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REPORTING · 7th May 2014
Walter McFarlane
Councillor Mary Murphy wants to put an end to Riverbank camping. At the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, May 5th, she put forward a motion to have the District of Kitimat identify areas where camping is occurring in the community and erect no camping signs. The signs would also direct people to appropriate camping areas.

“Camping at the river is becoming a huge issue and I know that there’s issues that we’re going to have to deal with ownership of the area,” said Murphy. “It started early this year and I’ve been down to that area and it is mostly people who are working in town and I think it’s going to be a big problem this year that I feel we’re going to need to get a handle on.”

However, Murphy was not present at the Council meeting on April 22nd, when Kitimat Council received a report on who owns what land on the riverbank for information. At the time, Martin Gould explained there were 6 camping areas which were frequented by a number of people.

These area are north of the Haisla Bridge, the pump houses, the big spruce road, squirrel park, the pollution control centre and the lower dyke access. Some of this land belongs to the Provincial Crown, some belongs to the Haisla, but most of the land along the riverbank belongs to industry, notably Rio Tinto Alcan. Cablecar is similarly surrounded by Crown Land.

“The only way that we can envision that you can control access to the river if Council chose to do that, would be to set up some sort of gate system,” said Gould.

However, this would be costly, estimated at being between $80 and $120 thousand dollars. This would only be able to control access points the District knows of and if the public can make more access roads. Most of the people who camp along the riverbank are Kitimat Residents.

Finally, Gould asked how the fisheries and private land owners would feel about the District putting up a gate system to control people accessing the river through their property.

They could install garbage receptacles. However, this creates a hazard when people put fish in them and this draws bears to the river. The end result is conservation telling the District to remove them.

Gould suggested Council could control Riverbank camping through access passes. However, there were a number of considerations such as whether or not the public would accept it.

Community Planner Gwen Sewell stated she expected to see increased use at the Riverbank after conversations with the Housing resource worker. She do not know what the extent of it will be. Gould promised to bring any major increases of camping along the riverbank to Council’s attention in the future.

Kitimat Council had already come to the conclusion that banning riverbank camping was a bad idea. On May 5th, Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated there are pressures on the riverbank and there were motions put forward to increase the capacity at Hirsch Creek and Radley Park. He expressed that ‘putting a lid’ on the camping does not address the problem, it creates new problems.

Councillor Edwin Empinado agreed with the intent of the motion, but he wanted to know if it was legal to put no camping signs on land the District of Kitimat does not own. He was told they could put no camping signs on their property, but not on property they do not own. In addition, it would be difficult to enforce.

Murphy stated they have requested meetings with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans which did not go forward, Kitimat is paying to monitor the river and this is going to be an issue.

“We do have camping areas within the municipality. Nowhere else can you go and park your vehicle within the municipal boundaries and stay there for three months. I don’t know anywhere else where you can do that within the municipal boundaries,” said Murphy.

The motion was called and defeated. Murphy also put forward a motion to identify portable lavatories in areas where they are needed. She wanted to see one more at the pump house. This motion was called and carried.
garbage garbage everywhere and not a can in site.
Comment by LindaMcG on 9th July 2014
First off our council is paid next to nothing for all the aggravation they put up with Roguemc, they are not overpaid at all. Less than 30 grand a year. Hardly worth it for all the time and PITA''s they have to put up with.
When I first moved to Kitimat 20 years ago I was stunned at all the natural beauty including our river, it was awe inspiring until I started spotting garbage left behind and old line and hooks everywhere. My niece and I spent one afternoon just walking and collecting garbage. bags and bags of garbage. Its gotten a heck of a lot worse since then. I agree with Mary in principal, we need to get a handle on all this camping not because I'm against camping in general but because Kitimat supplies garbage cans , lavatories ect... and people still soil our banks with their garbage and crap. I don't think a small fee to pay for services provided and clean up would be out of order at all. Something has to be done. I don't know of anywhere else off hand where you can set up a homestead on public land for months at a time, free of charge.
Wine & Cheese
Comment by D. Rolfe on 14th May 2014
Life is free! And I believe our Federal, Provincial and Municipal taxes should be able to cover a few portable toilets. Some people are just plain miserable and will complain upon getting up in the morning. I like to see people on the river having fun and enjoying life. I am not even worried about fisheries violations as I've been told that our fisheries officers do a pretty good job. We would all benefit from more similar recreational developments that increase the quality of life.
Kitmat River camping
Comment by CEM on 13th May 2014
Why should anyone think they can camp for free and still have their garbage cleaned up and outhouses provided and a road access for them at no cost, then go camp along the Skeena River at China or Kraut Bar. It's a risk camping in these places and who comes to rescue them when high water comes, putting other people at risk. Nothing in this life comes "free" !
Comment by mmurphy on 10th May 2014
thanks for the comments. Riverbank camping comes up every year on behalf of concerned residents. Although I was not at the previous council meeting, I am aware and well versed on the report regarding camps within the municipal boundries. this area is not zoned for camping, and communities do turn a blind eye to several days camping where areas are not designated camping areas. this issue will surface again as residents of kitimat bring it forward. thanks again for you valuable comments I will take them into consideration.
Camping on the river
Comment by Mike P on 10th May 2014
This has been a sore spot of mine for years. I agree with Councillor Mary Murphy and that there is no other place that someone can camp on a river for months at a time for FREE. Over the years I've seen, and reported, someone emptying their entire black water tank on the riverbed and saw a fish cannery in action on the riverbed. Whether they were locals or not, it doesn't matter. Camping should not be allowed on the riverbank, period.
river camping
Comment by j.s. on 8th May 2014
what they need to do is build a camping grounds like ferry island in terrace, also hirsch creek needs a major overhaul its been a mess for years,if we can spend 100 thousand dollars on the golf course in the last couple years we sureley should be able to do something to solve this situation ,we have had the lets not do anything attitude for to many years now no more putting it off.
river camping
Comment by j.s. on 7th May 2014
nice to see the problem brought up , it is mostly out of towners that camp for months on the river wwhat is needed is a decent camp site in or close to the river for the rv,s or just people who want to camp. ferry island in terrace is exactly what we need here in kitimat, radly park and hersch creek is not enough.the people of kitimat want accesse to the river not have gates put up to take it away, they keep saying they leave hersch creek natural , we have plenty off natural bush around here what we need is more camping grounds like every other town seems to have...
Murphys law...
Comment by Roguemc on 7th May 2014
The reason many of us chose to live here in Kitimat has more to do with the great out doors than how many channels we can watch on our TV sets. The police are doing their job Murphy and I understand they are 'training on quads' probably for some of the problems you describe. No need for gates.... this isn't Stanley park .
Overpaid members of council trying to justify their positions is nothing new. We would get more bang for our taxpaying buck if council would just drop what they are doing and start picking up dog poo and garbage around town with those little poky sticks and bags rather than beaking off about non issues.
Pay for camping
Comment by Gary Haupt on 7th May 2014
What 'everyone' else does, is something Kitimat cannot control. What Kitimat does, is something else, entirely.

I have suggested to city staff in the past...make people pay for their camp spots. That would generate money to have a patrol of the area and for porta-potties and a garbage bin.

It would take about a weeks worth of quick work to post numbered posts, each one for a specific camping spot. For those that park outside of those sites, the patrol has them move.

Yes, some would move to other locations, but there is only so much room on the river. I think it's important to get control over the camping situation, otherwise it is going to be a dirty, messy chaotic, scene.

The reason I was always given for not charging for camp spots, was the fear that people that were camping on the river, all summer long, might not drive into town to buy their supplies. I think we are past that, are we not?