to that office.

The long cherished goal of Stephen Harper and his government has been the quest for majority status in Ottawa, however taking the elected body of Parliament out of the picture for three months probably isn't going to help in that cause too much.
As far as this sudden streak of New Year's Eve resolutions to prorogue Parliament goes, perhaps it's one resolution that the Conservatives best try to break.
Globe and Mail-- Proroguing Parliament – a travesty, yet clever
Globe and Mail-- Harper to shut down Parliament
Globe and Mail-- Democracy diminished, accountability avoided
National Post-- John Ivison: Stephen Harper, renegade in power
National Post-- Stephen Taylor: The case for prorogation
National Post-- Jeff Jedras: Harper prorogues, world goes on
Maclean's-- The Short Parliament
Toronto Star-- Prorogation's upside
Toronto Star-- PM suspends Parliament
Toronto Star-- Siddiqui: Harper acting like an elected dictator
Toronto Star-- Prime Minister vs. Parliament
CTV News-- Tories plan new session of Parliament, to begin Mar. 3
CBC-- PM seeks Parliament shutdown until March
CBC-- Parliament prorogued: Necessary move or undemocratic?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's the economy (December 30, 2009)

China stakes a claim to Canadian minerals, Fox Television plays hardball with football against American cable companies, and India looks back at the decade which may have secured it's place this century, some of the items of note for Wednesday.

Globe and Mail-- Mackenzie pipeline gets a boost
Globe and Mail-- Scotiabank boosts stake in Chinese bank
Globe and Mail-- GMAC handed $3.8-billion in new aid
National Post-- Meet the new monarchs of mining
National Post-- Canadian banks not bulletproof, just lucky
National Post-- Review panel backs Mackenzie Valley pipeline
New York Times-- Heart-Stopping Fall, Breathtaking Rally
New York Times-- With Greece Teetering, the Worst May Not Be Over for Europe
New York Times-- GMAC Gets $3.8 Billion More in Aid
USA Today-- U.S. placing new duties on steel from China
USA Today-- Laid-off executives struggle to find any kind of job
USA Today-- Football, 'Simpsons' at risk as Fox, Time Warner Cable dispute builds
Guardian UK online-- Japan Airlines shares plunge to new low amid bankruptcy rumours
Guardian UK online-- Homebuyers rush to beat increase in stamp duty
Guardian UK online-- GM gives Saab a last-minute reprieve
Times Online UK-- House prices rise 0.9% in November
Times Online UK-- Japan pledges to end economic spiral
Times Online UK-- Borrowers focus on reducing home loans, sharpening fears for recovery
Times Online UK-- Where next for the soaring price of gold?
Telegraph UK online-- Eurozone credit contraction accelerates
Telegraph UK online-- Printing money is a game with potentially dangerous results
Telegraph UK online-- China and South East Asia create huge free trade zone
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Nufarm finds right formula
Melbourne Herald Sun-- ETS compo to households disputed
Brisbane Times-- Bank on big changes at Australia Post
Brisbane Times-- Caught in the banks' sticky web
Brisbane Times-- Judge warns on changes to competition
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Bureaucrats pocket $36m in bonuses despite crisis
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Aussie dollar to be worth $US1 in 2010
People's Daily on line-- China's CPI may grow 1.5% in December
People's Daily on line-- HK's retail sales value grows 12% in November
China Daily-- Chinese Vice Premier urges improving people's livelihood
China Daily-- Mainland procurement of Taiwan products reaches $14 billion
China Daily-- China Eastern expands fleet size
The Times of India-- India's decade could pave way for an Indian century: Wall Street Journal
The Times of India-- Economy to grow 7.5%: Rangarajan
The Times of India-- 13th Finance Commission report to be reflected in Budget: FM

Podunk Below the Masthead, Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The School District isn't keen on an Ontario initiative, a relatively calm Christmas for the RCMP and the year in review from the Northern View, some of the items of note for the Tuesday news cycle.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE, SAYS SCHOOL DISTRICT 52 -- Changes in the marking system for educational achievement in Ontario are apparently not something that local educators and administrators are in any hurry to explore. The Ontario plan, set to begin in the fall will see only two measurements of progress taken during the school year, as opposed to the traditional three. With the fall assessment, the first glimpse of the school year apparently destined for the history books. It's a study that local teachers and school officials aren't too interested in, prefering to stay with the three times a year progress reports, so as to better inform parents as to the progress of their children in the school system.

