Air quality continued to be one of the top issues on people’s minds in 2009, and Prince George Air Quality Improvement Roundtable (PGAIR) was at the forefront of activity. PGAIR is a consensus-based organization which includes representatives from government, industry, UNBC, the City of Prince George and citizen’s advocacy group PACHA.
In January PGAIR agreed to a target of reducing fine particulate emissions in the city by 40 per cent by 2016.
Coun. Brian Skakun made his share of headlines this year inside and outside City Hall.
In August Skakun was charged with allegedly violating the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act by releasing confidential city documents to the CBC. Skakun has pled not guilty to the charge and a trial is expected to take place early in 2010.
In October Skakun called for, and received, council support for an independent audit of the city’s dealing with local developer John Major on the construction of an underground parking lot downtown.
Skakun also publicly butted heads with Initiatives Prince George president Tim McEwan for McEwan’s support of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and participation in a pro-Liberal advertising campaign.
Packhorses Sundance and Belle are alive and well today, thanks to the efforts of over 45 volunteers from the McBride region. The horses were abandoned on the slope of Renshaw Mountain and became stuck in the deep snow with temperatures dropping to -30 C to -35 C.
John Gibson took the pilot’s seat of the Prince George Airport on July 1, becoming the new president.
Gibson has overseen airport operations during some of the biggest events in the airport’s history: the landing of the first Boeing 747 air cargo craft; approval of funding for the Boundary Road Connector; the fire at the NT Air hangar; and the arrival of an 18-delegate group from China.
Marilyn Juds is the driving force behind the recently-formed Prince George Safe Water Coalition. The coalition has been pressuring council to stop flouridating city water.
RCMP Supt. Brenda Butterworth-Carr made national headlines when she took over as commander of the Prince George RCMP Detachment. Butterworth-Carr is the first aboriginal woman to become an RCMP superintendent in Western Canada.
Since taking over command of the detachment in February, she has built working relationships with downtown businesses and aboriginal organizations. This spring she introduced around-the-clock foot patrols downtown.
In November, she created a five-member Downtown Enforcement Unit to target drug-and-alcohol-related crimes and nuisance behaviour.
Mayor Dan Rogers and city council
Whether opening the Cameron Street Bridge or closing the Cadillac Ranch, it’s been an eventful year at City Hall.
City projects started this year will encourage residents to share the road with cyclists, build greener homes, make kids skinnier, breast feed in public, consider curbside recycling, envision a better downtown, think about the city’s future, consider locations for a downtown health and wellness centre, take the bus, walk their dogs in designated dog parks, and tear down derelict buildings.
Clowning for Kids organizers Mary Jarbek and Val Flemming
On Friday, May 15, Prince George set the world record for the most red clown noses worn at one time earning the city a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. A total of 797 people gathered at Masich Place Stadium and kept the nose on for the required five minutes blowing away the previous record of 420 people.
Airport Logistics Park developer Henry Remple
Vancouver-based land developer Henry Remple is the pioneer of what could be a major new industry for Prince George.
Remple has developed and is promoting the construction of an 800 ha light industrial park adjacent to the Prince George Airport. The goal of the park is to attract warehousers, freight forwarders, distributors, sorters and light manufacturers to use the air cargo capacity of the airport.
Prince George School District
Had the new trustees on the Prince George School District board of education known what they were in for in 2009, they may not have run for election.
At the beginning of the year the district was facing a $4.4 million operating deficit as a result of rising costs and declining enrollment.
After approving a three-year-plan to cut spending by $5.5 million, the provincial government announced cuts to the annual facility grant leaving the district with an additional $2.3 million shortfall.
At the same time, the district has been constructing a new Duchess Park Secondary School, dealing with the closure of Giscome Elementary school, and developing an aboriginal choice elementary school in the district.