COMMENTARY · 23rd May 2013
Over the past few months, we have been told how having the camp workers in town will benefit small businesses. Several local residents have contacted us after having run-ins with camp workers last week. What they found are workers who are getting ticked off with local business owners.
We have investigated and verified the complaints are accurate, a majority of the local business community is not accommodating the camp workers. The construction workers like to have a change of pace once and awhile, and get away from the monotony of camp life. Most camps are located well outside communities but Kitimat is different, the camps are located close to town.
From the information we have gathered, the camp workers work until 5:30, get off, get cleaned up and might consider heading into town for a change of scenery, pace, food, etc. By the time they get here, it is 6:00 and a majority of the local stores are closed.
Tuesday night, I toured the downtown core after 6. While the grocery stores, drugstores, liquor stores and fishing supply stores remained open, many of the other stores were closed. The mall closes at 6. Similarly, we found the majority of service Centre was closed. Half of Kitimat dies at 6:00 pm every night.
One person we talked to sees shuttle buses stop at the mall at 6:00. Workers get out. A few workers try the doors to the mall to see if it’s still open while the vast majority file into the liquor store there.
If the workers want to get away from the camp food, they have many different options in down town Kitimat. However, there is a four hour window until the rest of the town closes up for the night. This does not work so well for camp workers on different shifts, whose shift ends at 8:30 at night.
Regardless, the town’s bus service ends between 9 and 10 so there is little mobility around the town at that time anyways. A few residents have talked to me about the lack of nightlife in the town on weekdays.
Sunday is a different story. Our sources around the community have told us the camp workers have Sunday off. It was one of the key reasons we were told the Library wanted to re-open on Sundays. It would appear several stores around town have also gotten this message as they advertise they are now open Sunday’s on little slips of paper in the windows on their doors. On Sunday, most of the downtown core is open.
While it is understandable most small businesses around the province close at 6 on weekdays, with the influx of workers to Kitimat, a change might be necessary to accommodate them, and draw in some of the money being earned in Kitimat back into the town.
Comment by Chris on 9th June 2013
Why does it take camp workers complaining to get a dialogue going on this issue? Stores have always closed at 6pm for as long as I can remember, but now that there are temporary workers complaining, it becomes news. Why doesn't what the LOCALS have to say matter anymore? I agree change is good, but as it's already been said, staying open longer costs a business more, and who's to say which businesses those camp workers are going to frequent. A restaurant might stay open 2 more hours and get 4 tables of business, hardly enough to pay for the extra two hours of staff. It has to be financially viable for stores to stay open later. Seems to me the only businesses that would reap the benefits of longer hours on a regular, daily basis would be the grocery stores.
Comment by Positive Vibes on 24th May 2013
Ignorance is bliss. It is 2013... let's keep up with the rest of the world. Having our stores open later, would benefit us all. Two extra hours for the grocery store would extremely benefit us.
Time for a change
Comment by Change management on 24th May 2013
I still consider myself a bit of an outsider only having lived in Kitimat for about 15 years. Before that I lived in Vancouver and Calgary. When i first lived it here it was fine, worked at Eurocan, so had ample opportunity to get out with a 4 and 4 shift shift. This worked in the past for kitimat with so many shift workers, you could still get out and purchase locally. But, times have changed. Small Business need to realize that the majority of the buying power in town gets off work when they have already closed down. When they complain that the camp workers don't walk through there doors, its because they are locked. Some have chosen to stay open later, like the Nechako Barber staying open weekdays till 9:00PM Drove buy at 8:55 last night and saw through the window someone getting a hair cut. Similar to if you build it they will come, if you say open they will come. However, you will have to give it a while as if they don't advertise, no one in camp will know...
Comment by Former Kitimatian on 24th May 2013
Oh come on really? seriously do we expect our businesses to stay open later? this involves hiring more people with maybe a little bit more revenue. I am sorry if you work in a camp and work shift work there is not a lot you a can do about it. Most people work a 9-6 day and these people do not complain that things shut down at six it is to be expected. And come on why do camp employees care to go shopping in Kitimat? there's nothing remotely interesting in their stores? How about take in the great outdoors like any proud Canadian should. I am sorry But even in PG unless it is Friday night the town shuts down at 6, I have no sympathy. I do however agree with having more businesses open Sunday.
Comment by MikeC on 23rd May 2013
Good to see nothing changes in Kititmat! I left 13 years ago and Kititmat was pretty much a ghost town after 6 pm when I lived there. Living in Calgary I can go out at anytime of the day and there are countless services that are still open.