Monday, May 31, 2010

It's the economy (Monday, May 31, 2010)

GM spends more in Ontario, BC Hydro announces more clean power projects and France's AAA rating is at risk, some of the financial items for the last day of May.

Globe and Mail-- Canada’s hot economy tops forecasts
Globe and Mail-- GM to invest millions in St. Catharines
Globe and Mail-- G20 to ask for more China stimulus: official
National Post-- U.S. attorney general probes Gulf spill
National Post-- Bell blasts CRTC over 'unacceptable' cable rules
National Post-- Gold: It's not too late to join the party
Vancouver Sun-- AltaGas announces $700 million hydro project in northwest BC
Vancouver Sun-- BC Hydro picks second group of clean-power projects
New York Times-- E.C.B. Says Banks at Risk From Slower Growth
New York Times-- Apple Sells 2 Million iPads Since April Debut
New York Times-- The Pain Caucus
Guardian UK online-- Eurozone banks face £165bn in toxic loan losses
Guardian UK online-- India's economy rebounds with rapid growth
Guardian UK online-- China guilty of protecting false economy, claims EU
Times online UK-- France’s AAA rating ‘could be a stretch’
Times online UK-- Tell us where the school spending axe will fall, demand builders
Telegraph UK online-- BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill: when disaster vocabulary spreads out of control
Telegraph UK online-- General election slows housing market
Telegraph UK online-- Business Minister Mark Prisk wants to strip away the red tape
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Qantas safe in troubled skies, says Joyce
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Overseas deficit cut as profits boom
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- Cigarette tax increase sees annual inflation at 19-month high in May
People's Daily-- China unlikely to see serious inflation in short term: CICC chief economist
People's Daily-- Car ownership in China expected to overtake Japan next year
China Daily-- China cuts gasoline, diesel prices
China Daliy-- Ecnomist sees bubble in housing market
Times of India-- India grows 8.6% in fourth quarter
Times of India-- Tobacco exports up by 7.4% in April

So you wanna be a race car driver eh!

Unbelievably for many, IndyCar driver Mike Conway escaped the carnage above with but a broken leg, as the Englishman crashed his car near the end of Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

Conway's car went airborne and smashed into the fence surrounding the race track, as can be seen in the video, his car skimmed over the top of Helio Castroneves, the race which featured Castroneves as the front runner and favourite eventually was won by Dario Franchitti, who took advantage of the resulting caution to hold his position and win the race.

Conway was airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital for evaluation but is not anticipated to suffer any further ailments from the crash.

Glad tidings to you, now send us some cash!

What's left of Prince Rupert's taxpayer base received the salutations of the city this week, with property tax assessments arriving in mailboxes from Seal Cove to Fairview and all points in between, yet another increase is in store for the majority of Rupert's dedicated home owners, as the city continues to struggle with the financial ravages of a municipality with less and less industrial infrastructure to count on.

Included in the mailing this year, the annual message from the Mayor which outlined a few of the items on the municipal checklist that the city is currently working hard on for us.

Included in the Mayor's meditations were a recap on what the Budget is all about:

The 2010 budget represents a balance to meet the needs of the municipality, to provide services and functions required at an adequate level of service. Included are recreation, sewer, water, roads, street lights, cemetery, fire rescue, police and parks to name a few. Some others are the Lester Centre, Prince Rupert Library, Museum of Northern British Columbia and Pilsbury House.

The Mayor looked forward into time with thoughts on the global economy and what may come to the Port of Prince Rupert in time:

There is evidence of the world's economic prospects improving as work at all port cargo facilities increases. Also, the environmental assessment work for the second phase of the Fairview Container Port and the proposed potash export facility are continuing:

Other potential economic development projects caught his eye for his mailer this year:

Whole  log processing at three different businesses in the Industrial Park and container stuffing activity at Watson Island are increasing. Other developments include a scallop hatchery, a new marine fueling facility and refurbishment of the old CN Rail Station to facilitate restaurant, retail and office opportunities.

And everyone's favourite tar pit the Watson island site also made it to the newsletter to taxpayers, though there wasn't much mention of the current state of litigation between the city and the site's previous owner:

Prince Rupert City Council continues to work on the divestiture of Watson Island to create job opportunities and put that property back on the tax roll.

As for the financials, the tax bill insert provide some background on how much money the city is budgeting for and expects to receive and spend, to a total of 37.6 million dollars for 2010.

There is a listing (but not much explanation) of Expenditures with Public Works  and Capital spending leading the way with $11,818,000 in anticipated spending on the books, utilities grabbed the number two spot in spending at $9,253,000 while Protective Services is the third most costly item on the books at $6,773,000, Parks and Recreation was fourth with $5,126,000 in expenditures listed.

Bringing up the rest of the Expenditures table in the insert were Transportation at $4,586,000,  Fiscal $2,385,000, Administration $1,541,000 and Development Service/Bylaw the least costly of the expenditures at $649,000.

As well, for our examination a compilation of some $8,889,000 in Capital Spending is listed, some new, some carried over from 2009 and some that may cause Rupertites to raise an eye once or twice.

