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REPORTING · 4th February 2010
Walter McFarlane
The Kitimat City Council met for their bi-monthly Committee of the Whole meeting on February 1st. The following is an abridged account of the meeting and the topics presented within. Mayor Joanne Monaghan called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm. Not present was Councillor Gerd Gottschling.

The meeting began with budget presentations from Engineering, Investor services and Transit. Tim Gleig gave a presentation on the impact on engineering as a result of the potential closure of Eurocan. He stated there was not an effective way of shutting down water and sewer while the streets were occupied.

Engineering made up almost 7.5 million dollars of the council’s budget in 2009, with the highest costs being winter operations and water utility. Water utility was high due to work on Haisla Bridge. Gleig looked over the budget and quickly explained where council could and could not save money.

Councillor Randy Halyk asked if they saved money on snow operations due to the lack of snow this year. Gleig explained the money included the early part of 2009 and repairs to damage done. Municipal Manager Trafford Hall explained the District tries to run a reserve. If they have an easy year, they contribute to the reserve.

Councilor Mario Feldhoff suggested saving money by having the building inspectors focus only on residential committees. Gleig pointed out this would be a bad idea when there are industries coming in to Kitimat. It was suggested this would come back at a later meeting.

Recommendations included reducing lighting around the community after a certain hour during the winter. Glieg pointed out the lights were there for security and safety. Another suggestion was to change the way of using the fleet. This would result in more breakdowns.

There were four suggestions for changing the cost of snow clearing. One suggestion was to change winter response from 3 inches before snow removal to 5 inches before snow removal. Other options include towing car obstructions parked in roadways during snow removal, becoming more aggressive with home owners who push snow into the roadway and reducing parking lot clearing on Sundays.

Further options for reducing the budget were to contract out patching of the roads in Kitimat, tendering the removal of winter chips, tendering turf maintenance and eliminate overlays and reconstruction of roads which are not considered arterial.

Gleig suggested increasing revenues for services such as the water rates, sewer rates, solid waste management and cemetery interment. He also suggested council look at user fees to cover costs so they are not paid by the taxpayer. He explained at several items that were budgeted for last year but the funds did not come in. He estimated that the savings listed should save about $640,000 or 10% of the budget.

The next presenter was Dianne Hewlett from Investor Services. She looked at labour services and non labour services. She stated that historically, most of the money for her non labour services were spent in travel. She suggested reducing labour costs by reducing the days the clerk and manager of the department work. For non labour costs, Hewlett suggested they could change the way that the money is spent.

Councillor Feldhoff suggested going back to a tabled motion on Economic Development from 2008, “What should the scope of the department include?” asked Feldhoff. Hewlett stated that small business and tourism were where they were receiving Northern Development Initiative Trust grants. She reminded that the contract for visitor information expired this year and council should look at what they want to do with that contract.

Halyk suggested finding ways of lowering the costs by eliminating touring investors around the community. Hewlett stated that when there are proponents looking at Kitimat for large investment, the best way is to take them on a tour of sites from the air. She stated the understanding of the community can bring these people in. She estimated that cutting this would save $10,000.

Walter McLellen, Community Clerk presented transit costs. He presented a sheet of riders on the buses around the community and explained which buses were not receiving many riders. He stated that if they cut industrial service, they would be able to save money but it would not be that much. Halyk suggested getting smaller buses. McLellen stated that having smaller buses probably would not save money and mixing the fleet could cost more.

On the topic of the Handy Dart, he suggested cutting the hours. He looked at other communities that do not offer the same level of service to suggest changing that service. McLellen has been in contact with BC Transit and suggested that cutting hours by 30% would earn 20% savings. Monaghan suggested that they should not look at changing the service because of the aging communities.

They moved on to a discussion of the nature of the slides 21 and 22. Feldhoff declared conflict, the Mayor wished she could as well. Councillor Richard McLaren stated that the Mayor does have the right to say whatever she wants to whoever she wants, but suggested that the Councillors have the right to express their concerns, and admit they were not involved in the slides nor did they have the opportunity to be informed about the presentation before it was made.

He stated the point has been made and council should now move on with better communication with each other. He admitted that the council has been in contact over the topics of the slides and he wished to move on to real difficulties in the community. He invited other Councillors to speak.

Monaghan wished to circulate a letter to council from a Tokyo Investor. He has been asked to delay investment in Kitimat until Council can come together. He cited the Kitimat Daily as the source of his information. He expressed disappointment that Kitimat’s international image was being damaged by the infighting.

Monaghan also stated that there was a letter on the table from KTIDS. McLaren was upset that the mayor did not show empathy on this issue. He had shared this information he read so no one would be ambushed and now he felt blindsided by the Mayor's letter. Monaghan said that she felt blindsided last week and wished this in-camera but it came out in public. Halyk wished to put this matter to rest. He wanted to make it clear that they were concerned.

On the topic of the surveillance cameras, Monaghan mentioned a news report she saw earlier in the evening. She wondered if council could try and buy used security cameras after the Olympics more cheaply. On another topic, Councillor Halyk wished to thank the Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board for their letter.

There was little business after that and council prepared to go into in camera.
You have completely lost it Joanne: My Opinion
Comment by Danny Nunes on 4th February 2010
I was there for the meeting. I sat there and listened as Mayor Monaghan read this letter and made it seem as though the Kitimat Daily is to blame for the loss of a potential investor from the orient. What a load of BS.

The mayor read this letter to a packed room... a room filled with many members of KTDIS... hmm.

Now why was KTDIS there all of a sudden. No one from the group had a presentation or a word to say whatsoever.... yet they were there en mass... again... hmm.

Now remember these are simply opinions and observations but one has to wonder and draw some conclusions based on this C.O.W meeting.

This letter in questions timing is highly suspect. It comes at a time when the mayor is under intense scrutiny over a series of slides she spoke to that were prepared by KTDIS... a private group... she spoke to these slides without the consent of many of her fellow Councillors who now feel rightfully slighted and then she now reads a letter that once again... many Councillors weren't given any forewarning or notice of and justifies it by acting like a child and saying... "well you can ambush me so I will do the same."

If Joanne Monaghan had her way, she would ban the Kitimat Daily completely from meetings so then she could effectively silence any word of her behavior and any questions or reportings of what is really transpiring in our community. As we all know the other media will gloss over or not say much of anything...notice how thin there paper is getting lately?

Sorry Mayor... but the Kitimat Daily is doing its job and a fine one at that.

It is not responsible for getting investors to decide not to come to Kitimat...it is you and you alone who is responsible...and your attempts to elicit sympathy on a form of local media sponsored by the towns lone industry is nothing short of pathetic.

Your so called attempts at creating order in council is nothing more than an attempt to silence speech from those who would have the courage to point out how Kitimat is being destroyed more and more each day and if Rick Wozney could stand up and take the heat from interest groups like the concerned citizens and KTDIS... then Save The Northwest should be allowed the same opportunity to make it a level playing field.

If investors based there investments on whether there feelings were hurt then Rio Tinto would have left years ago so don't give us all this BS about how we will lose investment... if there's money to be made... companies will come and make that money even if they think the towns run by nut jobs... believe me the general public already knows the majority of its politicians are nuts.

What we as a community should really be concerned about and something no one reports on is something that is being mentioned in another form of local media. what am I talking about? I am talking about certain emissions from a certain industry that are well above what they should be and the potential issues that will cause in the community. So I have to ask anyone working in the service center... hows your health?