Monday, November 23, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Monday, November 23, 2009

A walking guide to the city, elections in Lax Kw'alaams and a rough ride for the Northern Adventure, some of the items of note from the Monday news cycle.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
A YOUNGER TAKE ON PRINCE RUPERT - PAST AND PRESENT-- The city's architecture is reviewed as part of a project undertaken last year by students at Prince Rupert Secondary School. Prince Rupert: A Self Guided Walking Tour which went on sale today at a price of twenty dollars offers an interesting interpretation of Prince Rupert's mix of old and current buildings and properties as seen through the eyes of Tasha Parker's art classes from Grades 8-12.

The results of this past weekends election at Lax Kw'alaams are revealed, including the details of the return of Gary Reece to the position of Chief Councillor which he last held two years ago. Reece defeated incumbent John Helin in the election, but won't move too far off the path charted by Helin over the last two years.

The proposed creation of a Vancouver to Prince Rupert route for BC Ferries will be the topic of debate at a public meeting on November 30th and while the Ferry Corporation is busy laying the groundwork for it's proposal, NDP MLA Gary Coons is expressing his concerns as to potential job losses in Prince Rupert and what he believes is a less than coherent business plan for the ambitious project.

The Sports section features a review of Saturday night's Rampage game which saw the home side take a 4-2 victory from the Terrace River Kings. Girls volleyball and Bantam hockey also were featured in the Monday edition.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for November 23rd )

The Northern View
Prince Rupert School District talks school closure and configuration options -- The Northern View had the first reports out of Monday's town hall style meeting held at CHSS to discuss pending changes to the delivery of education in the city, with the possibility of closing PRSS and grade configuration among the talking points for the night (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
City Funding Cuts -- A few details on Prince Rupert City council's Monday night meeting, council outlined its plans to cut 25 percent from funding and grants to Prince Rupert organizations and clubs in 2010. (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Minor Injuries, Damage, In Rough Ferry Sailing -- TV 7 News had some of the first details on the local scene of the troubled sailing of the Northern Adventure on Sunday night/Monday morning (see article here)

Queen Charlotte Islands Observer
Sailing a Northern Misadventure-vessel does not belong on route, says MLA Coons -- The Queen Charlotte Islands weekly had the most comprehensive account of that storm tossed sailing of the Northern Adventure, featuring many background accounts of the night from Island residents (see article here)

CBC News, Daybreak North
A "no" vote in Dawson Creek -- An interview with Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier, who outlined the city's reaction to the rejection of their borrowing plans by the voters of that city (listen to the interview here)

CBC News, Daybreak North
Olympic rings on a northern lodge-- A familiar sight on the Queen Charlotte Islands is going to spend the winter in Vancouver as the West Coast Fishing Club moves it's Langara Island lodge to Vancouver to serve as accommodations during the Olympics (listen to interview here)

Daily News, front page headline story
A younger take on Prince Rupert - past and present
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, November 23, 2009

Students at Prince Rupert Secondary School have produced a book that illustrates a timeline of city architecture.

The book titled Prince Rupert: A Self-Guided Walking Tour, was written, produced and published by art teacher Tasha Parker’s grade 9, 10. 11 and 12 classes last year and goes on sale today.

Their new book, which goes for $20, gives a purposely-distorted view of old and current buildings around the community, with a commentary text on the opposite page to describe the history of their chosen building.

“We thought Prince Rupert looked like it had always looked,” said art student Holly Pfrimmer.

Pfrimmer and classmate Taylor Slack told the Daily News that they were happy with the way book looked and the lessons that the project taught them about the city they grew up in.

The book is an easy read and is meant for a general reading audience. It also could work as a tourists’ guide to the city, reasoned Parker, with the story of so many buildings in town lost to visitors behind the veils of age and change.

