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COMMENTARY · 10th November 2010
Walter McFarlane
There has been a lot of discussion recently on how to save Kitimat. Letters to the editor, speeches, comments on letters to the editor and so on and so forth. With so much discussion, I decided to throw in my 2 cents.

With so many ideas flying about it seems an old saying has been forgotten. “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. In the last municipal election, the re-uniting of the community was the key issue. Unfortunately, this has since proven to be a hurdle for the new Council.

The trick to unity is to establish communications between groups; whether you agree with their politics or not. To do this, here are three basic steps for saving Kitimat.

STEP ONE: Give up the Grudge

This is perhaps the hardest step. We’ve all heard stories about how people, who speak out politically; get the boot from social groups, get slandered in the newspapers and verbally attacked on the streets. Disagreement can be expressed without retaliating to petty insults, out right hatred and in some cases, racism.

In other words, there is a large difference between saying; “Walter is an idiot because his opinion is wrong” and “I disagree with Walter because of reasons X, Y and Z.”

STEP TWO: Open Communications

Communicating does not mean people talking at each other with neither group listening. It means having people talk about what is going on. Groups with different opinions meeting behind closed doors, people with differing opinions talking at the coffee shops, etc. It’s not just about people talking; it’s about listening to what they have to say.

If I were to disagree with the Enbridge project, I might be called a hypocrite, a hippie, a fear monger or any other collection of names without the person taking the time to listen to what I have to say.

Similarly, a friend of mine once questioned whether people look at the ideas presented or do they just look at the person presenting the idea before determining whether or not the idea is good or bad. Do people judge the ideas based on their merits or judge the ideas based on the person who makes them?

STEP THREE: Take Action

This is the most important step. After determining the solutions, we need to do what needs to be done to bring them about. There has been a lot of success with single groups bringing ideas forward to Council. The Retire Kitimat Committee and the New Animal Shelter are prime examples of successes which came from bringing forward ideas.

Similarly, there has been failure. However, this is why one does not simply take their ideas only to Council. There are more than enough organizations in Kitimat who might take the time to listen and support an idea. All organizations need to find ways to get to know each other and to work in concert, not opposition. This way bringing an idea forward to any might find a more favorable and productive result.

CONCLUSION

These steps are simply suggestions. Take them to heart and we may have a healthier community ready to deal with the problems we have now. During Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s eulogy, his son spoke about an encounter with an adversary of his Father at a restaurant. The former Prime Minister told his son something we could all learn from.

"Justin, never attack the individual. One can be in total disagreement with someone without denigrating him as a consequence."

Justin added;

Because mere tolerance is not enough: we must have true and deep respect for every human being, regardless of his beliefs, his origins and his values.
Capitalize on the Outdoors
Comment by Elisabeth Stannus on 13th November 2010
I also have wondered why more attention isn't given to the natural assets that are already here as a draw for tourists and new residents regardless of demographics. Conde Nast(2010) has selected the King Pacific Lodge moored at Princess Royal Island as one of the best places to stay in the world. Way above my budget but I would love to have the opportunity to participate in more tourist type activities that would capitalize on the natural assets already here.
I know that there are some charter businesses here -why not set up a kiosk in the mall to promote these businesses. I would also like to see a walking trail(wheelchair and stroller accessible) along the lookout as it is already a natural focal point in the town itself but it should be expanded.
Better yet sell the town as a green town to the outside world - this would also fit in with the Retire in Kitimat campaign and the desire to have environmentally friendly industry locate here.



Agree with the 3 step program but..
Comment by Elizabeth Archibald on 11th November 2010
I agree with this 3 step approach but I want to know why we don't encourage more small businesses to come here or develop here that would also bring young families to help populate Kitimat. The retirement community is a good idea but that is a short lifetime. Young families with children need to be encouraged, and somehow get the children to stay here longer instead of " how boring is Kitimat let's get out of here as fast as we can". New blood is needed here. With this vast outdoor environment, why aren't there more outdoor sporting businesses popping up? This should be a destination place for outdoorsy types, rock climbing, water rafting, fishing, ocean kayaking, etc...outdoor education programs should be here...has this been looked at and I missed it? I've been here 10 years and don't recall. We have 4 seasons with all kinds of outdoor activities for the world to see and locals should be excited to start businesses with it and then let the ripple effect begin. Instead its " can't wait to get out of here" ...Do something with the shopping here, more selection in restaurants/pubs, have some unique shops, amusement place for young people, a movie theater, and on I go...I like living here but listening to the young people here I would say it is kinda boring and more older people are not going to make that change. We lack in community spirit here and it has become just a place to go to work and that's it...blah! I honestly don't know the solution but I am putting my two or three cents out there. Thanks
3 Step Program
Comment by Corinne Scott on 11th November 2010
Great article Walter, my sentiments exactly.
Excellent 3 step program
Comment by larry walker on 10th November 2010
True politics "is the art of compromise" which the people running (or attempting to run), Kitimat have yet to master.

Follow this rule and there are no loosers, just winners everytime time.
Well said.
Comment by Mike Forward on 10th November 2010
Well said, Walter. Hopefully this upcoming By-Election will be the first step towards a more unified, cohesive council.