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REPORTING · 2nd May 2013
Walter McFarlane
Bill Kearley presented to Council on Monday, April 22nd on the topic of Kitimat’s future. He used Google Earth to make his presentation to Council bringing up a map of downtown Kitimat.

“I’m here because I’m concerned about the future of Kitimat and what is motivating me is a big concern about the location of the camp,” said Kearley.

He spent the prior Saturday with Jack Oviatt, talking about his concerns in a lengthy, ‘positive,’ conversation. He said Oviatt is looking into the concepts and Kearley felt the options could be worked into a community plan to favour the community.

He said there are 8-10 pipelines which will be coming into Kitimat and there are plenty of concerns around the future of Kitimat. He did not want to see Kitimat lock itself into an Official Community Plan because they would be setting up roadblocks.

Kearley admitted he did not want the camp to go in his back yard. However, he knows they need the accommodations in addition to housing and apartments and business opportunities for land owners.

He presented his plan: “A bypass road for downtown, a second [river] crossing, just north of Methanex. A camp location in this area here.” The area he was referring to is a patch of land south of the town site, near one of the reservations.

He told Council putting the camp where they are currently going would restrict the expansion of the down town core of Kitimat.

“Kitimat has been seriously restricted in small business since day one. ‘I think I’ll go to Terrace.’ There is no need for that. We’re going to have a population growth here and the need to expand our down town core, bring it into this area next to the seniors’ complex area, move PTI away from the concentrated residential areas, everybody’s happy. And you’re also allowing yourself the opportunity for downtown to move southeast here and revitalize the whole damn town,” said Kearley.

He expressed he did not think the Haisla Bridge would be able to accommodate the workers. He pointed out in 1982, the traffic light at Rosarios, backed up the traffic to the fisheries during the shift change. Having a crossing to access the industrial site would alleviate this. He asked Council to ask the industries to pay for this and the West side road, because they are coming to town.

“We have to concentrate on our down town core, it is the heart of the community, it is just an invitation for us right now to do something and use the future for our benefit,” said Kearley.

Councillor Mary Murphy said she love dreamers because they come up with wonderful plans. She wanted to know about this bypass which he is discussing. Kearley replied the town is going to need a bypass for industry across the bridge or the highway will be a disaster waiting to happen.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated OCP’s are not meant to be frozen in time. A bypass would need to be looked at, but he is under the impression that camp workers would be bussed to and from work.

Kearley replied he talked to people in Grand Prairie and they replied Kitimat is not ready, and Kitimat won’t be ready until they have an open mind and are ready to think outside the box. He added the town planner from Grand Prairie is willing to come talk to the District of Kitimat.

Councillor Corinne Scott took offence to this as they have experienced staff in Kitimat. She said he brought in good ideas but they are going to have to take a look at it. But it is food for thought.

Councillor Phil Germuth pointed out Kitimat has never dealt with this before so he has no problem asking another community for help. He thought the bypass and the bridge was a great idea. Murphy agreed.

Germuth stated most of the people who call him are concerned with the location. Kearley stated Jack Oviatt is helping the community with the property which he does have. However, the community needs to do something with the down town core if they are going to attract small business.

“Small business is the heart of the community and this town does not have it. There are a lot of people trying every day, they try,” said Kearley. “We have an opportunity here now for growth, opportunity for small business and it’s a serious component to the community.”

Councillor Edwin Empinado thanked him for coming and giving them lots of things to be discussed. He thanked him for his opinion on the lodges and camps, and the courage to say it in front of the media. He said they will look into it again.