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REPORTING · 15th March 2010
Walter McFarlane
THE BUDGET HITS THE FAN

It was no bouquet for Council when Rory Brown took the stand at the Kitimat City Council Meeting on March 8th. Rory had intended to speak at the meeting of February 22nd but was unable to get onto the agenda. He introduced himself as a resident of Kitimat for over 35 years.

“I am here tonight because I have concerns about what Council is doing to Kitimat. I have many concerns but there are a lot of people here and we don’t have enough time to go through all of them,” said Brown.

Speaking to the looking for love animal shelter, he pointed out this was supposed to be fundraised, which was not supposed to be supported by the tax dollars in the community. He estimated half a million dollars plus $75,000 more to go into the shelter which was going away from other funding opportunities.

“They feel that an animal, a stray dog, is more important than other things and at the same time, council deciding to do things like close the youth centre down at the Riverlodge for kids? Earlier Mr. Feldhoff mentioned that some of these things, pertaining to the crimes in town, the kids, or adults. Take away things from kids and see where our crime rate goes. They’re not going to go to the animal shelter. If you want to take away things like money for security cameras and keeping this town safer, put it into our kids. A stray dog we can deal with. We can deal with that the way things are now. Stray kids, what do they wind up doing? Breaking windows, break and entry, smashing up cars, slashing tires. That’s really great for our community. But those dogs, great place to sleep on that heated floor,” said Brown.

He also was not pleased with councils decision to contract out some of the work like curb cutting and grass cutting. He recommended raising the cost of doing this to keep Kitimat citizens employed. He pointed out people who work in Kitimat also shop in Kitimat so it keeps the economy of small businesses going.

He moved onto his final point. “Lastly, Council’s behavior; It’s been comparable to a poorly run daycare. The constant bickering has gone way too far to the point of becoming an international embarrassment,” said Brown.

He said he googled Kitimat Council and there they were, bickering for the world to see.

“The first job of Council is the representation of our community, what’s in the best interest of Kitimat and the people of Kitimat. And one of your jobs, in my opinion there, is to entice new businesses to come here. What business wants to come to a community where Council cannot look after their own house. It’s embarrassing,” said Brown.

He said he had no interest in running for politics. He was just a citizen of the town who did not want to see the community run into the ground.

“This has gone past the point of making a public apology; the way to fix this is for the immediate resignation of Mr. McLaren, Mr. Gottschling and our Mayor. You three are the ones who do the most bickering and it’s embarrassing. I’m giving you the opportunity to save Kitimat and yourselves any further embarrassment. Resign, you can be replaced, and maybe the next council will know better. If you choose not to resign, then we’ll have to see what a petition could do and we’ll see where that goes,” said Brown.

Councillor Feldhoff did not agree with the presentation and later commented he liked a second presentation about Kitimat as a retirement home better. He commented he did appreciate the feedback though. He stated Brown was wrong about the animal shelter. The current animal shelter is operated by the City and the new facility was being built because the current shelter was not a good facility with good conditions. Feldhoff commented Brown did not share the same view point as the other people in the community and it was hard to make decisions everyone can support.

Brown reminded Feldhoff the meat of his presentation was not about the animals, it was about council being an embarrassment which is driving away foreign investors. He also asked Feldhoff not to make it sound like he does not care about animals, he does care about them.

“Taking money from our community at a time when everyone is looking at budget cutbacks and taking 75,000 and giving it to that when you’re cutting back in other areas. You have to prioritize. Animals don’t come before people. They can’t come before people. What about our kids. The wading pools are being closed. The youth centre, these are all things that are important to the infrastructure of our town,” said Brown.

Feldhoff stated the youth centre is not being closed. Brown pointed out the security cameras are being reduced as well as two police officers. He pointed out the job Rate was going down and asked council how it would affect the crime rate. “But as long as the dogs are warm and comfy,” stated Brown before sitting down.

