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CONTRIBUTION · 3rd November 2010
Margaret Sanou
Dear Editor,

I am writing to clarify the vision and purpose of the Retire in Kitimat task force as there appears to be some misunderstanding of what we are trying to achieve. This may have resulted from Steve Connolly’s report in which he urged council to change its focus to “support Kitimat being a one-industry retirement community”. While we are very grateful to Mr. Connolly for his report and the valuable information it contains, we do not share this vision of Kitimat’s future.

We are not trying to turn Kitimat into a “retirement community”. We are, however, endeavouring to promote Kitimat as a “retirement location”.

The difference in my mind is the following. A retirement community is one in which the main and perhaps only economic development activity is to encourage retirees to relocate to the community. Elliott Lake is a well known successful example of a “retirement community”.

A retirement location is a community with a diversified economy in which attracting retirees is one of many economic activities. Kelowna is an example of a retirement location. Many retirees choose to relocate to Kelowna but this phenomenon is only a small piece of Kelowna’s economic picture.

The benefits of retiring in Kitimat are substantial but not well known which is why the task force has undertaken the task of increasing awareness of the many benefits retirees living here enjoy. Since beginning our work, we have interviewed a number of retirees who have moved to Kitimat in the last five years. They have strongly reinforced our belief that our community has a lot to offer retirees. These folks are delighted to live in our safe community where they are able to get a family doctor, pay far less for their home, utilities and taxes and greatly enjoy our relaxed lifestyle and recreational opportunities. For those who came form interior locations, our mild coastal climate is also a plus.

The vision the task force has for Kitimat is a vibrant town with a strong, diversified economy that includes a modernized aluminum smelter, additional major industries that offer high paying jobs, a busy bulk port facility, a lively tourist industry and a steady influx of retirees. There are groups and individuals working on initiatives to achieve each of these economic development goals. The members of our task force do not feel we have the knowledge to become involved in attracting industry or developing a bulk port. We do believe we have sufficient knowledge and skills to increase awareness across western Canada of the many benefits that await retirees who choose to retire in Kitimat and thereby attract retirees to our community.


We have worked very hard over the last eight months to increase that awareness and will continue to do so. Everyone in Kitimat has a role to play as our success will depend on all of our residents adopting a positive attitude towards our community.

Retirees have disposable income that will help to sustain our retail and service sector and support our recreational facilities. They will buy and rent homes that would otherwise sit empty. Seniors are major users of the health care system so having more seniors living in Kitimat will give us a stronger position in our efforts to retain and expand our health care services.

Kitimat has great potential. The task force is hopeful that it will soon be the home of new industries. It will not happen overnight. Meanwhile, the Retire in Kitimat Task Force members are endeavouring to do what we can to help to diversify and strengthen our economy.

Sincerely,

Margaret Sanou
Chairperson
Retire in Kitimat Task Force
Response to Margarert Sanou's Letter
Comment by Steve Connolly on 5th November 2010
Well said, Margaret!
Excellent letter
Comment by larry walker on 3rd November 2010
I could not have said it better.