Things were relatively calm on the police ledgers for the holiday period of December 24 to 28, with only 106 calls received by Prince Rupert RCMP requesting assistance. As the reporting period came to an end, there were six locals in the hospitality care of the Crown five for drunk in public charges while one other was in breach of conduct.

And this Christmas was one for the record books, well the recorded history books at any rate. Christmas Day was the warmenst one on record since the Airport first began keeping records back in 1962 with the high on the 25th recorded as 12.4 degrees, besting the previous record of 11.9 degrees from 1999. Our blast of warm air was carried from the sub tropics north of Hawaii, a linger air mass which while not topping the plus ten range will still provide for warmer than usual conditions into the New Year.

The Sports section featured a review of the sports highlights for 2009.

(Archive for Daily News Articles for December 29, 2009)

The Northern View

The Year in Review-- A look back at some of the items of note for 2009
January, 2009
February, 2009
March, 2009
April, 2009
May, 2009
June, 2009
July, 2009
August, 2009
September, 2009
October, 2009
November, 2009
December, 2009

No new items were posted on the Northern View website for December 29.

CBC News Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
Daybreak is on Christmas break, a notice on their website advises that no new items are to be posted to their Daybreak site until January 4, 2010

Daily News, front page, headline story

Less is not necessarily more, says School District 52
School District 52 isn’t sure whether Ontario’s mantra is the way to go
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

As the Ontario government looks to reform the way student achievement is reported in the fall, School District 52 board members and members of the Prince Rupert District Parental Advisory Council are not sure if it’s the best way to go for B.C.

It’s a trend happening across the country as school board and education ministries have a hard look at whether or not marks in the fall are really helpful in measuring students academic success.

Ontario will be the first region in Canada to issue two, as opposed to the unofficial standard of three, graded elementary school report cards.

The change, which will make the province the only one in Canada to grade all elementary students just twice a year, is the latest evidence of a growing backlash against marking children early, often and on a rigid scale of letters or numbers.

But Prince Rupert DPAC vice-chair Kim Nicholls, speaking on behalf of the DPAC board, said that their parents would still want some sort of measurement during the fall.
“Communication between families and schools is an important piece of a child’s education,” responded Nicholls in an email.

“Families need to know how their child is doing in relation to the learning outcomes for their grade. How that information is shared is not as important as the fact that it is shared. We know that not every family is able to attend parent teacher interviews.”

Student achievement has been of some focus in the City after it was reported that Kindergarten children are falling behind on basic skills during the fall-half of the school year.

However, students in that grade appeared to be improving over the school year and made substantial improvement by the spring tests.

Local Kindergarten teacher Joanna Larsen said what Ontario is doing is trying to reform the way schools look at measuring students in the first few months of the school year.

“What is interesting to me, is we are doing the complete opposite in B.C.,” said Larsen.

She said when she first moved to the province a decade ago the primary students were receiving qualitative reports, meaning using anecdotal evidence about how each student has improved.
Changing to a standardized reporting format from that qualitative approach has put B.C in the backseat again, according to Larsen.

“Teachers in B.C. find far more value in the qualitative reporting,” said Larsen.

There has also been no talk between DPAC members or the School Board about what Ontario has done.

And SD 52 is not at this time contemplating a change.

But it still gave the board chair food for thought

“Students have lost some of the retention over the summer and they spend a lot of the summer trying to catch up with whatever they haven’t learned or not retained from the spring. Is that the best use of time?

“I think the real smart people, not me, are trying to figure that out,” said School Board chair Tina Last.

Ontario is not the first province to seriously consider how students are measured throughout the school year.

