The land owner and developer behind Strawberry Meadows had some choice words to share with those who oppose the PTI Group proposal to build a work lodge: you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Jack Oviatt spoke to councillors last week, saying he would be out of town for a large part of the process set to determine the council’s stand on work camps, and the PTI proposal in particular.
He gave unequivocal support to the proposal which could house up to 2,100 people who would be working on nearby industrial projects.
“Everything that [PTI] is offering for that particular area… I remain openly in favour of everything they’re offering,” he said.
Oviatt noted in his presentation that of course he would not be free from bias regarding that project.
“I may be biased, in the ownership of the land, but I truly believe that Strawberry Meadows is a premier subdivision in Kitimat and that it is of my best interest that we keep it that way,” he said. “I firmly believe that what they’re proposing will not affect the value of my properties or any of the past sales in my subdivision.”
The problem, he said, is too many people in support of the project sit back quietly while the minority opposed are the ones making loud noises.
“In this case, they’re hiding behind their identity and not revealing how they will be negatively impacted,” he said.
He added that the protestors for this proposal are the people who usually speak against any sort of development in Kitimat.
The arguments that some make, that workers should be put into new, permanent housing options in town hold no water for him, saying any new developments are guaranteed to go empty as soon as the construction boom hits its end.
“To those opponents who would talk about the negative impacts construction workers will have in their neighbourhood should be very careful who they say that to. There are a lot of very influential people in Kitimat who are construction workers. I’m a construction worker and I take offence to the innuendo is being made about construction workers,” said Oviatt.
Continuing that argument, he said that construction workers are the people who build the jails, but it’s other, unemployable people who tend to fill them.
Meanwhile he said the benefits from a PTI development are great. The sale of the land itself is to go towards further development of a proposed ‘active adult living’ neighbourhood in the Strawberry Meadows area, plus PTI would take on development of things like surrounding walkways, a burden that would be taken off the District of Kitimat.
Local businesses would also benefit from having 2,100 customers so close.
“It’s time we stopped turning down business opportunities in Kitimat and quit listening to unaffected opponents who understand very little of how the proposal will benefit the community as a whole.”