Friday, February 26, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Thursday, February 25, 2010)

BC Ferries hears the concern from the North coast, Metlakatla prepares for its canoe to come in and some background on the potential for an employee owned mill in Eurocan, some of the items of interest from Thursday's news files.

Daily News. front page, headline story
BC FERRIES SAYS IT'S WILLING TO HEAR RUPERT'S CONCERNS-- With Prince Rupert city council marshaling forces against BC Ferries plan to introduce a Tswassen to Prince Rupert run, the Ferry sercive is changing its approach a bit. With November's controversial session still leaving resentment in the community, the Ferry Service says that they are willing to hear the city's concerns,though there isn't any indication yet what form that renewed contact will involve.

The Metlakatla Development Corporation is getting ready to take possession of the latest attraction from the community across the harbour from Prince Rupert, as part of their Canoe Quest, the Metlakatla Development Corporation was awarded a 123,000 dollar grant from the Norther Development Initiative trust to commission the creation of the 65 foot black canoe, holding traditional Tsimshian artwork on it. The canoe is set to be delivered to the North coast this spring.

The Daily News caught up with the details of Terrace's plans to attract a federal penitentiary to that community, as we outlined on the blog last weekend, Terrace is hopeful of using land near its airport as the home for a new prison in British Columbia, a plan that would create full time jobs for the community not only at the new institution but in spin off industries around the region as well.

Thursday's sports section featured a look at the progress of the Prince Rupert Rainmakers senior basketball squad currently playing in the provincials in Kamloops, a review of the Midget Seawolves playoff season was provided as well, with details of their unsuccessful bid for the Midget zones in Terrace this weekend past.

(Archive for Daily News Articles for February 25, 2010 )

The Northern View
No new items were posted to the Northern View website on Thursday.

CFTK TV 7 News
Forestry changes raise local eyebrows -- CFTK outlines some of the background on the recent decision of the Ministry of Forests to relocate the North coast office to Haida Gwaii (see article here)

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North
Co-op'ing a mill -- Kitimat's Mary Murphy, outlines the hopes of that community to turn the former Eurocan mill into an employee-owned co-op. (listen to the interview here)

The full list of current Daybreak North Interviews can be found here.

The Daily News, front page, headline story
BC Ferries says it's willing to hear Rupert's concerns
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, February 25, 2010 

BC Ferries said it is certainly willing to listen to Prince Rupert city council if the invitation is extended.

The ferry service company has not committed to holding another consultation meeting in Prince Rupert later this year, but according to a Ministry of Transportation letter sent to city council by Minister Shirley Bond, the ministry said they have asked BC Ferries to conduct “greater community consultation with affected communities,” over their proposed Tswwassen-Port Hardy-Prince Rupert route.

At Monday’s city council meeting, staff was asked to prepare another letter for the Ministry outlining how the proposed circle route would affect the community. They also wondered if they could invite BC Ferries executives back to the North Coast, this time to listen to their concerns.

“Given that when BC Ferries did come to Prince Rupert, it was not for consultation but for information sharing, I wonder if we might invite them back for consultation?” asked City Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne.

“We will also be talking to every mayor of every community from here to Prince George about this issue,” promised Mayor Jack Mussallem.

Tourism Prince Rupert executive director, Bruce Wishart, composed a letter last month asking that the ministry to step in because of the potentially negative impacts a change to the schedule would have on the local economy.
Bond’s letter, dated February 10, stated that the ministry’s primary concern was the economic well-being of northwestern communities.

“I appreciate you taking the time to share your concerns with me regarding BC Ferries’ proposal to reduce the number of sailings between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy during the summers. Opportunities to increase tourism in the region are deserving of our consideration, and BC Ferries proposed changes to Route 10 (Prince Rupert-Port Hardy) may be one such opportunity that might also off-set the rising cost of ferry service,” wrote Bond.
Mark Stephenson, Public Affairs executive director for BC Ferries, said that the ferry operators would also be surveying opinions across Highway 16 to discover how the proposed changes would affect them.

“What we have been doing is awaiting further feedback, and that is the next step in the process,” said Stephenson.
Much has been made of the proposed changes towards the assembly point for the Northern Expedition - which is currently Prince Rupert, but would change to Tswwassen if the plan were to be implemented. It would mean that employees would have to move to the south coast in order to remain employed with BC Ferries, or take the unlikely step of flying down to Vancouver before their scheduled shift.

“There really wouldn’t be any significant job loss with the proposed changes and I think its been blown out of proportion,” said Stephenson.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons begs to differ with Stephenson on that point. Coons has been vociferously opposed to the plan, claiming at least 100 casual labour jobs would be lost. “If they crew out of Tsawwassen, we will lose those jobs,” he said.

With files from Monica Lamb-Yorski

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