Don’t mind us, we just live here

Don’t mind us, we just live here

Kitimat needs to step up to be counted

In 1991, the Mayor of Oklahoma City, Ron Norick, lost a bid to make his city the home of a United Airlines maintenance facility. It was a big deal and Norick set about to learn what had gone wrong because by all reports the Oklahoma bid was hands down the best.

Norick’s first revelation came from the CEO of United Airlines who informed him that while the bid was indeed excellent, he just couldn’t ask his employees to live in Oklahoma City. Holy rejection, Batman.

In his bid to understand the failings of his community, Norick and his race car driver son toddled off to the city that won the bid – Indianapolis – for a look around. Norick spent a short time in the downtown area after which he said: “Shoot I know why they got that United plant. It was obvious to me. I know exactly why United located here rather than Oklahoma City.

“I mean this is a live city. I mean there are people on the streets. There were restaurants and hotels and a convention facility and all this stuff.

“It got to be a quality of life issue if you were the CEO of United Airlines and you wanted to have your people work in Oklahoma City or Indianapolis, it was a hands-down decision.”

The insight was revelatory and Norick set out to do something about it.

There is a lesson here, a big lesson even for a small community like Kitimat. Oh, we got the big contracts and the long term viability for our industry that came from having the old real estate mantra, ‘location, location, location’, playing itself out.

But the rest of the revelatory message espoused by Mr. Norick is pretty much accurate. Kitimat isn’t exactly brimming over with the kind of bubbling life that makes for a vibrant and lively burg.

We have a lot of what should be good stuff for a community, i.e. people.

People of diverse cultural backgrounds and talents: writers, artists, musicians, historians, athletes, naturalists, fishers, hobbyists and craftspeople of all stripes.

Okay, but where are all these souls? Where are the restaurants serving up cultural specialities, art galleries, photo studios, crafts stores and hobby centres? Where are the streets full of jostling citizens all heading somewhere for a good meal, a play, a concert or some shopping – even window shopping. Hmmm.

The original plan for Kitimat was a work of art – it separated industry from residential areas.

It provided green spaces galore and pathways that allowed not only for recreation and safe passage for children heading for school, but were intended to become common ground for people to commune with each other.

The front yards bordered the walkways and the back yards faced the streets. Someone may correct me, but I believe at one time ‘front yard fences’ were required to be very low to facilitate community interaction along the walkways. Today the walkways – while still a lovely community feature – are a far cry from community meeting grounds. Indeed, some with narrow verges are the antithesis of a space for coming together.

What Kitimat does have in abundance are recreational facilities.

For a town our size we are amply blessed with a plethora of playing fields and parks, two skating rinks, a beautiful pool, a gym, golf course, curling rink and easy access to an amazing natural environment.

Yet, for all its blessings in recreation and the rich potential of cultural diversity, Kitimat has little sense of identity and certainly hasn’t exploited the riches with which we are endowed. The recreation is wonderful, but it is just one dimension of a healthy community.

Perhaps the community was too well planned, too structured, too organized and too inflexible to ever develop a sense of character and identity. We ‘build stuff’, but without any strong sense of how that ‘stuff’ reflects who we are.

We have rigid rules about most any kind of development, but none of them seem to promote a vision of the community. Nothing is cohesive and we are left with a confusing mishmash that lacks focus.

There is, however, another dimension to a healthy community, one that Kitimat lacks. It gives short shrift to the arts and that might be the root of our identity issues. Kitimat does not adequately celebrate the rich arts community that is here.

Neither does it value its unique history. Despite being a community of fewer than 70 years, with neighbours who have occupied this territory for some 10,000 years, neither community celebrates those histories. Our museum is appallingly small and inadequate and possesses neither sufficient display area, nor preservation space.

We have published authors, talented artists, carvers, accomplished photographers, weavers, dancers, and artisans, but not a single gallery or craft store.

Our Concert Association struggles to fill the 511 seats in our theatre despite their bringing world-class talent to our stage. The library is excellent and does its best to showcase authors, but that is a small piece of the rich mosaic of Kitimat arts talent.

Norick developed a plan for Oklahoma and it would behoove the political and planning Lords and Ladies of Kitimat to re-imagine what it takes to create a vibrant and healthy community here.

That said, we citizens need to do the same, to ask ourselves what we want our community to be, for after all is said and done it is up to us.

Just Posted

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

Shoes are being left at the viewpoint on Haisla Blvd in response to the 215 bodies discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Haisla Nation responds to 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School

“Many Haisla children were sent far away, to places such as Port Alberni, and to Coqualeetza”

Susan Jay hosted a plant and garage sale on May 25 and donated all of her proceeds to the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation to help with the purchase of a new bus for residents at Mountain View Lodge, Delta King and the new Kitimat Valley Housing Society dementia home. (Barbara Campbell photo)
KGHF thanks Susan Jay for her help to purchase a new bus for seniors in multi-level care

Susan donated all proceeds to KGHF, her efforts netted the hospital foundation a total of $1,760

An example of what a mural would look like on the back wall on Ron’s Bait and Tackle Store which faces the courtyard and sidewall. The mural photos shown here are mock-ups of existing artwork on walls of interest in the downtown core to build anticipation within the community about the concept of murals. The KPAA will not necessarily be using these locations or this artwork for the actual murals. (KPAA photo)
Kitimat Public Art Alliance mural funding request denied

D’Andrea suggested she will come back to the council at a later date with a more concrete plan

L-R: Vanessa Couto, Montana Murray, Connor Best, Dawn Best, Natalia Lopez, Thomas Walton, and Charlotte Collier partaking in the clean-up Kitimat campaign on May 28. (Katie Peacock photo)
Kitimat’s MStar Hotel brings out staff’s competitive clean-up side

The hotel staff circulated the Big Spruce Trailhead and picked up as much garbage as they could

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read