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Archive for July, 2011

Access to Ridley Island restricted as construction begins

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

As of the Tuesday after the long weekend, the public will no longer be able to access the perimeter road around Ridley Island.

A press release sent out late Friday afternoon by the Prince Rupert Port Authority warned the public that this would be the last weekend they could enjoy the road, which is a popular place for residents to go to walk their dogs or enjoy a North Coast sunset.

According to the press release, access to the road will be restricted starting Tuesday, August 2, as the coal terminal prepares for extensive expansion. By 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the access control gate at the entrance to Ridley Island will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week as work crews set up a construction camp.

“Given the scale of the project, and the type of machinery involved, safety and security are of paramount concern,” said Gary Paulson, vice president of operations for the Port, in the press release. “By ensuring only authorized personnel are permitted onto the island, the grubbing work can proceed safely and efficiently.”

“Grubbing” is the preparation of land for development.

The press release states Ridley Terminals Inc. will be doubling its capacity through the work, adding 14 hectares (35 acres) to its 55-hectare (136-acre) working site. It also states the land was acquired from the Port earlier this year.

The estimated completion date for this phase of construction is December 2011, states the press release, and the access control gate will be in “continuous operation” until then.

It’s unknown, however, if residents will once again be able to access the perimeter road after this phase of construction.

~Written by Chris Armstrong. File photo by Mike Ambach


The long-weekend road trip

Saturday, July 30th, 2011


It’s that wonderful wild cry all 20-somethings love to hear, and those of us now in our mid-30s to early-40s remember as fondly as our first relationship, first car, or for yours truly, his first experience at a Canucks playoff game.

The one I remember most (that I can put in print, that is) was when I went on a road trip to California with seven of my buddies. Two cars, A/C unfortunately in only one of them, while the other car was my friend’s Charger – not the most comfortable vehicle on earth, when you’re driving 18 hours straight to San Francisco. That same buddy is also very Rainmaker-like (in height that is, not in basketball talent because he couldn’t sink a hoop if the basket was in his lap) so whoever was stuck sitting behind him was the most uncomfortable of all. It was so bad, we nicknamed that seat the “suicide seat,” and basically, we had hourly rock-paper-scissor contests to see who would get stuck in the suicide seat until the next stop.

But aside from that, the adventure was incredible. My friend Jay’s 21st birthday happened to land during that trip, and we spent his B-day at the Rainbow (made famous by Motley Crue’s “Girls Girls Girls” album) where we met, in no specific order, Lemmy from Motorhead, John Entwistle from the Who, Andrew Dice Clay, and Chris Isaak.

There were various other highlights too, like a day at Six Flags where we basically had the park to ourselves, Universal Studios, and acting like complete morons in San Francisco. Oh wait a minute, it was a road trip. Of course we were acting like absolute morons, because hey, it was a road trip!

Summers like this year’s (yeah I know, what summer? Hence the nostalgia) really hit home when you think back to road trips. Women do them too, but for the purpose of this argument, I’m going to stick with what one colleague of mine calls “Bro-mantic weekends.”

Because in my past, bro-mantic weekends were quite common. In fact, every August long weekend, as many of us as possible – including those who were married, or in a relationship where the guy actually felt guilty about going – would hop into one or sometimes two vehicles, and zip up to Kelowna from Vancouver. My friend Ken had a boat which would be attached to one of the vehicles, and that was the only excuse we needed.

The first time we ever did this was completely on a whim. We were actually at Ken’s house on the Saturday night, the weather forecast was awesome, and suddenly, the five of us that were there agreed to hop in his car and head up to Kelowna first thing the next morning. Six a.m., we were in his station wagon, lugging his boat behind us, and didn’t return until the Monday night, probably $500 in beers later.

It was awesome. Of us five who went that first year, two of us were single, two were married, and the other was on the verge of marriage. But for that one weekend, we could go back to being, well, bro-mantic.