Sewer replacement $3,954,000
RCMP Building cell block upgrade $1,100,000
Building a sewer line from the industrial park $1,065,000
Valve House Installations at the Woodlands Dam $480,000
Sewer line replacement at Jeffery Street and 6th Ave East $430,000
Installing the bandshell and drainage work at Mariner Park for Spirit Square $362,000
Expanding the landfill $339,000
Street Lighting upgrades $325,000
Tsimshian Peninsula Road -Improve regional transportation network $285,000
Extend Cemetery road $150,000
Rushbrook Improvements $138,000
Major roofing maintenance $100,000
Waterfront trail completion from George Hays Way and Dry Dock road to 11th Ave E $81,000
Transit bus paving high use bus stops $60,000
Construction of bus shelter at Library $20,000

Other information on the 2010 Property tax rates can be found at the city's website.

The Deadline  and date for your annual contribution to the city's financial planning is July 2, 2010, those late to the taxpaying party will be charged a ten percent interest penalty on unpaid taxes after that date!

The saga of the Pacificats, forever viral...

They were perhaps one of the most controversial projects in British Columbia history, in the end contributing to the downfall of Glen Clark's NDP government of the day and to this day for some they remain the powerpoint poster child for a boondoogle, eventually morphing into what became the Fast Fleet scandal.

Orphaned off by the incoming Gordon Campbell's Liberals the Pacificats sat idled in North Vancouver for years, never talked about except for political points by the Liberals and never really becoming a fixture in the BC Ferries fleet, sold to the Western Marine Group, they again were eventually sold off by private interests to Abu Dhabi for an undisclosed price.

As the Liberals divested themselves of day to day responsibility for ferry service in BC through it's quasi privatization of the Ferry Service, the new regime went on a European buying spree to replace the aging fleet, the new ships occasionally passing by the mothballed Cats during trials in Vancouver harbour.

We'll never really know if the Pacificats were what we were looking for in marine transportation, or if they would turn around BC's dying shipbuilding industry. As the controversy raged on they were taken out of the BC Ferries fleet inventory almost as soon as they slipped off the blocks at Pier 94 in North Vancouver, yet much like the  days of the Avro Arrow we have our memories and conspiracy theories. And as that famed airplane provided for its debate, so too have the Pacificats.

The Knowledge Network recently ran a documentary on the building of the Pacificat fleet and as is the case in any video these days, it has been archived for posterity on the YouTube portal.

Below are all six parts of the project, an look back at the heady days of Captain Clark's expeditionary fleet, the program ends on a rather positive note, on which as time would show wasn't something that would remain for long.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pssst, did you hear that the city hired....

Well it hasn't exactly been the same as one of those American style confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, but in it's own peculiar way the City of Prince Rupert has sort, of kind of, introduced us to the new Director of Recreation at the Civic Centre.

In the 2010 Active living guide recently posted to the City's website and we imagine available in print form some-place in the city, Mr. Rudy Kelly is listed as the contact person at the Recreation complex, holding down the top listing of the senior staff of the Recreation Complex.

The listing of Mr. Kelly and the remainder of the staff appears on page four across from a glowing testimonial and farewell to former Diretor of Recreation Michael Curnes, where those remaining will have to apparently follow his lead in the "legacy of best practices in recreation." 

The then rumoured appointment of Mr. Kelly recently was one of the more excitable of talking points this month on the local community portal hackingthemainframe, where some participants expressed their concerns over the process of selection of civic employees and what parameters may be used in the selection process.

It's an ongoing debate for some in the community, watchful over city hirings dating back more than a few years, and one of those civic issues that occasionally pops up on the radar, just ask former Mayor Herb Pond about that issue.

What seems unusual for such a high profile position is that so far to our knowledge there hasn't been any formal introduction to the public about their newest municipal public servant, no announcement trumpeting what he hopes to bring to the position, nor any background from the city on the exhaustive search that took place to fill the position, the volume of qualified candidates that applied and such or the path they took to select their candidate. The usual type of thing that typically comes with these kinds of personnel changes.

Likewise, we haven't heard much about the vacant competition for the Economic Development Officer position. No update on the progress of that decision has been provided as of yet, even though applications closed for that career opportunity at the start of May.  Almost one month later we have no idea, how many candidates may be on the short list or how close we are to a new face in the office to carry the torch of Economic Development.

Maybe like the Recreation Department, we'll have to wait for the next Economic Development office newsletter to be put in the loop on the happenings there, though we wonder if Nellie Cheng will receive a similar testimonial as that of Mr. Curnes.

The rather secretive nature of the city's selection process on high profile positions tends to continue on with the image of a less than transparent process and would seem to once again reinforce for the locals that the city operates on a we know best ethos, when it comes to the delivery of information on their internal decisions.

With that level of mystery on key positions, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise for the city then if people question those policies and those who make the decisions.

It's the economy (Weekend Edition, May 29 and 30, 2010)

Planning for the worst now in the Gulf, more pressure for the Euro and it's a lovely building going broke, some of the items of note from the weekend financials.

