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REPORTING · 7th July 2011
Walter McFarlane
On June 20th, Council sought information from the public as to what they wanted to do with Centennial Park. Several members of the community got up to speak about the future of the park.

Walter Thorn, Chair of the Heritage Group and Museum Curator, Louise Avery got up to speak to Council first, also speaking on behalf of members of Chamber of Commerce, the Tourism Committee and the Rotary Club who were all concerned about the wall and the fountain.

“We realize this is a problem, it was identified by the District of course and it’s in bad shape and things have to be done and we realize that. But initially, what we heard in the press that the solution was to do away with the old concept and get rid of the fountain and so on. We found it was only right as a Heritage committee to point out the values and the Heritage aspects of the site,” said Thorn.

He read from a letter he wrote to Council encouraging them to fix the fountain. He pointed out some of the most popular pictures of Kitimat are of Centennial park while it was in working shape. He felt that paving over it was hasty and suggested Council open a dialogue with the community. He pointed out District funds could be used to rebuild the wall, replace the lettering, line the pool and use above ground plumbing to bring it back into shape.

Avery took the stand next. “I’ve heard a lot of times people think that Heritage has to be old. Well, Kitimat’s very young, 50 years. Heritage does not need to be old to be heritage, it’s whatever a community deems it to be, what ever heritage that community uses to identify. It’s usually an emotional feeling, a symbol of the community, people would like to preserve it so that can be heritage,” said Avery.

She added this is an important feature in the community

Trish Parson’s of the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce said she was involved with the tourism committee and she wanted to look at possibilities other then tearing down the wall.

“Look at other options and maybe come up with a plan, even if it’s a two or three year plan rather then simply having that wall and fountain disappear completely. We’ve worked with the district and the recreation department on a number of other ventures and we’d be more then happy to do more then that.

Councillor Bob Corless said he probably never saw the wall in it’s heyday and he usually never sees anyone at Centennial Park. He wanted to know what the attachment was to the park. Parson’s explained it was one of the town’s central meeting points. In tourism, it was one of the focal points of the community. People do not spend much time there because of the condition of the park.

Nichole Goffinet stepped up to the podium next. “We like to go down there in the spring. It’s sort of a tradition we have to go down there. It used to be when we saw the fountain turned on, we would say: ‘summer has arrived,’ and we’d take late evening walks down there to watch it with the lights on,” said Goffinet.

She said there were a lot of wild places but there were not as many urban parks. The wall gives the park boundaries. It was a nice place to take a break and they go there for picnics with people from out of town.

“I think it’s kind of interesting in Kitimat that sometimes we look at things and think they need to be made better and in doing so, we often try and bring them up to something that we think is using modern materials and modern ideals and modern design and doesn’t, I think it doesn’t pay homage to the history that we do have in our town given that it’s quite young, comparatively speaking, it does have a lot of history packed into those few decade, and we need to spent more time thinking about what it is that defines us as a community and I think things like Centennial Park are worth preserving because they are something that speaks to different years in our history, however short that is,” said Goffinet.

Virgil Vales told Council he has done Maintenance on the park, namely the fountain. “It is a focal point of Kitimat. I know we tend to overlook a lot of things here in this community, don’t pay enough attention to detail and refurbishing on a yearly basis. We tend to leave maintenance until it falls apart,” said Vales.

He suggested the engineering department and trades people work to refurbish the park. He pointed out that if Council can find hundreds of thousands of dollars for an animal shelter and Trafford Hall’s Severance Package, they could find money to refurbish the park.

There was no one else so the hearing closed.