That weekend inspired what would become an annual tradition, which we proudly dubbed “Guys Only Long weekend.” One year, nine of us in total went in two vehicles, while occasionally that number dipped back down to five. Relationships changed, marriages began and ended, children were borne to some, and yet, the Guys Only Long Weekend tradition lived on.

It was three days (sometimes four) of freedom. No rules, no “hey you can’t do that,” or no “hey you have to be home at this time,” or no “hey you have to do this” or “do that.” Plus, we could be men. Beers by the carton, openly gawking at beautiful women at the beach, and just saying lewd gross things that would offend even the most easy-going female on the planet.

Women would probably refer to us as “pigs,” and fair enough. We were. So be it.

Unfortunately, the wild consumption of hops and barley that was an annual event in our 20s became a little bit tougher to battle in our 30s. Instead of going strong from 6 a.m. until the bars closed at 2 a.m., a nap was suddenly required mid-afternoon, and many times, remaining conscious right up until 2 a.m. became a chore. Hangovers became more common, and hair of the dog wasn’t as fun as it might have been during the early stages of the Guys Long Weekend.

And yet, we kept going.

Until 2005. Perhaps this was my fault. I moved to Rupert in October 2003, so the 2004 Guys Long Weekend didn’t occur, and 2005 wound up being the last one ever. Sad but true. It doubled as a “stag” per sae for my friend Todd, but for me, the 18 hour drive there, followed by two days of bro-manticism, followed by 18 hours of driving back nearly killed me.

Plus, cramming eight of us into one hotel room like we did that year, including one friend who might have been the loudest bloody snorer in the history of modern man (again, not being able to sleep when you’re in your 30s and trying to so-called party just doesn’t work), didn’t turn my crank either. Five years before this, we would’ve slept in the back of my buddy’s boat on a whim. Now, all of us were crooning for our own bed in a no-snoring zone.

Yeah, everything had changed. Morning beers had been replaced by Starbucks, and afternoon gawking had been replaced by passing out on the beach for an afternoon nap. Clubbing at night had been replaced by “pubbing” until 1 a.m., if we even made it that far.

Of course, we still talked about doing it again, but for me, a road trip would have to be a lot longer than one weekend to make it worth my while. Besides, in 2006 fate intervened, and I eventually became yet another statistic of Guys Long Weekend of yesteryear – I met a girl, we fell in love, we got married, and I stayed in Rupert.

And yet, here I am on holidays, working on indoor home renos (how pathetic is that, thanks a lot summer of 2011), finding myself staring out the window, dreaming of road trips – preferably anywhere sunny, but yeah, Kelowna comes to mind. But the bros aren’t going this year. They haven’t gone period aside from four of them that went camping in 2008. No boat. No clubs. No, for lack of a better description, being men.

True, life happens, and I wouldn’t change it for a thing. I am a much happier and satisfied person nowadays then I was back during all those repeated road trips to Kelowna when I was single, rebellious, and not really giving a damn about anyone, including myself. It’s probably a good thing these road trips don’t happen much anymore, if ever.

Still, one more road trip is on the horizon. Six of us from Guys Only Long Weekend past all turn 40 in 2012, so a road trip to Vegas in the works. One last go at it. One last shot at bro-manticism, in perhaps the best (or some would argue worst) city in the world to do it.

All things considered, we may not survive it. Who knows. And likely, I’ll probably come home, and mutter to my wife “Ugh never again, I’m too old for this.”

That is, until another awful summer like 2011 rears its ugly head, and I find myself staring out that gloomy window, silently wishing for yesteryear when bro-manticism and summer went hand-in-hand, and I couldn’t wait until I heard those two inertia-laden words: ROAD TRIP!

~Written by Patrick Witwicki


Harbour Theatre readies for UdderFest

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The weather outside may not say summer, but next week’s UdderFest is a sure sign that it is indeed that time of year. Although there will be only six plays this year, the festival is still expected to be as entertaining as ever.

