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REPORTING · 24th December 2015
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Council was handling Radley Park Erosion at a Committee of the Whole on Monday, November 30th. Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to hire a consultant in 2016 to provide Council with a full review of options, costs and services to further prevent erosion of the park.

“Here we go again. I hope this time we can do something about it,” said Feldhoff. “There is one thing in the kind of history that I didn’t see was back in 2008, 2007, when Eurocan was closing, we put $450,000 aside for armouring and we had to dip into that and spend it for the loss of Eurocan. We got painted into a corner, we had to spend that money.”

He expressed in the past few years, the river in the Radley Park area is dry, and is only an issue in flood conditions. He said this was not the case many years ago and perhaps they could put the armouring down when it is dry.

Feldhoff pointed out Fisheries and oceans might have something to say about this however. In the past, they considered a passive approach which would have carved into the roadway. Now, he hoped to save as much as the park as possible.

“We’ve been told the River’s changed, the erosions finished but I don’t think it is finished. It’s at a lesser rate and the quicker we can do something about this, the better,” said Feldhoff.

Mayor Phil Germuth stated he agreed. They will have to inform the Haisla because they will have a say in this as well.

Councillor Edwin Empinado expressed there was an assessment and a review, one in 2007, the other in 2012. He stated they asked the two entities, Fisheries and Haisla, and they had different points of view on this. He suggested instead of spending the money, asking both groups for points about how they should go about it.

Councillor Larry Walker expressed this would be throwing away good money. It has been done multiple times over the past couple of years, and if the DFO and the Haisla were against it, they may not change their mind and he did not want to gamble with the town’s money to find out if they are.

“Everybody who loves to go camping loves to park at the edge of the river. Looking at a map of the site involved, we have a lot of ground back there,” said Walker. “Maybe we should move the campsite further back into the trees because you’re not going to defeat Mother Nature. I’ve heard ever since I came here that the river is ever changing, you will not control it.”

Germuth expressed DFO and Haisla had been opposed to the project because there was always water running through it. Now, there was no water flowing through it.

Councillor Claire Rattee expressed she was against the motion as well and Council should consult with the other parties first.

“I find that we spend a lot of money hiring a consultant of that nature and we’ve had studies done already. We have options,” said Rattee. “I don’t know how much could have possibly changed in that time besides cost.”

She added a consultant might provide options the other parties would not approve of.

Feldhoff hoped the analysis could be done for $50,000 and things have changed. He added DFO was against certain options but were not against other options, such as passive armouring. He added the Council went to Jack Oviatt’s property to find out how he had armoured the river around it.

“At the end of the day, we consult with the Haisla, we won’t get told by the Haisla. We need to consult but we represent the people in our community that are living here and are dealing with this and I think it would be interesting to get the Haisla input in our consultation but given that the river is dry a good part of the year, lets dust off the old analysis, let’s get it done quickly so we can get on with it next year, in the next construction season,” said Feldhoff.

Rattee stated they should ask what the parties are still ok with, because she did not want to waste money and time looking at options which will be shot down. She thought consulting other parties would be a better first step then drafting plans which may not go ahead.

Councillor Mary Murphy agreed with Councillors Walkers and Rattee. She expressed they met with citizen who told Council to hire a consultant to meet with the different parties and find out what the best options is. She did not want to spend $50,000 but they would spend more money to hire consultants but she believed it had to be done.

“I don’t think leaving it alone and waiting for the river to change or not change is the answer,” said Murphy.

Councillor Rob Goffinet expressed he was in favour of the motion, cognisant to the concern of his colleagues. He stated DFO and the Haisla have to be a part of this and he hoped they would get back to Council before hiring a consultant.

Rattee expressed they already spent the money and it did not go anywhere. She was concerned this would be a repeat of the last time they did this. She asked why nothing happened.

“Two reports that we had done were done by the hydrologist,” replied Martin Gould, head of Leisure Services. “I believe the second report which was a reassessment of the first one cost us about $6,000, it might have been slightly more. The first one I believe in 2007 was around $10,000.”

He told Council these reports were done hydrologists who are familiar with the Kitimat River. They were told armouring was not a guarantee, because they do not know how it will affect the rest of the river without doing a complete study. Council was told staff is recommending a consultant because their staff are not experts in this field and the consultant would give a full report to Council.

Murphy expressed they were not going to spend any more money on Radley Park until they protected their assets and investments. She hoped a consultant would consult everyone involved with the river. Gould replied this would be one of the issues they would ask the consultant to address.

Goffinet told Council the doubts around the table could only be addressed by a full review. He wanted the consultant to inform Council if they protected the park, were they imperilling the other bank of the river.

Gould explained to Council they are asking for more information than the Hydrologist report. They will be looking at the data which was collected, consulting out and creating accurate cost estimates. He added they will be dealing with the environmental side of things, as the rules have changed over the last couple of years.

Walker asked Staff if there has been any cost analysis of moving the camp ground further back. He pointed out there is a highway and a bridge there and he did not expect a flood to take those out. He could not see a flood wiping out the entire area and suggested moving it back into the trees.

The reply from Gould was he was uncertain if a study had happened. There are plans to build some new camp grounds back there but they wish to finish phase one of the wash hut first. He said it is taking longer than anticipated.

Feldhoff closed by saying time was of the essence and he hoped the consultant would get back to them by the spring so they could move on it next summer and be done with it rather than drag it through 2017. The motion was called and carried.
Rome burns while Nero fiddles
Comment by Started at the bottom on 29th December 2015
Next time you drive to Terrace, check out how close the highway is to the river, and the rock that is put there every few years, yes you can control Mother Nature, (kinda). Alcan has changed the river so that it doesn't silt up there harbour, a breakwater is being built at Mk marina, we have a bridges over the river, just a few local examples.
I find it a cop out for our elected councillors to continue to re hash old issues, we vote you in to make decisions, not to hide behind reports and so called consultations. If you want to save the park, then save it, if you want to let it become river then close the park and be done with it.
If you still are undecided, I am available as a consultant, and will charge half of what other out of town consultants charge you, and will put my report on nice paper with pictures, and charts and arrows and pie grafts and stuff that you can read, say things like, mmmmm, and ahhhh, and that's interesting, and file away for the future.

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Comment by LT on 24th December 2015
Abbotsford has a similar situation. http://www.abbynews.com/news/263100431.html?mobile=true