While approving the minutes for the budget meetings, Councillor Mario Feldhoff found a problem with the minutes. He did not recall making a motion to close the Kitimat Youth Centre. He stated the motion was NOT to close the Youth Centre. Community Clerk Walter McLellan pointed out they could check the notes. A motion to amend the minutes was carried.

At the budget deliberation on day two, Kitimat City Council did discuss changing the method in which the Youth Centre was operated. However, the decision on this is currently unknown as Council moved the topic to an In Camera session.

This was not the only displeasure the public felt with Council at that meeting. Council also received a letter from Clarence Riggs. “I am saddened to have read last night in our local paper of the steps that you have chosen to take towards reducing the city budget” wrote Riggs.

Speaking to the changes in recreation Riggs wrote, “I feel that your recent budget decisions have begun to erode these services. With all the medical world calling for an increase in physical activity, you have chosen to reduce the access of both children and adults to the activities they enjoy. All I hear about is unused ice time and how Tamitik will be utilized more with the closure of KIR; I personally feel that not as many people will utilize the facilities. If they are forced to take advantage of less than prime time hours (after midnight or at 5 in the morning). You have even gone so far as closing the new pool and Riverlodge for periods of time.”

He also stated he was not impressed by Councils investment in the animal shelter of $500,000+ to date and the flower budget was untouched. “I realize that some tough decisions have to be made, but my question to you is: Are animals and flowers, just to name a few examples, considered more important than the health and fitness of our citizens?” concluded Riggs.

The letter received no discussion at council. Councillor Bob Corless moved to receive it for information. The motion was called and carried and council moved on.
Retirement town?!?!
Comment by Ben Gardner on 19th March 2010
Are you kidding me...
I have tried to write a comment ,several times,
and each time my reply gets longer and longer and i get madder and madder.
I have decided that laying out the stupidity of that comment is just a waste of my time and those would have read my comment, and im pretty sure most folks could figure out why just by thinking about what retirement is suppose to be.
My question to the councillors....Can each of them honestly say to themselves that they believe what they are doing is for the good of the town.
And for those who cannot , resign , walk away, better yet go away.
Lets see how many of them will "retire" in kitimat
Good Reporting
Comment by Ian on 17th March 2010
The point that Kitimat needs to know is how this in fighting is effecting the community ,but also the Northwest.
People elected to council have an inherit responsibilty to the people that elect them and business's that opperate and want to develop in our region.

Keep up the good work, very informative.
The Poll has strangely changed
Comment by Steven Roy on 16th March 2010
Is it just me or does it look strange how the poll has changed so much within the last 12 hours...it is almost as if someone has started a campaign to rig the numbers.
activities shouldnt be taken away from youth
Comment by Jody Munroe on 15th March 2010
I would first off like to say HALLELUJAH to RORY BROWN! You are so awesome! I have to say that i agree with what your saying... i think they should all resign also. Kitimat is a beautiful town and I would hope that now would be the time to bring more small business' to the community, all the employees of Eurocan and their wives and children are probably all scrambling to find some means of income in their community of Kitimat. Looking to find work in other regions of the northwest to support their families. And the housing tax goes up 20% the old arena shuts down, DQ is supposed to be shutting down, and Dragon Cafe also is supposed to be shutting down. What is this all coming to? The people of kitimat are going to feel the squeeze EVERYWHERE... they might as well be treated as puss out of a zit. Rory says embarrassing i say re damn diculas!!! Kitimat can be so much more if the city council would allow other business to come to Kitimat to produce jobs and stability, get the modernization project done, stop spending money on useless crap like animal shelters and flowers! Get a grip people... Riverlodge is a great place to shape and occupy many youth's lives... more places like this one should be opened! not closed...
I think city council needs to give their heads a shake a RETIREMENT TOWN???? What about the kids who are living there, they need schools and daycare, activities (riverlodge, pool) JOBS....
I say RESIGN.... hopefully we can get this town cleaned up and pumping again with new council