Terrace city council drops defence of Spirit Bear name

A decision to cease spending money in court one of several items to come up at last night's council meeting

The City of Terrace will no longer be defending the Kermode trademark.

The decision was revealed at last night’s regular council meeting and comes on the heals of a federal court ruling in early September that struck down the city’s trademarks of the names Kermode Bear, Kermodei Bear, Spirit Bear and Moksgm’ol.

Terrace has jointly owned the Spirt Bear name with the north coast First Nation band Kitasoo since 2006.

The city had taken a Kelowna company, Urban Distilleries, to court last year to make them stop using the name Spirit Bear for their gin and vodka line, a fight which the city lost.

That case was one of several court defences that has cost the city thousands over the past few years, and city spokesperson Alisa Thompson said a major factor in the decision to repeal the city’s trademark usage policy was saving taxpayers money.

“Given the recent federal court decision regarding the enforceability of the trademarks, the city has decided to cease its defence,” said Thompson. “We believe that is in the best interest of the taxpayer.”

Thompson added that defending the trademarks was no longer deemed important by the city, compared to when it first made the decision to trademark the names back in 2004.

“At that time, with the coming of the Olympics and other organizations wanting to use those terms, it made good sense,” said Thompson. “That was 10 years ago and the circumstances have changed.”

Last night council also gave third reading to the city’s new zoning bylaw, which is a wide-sweeping document that changes and adds to the previous bylaw created in 1995.

Five members of the public voiced their concerns at the public meeting which followed an open housing attended by 15.

Keith Piper from 4411 North Sparks was one of several people effected by the elimination of the RR1 rural residential zone and the designation of the majority of this zone to R1 single family residential. He told council that he was concerned that he and his wife wouldn’t be permitted to operate a dance class and trades shop on their property.

However council granted Piper a site-specific amendment later last night to allow for business usage in the future.

The city plans to appease other land owners who might have non-conforming usages on their rural property with more such zoning amendments to allow them to continue life as usual once the rezoning to R1 becomes law.

Land owners Jim Anderson and Fred Philpot also spoke at the public hearing, saying they were informed too late of the zoning bylaw changes, late last week, and didn’t have time to figure out the implications.

Another resident, George Vogel, submitted to council that the rezoning of his property at 3407 Kalum St. to a parks designation was in fact illegal and is asking for a “tax refund from 1954 to the present day” for the property tax paid historically on what was R5 until the new zoning bylaw.

Vogel says the new zoning will prevent him from building a planned seniors housing complex on what council said was too steep of a pitch on the Terrace Mountain-abutting land.

Council also heard local resident Chris Gee express his dissatisfaction with the city having sold almost half of the Skeena Industrial Development Park to Chinese interests for a series of major industrial developments, citing human rights violations and dubious environmental standards in China.

Council also voted to send a letter of support in favour of NDP MP Nathan Cullen’s private members bill to ban crude oil supertanker traffic on the coast, which was introduced in parliament three weeks ago. On one point council amended its support to say it would endorse a ban on an increase in supertanker traffic but not endorse a ban that would include current oil-bearing tanker traffic.