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COMMENTARY · 2nd March 2013
Walter McFarlane

updated, fixed a section, bolded below

So I was reading the plethora of letters which were sent to Council regarding the escort service and noticed a strange pattern. Clean community, protection of people who are vulnerable, keeping Kitimat a safe place to live and so on and so forth.

Replace the word Escort Service with Enbridge and you have another argument which has been made over the past 5 years. Both are things that a number of people of Kitimat do not want and it will be interesting to see what conclusion our town Council will come to on the escort service, given the position they have taken on Enbridge over the past 5 years.

The issue which Kitimat faces is a difficult one to describe. Kitimat is on the rim of a potential boom and everyone wants a piece of the action. People like making money, even if they have to make it at someone else’s expense.

The topic of camps has recently surged to the forefront. Last summer, I wrote an article about Council dropping the ball. You can read it again by clicking here.

Now, the problems I talked about last summer are more apparent. Council wants to do something but rather than be proactive, they have been reactive. They waited until another project was on their books before talking about what they want from camps and now it is too late. They have dropped the ball right before scoring a touchdown… or maybe they just handed it to the other team and said run.

Things are changing in Kitimat and suddenly, the community is faced with challenges which it did not know it had. Camp workers, for example have little incentive to come to town and shop. Who would have guessed that everything these camp workers need would be provided for them on site?

Enter PTI. Peace Trailers Industries (PTI) is a company who build lodges / hospitality centres for workers and they are looking at building a new lodge in the down town core of Kitimat. This is being met with both positive and negative reactions. Most of Council is looking at this positively; the rest of the town is quick to point out that this is not a lodge, but a camp.

On the one hand, it would mean several businesses would receive an influx of clients who are from out of town. It would be a great way to showcase what our community has to offer. In addition, it would be a boon to our sports teams who find their competition staying in Terrace when they travel to a tournament here in Kitimat because all the hotels are booked by the camp workers.

On the other hand, it would also increase the exposure the population of Kitimat has to the camp workers, who are portrayed around town as a vicious, blood thirsty lot who want nothing more than to get drunk and de-flower our daughters.

Going back to the topic of the escort service, there is no denying it would create a bit of a buffer between the camp workers and the local women. As the RCMP reported to Council earlier in February, rapes are already looking to be up this year. In addition, there are a number of rumours flying around Facebook, which have been forwarded to our paper, concerning rapes going on in the community of Kitimat. It could become a question of what we would sooner have, rape or escorts.

Now let’s add homelessness, or more accurately, low income families to the mix. There are three sources for people who fit into this category in town. The first group are the unskilled workers with the promise of jobs, as reported to Council by Elizabeth Macdonald in November of 2012.

The second are low income families, some who were apparently shipped into Kitimat for the 2010 Winter Games, which was reported by Mayor Joanne Monaghan at a meeting long ago. There has also been a suggestion from the Minister of Finance, Kevin Falcon to fly people on Social Assistance North to find jobs in the northern boom.

The final group are people of Kitimat who are down on their luck. I know quite a few people who are unemployed because, in many cases, their skill set is simply not in demand. There are also people who have been affected by the speculation boom.

As I said above, everyone wants more money. In this speculator boom, investors have bought up property in Kitimat to renovate, and in some cases, found ways to evict tenants who were already living there. There have been two reports on one woman who has lost her apartment twice from under her because of this.

If we were to travel back in time five years, we’d see a completely different Kitimat. Things change. Since 2008, we’ve lost industry, businesses, another school and it is difficult to pick up the pieces and rebuild. While there are industries looking at Kitimat, not many of them are in the construction phase yet and those which are, are looking for skilled labourers.

Several of these issues have roots in a common cause. The escort service and the unemployed persons relate to the speculation about Kitimat’s boom. PTI is certainly looking at Kitimat due to the speculation as well.

There are signs of industrial activity picking up in the community. Work camps come in to build, and there are two of them who have approval in Kitimat right now, one at Kitimat Moderation Project and the other is at the former Eurocan site for one of the LNG Projects.

So where would anyone get the idea that Kitimat is booming? It is not the industries fault. They make sure to include a disclaimer letting people know they are making forward looking statements which may or may not come to pass.

If I were looking for a source, I’d take a look in the national media. The first option on the internet search of Kitimat and Boom? The first is an article featuring a well-known resident of Kitimat, Mayor Joanne Monaghan, calling herself the Mayor of Boom… There are quite a few out there where she is selling Kitimat’s prosperity to the nation.

