The case for being business friendly

Sentinel editor Cameron Orr wonders if recent events in council is a chance to look at how business friendly Kitimat is.

Well, I’m sure Ruth and Dr. Howard Mills will brush themselves off and continue with their plans for their cottage development, now unimpeded by zoning confusion, but it was almost another exercise in frustration that the Mills have already experienced once with the District.

I am referring to the 2009 episode where the Mills were seeking zoning changes that would affect how many meals they could serve. A bitter, confused battle had councillors and the Mills frustrated by a system that appeared, by those involved, bent on giving the runaround.

In the final article in the Sentinel from that episode, we remarked how third readings of bylaws don’t normally get standing ovations, yet that one did. Without going into detail on what transpired, a standing ovation can give you an idea of how much people were getting frustrated.

Now in 2012 the Mills were back, looking to undergo a major construction project, and again councillors and the Mills seemed confused on a set of changes, right as they were ready to give final reading to the bylaw to let this thing happen.

Without nearly as much of the chaos from last time, the Mills did get what they needed, and the councillors for the most part appeared very ready to let the development happen. What it came down to was uncertainty over the zoning regarding some changes suggested by the planning department.

All in all it was an interesting exercise in seeing how business-friendly the town is. And from what I could see, at least from this experience, councillors are very interested in seeing businesses grow but the process itself seems to leave a lot more confusion than answers in some cases.

Supporting business doesn’t just mean rolling out a red carpet, it means ensuring a level of stability and understanding in the process, to make it easy for construction and building to happen.

I’m not suggesting anything was done wrong in this case or that anyone was intentionally holding back development, but after the Mills have had to fight city hall twice to increase the portfolio of their business, it’s worthwhile to take a good look at how business friendly the community really is.

Cameron Orr is the editor of the Kitimat Northern Sentinel.

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