Three schools in Edmonton have replaced their fall report cards with “student-led” parent-teacher conferences; Saskatchewan is releasing an in-depth assessment of its student evaluations in February; and Ontario’s decision to swap the first report card of the year for an informal progress report is part of a wider change to be unveiled formally next month.

But Ontario’s decision to axe the fall reports cards province-wide is the most drastic.

According to the Canadian Press, Ontario’s teachers’ unions have long advocated for eliminating the fall report card, which they argue comes too early in the school year for teachers to make useful judgments of their students. They also say the fall reports place an unnecessary marking burden on teachers.

There was a push in B.C. about ten years ago to change the way students are measured in elementary schools to an anecdotal report, but parents eventually opposed it.

“Even though the children were in Grade 2, the parents wanted to know that their kids were getting an ‘A’ or a ‘B’,” said Prince Rupert District Teacher’s Union president Gabrielle Bureau. “You need almost a generation to change it.”

Nicholls said that the local DPAC does not oppose the move, but there would be some fundamental question that we need answering first if Ontario’s model was to be adopted in B.C.
“How are issues such as language barriers addressed in interviews? Do all families feel comfortable speaking with their child’s teacher?” she and the DPAC wondered. “A written progress report, with or without letter grades, is important for all parents to receive as a starting place for communication with the school.”

Last, who also has a child in secondary school and has put two other children through the Prince Rupert education system, said that she still likes to see progress reports that measure improvement or a step back in student achievement for her child.

“As a parent, I like seeing a report that shows me that this is where they were three months ago and this is where they are today. Have they gone up? Ok what has happened?” she asked. “In High School, I like – and even in elementary schools – I like a letter grade because it told me. But as I reflect back, I recognize that it told me thinking about how it was when I was in school.”
“But it is completely different now.”

And if it’s different could that mean that parents who appreciate the A-E measurement might be wrong? And would the bumper sticker, Honour Roll crowd oppose that kind of change?

“Probably if they are parents of kids that are on top,” said Larsen. “But I attribute it to if parents walked into my classroom everyday and I have my kids names limed up 1-20. The parent of kids one, two and three might be happy. But the other 17 won’t be so happy.”

Of Latvian Landslides, Swiss shutdowns and stymied Slovakians...

With three games under their belt, Canada's junior representatives at the IIHF World Junior championships are looking quite fine in their defense of their title.

So far, after 180 minutes of play the score is Canada 30 the other guys 2. A pretty impressive total at the tournament's start, helped out no doubt by the fortunate early draw that Canada has been provided with.

Latvia, which seems happy to be on the ice, but certainly isn't particularly competitive suffered the onslaught of Canada's offence first, providing little resistance to the 16-0 drubbing that was offered up in game one. Though it would seem that Canadians will be more familiar with their names now, TSN reports that the Canada Latvia game was the most watched game in World Juniors history. (Leaving us to wonder how long that record will stand with some high profile games still to come)

The Swiss held the goal count down, but couldn't tally any of their own, as Canada easily dismissed that challenge by a score of 6-0, much to the delight of the home town crowd, not so much we imagine to fans of the team with the white cross on the flag, who perhaps were looking for the Red Cross by games end.

As game three beckoned, many were suggesting that it would be a better test for the boys carrying the Maple Leaf on their chests, and while the play at times seemed fairly balanced, once the Canadians got moving (and annoyed by the first Slovakian goal which ruined their perfect run so far) it was game over. Canada put eight goals into their guests net before all was said and done, the Slovaks to their credit provided two answers to the otherwise impressive display of Canadian speed, skill and physical play.

The early results will no doubt give IIHF critics some ammunition in the suggestion that perhaps the tournament participants should be reduced by a few squads, leaving the hopeful contenders to seek out a different level of achievement, with maybe but one of the clearly outperformed squads allowed up to the top level per tournament year.

The rules being the rules, it seems that Canada, the US and perhaps the Russians and the Swedes have no choice but to fill the net, but it does appear unseemly at times to be beating up so heavily on those squads that seem to struggle at this level of competition.