However, she is not the only person who is calling Kitimat a boom town. I have been forwarded numerous articles where Premier Christy Clark is under the impression Kitimat is booming as well. The hornet’s nest has certainly been stirred.

Last year, my father ran into a pair of people at the Esso Gas Station who were asking for directions to the local job bank. They had come to town after being told Kitimat was booming. It was all over Vancouver Island and there would be more and more people following them into town. Similar information was given in the Food Share presentation to Council in November and included a similar story concerning a man from the Yukon.

It seems that with all this potential industry coming to town, no one has prepared for any of the potential scenarios. With all the industries coming to town, training local people should have been a high priority on both Council’s and the Provincial Government’s to do list.

There are way too many conflicting messages as to whether or not Kitimat is Booming, where the unemployed people are coming from and just what is going on in the community.

It is surprising the escort service is probably the one facet Council is being proactive on, and it is garnering many letters from the community in opposition. Unfortunately, it is the only place where the council appears to be taking the community seriously.

At the Municipal Level, the people have been removed from the equation. When there was a motion for a referendum on the Enbridge pipeline last spring, it was put off until the information would no longer be relevant by a 5-2 split. Two of the votes to delay came from Councillor Mary Murphy and Edwin Empinado, Two Councillors who made a Survay an election promise according to Dieter Wagner who presented at a later meeting.

Wagner was cut off from this thought by the Mayor. At the time of Wagner’s presentation, Murphy argued they reprisent the entire community, not a small facet. However, it was pointed out by a member of the audience how a Councillor could make such a claim when they have not asked the public what they want.

When one Councillor asked for a town hall meeting so the public could give input on Council’s policy on camps, the meeting was handed over to PTI. When the mistake was caught, the town hall meeting got pushed back until the town could learn more about PTI by Councillor Mario Feldhoff, who jested about one member of the public’s concerns which were mailed to everyone in Kitimat.

However, this problem this goes back to Mayor Joanne Monaghan’s first term on Council, where she called order and put an end to impromptu presentations at Council. This effectively removed the community’s ability to hold Council responsible for the actions they have taken. In order to get on the agenda to go before Council, one has to go through City Hall and a concern can go in camera because it deals with sensitive material.

But it’s not just the community. While Monaghan has shown improvement in the Mayor seat, she appears to become agitated when Councillors stop following the pack and start asking questions, making motions or taking pro-active steps which could affect potential investors, almost as if she expects these investors would not come to Kitimat if they were not appeased every step of the way.

The point is, all of these issues are the same issue. The same scrutiny which is given to major economic development should be the same scrutiny which should be given to minor economic development. All petitioners should be treated equally by our leaders and all the public’s concerns should be examined and addressed.
Comment by marymurphy on 17th March 2013
Markus...I do drive a hummer..same gas usage as my avalanche and my husbands truck, moved into this vehicle for safety reasons…. I did not place myself in conflict voting on a project. You said you watched the video watch it again. My son-in-law was in Kitimat and moved to fort mcmurray late in the year, if it has anything to do with the vote, which took place 10 months earlier. Regarding my fellow councillors...they debate in public, share feelings/thoughts/experiences/communications/advice, and do the best for the community, maybe not in your eyes. Honestly and openly which leaves all types of interpretations…….Councillor Feldhoff did not state he was working on a camp policy for four years, what he said was he has many items on the agenda for many years; He offers knowledge on many items in front of council, Councillor Goffinet may take as much time as he needs to make a point, we are not in a race here. AS you say Councillor Germuth is doing a great job, we will do everything we can to assist him in being successful, as we will with each councillor’s issue. Councillor Scott has volumes of experience, and we appreciate not only her input, but her smile, her face and her demeanour, Councillor Empinado, first knowledge on many issues we face, from first hand on health and safety in our community, immigration issues, to many more. The mayor was voted into a position by this community, and respected for that. Sfhe hasthe best interest of this community in mind. As a business man responsible for safety of fellow workers, I was for 34 years, I am sure you don't call, or write, that your fellow workers, subordinates or management, are mentally unstable for the job. Believe in ½ of what you read, respect peoples right to confidentiality and neutrality. Feel free to contact them with your opinions and guidance; your council will respect you for that.
monkeys in paradise
Comment by Markus Kendar on 15th March 2013
to be honest after watching the recordings, other related documents ect. I've got to ask is this mayor and coucil actually speaking for this community or speaking for themselves or are they just puppets with strings. point in case councillor murphy admitting (even if jokingly) that you voted for the project due to the fact that your family got a job there is really showing your proffesionalism in its finest oh and speaking of enviromental protection doesnt your fancy hummer use a lot of fuel compared to every vehicle in its class size. Now onto the matter of councillor feldoff your seen stating that you've been trying to get a camp policy in place for the last four years i believe please do correct me if i'm wrong. what's up with that man if this is such a problem to come up with a proper camp policy and bs around it so much, being the tradesman that i am, and as a taxpayer tchnically you not only work for me but every other taxpayer in this beutiful and so far enviromental oil disaster free town, were to dawdle this much on the job would have been fired on the spot and down the road looking for a new job. nNow councillor Goffinet i see your trying to do a good job but sometimes you ask a question that was already asked and seem to want to drag out a meeting longer than what is necessary. Councillor Germuth seems to be the only one that seems to be asking the tough questions and backing down when being bullied but at least your going down kicking. Councillor scott you smile too much and try too hard you seem to be doing your best at this which is ok the same goes for Empinado. Which brings me to the mayor. now i know you were a decent councillor but with what seen of you being mayor i can deffinately tell your in WAY over your head and bullying your councillors into submission is not proving that your a good leader.

