Prince Rupert’s news makers of 2019: Part 2

The Northern View Year in Review 2019: July - December

  • Dec. 31, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Prince Rupert’s news makers of 2019: Part 1

Prince Rupert 2019 Sports in Review: Part 1

JULY

Judge Herman Seidemann retired from the judicial bench, in July, after working through 42 years of legal cases in Prince Rupert. Seidemann ascended to the court bench after 24 years as a local lawyer. An illustrious career spanned from the beginning with a degree in physics, to teaching high school, to the legal profession. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Historic win for B.C. fishermen

For the first time in B.C.’s history, those working on commercial fishing boats will be a certified bargaining unit under the labour code. On June 17, the labour relations board ruled that crew members of seine boats could become their own certified unit.

Nearly 92 per cent of B.C. seine fishers voted in favour of becoming certified to bargain like many other groups of workers. This vote will pave the path for a collective bargaining agreement to be negotiated under the labour code.

The bargaining unit now includes “all salmon seine boat crew members employed by Canadian Fishing Company including captains/skippers, engineers, mates, cooks, deckhands, and crew members who own the seine boat, and crew members who share ownership of the boat, in the Province of British Columbia”.

READ MORE: Historic win for B.C. fishermen now bargaining under labour code

Coal Terminal Sold

Ridley Terminal Inc. was sold for $350 million to a multinational private equity firm. AMCI Group and Riverstone Holdings have purchased 90 per cent of shares of the local coal terminal, with the remaining ten per cent of shares transferred to a limited liability partnership owned by the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation.

READ MORE: Canada divests from Prince Rupert’s Ridley coal terminal, First Nations to get portion

Ray-Mont Logistics partners with CN rail to announce multimillion-dollar facility

A multimillion-dollar plastic pellet export facility will be constructed by Ray-Mont Logistics in partnership with CN Rail. Construction started on the first phase of the facility in August. The ability to bag the plastic pellets on site provides producers direct access to global shipping lanes offered in Print Rupert. CN Rail will transport the product from Alberta by rail.

READ MORE: New plastic pellet export facility to be built at Prince Rupert Port

Coast Tsimshian sign historic stewardship agreement

The leaders of the Coast Tsimshian, which include representatives from Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla have signed a joint stewardship agreement in an effort to preserve environmental ownership of traditional territory. The 22,000 hectares of Crown land was proposed to be sold to the Nisga’a Nation. The agreement follows a protest and information road block along Highway 16 in June. The land which lies in the area around the Nasoga Gulf, north of Prince Rupert is claimed by both the Tsimshian and Nisga’a Nations.

READ MORE: Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla plan to work as one to preserve traditional lands

AUGUST

A brand new kitchen graces the interior of The Friendship House thanks to the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Community Investment Fund. The $94,172 investment for a state-of the-art kitchen was celebrated, with a barbeque lunch and tour of the improved centre. The kitchen offers multicultural events, nutrition classes, soup kitchen and food bank services as well as being a home for a youth catering business. It is the first major renovation of the kitchen in the Friendship House’s 60 year history. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Foster child guilty of stabbing parents

A Prince Rupert foster child was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter according to a judgment released on Aug. 27. The youth, who may not be identified under the Youth Justice Act, had his sleepwalking plea rejected. In the early morning of Oct. 18, 2017, police responded to a stabbing where they found the two foster parents suffering from serious injuries. The foster mother was medevaced to Vancouver where she died eight days later, and the foster father died the day of the incident. The 17-year-old youth was taken into custody and charged with two counts of second degree murder.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert foster child found guilty of manslaughter in stabbing deaths of foster parents

Prince Rupert Port jumps

Prince Rupert Port Authority released a report that showed a growth of 1,000 jobs over the past two years.

The 2018 numbers show an increase in employment to 6,200 jobs from 5,200 in 2016. The Port of Prince Rupert is Canada’s third largest port by value of trade with 26.7 million tonnes of goods shipped through our region. The economic trade value totals approximately $50 million. This benefits Prince Rupert with the transporation of trade through the gateway by creating $1.5 billion of economic activity in the region.

READ MORE: Port employment jumps by 1,000 in two years

$22M for water treatment project

Residents of Prince Rupert will soon be raising their glasses to a cup full of clean water, after all three levels of government announced an investment of more than $22 million toward Rupert’s water treatment project.