Treena Decker, vice president of Harbour Theatre Society, said that traditionally, UdderFest shows are defined as comedy or dark comedy and tend to have adult themes, with this year promising more of the same. The line-up will feature: Bus Stop Confidential, written by Stephen Huddlestone and telling the story of secrets among strangers; Twi-Lite II: The Eclipse of the New Moon, the second installment of Rudy Kelly’s vampire spoof franchise; Boom Jr. which features sketch comedy by Rob Shearer; Hot Judge Sunday, which features improv by David Smook and Jeff Bill; a comedic debate called War of Wits; the kid’s camp presentation of The Wizard of Cow Bay; and a night of music, appropriately titled Two Girls Singing.

Decker said UdderFest is the only fringe theatre festival west of Prince George. The definition of fringe theatre is “not of the mainstream,” and she said that Udderfest definitely features some great theatre that fits that definition.

“We are pleased to say that even with the struggles faced by Harbour Theatre this year, the Udder Theatre Festival will showcase six shows that are being produced for the first time, with most of them being locally written,” said Decker. “The smaller pieces of theatre also mean we often see new performers on stage because the time commitment to being involved in a one act for UdderFest is often more manageable for those being introduced to performing.”

An important component of UdderFest is the kid’s camp, which has been offered by Harbour Theatre for a decade and is what Decker considers a vibrant part of August. The program has grown from an original theatre piece created by Harbour Theatre veterans, featuring one youth participant and made for youth audiences, to a program that has two camps a week for five weeks, with over 40 youth participating. The kids camp will perform The Wizard of Cow Bay which is an improvisational play that the team created during the ten camp days that lead up to UdderFest. The kid’s camp show will be performed on the Lester Centre Stage thanks to the great partnership between Harbour Theatre and the Lester Centre of the Arts and due to the volume of children involved and the cramped backstage area at the Tom Rooney Theatre.

“The kids camp is a tool that allows Harbour Theatre to be partners in a community that constantly fosters creativity and skill-building for children and which we are thrilled to be a part of,” said Decker.

A new addition to this year’s UdderFest is the War of Wits, where contestants battle for being master debaters. While War of Wits has appeared on the stage of the Tom Rooney before, this is its first inclusion at UdderFest. All the proceeds from this show will be going to the Rod McNish Memorial Theatre Fund. McNish, a huge advocate for youth within the theatre community, passed away two years ago after a battle with brain cancer. Harbour Theatre hopes to use the Fund to set up a scholarship or bursary for high school students going into post-secondary studies in the performing arts.

Udderfest begins on Wednesday at 7:00 PM and all shows are $8.00 at the door. Udderfest patrons may also choose to purchase a four pass for $25. Available at the door, Homework & Teddy’s. For a full schedule, click here.

~Written by Gina Clark


Cape Dauphin officially replaces Point Henry

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

On a typically rainy day in Prince Rupert on Tuesday, the naming ceremony for the new Coast Guard vessel, CCGS Cape Dauphin, took place, officially welcoming the vessel into the fleet. Breaking the champagne bottle over the vessel was Amy Dopson (pictured above).

It is traditional to name vessels after points of maritime significance and the Cape Dauphin name was chosen by cadets in Sydney, Nova Scotia after Cape Dauphin on Cape Breton Island.

The new vessel is one among five 47-foot motor lifeboats constructed by Victoria Shipyard Company Ltd. as part of a $19.6 million contract under Canada’s Economic Action Plan. The vessels were built according to the Cape Classic Lifeboat Design, which, according to a press release from the federal government, has consistently proven to be highly capable and effective, making it the service standard for coastal inshore operations across Canada. Since its introduction, vessels of this design have been used extensively for search and rescue operations at each of the Coast Guard’s 11 stations on the Pacific coast.