no offense: you've all proven which of you are worthy of leading and which are truly corrupt officials or mentally unstable for the job.

But lets get seriouse about things here about this survey. As a journeyman I'm responsible for the safety of my fellow workers as well myself and others. Now in refering to a friend of mine who was a welder for the Canadian Armed Forces Airfoce Division and as a welder outside of the army he is responible fully if his weld fails even to the day he passes on even some of the procedures even state after the fact that his family will be held accountable for his actions. This is called "Due dilligence" now if your going to state that a survey isnt needed and that the decision is your personal right on "our" behalf without a survey or referendum that your accepting the "due dilligence on our behalf considering that some of the companies and prov. and fed. governments have been passing the buck onto your shoulders implying that you'd also be financially responsible for this decision on our behalf.

I will be looking forward to the next monkeys tossing feces at each other meeting that you usually have every week or the by the way we sold out this town for a quick buck as though the townsfolk ARE ESCORTS and/or PROSTITUTES
just so that we feel better of ourselves in the morning meetings

Comment by djb on 4th March 2013
A survey is NOT the same as a vote, or a referendum.
Don't get your panties in a bunch!
Comment by TheGal on 4th March 2013
Everyone is getting they're panties knotted up over nothing. We have land all around us and no big investors for potential? Are you kidding people? Land with potential development for housing and residential units are here, we have to find potential investors to buy. Its called ADVERTISING! We can't expand if we expect everyone to live in a camp. Start the building NOW! Make proposals to government to build low income units, so we can deal with those that are low income/disabled/seniors. Within 5 years, Kitimat will wind up like Ft. McMurray. Five professionals or 2 families of 4 sharing a house, due to lack of new properties for lease/rent or sale or affordable for those that work in the service industry.
We need an investor for the viewpoint property and start building. Either we're boom town, or all bragging with no balls, so to speak. Maybe investors know more about
this "boom" than we think? As for the deal
with escorts, if these guys are so horned up,
they can't drive to Terrace or Prince Rupert (
yes gentlemen, you can find them there too),
then we definately have a bigger problem
than you think and an escorts isn't going to
"cure" their problem.
Yes Mary, that's what I Just said
Comment by Walter McFarlane on 2nd March 2013
You should really start paying attention Mary, that's the vote I've been talking about that you've been denying all day. First it doesn't exist, now it does exists. Make up your mind.
Reply to Bill....Compton
Comment by marym on 2nd March 2013
Imagine...Bill...really SunCore...good grief, that is why i made the votes back in early 2012. Because my family moved to work for suncor in October... yes i said that Enbridge is a dirty work in town...and yes i said and still stand behind protection of our enviornment. I always have been and always will be that will never change. Suncor...and enbridge??
the minutes read... Moved by Councillor Germuth, seconded by Councillor Scott,
THAT the District of Kitimat survey the residents of Kitimat
regarding their opinion on the Enbridge Northern Gateway
Moved by Councillor Feldhoff, seconded by Councillor Murphy,
THAT the motion be amended to add the words “after
completion of the JRP Process” after the word ‘THAT”.
Amendment Carried
In Favour Mayor Monaghan,
Councillors Empinado, Feldhoff, Murphy, Scott
Opposed Councillors Germuth, Goffinet
Main Motion as amended Carried Unanimously
"A survey, is not the same as a referendum..."
enough said...
What Kitimat does not want?
Comment by Former Kitimatian on 2nd March 2013
Okay just to start this is a great article love the nonindependent news stories in this region.

