The city of Prince George vs UNBC
Plus jobs in the pulp industry and the opportunity to whittle pooper scoopers
City of Prince George tried to silence UNBC critics, emails show
Another report from the Prince George Citizen’s Freedom of Information requests to the city, via Arthur Williams. I encourage you to read the whole thing but the short version is this: After the city illegally tore down shelters in a homeless encampment in 2021, a group of academics based at UNBC wrote an op-ed in the Citizen criticizing the action. When UNBC’s comms team shared plans to circulate the piece on its social media channels, the city’s communications manager Julie Rogers, said the article “comes across as political and uninformed,” and in a later email called the piece “misinformation,” and in yet another email, asked the authors to correct their piece arguing it was based on “social media rumours rather than fact.”
Let’s pause a moment. Here is the content of the op-ed which Rogers was disputing:
An October 2021 court ruling decreed the city cannot remove people and shelters from the Moccassin Flats encampment due to a lack of housing and shelters available in the community.
Despite this ruling, city staff did demolish several shelters.
In so doing, they destroyed the personal possessions of people who believed their belongings would be secure.
Doing so is a human rights violation.
I do see one factual error when the authors refer to the shelters as being “bulldozed” — while they were destroyed by heavy machinery they were not bulldozed.
However, pretty much everything else was borne out — and we’ve been over this before in this newsletter and in previous Citizen reporting. While the city insisted that it was not violating any court orders when it demolished the shelters, a later court judgement found the opposite and the Canadian Human Rights Commission did, indeed, use the action as a case study in how cities violate the rights of unhoused people.
The Citizen didn’t back down from the article, but UNBC’s communications team did decide not to share it on its channels.
I’m not looking to relitigate things here but we should also remember some of the other language Rogers used in internal emails surrounding this case, as previously reported by the Citizen, including, ““Apparently the professional protesters are becoming worked up today.”
So back to this most recent Citizen article. While the city did publicly apologize, they apparently never apologized to the academics for calling their op-ed misinformation:
On March 24, 2022, after the City of Prince George issued a formal apology for its role in the Nov. 17 incident, op-ed co-author Sims reached out to Rogers to ask if the promised meeting had ever happened and asked for an apology from the city to the op-ed authors.
“Given that we were criticized online for our op-ed by the city and in some instances our supervisors contacted by some of your coworkers, would it be possible to get an official apology on those same platforms regarding our piece,” Sims wrote.
“I am also concerned about the fact someone from the city contacted our supervisors to try to get us in trouble,” Sims added in a subsequent email.
In her response, Rogers said city staff acted with respect and professionalism, and the apology was for “the unintended consequence of causing harm to some of our citizens.”
“The City stands behind the facts presented in the statement issued in November correcting the misinformation in your letter,” she added.
Anyways, this is where I remind you that this newsletter is just an aggregator of information and relies on reporting like this. If you want to support the Citizen, here is their membership support page.
“Regarding my PG trips”
In a post I linked to yesterday, former Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Corrigal talked about Prince George as a shopping centre:
“I always, half jokingly say, one of our biggest attractions is Costco,” he says. “You can go past Costco at any time of any day and that parking lot is packed. In the summer, there’s RVs galore that are loading up thousands and thousands of dollars worth of goods from Costco.”
He adds that even outlets such as Winners and HomeSense have realized that Prince George has a market share of around 200,000 people through serving neighbouring communities such as Quesnel, Vanderhoof, and Valemount but also further cities such as Smithers, Terrace, and even Kitimat.
I bring this up only because I came across this post in a Robson Valley Facebook page:
Wanted: Someone to whittle poop scoopers
One of the nice touches at the designated dog trails out at Otway are strategically-placed spoons which can be used to pick up your dog’s leavings and fling them into the woods to decompose. So this caught my eye from the Caledonia Nordic cross-country ski report:
WANTED: A wood whittler that has a fetish for whittling, and would like to create something useful for the club. We want to replace our red Betty Crocker plastic poop scoops (Betty would be so proud) with something a bit more durable and environmentaly friendly. In the cold the plastic tend to break, and end up becoming litter. The only wood one we have has outlasted everything else, and is still mighty functional. Whittling anyone? Stop by the shop & talk to the groomer your choice, so we can give you the detailed engineering drawings.
Tell your whittling friends!
Five people have died in avalanches in the northern and interior of B.C. this year and forecasters warn dangerous conditions will continue.
Air pollution is changing how our brain functions, researchers at UBC, UVic find.
UNBC researchers contributed to a report that found thousands of kilometers of undocumented trails in B.C. and Alberta.
Police have arrested a man alleged to have opened fire on teenage girl.
A bottle drive fundraiser is set up for an orphaned PG toddler.
A Prince George man has received over a thousand signatures on his petition to increase old age security benefits.
A Prince George-based fundraiser for a Tanzanian school has exceeded its goal.
The Yekoochee First Nation, west of Fort St. James, held an event in Vancouver to affirm rights over their ancestral lands.
In memory: Viola Merritt, co-founder of Prince George's historic Lloyd’s Drive-In Café.
Events and opportunities:
If you missed out on AleFest tickets, you can always do the pub crawl (I have done this in the past and it’s a good time).
120 people have signed up to compete in the first Ness Lake ice fishing derby this Sunday. Details on how to compete here.
Alternatively, you can skate your age at the oval this Saturday (I guess you can do both).
It looks like at least one company is looking to hire people in the pulp and paper industry: Mercer International, a U.S.-based company with operations in the States, British Columbia, Alberta, and Germany has announced a job fair in Prince George on Feb. 2 and 3 for positions in Peace River and Castlegar. The company’s most recent news release is about how it is harvesting burnt forest stands in B.C. (a project which the B.C. government recently announced $50 million to support) but it also posted downtime at it’s Castlegar pulp mill earlier this month for the same reasons given by all the other companies doing the same.
B.C. announces more forestry supports as mills extend layoffs. 10 per cent of province's timber supply will be set aside for small- and medium-sized manufacturers to bid on. Companies say “it’s a start.”
Todd Whitcombe: Natural resources are finite, no matter what.
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Prince George is definitely the shopping center of the North. Growing up in Rupert we'd head to PG before school every year to pick up clothes and supplies. Now, living in PG, any trip planning back to Rupert begins with a callout to friends and family: what do you need from Costco?