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COMMENTARY · 10th October 2012
Walter McFarlane
As a part of todayís editorials, relating to the fifth year anniversary of my working for the Kitimat Daily, Iím going to attempt to break one of Kitimatís myths. This myth has been formed for over a year now about our communities former City Councillors. Almost a year after he left office, I am still told on the street how Randy Halyk did not do anything for this town. This is not true.

When I first heard of Halyk, he was doing work for the Chamber of Commerce in Kitimat. I did not know much about him during the election but he quickly proved any doubts I had about him wrong.

He was busy both within and outside of Council. He was one of the people who worked on Kitimatís first Winter Festival. When one of the events, sleigh rides, looked like it might be cancelled due to the lack of snow, he towed people in the Shrinerís parade float behind his truck.

A fisherman, he also participated in Kitimatís Fishing Derbies, running several events, knot tying and the casting pond. This would also lead to several motions in Council regarding fishing.

In Council, one of the projects he was working on was a project to find out who owns the lands around the river so the District of Kitimat could start charging the people who camp their every year camping fees. On August 10th of 2009, he returned to Council to tell them he had found there were 11 different people owning the property. He was trying to contact them to bring them together.

One of his other motions relating to the riverfront was to have the key access roads leading to the river maintained. These roads were being used by more than just Kitimat residents seeking river access. They were also being used by people who were coming into our community to fish.

He was also one of Councilís two representatives on the Eurocan Co-Op. The Co-Op was trying create a viable alternative to Eurocan. A plan was formed but it was ultimately doomed from the start.

Hopes of saving the plant were raised falsely. Reports from the CEP 298 Union headed by Mary Murphy, now a City Councillor, expressed the plant could be saved. The Tables were turned in July when Halyk leaked documents to the media.

The documents were letters from the Haisla Nation requesting the Provincial Government to keep Eurocan closed. The run off from the plant had tainted the Olichan fish which were a staple of the Haisla Nationís diet and trade.

The Eurocan Viability was a doomed project to begin with. As it turned out, Council had been aware of this fact and had still misled the people of Kitimat with false hopes and promises which could not be delivered upon.

For leaking the documents, Mayor Joanne Monaghan attempted to sacrifice Halyk in a public meeting to appease those he had angered. Due to miscommunication and the fact Monaghan could not force an apology from Halyk, political damage was done between the District of Kitimat and the Haisla Nation.

What were his Sins?

He questioned Joanne Monaghanís actions on several occasions. There were times when the Mayor made public statements which can easily mislead people in other parts of the country, people who are not aware of the current status quo in Kitimat.

Enbridge was a hot topic here. There are many things the Mayor and the District of Kitimat have done which make it look like the District of Kitimat is in favour of the pipeline.

Other times, he called her on etiquette in Council. As I wrote last week, the inconsistencies in the Council Meetings during Mayor Joanne Monaghanís first four years as Mayor have kept thingsÖ Dysfunctional.

It would seem the first law of Kitimat is you do not question the actions of Joanne Monaghan. Punishment for violating this rule involves a lynch mob of Joanneís friends slandering you in the newspaper, Facebook or whatever other means they have necessary.

Halyk also came out opposed to the amount of money which was put into the Animal Shelter. Council went above and beyond the call of duty funnelling taxpayers money into a project which had failed to fundraise the money they needed to pay for their materials.

A majority of the Shelter was being built by Volunteers and without the materials, the volunteers would move back to the projects which were being paid for, at least according to Mayor Monaghan.

At the time, Council was struggling to save money because of the loss of Eurocan as a tax base. While they closed off many projects around the community, they continued to fund the animal shelter.

Finally, Halyk was a bad public speaker. There have been times Iíve seen him stumble in his speeches. I do not see a problem here because no one is perfect. An attack against this, however, is an attack against the person, not their actions.

Was Randy a waste of a City Councillor? Not really. He did the same as everyone else on Council. He brought forward a lot of good ideas, he worked hard for the community, giving a lot of time to supporting local initiatives. All Councillors have supported projects to improve areas of the community where they notice holes in the infrastructure.

Someone once asked me how people could chastise Halyk for his mistakes and not go after Monaghan for hers. He was only on Council for 3 years; she was on Council for 30.