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A Kitimat Resident is upset with Council’s recent spending. Since December, Council has put money into several projects, including Shames Mountain and the Taxi Subsidy to the Airport. On Monday, January 21st, Frank Mauro stepped up to speak to Council on those two items.
“I have a little concern here. Last year, you donated $15,000 of my taxes and the taxpayers of Kitimat to a private organization, Shames Mountain,” said Mauro.
He explained, he was concerned about this expense because he was denied a retiree subsidy to recreation facilities in Kitimat.
“This year, again, $8000 per month, for a taxi service for the seniors and for medical service. That’s my tax dollars, whether for medical or not,” said Mauro. “Every single citizen here should be entitled to the subsidy.”
He wanted to know why Terrace and Kitimat have not gotten together to petition both airlines to make arrangements for transportation from Kitimat to the airport. He also suggested to Council that they could contact Rio Tinto and see if people from Kitimat could use their bus system to get to Terrace.
“Its tax dollars, and sometimes, I don’t know. You guys are our elected officers; we elect you guys into Council. I think the concern of things falls on a deaf ear and it goes to individuals managing their own affairs, not the community affairs,” said Mauro.
He expressed the Councillors he has talked to would like to see the District purchase a van. He told Council when Eurocan shut down, the community lost a lot of tax dollars. He hoped his taxes did not go up with his assessment or he would come back to Council with everyone else whose taxes have gone up.
Mauro added he was in favour of Council giving money to the next presenter, who was from Kitimat Search and Rescue, and was looking for a new boat.
Councillor Phil Germuth told Mauro the administration did contact Rio Tinto Alcan about using the bus but they would be better off answering questions about this topic. He added he did vote against Shames Mountain during the 2012 budget process but not the 2013 budget process. He was impressed by all the work which was done in Shames with very little. He added the Council was giving $100,000 to the golf course.
Deputy CAO Warren Waycheshen told Council they did go to Alcan. “We looked at busses; we looked at the ones that were also owned by the industrial operations which are going back and forth. They couldn’t partner with us. They thought for insurance purposes they just couldn’t do that. They were unable to take members of the public on, they could only take their workers,” said Waycheshen.
The District offered to pay the difference in insurance but they were unable to make it work. Administration also went to airlines as well as the bus companies to cover all the bases. They could buy a bus but it was difficult to find drivers and mechanics.
“It really came down to, are you going to run a bus which is very expensive and not know how many people are going to be on it, or are you going to run a taxi program which is only going to be demand driven,” said Waycheshen.
Waycheshen told Council he estimates that only 25 people have used the taxi program, which puts a $1,500 bill on the service. He pointed out this is a test and it has been well received. He pointed out if no one used the bus, it would still have to be paid for.
Councillor Corinne Scott stated Mauro had given Council some good ideas such as approaching the Airport Society and the City of Terrace. She aloud wondered if the flights could be moved closer together for both airlines.
She also wanted to know if a van could be purchased after the pilot project. When the pilot project is completed, Council will know how many people have used the taxi service for the four month test.
Mauro told the Council the taxi subsidy was advertised in the Newspapers as Medical Use only. He was told any Kitimat residents who are seniors, people with disabilities and economically challenge families are eligible. A care giver can also travel if needed.
Councillor Rob Goffinet stated the Council studied all of the concerns before they made a decision. “This is a three month pilot project to see how the community reacts to a transport system to the airport. When demand goes up in the winter of next year, I would hope that we would look at the experience of this year and possibly put forward another proposal that would fit the greatest need of the community,” said Goffinet.
He added Shames Mountain was actually a public community Co-Operative with members of communities around the Northwest including other municipalities, corporations and private citizens.
There were no further questions so Mauro sat down and the meeting continued.
Deaf ears alright...