CONTRIBUTION · 14th February 2015
As a 84 year old Citizen I have spent 61 years of my life in this Community, working also as a contractor when in winter for many decades we provided snow removal service to many private and public institutions. In the interest of public safety we worked around the clock when necessary, and often this was the case. I have never experienced in all my years living in Kitimat such a current disaster and failure and irresponsible negligence on the part of DOK Administration who created this EMERGENCY situation because of winter storm conditions. Weather Forecasters had for days predicted a heavy snow fall warning and , warned the public to get organized and be prepared for a massive snow fall. The senior staff of the Public Works Yard should know better and be prepared for such a heavy snow fall. This delayed response and lack of action by the Administration threatened the health, well being and SAFETY of all Citizens and still does effective today Feb 8/15 . This also hampered BC Hydro crews in their effort to restore power outages across Kitimat except for those areas which had preferred status for power supply.
It is noteworthy that historically during times of heavy and continuous snow fall when the regular District crews needed relief due to fatigue, Administrative officers and staff as well as Public Works Yard supervisory staff operated snow removal equipment. Even the Municipal Manager of the day operated a snow blower.
Every October there is a parade of the snow removal equipment in the District Service Centre yard which is getting prepared for the winter. Where is this equipment today? Why is this equipment not now cleaning streets, and sidewalks? Because of this negligence and poor planning it will now be ever more costly to bring city street and sidewalks back to a normal winter condition. Who is responsible for this poor planning?
Huge sums of Public money were spent on upgrading and new equipment. Why is it not being used?
Almost half of the city budget is spent on –in this case – ineffective and incompetent administration, who blame nature and then issue useless public relations statements which do not clean and take care of our streets.DOK communications were totally useless and ineffective and more could have done to keep public informed of the snow emergency. Why such poor planning ?
I understand that there have been several house fires. Also when driving around I noticed that fire hydrants are still buried in the snow. When will they be dug out? Who will be liable if insurance companies refuse to pay for fire damages due to lack of water? Will this be the City or us taxpayers on the financial hook?
With great concern I observed elderly and other pedestrians who had great difficulty in negotiating streets as sidewalks remain impassable.
I understand that there is ongoing negotiations with the Labour at the Works Yard . With all due respect, the EMERGENCY/SAFETY of the Public in civilized society supersedes all other priorities. If the parties involved cannot address responsibly existing emergency as a first priority and then go back to resolve their differences then they should all -City CAO, Managers and all Department Heads as well as Labour Reps-simply resign without pay as they have collectively contributed to excessive snow removal cost. This kind of egotism is not acceptable in today’s modern world and their attitudes indicate that they do not hold the community in their and our best interests.
A commission of inquiry should be set up to get to the bottom of this disaster. And,it should not be an in-house white wash inquiry/ investigation.
Finally someone calls it as it is....
Comment by MP on 16th February 2015
Well written, and I agree!
Comment by PG on 15th February 2015
I enjoyed reading your letter Leon, I remember the snowfall of 1972 and I recall the equipment working non stop day and night. I feel this time around was a huge disappointment when you consider there was no snow on the ground prior to the storm that hit. I'm not sure what conditions were like prior to the snow storm in 1972 because I was quite young at the time, yet I wouldn't be surprised if there were already huge snow banks on front lawns presenting an even greater challenge on where to blow the white stuff. These days the problem is people put their paychecks ahead of their duties and the safety of others don't seem to mean a thing.
Comment by G. Haupt on 15th February 2015
Mr Dumstrey-Soos, I took the liberty of posting your letter in two Facebook sites that are very active here in Kitimtat. Between the two, there have been more than 100 'likes'. Very well written and well received.