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REPORTING · 13th December 2013
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Council went back into their budgeting on Tuesday December 10th. The day was designed so community groups could go before Council and make funding requests for the 2014 budget.

The first presentation was the Mount Elizabeth Theatre. Brenda Feldhoff asked for $80,000 which included a wage adjustment for their Technician and a budget of Capital expenditures. She asked for an addition $6,000 to bring one of their workers back to a standard wage and 35 hours a week. He stated he volunteers 5-10 hours a week and 30 when they get close to production. She cannot think of anyone else who does that.

She asked the School District and was told there was no opportunity for that. They want to purchase a scissor lift and some new harnesses. They also want upgrading and replacing their sound components. The theatre is replacing four lights a year and wants to get a projector.

“This year, we had a projected attendance of over 20,000, 235 individual bookings. There is something going on almost every single day in the theatre. The MET staff will continue to encourage and work alongside the drama teachers, teaching artists, arts enthusiasts, actors, volunteers in instructional opportunities and art for everyone who graces our stage, the performances we facilitate I think our wonderful and often, with our children, are life transforming. Sometimes, it’s that child that shines nowhere else and that’s where they shine. That’s probably the best part of our job, working with the kids,” said Feldhoff.

She explained there is a joint use agreement between the theatre and the school which helps keep the costs low in the theatre. The next two events at the theatre are the Polar Express this Saturday at 7:00 pm and Musical Theatre will be putting on Peter Pan in January. She stated they have had someone come up so Peter Pan can fly.

“When we went to Provincials last year with our Drama Club and when we go and show them what we do in this town, […] when I show people what happens in this community, and our productions, they are blown away provincially,” said Feldhoff.

Staff sergeant Phil Harrison presented the RCMP Budget. He is asking for a general investigation position. He expressed with all the projects which are coming up, the more drugs will be in the community. This is why he is looking for as many GIS positions as possible opening up in the RCMP.

Another thing he is asking for is new guns, 2 Colt CA Carbine Rifles. Another request is for electronic finger print scanning system which is has to be in place by July. They need to replace the phone system and the camera system in the cell block. They hope to have the hard body armour from a previous budget within the next 6 months.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff clarified the extra position which was asked for, the General Investigative Position. He asked since Kitimat has been short member over the past year, he suggested asking for two more officers now. Harrison agreed, but he stated it is harder to get the officers then it is to get rid of them. He explained Kitimat was not a desirable posting and there are people who have difficulty trying to get into town, in addition, the current housing crunch is keeping people away from the town.

The final thing he is asking for is a five year plan increasing police officers, which should coincide with the ramp up for the other projects. He was asking for two more officers each year for the next five years.

Virginia Charron and Linda Campbell from the Kitimat Public Library took the Microphone next. Charron told Council that opening on Sunday was successful and they wish to remain open on Sundays. She asked for additional funding for this. She asked for an increase in cleaning.

“Library services are free and people from all walks of life are welcome. It is a safe, friendly environment complimented with knowledgeable staff, state of the art computers, fast wireless access. Libraries are important because much of life’s learning is outside of the formal education system. Libraries are one of the key supports for citizen engagement in informal learning. Libraries offer a range of programs for people, early literacy story times to help prepare children for school, Social and Cultural programs developed in partnership in partnership with many individuals including our First Nations neighbours,” said Charron.

The library request is for an increase just over $16,000. For capital requests, they asked for a paint job for some walls and to cover some graffiti, although Charron asked them only to consider this.

Denise O’Neil from Kitimat Victim Services stepped up next. She stated they are not asking for an increase. They are asking for just over $36,000. She explained to Council what it is her service does. At the moment, they have over 300 files.

“Our victim services workers, they receive the referral, they work with the person through trauma, through safety planning, whether it’s court, whether it’s victim impact service. They stay with us until they feel that it is ok for their file to close,” said O’Neil.

They work with groups in the community, such as the Tamitik Status of Women. They grant emotional support to victims of crime as well.

She added the funding for the Food Share is in place and they do not plan on coming back with a request for the Food Share.

Kitimat Art’s for Youth was next. Nancy Jane Harness and Louise Avery stepped up to talk about it. Avery thanked the Council for their continued financial report. The two of them explained the money which council gave them went into workshops, retreats, arts camps, competitions and the school’s bands programs. This year, the band will be going to nationals.

This year, they plan on operating similar programing. They will be purchasing instruments, stands and racks for the students. They will offer similar programs with one new one, music montage for all students where the students will music followed by art based on said music. This year, they will offer a drama camp in august with a theme of Shakespeare ala Bard on the Beach. They are asking for an additional $5000 to meet the rising cost of offering programs and purchasing instruments for Kitimat Youth.

