The District of Kitimat has released the Minette Bay West Concept Plan Community Engagement summary, highlighting feedback from residents and stakeholders over the course of phase two of the planning project.
Based off of information collected by District planners during the October 26 open house and November 30 stakeholder visioning workshop, the summary outlines what people had to say about potential development in the 191 hectares of land on the west side of Minette Bay.
Over 90 people attended the October open house, which featured findings from phase one site investigations. Environmental and archeological findings, climate change considerations, and strengths and challenges for recreation on the site were presented to the public, with attendants being asked to fill out a survey and provide their initial thoughts on what should be developed on the land.
Overwhelmingly, responses from the public indicated that most want the area to remain as undisturbed as possible, while still providing waterfront access to the community.
Walking and hiking trails were a popular recommendation, with universally accessible features for seniors and persons with disabilities also ranking as a high priority.
It was also clear that respondents believe all terrain vehicles and motorized boats should not have access to the area, and there should be a focus on nature and potential wildlife viewing.
224 surveys were completed, with 83 per cent of respondents saying that improving public access to the site should guide the planning process, while 77 per cent said that providing outdoor recreation opportunities is also a high priority. Providing awareness and information regarding the Haisla Nation’s traditional uses of the land was also mentioned by 54 per cent of respondents.
More than half of respondents said that hiking, walking, running, nature appreciation and wildlife viewing, canoeing and kayaking, picnicking, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing should be available at the site, while other people would like to see some form of dog park or rustic campground.
People answered negatively when it came to potential hunting in the area, with 73 per cent of survey respondents saying they don’t support that type of use.
Most of the respondents were long-time Kitimat or Kitamaat Village residents, between the ages of 20 and 64, with almost one quarter 65 or older. Almost half of respondents live in a household with children, and roughly two-thirds own a dog.
On November 30, Kitimat Council and the project team, as well as staff, consultants and representatives from Haisla Nation’s Lands and Resources Department, explored planning topics such as human and wildlife/habitat interactions, human impacts, recreation, and environmental and cultural experiences.
Key ideas to come out of that session included raised walkways to help people see bears, which are known to frequent the area, preventing motorized uses on lands, acquiring access to the breakwater and old log dump, and opportunities to safely view birds and wildlife. 40 participants also attended a workshop on November 30, with different area groups and organizations discussing key topics identified from the community’s input earlier.
Some of the top ideas ranked by those participants include protecting existing values when it comes to human and wildlife/habitat interactions, limiting access to day use only, minimal impact on the land when developing recreation activities, and preserving sensitive areas/minimize impacts from use. District planners are now working on the third phase of the development plan, which will involved establishing a vision, guiding principles, and draft concept plans for Minette Bay West.
Once completed, that information will be available on the District’s website, at kitimat.ca/mbw, along with other information and documents pertaining to the development. An open house will be held at Riverlodge on February 28 to provide residents with information on the planning progress so far.
The 191 hectares designated to be developed in the plan were donated to the District of Kitimat by Rio Tinto in 2015 in celebration of the District’s 60th anniversary of incorporation.