REPORTING · 10th November 2010
IS KITIMAT CLOSED FOR BUSINESS?
During a committee of the Whole Meeting on October 12th, Municipal Manager Trafford Hall reported back to Council on the issue of local Tug Owner, James Archibald and the Manager of MK Bay Marina, Richard Smeal.
Archibald had approached Council with a problem in September. When Moon Bay closed, he had tried to moor his tugs at MK Bay Marina. When he could not get moorage, he purchased two boats and placed his tugs in their spots.
“Archibald had said a whole lot of things and we did our research and found out a whole lot of things weren’t true,” said Hall on the 12th. Hall reported back to Council, Council discussed the items and concluded there was little they could do.
There has been a long standing acrimonious relationship between Archibald and Smeal. Smeal refuses to discuss any of these issues with any of the local media. Numerous vessel owners have approached the media and the Regional District staff attempting to resolve the problems they have encountered at the MK Bay Marina. Archibald is just the latest to become an issue as he was previously moored across the harbour at the now closing Moon Bay Marina..
According to Hall, the tugs would be moored at MK Bay Marina while this was dealt with. The Regional District was working with Archibald and is arguing Archibald is not entitled to the spots. Councillor Bob Corless, the Regional District Director from the Kitimat City Council questioned whether or not Archibald is desperate to save his business as he was offered space at the Village Marina which he did not take.
Archibald, having read our report on the Kitimat Daily of October 12, requested to be on the agenda for the Regular meeting of Council on November 1st. According to Archibald, information which had been presented in the report was simply not true and he wished to go on record to correct it.
He was denied and when asked why; Mayor Monaghan differed this question to City Manager Trafford Hall. Hall stated the matter was before the courts and the Council Meeting is not a forum for matters before the court.
What did Archibald have to say? “I got a letter from the Regional Districts Lawyer in June, Telling me I had to vacate the premises or they would tow me out of there. Since June, they have threatened to tow me out. They tell me I have no right to be there but they tell Trafford Hall they haven’t kicked me out,” said Archibald. An injunction is still before the courts.
Contrary to Hall’s Report, the tugs are now moored at Minette Bay Marina. Due to the tides and the shallow waters at this marina accessibility is very limited. If a vessel is required for a job, it may need to be towed to deeper waters or may simply be unavailable until the tide rises.
Corless’s report also lacked information. The Kitamaat Village did offer Archibald room at the marina but both parties agreed there was no room for him at the marina. It is a government wharf with no guaranteed moorage and operates on a first come first serve basis. Archibald runs a multi facetted tug service, contributing approximately $2.5 million annually to the economy of Kitimat. This requires fixed and guaranteed moorage.
Archibald is also unaware of whether or not the spots he paid for through the purchase of two boats are taken up or empty as he has been banned from the marina. Archibald’s business is now in trouble because of this. If things continue unchanged, he expects to have to close his business at the end of the Month.
In addition, there are multiple businesses which would be affected by the loss of the local tug boat service. Among them is Rio Tinto Alcan. The list also includes Marine Harvest Canada, All West Trading, North Coast Log Handling, Bear Creek Contracting, Elmwood Contracting and even the Canadian Coastguard, all of whom utilize his services.
Archibald stated it is cheaper to hire a tug boat out of Kitimat for local matters rather than to hire one from Prince Rupert or Port Hardy. According to Archibald, the only other tug operator in Kitimat is SMIT Marine and they do ship docking work.
The District of Kitimat has no jurisdiction over the MK Bay Marina other then having Councillor Bob Corless who is the representative on the Regional District Board.
Hall explained they have no ability to influence matters other than their one vote and the problems should be addressed to the Regional District. He also said when they investigated Archibald’s statements at Council, they found there was another side to the story. Even though the District of Kitimat is not involved in the legal matters in any fashion, the Council refused to allow Archibald to address them to clear up what he believe was slights against his previous presentation and his reputation as they claimed what he had previously stated wasn’t true.
Kitimat’s slogan is ‘Port Society on Move,’ not ‘Port Society Moving Backwards.’ Tug boats are an important part of any port. The loss of business is something Council tried to prevent earlier this year when they approved of the controversial Log Sort Yard which requires Archibalds services.
It now appears as if Council is refusing to take a leadership role to ensure the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity are sustained.
Lodge owner-Tookus Inn
Comment by Rick Thompson on 11th November 2010
It is unfortunate that we lost Moon Bay Marina. The ensueing onslaught of boats and tugs has left us a reality of not enough mooragwe space. Minnette Bay marina will continue to be of limited access as prior dredgeing attempts were pooh-poohed by authorities.
There aren't any roads to access the nearest bays that are required for shelterring a marina.
This leaves the Kitimaat Villiage as a viable option for expansion or the MK Bay Marina.
Trailering your boat or dry land storage at MK is another option.
Other than that, you can wait in line for a slip at MK with a 100 plus wait list.
Private not public marina
Comment by Aaron von Schleinitz on 11th November 2010
What we really need to do is free up some suitable marina land and then attract a private investor to build a marina.
There is an obvious need and want for more space and therefore a profit to be made. I'm sure if we cleared the way for a suitable investor the whole community can benefit without the need for tax payer money.
Minette Bay potential.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 11th November 2010
Larry is correct and it surprises me that Kitimat which enjoys the benefits of being on the coast has such limited moorage for boats. I sold my boat last summer to someone down south because I couldn't get moorage. I got caught in the Moon Bay closure. I still notice a lot of boats for sale. A lot of money is spent by boaters, especially tide water boaters, so I suspect that with fewer boats and boat owners there will be less spin off benefits to Kitimat businesses.
When you look at an aerial photo of Minette Bay the potential for a really good marina always strikes me. I don't know if it has ever been looked at or what the concerns about dredging might be. If anybody has any information on the issues involved, I would be interested.
The Solution is really, really ''SIMPLE''
Comment by larry walker on 10th November 2010
We all know that there is a mega need for another Marina (from both a business and personal perspective). Solution is the Town, the District, Alcan, Village need to put their collective heads together "AND BUILD ANOTHER MARINA"
Don't just talk about it.....do it'