Sunday, August 30, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, August 28, 2009

An honour for a long time proponent of the port, pinks are the money fish this season and the MLA weighs in on the speech from the throne, some of the items of note from Friday's news cycle.

DAILY NEWS, Front page, headline story
MEDAL OF MERIT AWARDED TO DR. BILL HICK-- From almost the day he arrived in Prince Rupert, Dr. Bill Hick has been pointing to the harbour and it's path to the ocean as the future for the city, this week at the Port hosted gathering of Port officials Dr. Hick was honoured for his vision and dedication to the marine infrastructure of the north coast (see story here) item is also provided at the bottom of this post.

While much of this years pacific salmon fishery has been painted as a disaster, the state of the pink fishery is the one bright spot in this years harvest. In fact, the abundance of pinks this season may be enough to at least provide enough bankable hours for shore workers to work on their EI claims. (see story here)

Gary Coons, the NDP MLA for the North Coast no doubt will be able to find much of last weeks speech from the throne that he disagrees with, but he isn't too disappointed as he reads over the list of infrastructure projects that the government outlined, though in the end the proof of commitment will come upon the delivery of the promises (see story here)

Preparation work is under way for the latest in athletic equipment to arrive in Prince Rupert, as the city's recreation department prepares to install it's outdoor exercise stations, the anticipated opening for the sixteen stations of the outdoor gym is in late September (see story here)

The sports section outlined some of the plans for the upcoming flag football season in Prince Rupert (see story here)

Crews begin process of Acropolis Manor demolition-- The Northern View kept a keen eye on the Acropolis Manor site over the weekend, posting a story Saturday about the beginning phase of the dismantling of the old seniors residence and health care facility, now apparently considered redundant with the opening of the new Acropolis next door (see story here)

Daily News, front page headline story:

Medal of Merit awarded to Dr. Bill Hick
By George T. Baker

The Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, August 28, 2009

Some individuals are born with a foresight that allows them to do great things for many people.
While many of the delegates during this week's port conference were seeing Prince Rupert and its potential for the first time, Wednesday was an afternoon that belonged to Dr Bill Hick, a man who envisioned it years ago.

Hick, the former local physician, author and port advocate, was honoured Wednesday with a Medal of Merit award by the Association of Canadian Port Authorities.

It's an honour that is not handed out lightly. And for a man whose voice is often deep and direct, his contribution in speaking about Prince Rupert's potential was no light fare, either.

Nowadays, Hick lives in White Rock where he retired. But he has not forgotten about the place that shaped him and that he helped to shape.

"I spend most of my days thinking about what happened, when it happened, how it happened and why it happened," explained Hick, when speaking about Prince Rupert.

What happened was a container terminal, and how that happened was by continuous advocacy,
persistence and some deal making that put Hick ahead of the curve.

When it happened is easy enough to answer, too, because that was October 2007.
It's the 'why' it happened that is difficult to answer in any other way - Hick made a trip into Prince Rupert in 1947 to check out its non-existent downtown.

"It was a pretty sad place," recounted Hicks.

Frustrated by what appeared to be a waste of opportunity, the doctor moved to Prince Rupert from Stewart in 1956.

As Dr. Hick became immersed in the community, he became aware of a sense of hopelessness and despair entrenched in the community, of which nearly 50 per cent were First Nations, driven by the chronic lack of waterfront activity and work opportunities - and no perceived ability to influence decision-makers to invest in Prince Rupert or increase business through the port.

Indeed, throughout its history, the port in Prince Rupert has been shaped and hindered by external political and economic forces, dependent on support from outside investors and government officials with little commitment to the local community.

"I soon started to have patients who were longshoremen and fishermen. The longshoremen were really poor in those days because they were only working one or two days per week.

Something had to be done."

He joined a local group in establishing Western Wharves Ltd., a community-based company that
committed $50,000 to identify and promote the most suitable site for the development of a general cargo terminal for the port.

The company identified and leased the Fairview site just inside the entrance to Prince Rupert Harbour and Dr. Hick, as president 1968-70, spearheaded the initiative to promote and make the terminal a reality.

Their efforts were rewarded in 1970 when Federal Transport Minister Don Jamieson requested CNR to buy out Western Wharves' Fairview property leases, which were then transferred to the National Harbour Board.

The Fairview Terminal began operations in 1977 following four years of construction, managed by a newly formed National Harbour Board port authority.

It was Hick's vision that Prince Rupert would one day fulfill the promise of Charles Melville Hays - the now mythical American entrepreneurial figure associated with Prince Rupert and the city's potential - which eventually led to the container terminal.

He was also instrumental in developing increased ferry service to and from Prince Rupert, securing BC Ferries routes to both Port Hardy and Skidegate.

In 2003, he published "Hays' Orphan: The Story of the Port of Prince Rupert", a passionate memoir and detailed history of the Rupert port, which has been cited in numerous historical and academic publications, including the Canadian Political Science Review.

Prince Rupert Port Authority President and CEO, Don Krusel, spoke about Hick's contribution.
"In my humble opinion, he is most deserved of this award," said Krusel. "[Hicks] was a tenacious advocate of Prince Rupert…even when no one was listening and no one cared."

Prince Rupert mayor, Jack Mussallem, now charged with being the City's top advocate, also recalled fond memories of Hicks from younger days when the mayor was a little less careful with his own health.

"He used to patch me back together," remembered Mussallem. "His contribution to Prince Rupert was stellar, as was his continued advocacy for the health and wealth of Prince Rupert."

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