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REPORTING · 18th February 2014
Walter McFarlane
More Renovictions on Horizon

Reverend Don Read got up to Council on Monday, February 17th to speak against a development permit to renovate the Viewpoint Apartments on Albatross. He thanked Council for the opportunity to come before them and thanked them for the amount of time and energy which they sacrifice on behalf of Kitimat.

“We’re in a time of incredible economic renewal, social change, possible environmental change,” said Read. “My hope is, as a community, we would remember the strength of our community lies within our ability to care for the most vulnerable within our midst, and that’s really how you measure a healthy and strong community. The latest application by Kiticorp for development of the Albatross Street, to me is an example of a continuance of a corporate policy that actually puts profits above individual people. When we have developers who have no clear social conscious or long standing ties to our community, where our community becomes a place where they’re just in here to get exuberant financial gain. When developers like this are not held in check when their unbridled greed becomes a basis for how decisions are made and when we allow these corporations to treat long standing members of our community in essence with contempt, what we are really doing is forfeiting our leadership,” said Read.

He expressed the renovations fall within the laws which are laid out by the Provincial Government and Council is bound by these rules or guidelines.

“Even though Kiticorp may be in their legal rights to renovict people and individuals within a community, we need to remember that our calling is to represent every individual within our community, particularly those who have no political voice, those who have no social standing and those who are the vulnerable and the powerless within our community,” said Read.

He shared the story of one widow who lives in the block of apartments which are going to be renovated. She is in her 80s and is legally blind. Read explained that at the Social Impact Committee earlier that day: “We were told the Provincial Government’s response to this is ‘well, these individuals just need to move to another community.’ That’s our Provincial Government’s response to this.”

When the government was asked where in the Northwest these individuals would be able to move to and were provided a list, they responded no to each option until finally getting upset with the questions.

Read told Council this is an ethical issue. While he is not anti-development and anti-free market, Kitimat needs to be aware there are individuals who are volunteering to solve this complex issue.

“I beg Council. I beg you to remember your calling and to remember to plead the cause of the widows, the elderly, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable within our community because if we do not stand for them, then who will,” concluded Read.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan wanted to know which government official told him this. Read explained it was someone who was talking to a member of the Social Impact Committee.

“I have been [talking to them] too, and there are different levels. I was told there is a subsidy for people with disabilities, for seniors and also for people with mental disabilities. They will give a subsidy if they move into a different apartment. We also have an industry which will pick up that difference,” said Monaghan.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed he did not know how living out allowances worked, but he wanted to know if Read anticipated the Delta Spirit Lodge taking pressures off of the situation in the apartments.

Read expressed it will. However, he quoted the Mayor of Terrace, Dave Pernarowski by Telling Council the Developers needed a social conscious. The rates which they charge for rents are immoral. He thanked Rio Tinto for trying to solve the problem but he expressed he did not think it would deal with the problem at hand.

Feldhoff asked him what they should do. “I think those recommendations need to come through the housing committee, not specifically me. I sit on the housing committee and I feel much more comfortable having an argument and debating it there then bringing it here because I have some pretty out of the box ideas,” said Read.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated they are working on this. Council is concerned about this as well and is working on these policies.

Read stated he is not holding this against the Council. The Ministers in town pray for them and he feels he would never want to be a politician. “You would have to be insane to do what you guys are doing, especially at this time at this place and I am thankful for all of you,” said Read.

Councillor Corinne Scott expressed she was disappointed they were talking about a specific company. She stated she did not know if this was the same owner who had renovated other Kitimat apartments. However, she felt he was picking on one developer. No one came and spoke about the apartments on Haisla Boulevard or the Kuldo Apartments, both of which were apartments where tenants were evicted.

“To label one owner is not right. The whole presentation was that this owner needs to be socially conscious but is it any different from any of the other owners?” asked Scott.

She was told Kiticorp owns most of the buildings which have been renovated including the Kuldo Apartments. Read stated because there was no one who came forward when the other people were evicted: “Then the community failed. I failed and that’s why when these were coming up, not again. Something has to be said.”

He reminded Council they need to be aware of who they are representing. There are people in town who do not have a voice and their voice needs to be taken into consideration. There has to be a social conscious and the developers need to serve the whole and not just want to make money.

Councillor Mary Murphy said there was a study which predicted everything which was going to happen. She said the buildings needed to be renovated and Council needs to find solutions to deal with these people and find them housing. They could come up with some creative bylaws if Council could come together and discuss it rather than put it off for two years.

Read compared this to birth pains, there is something good coming to Kitimat but there is going to be a lot of pain. He admitted while he is assuring people that everything is going to be ok, he is wondering if everything will turn out in the end.

Later in the meeting, Councillor Rob Goffinet made a motion for Council to grant retroactive notice to neighbours, seek public comment and refer this to the Advisory Planning Commission, thus starting the process.

Feldhoff expressed he could not wait for the lively discussion at the APC on February 25th. He wanted to know how many people would be impacted. The motion was called and carried.
speaking of cutting down trees...
Comment by FayEllen McFarlane on 3rd March 2014
What ever happened to the beautiful trees surrounding the cemetery?! I couldn't believe my eyes when I drove to town and saw the huge gap at the back of the grounds!

HOW did we ALLOW this to happen?
a chicken in every pot
Comment by roguemc on 2nd March 2014
,,, another observer, haven't you aren't allowed to cut down trees anymore for these forts you speak of. If you want firewood, you need a permit??? and only in designated areas. You are not allowed to make trails in the forest either, its against the law. Adding insult to injury they have decommissioned the old logging roads we used to be able to access for recreation and hunting. Alcan beach is off limits to the public. Landlords with stone cold hearts showing no mercy is norm.
This is the new Kitimat where if you are fortunate enough to have a roof over your head and some cable TV, you might get lucky and catch a show on the great outdoors. The old Kitimat where you could enjoy the great out doors has now been sold. This new reality probably makes communism look good to some.
Housing Solution Idea
Comment by Another Observer on 22nd February 2014
It is winter and there is a lot of snow around the community so why dont we build some igloos for people to live in?

