PORT HARDY—Transportation Minister Todd Stone came under fire from Port Hardy councillors as locals refused to roll over on proposed BC Ferries cuts.
On the same day that hundreds took to the lawn of the B.C. legislature to protest device reductions, councillors declined to allow a pro forma letter from the Transport Minister to go unchallenged during it regular meeting Mar. 11.
The minister’s reply speaks of “tough choices”, “affordability concerns” and “long-term measures” behind the decision to reduce services but does acknowledge, “…the planned service reductions will affect the tourism industry and local economies.”
“I don’t like this,” Coun. Rick Marcotte said before proposing a motion to reply to the letter. “They don’t understand the people on the coast; they seem a far way away.”
“They’re talking about saving these millions of dollars but at what cost to the North Island and North Central Coast?” asked Coun. Deb Huddlestan.
Council voted to have staff respond to the minister, reiterating the concern of North Islanders.
Pat Corbett-Labatt and Heather Brown, Twinning Society representatives, appeared as delegates to update council on the society.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the twinning of Port Hardy with Numata, Japan, and society members will celebrate the occasion later in the year.
Typically, Port Hardy’s Twinning Society hosts visitors from Numata in even years, and travels to Japan in odd years. This being a milestone year, both towns will send delegates this year.
In another break with tradition, the Numata delegation is expected to forego the usual Filomi Days visit in favour of an October visit in order to coincide with the school term.
Council also heard the society was pressing ahead with plans to bring a Torii gate to the Port Hardy waterfront, although exactly where was a topic for discussion. The Torii gate is a traditional Shinto symbol, representing the transition from the profane to the sacred.
Corbett-Labatt presented a series of location options to councillors, including artists’ impressions of how it might look in situ at various points along the waterfront.
“We’re hoping council will provide some direction as it’s on District land,” said Corbett-Labatt. “We feel the best location would be in front of the Twinning Garden.”
Although councillors initially expressed concern over adding another element to Carrot Park, the artist impressions went some way to assuaging fears and opinion was split between the society’s suggestion and framing the sidewalk entrance to the park.
“I guess we’ll have to talk about this a bit more,” said Deputy Mayor Jessie Hempill before thanking the pair for their presentation and congratulating Corbett-Labatt on her acclimation to the Chair of the Twinning Society.
Corbett-Labatt went one better, presenting a card to the Deputy Mayor. “A big thank you to Jessie; she’s been our ex officio from the council — we really value her expertise.”
Nurse Practitioner Kelvin Bei wrote to Council “to ascertain the possibility of initiating the Orange Bottle Program for Port Hardy.”
The program is being taken up in several communities across B.C. and is intended to assist first responders in the case of emergency.
Participants receive an orange medication bottle and a medical information form for each family member. The form includes spaces for medications, medical conditions, allergies and contact information.
Once the form has been filled out it is placed inside the orange bottle which is stored on the shelf in the fridge. An Orange Bottle Program magnet on the fridge door alerts first responders of the potentially lifesaving information.
“I believe this will greatly benefit our community members by facilitating emergency preparedness and ensuring they receive safe and appropriate interventions,” said Bei’s letter.
“It looks like an interesting program,” said the deputy mayor.
Councillors voted to add information to the District’s website and to forward the information to the Health Network.
A pair of housekeeping bylaws were given approval by the council, the first removing highway status and formally closing a portion of forest road and the other amending the ticketing bylaw to reflect recent changes.
Bylaw 1023-2014, A Bylaw to Adopt the Annual Five-Year Financial Plan for the period 2014-2018 was the subject of the Committee of the Whole meeting earlier in the day and was given first, second and third readings without discussion.