The funding will go toward the construction of a new water treatment plant and submarine water pipeline across Fern Channel, the body of water west of the island and East of the mainland, to ensure safe drinking water. This is phase three of the city’s plan to replace its ageing water infrastructure.

READ MORE: City of Prince Rupert announces $22M for water treatment project

Lead Levels

Water quality tests conducted by the City of Prince Rupert, with the assistance of Northern Health, showed positive for elevated lead levels in the water. Ten out of sixty homes were found to have higher lead levels in test taken in the morning after the “first flush”, when water was left to sit overnight. The city has noted if residents run the water until it is cold they will receive a fresh supply that has not been sitting in the pipes.

The city said the issue is not one of an infrastructure incidence as the issues are not in “problem areas”, but are instead dispersed through town. To gain a professional opinion city residents may call a plumber to have their pipes and taps assessed.

The city stated, “It is important to note that regular samples collected from the testing stations with in Prince Rupert’s community water system show lead results well below federal and provincial standards”.

READ MORE: Elevated levels of lead found in homes after City of Prince Rupert tests first flushing

SEPTEMBER

The school year started with loads of fun as students at Conrad elementary couldn’t wait to play on the new yard equipment. The playground project replaced aging structures with full accessible components and rubberized matting allowing all level of mobility to enjoy the atmosphere. The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA), partnered with the Conrad Elementary School Accessible Park project, contributed $116,000 to the endeavour. The investment allowed a significant boost in the scope of the project from being a simple replacement to construction of a modern inclusive playground space for everyone. The venture was made possible by many contributors such as The Province of B.C’s Playground Equipment Program, School District No. 52, the Conrad Parent Advisory Council (PAC), Pembina, Men of the Moose and Prince Rupert Grain. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Recycle Revision

Failure by residents to follow the rules has caused the 24/7 transfer station to be closed as of Oct. 20. The North Coast Regional District (NCRD) announced the decision to close the facility on Kaien road in early October. A number of users continued to leave abandoned waste materials such as household garbage, scrap metal, auto body parts, sanitary and bio-hazardous waste at the transfer station. The abandonment of extra waste materials posed a risks to staff safety and equipment. The regional recycling depot has extended it’s Saturday hours to be open from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. to offset the closure of the depot now on Sundays.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert and Port Edward must say goodbye to their 24/7 recycling station

$153.7M investment for PRPA

The Port of Prince Rupert received a $153.7 million investment boost for three separate projects. The funding, which was announced in Sept. comes from the federal governments National Trade Corridors Fund (NTCF) to support trade infrastructure. The Port and CN are collaborating on a $122 -million project, NTCF is funding tot he tune of $60.6 million for the rehabilitation of Zanardi Rapids area and Ridley Island. Ridley Island Export Logistics Platform project received $49.85 million towards a $100 million project for rail infrastructure investment. The Metlakatla Development Corporation was allocated $43.3 million for the Metlakatla Import Logistics Park Project. This project is site development of 25 hectares on Kaien Island that will fully integrate with DP World’s Fairview Container Terminal. The total of this endeavour will be $89 million.

READ MORE: Port of Prince Rupert receives $153.7 M investment for three infrastructure projects

Tent City

A tent city was set up outside city hall in late Sept. by Dayna Mastre and Veronica Fenton to bring attention to the plight of the homeless. It is alleged by the supporters that the city’s homeless were being mistreated by the shelter’s employees. Dayna Mastre worked at the shelter for approximately six months, before being let go. One homeless male reported that he was allegedly turned out for toasting some bread after hours, which resulted in him living in an alley and subsequently being beaten up leaving him with both eyes blackened. Steve Jaeger said there were other issues beyond abuse in the shelter that needed to be taken of care of such as broken washers and lack of adequate space for personal hygiene. The tents were packed up after a couple of days as the protest come to a positive resolution with RCMP assisting in mediation.

READ MORE: Tents pitched outside City Hall to protest the treatment of Prince Rupert’s homeless

READ MORE: Weekend-long tent city protest comes to an end, here’s what happened

Commitment of Cash

A long standing lobbying campaign is paying off with the Province announcing it’s commitment to negotiating a revenue sharing agreement. A group of 18 municipalities and three regional districts in northwestern B.C. known as the Northwest Regional Benefits Alliance (RBA) advocated for communities with infrastructure and social impacts caused by major industrial developments. Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain, Terrace city councillor Sean Bujtas and Houston Mayor Shane Brienin were commended for their work on the RBA board, by Premier John Horgan, at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention held in Vancouver.