Still, in tournament play, you play to win, so as uncomfortable as some Canadians may feel at the thumping's administered thus far, until further notice and a revisit to the tournament seeding we gather that is the way it's going to have to be.

For Canada, what now will be considered the true test comes up on New Years Eve, when Canada takes on the United States, a game which should be a dandy should it come anywhere close to last years epic battle in Ottawa.

The American's have done their fair amount of scoring as well so far (the poor Latvians apparently everyone's version of the shootout goalie cutout) and have shown the same physical kind of play that symbolizes North American hockey.

While there are no guarantees, New Year's Eve should provide for another memorable night of hockey like many other year enders of the past. One thing seems more than likely however, the nights of 16 goal games is probably over for both the Canadians and Americans.
Thursday night promises its share of scoring, but along with the offensive displays, we anticipate some hard hits, stellar defensive play and outstanding goal tending, a return to the kind of hockey that while reduces the chance of hearing train horns, or the waving of flags frequently, but one which will surely be the most entertaining hockey of the tournament thus far.
Item was first posted in the HockeyNation blog

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vivier story becomes the season ending feel good feature for many news items as December ends

It seems that last weeks news of the Vivier family's successful bid for permanent residency in Canada has become the Hallmark card like item for the year end news capsules.

The return of the Vivier's from Prince George which was featured in the Daily News last Monday (sorry the full article has yet to be updated on that tardy ole Daily News site) recounting their efforts as they made yet another step towards citizenship has been chronicled in a number of publications across Canada and beyond.

From Newspapers sites, to a citizenship lawyers blog, the continuation of their now 11 year quest for citizenship has provided for a happy holiday season tale.

And while some may have gotten a few of the facts wrong (one hopes that the citizenship lawyer researches his clients claims better than the tip of the hat given to the people of Prince GEORGE for their help with the family over the last eleven years), and others don't paint our weather in the best of lights, for the most part the items have all certainly have found the current of the season and shared in the family's happiness for their updates.

Vancouver Sun-- Prince Rupert family with sun allergy finally gains residency
CBC News-- Allergic to sun, family wins B.C. residency Prince Rupert family with sun allergy finally gains residency
Alaska Dispatch-- Allergic to sun, family moves north
Johannesburg Mail and Guardian-- Good news and the bad weather for SA family
Sydney Morning Herald-- Future is cloudy - and they love it

It's the economy December 29, 2009

One of Canada's coldest provinces has its hottest economy, B is for books and bankruptcy and the stock market may be a gamble but the real money is at the betting sites, some of the items of note for Tuesday.

Globe and Mail-- Gold falls below $1,100 mark
Globe and Mail-- Corriente shares surge on Chinese bid
Globe and Mail-- Saskatchewan: A "Have" Province At Last
National Post-- Canada approves PetroChina takeover of Athabasca
National Post-- China potash deal to stabilize prices?
National Post-- Bookseller files for protection
New York Times-- Slight Rise in Home Prices Masks Signs of Weakness
New York Times-- Emerging Markets Keep Soaring Past Their Doubters
New York Times-- Iraq Signs Deal With European Oil Giants
USA Today-- Got a gift card? Now's a great time to start spending them
USA Today-- Moody's: November credit card payments slip
USA Today-- Rising optimism on jobs gives consumer confidence a boost
Guardian UK online-- Retail sales frenzy outstrips Christmas shopping rush
Guardian UK online-- Alistair Darling's Jobs Fund in chaos, say Tories
Guardian UK online-- British homeowners continue to trim mortgage debt
Times Online UK-- UK unemployment 'to peak at 2.8m next year'
Times Online UK-- How much longer will big business play the bad guy?
Times Online UK-- Homeowners pay back £4.9bn mortgage debt
Times Online UK-- Thousands to be saved from losing homes by closure of legal loophole
Telegraph UK online-- Monarch Airlines blasts 'irresponsible' Paddy Power for running book on carrier going bust
Telegraph UK online-- Another 250,000 jobs will be lost in Britain before summer 2010, says employment experts
Telegraph UK online-- UK homeowners pay down mortgage debt for sixth quarter
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Nufarm swaps Chinese for Japan bid
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Retailers cautious despite Boxing day sales
Brisbane Times-- Sumitomo to Nufarm rescue with tender offer
Brisbane Times-- Report ties Trio to $47m top-up of 'vanished' fund
Brisbane Times-- China ups its Rocklands bid
Brisbane Times-- The model is just over the horizon; in Japan
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Bad week ahead expected for motorists
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Rate rises may prompt mortgage holders to refinance
People's Daily on line-- China becomes world's biggest gold buyer in 2009
People's Daily on line-- Consumption becomes 2nd largest economic growth driver
China Daily-- CIC likely to invest in Rusal public float
China Daily-- Grain output to hit record
China Daily-- Work starts on Pudong C919 final assembly line
The Times of India-- Worst over for global aviation industry: Praful Patel
The Times of India-- NTPC inks deal with Bhutan
The Times of India-- Deregulate oil pricing, says IIM-A

