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REPORTING · 26th November 2013
Walter McFarlane
Rent increases are becoming a common story here in Kitimat these days. At the Committee of the Whole Meeting on Monday, November 25th, Council was confronted with a shocking increase in rent for one of Kitimat’s core services. Barbra Hall from Kitimat Understanding the Environment (K.U.T.E.) took the microphone to answer Council’s questions. Councillor Rob Goffinet declared conflict of interest.

In a letter to Council, Hall explains the situation. Their rent is skyrocketing from $1656 + 5% GST a month to $3800 + 5% GST. This is an increase of $2,251.20 per month. With little option, K.U.T.E. is looking to the District of Kitimat to help out.

“With the assistance of the District of Kitimat Administration, we have looked for an alternate site for the Depot without success. There are no existing buildings in Kitimat which meet K.U.T.E.’s needs,” wrote Hall. “We do not relish asking for more money, nor can we predict future challenges that we may face. We are trying to deal with circumstances well beyond our control. Your response to our request is required quickly so that we can deal with the lease and increased rent.”

Councillor Phil Germuth stated the building lease is up on December 31st and it was November 25th. He wanted to know when they knew about it. She told him they learned three weeks ago and they have been looking at other options with the District of Kitimat. She found out last Monday the other option was not available. She did not think this could wait for the budget.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know, based on the increased industries in town, what the increase in cardboard was at the facilities. She said they are getting cardboard from 3 industries who are working in the community and have been getting for more than a year. The rest of the cardboard comes from new companies.

Feldhoff wanted to know if they were looking for pre-budget approval for the increased cost. “I need pre-approval that if I sign this lease, I will have the money to pay the rent. I don’t feel comfortable signing a lease with that much of an increase without some assurance that we’ll be ok,” said Hall. “It’s a three year lease.”

Hall wasn’t certain if the lease could be broken one year later. She is struggling to understand the lease. Administration was reading through it. They suggested putting together a recommendation for December 2nd. It was recommended that the District of Kitimat meet with K.U.T.E. and determine if there are other issues.

Councillor Corinne Scott clarified that if Council approved the extra money, there could be further funding requests. Hall told her yes and it would be coming through in the budget. This is just one issue she is concerned about.

Germuth wanted to know if the former Animal Shelter could be converted to the needs of K.U.T.E. He was told they looked at it and there are concerns with it. Scott had an idea.

“When we were first hearing about the issues at K.U.T.E., the lack of space, the extra materials that were coming in, needing staff to be able to sort it, that kind of thing, it crossed my mind that I personally would like to see the District of Kitimat look at having a whole new warehouse built specifically for recycling and put it at the landfill site,” said Scott.

She asked if staff could take a look into a large metal clad building. This way, everything is in one spot, the District of Kitimat owns the building and they are not held up for rent in someone else’s facility.

Feldhoff expressed the building owners have been gracious in the terms of the rent which they have charged. He thought another location might work but he was not certain the landfill was a good site. He thought it should be built in or around the fire training ground. He hoped to have a report from staff so they can do something quick and not get locked in for three years.

Germuth suggested finding their own building where they could make this work. Feldhoff made a motion to have staff bring this back to the next meeting public meeting. It was called and carried.
Revamp Recycling
Comment by Lucy McRae on 29th November 2013
Why is it that when I go visit family in other small towns in BC they have a much better recycling system? Most towns have their recycling sort facility at the landfill. Quesnel is an example. Council and KUTE really need to see what others are doing because I think we're in the Dark Ages. If you look at the cost of maintaining the present system it doesn't make sense that you would just redo the whole thing. When all these construction workers arrive, up to 8000 what will we be doing with all the items that should be recycled. Why do a half a job?
Questions Council to ask themselves....
Comment by Larry Walker on 27th November 2013
1. Is the present operation profitable and by how much (plus or minus).
2. Can it be transported to another location (terrace/smithers/pr rupert)? and the cost analyst of same.
3. Why are we in the business of recycling and should we even be there? Maybe if the new (and probably short term) business require the service they should develop and fund their own operations.
4. And should the residental taxpayer be expected to again "pick up the extra costs involved". As info last year between the tax increase and the assessment increase our taxes went up over 9% and I for one have had enough, so learn to live within your budget because I have to.