READ MORE: Province commits to negotiating revenue-sharing agreement with northwest B.C. municipalities

OCTOBER

Decades of hard work and fundraising have resulted in the first Heilstuk First Nation Big Housing in 120 years finally being opened. The community now has an appropriate place for spiritual and ceremonial events like potlatches and the naming of babies, which were previously held in a community centre. The building took 18 months to construct out of entirely all red and yellow cedar from the territory. Indigenous artists have worked for ten years on the four posts to tell the story of the Heiltsuk peoples origin. The community in Bella Bella celebrated for five days and expected as many as 2,000 guests coming from as far away as New Zealand. The last Big House located in the First Nation’s territory along the B.C. coast was destroyed 120 years ago.

Bitumen hits the road

A shipment of bitumen paved the way in the world’s first successful cartage of the semi-solid product headed to global markets. Calgary based Melius Energy announced the bitumen, from Edmonton to Prince Rupert, was transported on to Asia in custom built 20-foot shipping containers, using intermodal rail and vessel infrastructure. This is the company’s first BitCrude transport demonstration. In compliance with Canada’s regulatory framework, this test shipment proved the ability to move bitumen safely and efficiently.

“It’s a product that can alleviate a lot of concern with moving Alberta’s heave oil through the community in British Columbia. the goal is a safe product and economical product with the focus being on safety,” Cal Broder, chairman on BitCrude Energy LP, said.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert final Canadian stop in first successful shipment of semi-solid bitumen, what are the impacts?

Skeena-Bulkley Valley goes NDP

The new MP for Skeena-Bulkley valley is Taylor Bachrach. The NDP candidate won the largest geographical riding in B.C. with more than 3000 votes over his closest competitor. It is the first time since 2004 that the seventh largest electoral riding in the country has not been represented by long time NDP MP, Nathan Cullen. Bachrach leaped ahead of his main rival, Conservative Party candidate, Claire Rattee, with 16,670 votes or 40.9 per cent, compared to Ratte’s 13,637 votes or 33.4 per cent.

Bachrach stressed in his victory speech that he looks forward to working with the other parties on global climate change saying he hopes they recognize the seriousness of the matter. Bachrach also called to attention his wish for universal pharmacare.

READ MORE: Play-by-play: Bachrach new MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, all 219 polls reported

READ MORE: Prince Rupert and Port Ed go orange

NOVEMBER

The City of Prince Rupert covered the cost of armed guards on MV Malaspina Ferry between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan, Alaska so service could run two round trips, once in Oct. and once in Nov., according to the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Affairs (DOT&PF). The Alaska Marine Highway System was scheduled to end the ferry service from Ketchikan to Prince Rupert at the end of Sept. An agreement was not reached on how to provide armed security for U.S. Customs officials at check points. The issue is that the State of Alaska did not find it fiscally feasible to foot the bill for Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers to provide security for U.S. Customs officials. U.S. Customs and Canada Border Patrol (CBP) agents can’t carry weapons in a foreign country, so Canadian security would be needed on site while customs officials work. Other issues affecting service were budgetary limitations and contentious dock repairs. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

LNG distributor proposes to ship frozen gas

A proposed micro-LNG facility is looking to ship frozen gas through the Fairview Container Terminal. Top Speed Energy (TSP) is an Asian distributor of liquefied natural gas. It wants to build a processing plant next to the Northwest Airport in Terrace. The project would process natural gas through an existing line, leading to Prince Rupert.

“We need to get the gas really cold, like 100-150 degrees below zero. Then it turns to liquid, and it just sits there inert. It’s odourless, it’s colourless, you can drop a match on it and it won’t light,” says Clark Roberts, chief executive officer of TSE. The frozen product is then transferred to specialized containers stored on-site, then loaded onto trucks for delivery to domestic or international markets through Fairview Container Terminal.

“A lot of it is connecting the liquefaction plant to the units to fill up the containers, and then delivering those containers to Prince Rupert, so there’s going to be ongoing work for people in the Terrace area, “he said. “There may be some technical training that is required, but we would have no problem hiring locally.”