Globe and Mail-- After another failure, BP scrambles for next solution
Globe and Mail-- Content providers scramble to write the iPad’s future
Globe and Mail-- Canada ready to spend $1B on maternal health: sources
National Post-- Oil spill puts future of BP in doubt
National Post-- 16 GB iPads nearly sold out across Canada
National Post-- Banks banking on new customers
New York Times-- U.S. Plans ‘for Worst’ in Gulf, Seeing Risk in Leak Strategy
New York Times-- As Deflation Looms, E.C.B. Keeps Its Eye Firmly on Inflation
USA Today-- Poll: Debt stresses out Americans
USA Today-- Automakers rely more on 0% financing to close deals
Guardian UK online-- Fury and despair as BP admits oil could leak for months
Guardian UK online-- Euro under new pressure after Spain's debt rating is downgraded
Guardian UK online-- London housing shortage to push up prices
Times online UK-- Spain races to avert banking crisis as euro faces slide
Times online UK-- BP’s struggle lands all oil firms in deep water
Telegraph UK online-- Spain is trapped in a 'perverse spiral' as wage cuts deepen the crisis
Telegraph UK online-- Herman and his Frankenstein euro have done enough damage already
Telegraph UK online-- Beijing in a sweat as China's economy overheats
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Never say never again
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- How Sydney's iconic Opera House is at risk of 'financial tragedy'
People's Daily-- China housing market a bubble; gov't policies able to reduce potential damage: economist
People's Daily-- Chinese firms told to invest more in Africa
China Daily-- Wen expects early lanuch of FTA talks with S Korea
China Daily-- Minsheng Bank gets nod for subordinated bond issue
Times of India-- Economy much better now, but healthcare a deficit area: Pranab
Times of India-- India's well placed to take on Round 2 of recession: Joseph Stiglitz

Podunkian Brunch, Sunday, May 30, 2010

A few near summer days for the end of the week gave way to more traditional north coast weather patterns on Saturday, with much of the same set for the week ahead. Leaving you to your Sunday to plan for the week ahead  and we  hope take some time to review the brunch.

We kick off this weeks review by turning to basketball, where Steve Nash of Victoria provided the living proof that Canadians are tough no matter what sport they play. Nash who plays for the Phoenix Suns has had a rather physical NBA playoff season, featured with black eyes, gouges and any number of other maladies that would make lesser men head off for the disabled list. Perhaps the most impressive exhibition of his fortitude however came this past week, when he reset his nose while running up the court. In the course of some physical play under the Phoenix basket, Nash was bashed on his nose, resulting in cartilage separation and the need for some on the fly medical adjustments, a task that left his team mates watching in wonderment as he relocated his nose back to its proper position.

Alas, in the end even his single purpose determination wasn't enough though, the Suns were eliminated by the LA Lakers on Saturday. The legend that has become Nash was celebrated in the Globe and Mail, the CBC and Toronto Star this past month.

Over at the NHL which felt the need to take a week off before bringing us the Stanley Cup Finals, the future of Jaroslav Halak is looking pretty good in Montreal, not only is he the talk of the town for his efforts on behalf of Les Habitants this spring, but it's even been noticed by high profile American diplomats. David Jacobsen, the US ambassador to Canada played the role of potential player agent this week during an appearance at a Montreal event, in his remarks to the audience, Jacobsen played to the home crowd advising that while he didn't know a lot of French, he does believe that the word  Halak means gigantic contract.

We imagine that the recent election results in England are to be held responsible for Bob Rae's pining for another shot at that Liberal/NDP coalition of a few years back. Rae brought the idea back to life this week, though some suggest that perhaps too much interpretation has been read into his posted thoughts on his website. The prospect of the NDP and aimlessly wandering Liberals finding common ground has apparently put the Conservatives into a combative mood, dredging up some of their past warnings about the potential hordes at the gates of governance.

If someone was to offer the Conservatives a penny for their thoughts, one wonders how long those thoughts might last. Rumours continue to come out of Ottawa that the Finance Minister is giving serious thought to ending the role of the penny in Canada's monetary system. With the cost of production apparently outstripping the actual value of the coin, the prospect of Canadians evening out their purchase prices apparently is getting nearer and nearer.  With Canadians seemingly becoming hoarders of pennies ( or perhaps disinclined to roll them up into fifty cent units), we'll either have millions of dollars in collector items soon, or tons and tons of pointless coins to stash around the house.

The mess in the American Gulf continues to get worse, where BP, which we imagine by now probably universally is known as Bonehead Petroleum is apparently unable to stem the flow of oil from the bottom of the ocean. The much anticipated Top Kill plan apparently has become road kill, not providing any relief from the ongoing disaster that seems beyond resolution at the moment. As stretches of the Gulf region turn into dead zones, the crisis in the south is having some serious repercussions on the Obama presidency at the moment, more than a few political commentators finding fault with his administrations handling and response to the environmental disaster. Some going so far as to say that this is his Katrina, a reference to the pathetic response of George Bush's administration to the flooding of New Orleans. As though to perhaps bring home the message that things are going the wrong way politically for the President, one of the most recognizable Democratic political strategists, James Carville gave the President a very pulbic rebuke.

Not the kind of public relations that the President is going to find useful as he seeks to regain his footing on the issue and on the many other agenda items that he may wish to move forward. While the explosion on the rig and the subsequent blow out isn't the President's fault, the handling of its aftermath is his ball to run. He's finding that no matter what he does, it clearly won't be enough in the short term to remove some of the damage to his political image, though in the scheme of things, his political image isn't nearly in as much trouble as the coast lines of Louisiana, Mississippi and beyond...

Hollywood is mourning the loss of two actors this weekend, Gary Coleman who found fame in the television show Different Strokes passed away in Utah of an intracranial hemorrhage  after an accident in his home.

And Dennis Hopper, one of Hollywood's more intriguing of characters passed away after a lengthy battle with prostate cancer, Hopper who came to prominence with his role in Easy Rider, had a fascinating film career with a number of acting roles and director credits on his resume.

With the world's economic picture rather rocky these days, seeking quality information on the intricacies of the economic picture can be tricky. One of our more reliable options for information gathering is the British magazine The Economist, which features a rather useful and informative podcast for download, updated regularly it provides the latest interpretations of what's going on, it's our podcast recommendation of the week.

