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REPORTING · 23rd April 2010
Walter McFarlane
The topic of the former Eurocan Workers receiving a pass to District of Kitimat Facilities for a year was raised twice at the Kitimat City Council Meeting on April 12th. Both Mary John of MJ’s Ladies Gym and Ben Christie had something to say on the passes.

“Before I went into business, I knew what the competition was and the history of two other ladies gyms in Kitimat. I was well aware of what I was getting into. I knew that MJ’s would be competing with the District of Kitimat and Total Fitness and other home gyms,” said John.

“I went into business with my eyes open, knowing what my competition was. What I could not foresee or even expect a business to do is to give free access to facilities which are in direct competition to my gym and funded by tax payers money. Why would anyone pay to use a gym when they could use one for free?” asked John.

She expressed appreciation for what the Council was trying to do by implementing the passes but reminded them there were other citizens of Kitimat who were directly impacted by the closure of Eurocan. One employee which had to be laid off from the gym could not collect employment insurance because she did not have enough hours.

She had a few suggestions for Council. One was to open the pool and the cardio room one night a week for free. She also suggested for Eurocan workers to be able to give away passes to people who needed them more. She expressed these would not impact the District as the services are already paid for.

She stated her business was down although she attributed the initial decline to people in Kitimat being nervous. She stated even if 6 women were unable to take part in her gym, 10% of her revenue is gone. She requested help for this time.

John suggested if she had a reduced drop in rate at the gym with a 1/3 of the usual rate covered by the District of Kitimat. Another suggestion was compensation in the form of free advertising in District of Kitimat Facilities and advertisement in the fliers.

Councillor Rob Goffinet liked how she focused on how they could work together on this. He expressed after talking to people, he had found many who did not work at Eurocan had cut back on expenditures. Goffinet also expressed the District spends millions on Recreation to get people more active.

Councillor Randy Halyk commented gyms do not always work, probably because the money council invests in recreation. He stated he did not wish to lose these small businesses and hoped to find more small businesses, support them and not make it difficult for them to function.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff suggested making a motion to direct Advisory Recreation Commission on this. John stated she had already been to them and they recommended seeing the Council. Feldhoff said he planned on giving them direction.

Under new business, Councillor Feldhoff made a motion to forward the suggestion made by John to the Advisory Recreation Commission for evaluation. This motion was carried.

This also came up was in a letter to Kitmat City Council by Christie. “While I understand why it was done, as a knee jerk reaction to a bad situation, I as a tax payer and senior citizen with very limited income find it very difficult to access the services of these facilities. Adding an additional 20% to my tax bill will not help me either,” writes Christie.

He stated former employees of Eurocan received thousands of dollars in compensation and some of them express concern over the extra bonus. “If at some point, the ex-employees find themselves in dire straights, as some of us are finding ourselves, then give away the passes, However, please include the rest of us,” wrote Christie.

This letter was received for information with no discussion.