Kitimat city council voted in favour of Rio Tinto Alcan’s proposal for a liquor-primary license to serve alcohol at their Kitimat camp. The camp which serves hundreds of temporary workers for the Kitimat Modernization Project plans to build a facility known as The Lounge where workers will be able kick back after their shift. The license still needs to be put through the BC Liquor Board for final approval.
Local liquor establishments hoped council would amend this proposal for a food-primary license instead of a liquor-primary license, with the major difference being that patrons from the camp to do not have to order food to be served alcohol.
“The primary license operates like a regular lounge so basically you’ve taken those people off the market place for going into Kitimat and having a drink, meals, taking a taxi and so on,” says Northstar Inn manager Jim Thom.
Another key debate was the issue of off-sales, and council agreed to the proposal under the condition that off-sales would not be served.
“I have talked to the liquor inspector himself and he has informed me they will not be allowed to sell off-sales,” says Thom. The rule for off-sales is the camp premises have to be 30 kilometres or more away from any existing liquor establishment and the Kitimat Hotel is the break-mark spot about five kilometres away.
Thom was disappointed with council’s decision to grant the license. “I’d like city council to listen to us, we’ve gone through 20 years of hard times right now,” says Thom. “Old businesses and prospective businesses interests in this town are not protected and that is really going to hurt us all. We all need a fair share of this investment.”
Phil Germuth, the lone councillor to vote against the proposal, agued that the camps are doing little to support Kitimat. He cited how the camps meat and other groceries are being trucked in from Alberta. The issue of camp workers not being able to take a leave of absence (LOA) also was discussed.
“I would have liked workers at the camps to be able to take an LOA to come into town and spend money but they are forced to stay in the camp which hurts the town,” explains Thom.
Local business owners say this is only adding salt to their wounds as the establishment of the camp in first place has taken business from local accommodation.
“All the motels and hotels have been basically screwed by having the camp there in the first place but at the same time nobody is allowed to go visit, unlike the old camps,” adds Thom.