It would be fair to say that most cruise ship passengers walking along Second and Third Avenues have little opportunity to understand how Prince Rupert has changed since its founding in 1910. Malls have replaced parks, city hall has shifted locations, older buildings have had facelifts and the businesses that have filled them have unpacked and packed some of those locations.

But are Rupertites any further along in understanding of what frames their cityscape? Perhaps not, according to the students who worked on the project.

Pfrimmer and Slack said, having a look around the city, they and classmates not only found a city they did not recognize but also one they wish they still had.

There was a sense of loss for the park where the Rupert Square Mall now stands, suggesting that the city had lost something in its green vista when the Mall went up in the 1970s.

While the text involved in the book paints a positive remembrance of a historical architecture timeline, the feelings produced by their work had a nostalgic effect on the

“Seeing the way the city looked then and the way it looks now, I would have really liked to have lived in the past,” said Pfrimmer, one of the many students who worked on the project last year.

Slack agreed, saying that there was a need to improve the downtown core of the city.

“There are too many buildings with boarded up windows, too many people hanging out on Second Avenue that make you feel uncomfortable walking down there,” explained Slack. “When I walk down Second Avenue it feels like a New York ghetto.”

The research project also raises interesting questions over how much participation on important municipal decisions is sought from the youngest members of this city’s population.

The reaction doesn’t surprise Zeno Krekic. Prince Rupert’s city planner said often children and teenagers are overlooked when it comes seeking their input on how a city should develop.

“Something that always comes into the conversation is how do you bring the young and old to a central place?” said Krekic.

Krekic said that when it comes to teenager safety in the city, there is a case to be made for improving aesthetics rather than increasing street security.

“We need to design something that is appealing enough that the community will take ownership of it,” commented Krekic.

“It’s so that if I see someone littering on the street, I speak up and ask them what are they doing. Perhaps I pick up the litter and receive a snarky comment from litterer, but then he or she might think twice before littering again.”

When it comes to safety, reasoned Krekic, there should be community responsibility to help improve that part of street life.

While the commentary may come from a teenager level, it is a refreshing take on how the city is perceived by some of the youngest voices in town.

The reaction the students had from working on the book surprised Parker, who said she wasn’t sure what to expect from her students after they finished the project.

“That was definitely a surprise to know that the students believed that the city used to be beautiful but that now its not,” said Parker.

Parker was motivated to follow up her project from last year, Where can I Go?, after a conversation she had with some of her French exchange students last year. The students had told her that Prince Rupert was surrounding by unrelenting beauty, but that the downtown left a lot to be desired.

Thinking about Prince Rupert through that focal point, Parker believed that there was something lacking in that conversation – a working knowledge about how Prince Rupert’s downtown got that way.

What was produced is a significant departure from Where can I go?. That book by PRSS art students was also written about their experiences – this time in the Khutzymateen provincial park – and why the current forest area is vital to our future.

Prince Rupert: A Self-Guided Walking Tour, follows the same kind of path but ends with a much different statement – what has happened to the downtown?

That wasn’t the original goal of the project.

“The original goal was just for kids in the classes to see how something they worked on and finished could look professionally,” said Parker. “I [also] wanted students to really learn the history of Prince Rupert – but to actually learn about the history, not just a blurb,” said Parker.

Now the lesson results may seem overly pessimistic, but it should be noted that the book is not a negative read on Prince Rupert itself. In fact the students had plenty of praise for some of the buildings that exist largely in their original form and the lament for a past is tempered by recognition of success in town.

What Parker took away from the project was that Prince Rupert was once a nice little town that can be that way again.

Both Slack and Pfrimmer talked highly of the way the Oceanview building retains its colonial appearance after all these years. They loved City Hall and Pillsbury house. And newer developments also received kind words.

“Cow bay has that personal touch which makes it look so interesting,” said Slack. “The Bamboo Shoot is also a really cool building, I like how they put the banners together and the building looks like it was cut perfectly. There is really an appealing appearance to it.”

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