REPORTING · 27th April 2010
Kitimat City Council met on Monday, April 26th for Special Meeting of Council so the public would have a chance to address the Council on the budget. Mayor Joanne Monaghan called the meeting to order at 7:30. She called people who had public comments forward.
Stepping up first was David Stine. He wanted to know why there was 3.751 million dollars being transferred to reserve funds. He wanted to know if this money was going to be collected this year and what it was going to be spent on.
Zoe Mulder answered the money was to go towards the capital reserve funds come in and be spent on subsequent years. Municipal Manager Trafford Hall explained by doing this, they were to building up reserves which had been deplete to keep taxes down in previous years. By building them up, they would be ready for projects including roads and sewers, bonified and previously identified projects.
Stine wanted to know what the specific projects would be. Hall explained a majority for road networks as they are behind in their paving.
Cynthia Mederos stepped up next to comment on the closure of the KIR. She explained they are already concerned about having a lack of ice time even with two arenas. They fear they will be unable to hold a competition in 2014 which would bring in 300 – 400 athletes who are impressed with Kitimat, they return for vacations. They are also so pleased with the amount of ice time Kitimat the skating club has visitors when their community arenas are closed.
She added Kitimat skaters are hanging on at the provincial level but it is very difficult to make it to the provincial level. She was afraid if the rink closes, they will lose the ice time advantage they do have.
As for the non-competitive skaters, she fears they will dwindle off if they have to get up for early morning practices more then they do. Mederos expressed her fear where if the skaters had to get up for more then one early morning skate, their numbers would dwindle. She argued by giving them time to skate, it keeps them out of trouble and gave them regular exercise.
She stated although the request to keep Kitimat Ice Rink open had gone to the Advisory Recreation Committee, she requested the council keep the Ice Rink open.
As there was no one else who wished to make a comment, the Council began going over the bylaw correcting the odd type-o as well as the by adding further details to the document.
Feldhoff revisited a motion to withdraw the 7 year borrowing 7.5 million dollars in year five of the five year plan. Hall reminded him council is not obligated to follow the 5 year plan. This is money to build a City Hall which has been on year five for as long as Hall has been in Kitimat.
Feldhoff did not wish to signal the building of a City Hall until the community recovers from the loss of Eurocan. Councillor Rob Goffinet wanted to know if the five year plan committed them or if it distanced itself every time the council did the budget. Hall explained some things continued to get postponed like the town hall while some projects were eventually built, such as the swimming pool. The motion was once again negated and the dream remained alive.
Feldhoff suggested keeping KIR for another year and taking the money from the 3.7 for the reserves. He wanted to keep KIR open another year and they do have the ability to keep the facility open. Monaghan suggested waiting for the report from the ARC. Feldhoff promised to bring this back as there was time.
Council moved on to third reading. Feldhoff wanted to know if they could make changes. Hall explained they can rescind third reading if they needed to. Councillor Richard McLaren commented this document explained what council is doing and where they are going. He was still concerned the forward looking analysis was not in there because that is when the Eurocan property assessment drops. He also said also missing was a reality check on how Kitimat compares to other communities.
“I know there is always some comfort in clinging to how we’ve done things in the past and ignoring what other people are doing. But I’m afraid that such introspection can lead to a false sense of security. That things will always go on as they have before. The reality is that the world outside of Kitimat is changing rapidly and it has changed tremendously in the last few years. But up until the Eurocan closure, Kitimat was hardly affected,” said McLaren. “If you don’t face reality, it has an awful habit of creeping up behind you and overwhelming you from behind when your not expecting it.”
He stated Kitimat gets a majority of the taxes from major industry. This leaves the community vulnerable to major change. He hoped nothing will happen to Rio Tinto and hoped they did not do anything to the smelter, such as sell off Kemano to BC Hydro. He pointed out provincial government was being lobbied by industries, especially the forest industry, to put limits on municipal taxation.
He pointed out Kitimat representatives are leading the other side of the fight but he admitted they may not win the argument and needed to be ready for the shoe to fall. The vulnerability should be in the five year plan.
Feldhoff suggested the things McLaren wished to put into the financial plan were covered in Appendix B. Now all Council had to do was play the waiting game. The motion was called and carried with McLaren opposed. Monaghan thanked the people who came forward with their comments.