Welcome to Prince George Island
And no high-risk loans for the Kodiaks Football team, plus providing security for the homeless camp by... targeting repeat offenders?
We’ll get to council in a moment but first:
Happy birthday, Mr. PG
He turned 63 yesterday. The city posted some fun facts to mark the occassion:
Mr. PG made his first public appearance in May 1960 outside the Hotel Simon Fraser, welcoming delegates to a Rotary International Conference.
A Mr. PG float attended many BC parades in the 1960s. The float won first place in the 1961 Kelowna Regatta and second prize at the 1961 PNE opening parade. In 1963, the float took part in the Grey Cup Parade in downtown Vancouver.
In 1983, Mr. PG moved across Highway 16 to his current location. He also took on his current 8.14 metre-tall metal and fibreglass form. His makeover cost the City $6,700.
Mr. PG merchandise can be found at the Exploration Place and Tourism Prince George. He appears on socks, t-shirts, figurines, and more!
Prince George Island
It was also the birthday of one of my all-time favourite tweets:
Uniquely PG phrases
The River asked people what some uniquely Prince George phrases are and quite a few of them are place-related: “The Bowl,” “BCR site” and other identifiers that might explain someone not familiar with the community. Aside from that, “the smell of money” and variations of that were big ones.
h this post, I should note I got an email informing me the hummingbird photo in my newsletter yesterday were Rufous’.
A long council meeting
It was a long night at council. Things are still a bit disorganized under Mayor Yu compared to Lyn Hall who kept things going at a crisp pace while generally reserving his remarks for the end of discussions. Yu, in contrast, tends to jump in throughout, sometimes confusing things by proposing motions when existing ones are on the table or not calling votes at appropriate times — not a criticism, again, just an observation of what it’s like having someone jump in to the leadership position with no prior experience in governance.
Some other highlights.
It also didn’t help the pace of things that there were a number of members of the public who wanted to speak out against a proposed apartment at Queensway for the usual reasons (quiet neighbourhood doesn’t want more traffic). Council voted to allow the project to move to the next phase, which is just more debate, emphasizing that did not mean they would ultimately approve it.
No high-risk loans for the Kodiaks football club
This one probably took longer than it had to. Essentially the Kodiaks want a new training facility because they are having difficulty getting enough field time at Masich Place, which is shared with other user groups, and they proposed the city lend them somewhere between $150,000 to $600,000, which they would pay back over 25 years.
City staff were pretty frank about this: Past councils had given much smaller loans ($45,000 and $50,000) to far more established organizations (the Prince George Exhibition and Prince George Symphony) in the past, and in both cases it caused trouble when the orgs couldn’t pay their loans back during the agreed-upon time period. Giving a loan three times that to a group that’s been around for about a year would be… a bit of a risk. Ultimately, council agreed, though they framed it as “outside the scope of a municipality.”
However, that didn’t stop them from spending a long time discussing where they’d ultimately like to see a dedicated football space built in the city, with some favouring it being along a “Recreation Corridor” being developed in the same area as Masich Place, Carrie Jane Park and the Northern Y, while others (primarily Trudy Klassen) felt there’s too much centralization going on and wanted other parts of town to have the ability to get rec facilities. After a bit of back-and-forth about this, staff reminded council the question was actually whether they were going to give the Kodiaks a lone and they voted no, but they are going to get staff to add the idea to their unfunded projects page and have the mayor provide a letter of support to the club so it can pursue outside grants.
Better road paint
There was also a discussion about why the heck the city’s road paint doesn’t seem to last. As the PG Daily News has already reported, it’s because the federal government introduced environmental regulations limiting the amount of volatile organic compounds that can be used in the paint (more about that here). Staff says there are paints that meet these standards that would last longer but they are way more expensive, so they cost a lot more and they don’t think it’s worth it and instead repaint them every year.
Councillors had a few ideas on how to deal with this. Brian Skakun thought perhaps they should approach UNBC about coming up with a better road paint. Kyle Sampson suggested — somewhat facetiously — that they should see what it costs to just pay the fines for using the other paints, and more seriously, to take it to the intergovernmental committee (an idea also put forward by Klassen and Frizzell and ultimately passed, so they could lobby along with other northern communities to indicate that cities that get snow and do a lot of road-clearing are paying a higher price for these new regulations). But I was most intrigued by councillor Cori Ramsay pointing out that the Pride crosswalk downtown is still highly visible. She recalled, correctly, that in 2016 the sidewalk was painted with a far more expensive paint so it would last longer — which it has, still visible today. She suggested the city look into using this sort of paint, at a minimum, at a few high-traffic pedestrian crossings, and staff will look into that.
This passed first and second reading
The Hub stalls
The Hub Collective AGAIN has asked the city to let them build senior’s housing on land that they promised to use to build student housing. This is… the fourth? or more? time the topic has come up and council has repeatedly said, no. (Here’s a background on the whole thing).
