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REPORTING · 5th September 2012
Walter McFarlane
Waterfront access for the coastal community of Kitimat has been a hot topic in 2012. When Rio Tinto Alcan closed Alcan Beach earlier this year, boaters found there was no place in the community where a boat could be launched for free.

At the Regular Meeting of Council on August 7th, Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion for the Leisure Services Advisory Commission discuss the challenges around Kayaking and access at Minette Bay.

Feldhoff stated people wanted to launch Kayaks into the Douglas Channel without having to pay a fee.

“We are on the water and it is challenging, but it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to go kayaking in the Minette Bay area,” said Feldhoff. “I know it’s been looked at many years ago. Perhaps it’s time to look at it again to see what can be done to aid the citizens of Kitimat in kayaking.”

Councillor Corrine Scott agreed. “There are challenges for kayaking and canoeing. Kitimat is one of the top ten Kayak areas in the province of BC and we don’t have water access ready. The same goes for our boating community. We have one marina that is the District of Kitimat, one in the Regional District. Both of them are too small. We need to expand our marina services,” said Scott.

She wanted to see a full report on marine access. The motion to look into marine access was called and carried.

However, Councillor Phil Germuth came up with a solution. At the regular meeting of Council he put forward an unorthodox motion. Due to the nature of the motion, Councillor Mario Feldhoff declared conflict of interest.

“I would move that the District of Kitimat request that Rio Tinto Alcan Donate the areas known as Alcan Beach and the Alcan Boat Launch to the District of Kitimat as part of Kitimat’s 60th Anniversary Celebration,” said Germuth.

“This has been Kitimat’s only no cost public boat launch, it is the only sizable sandy beach on the north end of Douglas Channel. With the west side being the proposed location for many industrial projects, it is very important that we protect and preserve this area for the benefit of the public. Acquiring this piece of property would be a perfect compliment to Council’s top economic priority, having the West Side Road transferred into government hands. Acquiring the lands in question will have no negative impact on the modernization project. These lands are of substantial value to the residents of Kitimat,” said Germuth.

He stated the beach, in District hands, would have the ability to bring the community together to look after it. They are already developed and would have an immediate benefit to the public. They are also a historical landmark and have a heritage value to the community as well. It would be a win-win scenario since Kitimat would have waterfront access and Rio Tinto Alcan would be recognized for their generosity.

Councillor Mary Murphy disagreed. “We are in the middle of relationship building with Rio Tinto Alcan and we have a meeting coming in two weeks where these items should be discussed. They are dedicated to working with Council on the deficiencies and come together for a common goal. I would prefer if we discussed this with Rio Tinto Alcan in their meetings,” said Murphy.

She agreed that Kitimat did need waterfront access and it is a huge issue they need to work on. However, she believed they needed to do this through Rio Tinto.

Councillor Corrine Scott agreed with the motion as it was a request to be made to Rio Tinto Alcan and she did not see a problem with putting the motion on the table. It was not a demand, it was a conversation starter. She suggested deferring it until after the meeting.

Councillor Rob Goffinet agreed with the sentiment of his colleagues who are in support of the motion. Because of the motion, it is out in the public the Council is interested in waterfront property.

However, Goffinet expressed Council is entering into discussions with Rio Tinto Alcan, and the motion would lock them into wanting the beach prior to discussing it with Rio Tinto Alcan. He would sooner put more options on the table for the discussion and he did not want to be locked into a demand before seeing them face to face. He could see nothing wrong with the intent and the spirit of the motion.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated there was a meeting coming up and Council is in the process of building a relationship with Rio Tinto Alcan. He suggested a friendly amendment for the Beach to be a part of their meeting with Rio Tinto Alcan. It was accepted as a friendly amendment.

Murphy once again stated Rio Tinto Alcan wanted to meet with Council and discuss deficiencies within the community, try and determine common goals and help the community achieve the deficiencies. Murphy stated the deficiencies in the community go beyond the yacht club and the boat launch and they did not want to be locked into these areas.

Scott stated she did not see this as a demand. She also understood where Murphy was coming from. She made a tabling motion until their meeting with Rio Tinto Alcan.

Germuth was opposed to the tabling motion. He stated if they bring this to Rio Tinto Alcan and they agree, there is no point to bringing this back as a motion. He expressed this did not feel like a proper way to do things.

The Tabling motion, to bring up the possibility of donating Alcan Beach during their next meeting with Rio Tinto Alcan was called, carried and tabled until said meeting.
Relationship building
Comment by LINDA HALYK on 8th September 2012

Relationships are a two way street, and this road is a single lane and it only goes to Alcan.

Land locked coastal city.
Comment by Edward on 6th September 2012
If you only want comments that agree with your thinking, you should make that clear, instead of just not printing what you and the Kitimat City Council would prefer not to hear, and I say that because you have ignored what I wrote previously.
Comment by Edward on 5th September 2012
I would have to paraphrase but I recall Mayor Monaghan making a statement on TV along the lines that all Kitimat Residents have 2 cars, boats, ATV's, snowmobiles, private jet's, etc, etc, so I think all this hullabaloo about boat launching facilities is a waste of Council time. Surely anyone that has 2 cars, a boat, an ATV, a snowmobile and a private jet should not object to paying the highest boat launch fees in North America. In fact, I think these fees should be doubled for residents, and reduced, or perhaps even made free, for non-residents. After all, if this suggestion were adopted, a Council that did not mind having the World consider them to be, 'Not the sharpest knives in the drawer', while they were wasting taxpayers money suing the Company that they are now going to approach 'Cap in hand', should not mind making this official.
I just don't believe it'''''
Comment by Larry on 5th September 2012
This Council is truly "out to lunch". They discussed it in an open meeting....they discussed their options....they beat it to death during debate, and now they are trying to "hide it". People, its called exporpriation.....use it if you have to, but get on with it.