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REPORTING · 1st April 2010
Walter McFarlane

Nathan Cullen held his Economic Forum in Kitimat on March 19th. A panel of Guest Speakers from around the Sacred Circle presented on the industrial development in the region. Cullen explained the meeting had been postponed because the forum had originally been planned for the same day Eurocan closed. He did not want the forum to revolve around Eurocan when they did not have answers.

Cullen called the first speaker. Mayor Joanne Monaghan from Kitimat took the podium. She referred to the last few months as a rollercoaster and talked about the budget marathon Council performed. She spoke about the mill and touched on the port being a huge selling point for Kitimat.

Other projects she spoke about were Rio Tinto Alcan Modernization, which were working on a building and a campsite, SMI which plans to send the Sandhill to California and the west side road from the railway tracks to Jesse Lake. She hoped the west side road would be developed by the government so Kitimat could better serve industry.

The final thing she wished to mention was Pytrade which work with biomass. Pytrade will be giving three biomass machines to Kitimat to use for demonstration purposes for creating electricty, heat and greenhouses. She said this model would be a boon to First Nations down the channel.

Mayor Dave Pernarowski of Terrace stepped up to the stand next. He stated they are working to diversify Terrace. He said there were still plenty of opportunities for the forest industry, pellet plants and Strongwood Lumber being among them. They are looking forward to the Alcan modernization and the feasibility of having a correctional facility being built in the airport lands.

Stephany Forsyth from Northwest Community College took the microphone next. After thanking Cullen for putting all of this together and acknowledging Haisla territory, she moved into her presentation. She referred to the College as a driver of Economic Development in the Northwest.

One of the projects the college is currently working on and has developed is the Freda Diesing School of Art. The school has done art shows in areas all over British Columbia. Also, they have been creating a school of exploration and mining, which has been recognized nationally for the work they are doing.

One of the problems she sees with big companies coming to town is when local people are unable to get those local jobs.

Another project the college is working on is the Northern Center for Sustainable Housing which teaches people how to build sustainable houses. These buildings could be exported to other parts of Canada, the Northwest or even overseas.

In addition, there is a Field School in the Kitlope which draws people into the world. Finally, she spoke to Pytrade’s Greenhouses as an opportunity to create indigenous products from First Nations Culture in the Sacred Circle which can be harvested and processed locally and marketed abroad. The Northwest School of Culinary Arts is looking at the First Nations foods of the Northwest to create nouveux products such as salmon ice cream.

Mary Murphy and Scott Dority from the CEP were the last of the speakers. They spoke about their responsibility to the members when Eurocan announced their closure and thanked the community for its response. Many of the members have moved on.

They delivered the press release printed here

Dority took the microphone and said Mary should be commended for the work she has done. He thanked the staff from 298 and the staff from West Fraser for the work they did shutting down the mill. A public report on the feasibility study is due to be released soon and there is a viable option for the mill. He stated a viable Eurocan mill is important for the Northwest.

Cullen returned to the microphone to take questions from the audience. The questions would end up in a report which would be circulated to the Region, the Sacred Circle and the Federal Government.

People came up, talked about economic activities and the meeting ended.
The panel in order of speaking
The panel in order of speaking