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REPORTING · 2nd April 2013
Walter McFarlane
A Federal Announcement two weeks ago concerning spill response caught City Council off guard. Kitimat, which has always referred to itself as a private port, was dubbed a public port by the Federal Government.

When we talked to Mayor Joanne Monaghan on Thursday, March 21st, she did not know what this meant for our community. “We don’t know the ramifications of it yet. We were not consulted,” said Monaghan. “We don’t know what this means for our Douglas Channel. If some of it means that we will have a safer channel, then it is a really good thing, but we don’t know, that’s a big thing.”

She stressed Council was not consulted, they were not invited when it was announced and that was it. Monaghan expressed it was a blindside for both the District of Kitimat and Rio Tinto Alcan, neither of which knew it was coming.

Monaghan expressed all of Kitimat’s Economic Development Office literature refers to Kitimat as a private port and Kitimat has always been a private port, although she was not aware of who declared Kitimat to be a private port.

“So if we are now a public port, all of our literature is going to have to be changed, obviously, and it’s going to cost us a lot of money,” said Monaghan. She told us she plans on asking the Government to reimburse some of it.

However, as of Monday, March 25th, there is more information to add. Mayor Joanne Monaghan provided us with information from an email she received from Kelly James from Transport Canada.

She told us a private port is owned land while a public port is a body of water belonging to the Federal Government. Private ports are subject to Provincial and/or Federal environmental regulations which apply to both the land and the vessels at their facilities.

Public ports fall under the Minister of Transportation and are subject to port traffic control measures on the waters to facilitate safe and efficient movement of vessels.

Transport Canada will be coming to consultation with the District, although Monaghan would have preferred to have the consultation before the decision.