Hospital Beach and Moore Creek access have been re-opened, as Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) have made adjustments to their traffic systems around the modernization construction site.
The District of Kitimat and RTA made a joint announcement regarding the beach’s re-opening in an ad in the Northern Sentinel on Oct. 10.
Communication and External Relations Manager for RTA Colleen Nyce is aware that the season to take advantage of the beach and its boat ramp is coming to a close, however the work to mitigate safety risks to the public have been ongoing over the summer.
“We didn’t just open the beach because people in the community asked us,” she explained. “The reason why it was closed was because there was a public safety risk.”
She did say that community feedback and discussions with the District of Kitimat were, however, certainly a big reason why the beach was re-opened.
In the announcement this week, it was said that the changes to work site traffic included re-routing rock trucks, building a new bridge over Anderson Creek, and will include the eventual installation of traffic lights near the Construction Village. An extra construction road from the former Eurocan Haul Road has also been built.
“All these things will reduce the risk to public safety,” said Nyce.
RTA does reserve the right to close the beach again if they feel safety is a concern, but Nyce said that such closures would be temporary.
“This is a mega project down here. It is a $3 billion-plus project…we need to make sure we’re a safe project,” she said.
Nyce said that RTA and the District of Kitimat have been having very productive meetings over the past six months, and noted that their last meeting before re-opening the beach was particularly productive and cooperative.
“I think that’s the absolute best way that we should be moving forward, and that’s together,” she said. “We’re really hoping that we can continue to work that way.”
Nyce was asked about a discussion from Kitimat Council where Phil Germuth moved to ask RTA to give Hospital Beach to the District for its 60th anniversary, but she said that has never been a topic of conversation between the District and the company. (Germuth’s motion did not pass at council.)
She said that the land is in RTA’s strategic footprint and that it will “never be sold.”
She pointed out that on the 40th anniversary of what was then just Alcan, the company did dedicate the beach to the community.
“The best we could do is dedicate it to the people of Kitimat and maintain it annually.”
Mayor Joanne Monaghan is naturally quite excited over the announcement, calling it a victory for the community.
She said that she and the council are very thankful to RTA for their efforts in bringing Hospital Beach’s re-opening to fruition.