What are some of the big issues facing the area in 2014?
MAYOR JOANNE MONAGHAN
There’s a lot on the horizon for Kitimat in the new year and Mayor Joanne Monaghan is hopeful the community will continue to grow into a good place to live and work.
To that end she hopes to see solutions to Kitimat’s housing shortage.
“We’re getting affordable housing, I hope as quickly as we want it before too many people get ‘renovicted.’”
She also says that all-types of housing are needed too, not just affordable.
In other areas, she’s optimistic there will be at least one final investment decision from an LNG company as there is a lot of development hinged on those announcements.
She’s also looking ahead to a possible 24/7 clinic opening in Kitimat and a trauma centre.
Meanwhile the council will still be putting efforts into developing the West Side Road, as well as looking for improvements to the Haisla Bridge.
CHIEF COUNCILLOR ELLIS ROSS
The very relationship of the Government of Canada and First Nations could hang in the balance over the next six months.
When Ross spoke to us on the issue of the Joint Review Panel recommendations, he had mentioned how the Haisla have refused to speak to Enbridge about economic accommodation because the JRP process wasn’t the time, but that said he doesn’t expect either side to pick up the phone in the future either.
It’s the Crown, he explained, that has the duty to consult and accommodate and he’ll see what they do during the 180 period following the JRP report.
“We’re going to base our future relationship with Canada…on how they conduct themselves in the next six months and this has nothing to do with Enbridge, it’s got nothing to do with any private company. It’s been a long time coming where us as a First Nation start to be treated fairly and openly by the federal government.”
MLA ROBIN AUSTIN
Our provincial representative looks forward to a full plate of issues that will have direct impacts on Kitimat, from economy to environment.
“This biggest issue coming for the community of Kitimat in 2014 will obviously be where we go with LNG,” he said, adding he’s expecting the provincial budget coming in February to set the taxation and royalty structures.
“We would assume if everything goes well and they can find some long-term sales contracts that we might see a decision being made from one of these proponents, either here or in Prince Rupert.”
Housing issues in Kitimat are huge and he said Kitimat does need more social housing and he said the province will have to step up to prevent Kitimat from having housing “chaos” like in Fort MacMurray.
(MP Nathan Cullen was the only politician we were unable to reach to speak about the new year.)