The new vessels are designed to operate safely in maximum storm conditions with a continuous wind speed of up to 80 knots and associated seas of up to 12 meters. They are self-bailing and self-righting, allowing for safer operations in rough conditions. The Cape Dauphin in particular has a crew of four and can rescue and bring home five survivors. Its top speed is 25 knots.

“These new vessels are a great addition to the Coast Guard fleet and are being used exclusively for search and rescue operations throughout Canada” said Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield, in a press release. “The enhanced capabilities of the vessels is now considered the service standard for coastal inshore operations in te Pacific region.”

The Cape Dauphin’s precursor, the Point Henry, left Prince Rupert on June 20 and the Cape Dauphin has been in service here ever since. According to David Heap, part of the search and rescue team for the Prince Rupert Coast Guard, the Cape Dauphin went out on ten or eleven calls during the last 28-day cycle; since last Wednesday, it has gone out on three. It was stationed in French Creek for awhile as well, so it has been in service for a total of four months. Although it will primarily be used for search and rescue, it will also be used for other things as needed, such as fishery patrol and enforcement and pollution patrol.

Earlier this year, when the government announced the Point Henry would be replaced by a 47-foot motor lifeboat, there was quite a lot of criticism. But Kevin Tomsett, supervisor of small vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard in the Pacific Region, said with any change there are concerns. “It’s a very good boat, it will serve us well here” he said. “People need to get familiar with the vessel, that is starting to happen now.”

Tomsett said the vessel is no stranger to Prince Rupert, when others were being refitted, they brought it in, and it served that purpose well. He said there are a great deal of 47-footers already in operation, and they have consistently performed well since 1999.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said that people do not dispute that it is a good boat, just whether or not it is a good boat for the North Coast. He said the Point Henry was bigger, could take more people and could stay out longer. The Cape Dauphin holds fewer people and cannot stay out as long, he said, also voicing concerns about its range.

“We are still disappointed, the decision was made without talking to people whose lives rely on the boats,” said Cullen. “There is some serious make-up the Coast Guard needs to do, I expect them to do it.”

~Written by Gina Clark



Cullen supports Layton’s choice for interim leader

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Two days ago, federal NDP leader Jack Layton announced at a press conference he would be stepping down temporarily to battle a new strain of cancer.

Today, after the NDP caucus unanimously endorsed Nycole Turnell as Layton’s choice for interim leader, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen addressed local media saying there are no plans for a leadership convention. He also kiboshed any talk that he would be pursuing the leadership anytime soon.

Calling today’s caucus meeting “incredibly emotional,” Cullen said NDP members left with a feeling of unity and determination. “Our determination as a group has never been more resolute,” he said.

Images of Layton’s press conference showed the NDP leader as looking much thinner from his appearance on the campaign trail in April. He spoke in a semi-hoarse voice that was almost unrecognizable, saying he was only stepping down temporarily and promised he would return as leader for the fall session of Parliament.

While the outpouring of support for Layton stretched across the political spectrum, some voiced skepticism the NDP leader would actually return to politics. But Cullen said Layton would get better, and there was no talk in the caucus meeting about a leadership convention.

“When we say ‘interim’ for Nycole, that’s what we mean,” said Cullen.

Cullen was also asked if he would run for leadership, but he said his total focus and determination was with the riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley. “There is no leadership job available,” he said.

~Written by Chris Armstrong. File photo


Wet weather dampens drag racers

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

One of the wettest Northwest summers in recent memory is finally ready to heat up.

Or at least, that’s what everyone is hoping.

Typically, August is the premier month in the Northwest when it comes to drag racing. Everything roars into life August long weekend (although technically, this year, it actually starts in July) with the Terrace “Hot August Nights” Drags that coincides with RiverBoat Days, followed by the ¼ mile Houston Drags August 19-21.

Usually, Hot August Nights live up to a “hot” billing, as typically, that is the one weekend on Terrace’s drag racing calendar where they never really have to worry about potential rain-outs. Even drizzle in the morning usually just means that the drag racing will be delayed until the afternoon.

