Kitimat’s CAO talks of community at LNG conference

Kitimat’s Chief Administrative Officer had 12 minutes to tell a packed conference room what our community is about.

Kitimat’s Chief Administrative Officer had 12 minutes to tell a packed conference room what our community is about and where we’re going.

It’s no small order but Ron Poole did manage as well as you can in those short minutes, and the primary message to the audience — filled with proponents and stakeholders in the LNG industry — was that Kitimat is open to talking with them, but at the same time companies have to really work with the community and consider its interests as well.

“You can’t just come in, throw your plant up and not have some sort of connection or social licence to the community,” he said.

Poole’s talk was at last week’s Fuelling the Future: Global Opportunities for LNG in BC, and his talk provide a “community perspective”. Chief Councillor Ellis Ross of the Haisla Nation also provided a perspective, but calls to his office were not immediately returned.

“I touched on things like health services, which in the general sense means if we’re going to have more workers or more permanent families we gotta consider where we’re going to be in terms of our hospital, in terms of our [general practitioners]…”

Housing was another focus of his talk, referring to assessments in town rising close to 50 per cent for some people.

“If this is only the beginning, where are we going to be in terms of housing stock affordability?” he said, adding, “But that we expect to be working with industry to address these industries.”

Work camps were another aspect of Poole’s 12 minutes, at times referring specifically to the current proposal from PTI Group.

“This playing out in the community really required public input,” he told LNG stakeholders in Vancouver.

All this ties to the theme that industries need to work with the public, as well as leaving a legacy for the community once their work is done.

“It’s [legacies] something our council has got to start wrapping their head around really quick…what would be good for the community.”

There are aspects to development where questions need to be asked regarding the community as well. Those include things like subdivisions, water treatment upgrades and sewer systems.

“We’d be working with companies to deal with that,” he said. “If they’re going to put that ripple effect and pressure on us we’d be asking for their support.”

Beyond his community perspective, he said the purpose of him and economic development officer Rose Klukas going to Vancouver was to get Kitimat’s name out there. That plan worked. Places like Prince Rupert did not have their own time for a community perspective, despite having two LNG proposals for their community as well.

“Everyone knows Kitimat, of all the communities, is at the forefront,” he said. “We’re looking at three projects…I think they also know we have more availability of land, so we want to keep the people interested.”

The hope for Kitimat is to make sure out of all the proposals in B.C., Kitimat benefits mostly.

“It could be 20 people looking but only three or four get off the ground,” he said. “We want to make sure we’ve got the three or four most likely to succeed coming into here.”