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COMMENTARY · 1st April 2010
Walter McFarlane

They say if a student in a classroom asks a question, there are three other students in the class who are thinking the same thing. Margaret Sanou, with her initiative to bring seniors to Kitimat is a genius.

The problem is… and she admits it herself… this is not a complete solution.

When it comes to industry, everyone talks about resources. Whether it is water through the turbines at Kemano, the unprocessed lumber going to China, unprocessed gravel to California or the Enbridge pipeline, there is one resource which no one seems to notice which we could process here and retain for the community or send elsewhere…

Look at the infrastructure we have. What buildings do we have in Kitimat which are under-utilized? Store fronts near the Mall? Perhaps those industrial buildings in Service Centre and beyond? Harbour Space? How about our Schools?

Is it possible to make education an industry?

After all: our children are called our most valuable resource? If we start developing the elementary, secondary and even post secondary programs in Kitimat so they are among the best in BC, will people come here so their children will be able to have a brighter future?

Sure there is a lot of capital investment needed in the schools. The last time we heard, it was twenty million dollars just to bring them up to code. However, people keep saying the Northwest is in bust. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And then there are post secondary programs. Kitimat is marketable as a great place to raise a family, as opposed to the streets of Vancouver and Prince George. However, not everyone who comes here will be an entrepreneur, a teacher or a senior. There has to be some room for affordable post secondary education.

We have Kitimat Valley Institute already teaching programs but there are opportunities for further forestry, environmental and many other programs. What would it take to convince the RCMP to build an academy here? Northern BC is a location in which many police officers begin their careers, not to mention Terrace is talking about a jail.

Look at what else Kitimat can offer with the toys other communities wish they had. Large green spaces within neighbourhoods, playgrounds dispersed around the community, religion on every corner and facilities that were built for a community with more people.

Developing education and forging Kitimat into a family friendly community will entice families to the area. We have groups claiming they think outside the box leeching funds away from the system. The solution should come from not only thinking outside the box, but thinking outside the box that the box is in.

If we lose another school or even with some of the cut backs planned for 2010, this opportunity would be harder to bring about.