CONTRIBUTION · 21st October 2011
What is the most significant reason you are running for Council?
To focus on excellence and great value in municipal services.
What issue in our community do you see as the largest hurdle for the success in Kitimat?
We are a port community with very limited access to the ocean! Kitimat has many jewels: Kemano hydro, clean air and water, lots of land in a wide Kitimat valley, but we do not have access to land to develop on the ocean, and this is our biggest hurdle. We require more wealth-generating jobs to rebuild our community. We need a first class Provincial standards highway, through RTA lands, to open up south of Kitimat on the water, initially to the Apache LNG site, with further phases to follow.
What is your stance on Enbridge, In Favour of, Opposed too or Neutral? Why?
At their first open house here I told the Enbridge people, that assuming their project passed environmental review, that I was neither for them nor against them, that if they wanted my support they would have to upgrade or refine their product here. I want Canadian advantages to be used for the advantage of Canadians, for more jobs and more taxes. And, regions bearing risk from these large projects need to be rewarded for having those risks imposed on them. This was the way things used to be, and I reference the examples of the Kemano/Kitimat Alcan operation, and the woodmill/pulpmill Eurocan operation, where local resources were value added here, where, with Methanex, our small town used to produce an incredible amount, about 11%, of the Provincial gross domestic product! Sadly, we are a very long way from that today.
When we started this election, there were 13 candidates for Alderman. This number has dropped to twelve. Is thirteen a lucky number for Kitimat or is Twelve? Why?
“Better to be lucky than good” is a phrase used by a friend at the bridge table! In my opinion, Kitimat and the Pacific North West have had more than our share of “job” bad luck in the last thirty years. Instead of a Kitimat smelter and three more, announced by Alcan in 1978 with Kemano Completion, we have half a Kitimat smelter. ARM mortgages and CDS fraud perpetrated on the world by wall street and Washington types, leading to a housing collapse in the USA, coupled with massive amounts of $0.25 pine kill stumpage in the interior, pretty much destroyed forestry on the coast; we paid dearly with the closure of our pulp mill here with the 1700 jobs it anchored, and the shutdown of every woodmill in the region! It was bad luck and bad management that closed the Kitimat Methanex facility and the 735 jobs it supported. After the announced closure, our natural gas here became cheap, while their Chile and New Zealand gas became non-existent!
And then there are the three “approved” projects in town, the demolition of Methanex, the demolition of Eurocan, and the demolition at RTA!
And then there was our summer that never was!
However, sooner or later, Canadians will figure out that it is not to our country’s benefit that everyone moves to Toronto and Vancouver, that to generate wealth we need places like Kitimat. And besides, no one can afford the parking in Vancouver!
So, I agree with Churchill, who said “For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem much use to be anything else.”
Thirteen or twelve, makes no difference! We need to believe that the future belongs to Kitimat, that we will get some sun and warmth next summer, that our kindergartens are going to overflow with young children again, that our job luck is going to change, for it does not seem much use to believe anything else!
The dream: a vibrant, welcoming, healthy Kitimat community of twenty thousand people, on the ocean, of all age groups, with viable medical, educational and retail services, supported by a diverse, modern economy, a marvel of nature and industry.
Comment by Mike Forward on 7th November 2011
Thanks for the response, Carl. Rich in detail. Best of luck on election day.
Relationships with Corporate Citizens
Comment by Carl on 6th November 2011
I used to think that DoK and Alcan were joined at the hip! DoK supported Alcan throughout the very contentious BCUC hearings on Kemano Completion, and after its rejection by Mike Harcourt, when Alcan had spent well over $500 million on KCP. Alcan was made whole, with lots of taxpayer money and a power deal, but the court’s decision allowing power sales, gutted the region’s job base for aluminum production. All ancient history today!