But Hub insists there’s just no way they can move forward with student housing — there isn’t the demand, they say, and it doesn’t make econoimc sense. That didn’t sway everyone. Councillors Skakun and Polillo said the developers didn’t make a compelling case for why this is the right spot for senior’s housing. Frizzell agreed. Ramsay said she’d rather it be student housing and was disappointed it wouldn’t be, but after much reflection, decided that had they originally proposed a senior’s housing complex for this site she would have supported it and not opposed it just because it isn’t senior’s housing. Sampson felt similarly, while Susan Scott and Trudy Klassen worried that the design and location weren’t quite right. Ultimately, Sampson motioned to allow the change to be made and give the developers a two-year deadline. Skakun had real concerns— two years to do what, he asked? Build a frame, or finish the project? He also wanted to know what woud happen to make sure they actually build senior’s housing and not just housing… and whether city staff would inform them of the change (it had happened before) — and he wondered what kind of precedent it would set for every other developer watching. Sampson’s motion was defeated (he had the support of Bennett and Ramsay), and council again denied Hub the opportunity to get out of their promise to build student housing.
And finally… encampment security
I previewed this in yesterday’s newsletter but the recap is:
The city is planning to move toward a centralized encampment model, which would see all homeless campers in the city directed to Moccasin Flats.
When deciding to adopt this model, council also voted to come up with a security plan for both people living in the camp and those living around it.
The proposal last night including hiring new RCMP officers to patrol downtown and constructing a road through Moccasin Flats for emergency vehicles and cleanup crews — as well as implmenting a “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design" plan.
Let’s talk about the RCMP thing first. Remember, this is a discussion about the homeless camp. At several points over the past few months of talking about this council has talked about how they don’t want to act like the camp is full of criminals. So you might think the officers would do downtown patrols or provide enhanced security or something like that. You’d be wrong. Councillor Tim Bennett asked RCMP Supt. Shaun Wright how the two additional RCMP officers would be used. Wright’s answer was they would be part of the province’s new program aimed at targeting repeat offenders.
Bennett, echoed by Trudy Klassen, didn’t disagree such positions would be useful but expressed disappointment that these positions were being funded in a discussion about homeless camps, implying that camp residents are criminals. Klassen said in her conversations with businesses, there are petty nuisances but the bigger issue is people with trucks, etc coming and stealing large amounts of things… not people who are homeless. They felt it was unforunate that when talking about enchancing security at a homeless camp, the funding was going toward targeting repeat offenders. Anyways, they opposed but the rest of council suppported it, and the motion passed and the funding granted.
The road was not an issue. It passed, no opposition.
The next motion was about removing items that were on the soon-to-be-constructed road. Councillor Bennett worried about this phrase in the motion: “That Council FURTHER SUPPORTS AND AUTHORIZES Administration to thereafter maintain the safe and passable roadway through Lower Patricia Boulevard by seizing and disposing of objects or materials of any kind which obstruct, foul or damage the roadway.” He worried about the seizing and disposing. He was assured by staff that that stuff wouldn’t just be taken away, they would try and find the owner of anything removed and also hold it for 30 days. Your belief that this will happen may vary, but council took bylaw’s word for it.
Next was this whole SmartGrowth Environmental thing which, let’s be honest, doesn’t mean anything. Staff couldn’t provide any more clarity on what it would like, either. Instead, they said they’d consult with experts. That’s the motion — they’ll come up with a report around this. They don’t mean surveillance cameras, though. That passed.
And finally — shutting down the Millennium Park camp. It’s gonna happen. Klassen worried that they were jumping the gun on this one by making people move to Moccasin Flats before some of the improvements they are talking about were in place. Staff says they will take lessons from other city and approach it with a more “gentle touch.” She opposed, but motion passed. Time will tell.
Theatre Northwest has unveild its 2023-24 season, which includes the incredibly long-running Agatha Christie classic The Mousetrap. It also includes Miracle at 34th Street and Sherlock Holmes — a classic theme!
Prince George area downgraded from flood watch to high streamflow advisory.
Prince George girls volleyball team crowned provincial champs.
Comedian Ed Hill, who just released a special on Amazon Prime, is performing at UNBC this Friday.
65 years of friendship lives on in a Prince George man's shed.
Today’s questions: Date night ideas? And where to go within an hour?
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Hi Andrew...Just a note regarding the article about the Kodiak's football team. The stadium name is spelled "Masich" (one of everything); as well, although the city has had not had great success with loan repayment to various community organizations, in 1997 the Prince George Track and Field Club paid off their equipment loan from the city after a fire in December 1996 destroyed a significant amount of equipment and necessitated the rebuilding of half of Massey Place (now Masich Place) Stadium. The city is right to be wary of making loans and receiving repayment; however, there is precedent that it can be done.