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October 27, 2017 11:41 pm

Booze, rail service and hotel tax topics for Council’s consideration

Monday, March 21, 2016 @ 3:59 AM

city hallPrince George, B.C.- Liquor,  consumption and  production will be up for discussion at Prince George City Council’s regular meeting this evening.

There are two alcohol related applications before Council.

In one, Council is being called upon to support an application to  allow  alcohol service in the seating area of the PG Playhouse.  Currently, alcohol is only allowed in the lobby of that facility.

The other is a for a temporary use permit  for the  CrossRoads Brewery  being developed on George Street.  Approving that temporary use permit  would allow the  Brewery developers to  get a building permit to make the  necessary renovations while  their rezoning  application  moves through the regular process.

But  alcohol is not all that’s on tap for Council this evening.

Prince George Tourism  is  requesting the City’s support to boost the hotel tax,( officially called the Municipal and Regional District Tax)  from the current 2%  to  3%.   The dollars raised through this  tax  are used for  tourism marketing, programs and projects.   Even if the City opts to  support this  increase,  it  must  have the approval of at least 51%  of  accommodation property owners representing at least 51% of the rooms available.  If  all the  requirements are met  and the Province  gives approval, the  boost would  take effect July 1st of 2017.

Council will also  get the detailed application to have the former Haldi Road School  rezoned to allow for a dog breeding and boarding facility. This is the first step in the process with a public hearing  to take place  further down the road.

The District of Lillooet is asking  the City of Prince George for support in  having a rail service  from North Vancouver to Prince George.   In a letter to Council,  the District notes rail transportation is ‘greener’ than  vehicles on the road,  and  that since the service ended in 2002,  the District has  been denied  the benefits of  the tourism traffic  such a rail service would  provide.


“Even if the City opts to support this increase, it must have the approval of at least 51% of accommodation property owners representing at least 51% of the rooms available.” .. it would be nice if that was how it was for property tax, utilities, etc for the average homeowner.

On tonight’s agenda is a report that discusses the safety of our drinking water – Well Protection Plan.

From the Safe Water Drinking Act: Public reporting
The public has the right to know the results of monitoring their water supply.
Dissemination of this information, a requirement for true public accountability for water management, has become the common practice in other jurisdictions.

The City fails to be transparent and accountable in reporting drinking water monitoring. Despite requests from residents, The City (unlike other communities) does not post the current and monthly TREATED water monitoring results on the website. If City of PG water is of the highest quality (City website), then show us.

Highlights from the report:

PW605 is further away from the CN yard; however, the pump house sits within 100 m of the track and thus, could be vulnerable to damage from collisions. Up until recently the pumphouse has also stored a large volume of hydrofluorosilicic acid, used as a water fluoridation additive, which is extremely toxic even in low doses.”

“…there has been a public outcry for greater transparency regarding the types of materials which are being transported, especially in regards to dangerous goods. As a result, an announcement was made in January 2014 that starting in April 2014, rail companies would have to submit quarterly reports (every 90 days) summarizing ALL materials carried though municipalities (globalnews.ca, 2014). The City of Prince George issued formal requests to CN staff to receive these reports in February 2014.
However, upon meeting with a CN representative on July 14th, 2014, Radloff were informed that CN is under no obligation to report to municipalities as this information is already reported at a Federal level. The City was encouraged to request information from the Transportation Safety Board. Future discussions with CN or the TSB should clarify the scope of responsibilities for reporting under the new regulation.
One option which could be explored is an early warning/reporting system from CN to the City regarding
dangerous goods which will be passing through the CN Yard. Since rail cars are already individually equipped with GPS tracking (as is often used to track international shipments by sea), it may be possible that CN would know weeks or even months in advance about future dangerous good shipments.
The advantage of advanced notice is that, if a spill were to occur, these records could allow responders to immediately choose the course of action best suited to combat the particular contaminant in question. The obvious drawback of this measure is that public opinion may be quite negative if statistics as to the nature and frequency of these hazardous goods were to be released.
At the moment, CN is not open to this information being made public for security and propriety reasons.

    Chances of knowing weeks or months in advance for rail car info is slim to nill, cn does not run to a schedule and they send trains out when they feel like it, depending on priority of the train.

anything Booze and any increase in taxes should be a shoe in.

Can this Council be Recalled??

    unfortunately if seems not…it might be too many rich “friends”.

      I am going to look into this….Hmmm…we can recall these MP’s…

      City council members are not MPs (Member of Parliament) or MLAs (Member of the Legislative Assembly) but rather Aldermen, Alderwomen and Mayor. Not sure if recall legislation applies to an Alderman/woman or city Mayor.

