REPORTING · 5th October 2010
At City Council on October 5th, under new business, Councillor Rob Goffinet brought up the topic of the Union of BC Municipalities Convention which he, Councillor Randy Halyk and Municipal Manager Trafford Hall had returned from.
“There has been some discussion in the news about the Union of BC Municipalities Convention in Whistler in the past week, Tuesday to Friday. I would later brief Mayor and Council in Camera on some items but I’ll try to give you an outline of what we did and why three members of this Council were in Whistler for 3 ½ days last week,” said Goffinet.
Prior to the meeting, on Monday night they met with BC Transit leadership discussing a new model and a new funding formula. They also met with transit in a meeting looking at problems in the transit on Thursday.
“We attended some forums on midsized communities which Kitimat is and we garnered some extremely important and useful information on how some communities just like Kitimat have managed to create fruitful and positive relationships with the First Nations Communities,” said Goffinet.
They spent an afternoon in an industrial taxation forum where they were heard on the topic of industrial taxation and the jurisdiction Kitimat Council has to freely tax large corporations.
They met with Northern Health and discussed concerns about the Kitimat General Hospital. They met with three provincial cabinet ministers and their staff and discussed issues including land, transport, budget, negotiations and economic development; the details of which are ‘In Camera’.
Goffinet moved onto the resolutions; two from Queen Charlotte City on Haida Gwaii which came up on Friday morning. One regarded the Enbridge Pipeline and the other was about crude oil tanker traffic.
“The two delegates, Councillor Halyk and myself felt that in this debate, we were bound by the motion of neutrality that sent us on our way to convention. We listened, we watched, we talked all week with environmental groups. We met informally with Enbridge people and we told them our council was listening, studying and wish to avail itself with all the information before we felt we could make a determination on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project on behalf of the people of Kitimat,” said Goffinet. “We felt that we were bound so we deciduously refrained from voting either in favour or against.”
Councillor Mario Feldhoff had a question.
“In our Council position as you described, we are seeking to obtain a lot of information. We are in essence, waiting for the joint review panel to report back. The motion from the Queen Charlottes was basically not a neutral motion,” said Feldhoff. “I would have hoped in the spirit of what Council passed, you would have voted against their motion because it was not. I understand your interpretation but their motion was not neutral. It was counter to neutrality and gathering further interpretation.”
Goffinet responded, “We take it seriously that you did define neutrality in a way that if we did vote, we would be perceived as endorsing or being an opponent of the pipeline. If we voted against that motion, the television cameras; that we found out later were trained on us, would have said we are in favour of the Enbridge pipeline. […] If we voted for the motion, we would be against the Enbridge proposal which would break faith and our neutrality.”
Goffinet expressed he and Halyk had talked about how this would be perceived and they decided abstaining would protect their neutrality. Regardless, Goffinet stated their neutral position has had Council attacked for being both in favour and against, which he said probably indicates they did the right thing.
Councillor Bob Corless expressed the UBCM decision did not matter. “In the number of years that I’ve been on Council, UBCM sees themselves as a very powerful group. I personally don’t see that. The Feds have that much authority [holding is hands far apart], the province has that much authority [holding them closer together] and this [indicating a much smaller amount] is how much authority the municipalities have. I’m sure that if those feds want a pipeline, by golly they’re going to get a pipeline,” said Corless.
Mayor Joanne Monaghan requested confirmation there were two topics, the pipeline and the tanker traffic and Goffinet replied she was correct. Feldhoff took issue with Corless stating it is not true that if the Federal government wants something, it happens. He cited a mining company northwest of Prince George whose project was stopped.