In my intro at the all candidates, I said that our apparent boom today was a false boom, three approved demolition projects, some RTA expenditures on an unapproved modernization which will cost Kitimat a thousand jobs, 500 at the smelter, 500 in town, and much work on Apache’s LNG plant, which is outside municipal (tax) boundaries. Boom? Reality: housing prices today are lower than a year ago, lower than two years ago. Let’s be cautious with municipal expenditures, is my opinion.
Business creates wealth, and with that jobs and taxes. The District of Kitimat needs to set an attractive table for businesses if we expect them to come here. It would not be unusual to expect some contention, as the roles are very different, but both roles are worthy of respect, and so the relationship, to be successful, needs respect.
So, my platform, “value and excellence in municipal services”, to make Kitimat a place attractive for new families and business, wanting to locate here because taxes are low and service is excellent. Review of our regulatory environment to see that it makes sense. In our “running for council package”, we each received 21 pages on sign regulations, in case we were putting up campaign signs. In my opinion, at least 20 pages too many!
The second platform leg, to grow Kitimat’s economic pie, a Provincial highway through RTA lands, initially to Apache’s LNG plant, to put our community on the ocean, to create opportunities for many folks who would like to come and create good businesses with good jobs, but cannot access the ocean. I’d also like more Kitimat folks to be able to get to the ocean, with our new highway to a second marina having hotel rooms and a good restaurant, also a residential development with those million dollar ocean views!
I would hope and expect that my platform would foster mutually beneficial relationships between business wanting access to our jewels of power, land, ocean, clean air and water, educated work force, and my desire to put more Kitimat children in kindergarten, my wish to grow Kitimat’s economic pie!
Comment by Mike Forward on 4th November 2011
Mr. Whicher, I found much of what you had to say during the debate last night to be very insightful and of interest.
My question to you is a bit long winded--Kitimat has something of a checkered history when it comes to establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with our major corporate citizens, namely Alcan/RTA.
With the RTA Demolition in full steam and the modernization soon to follow, along the KLNG mega-project and potential investors such as Shell Canada and BCLNG going forward, how do you view the past relations between DOK Council and corporate citizens, and how would you work to foster positive, mutually beneficial relationships with these citizens going forward?
Comment by Allison on 4th November 2011
Hahahaha Dad, Mr. Vollrath thinks you look like Robert Redford....see!? We told you you did!!!!
Hey! You're the guy from that movie!
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 27th October 2011
Does this link work?
That's a compliment by the way...lol
Comment by Louise on 26th October 2011
I assume the current Council wants that dream too but ocean access, for one, didn't happen.
Good luck in the election. Good luck on Council if you win and good luck getting ocean access.
Comment by Carl on 25th October 2011
A population of 20,000 was the “dream”, chosen because that many folks would support very viable retail, medical, and education services, which I believe we all want, the services. The only way to get there is with more wealth generating jobs, and one way is to open up land with ocean access, leading to import/export harbor, and other, opportunities. With the end of very inexpensive stumpage pine kill harvest in the interior coming, and with the soon to be available very high quality second cut log harvest on the coast, I believe we will have forestry opportunities again, possibly a house in a container, going to China!!! The internet makes it possible to attract folks that can work anywhere and are just looking for a certain lifestyle. Kitimat is not for everyone, weather, distance, but we still have a lot of advantages, and we have the clean air and water and outdoor access!
Yogi Berra said it best, that “Making predictions is hard, especially about the future.” I do not know if or how we could get to 20,000 people in Kitimat, but I know that I would enjoy living in a community that had the services that 20,000 folks would attract, and I would enjoy helping to make it happen!
Comment by Louise on 23rd October 2011
This town was planned to accommodate 50,000, but I believe our peak was 13,500 in the 70s and early 80s. Since then we've been shrinking. Things are finally beginning to look up for Kitimat; the spotlight, good or bad, is on this community with KLNG, the Shell announcement, and Enbridge. These, however, will not increase our population to 20,000. How will we get there, and if it requires money, where will it come from if our community budget is tight?