CityWest's 2.5 million dollar fibre link connection to Kitimat complete

“This announcement, and the Kitimat project as a whole reaffirms the commitment CityWest has to serving Kitimat. CityWest is investing an estimated $2.5 million in Kitimat this year alone, making the Kitimat project the largest capital project CityWest is undertaking this year.-- CityWest CEO Rob Brown, outlining some of the details of the recently completed CityWest fibre optic link from Terrace to Kitimat.

Digital cable TV, residential phone and improved Internet service are all apparently on the horizon for Kitimat, that as CityWest announces the completion of a 65 km fibre optic line between Terrace and Kitimat.

The 2.5 million dollar project will now allow the City of Prince Rupert owned telecommunications company to provide its range of services through a newly created technical office in Kitimat.

It's reported in the Terrace Standard that it is expected that with the completion of the fibre optic line to Kitimat, CityWest will now begin with an expansion of the company's various telecommunications services in the region.

Besides, Prince Rupert, Port Edward, Terrace and now Kitimat, CityWest operates in Thornhill, Smithers, Telkwa, Houston, Stewart, Kispiox and the Hazeltons.

Much of CityWest's expansion outside of Prince Rupert came about from the purchase of Monarch Cable Systems in 2005. That was a decision that has proven to be rather controversial for many back in the company's home of Prince Rupert.
Since that purchase, there have concerns expressed locally over a number of the more contentious issues of the ambitious expansion plans of the City owned communications provider.
Among them: potential debt loads worries, the possibility for declining or deferred dividends and at times a lack of communication to city residents and shareholders as it is, regarding CityWest operations.

Those are concerns that no doubt will again be raised as CityWest continues on with its expansion and enhancement plans further east of Kitimat.

Terrace Standard-- Fibre link to Kitimat finished

Monday, December 28, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead Archives December 2009

Our archive of the daily findings from Prince Rupert's various media sources, from the Daily News, Northern View, CBC and CFTK we outline the main stories of the day for the month of December 2009.

Thursday, December 31-- Word from Canpotex but not what the locals wanted to hear, The Royal bank in Prince Rupert turns 100 first and the city offers up some new guidelines for development in 2010, some of the highlights of the news cycle on the final day of 2009. (see post here)

Wednesday, December 30-- An update on the Sophia Z, the Chamber of Commerce looks for excellence and New years Day is a good day for a run and a dip, some of the items of note for the Wednesday news cycle. (see post here)

Tuesday, December 29-- The School District isn't keen on an Ontario initiative, a relatively calm Christmas for the RCMP and the year in review from the Northern View, some of the items of note for the Tuesday news cycle. (see post here)

Thursday, December 24-- More details on the Lax Kw'alaams bid for Watson Island, relocating the Lax Kw'alaams ferry dock and some further information on the death of Lt. Andrew Nuttall a former Prince Rupert resident who was killed in action in Afghanistan last week. Some of the items of note for the Christmas Eve news cycle. The Daily News reviewed May in it's look back features for 2009 in the Wednesday edition. (see post here)

