Kitimat Council sets eyes on college for new meeting space

Kitimat councillors have voted to move their council meetings to a classroom at the Northwest Community College.

Councillors at the January 14 Committee of the Whole meeting settled on a classroom at the college campus in Kitimat as the new temporary home of council meetings.

That was one of seven possible locations that administration compiled for council to consider. Before Christmas councillors toured all the locations, but a decision was postponed from late in 2012 when mayor Joanne Monaghan had been missing meetings due to an injury. Councillors wanted to ensure everyone had a say.

There was a lot of back and forth with various amendments to the motions but in end the classroom won out, despite some councillors’ concerns that their presence at the college may preclude further programs from setting up locally.

As well during the debate mayor Joanne Monaghan pitched an entirely different plan than the ones presented for council’s consideration, and hers called for dedicated council chambers in their own location in the currently vacant lot next to the veterinarian on Wakashan.

That plan called for clearing the lot and selling the trees to support the building costs, then using trailers to build a facility.

That facility could later be moved, or converted for other uses, for example possibly housing the Youth Center which is currently at Riverlodge, she said.

That lot is near to all services such as water and sewer, as well as parking, so it would help keep costs low, she said.

“It’s very demeaning to be in an area where we have to be in a college… there’s no other community in B.C. that’s doing that,” she said.

Some councillors took exception to the word “demeaning”. Councillor Phil Germuth said the plan to move to the college is the most cost effective solution, and was against using trailers from earlier discussions because of cost.

Mario Feldhoff countered that accessibility is the key issue.

“What is demeaning is people with disabilities who can’t come to our council meetings,” he said.

Rob Goffinet called the college plan “prudent,” as it’s a rent free option.

Corinne Scott as well had issue with calling the situation demeaning.

“To say that it would be demeaning is a very huge disservice to Northwest Community College,” she said.

Monaghan clarified that it wasn’t the college she finds demeaning, but rather that the mayor and council must have meetings in other facilities rather than their own.

The Northwest Community College is offering a classroom in the campus at a zero-dollar rent.

However council did vote at the same meeting to spend $10,000 to expand the room. The move and renovation will mean going from a 22’x36’ room as at the Public Safety building, to a 45’x26’ room.

They will also look at installing a sound system and will contract with CityWest to provide broadcasting capabilities, as they do at current regular meetings.

All in all it may add up to $26,500 with all things considered.