REPORTING · 28th June 2011
Blair Lekstrom, the Minister of Transportation was in Kitimat this past week for a fact finding expedition.
”He was here in Kitimat to get a feel of what Kitimat needs, transportation needs, etc. and do an overview said Mayor Joanne Monaghan.
Monaghan and Ron Poole were invited to meet with the Minister; this did not sit well with Council at the previous nights meeting. Councillor Randy Halyk wanted Council to be involved as well as the Councillors have a lot of concerns as well.
Monaghan replied this was up to Lekstrom. She promised to call him and ask him. She also told Council about how she called him the day after he was appointed and invited him. He replied he already was planning on a visit.
Gottschling was in agreement with Halyk as they are acquaintances and Council has been contacting him in the past. He added: “Council has always met as a unit with Government to discuss these important issues of our community.”
Monaghan told Council the previous Mayor, Rick Wozney, also had meetings which the Council was not aware of.
Feldhoff disagreed with Halyk as the Mayor was a representative of Council. “If the Minister has expressed greater comfort in having this initial trip be fact finding with the mayor and our CAO, that is fine,” said Feldhoff.
The end result: “All the Councillors who were available were at the table,” said Monaghan after the meeting.
Council informed the minister of several projects which have arisen. The first was the need to transfer control over Haisla Boulevard back to the Province. The District of Kitimat was given control of the highway in 1980 because it did not go anywhere.
”It’s cost us a lot of money every year to maintain it. Now the bridge needs repairs and drastic maintenance work. Before, we didn’t say too much because we did have other industries and now, we don’t have those industries,” said Monaghan. “What they said was we were the only community that was dead end, we didn’t have any place to go.”
The second topic was the wharf and why Council was interested in a wharf. Monaghan explained Alcan does not have it yet but they believe they are going to get the permits for the wharf. She expressed there was uncertainty as to who was going to be able to use it under Alcan and there are 5 industries waiting to see if they could use it. On top of this, they need a ferry dock or they will have to use MK Bay.
Monaghan expressed there where 300 jobs waiting. In addition, at one time, Kitimat made up 11% of the Gross National Product of BC. She explained how the ferry would bring people in here for work at the hospital, in education, for fish farming and tourism. She added Lekstrom was interested as most of these jobs would benefit the First Nations.
Council also showed Lekstrom a map of the areas and all the places where Council could have set up for a wharf if these lands were not controlled by Rio Tinto Alcan.
”We would like a wharf put into Kitimat so we could get industry out, that we could utilize the ferry in different loads then MK Bay. We would like the west side road so we can get all the players together along with the hydro, the pipeline and everything all at once without doing it over and over again for each industry,” said Monaghan.
”So that’s basically what we have and he listened and he had some good questions and he said that he’d be getting back to us shortly,” said Monaghan.