Perhaps as an ominous sign of things to come, the drag racing season lost its first weather battle Canada Day weekend in Kitimat, as for the first time ever, the entire weekend was scrapped because of a rain-out. And as the very wet July comes to a close in 2011, organizers in both Terrace and Houston can’t help but feel rather nervous, as that trend looks perilously like it will continue.

“We are always concerned about safety,” said Chris Colborne, Terrace Drags Executive. “We don’t even want to talk about the weather right now.”

Prince Rupert, for example, has only had three days this entire month where there hasn’t been at least some rainfall (and that was two weeks ago), and Terrace isn’t far off that mark either. And then there’s Houston, one of the Northwest towns along the Bulkley River that has been worried about the rising river for the past two months as the rain just won’t stop.

“This year is going to be a challenge,” said John Lombardi, Houston Drags coordinator. “We’re just hoping and praying the weather cooperates.”

Rain-outs would be very disappointing, but organizers emphasize safety. So if the track is wet, racing just won’t happen. Obviously, they would hate to cancel the upcoming events, but that’s better than the alternative – horrible accidents due to a slippery track.

“It doesn’t have to be sunny, just dry,” said Lombardi.

Colborne added: “Say it’s raining in the morning, but if it dries in the afternoon, we’re racing.”

Still, organizers from both events have their fingers crossed, and they should. Because the events are considered the premier racing events of the season, they bring in big names for the fans.

Terrace, for example, has been bringing a special car to their event for years. For example, one year they brought up a jet track car – a vehicle that can do the 1/8 mile in less than six seconds. Then, the following year, they brought up a wheel-stander to wow the crowd.

This year, two jet vehicles are on the docket, and even more entertaining is the fact that one of the men bringing them to Terrace is aptly named: Kevin Terris. Oh, and he’s from Humboldt, Saskatchewan – the community that came second place to Terrace in Hockeyville voting back in 2009.

“We try to step up this event as much as we can,” said Colborne.

Every season, the Terrace Drags actually hosts four events, but the one at the top of everyone’s list always happens to be Hot August Nights.

“Normal events, we see 60 cars, but for this one, typically, we see 100,” said Colborne. “So we also have more cash prizes.”

Racing is scheduled to take place at the Terrace/Kitimat airport all day Sunday (July 31) and Monday (August 1) with a big party scheduled for those who camp up there Sunday night. Interestingly enough, it will be Prince Rupert’s Triple Bypass playing the party.

But even though it’s “the Terrace Drags,” Colborne is quick to point out that the races are regional events, since competitors primarily come in from the region’s closest towns – Smithers, Kitimat, Rupert, Hazelton, and of course, Houston.

“We do a bbq every year for the racers and their families, and usually, one town in our region hosts it,” said Colborne. “This year, Terrace is hosting.”

Meanwhile, Houston also has something special planned for 2011. Again, weather pending.

The Northwest Door Slammers Association out of Edmonton happen to have cars, known as “Outlaw Racers,” that can pull off a ¼ mile in six seconds flat. It’s a crowd pleaser, and this year, Houston has four of those vehicles coming to town when the Houston Drags take place August 19-21.

“We’re hoping to have them make some entertaining passes,” said Lombardi.  “We’ve agreed to bring them out here as headliner of the event.”

It’s the fourth year in a row that Houston is bringing some top-line entertainment for the three-day racing extravaganza, and like Terrace, the event draws competitors from all over northern B.C., and sometimes as far away as Edmonton in one direction, and Ketchikan, Alaska in the other.

With all of those out-of-towners set on racing, and the potential big crowds, again, organizers are looking for about as opposite a rain dance as one can find. It’s become so gloomy looking that the talk is now focused on hoping for just one day of racing – scary, when Houston’s event is scheduled for three days.

Terrace, of course, always schedules in a rain-out weekend, but rarely have they had to make up time from the August long weekend which is traditionally good weather for the region.

