REPORTING · 24th February 2011
The Final presentation on Monday, February 21st was by CAW 2301. Sean O’Driscoll, Gary Warren, Cam Wiebe. Warren took the stand first.
“The reason we are here this evening is because of the snow clearing change to the policy here for Kitimat. We have petitions that we circulated for about a week at the local businesses in town as well as our members at the Smelter site. We’ve received 575 signatures from people living in Terrace, Kitimat Village Road, Cablecar and within the community,” said Warren.
He presented the petition to Council.
He explained the 5 inch policy is a cost savings to the community but the union members got stuck, the elderly people could not get off some of the streets and the streets took more then 12 hours to be cleared. He asked Council to reconsider the 5 inches and reminded them bus service had been discontinued to the smelter.
He was also asked by a local manager asked what the snow clearing budget was. He said the large snow fall in January cost $150,000 but did not include private contractors. He wanted to know what percentage of the tax dollars were going into snow removal. He asked them to use the tax for removal.
Wiebe spoke next.
“Three years ago, on February 18th, 2008, a delegation from the BCGU came before the Council at the time and asked for their support for the snow clearing issues on the highway between Terrace and Kitimat. The Council was told the Provincial Government Budget Cut had meant the maintenance of the high way and the snow clearing could not be met and drivers on the highway were being put at risk during the winter because of these budget cuts. Today, the leadership of the CAW 2301 stands before you with similar concerns on the negative effect of the snow clearing, not on the highway 37 south but in Kitimat on it’s residential streets,” said Wiebe.
He said the CAW, under Ross Slezak, supported Mayor Joanne Monaghan in improving the highway. He read a statement from the District of Kitimat Website on how Monaghan had worked to improve the condition of the highway.
Wiebe asked the Council to restore snow clearing to the way it was. He pointed out no matter when the snow starts, the snow has to be moved and people have to get to work when there are 7 inches out of their driveway. He argued that 5 inches at the fire hall meant 7 inches in Whitesail.
He also added the number of workers at Rio Tinto were receding and this would have an affect on the District’s services. “There are some services which must be maintained regardless of the cost,” said Wiebe. “For communities, these services are called essential services. These are thought to be things like Ambulance, police, fire and hospital services. In Kitimat during the winter, snow clearing should be an essential service and be such that the public has to go safely about their business whether it’s going to work, going to a medical appointment, walking to school or catching the bus no matter what time of day it is, or when the snow gets to five inches.”
He asked Council to reverse their decision. Monaghan said she really appreciated the work done by the snow clearing teams and they did an excellent job. The CAW representatives agreed. She added, going out on a limb, they needed to look at the 3-5 inches as she thought it was not working well.
Councillor Corinne Scott asked a question. Did the policy pertain to 7 days a week or weekends only. District Engineer Tim Glieg replied it does not affect week days. The 5 inches the community received on Sunday the 20th, the snow was cleared by 6.
Scott also stated the snow clearing in Kitimat is the best she has seen. Again, there was agreement.
On behalf of Virgil Vales, they said thank you. Vales was sitting in the audience.
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 27th February 2011
The District should stick to the 3 inch rule for snow removal. If the snow needs to be cleared then for everyone's safety clear it ! there should be no question. This has been a bad year for snowfall amounts but I'm sure there will be years when there won't be. One will make up for the other. This is definately a safety issue and not a money issue!
snow clearing change
Comment by mary on 24th February 2011
i agree with Warren and CAW...there needs to be a change. The crew is indeed doing the best they can within the restrictions set for them. so i am confused...its the best snow clearing in Kitimat a person who lived for a short time has ever seen...and it was agreed???? I agree that under the difficult conditions the snow removal was at some times good, but at what stress level.
And when calling the district yard i was informed...no overtime and your street would have to wait till tomorrow!