Councillors clash over “aged”

Given the three-day grind of this year’s city budget deliberations, it was surprising that things got heated once in a while.

Given the three-day grind of this year’s city budget deliberations, it was surprising that things got heated once in a while.

But it was perhaps surprising that the Retire Kitimat campaign should be one of those flash points.

The item in question was $30,000 for the retirement community marketing program.

Councillor Randy Halyk started the ball rolling by saying, “I find it really hard to believe that we can attract more people by saying ‘come retire here’ than we can by saying ‘there’s great fishing in the river here, come and fish’.”

Describing last year’s $20,000 grant to the Retire Kitimat committee as a one-time deal to give them a chance to make the idea work, Halyk added, “I don’t think that it worked. The money wasn’t well spent.”

Councillor Mario Feldhoff intervened on a point of order saying this item had been voted on the previous day.

Halyk countered that it had only been moved within the budget and council still needed to vote on it, adding “I don’t really appreciate the constant interventions when I have the floor.

Feldhoff immediately interrupted with another point of order, prompting Halyk to react with, “Point of order, right there!”

Order having been restored, Halyk continued, “I think the money would be better spent with a targeted program that deals with just one small part of it. I just don’t believe this is a good way to spend our money.”

At which point councillor Corinne Scott, a member of the Retire Kitimat committee prior to her election last November, weighed in.

She began by running through the history of the concept from the time of Margaret Sanou’s first appearance before council.

Scott said she knew of one couple who took advantage of the tour of the town offered by the committee then went out and bought a home here.

She also suggested a number of people had moved here as retirees or pre-retirees.

And reminded Halyk that when Sanou had given an update to council back in November, council had complimented her on how well the grant money had been spent.

“To say that group has not done an excellent job with $20,000 is ludicrous.”

Scott noted the group this year would be refining its ad placement to better target the best advertising venues.

Unrepentant, Halyk said, “I’m not dissing the group, I think they did a wonderful job. What I am saying is I don’t believe the money was well spent marketing towards the aged.”

“Scott shot back, “I don’t feel aged.”

The vote was called with Halyk and Corless opposed.