Kitimat Council won’t yet take any action regarding riverbank camping after a motion by Mary Murphy failed on May 5.
Murphy had moved for the District of Kitimat to identify areas of riverbank camping and to erect “no camping” signs, which would direct people to legitimate camping sites within the town.
“It started early this year and I’ve been down to that area and it’s mostly people who are working in town and I think it’s going to be a huge problem this year,” said Murphy.
While action on riverbank camping is something councillors seemed to agree on, there was no consensus that this was the plan to solve any problems.
When it came to “putting the lid” on riverbank camping, Mario Feldhoff said “I don’t think addresses the problem at all, it creates new problems.”
Edwin Empinado also had concerns regarding the legalities of putting up signs, noting that there are places of riverbank camping where property lines abut municipal and private lands.
Director of Leisure Services Martin Gould said they can put signs up wherever they like on municipal land, but indicated that enforcement would be the one area of concern for staff on such a plan.
“The issue of the no-camping signs is enforcement. How do you enforce it?”
Enforcement was a sticking point for Phil Germuth as well, who agreed without a way to enforce it would not be much benefit.
He said the town does need more camping sites.
Murphy maintained support for her motion in her closing remarks.
“We have put in to place, at our cost, monitoring of the river, and it’s going to be an issue, it’s already starting to be an issue, and I know we have to do something about it. And right now what we’re doing is nothing,” she said.
She said no other town allows people to camp for free within town boundaries and be allowed to remain for months.
You may be interested in reading this article from the Northern Sentinel archive about the Kitimat River ambassador.