Camps: are we seriously thinking about putting a camp in the middle of Kitimat? can you think of the traffic going downtown I guess it will be convenient for the workers to get there Timmies in the morning but what about everyone else? People that work down town? or even at Alcan? Kitimat is great in the fact that it does not have a traffic problems. Its easy to get to point A to B. If the camp will be coming which I still disagree with why not put it out of the way out through the Kuldo Extension? If my Kitimat history is right this was where the next part of Kitimat was supposed o expand to anyways. This area is out of the way people can easily avoid it and take the other two ways downtown. Just a thought.

Homeless: Now I have nothing against building a shelter for homeless people if anything there should be more of them in our bigger cities. However, Kitimat I feel is not questioning the fact of why we have a booming homeless population? if this is a problem maybe we need to do something proactive about it.... Job fairs, training showing these people where the jobs actually are! because they sure are not in Kitimat!

Escorts: oh the escort debate. I do not agree with what these people do and I think it is just morally wrong. However, if the escort service is not approved this 'service' will be provided no matter what Kitimat does.... Prostitutes will come in and unlike the escort services they are not monitored this bring in STD's not to mention a multitude of Drugs and alcohol Having worked with these people myself its only an inevitability

To Mary: Why if you are 'right' Mrs: Murphy do you keep badgering people about it. Its independent media if you don't like it right your own rebuttle don't go after people online. I do also have to agree with the comments here. Kitimat is at a cross roads right now a big one no one will argue with that. This being said this counsel is not in mind representing the people and if this continues you will be driving more people out of this town in. And these people that your counsel will be driving out are the people who are going to retire here own property pay taxes. The people your council is bringing in are temporary workers who will not be paying property taxes and will leave as soon as the jobs done? Which group of people do you want to rely on for the future of this once great community? Not a hard choice in my book. Mary if you want to help Kitimat start going door to door and asking questions you and the council stop putting your own personal in on what you want and ask the people of this community what they want. It is them you are representing. But only time will tell if these words sink in or not. The same goes for all our other city officials reading this comment.

Thank you.
Comment by Walter McFarlane on 2nd March 2013
Ok, according to that last fellow, it's a Survey then. I thought a Survey asking the public for an opinion on a contraversial issue by a government body was a referendum (not to the survey has also been refered to as referendum several times) so I'll fix it.

However, a vote did happen as I discribed whether you like it or not Mary, you still haven't kept a pretty big election promise
Comment by marym on 2nd March 2013
Walter there was no motion to have a referendam on the Enbridge pipeline and not in the minutes, look at your video, not going to push the issue...its not there
Yes Vote
Comment by Walter McFarlane on 2nd March 2013
Mary, if it didn't happen, why is it in the minutes of Council?
no vote
Comment by marym on 2nd March 2013
Walter there was no motion to have a referendam on the Enbridge pipeline. The questions was never put forward, there was no vote....for or against.

Yes Vote
Comment by Walter McFarlane on 2nd March 2013
Sorry Mary, looked it up. Found I did make a mistake though. It should read.

At the Municipal Level, the people have been removed from the equation. When there was a motion for a referendum on the Enbridge pipeline last spring, it was put off until the information would no longer be relevant by a 5-2 split. Two of the votes to delay came from Councillor Mary Murphy and Edwin Empinado, Two Councillors who made a referendum an election promise according to Dieter Wagner who presented at a later meeting.

Wagner was cut off from this thought by the Mayor. At the time of Wagner’s presentation, Murphy argued they reprisent the entire community, not a small facet. However, it was pointed out by a member of the audience how a Councillor could make such a claim when they have not asked the public what they want.
Just a comment about the camp or lodge or whatever'''
Comment by Larry Walker on 2nd March 2013
I personally feel the concept is good but the size of the complex is just can't drop up to 2,000 single workers into one site in a town of roughly 7,000 people.

Maybe smaller units or clusters of 200 to 300 in various areas just might fit. It sure would be interesting to know just how many homes, apartments, condos or row housing units sit unoccupied in this town and why'.
no vote
Comment by marym on 2nd March 2013
Walter there was never a motion, nor a vote to have a referendum