They will melt when the spring comes so then we can simply build some tree forts.
Comment by Jim on 21st February 2014
You are partially right Gerry it is not the property owners that created this housing problem . Rent is
very high and property owners are going to ask what the market will bare , council should have had a plan in place a long time ago not study it to death , they still don't have one every council meeting they say they are working on it , perhaps
they need to share some of their ideas with the citizens of Kitimat . People on fixed incomes are being evicted today and can't afford the "new rental rates" I can't imagine the stress it must put on them and their families. Every council meeting begins with Kitimats good news story, how about coming up with one that helps the actual people that voted for you being able to afford to live in their own city. It is sad when Reverend Read has to come before council to plead on behalf of unfortunate people being kicked out of their home
with no place to go. I am sure that other ministers in Kitimat have similar stories and should share them with council perhaps they can embarrass them into finding a quicker solution. Here is one idea why not look into adding a additional tax onto rental properties to fund a subsidy for affordable housing ?
Comment by mmurphy on 20th February 2014
you are correct Gerry...after all the committees after all the studies, after all the paid volunteers...encouragement of non profit society, ministerial the end of the day we are responsible and need to take leadership and accountability. Cant and will not dump this on anyone else's lap, has to come from council. council has been working with all these committees, federal and provincial and local politicians, but WE must take ownership, moving very quickly to deal with the issue. Thankfully we passed the approval for the PTI camp, and others to ease the pressure on the community
Put the blame where it belongs!
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 19th February 2014
Awhile ago the Religious leaders of the community were asked to help with the homeless and disenfranchised of the community and they almost all snubbed their noses, now one of them comes forward to try to get council to block a property owner from doing business! THIS IS NOT THE PROPERTY OWNERS PROBLEM OR FAULT!
Outrageous rents yes, but people are willing to pay them, I believe this is called free enterprise!
This problem is entirely councils OWN fault, they wanted all this growth and GLORY and did not put 2+2 together that rents would sky rocket and places to rent would become scarce! Now they want to find creative ways to force landlords to reduce rents! Ridiculous! They were quick to allow Oviat to sell land to PTI group for housing, they had a perfect opportunity to work out some subsidized housing then, but NO, they missed the bus! This council for some time now should be working and should have BEEN working with the provincial and federal government and local Employers to create government subsidized housing for people who can't afford the exorbitant rents! Like their too little too late 15 grand plebiscite ONCE AGAIN the mayor and council dropped the ball, didn't do their jobs, and again too little too late and are blaming the wrong people for the problem! They along with the religious leaders of the community sit in their nice comfy homes sipping hot chocolate and watching the squirrels feed in their back yards, whilst once again or as usual, the poor suffer!
housing study
Comment by mmurphy on 19th February 2014
no need for furture housing studies, report to council 2012 was very detailed....need to act on the recommendations."housing study"
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 18th February 2014
There are some subsidies available. SAFER, RAP ect. they range usually on average of 50-150$ some are more of course. but there are limits to maximum allowable rent. There are wait times to get approved I just finalized a mental health subsidy application that was initiated in April of 2013. he is just now being approved. yes, it will like be back dated and paid as a lump sum but that sure doesn't help each and every month while waiting.
Fiddel away as Rome burns.....
Comment by Larry Walker on 18th February 2014
Again this council has shown that they are way out in left field. Sure lets study this problem to death and let the people fend for themselves. It is really sad....and I can't believe we have fallen so far, so fast. It is time for action....not further discussion.
Comment by Displaced on 18th February 2014
Sorry - that price was for a FURNISHED unit.

A unfurnished unit is 1550.00/month .
Is this really needed?
Comment by Displaced on 18th February 2014
First off, Im BEYOND happy that somebody from the community felt compelled to speak on this topic at Councill last night.

I moved to kitimat just about 4 years ago and have been living in Viewpoint Apartments the entire time and although some of the buildings could use some work, I can speak to the fact that the building I live in is in good condition. In the entire time I've been here I have only had one minor building issue, yes they look old from the outside but does that mean that Kiticorp need to renovict the ENTIRE complex to give the buildings a facelift with a splash of paint and some new carpets and then charge an extordanary amount of money to re-rent the units? like really Kiticorp?!?

Unfurnished 6m -1 year lease for a 2 bedroom $2517.00/Month (Quoted from a Kitimat Housing list Up dated by Anne Moyles - Housing Resource worker January 2014)

Does this not seem a bit excessive??

I work in a community support position within the community & I am earning well over the minium wage, the new rates are four and five times what im paying now and there is no way that I could afford to re-rent at Viewpoint once the renovations have been compleated.

Ok, so just move you say? To where? I know first hand that in order to get an apartment in kitimat right now, your looking at months and months of being on a waiting list, and then on the off chance that you do manage to find something, the cost is so outrageous that you need to stack people three and four deep just to be able to shelter and feed yourselves. Not to mention the chance of being displaced agian if someone decides to chase the money and do a renovation.

I have made Kitimat my home and have found a job that I love, I volunteer and I feel like my position gives back to the community and helps thoes who need a voice.....for how much longer is unknown. If Viewpoint goes ahead with renovations my fate will be sealed, I will have no choice but to leave Kitimat in search of a more affordable living arrangement.

I support this community, Im just hoping that city council can take a look at the whole picture before signing off on this.