REPORTING · 23rd March 2010
The Kitimat City Council met for their regular meeting on Monday, March 22nd. Mayor Monaghan called the Kitimat City Council to order at 7:30 Pm. Not present was Councillor Richard McLaren.
Mary Murphy, President of CEP 298 stepped up first with an update on the Eurocan Viability study. She stated Poyry Forest Industry consulting Inc addressed the Viability Study. She explained what a successful buyout would take: commitment from the community, cooperation from key players for a long term fibre supply, the buy in, cooperation with West Fraser to keep the assets as is to keep costs down, and a business plan to attract investors.
She requested the feasibility individuals, Municipal Manger Trafford Hall, Wendy Craft and Councillor Randy Halyk continue to make this a reality. She also asked the communities of Kitimat and Terrace to support the project to maintain Eurocan as the last pulp mill in the Sacred Circle.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to make sure the public knew it was a portion of the mill which will be operating. In addition, it would employ about 270 people although Murphy suggested this was a generous assessment.
Councillor Bob Corless wanted to know if there was any discussion on the wharf. Murphy stated there has been a lot of discussion on the wharf. A written report shall be released to the public within a few weeks. Councillor Rob Goffinet wanted to know if West Fraser had agreed to keep equipment necessary to the viability of the union’s plans. Murphy said West Fraser has been committed to help them and they will be meeting to try and extend the commitment at the end of the week. Purchasers will be going in to see what equipment can be scrapped.
Councillor Gerd Gottschling wanted to know if they had the government support they needed to maintain the operation. Murphy replied the Federal government is looking at the black liquor subsidy and Pat Bell has people sitting on their committees. They have requested to meet with Bell over what is going to happen.
Gottschling also wanted to know if they had financial support from the government. Murphy replied there were government grants and people in the community are willing to invest in the company.
Finally, Gottschling wanted to know if there was a time line. Murphy replied a year had been estimated but she wants to get it open in November. Halyk reminded her: this was a preliminary report. It was not a complete report and Murphy would not be able to speak to everything. Murphy replied this was a thorough report which gave them hope although the business part is not done yet.
Monaghan said the study has taken a lot of work. Corless wanted to know if the feasibility study had slowed up the purchase of the mill. Murphy said this was not the case; there was a second investor looking into it.
Barry Pankhurst came up to speak as a private citizen. He was concerned with the budget and the process that was used. He said the community did not have the opportunity to make suggestions on where the budget could be cut.
He said the people of Kitimat were disappointed they did not have input about where the budget cuts were coming from. He told them they have a tax increase, this would increase the money coming from Alcan and Eurocan and they were still getting the money Council was going to lose from Euorcan this year and they are still cutting services. In addition the assessments of homes are up although he admitted he was not sure how this would factor in. He asked for a community meeting where Mayor and Council could explain what they are doing.
He asked if they consulted Old Timer’s hockey. He accused Council of cutting back on swimming pool hours and closing the wading pools in the summer time, hurting the kids who could not afford to go to the pool. He then asked if Council considered the University Students coming home to find their summer jobs had been cut. He asked again for a meeting for an explanation other than: “don’t worry about it; we know what we’re doing.” He said there were no cuts to administration.
“By raising the taxes, you're going to create more money and yet you're cutting services and I don’t understand that,” said Pankhurst.
Monaghan said the three days when the department heads told them what they could cut were open to the public. She suggested these should have been televised. Pankhurst again suggested there should have been a meeting where the public could get involved.
Council moved on to motions. Gottschling made a motion to invite Paul Henning to update on the Rio Tinto Plant's current activities. He explained Henning gave a presentation a year ago on plant activities, now Rio Tinto has over 160 pots out and he would like to know about the power supply and where it goes. He would like some assurance on how these issues would be dealt with. The motion was carried.
This was followed by the Council Remuneration Bylaw for 2010. It was adopted. Then came a report on the Legion Liquor License Amendment. Council accepted the recommendation to opt out and leave the consultation to the Liquor Control Board and Licensing Branch.
The next report was on the OCP Public Consultation to bring back the process to create the OCP. Feldhoff wanted to know who brought it back. The response returned, this was a request from the public. The report was received for information.
After reviewing the statement of accounts for February, the Council moved on to communications. Monaghan pointed out there were 7 items regarding the closure of Kitimat Ice Rink. Corless made a motion to ask the Advisory Recreation Committee to meet with the letter writers on this subject.
Feldhoff wanted to put off the closure of the Ice Rink until 2011. He suggested running the arena until the equipment which needs replacing breaks down. Finally, he suggested they could afford to keep the facilty open to the public because they went ahead and raised taxes to put money into the reserves.
Halyk was in favour of the motion because they did ask the questions on the closure and made a difficult decision. They listened to the facts provided about who was using it and were informed people were not using the rink. He thought it was a good idea to ask the Advisory Recreation Committee for a second look at this.
