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REPORTING · 25th January 2016
Walter McFarlane
This article is a summery of a longer meeting. Watch the full meeting online. Click this sentance to see part 1. Click this sentance to watch part 2.

A special meeting of Council which was held on Tuesday, January 12th was dedicated to the budget. Community services got up to make their budget requests of Council. Many took the time to inform Council of how they did in the previous year and invite Council to upcoming events.

Kitimat Arts for Youth was the first presentation. Louise Avery, president of KAFY thanked the Council for their continued support. “[We were] originally formed to establish the band program in Kitimat and currently support all visual and performing arts for Kitimat Youth,” said Avery.

Due to the unpredictability of corporate funding and the community gaming, their organization is asking Council for more money than last year, doubling the annual grant to $10,000. This way, they can continue with the same level of service and fill a gap in the community of Kitimat. Nancy-Jane Harness, KAFY Vice President, expressed students who visit Kitimat are impressed with the level of service Kitimat Students receive because of the funding towards Kitimat Arts for Youth.

Councillor Larry Walker wanted to know how many students had access to the programs. Harness estimated 146 elementary school and 53 students at MEMSS in the band. 275 people were in the audience for the Christmas Musical and the Summer Shakespeare had 13 students enrolled but 130 people were in the audience. Avery expressed Nechako School participated in the mural. This was in addition to a number of other programs which are put on in the community.

Brenda Feldhoff, Theatre Coordinator from the Mount Elizabeth Theatre was next. She thanked Council for helping to fill in the gaps for Kitimat Arts for Youth. “We’re almost 35 years old this year, in February, and our community continues to enjoy the benefits of our joint agreement which defines the public access and keeps costs very low, certainly lower than they would be in a standalone theatre,” said Feldhoff.

She explained to Council there is only a marginal increase in this year’s budget. The amount requested was $84,600. This year, they have 116 individual bookings scheduled with most of the days being double booked. During their season, they seat over 1000 people.

Walker asked about their capital grant which has no projects attached to it. Feldhoff explained this was a normal practice. Graham Gueguen, explained this helps them bring certain equipment up to date to keep their facility going. It is also fluid because if something important goes, it will take precedence over their plans. “In the theatre, things don’t go conveniently or quietly,” said Feldhoff.

Louise Avery changed hats to speak to the Kitimat Museum and Archives as Curator. She thanked Council for their support. “The Museum and Archives is a public place for local community and natural history and visual arts, Heritage and Culture,” said Avery. “Users include residents of all ages, visitors to Kitimat, District of Kitimat, Rio Tinto, LNG, all of the industries, Kitimat Chamber of Commerce, consultants, archeologists students and those interested in Community History and they’re own family history.”

She explained the museum welcome’s over 8000 visitors annually, 2500 children participated in the museum program in 2015.

This year, she is asking for $314,000. In addition, there are several capital items including $5,000 in addition to what was applied for last year for the case redesign, $2000 for replacing the map cabinet. They need $2000 to replace exterior signs. This year, they wish to fund a new position which is an exhibition and Education Coordinator.

The fourth presenter of the evening was Staff Sergeant James McLaren who made several capital requests for the RCMP, totalling $56,060. Several of these involve upgrades to the building and replacing the chairs. Walker suggested getting the chairs from a second hand sale which took place later that week. An additional $2000 was included for furniture.

The fifth presenter of the evening was Virginia Charon from the Kitimat Public Library. “Our library is one of the 245 libraries in the province supporting 4.5 million patrons with their formal and informal learning requirements. 1.8 million are active membership cardholders. Libraries, including the Kitimat Public Library work in partnership with many local and regional agencies. We play a key role in leveling the playing field to make sure people have an equal opportunity to prosper in an ever expanding world of knowledge and information,” said Charon.

The library currently has around 3200 members. Over 46,000 people came through the doors in 2015. They hope to continue in 2016. Charon did not ask for capital but did ask for some maintenance to the exterior of the library, comparing the entrance to a ghetto. She asked for a municipal grant of $475,821 and a rent grant of $111,600.

After the library came Kitimat Community Services and Victim Services. Cyndi McIntosh expressed they are not asking for money because they are running it on a part time basis and they have enough money to carry the program ahead. If they need money, they will come back in the future.

Then came Kitimat Understanding the Environment. Michelle Martins, Vice President of KUTE, stepped up to ask for the same funding as last year to cover their operating costs. Last year, the grant they requested was for $148,758. They are working to purchase a new bailer. She told Council they should have enough to purchase it because the price on it dropped.

Walker asked if the rent increase had corrected itself. “We did just sign a new lease in December and it was lowered,” said Martins. A new location is still on their wish list, but it is a long term goal.

Walker also asked if they would consider distributing bins around town. Martins informed Council the board is still new and is still learning the ropes. However, there has been some discussion about after hour’s bins.

Then came Bill Witty, past president, representing the Kitimat Seniors Centre. They were requesting the funding total they used to get from the Union of BC Municipalities for three years. They were asking for $25,300 for 2016.

After them came the Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club. “We are currently working with the District to Consolidate our lands and also enter into a service agreement with the District. Therefore, we don’t have a formal request as of yet,” said Steve Haggard, Manager.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff said the Northern Development Initiative Trust has been putting money into golf courses and if they had looked into it. Haggard said no. Their equipment is currently good and they will investigate the option. Councillor Mary Murphy said the NDIT has been in touch with the board to improve the golf course. They will be reaching out to the board to get some applications in for some grants.

However, Robin Lapointe, President of the Golf Course, who had come with Haggard to the meeting, told Council they had only made contact with the NDIT once in the last two years on the topic of the curling. At the time, they were talking about removing the sand base and putting a concrete base in. However, the Golf Course was not ready to invest the money it would take for this improvement.

Walker wanted to know more about the fee for the service agreement. Lapointe expressed the course owns a number of District lots. He explained their plan is to divide these lots into two, with one being taken over by the District of Kitimat. He said these lands were already being used for sledding, cross country skiing and snow showing, but the Golf Course cannot promote these activities because they are not insured for them.

Bob Rypma from the Kitimat Flying Club asked for money to maintain the Kitimat Airstrip. “It is a municipal public airport, a seasonal airport. The District of Kitimat essentially is the landlord, they are maintaining it. We have been giving a grant annually,” said Rypma.

He asked for a $6000 grant. Councillor Larry Walker asked if he was set up for night flying. The answer was no. Walker asked if he was a backup service for medical evacuations. The reply was only during the day time. Walker asked what the cost would be to light up the runway. He was told there would be an ongoing expense. It would not be viable unless there were commercial flights going there.

The final presenter of the evening was Luella Froese representing the Kitimat Health Advocacy Group. “KHAG was formed approximately 15 years ago with the dissolution of the local Kitimat Hospital Board of Trusties and the creation of the Northern Health Authority. We had a strategic goal in mind, namely to advocate for the retention of the complete fully serviced general hospital including 2 operating rooms with full professional staff and back up specialty services,” said Froese.

She told Council through the support of the District of Kitimat working with Northern Health, this program has been successful. They are asking for $15,000, which would allow them to carry on until 2016.

Walker agreed with the cause, but stated he is bothered by having to pay the Northern Health authority twice through his taxes. He supports what they are doing until a better solution comes along. Murphy agreed, pointing out the Council also pays money to support services which the School District has dropped as well.