Friday, December 18, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, December 17, 2009

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.

Daily News, front page, headline story
CITY COUNCIL TO CHALLENGE BC FERRIES PLANS FOR ROUTE CHANGES -- The Daily reviews much of the ground covered earlier in the week by the Northern View, as they outline the concerns of Prince Rupert City council over plans by BC Ferries to create a Vancouver to Prince Rupert service, which seems to be at the cost of a number of current sailings of the existing Port Hardy - Prince Rupert route. As we outlined on the blog on Wednesday, local officials and residents were not particularly impressed with the "consultation" session provided by BC Ferries at the end of November, and now are seeking out alternative options to try and challenge the planned service.

The Museum of Northern B. C. is debuting a new art exhibit in the Ruth Harvey Gallery, the creation of Prince Rupert artist Jean Aubin. Included in the exhibit are etchings, raku pottery, photography and a button blanket piece.

The Daily also offers up a review of Fisheries Minister Gail Shea's visit to the city, a stop which left many in the community frustrated with her lack of assurance on many of the fishery related issues in the community.

The Sports section featured a review of the final weekend of the Prince Rupert Minor Basketball season as well as a look at some of the results from Wednesday's high school basketball matches.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for December 17th )

The Northern View
Long-time Prince Rupert Grain president no longer with the company -- A review of the surprising announcement of the departure of Jack Burghardt from his long held post of President of Prince Rupert Grain (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Eurocan Buyout Offer Possible Before Closure -- An update on the potential employee led buyout of the soon to be closed Eurocan pulp mill from West Fraser Timber (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Highway Closed -- With wind, rain and colder temperatures inland combining forces, road conditions along Highway 16 had become treacherous by Thursday evening, CFTK offered up the latest details on the road situation (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Plea made to Northern BC Games' Host city -- The Northern BC Winter Games organizing committee sends out the SOS for more billet families for February's games. (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
New Ferry Dock for Prince Rupert -- Construction is under way at Aero Point Cove at the old Fisheries Ministry site on the east side of Prince Rupert, that as workers begin work on the new ferry dock for the Lax Kw'alaams ferry, Spirit of Lax Kw'alaams. The 3.2 million dollar project should be completed by June of 2010 and will see the ferry dock relocated from the Fairview floats area of the west side to the east side of Prince Rupert. (see article here)

CBC 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
City Council to challenge BC Ferries plans for route changes
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Thursday, December 17, 2009

City Council has asked Tourism Prince Rupert’s executive director Bruce Wishart to put together a plan
of attack.

Council aim is to address the proposal by BC Ferries to begin a Prince Rupert-Port Hardy-Tsawwassen route every second week from May to September beginning in 2011. The change would reduce the number of sailings by 20.

BC Ferries is also proposing to change its point of assembly – moving it from Prince Rupert to Tsawwassen – which would result in job losses locally.

Wishart was invited to talk about the ferry issue at Monday night’s council meeting and answer questions from council about the public meeting that was held in Prince Rupert on November 30 with BC Ferries.

“After the public meeting on Nov. 30 it has become really clear that there is no point in the City of Prince Rupert expressing concerns to BC Ferries. I think we need to look at the contract they are under with the B.C. government. BC Ferries was privatized in 2003 and they are contracted to provide core services through terms,” explained Wishart.

Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne said she attended an hour of the information session and came away feeling that there was a total disregard by BC Ferries for people speaking.

“Someone was treated more rudely than I have ever seen,” said Gordon-Payne. “I agree that we need to talk with Minister Shirley Bond, her staff and the premier. We need to address not only 20 less sailings, but the assembly of crew being done somewhere else. That will have a great impact on us.”

Later in the meeting, Gordon-Payne was appointed by council to be the City’s new representative on the BC Ferries Advisory Committee.

Councillor Kathy Bedard was the City’s prior representative on the BC Ferry Advisory Committee and she noted that before the public meeting with BC Ferries, there had been no mention whatsoever of the proposed changes.

“In the 1970s , the federal government brought in the guarantee of a marine highway. [BC Ferries] need to be questioned on that guarantee,” said Bedard.

At the public meeting, former City Councillor Evelyn Basso raised that question and was brushed off, said Wishart.

Councillor Gina Garon asked Wishart how council can get a voice through media and was told people would stand up and take notice if it was bigger than Prince Rupert and involved more communities.

“BC Ferries is a private corporation owned by the people of B.C.,” said Garon. “This is our transportation system and he [David Hahn, CEO of BC Ferries] wanst to run it as a cruise ship business.”

At the end of Wishart’s presentation, he was tasked to work with Garon and City Manager Gordon Howie to develop a plan to communicate with the provincial

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