“On Saturday, 50 band students will be on our stage presenting the Polar Express. You would be treated to all of the things that KAFY does, we have band on stage, we have speech arts on stage, we have visual arts on stage, the retelling of that classic story, 7:00, $10, Saturday night,” said Harness.

Kitimat Understanding the Environment was next so Barb Hall stepped up. She said this year was difficult and challenging. It began in November 2012 when they lost three of their employees within a matter of two weeks and finding employees was hard. The business cardboard ban combined with explosive business activity overwhelmed the depot in the spring.

She thanked Council for the additional funding this year, which they were able to use make up for a short fall in March and a depot manager. Now they have problems with their rent increase. She stated they have been at their current location since 1994 and have had a good relationship with their landlord and low rent. Now the rent is going up. The total request is for $10,491 per month.

“Prices for cardboard and paper are recovering, the depot is running smoothly with our new manager, we are hoping for a better 2014,” said Hall. Feldhoff asked if they were ready for the residential cardboard ban. Hall said she would probably need another part time person for manning purposes.

Feldhoff also commented with the changes being brought on by MMBC, the recycling centre might need more room in the future. Hall agreed.

The Kitimat Museum and Archives was next. “Users include residents of all ages, visitors to Kitimat, the District of Kitimat, Rio Tinto Alcan and other industries. We’ve seen an increase in activities with all the new industries that are coming in with their research requests. We have land use consultants, archeologists, students and those who are interested in Alcan project history and their own family history,” said Avery.

She stated the photo display which was done for the District of Kitimat 60th anniversary was so successful, people started taking the photos off of the display. They had an exhibition by Lyle Wilson. They received donations including a measure of the weather by Eileen Hutson.

Avery asked for an increase in funding to cover a wage increase and funding for exhibitions, programing and computer equipment. For special projects, they are looking for painting the fabric walls in the upper gallery. They want to put in a rail for hanging artwork so no more nails go into the walls. They would like a similar system down the stairwell. They want to install energy efficient lighting in the museum. They need to upgrade the surveillance system.

Museum Board Chair Rachel Fournier stated they want to focus on the building and space it occupies following a strategic planning session which they had with Poole. She said there is not much storage. They want to utilize the current space, but they want to make it more accessible. She asked for a study through the District’s Engineering Department so they know what the future may hold. Germuth stated he hoped to see a brand new or expanded facility. Monaghan stated it is a big budget item but Avery reminded her it is not on the budget this year.

The Kitimat Emergency plan went next. Bob McLeod reviewed what they did in 2013. They are meeting with stakeholders, trained with District Staff, Emergency services and preliminary work on the Tsunami and evacuation plans. They started work on a new emergency operations centre. He expressed it will be a real asset to the community.

He stated the ESS group is working on group lodging training because of the scarcity of accommodations in Kitimat. “We are going to be faced with a problem if we can’t put people up in Hotels or Motel’s locally. The province has indicated they would support moving people to Terrace and Chief Klie and Chief Patterson have both said they would cooperate and make sure people would find accommodation one way or another for us. It’s one of my concerns right now, a single family fire is one thing but if we ever have a Baxter Street Event, where you have an apartment building go up, you’re going to be faced with 30 people. It’s going to be a big challenge,” said McLeod.

He added the Banff Mountain Film Festival was really successful this year, all the tickets were sold. He went over the rescues they carried out this year. They will be continuing their work in 2014, working with industry, more training exercises, updating the community resource list and update some cosmetic changes in the response and recovery plan. They also hope to work on the Tsunami and evacuation plan. He asked for over 16,000 for the Emergency Plan, $4,000 higher than usual to cover the exercise costs.

Liz Thorne from the Snow Valley Nordic Ski Club was the next to take the mic. She said they have 35 kilometres of trails. They are volunteer run and supported by the community and businesses. She said they have been funding for the last two years to replace their grooming machine. The cost is $250,000 for the grooming machine. She invited Council to their open house on December 28th from 1:30 to 4:00.

The Kitimat Flying club was next. Wayne Stewart said they’ve had a quiet year. While they do not have running water at their facility, they have put a well in. They’re thinking of replacing the roof on the clubhouse. They are asking for the same grant as last year, $5000.

The final presentation was from KHAG. Luella Froess took the microphone to ask for a $10,000 grant to help their work for the next two years. The money is used to maintain recruitment and retention of the personnel at the hospital.

There was plenty of time left in the meeting and one item left, reserves. Steve Christiansen, stepped up and explained the reserves to Council. The meeting ended just before 10:00.