READ MORE: Chinese LNG distributor proposes LNG processing facility in Terrace

Teachers rally for rights

The Prince Rupert Teachers Union held an information rally on November 12 before the SD 52’s board meeting. The main issues facing teachers in B.C. are staff shortages due to low wages, lack of class size and composition limits, according to B.C. teachers Federation (BCTF) president, Teri Mooring. The information rally was held after the announcement that the BCTF had rejected the recommendations laid out in the mediators report.

“We want to be able to present the school board with information for the trustees to be able to advocate for more funding to increase education in B.C.,” said Kathy Murphy, the acting president of the Prince Rupert Teachers Union.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert District Teachers’ Union demand letter of support from SD52 board

Rail line to picket line

Roughly 3,200 conductors, trainspersons and yard workers left the rail line to join the picket line in strike after failing to reach a contract deal. The federal government pushed for Canadian National Railway Co. and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference to continue negotiations. The workers had been with out a contract since July 23 and listed their concerns as long hours, fatigue, and what they consider to be dangerous working conditions.

“The Port of Prince Rupert is Canada’s third largest port, with over $50 billion in goods traded globally through its gateway each year. Minimizing the disruption of Canada’s trade is important; any interruption to rail service has a significant impact on operations at the Port of Prince Rupert and the vital supply chains that support the Canadian economy,” commented the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

READ MORE: CN Rail workers strike as part of national movement

READ MORE: Federal government resists mounting pressure to end CN Rail strike

DECEMBER

There was a three-day celebration and flag raising at the temple of the Indo-Canadian Sikh Association. The flag was proudly raised above the roof in honour of the 550th anniversary of the first Sikh, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism. The yellow flag, now flying high, is known as the “Nishan Sahib”. Nishan means flag and Sahib is a term of respect. The three main principals of Sikhism life are to recite God’s name, earn a living by noble means and share your food with others – themes which were practised through out the festivities. The women cooked traditional dishes each day such as chapatis, lentils, mixed vegetables, chickpeas and a desert made from cream of wheat. During the day the temple was open for a service of prayers. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

No Go for Campground

The four parcels of land next to the Kinnikinnick Campground and RV Park will not be rezoned after the request to have the land use changed from residential to commercial was voted down by the Port Edward council. The vote opposing the plans tobuild eight new cabins on the property was what dozens of residents, who attended a November public hearing, were hoping for. Residents again showed up in numbers to the recent council meeting to hear the outcome of council’s final decision.

“Thank you guys for listening to us,” said one resident during the discussion period after the meeting. The comment was met with applause and a chorus of thank yous to the council.

“I don’t think the residents understand what they lost,” said Moe Berrigan, one of the residents who was in favour of the development. “The whole thing was extremely disappointing. My husband and I considered settling here permanently, but now we are rethinking that.”

READ MORE: Port Edward council sides with residents over contentious rezoning bylaw

READ MORE: LETTER: Closed door is best deterrent in Port Edward

READ MORE | COCULLO: What do you want Port Ed?

ReDesign Rupert

Redesign Rupert unveiled one of the biggest changes in Prince Rupert’s history in December at the Lester Centre of the Arts.

Redesign Rupert is a partnership with the City of Prince Rupert, DP World, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA), Ridley Terminals Inc., Community Futures and Raymont Logistics.

One of the biggest changes to the design of Prince Rupert is to cluster the downtown into a smaller area, dividing Rupert’s core into three sections: Midtown District, Downtown District and the Marina District.

Larry Beasley, world renowned and former Vancouver city planner, helped craft a master plan. In addition, a number of new projects were also announced.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority announced a collaborative agreement with the city to incorporate new public recreational access into a wetlands and fish restoration project along the Seal Cove Slough shoreline.

Lax Kw’alaams announced their commitment to work on housing issues in the area with a new subsidized affordable housing unit on 11th Ave. East.

A $30 million dollar waterfront development, known as Rupert Landing, was announced by the City as well as the Gitxaala First Nations.

The airport ferry and Gitxalaa’s new ferry will be relocated by Kwinitsa Station. A new marina will also be built with upgrades to the CN building.

READ MORE: A new vision unveiled for Prince Rupert

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The Northern View Year in Review 2019: July - December

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