“Historically, the weather has held out,” said Colborne. “Riverboat Days always seems to pan out.”

But Houston doesn’t have that luxury or the possibility of rescheduling due to the fact they run the event at the Houston airport, and Lombardi fears a potential repeat of what transpired in 1998 – or even worse.

“1998 was probably the most dismal,” he said. “It pissed down Friday night, then we got a couple hours in Saturday, and then it rained all day Sunday, and we had to refund everyone’s money.

“If it’s a wash-out, well, there’s nothing we can do.”

Strangely enough though, 1998 was an El Nino year, which typically leads to drier and warmer conditions in the Northwest. 2010, for example, the entire province east of Prince Rupert was under an outright campfire ban as barely a drop of rain fell all summer.

But in 2011, La Nina has kept the Northwest in endless spring mode – April showers are now well into month No. 4 of non-stop wetness.

At the end of the day, considering everything that is on the line for drag racing here in the Northwest over the next month, even those who are far from religious are probably looking to the heavens.

“If it’s not dry, it’s not possible,” said Colborne.

Lombardi added: “If we have a rain-out, so be it, but we’re just going to keep hoping the weather goes our way.”

Hot August Nights run all day July 31 and August 1, while the Houston Drags run late Friday afternoon into the evening and all day Saturday and Sunday August 19-21.

~Written by Patrick Witwicki. Photo submitted


East-west-north weather

Monday, July 25th, 2011

As Rupert goes through its umpteenth day of overcast skies with intermittent rain and cold temperatures, our friends in Eastern Canada are living through a major heatwave.

But it seems the east has been seeing higher temperatures than the west for many years now. A few weeks ago, Statistics Canada released a report called Human Activity and the Environment. One of the tables in that report, compiled from data by Environment Canada, showed 2010 was the warmest year on record nationally since 1948. In the eastern regions, such as Atlantic Canada and the Northeastern Forest, 2010 was also the warmest on record; when things get to the Prairies, however, 2010 was the 23rd-warmest year on record since 1948.

The graph below shows how 2010 temperatures by Canadian region differed from the average temperature from 1948-2010. For example, Atlantic Canada’s average temperature in 2010 was 2.1 degrees warmer than the long-term average (from 1948-2010). One column to the right, the Great Lakes region was 1.9 degrees warmer than the average.

The data show that temperatures in Eastern Canada are warmer than the averages in Western Canada. But the hot spot in Canada turns out to be the north, which saw much warmer temperatures than either the East or West.

For the map showing the various regions, click here. Prince Rupert falls in the “Pacific Coast” region.


Source: Environment Canada, Meteorological Services of Canada, Climate Research Branch, 2011, Climate Trends and Variations Bulletin for Canada, Annual 2010.


Enbridge intervenors

Monday, July 25th, 2011

At last month’s city council meeting, councillors voted to apply for intervenor status for the Joint Review Panel process involving the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project. This effectively means the City of Prince Rupert will have a chance to submit something orally or in writing to voice its concerns over the proposed project.

The deadline to submit oral evidence to the Joint Review Panel is October 6, 2011. The deadline to submit something in writing is December 22. The panel will be in Prince Rupert early next year.

Given all this, we’d like to know how you think the City should intervene in the process.

How do you think the City should intervene in the Joint Review Panel process?

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Year-on-year commercial halibut catch lower

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

At the beginning of the year, a debate broke out between the recreational and commercial fishing industries over the allocation of halibut, which at times was quite acrimonious. While charter fishermen were concerned about their share of the total allowable catch, it seems that after the mid-point of the fishing season, the commercial fishery has actually landed less halibut this year than at the same time last year.

According to the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the halibut fisheries opened on March 12 and will close on November 18. Through July 20, 49 per cent of the 2011 commercial fishery quota from B.C. waters had been caught, in comparison to 63 per cent at the same time last year.