And to wrap up this week's edition of the brunch, news that the Ford Motor Company is preparing to bring to an end the line of Mercury automobiles, an ironic twist of fate for the famed line that at one time was the salvation of the then floundering Ford Motor Company. Created in 1939 by Henry Ford's son Edsel (yes the same as your thinking) it's blend of common sense and luxury helped propel Ford on to better times. Now as the auto industry continues to contract, it seems that the Mercury is no longer part of the master plan for Ford. To that end we celebrate the past with this tribute to Mercury's, David Lindley with perhaps the best version of Mercury Blues that there is.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Friday, May 28, 2010)

The City prepares to hear from its residents over the new maintenance bylaw, new transitional housing is set for construction and one more chance to save some portion of the Eurocan mill in Kitimat, some of the items of interest for Friday's news files.

Daily News, front page, headline story
CITY GETTING CLOSER TO PROPERTY MAINTENANCE BYLAW -- Details of the city's proposed property maintenance bylaw, recently given second reading at coucnil, public comments on the proposed changes will be heard at the next council meeting on June 7.

A former Prince Rupert resident now attending the University of Victoria prepares her bid for the title of Miss Teen Canada World. The Daily profiles the challenge ahead for Ellysse Lindley.

The debate over whether tankers will ever be allowed to transit the waters of the North coast continues to heat up, with Enbridge pushing forward with it's plans to develop a pipeline and transportation terminal in Kitimat, while at the same time the Federal government is being asked to clarify its position on the prospect of tankers along the west coast.

The Sports section features a look at a group of former Prince Rupert residents who currently are tearing up the hockey scene in Keolowna

(Daily News Archives for Friday May 28, 2010)

Getting closer to a property maintenance bylaw
Local girl sets eyes on Miss Teen Canada World 
Tankers on the coast - to be or not to be?
Annual smoltfest his here
Cost of medical stays may increase

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

CFTK TV 7 News
New transitional housing will make for smoother transitions -- A report on the construction plans for new transitional housing in the city as the North Coast Transition Society moves forward with their long anticipated project. (see article here) Sahar Nassimdoost provided this report for CFTK TV News.

CFTK TV 7 News 
West Fraser, Eurocan Viability Group to meet Monday -- While the time frame for a solution is running out, union reps in Kitimat are still hopeful that a plan can be put together to save some form of the Eurocan operations in that city (see article here)

CBC News Norther BC, Daybreak North 
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

City getting closer to property maintenance bylaw
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
Staff Writer
Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, May 28, 2010

Prince Rupert’s new property maintenance bylaw received its first and second reading at the May 25 council meeting.

Before it’s finalization the public will have an opportunity to make comments at the June 7 Regular City Council meeting. “I think we need to put aside time for people to come in and talk to us during the petitions and delegations portion of our meeting, even though it’s not a public hearing,” suggested Councillor Joy Thorkelson Members of council endorsed Thorkelson’s motion unanimously.

In his report to council, City Manager Gordon Howie said that in February 2010 council instructed staff to update the Nuisance Bylaw to include the appearances of buildings in the downtown core.

The difference between the nuisance bylaw that currently exists and the new one that’s being proposed, Howie explained, is that the new bylaw should allow the City to look at aesthetics as well as structure and general clutter in addition to things that are traditionally considered to be a 

 “The intent of the proposed bylaw is to provide the City with a tool that can be used to encourage and impel property owners to maintain their building facades. This desire to do so has come in response to the deteriorating appearances and maintenance of some buildings and properties in the downtown core and the negative impression this situation is having on visitors and citizens alike,” Howie commented.

If building owners fail to comply, the bylaw will give the City the ability to do work on properties and charge it to the owners or recover it through property taxes.

After Howie’s report, Councillor Joy Thorkelson voiced two concerns about the bylaw.

 “We’ve been operating, if my memory serves me correctly, under the provisions of the community charter when we’ve been declaring nuisances and derelict buildings. Is this going to replace those sections?” she asked.

Howie confirmed the sections under the charter would still be available, but the difference is that the new bylaw would delegate to staff the ability to order cleanups. Anybody has the right to appeal staff decisions and bring those decisions to council, he added.

Secondly, Thorkelson said, when she was envisioning doing something about the state of buildings in the downtown, she wasn’t anticipating a bylaw that was as comprehensive as the one being proposed under the property maintenance bylaw.

“I certainly would be interested in doing something like this as long as it didn’t engender a whole lot of protest about cars parked on boulevards and the like, because I think that we’ve been dealing with people who have not had a lot of money to upkeep their 
houses,” she said.

Council has dealt with houses in a manner that has been respectful of people’s ability to pay and also respectful of the community’s desire to have a decent neighbourhood, and a neighbourhood without hazard, she added.

“This bylaw seems to go a lot further than that. It’s certainly comprehensive and talks about animal droppings and graffiti - which I guess is a downtown issue - emission of dust and snow removal.”

Council has also expressed a desire to develop a permissive tax exemption program for business and building owners and Thorkelson asked whether there is still a plan to present such an incentive alongside the property bylaw.

“If we are just going to be using a stick and not a carrot, then I do have some problems,” she said.

 Mayor Jack Mussallem confirmed that he and staff have met with business owners and prepared additional information about a tax exemption program.

