With a winding down aluminum smelter construction project and a holding pattern with proposed LNG projects, Kitimat is in a challenging place in terms of planning for the community’s housing needs.
On March 13 the Kitimat Housing Committee hosted a housing forum which brought together stakeholders and developers and representatives for industrial projects to talk about housing, with the input eventually to be put in to a report complete with recommendations.
One of the forum’s key organizers Trish Parsons says there was quality discussion that came out from the event.
“Part of the idea of the forum was just to get everyone together in the same room and brainstorm,” she said.
Representatives from BC Housing, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, local housing societies and many others were on hand for the discussion.
Attendees were asked a series of questions relating to affordable housing, accessible housing and what challenges still exist in Kitimat event as the vacancy rate begins to inch upwards.
One of the immediately recognized issues following the event was effectively educating the public on housing challenges and issues.
“Out in the public you get that picture that everybody is a bad landlord, kicking everyone out,” said Parsons. “Same thing with a developer, ‘they’re just in it for the money.’”
Getting the message across that the issue is more than that is an important one.
One of Kitimat’s Housing Resource Workers Paul Lagace agrees community education is a big part of what needs to happen.
“We all know there’s housing challenges going on in Kitimat, we know the rents are the highest in the province, the economy has drastically changed,” said Lagace. “But…how do you get proper information out to the community?”
Parsons also points out the struggle of being in the eye of the storm for possible more industrial developments for Kitimat.
“We can’t be ready if things move ahead if nobody’s willing to open the purse strings until they know for sure something’s going to happen,” she said. “That’s the Catch-22 we’re stuck in.”
A report from the forum will be presented at the next Kitimat Housing Committee meeting.