In spite of that drop, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said that there is no change from previous years with regards to the number of fishermen out on the water. Lara Sloane, a media relations officer with DFO , said there is nothing different from what the fishery usually sees, although there has been some bad weather, so some boats that wanted to go out were not able to. She said that there is usually a push in the later months of the season, such as September and October, but that is typical.

In 2003, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans established a pacific halibut quota of 88 per cent for commercial fishermen and 12 cent for recreational fishermen. It was also decided that recreational anglers with a tidal license would be able to catch one halibut per day with two in possession. Ever since then, there have been a number of attempts by representatives of each sector to develop an acceptable way to transfer allocation between them.

The most recent rounds of discussions took place throughout 2010, but they reached an impasse. In order to try and even things out a bit, the federal government recently decided to undertake a trial to make available to interested recreational stakeholders, experimental licenses that will allow them to lease quota from commercial harvesters.

“This will provide access to halibut beyond the limits of the standard recreational license, giving those who choose to participate greater stability for business planning purposes,” said Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, in a press release at the time.

However, Rob Alcock, President of the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C., said that he thinks the pilot program is a delaying tactic that allowed the government to get through the election window.

“I suspect that it is doomed to failure, largely because it does not address the fundamental problem that the original allocation for the recreational sector is inadequate,” he said.

Rob Alcock said that the B.C. Sport Fishing Institute’s charter boat members have said that the uncertainty caused by the halibut allocation model makes it difficult for them to sell trips. If they sell a trip and the season is closed arbitrarily, they likely have lost that customer forever. They also note that the bag limits that limit anglers to one fish per day, two in possession, discourage anglers from booking an exclusive charter.

~Written by Gina Clark



Community says farewell to dedicated arts advocate

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Good-byes tend to be bittersweet. No matter how much you wish someone well and hope they succeed in their new endeavours, you also know you will miss them when they are gone. When the community comes out to say good-bye to former Prince Rupert Community Arts Council president Monica Lamb-Yorski tonight, before she heads to Williams Lake at the end of August, perhaps those feelings will be the same.

The farewell party, hosted by Harbour Theatre Society and the Arts Council, will also be a birthday celebration, as Lamb-Yorski’s birthday is today. Her daughter Anna Lamb-Yorski, who is also vice-president of the Prince Rupert Community Arts Council, says she originally thought of throwing a private party, then she was approached with the idea of making it a public event. There will be skits, music and cake, as well as an open mic, so that if people want to just get up and say something, they can. She said that is what her mom would like the most.

Monica became involved with the Prince Rupert Community Arts Council in 2000 when she attended an AGM.  She became president in 2009, but she admits she did so reluctantly, as she did not consider herself a leader, and still does not.

In her time with the Arts Council, Monica has spearheaded a few community projects, including the Fraser Street Revitalization Project, the Graffiti Project at the skateboard park to engage youth, the Journey of the Salmon, 100 Gumboots for the 2010 centennial and, most recently, organizing local kids painting coffee cans for cigarette butt disposal downtown for Communities in Bloom.

Before she moved to Rupert, says Anna, her mother was also involved with the arts council in Nelson.

“The arts are important to me and it seemed like I could give back to the community by expanding some of my energy on the council and the council accepted me, with all my crazy schemes,” says Monica. She says her experience with the local arts council has been a growing one. She has learned how to be on a board, write successful grant applications, co-ordinate projects, engage artists of all ages in community projects, face challenges and learn her limitations.

“I have had the privilege of working with artists in our community and encouraging artists,” she says. “I have even spoken before both municipal and provincial government representatives about the value of the arts, something I wonder if I’d ever have done if I hadn’t moved to Prince Rupert and joined the arts council.”

Monica says you have to have fun with your volunteer efforts and if it becomes a burden, it is time to step down. “Fortunately for me, it’s been good to the last drop, and like a good scotch, something I’ll savour for years to come,” she says. “I have learned more than I’ve given, I think.”

The party will begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Tom Rooney Playhouse. Admission is free.

~Written by Gina Clark