Wednesday, December 23--The community steps up for the Salvation Army's Christmas programs, BC Ferries facing questions over weather policy and Nathan Cullen brings together the different sides in the Enbridge debate, some of the items of note from Wednesday's news cycle. The Daily News reviewed March and April in it's look back features for 2009 in the Wednesday edition. (see post here)

Tuesday, December 22--Gitxaala celebrates it's new service centre in Prince Rupert, Northern Health outlines the progress of its Cancer strategy and local community groups will have to wait until mid January for details on their grant applications, items of note for Tuesday. The Daily is getting a head start on those year end remembrance issues, Tuesday's featured a review of a number of stories from January and February of 2009. (see post here)

Monday, December 21--The Viviers move another step along the bureaucratic path of citizenship, an inspection for a damaged grain ship and BC Ferries exercises more caution in times of stormy weather, some of the items of note for Monday's news cycle. (see post here)

Friday, December 18--Six bids for Watson Island, reaction to the developments at Prince Rupert Grain and weather related troubles at sea and along the roads, some of the items of note from the Friday news cycle. (see post here)

Thursday, December 17--The City takes issue with BC Ferries plans, Jeff Burghardt leave Prince Rupert Grain and the Lax Kw'alaams Ferry dock project on the east side of Prince Rupert is underway, some of the items of note for Thursday. (see post here)

Wednesday, December 16--More feedback on Fisheries Minister Gail Shea's visit to Prince Rupert, the Biotoxin office closes its doors and the city has six potential investors to consider for Watson Island, some of the items of note for Wednesday. (see post here)

Tuesday, December 15--A Rupertite returns from an African adventure, Christmas isn't always a season of joy and the School District releases some of its assessment findings on education in the region, some of the items of note for Tuesday. (see post here)

Monday, December 14--The Charlotte's get banished from the road maps, the Fisheries Minister stops in for a cup of coffee and not much more and the city issues layoff notices to some city workers. Some of the items of note for the Monday news cycle. (see post here)

Friday, December 11--The final steps towards a pole raising at NWCC, Reconciliation on the Haida Gwaii sends the Queen Charlottes to the history books and the latest on the language debate at School District 52, some of the items of the Friday news cycle. (see post here)

Thursday, December 10--The Middle School debate moves into the elementary schools, thumbing his way to a 500 dollar gift certificate and NaiKun moves its wind farm project a little further down the road to completion, some of the items of note for Thursday. (see post here)

Wednesday, December 9--The city honours some outstanding citizens, the HST goes through one more hoop and the clock is ticking for those looking to buy the pulp mill site, some of the items of note for Wednesday. (see post here)

Tuesday, December 8--The Mayor offers up a plan for downtown youth issues, The School District increases the number of potential school closures in the district and someone call Carmen Sandiego, where on the hill is Prince Rupert's time capsule. (see post here)

Monday, December 7--DFO delivers some worrisome news, a small step back for the new Prince Rupert medical clinic and Awards Night in Prince Rupert, some of the items of note from the Monday news cycle. (see post here)

Friday, December 4--Hey let's put on a show! Local performers prepare to celebrate Prince Rupert's 100th birthday and review its history with a revue, Cold weather means a spike in housing requests for those without affordable housing and the deadline for Watson Island bids beckons and so do the holidays at City Hall, some of the items of note for Friday. (see post here)

Thursday, December 3--The City's surprises continue at Watson Island as recently terminated maintenance workers take their case to the Labour board, the Daily reviews the end of the CN engineers strike and the Forest Minister isn't as enthusiastic about a positive outcome at Eurocan as he once was, some of the items of note for Thursday. (see post here)

Wednesday, December 2--Concerned Rupertites meet to learn more about grade configuration and school closures, Local residents talk over economics with Conservative MP, and Smithers RCMP release more details on last weeks police involved shooting, some of the items of note for Wednesday. (see post here)

Tuesday, December 1--The push to save a youth addiction facility in Terrace, Prince Rupert Secondary School teachers outline their concerns on configuration and school closures and on the look out for some stolen ATV's, some of the items of note for Tuesday. (see post here)