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REPORTING · 19th January 2011
Walter McFarlane
Local MP Nathan Cullen looked at the number of people gathered at Riverlodge for his Economic Forum in Kitimat Friday and commented on the dedication shown by the room full of people in spite of the powder snow that fell layering the outside parking lot in a sheet of white through out the meeting.

Cullen and MLA Robin Austin co hosted the forum. After introductions, everyone broke up into three groups to discuss economic development in the present and future both locally and regionally and boil down their ideas down to one idea for each topic.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan was present to talk about economic development initiatives in Kitimat. “We all have to look at economic development within our community and within our areas,” said Monaghan. “We have to work together. Working together I know we can get something happening. There are a lot of things we can do and a lot of things we need help with.”

She listed two items which require help from the government, one of which is the Ferry along the coast, another was Pytrade. Monaghan also asked for help getting the Eurocan wharf for five investors who are looking into it. However, the Mayor had to leave early.

“The traditional way that the federal budget, which is leading up to in February / March of this year... The Trational way this budget is concocted is 150 finance department bureaucrats sitting in Ottawa designing the Federal budget. Very similar in Victoria. It’s a very insular kind of thing in which political lobbyists are very much involved,” said Cullen. “The Federal Budget will be enormous, somewhere around 245 billion dollars, give or take. It’s a lot of money. It’s the single largest expense in the country every year.”

Austin said the Provincial budget was somewhere around $40 billion dollars. Cullen explained the Federal Government was going to do 150 consultations like these across the country. Cullen explained they were limited in number, not coming here and invite only but they were a first step.

Austin said people want services but what they really want is jobs. He said the discussion was important. He promised to take the ideas to Victoria and advocate on behalf of Kitimat.

Cullen asked people what they wanted to accomplish at the meeting and hope was at the top of the list followed by community development, industry and jobs. The need to have continued discussion on topics raised at the meeting was suggested by Nicole Goffinet.

Once the discussions were over, the small groups merged back into one group and began to discuss. As far as local opportunities which could be developed in the present was concerned, Kitimat was on the same page. The development of Kitimat’s waterfront whether for the public or for industrial use was #1 on everyone’s lists. Discussion on other projects included the Modernization, Electricity and the development of small business.

Under local futures, the items discussed the top ideas were the development of transportation and utilizing Geo-Thermal energy. Walter Thorn questioned the lack of service jobs in Kitimat including phone, government jobs and hydro.

Currently, people wanted to see the timber rights returned to the region and the end of raw log exports. Other people suggested bringing people into the region for activities. Councillor Rob Goffinet suggested the development of the hot springs North of Kitimat.

“That’s what I’m getting a sense of. You’re trying to change Kitimat from a place where the road ends to a place where things happen around it,” said Cullen.

Once the discussion was over, those present talked about how they could continue the discussion either by email, meetings involving local politicians or Facebook groups. Cullen said he was willing to help interested individuals continue the discussion through a citizen forum..

“[It was] Excellent,” said Cullen. “People talked about specifics as well as the big picture and came up with new ideas and connections were made between people that need to make connections.”

Cullen commented it was amazing how strong the interest in access to the ocean was and this topic had not come forward as strongly in previous years of hosting the forum.
One of the table working groups of the evening
One of the table working groups of the evening
The chairs were well occupied dispite the starts of the storm.
The chairs were well occupied dispite the starts of the storm.
timber rights
Comment by mary on 19th January 2011
thanks Walter unable to attend, sick...but so glad the discussion regarding timber rights and export logging was discussed. I am so ticked off that getting involvement from the government and all sectors is almost imposible in regards to the eurocan situation. Taking #2 machine out of circulation only does good FOR other countries. NOT HERE!!