Hall said there was no new information in the letters they have not contemplated. He said they would still be able to open the arena. He suggested the Advisory Recreation Committee would be looking at the times which groups would be using Tamitik and if they cannot fit everyone into the same building at the same time, they would bring it back to Council.
Hall anticipated citizens would be unhappy with the level of tax increases and the reductions in services. Council has seen both and Hall admitted they were bonified complaints based on a major crisis in Kitimat.
Feldhoff said they cut from each operating area, cut and then they built up the reserves. He did not wish to see a 20% increase and since they have a 20%, perhaps they should rethink some of their decisions. Halyk said they should not reopen every time because it would go on forever. He said they should take a second look through the Advisory Recreation Commission.
Goffinet clarified what Hall said. Hall suggested it was their job to advise Council and if they met with several of the writers. Martin Gould, acting Recreation Director said youth use would start earlier in the morning while adult groups would run later into the night. If this schedule could not accommodate the ice use, they could fire up the second arena in two weeks. He added if the compressor goes down, they will lose the ice in warm weather. The motion was called and carried.
The next letter from Bill Drinkwater was received for information. The letter criticized Monaghan for what she said on the radio. She stated this was not what happened and the reporter who was interviewing her had asked a question and taken the answer out of context.
Then came a letter from KTIDS on Industrial Taxation. There was a motion to receive and file it. This letter suggested reducing the taxation of industry.
Then came a letter requesting membership in the Northern Medical Trust. Monaghan suggested it was a tough budget year so they should decline membership. This was received for information and carried. The final communication was the Big Bike Ride. Corless made a motion for any Councillor who wishes to participate sign up. This year, the bike ride will be on June 10th. It was carried.
Under new business, Halyk wanted to inform people the Sport Fishing Advisory Board Meeting would take place on March 30th at the Public Safety Building at 6:30 pm. His next topic was a motion for motions made by Council to be numbered and put on the Council Website. Feldhoff pointed out the Regional District does this and it would allow them to go over the list and tie them to minutes and notes.
Hall said this would be a change for Administration and they have not been consulted on how this would change their operation. He asked for a notice of motion so they could have some discussion and the reason they do not have numbered agendas. Feldhoff tabled the motion until the report was written. Halyk was not in favour of tabling the motion because he thought this was not a complicated motion. All he was asking for was a number. The tabling motion was carried.
Finally, Halyk found a status report he requested for this meeting was not made available. He made a motion to have a line item for status reports. Feldhoff suggested the report become a regular part of the committee of the whole meetings. Hall stated the information should not be covered in front of camera, and be either in camera, or at an un-televised committee of the whole. He said focusing on what was not done is not fair for busy Administration because it makes them look like they are not doing anything.
Halyk said he was not trying to point fingers. The point of the motion is to help Council and Administration. He wants to track motions and tabled motions because he can not tell the two apart. Feldhoff amended the motion to every second Committee of the Whole meeting. Both motions were carried.
Moving on, Feldhoff wanted to speak about a motion Council passed to make into a bylaw, the commercial cardboard ban for the dump. He said the bylaw was ready to be brought back to Council and he asked staff to bring the bylaw. Hall delivered an update. The bylaw was drawn up and then the market fell out. If the cardboard ban was carried, they would hurt KUTE who would have to pay to get rid of the cardboard. In addition, they wanted information from the Chamber of Commerce.
However the prices have rebounded. Feldhoff added KUTE has stated the more cardboard they get, the better off they are. He thought Council should follow through on the decision. He motioned staff bring the bylaw to Council. It was carried.
The next motion was to decide on a date for their retreat. Hall suggested the 17th. Gottschling pointed out he was out of town then so they suggested the 24th. Halyk would be out on the 24ht. Monaghan suggested May 1st. Halyk was still out of town. Feldhoff wanted some polling done among the Council after the meeting.
Goffinet made a notice of motion to prepare a submission to the newly formed Industrial Taxation Review and further to have the submission completed for the beginning of summer and the submission be shared with the UBCM. Gottschling asked Goffinet to make his a motion rather than a notice of motion. It was called and carried.
Corless wanted to make a notice of motion to write some letters to BC Ferries opposing the cut of 20 sailings from the inside passage in their peak season. Gottschling was happy to hear this would be taken on as a motion. The motion was called and carried.
Councillor Corless said the budget was the topic for the upcoming Regional District meeting. MK Bay Marina and an update from Enbridge are priorities on the agenda. The plan to turn Forestman Ridge into a land fill was also on the agenda, as the company is moving ahead with it. He stated Kitimat was using 911 more than other communities.
Halyk wanted to know more about Forestman Ridge. Corless said there was talk about building a plant which burns the garbage for power. He wondered with all of their new knowledge about Pytrade biomass, could they put this there. Feldhoff reminded him Pytrade was burning wood waste and made it clear Kitimat did not want to participate in this project at the time.
With that, the meeting was over. After a five minute break, Council went In Camera.