 “We are going to be meeting with business community members again. Staff has phoned property owners and there have been offers made by various community groups on cleanup. There are some property owners who refuse to acknowledge any sort of overtures in regards to cleanup so this bylaw is intended for those in the most severe case,” Mussallem explained.

Howie said the exemption bylaw should be coming to council in June, but didn’t know if it would be in time for the June 7 meeting.

“The two are not maybe as closely linked as they should be, but are at least within six weeks of each other,” he suggested.

Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne said she was glad the bylaw was moving forward sooner than later because there have been some businesses the City has been trying to work with and has received no response.

“I was hoping by the time this comes to us, by the third and fourth reading, that we actually know we have letters ready to send out to those few business that have been brought to our attention,” she said.

 She also wondered who is the judge when it comes to what is considered unsightly.

 “If we’re going to send a letter out and say, “your store front is so unsightly” and I’ll say, “oh my gosh I don’t see anything wrong with that”. Who’s the judge and will we get tied up somehow in court?”

Responding, the mayor said that before any property is acted upon there is a senior staff group that will look at the issue.

 “We wrestled with that a bit,” said Howie. “Beauty and ugly are in the eyes of the beholder and we thought we could get three beholders together to discuss that - because it is a subject of objectivity. That was suggested by us and vetted through our legal advisors and they feel that system would work and would withstand the test of the law. That’s not to say someone might not challenge it.”

 Copies of the proposed property bylaw are available at City Hall or on the City’s website.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's the economy (Friday, May 28, 2010)

Gordon Campbell's Waterloo, Dowgrading Spain and the blight of useless, unemployed men. Some of the highlights of the Friday financials.

Globe and Mail-- Spain’s troubled savings banks may spur new financial crisis
Globe and Mail-- HST backlash could prove to be B.C. Liberals’ Waterloo
Globe and Mail-- Greece could set off bigger debt bomb
National Post-- Spain's downgrade fresh blow for world markets
National Post-- Canada won't fall victim to foreclosure wave: Report
National Post-- Carney's big call
Vancouver Sun-- iPad launches in Canada: Vancouver lineups start early this morning
Vancouver Sun-- BC government hit with lawsuit after rejecting independent power project
New York Times-- Strike in China Highlights Gap in Workers’ Pay
New York Times-- BP Engineers Making Little Headway on Leaking Well
New York Times-- U.S. Bank Failure Total Is 77 as 4 More Institutions Are Shut
USA Today-- Cameron: Britain can't move forward till deficit is reduced
USA Today-- Reynolds cuts cigarette production, increases smokeless
Guardian UK online-- Euro falls as Spain suffers rating downgrade
Guardian UK online-- iPad goes on sale as Apple faithful flock to Britain's stores
Guardian UK online-- BP shares drop as clean-up cost approaches $1bn
Times online UK-- Euro plunges as Spain’s debt downgraded
Times online UK-- Useless, jobless men – the social blight of our age
Telegraph UK online-- BP will remain stuck in muddy waters whether Hayward stays or goes
Telegraph UK online-- Fitch downgrades Spain's credit rating
Telegraph UK online-- David Cameron hints at interest rate rise to combat 'worrying' inflation
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Virgin shares dive on poor profit
Melbourne Herald Sun-- Santos wins approval for Gladstone LNG
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- James Packer quiz - test your knowledge
People's Daily-- Resource tax to be levied in Xinjiang
People's Daily-- China to continue proactive fiscal policy on domestic, international uncertainties: finance minister
China Daily-- China orders review of local govt finances (Agencies)
China Daily-- Banks lend less in May as stimulus winds down
Times of India-- Food inflation eases, but still above 16%
Times of India-- India can turn euro crisis into opportunity

City Hall Tracker for May 25, 2010

A busy Tuesday night session for council with special reports on Northern Health, closing a session to the public for a special meeting and further movement on the property maintenance bylaw and official community plan among the items for this session of council.

May 25, 2010

Agenda for Regular Council meeting of May, 25 2010
Committee of the Whole Agenda for May 25, 2010
Notice of Special Meeting of council for May 25, 2010
Report to Council on Northern Health's Medical stay program
Public Hearing Agenda for May 25, 2010

In Attendance: 

Mayor Jack Mussallem 
Councillor Anna Ashley 
Councillor Gina Garon 
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne 
Councillor Nelson Kinney 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson 

Absent from Council:

Councillor Kathy Bedard

Minutes for May 25, 2010 
(None posted to city website)

Daily News Voting summary
(Summary printed in May 26 edition)

Attendance at City Hall to date archives .

Next council meeting scheduled for June 7, 2010

City council scoresheet for May 25, 2010

The Thursday, May 27 edition of the Daily News featured their regular scorecard on city council issues, this one featuring the deliberations and votes from selected items of the May 25 session of council. . This weeks feature appeared on page three of the Wednesday edition.

Question One: Through the Community to Community Forum, City staff will solicit a regional response to the announcement by Northern Health that it is planning to close the Medical Stay Units at B. C. Housing where individuals are charged a flat rate of $25 a night, $140 a week or $450 a month. Instead patients can access medical rates at local hotels, bed and breakfasts and hostels, ranging from $45 plus tax to $129 plus tax per night. 

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes 
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes 
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes 
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Excused due to conflict of interest 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes

Question Two: Council committed to providing funding to the BCSPCA at the level of $23,200 annually for the next two years and to reviewing the level of funding in 2012 if the City's financial position improves.

