Council briefs: city to organize public hearing on homelessness

Council briefs: city to organize public hearing on homelessness

Summary of council discussions from July 22

It was a dark and stormy night inside the council chambers during Monday night’s meeting. As a fierce thunderstorm passed through the area, council discussed several items as the backup generator hummed in the background on July 22. Below is a summary of some key discussions:

Public input on homelessness

Following a committee of the whole meeting last week about homelessness, city council passed a motion to organize a public input session to gather input on the tent camps and broader social issues in the community. A date and hearing format is to be determined, but the meeting will give residents a chance to share their ideas and concerns.

READ MORE: ‘Tent city’ and homelessness a polarizing issue in Terrace

Airport to convert hanger into flight facility

To accommodate increased flight needs brought with LNG Canada’s activity in the region, the Northwest Regional Airport is looking to convert their existing hanger into a flight logistics centre.

Haisla Solutions submitted applications to council for two development permits at 4345 and 4355 Bristol Road on behalf of the airport. After some discussion, council voted in favour.

The new flight centre will be used for chartered flights transporting LNG employees to and from Terrace. There will be some facade improvements, additional seating for 250 people, and an upgrade to existing on-site parking. Individuals or groups travelling through the flight centre will be transported locally to and from the site by bus.

The flight centre is being proposed as a limited-term use. The hangar will return to its original use of aircraft storage and maintenance once regional LNG projects are complete.

RCMP sees increase in calls

Terrace RCMP investigated 3,736 files from April to June. This is an increase of 456 more files — 19 per cent — compared to the same period last year.

Police submitted 167 reports to Crown Counsel recommending charges. Year to date, RCMP opened 6,713 files compared to 5,893 in 2018; an increase of 14 per cent.

Property offences went up by 41 per cent to 569. Liquor Act offences went up by 102 per cent, from 201 last year to 407. Assaults, threats and homicides are down by 15 per cent. The time RCMP officers have spent downtown has increased by 113 per cent this quarter with 842 hours.

The number of prisoners housed in Terrace cells also increased dramatically, from 341 this time last year to 509 this quarter. Though it’s not known how many individuals are repeat offenders.

Two members are scheduled to be transferred to the Terrace detachment, one cadet started Tuesday. Staffing for three additional RCMP officers is still in the works.

Fire department first responder calls

The second quarter of 2019 saw 417 incidents with 68 more calls from this time last year, according to the fire department’s report. The department saw 18 more fire-related calls, and 38 more medical and first responder calls, which Terrace Fire Chief John Klie says is normal to see.

Terrace firefighters spent a total of 1,098 hours in training this quarter, compared to 665 hours over the same period last year because of additional courses.

Firefighters donated an extra 6,291 hours this quarter to the department’s on-call rescue board — that’s almost 3,000 fewer hours compared to last year. The reason for the decline is to lessen the onus on full-time firefighters, Klie says.

“We initiated a program about a month ago with our first responders. We’re trying to deal with those calls more with the people we have on duty [rather] than have a stand-by person.”

Klie estimates first responder calls have gone up by 500 calls annually over the last five years.

Three motions to revisit business license defeated

Coun. Evan Ramsay brought forward three concerns to the city’s business license bylaw to council.

The first was to add a designated amount of time for food trucks at George Little Park to clean up once their four-hour window to sell food is done.

Council defeated this request, saying it is not up to the city to dictate how long it takes for a food truck to take down their operations.

The second was for city staff to revisit the fee schedule for food trucks. Ramsay says vendors have told him that Terrace’s license fee of $500 is comparable to rates in larger cities like Vancouver.

Council voted down this request, arguing the fee is fair given mobile vendors do not contribute to property taxes like a brick-and-mortar establishment.

Ramsay withdrew his third motion to consider a prorated fee for new businesses starting their first year of operation because a reduced rate already within the city’s business licensing bylaw.

Support for forestry-dependent communities

Given the challenges facing the forestry industry, the City of Prince George is gathering signatures for a letter asking the federal government to step in and assist affected communities. The draft was sent to the City of Terrace for review, along with other BC mayors, the province and Council of Forest Industries.

Devastation caused by pine beetles and wildfires has resulted in a timber shortage and higher log costs, leading to a crisis in the forestry sector, the letter reads. In the last two months since May 1, there have been more than 45 announcements of curtailments or closures of B.C. forestry operations.

Council agreed to add Mayor Carol Leclerc’s signature to the letter. Once finished, it would be sent to three federal ministers and the director for Natural Resources Canada.

Laundromat looks to expand

Recent industrial in the region has led Time Cleaners Limited to move on a proposed expansion of their Superior Linen building at 4404 Legion Ave.

“They feel like they need more warehouse space to accommodate the additional work that they’re getting,” says Tara Irwin, city planner.

The cleaners have been operating there for the past 50 years. The small 97.5 m2 addition, roughly 1,000 sq. ft. would be on the west side of the building.

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