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REPORTING · 11th June 2014
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City Council saw a presentation by the North Coast Draft Marine Plan given by Steve Kachanoski from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Development, Craig Outhet from the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society and Andrew Webber from the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine on Monday, June 9th. The planning process has been going on for two and a half years.

“Mapp has been a couple of year process for Craig and I as the co-leads in developing this plan,” said Kachanoski. “Mapp is a process that we created through an agreement between the Provincial Government and the local First Nations through a letter of intent in November, 2011.”

The plan is intended to guide responsible marine activities, support traditional cultural uses and protect marine ecosystems. There are four planning areas and four separate marine plans which they have worked on. The plan will focus on uses and activities where the Provincial Government will have jurisdiction or make decisions.

Kachanoski explained the plan will reduce conflict through recommendations on provincially tendered activities. It will address cumulative effects and identify local community requirement, such as values and vulnerable areas. The plan does not address issues which are under Federal Jurisdiction.

To assist, they invited people who represent ten various organizations involved with the ocean into a Marine Planning Advisory Committee. It met nine times to review the plans, strategies and components and incorporate them into the plans. In Kitimat, they have held open houses and public meetings concerning the plan.

Kachanoski explained there was a meeting on the 13th of May which was well attended. He told the Council they received hundreds of comments which they are going to look at and assess for inclusion into the plan. One of these was a need to consider the needs of local Kitimat residents.

Outhet talked about the specifics of the plan, introducing it and explaining how it was developed. It is five chapters. The first includes themes of governance, cumulative effects and climate change. The next chapter reviews objectives and strategies of a number of activities which happen in a marine area. The fifth chapter is about the zoning plan and recommendations for some of the tenured activities. The final chapter talks about implementation of the plan.

They created different zone types and the activities which could take place with in those areas. Protection Management Zones were created to protect valuable resources, such as ecologically important areas or culturally important areas.

Other zones have been created for high priority or high potential activities. These special management zones include shellfish and marine aquaculture, recreation and tourism, and renewable energy. There is also a general management zone where there are no recommendations on certain activities.

“For each of the polygons which we have created, we have a recommended use and activities table,” said Outhet. “This is essentially a list of activities and a recommendation on whether that activity should or should not take place.”

The catagories on the table included aquaculture, renewable energy generation, helicopter drop sites, mining operations, commercial / recreational infrastructure, docks, tourism and utilities. He showed Council sample maps.

In the plan, Kitimat is an area where there are a multitude of uses. They have identified Kitimat as an area where local planning is required because all of the activities taking place in the Douglas Channel.

“The next step on the plan is, through our public engagement period process and through our advisory process, we’re bringing in the comments that are coming from the places and considering them for updates to our current draft plan, getting it ready for the final plan that would be recommended to decision makers. That’s expected to happen within the coming weeks,” said Outhet.

Council wanted answers as to why the people of Kitimat were not informed about this planning. Most of the public found out the day before the meeting at KVI last May. Council asked for an extension and even an additional meeting.

“For whatever reason, a significant number of people felt rushed,” said Councillor Mario Feldhoff.

Council was told the marine planners knew this would be a challenge because of all the other open houses and burn out in the populace from everything else which was going on. They made an effort to communicate the plan and may have missed the mark.

“You missed the mark. We didn’t,” said Monaghan after asking for an extension. Council was told extensions were given out to some communities for different reasons.

Council was told the submissions which were received were thoughtful and well planned out. These came from people who were not involved in the advisory committee. However, the marine plan needs to be finalized in order to fulfil their mandate. it was suggested the people of Kitimat who wish to submit late items submit them to Webber and they will do their best to incorporate them into the plan.

Similarly, Council wanted to know just who had been asked to sit on their advisory committee and which groups had been contacted by the Marine Draft Plan. Council was told they went to various organizations in Kitimat looking for representation and created a list of people whom they contacted. Some of these individuals were recommended by the Sport Fishery Advisory Board.

The lists of groups which they presented about the plan two included Douglas Channel Watch, people from Commercial Tourism, the Chamber of Commerce and the Rod and Gun Club.

Feldhoff stated there are a lot of cumulative effects from topics including Federal Marine Protected areas, LRIP, the Kitlope and Land Claims. “When you start overlaying these things on a chart in addition to what you are proposing, people aren’t seeing all these other cumulative effects. It would be nice to summarize somewhere in your document to show what is being proposed by the map,” said Feldhoff.

The reply was that the plan was similar to other processes which were already in place. The use of tables which were tied to the zone explain the type of activities and the recommended use for those areas. A second response was that this ties in with the Federal PINCIMA process, which is creating a similar marine plan.

Regardless, Council was told it would take years to implement the plan. It would also take money to carry out studies, such as one relating to climate change. There were concerns from the presenters that the money for these studies would be promised, but not available. Monaghan suggested it will come from fishing fines.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff encouraged the residents of Kitimat to go to www.mappocean.org and learn more so they could provide comment. He suggested an extension because of the summer would not be unreasonable. People would just have to get busy and comment.

Council was promised they would ask for an extension for Kitimat. Councillor Phil Germuth asked for another public meeting and received the same promise. Monaghan wished them luck in taking it back to their people and making the plea for Kitimat.