Kiticorp defends social conscience in light of comments made at Kitimat council meeting

As a Kitimat pastor calls for companies to develop a social conscience, a local company says it has one.

Pastor Don Read, with the Kitimat Ministerial Association, spoke up on behalf of Kitimat’s vulnerable when he suggested that property developers in Kitimat for the most part lack a community conscience.

But the owner of property management company Kiticorp says the accusations that included his company are unfounded.

Pastor Read was reacting to an application by Kiticorp to renovate the exterior of their Viewpoint Apartments on Albatross Street.

While the permit is needed just for outside renovations, he feels it will tie in to internal renovations, which is at the core of what some are dubbing “renovictions” — renovations which are leading to evictions.

“My hope is as a community we would remember that the strength of our community lies, really, within our ability to care for the most vulnerable within our midst. And that’s really how you measure a healthy and strong community,” said Read.

Kiticorp wasn’t spared from his plea to look out for those without a voice in the community.

“The latest application by Kiticorp for a development permit on Albatross Street, to me, is an example of continuance of a corporate policy that actually puts profits above individual people,” he said. “When we have developers that have no clear social conscience or long-standing ties to our community, where our community becomes a place where they’re just in here to get exuberant financial gain, when developers like this are not held in check, when their unbridled greed becomes the basis for how decisions are made, and when we allow these corporations to treat long-standing members of community, in essence, with contempt, what we’re really doing is forfeiting our leadership.”

But Kiticorp owner Eli Abergel takes exception to his company being portrayed in a negative light and said that there is absolutely no malice in decisions by the company.

“When we started working in Kitimat we actually increased the rental pool dramatically. We increased the number of units that were available to be rented in Kitimat,” he said.

He refers to the Kuldo Apartments where he said 40 per cent of their units were vacant and uninhabitable.

“The reason for that is because rent, historically, has been so low in Kitimat that landlords have not been able to afford to maintain, never mind renovate, the suites,” he said.

He adds that by summer there will be 47 more units renovated and available, all finished without evictions.

Even as the company renovates many of their units, Abergel said that where they haven’t had to do such work, they haven’t.

“We still have many units which are rented at below market rates,” added Abergel.

As for the social conscience, he says Kiticorp was among the first companies to spend significant money in the community.

“We’ve been developing apartments in Kitimat for almost two years,” he said. “We’re bringing a lot of jobs of all types.”

In short, he said there’s no angle of evil or greed from the decisions of his company.

“It bothers me. I have a social conscience and Kiticorp supports the local arena and we support a lot of different local businesses from advertising to plumbing to electrical to local labour. We’re working hard to do our best with the resources that we have,” he said. “There’s no malice involved and we’re not trying to be greedy, we’re just trying to work within the marketplace in the business that we’re in.”

As Read gave his perspective at the council meeting on February 17, his underlying message was for the town’s political system to recognize people who are displaced by the effects of a ‘boom town.’

“We need to remember our calling is to represent every individual within our community, especially those who have no political voice, those who have no social standing, those who are the vulnerable and the powerless in our community,” he said.

To that point he explained the story of one of his congregation, a woman in her 80s who lives in the Viewpoint Apartments. (Read used her name but when the Sentinel called her she indicated she would rather not have a high profile so we are respecting her wishes not to be named.)

She lives on a survivor pension after the passing of her husband, and Read spends lots of time talking to her about her options if she gets evicted. He’s hopeful but uncertain of where she will live in the future given the availability and price of current rental units.

Abergel says that Kiticorp does try to accommodate people who are evicted from their apartments. He said that in a recent instance when there were evictions at one of their buildings 10 alternate units at other apartment buildings were made available for the people who had to leave, at discounted rates from the going market price.

He said three of those 10 were accepted.

“We’re aware of the challenges that Kitimat is experiencing and we’ve been in contact with BC Housing, council, and the mayor, to try to work through some of the challenges,” said Abergel.

BC Housing has some assistance programs, including those for seniors on low to moderate incomes. The BC Housing website for rental assistance is here.

 

Just Posted

Coast Mountains School District No. 82 acting superintendent of schools, Janet Meyer, talks about policies and procedures relating to the death of Diversity Morgan, a LGBTQ+ student. (Black Press file)
School District 82 to revisit policy after transgender student’s death

Diversity’ death has created a deeper resolve for CMSD 82 to continue doing the work they started

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
With heavy hearts, the Kitimat RCMP hosted a pride flag ceremony to highlight the RCMP’s commitment to inclusion and diversification, as well as honouring the passing of 15-year-old transgender student, Diversity Morgan, from Kitimat.
Speeches were given by Staff Sergeant Graham Morgan, Mayor Phil Germuth, Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith, and Diversity’s father, Mike Wilson.
“We are gathered here for the pride flag ceremony, but in my mind, we’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination. […] Today we celebrate what makes us all unique individuals,” Mayor Phil Germuth said in his speech at the pride flag ceremony.
Struggling to get the words out, Crystal Smith, Haisla Nation’s chief councillor, emphasized her condolences to Diversity’s family in her speech sharing her similar experiences as well as acknowledging the need for education around these subjects.
Diversity’s father, Mike Wilson, said he wished that everyone was there under different circumstances but was grateful to see the turnout and the support from the community.
In honour of Diversity, the Kitimat RCMP also lowered their Canadian flag to half-mast, to bring awareness for people who are experiencing discrimination and are in need of additional support.
The Kitimat RCMP also stated that they will be lowering their Canadian flag around this time every year as a visual representation of LGBTQ+.
Kitimat Save-On-Foods also donated water and snacks for the ceremony.
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The District of Kitimat will be awarding business owners with a store front up to $5,000 to cover up to 50 per cent of exterior renovations. (Norhtern Development logo)
The District of Kitimat is awarding $5,000 to storefront owners for exterior renovations

The district has set aside $20,000 this year and non-profits are also eligible

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Most Read