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REPORTING · 19th December 2012
Walter McFarlane
John Chapman presented to Kitimat City Council on an estimate of what Kitimat’s population will look like in the next 40 years at their Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday, December 10th. Community Planner Gwen Sewell explained the used the economic base model to gain these numbers.

“Since the official community plan was done in 2008, the outlook of the future of Kitimat has changed significantly. It’s timely to look at population growth scenarios again,” said Chapman.

He showed a graph of the declining population between 1979 and 2011 when Kitimat was around 13,000 and has declined to less than 10,000. His graph also showed the number of industrial jobs in Kitimat which started at around 4000 and declined to less the 2000. He then added a line showing the number of jobs total which started at around 6000 and ended just above 4000.

He explained Kitimat has 5 times more industrial employment than the British Columbian average and 3.75 times more than the average community in Canada. Using the base model, it shows for every new industrial job in Kitimat, 0.96 jobs will be created in the non-industrial sector.

“We basically in Kitimat have 1 to 1. For every job in the industrial sector, there is one additional job in Kitimat,” said Chapman.

He showed a bar graph showing the 1 to 1 ratio from 1986 to 2006. He superimposed the unemployment rate which declined in the 80s and 90s but spiked in 2001 to decline again in 2006. The next chart showed Kitimat’s unemployment rate was the slightly above the provincial average in the 90s, but increased in 2000 while the provincial average dropped. However, recently, the unemployment rate is dropping to meet the provincial average.

Chapman also showed the population of Kitimat is tied to the number of jobs at Rio Tinto Alcan. If the number of Methanex and Eurocan jobs are factored in, the pattern is distorted. He explained this chart allows him to estimate what the population number would look like based on the number of jobs.

“Forecasting populations is not exact. We are making educated guesses into the future,” said Chapman. “I’m going to offer you a range of population growth scenarios. I would be very surprised if we ever reach the exact number I would project,” said Chapman.

Again, he showed the declining population from 1971 to 2011 and the projections from the got ready to show the scenarios. The first growth scenario was high growth.

“I took data from the Economic Development Officer, so I added up all the expected jobs from all the announced projects and I discussed with the Economic Development Officer and got a number from her of other projects which are not publically announced yet but estimates for what kinds of jobs would be expected in the future,” said Chapmen.

The line would grow slightly until 2016, and then spike up to 15,000 before 2021. It will then continue to grow up to 2031 where it will reach over 17,000. He pointed out this takes into account all the projects which are announced, and several which haven’t at maximum projected permanent non construction jobs. He also added this estimate included the oil refinery, which accounted for the spike in 2016.

The next line appeared on the chart. Medium growth with no oil refinery. It was expressed Kitimat Clean was the single largest project for Kitimat and the high growth chart took into account half of the workforce living in Kitimat. Medium growth with no oil is a steady line ending at around 15,000 in 2031.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed hope the people who did not see Kitimat Clean moving forward were wrong.

The third line was Medium Growth. “Because some of these projects are announced, some are not announced, there is some uncertainty as to which projects will actually proceed and which employment levels, how big they will actually get,” said Chapman.

The line showed 50% of the jobs in Medium Growth. The population declined until 2021 where it started to climb up to around 10,000. He expressed this chart cannot take into account projects which have not been thought of yet.

The final line, coloured Grey, was Low Growth. It represented what would happen if only Rio Tinto Alcan, at 1000 jobs, which they committed too, if it were the only thing that happened in Kitimat. The population would continue to decline to the 7000 level.

“The District Staff are working hard to make sure this is not a likely scenario. There is a lot going on. We do not anticipate that happening,” said Chapman.

He quickly went over the male and female populations of Kitimat broken down by age and concluded his project.

Councillor Rob Goffinet pointed out most communities have a non-industrial ratio of 2 non industrial jobs for every industrial job. He wanted to know why this was. Chapman explained it was because Kitimat had a high number of industrial jobs. It showed Kitimat had a high economy because we were exporting manufactured goods out of Kitimat. He expressed the 1 to 1 ratio was good.

Councillor Mary Murphy was looking forward to all the growth in Kitimat. Goffinet wanted to know when the census data would come out. Chapman stated the last census data came in at 8335 people. He hoped to think the population has increased by 1000 since then because vacancy rates have dropped.

Sewell added there would be the last results from 2011 released in 2012. However, Chapman stated data has shifted in Kitimat. Feldhoff argued the census data collection methods have changed. He said there was probably an undercount. He was told this was accounted for.

Councillor Corrine Scott suggested a motion to go the UBCM where communities can conduct their own census’s. She was told a small town might not be able to do this because of privacy issues. The other concern would be the data would be meaningless unless all the towns did this the same way.

A motion was made to accept the information. It was carried.
Lower incomes means less service
Comment by TheGal on 7th January 2013
Its good to hear that Kitimat is finally coming around on an industrial boom after years of slow decline. However, the service industry has not, and is slowly dying out. Why? Retail / Commercial space is hard to find and or rent is too high, low income earners unable to pay raised accomodation rates, lack of affordable housing, local merchants gauging consumers and I hate to say word of mouth (Gossip). This same incident happened in Kelowna a couple years ago as they went through a major construction boom. They couldnt pay enough to have people working in the service industry because wages were not comparable to standard of living. People left to live in AFFORDABLE communities, changed careers, went to school ect. minimum wage Kitimat, to what the Industries are paying, then you can forget about any service here in Kitimat. You need some sort of balance. Kitimat has great potential but pointless if you dont have the proper people in place to expand it. Its great we have a new, long awaited Tim Hortons but will be pointless if they don't have employees here in the future to run it.
Kitimat Buisness
Comment by Hard Core on 31st December 2012
You won't find a good deal in town .Till the big construction crews are long gone.Prince George Home Dept. here we come.You get the picture now.
I could not have said it better
Comment by Larry Walker on 23rd December 2012
Your comment is right on. Too bad nobody on
town council is listening.
Comment by richard on 23rd December 2012
i do 90 % of my shopping there....and will continune to spend there.savings are in terrace ,not kitimat. feel sorry for all those who don`t have the oppertunity to shop there. kitimat controled by bussiness owners,,,,kitimat can spend my taxes $ foolishly,as the rest .i`ll spend it ,in terrace. too many snakes in grass ,profitting off the volnerable,low income. shame on kitimat. greed is killing this community , wealth is controling this town. to many personal gains comes with big bussiness. more like screw your neighbor. no team players here. . the grinches who sold out kitimat is more like it. you no who you are. merry christmas
Comment by Apocalypse now on 20th December 2012
We have above average industrial jobs and below average retail jobs. For every industrial job created in Kitimat,we create 2 retail jobs in terrace.