CN will never share cargo information of any kind unless federal law is changed, requiring them to disclose this information upon request.

Responders to derailments must jump through the hoops of CN bureaucracy to get information even AFTER a derailment. That pretty much slows up any sort of response to leaking rail cars lying on the river bank.

But, our federal laws permit this.


Firstly CN Rail gets a manifest and advance information on all trains destined to Prince George,. The latest would be when a train departed Jasper, or Smithers, and in some cases McBride and Endako BC.

So Railways always know what trains are coming and what Dangerous Goods are on what train and where they are located on the train.

If by chance there should be a derailment the Railways have their own emergency response teams, and of course would advise other people that need to be advised.

Railways work 7 days per week 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, so who would be best to have this information, and to use it?? Surely not someone at City Hall who get off work at 5pm and goes golfing.

The last thing you need is some politicians, or municipal workers, or others getting involved in how these types of situations should be handled. Railways have over 100 years experience.

    I suspect that the regional district will get some information on dangerous goods going through the community.

    They are currently responsible for providing 911 services and supporting disaster management.

    Kind of a useless system if there is no sharing of data.

Air cargo carriers have less experience than 100 years.

Can you provide a comparison of the cost of incidents per tonne-km or ton-miles of transported cargo per 10,000 units to see just how safe rail transport is compared to air transport? Then introduce comparable figures for trucking and even shipping by sea.

For instance, to carry one ton of cargo it takes one gallon of fuel to go:
By ship – 514 miles
By train – 202 miles
By truck – 59 miles

From the safety point of view, deaths per billion ton-miles
By train – 1.15
By truck – 0.84
By ship – 0.01

Data source = business.tenntom.org/why-use-the-waterway/shipping-comparisons

No air comparison is provided.

Notice that of the three transportation methods, based on deaths, railways, despite 100 years of experience, have the poorest safety record. That would be a good reason fro someone to get involved with improving the safety record of railways, especially when this info tells us that trucking is actually safer. Frankly, that is something I did not expect to see.


Lets not get carried away with comparisons between truck, rail, and air.

Firstly there is no way that you can transport the Dangerous Goods that you need to run industry in Canada (or the North American Continent) by air. Nor would it be tolerated by the citizens at large.

So forget Air. Secondly truck transportation is not able to handle the amount of tonnage that is is moving via rail, and if somehow it could, then of course the statistics for truck transportation deaths would go up because they would increase the number of trucks a million times over.

So the majority of Dangerous Goods are transported by Rail and for good reason. This is the safest form of transportation to move huge volumes of Dangerous Goods over long distances.

The statistics for moving one ton of cargo by ship has no bearing on anything because anything that is moving by ship ultimately (with a few exceptions) has to be unloaded, and then moved to destination via rail, or truck. As an example shipping containers from China to Prince Rupert would get you 514 miles per gallon, however you would then move it to the Eastern USA via rail which would be 202 miles per gallon of fuel, and then the container would be delivered from the rail yard to the customer (usually within a 500 mile radius) and you would be getting 59 miles to the gallon.

Soooooo. You cannot make any comparison, because for the most part this is a continuous movement. Ie; ship to rail to truck, or rail to truck, or rail to ship to truck, etc; etc;.

Air is not included because very little or no dangerous goods move by air.

Statistics for deaths per billion ton miles are basically useless, unless you can show that the deaths were caused by the various modes of transportation, or caused by citizens at large running into truck, trains, etc;

    “… of course the statistics for truck transportation deaths would go up because they would increase the number of trucks a million times over..”

    Palopu .. please read up a bit on statistics … the site I quoted uses a rate. The rate is “deaths per billion ton-miles”. It is irrelevant how far is travelled or how much is carried.

    Until you understand that, we might as well forget this discussion.

    Second, the stats do not deal with dangerous goods. They deal with tonnage and distance to get an incident rate of deaths as a result of the transportation function. It does not deal with type of shipment content.

    However, since you state that railways carry higher amounts of dangerous goods, that may be the factor which causes the increase in deaths. If the number of incidents is higher and the goods transported are more dangerous, then the risk of deaths is even greater with rail than with trucks. To make rail as safe as trucks one would have to try to reduce such events as derailments, which is what this report is about, and /or reduce or make the dangerous cargo or make the shipment containers for the cargo safer.

    I think the latter is being progressively done, but not sure of that. Lots of secrecy it seems.

Railways, Municipalities, Regional Disricts, RCMP, Fire Departments, Pulp Mills, etc; all have some form of Emergency Response responsibilities, and they are in contact on a regular basis, and have programs in place to respond to derailments, or chemical spills etc;

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