City Council is off to a wonderful start at maintaining the top spot on the top five significant events for 2010 with their dysfunction today
. Although the council was able to spend a majority of the meeting being civil, the hurt feelings from the feud of 2009 were visible at the end. Below is an abridged article on what took place during their first meeting for 2010.
Long service presentations were presented to Doug Basset and Rick Thompson. Each were presented a watch for 25 years of service saving lives in the community.
Staff Sergeant Steve Corp stepped up for his monthly report. Over the holiday season, only one person was charged with drinking and driving. He explained this is most likely because of all the prevention of Drinking and Driving over the Christmas Break. He announced that the risk watch was taken to all five schools in Kitimat. 35 classes were brought the program. With that, he went over the crime statistics for December.
One of the councillors asked him if this was due to better policing or the shrinking of the community. Corp explained that this could be due to any number of factors. Mayor Monaghan asked if they had a Restorative Justice person. Corp replied that she is still receiving security clearance but he had spoken to her yesterday.
Stephanie Howell and Cheryl Rumley stepped up to the stand next to speak on the topic of violence against women and housing issues. Howell explained that Kitimat was one of the towns participating in the project. Women were asked to take pictures of the barriers to them being able to find housing after leaving violent relationships.
Howell further explained that there were several key themes. Finance problems, lack of resources, discrimination and housing issues (which were not as visible in Kitimat). She pointed out that all of the women who took part in the report came to Kitimat after experiencing abuse. Councillor Feldhoff asked what council should be doing. Howell stated that this is preliminary research. She added that one thing the council should look into is if the housing stock is really ready to rent or not.
Cheryl Rumley stepped up to speak to the barriers women were having in obtaining housing. She also wished to speak about Terrace’s Task Force Model. She explained that Terrace received millions of dollars in grants for this task force. She pointed out that it is ironic that we are talking about housing when Kitimat is known across the board for low housing rates.
Mary Murphy, President of CEP stepped up next to speak about the Eurocan Viability Group. She spoke about who the group members were. She explained that a consultant firm will be starting to work on the 12th of January at West Fraser and make suggestions as to what could be done to make the mill viable. She explained that some assets will remain in place until March. She thanked the steering committee for the long hours of work given during the holidays.
Barry Pankhurst, representing the Kitimat Social Health Education Impact Committee, spoke about the recreation subsidy that Eurocan families will receive. He stated that the recreation passes for the Eurocan families were a good idea, however, he stated that Eurocan’s potential closure is affecting more community members than just people who work at Eurocan. He asked council to rethink the position so that people who are affected who are not working at Eurocan may also receive this benefit. He added that there is a lot of stress even in the schools about this issue. He asked council to rethink what they have done and include the other families.
Councillor Fledhoff reminded him that there is a program in place for people who are financially distressed and the avenue is open. Pankhurst asked him not to discriminate one group of people for another group. Feldhoff asked how the affected people could be identified. Pankhurst requested not to embarrass people further. He stated that teachers in school are providing food and clothing because parents are providing other necessities. Rob Goffenet suggested they attend a future meeting of the committee that Pankhurst was representing.
Mary Murphy wished to add something. She explained that the original motion was in the spirit of trying to relieve families who needed it. Some have since found jobs, some have already left Eurocan. She stated that not all Eurocan employees will need it but some will.
Erich Fussl of Pytrade then made a conference call to council. Mayor Joanne Monaghan read a letter from Fussl concerning what is planned for Kitimat. Pytrade is interested in creating bio fuel in Kitimat. In addition to the plant, the process will require a power supply and greenhouses to take advantage of the excess heat.
Councillor Feldhoff asked Fussl about how Council and Pytrade might move forward. Fussl explained that the plant was for exporting to the North American Market. He explained that clients want a working unit in North America and Pytrade wants to work with the community of Kitimat.
Fussl explained that the process would involve the creation of Biomass while using the heat generated for Aquaphonics. He stated that Kitimat was an ideal location for their company. All they are asking is that Kitimat welcome them into the community. Councillor Richard McLaren verified that they were not asking for money, they were asking for assistance.
The conference call ended and the call for new business began. Councillor Gottschling brought up a New Year's Resolution for new business. This raised Mayor Monaghan's eyebrow and opened up a discussion on policy. Monaghan asked him to put these as notice of motion. In addition to the Resolution, Councillor Bob Corless would bring up a capital project and Councillor Halyk had information about the hatchery.
Under reports, the a job opportunities program to work on trail maintenance received support and was carried unanimously. Council would not join the SAFERhome society. The topic of having a forum for a proposed town hall meeting on shipping was discussed, but council feared that if they spent the money advertising the forum, it would make council seem like a proponent.
Councillor Feldhoff wanted to communicate this to the public in a cost effective manner. Councillor Halyk stated that they probably should not spend the money advertising the forum. The town hall meeting is scheduled for March 2nd. In the end council voted to spend $750 advertising the forum.
The process of Budget 2010 was determined to start on January 18th with the budgeting to take place in February. Then came the statement of accounts for December.
Under communications, Councillor Feldhoff made a motion to formalize an MOU with Pytrade. He stated that the MOU would put together a mechanism to address the questions that they had. Although the number of jobs is not huge, they could address some of the questions. McLaren and Feldhoff offered to volunteer on the project; Feldhoff offered during the initial presentation.
“It’s something positive for our community and right now, we could use some ‘positivity’,” said Mayor Monaghan. The motion was called and carried. It was followed by new business.
Councillor Gottschling began speaking about his 2010 resolution. He stated the council has put off organizing the business plan he proposed in last years resolution. He then added that he is concerned that they run an $18,000,000 business without a business plan. Mayor Monaghan stated that she looked forward to his notice of motion.
Councillor Gottschling then moved on to the security cameras. He wanted to know when the project will be going forward. Mayor Monaghan expressed lack of progress with the project. Trafford Hall addressed why. He said it was canceled when Eurocan made it‘s announcement. This brought up quite a discussion on what would happen next. Feldhoff suggested that they revisit the cameras during the budget process.
Finally, Gottschling stated that council was working hard to save Eurocan. He suggested that they speak to the Premier about saving Eurocan. He pointed out that Mayor Monaghan could work to get the premier’s assistance. He suggested that without the premier’s help, they are spinning their wheels. Mayor Monaghan stated that she did speak to the Premier and he sent in the team from the secretariat to help them. She added that he plans to come here after the Olympics are over. Gottschling explained that the closure date was February 17th and the Olympics would be over at the end of March. He did not want the money for the feasibility study to be spent in vain. He suggested that they needed to talk to the premier before March. Monaghan wanted to write a letter, Gottschling suggested that Monaghan phone him.
Regardless, Gottschling was chastised for not bringing forward new business that required immediate attention. Councillor Bob Corless made a motion to move ahead with reconstructing one of the reservoirs and Councillor Randy Halyk provided an updated report on the Fish Hatchery.
Stay tuned through out the week for more in depth articles on the topic of violence against women and housing issues, the Eurocan viability study, recreation for Eurocan families, Pytrade, the New Years Resolution and the Fish Hatchery.