Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Monday, July 13, 2009

The Daily finds revitalization on Third Avenue, the Arts society receives some funding and a program for displaced forestry workers is providing for a lively debate over its effectiveness. Some of the items of interest in the Monday edition of the Daily News.

RE-ZONING STIMULATES THIRD AVE AND WATERFRONT-- Continuing on with their theme of silver linings at every turn, the Daily outlines how some recent developments along Third Avenue and on the waterfront portend for better things for the community. Providing some details on the status of a project on the waterfront in the old CN building as well as one new and one transplanted store setting up shop in the city's commercial hub. (see story below)

A local arts society that also organizes the local market on Third Avenue on Thursday's has received some funding in the form of a grant to help the society develop further as an organization as well as to help other aboriginal artists in the community. The Daily outlines how Joanne Finlay has received an internship with the Salmonberry Trading Company society and set up an office inside the Museum of Northern B. C.'s carving shed on market place. Salmonberry Trading has opened up an Artist's space at the carving shed as part of the initiative.

A provincial government program to provide assistance to former forest industry workers over the age of 60 has been meeting with a bit of mixed opinions on the North coast. The Transition Assistance program allows workers at 60 and over to access new opportunities while opening the forest industry for new younger workers at the entry level.

The age limits on the program are the main concern to the local MLA Gary Coons who feels that the scope of the program is too limiting to be of any real help to the industry, while former PPWC Local president Frank DeBartolo likewise finds problems with the approach of the program, preferring to have seen the money directed towards younger, entry level workers instead. He feels that the program is more along the lines of political spin or a handout than a tangible effort to create jobs.

The Sports page featured details of the weekend action of the Founders Cup in Prince Rupert.

While the back page featured a full page pictorial of the recent appearance of the RCMP Musical Ride in Prince Rupert.Total pages in the Monday edition (12) Front page, headline story:

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, July 13, 2009
Page one

New life for Third Avenue may be accompanied, by more activity on the waterfront.

While the city looks to redevelop its main downtown strip a potential new development on the waterfront could provide a diversion for possible customers.

The old CN station property on the waterfront has been rezoned from manufacturing to commercial with the distinct possibility that the waterfront could become a new hub for market activity in town.

Prince Rupert Mayor, Jack Mussallem, said that the city has cleared all of its regulatory requirements with the provincial government to subdivide the property.

"The city is in the process of turning over that development to the [new owners] so that the [proponents] can get on with redevelopment of the building," said Mussallem.

Mussallem added that there would be "various entities in there," but did not define what exactly was planned for the building.

The Mayor said that this does not signify a change of priorities in redesigning the downtown plan currently being developed by city planner Zeno Krekic and contracted consultants.

"The general interest over the years has been taking the community closer to the water," said Mussallem.

However, Mussallem said that commercial growth on the waterfront would have to wait until negotiations with CN and the Prince Rupert Port Authority are completed.

Two Third Avenue merchants said they were not worried about the changes, citing a welcoming attitude to any business being necessary for the community to grow.

Rick McChesney, operator of Cook's Jewellers, said he welcomes any business development in town.

"I am a firm believer that government should not stand in the way of development," said McChesney.

While he was concerned about the empty stores along the main retail avenue, he said that with one new sports store opening across the street and a shuffle at the old Universal building, where City Furniture is replacing Kondolas, things should be looking up on Third Avenue.

Sonu Sandhu, owner of City Furniture, said the decision to move to the new digs was based on the potential of Third Avenue as a growing retail district.

While he recognized that the re-zoning project had received some negative comments around Prince Rupert he said that he has all the confidence that this was about to become a thing of the past.

"This is one of those negative things people talk about, but we want to take [Third Avenue] back to being one of the livelier parts of town again," said Sandhu.

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