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes 
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent 
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes

Question Three: Council approved first and second reading to the property maintenance Bylaw No. 3297, 2010

How council voted: 

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes 
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes 
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes 
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes 

Question Four: There will be a time period set aside at the June 7 council meeting for the public to comment on the property maintenance bylaw. 

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes 
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes

Question Five: Because of an error in announcing the public hearing for amendments to the Official Community Plan regarding the BC Climate Action charter, the public hearing will be held on June 7, 2010.

How council voted:

Mayor Jack Mussallem-- Yes
Councillor Anna Ashley-- Yes
Councillor Kathy Bedard-- Absent 
Councillor Nelson Kinney-- Yes
Councillor Gina Garon-- Yes
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne-- Yes
Councillor Joy Thorkelson-- Yes

Podunk Below the Masthead (Thursday, May 27, 2010)

Northwest Community College celebrates its grads, Northern health puts out the call for patients to access a family doctor and Nathan Cullen weighs in on the MP spending debate. Some of the items of interest for Thursday.

Daily News, front page headline story
PRINCE RUPERT CAMPUS STUDENTS RECEIVE PROUD RECOGNITION-- Deatils of the graduation ceremonies at Northwest Community College last week, which saw 38 students don the cap and gown in recognition of their achievements at the college.

The proposed change to hours at the Recycling centre has a long time environmental advocate concerned that Rupertites may fall back on their recycling efforts if the process is not made user friendly. Jean Martin outlined her concerns to the Daily News for Thursday's edition.

The turnover of the old King Edward Elementary School last year to the Metlakatla Development Corp. for one dollar has once again been examined. As the School District continues to seek a way to sell off some of it's own school properties in the city. The Old King Ed school had been in the hands of the Integrated Land Management Bureau, selling it to Metlakatla Devolopment in what is essentially a hand over of property to the local First Nations economic development organization. 

The Sports section features a look at high school track and field with a report on the success of Prince Rupert Secondary School's team at the recent zones competition.

(Daily News Archives for Thursday, May 27, 2010)

Prince Rupert campus students receive proud recognition
Recycling champion voices concerns
Nurses reunited at Homecoming
Centennial Edgar Dunning in Rupert
A building for a buck

The Northern View
Enbridge files for review of proposed pipeline -- Enbridge has launched its bid for a proposed pipeline known as the Northern Gateway, with copies of it's application posted to a government site as well as the company's website (see article here)

Northern Health recruiting families without family doctors -- With the shortage of family doctor's in the city starting to ease Northern health, has advised the estimated 800 or so residents still without one to contact the city's new primary health care clinic to be assigned a family doctor (see article here) Sahar Nassimdoost provided a report on the story for TV 7 News (view report here)

Cullen addresses MP expense debate -- Nathan Cullen. the NDP MP for Skeena- Bulkley Valley has offered up his take on the current debate in Ottawa over MP spending, as we outlined on the blog on Wednesday, Mr. Cullen was recently listed as one of the top spending MP's currently serving in Ottawa. (see article here)

Enbridge Formally Applies for Regulatory Approval of Northern Gateway -- Details of Enbridge's application for Regulatory Approval for it's Northern Gateway pipeline project (see article here)

Teacher's next trek -- The latest details on Tulani Ackerman's quest to bring more awareness to student's needs through her Steps project. Which will see the local teacher leave Prince Rupert on July 1st and begin walk and bike  journey to Victoria to bring home her message. (Sahar Nassimdoost provided this report for CFTK TV 7 News)

CBC News Norther BC, Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. 

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Daily News, front page, headline story
Prince Rupert campus students receive proud recognition
By George T. Baker
Staff Writer
Prince Rupert Daily News
Thursday, May 27, 2010

They were lined up behind dignitaries and ushered in by the Sm’ Haalyt Dancers, but for NWCC Prince Rupert, the 38 graduating students of 2010 were the real show.

The Lester Centre for the Arts lower bowl was packed with proud instructors, beaming families and flashing bulbs as picture after picture was taken during the Convocation Ceremony on May 21.

“Wow! I feel good… for you!” shouted District of Port Edward councillor James Brown, whose loud praise shocked the audience into laughter. “Feel good about yourself. These days you need to continue your education – in this world you have to be certified.” Brown could be right.

Last September, Statistics Canada profiled the Canadian employment sector based on education levels in 2007. That statistics department found that 25 per cent of Canadian adults aged 25 to 64 had received a university degree or a university certificate above a bachelor’s, surpassing 23 other OECD nations. Norway led the way with 32 per cent, followed by the United States (31 per cent). Ontario (28 per cent) and British Columbia (26 per cent) exceeded the Canadian average.

During the same year, Canada’s employment rate for individuals with a high school diploma or the equivalent of a trade or vocational diploma was 77 per cent. For college or university graduates, it was 83 per cent. The corresponding OECD averages were 76 per cent and 85 per cent, respectively. In Canada, the employment rate for those who had not completed high school was 57 per cent.

Having a certificate, or even a university degree, is no longer a benefit to help those seeking employment - it is now considered a must.

The class valedictorian Delphine Barton’s speech echoed those figures. Barton had been a career hairstylist until an arthritis condition forced her to quit the profession. She knew she couldn’t retire.

Barton had to go back to school.

In 2003, Barton received an invitation to attend a workshop on deciding what she wanted to do. The workshop leaders asked her to set a goal. The request amazed Barton.

