Kitimat changes continue to be tracked by UNBC researchers

The changes impacting Kitimat are being recorded in reports by researchers based in Prince George.

After three visits to our community, researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) have released their second interim report, titled “Tracking the Social and Economic Transformation Process in Kitimat, BC.”

Researchers Laura Ryser, Gerald Pinchbeck and Greg Halseth come to Kitimat at least once a year to ask a series of questions to local residents, picked out of local government, community groups and others.

“What we’re hoping to do is just track the changes as it’s going through all of these transformations,” Ryser told the Sentinel, noting that research will continue until the community is through the bulk of its changes and transformation.

The report itself doesn’t track local satisfaction with the community, but merely seeks to record what changes are happening, such as changes to the retail sector or to community services.

Among the report’s positive findings is that people are reporting that the town is giving attention to temporary and long-term housing needs, businesses are expanding to fill need from industrial growth, and there’s ongoing continued efforts to renew relationships with industry, First Nations and community stakeholders.

Service providers and community groups share 25 per cent each of the persons interviewed for these reports. The local government represents approximately 27 per cent of respondents, and businesses provide 11 per cent. The rest is shared among industry representatives and seniors.

The report tracks positive changes as well as pressure points, but Ryser says it’s hard to pinpoint any particular area as that of greatest need.

“Even if you get a housing pressure, you can’t say that’s more than something else because often that will snowball into something else.”

For instance she said the pressure could begin with more workers coming into the community, which then puts pressure on people without industry wages, which opens up needs for other services.

“You really do need that comprehensive look at it.”

But she said tracking these changes is helpful to other groups and communities. For instance towns in the Northeast of B.C. are looking to see how Kitimat handles changes, just as Kitimat at times looks to them.

Under retail changes from their latest report, a majority of people identified Tim Hortons’ arrival. The PTI Lodge proposal topped housing issues.

Meanwhile under services the Food Bank took up the top three spots on that list. Traffic was also seen as a large issue for transportation.