“At that point in my life, it had never occurred to me to set a goal for myself.” After six years of balancing part-time work, family and school, she did accomplish a set goal – her adult Dogwood diploma.

 “I achieved my goal,” she told those gathered. “Education is the key that opens the door. I would like to say to Grad Class 2010, congratulations and good luck, wherever your endeavors take you.”

 Mayor Jack Mussallem, who was joined by North Coast MLA Gary Coons and Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, is hoping that their skills don’t take them geographically far. Mussallem congratulated the grads on their achievement and asked if they would stay and help the community grow.

 “One day we may see one of these people on city council,” said Mussallem. “I hope in the years ahead you look back at the fond memories of your education.”

“This college punches above its weight,” praised Cullen. “I can’t wait to see what you are all up to over the years.”

Coons concurred. 

“This isn’t the end. There are lots more to come,” said Coons. “The tassel is worth the hassle.”

Having an award is a nice accompaniment to the tassel hats. Three awards were handed out last Friday. Symbia Barnaby was awarded with the first ever Patti Barnes Humanitarian Award for her work hosting a weeklong symposium on women’s issues at the College Campus. She was joined by Danielle Kinney who was recognized with the Adult Special Education Award, and Kate Fish and Christa Barette, who were co-winners of the John Jensen Award for Political Activism for their hosting of the 350-Day, an environmental awareness event.

 “This wouldn’t be possible without the Creator, my mom, my dad, my loving husband and my children,’ said Barnaby, a sentiment that was shared by many of the grads. “All of this wouldn’t have happened without you.” 

Friday’s ceremonies also presented one last convocation for NWCC board Chair Irene Seguin. Seguin was the first board member and chair of aboriginal descent. She is stepping down in July after 15 years of volunteer work with the college.

 “The most important work that you have before you is that you are role models. Children and others will learn from you, no matter what your background.”

Required reading before you dining

Before you dig into that chef's special this weekend, perhaps a little research into what's happening on the other side of that swinging door might be in order.  

Healthspace has published the latest findings from the Northern Health Authority region,  as they continue to keep track of Prince Rupert's restaurant sector, providing regular reports on issues of note for those that enjoy a good night out with some fine dining. 

Posted on a semi regular basis, the inspection reports for the city's wide range of dining options provides for some interesting reading on some of the more popular and lesser known establishments in town. The list ranges from the fanciest of restaurants in town to bars, pubs, fast food operations and even school cafeterias.  

The latest reports were provided the week of May 21st, outlining some of the infractions found and remedial efforts taken among the city's restaurant owners. The healthspace website does however provide the following caveat to its listed findings: The inspections and hazard ratings posted on this site are valid only at the time of inspection. Conditions are subject to change. Information is posted to this site as often as possible to reflect the current conditions. This site may not reflect any changes made to correct the hazards identified. New hazards may occur subsequent to the time of the last inspection. Visitors to this site are cautioned against interpreting the status of a particular facility based on only one report. 

The listing of restaurants is provided in a number of categories, perhaps the one of most interest to Rupertites and visitors alike is the current hazard level of establishments in the city,  rated from high to low which you can check out here

For further details on a particular establishment simply click on the restaurant's name, which outlines the current state of the restaurant's standing on the list. 

Healthspace also provides public inspection reports on other concerns of note, such as drinking water (a tad out of date),  recreational water issues (pools in the city) and beaches (where such exist). 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's the economy (Thursday, May 27, 2010)

A Canadian set to deliver the Royal Mail, the iPad arrives in Canada and is Europe heading for a meltdown? Some of the items of interest for Thursday.

Globe and Mail-- Obama extends offshore drilling halt
Globe and Mail-- Canada Post CEO moves to Royal Mail
Globe and Mail-- Oil rallies on hurricane forecast
National Post-- BP stops oil flow, but slick worst in U.S. history
National Post-- Apple iPad hits Canadian stores tomorrow
National Post-- Financial advisor to the stars charged in US$30-million fraud
New York Times-- Spain Clears Budget Cuts, Just Barely
New York Times-- Geithner Sees Consensus on Finance Reform
New York Times-- Setback Delays ‘Top Kill’ Effort to Seal Leaking Oil Well in Gulf
USA Today-- Geithner: US, Europe broadly agree on financial reform
USA Today-- U.S. newspaper ad revenue falls 10%; online revenue up
Guardian UK online-- Markets calmer but Spanish cuts are passed by only one vote
Guardian UK online-- Mark Hoban says investment banks likely to face competition review
Guardian UK online-- Yes, deficits are huge. But tightening policy too soon would be a historic mistake
Times on line UK-- US fears German move may damage recovery
Times on line UK-- Spanish PM faces tight austerity vote
Telegraph UK online-- Is Europe heading for a meltdown?
Telegraph UK online-- Europe facing strikes over austerity packages
Telegraph UK online-- Royal Mail's new chief executive gets political stamp of approval
Melbourne Herald Sun-- OECD confirms strong growth - Swan
Melbourne Herald Sun-- "I don't work for nothing," says nation's richest
Sydney Daily Telegraph-- 7-Eleven acquires 295 Mobil petrol stations to become largest independent retailer
People's Daily-- Emerging economies' performance boosts OECD's forecast
People's Daily-- Europe debt crisis to have limited impact on nation
China Daily-- China tax administration to tighten collection of land tax
China Daily-- China fund head says will not cut Europe holding
Times of India-- Bharti starts fund-raiser to buy Zain's African assets
Times of India-- India-US commercial ties at their peak: USIBC

Podunk Below the Masthead (Wednesday, May 26, 2010)

A successful end to a fund-raising cyclist's adventures, the Port puts some money towards community groups and
the SPCA seeks assistance from the public on abandoned pets, some of the items of interest in the Wednesday news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
EMERGENCY NURSE CYCLIST COMPLETES HER JOURNEY FROM RED DEER-- An emergency room nurse at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital has completed her fundraising ride from Red Deer back to Prince Rupert. By the time the journey had come to an end  on May 18th Nurse Rae had raised 8,000 dollars towards the purchase of new HD cameras for the hospital.

The Provincial government has put in motion funding to a toal of 5.3 million dollars in upgrades to the Nisga'a Highway improving access to the Nass Valley from Terrace. Work begins this month and will wrap up by August of this year.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons has weighed in on the debate over classroom cameras, suggesting that there would be few benefits to having the close circuit cameras in place in School District classrooms. Coons outlined his main concern on the issue of that of overuse and potential abuse.

The sports section featured a photo of yet another award  for former Rupertite Lisa Walters, the former professional golfer was back in town for Homecoming 2010 and received the City of Prince Rupert Achievement Award on Tuesday. The section also features an update on the plans for the Seafest Men's soccer tournament , set for the Port Edward Soccer fields on Seafest weekend in June.

(Daily News Archive Items for May 26, 2010)

Emergency Nurse cyclist completes her journey
Upgrades to Nisga'a Highway
Naikun recalculating but hopeful
MLA says no cameras in the classroom
Friendship House going for a greenhouse  

The Northern View
Prince Rupert Port Authority provides more than $55,000 to community groups-- The Port Authority spread some goodwill around town recently as they distributed more than 55,000 dollars of donations to a number of local groups and organizations (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News 
SPCA asking for public's participation -- The SPCA in town strives to reduce the number of abandoned pets in the city with a plea to the public. (see article here) Sahar Nassimdoost provided this report for TV 7)

CFTK TV 7 News 
Deadline to comment on NTL looming -- The opportunity to comment on the planned Northern Transmission Line is fast approaching, as local residents with concerns or questions have until June 10th to make their views known (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News 
NH puts cancellation of program on hold -- Northern Health reverses itself on the issue of the Medical Stay program, keeping the program intact on a month to month basis pending further discussion (see article here) (Sahar Nassimdoost provided this report on TV 7)

CFTK TV 7 News
Poll Released Showing Opposition to West Coast Oil Tankers -- Details of a recent poll that suggest that 80 percent of British Columbians surveyed want a ban on oil tankers on the west coast (see article here)

CBC News Norther BC, Daybreak North
Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now.

The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Daily News, front page, headline story
Emergency nurse cyclist completes her journey from Red Deer 
By Monica Lamb-Yorski 
Staff Writer 
Prince Rupert Daily News
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

 A long ride and an impressive $8000 later, Nurse Rae is back home.

After pedalling 1,964 km on her bicycle from Red Deer to Prince Rupert, and raising almost $8,000 toward the purchase of new HD cameras for Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, Emergency Nurse Rae is back at work.

On May 21 hospital staff celebrated her return with a 

Nurse Rae arrived home May 18, earlier than expected. That’s a surprise in itself, because originally she thought it was a 1,500 km journey and it turned out to be 464 km longer.

Her expediency was due to being able to ride on average over 100 km a day.

“It worked out better than I expected. My longest day was a hundred and thirty five kilometres,” she recalled.

Her steady progress even allowed for a couple of relax days.In Prince George she dined at Denny’s and slept in a hotel.

The weather was terrible at the beginning of her trip. There was snow, sleet, hail and thunderstorms to contend with between Red Deer and Jasper. Photographs of her trip show her bike parked in the snow at several locations. 

“They had a hot tub at a hostel, but when I looked at it and the snow, I decided to go to bed instead,” she explained.

Between McBride and Prince George she saw a bear up close and personal. It was skinny and small and nosing around.

“I got in after one of my longest days and set up my tent in this little lay-bar and we frightened each other quite badly. Then a trucker came in and parked his rig and he didn’t even see me.

“After that the bear was gone and, because the trucker left his rig running all night, I got a good night sleep,” Nurse Rae said.

It is a peculiar thing that the bear appeared at that particular juncture of the ride. A long poster, created ahead of time by one of her co-workers to plot her progress, included a bear painted on it near to the spot where she actually saw the bear.

 “It couldn’t have been any closer,” she said, shaking her head.

 After Prince George the weather made the trip a “walk in the park”, she commented. “I met so many interesting people. Some that have already cycled between Istanbul and Beijing, Iceland and New Zealand.”

Congratulating her at the barbecue, Orthopaedic Surgeon Alf Smith asked if it was a difficult journey. “You had a lot of big hills to climb,” he said.

“Sometimes I didn’t know what to do,” she told him. “When I was going through the Ice Fields in Jasper I got off the bike and walked because I was going so slow. And at that point I needed to stretch and sometimes my feet were so cold I had to walk to warm them up.” Overall, Rae summed it up as a great experience and, besides accomplishing the fundraising and the personal challenge, she also spent time thinking her own life.

“I spent a lot of time pouring over things,” she said. Still impressed with the generosity of people in Prince Rupert that contributed to the fundraising, Nurse Rae is overwhelmed by what she described as the ‘grass roots nature’ of the project.

“Even people that didn’t have [much] money contributed. It was amazing,” she added.