Lack of transparency, consultation by regional district on dump plan isn’t good enough

Kitimat-Stikine regional district's treatment of a recent petition shows they don't want to listen to the public, says letter writer

Dear Sir:

The Kitimat-Stikine regional district has scrutinized a petition brought to it indicating opposition to the curbside collection plan, which was imposed on taxpayers in the Greater Terrace area in December of 2014.

Instead of considering why 706 people had signed this petition the regional district decided instead to dissect the petition to determine whose signatures on the petition were what they referred to as  “legitimate.”

Regional district staff was directed by then-chair Bruce  Bidgood to determine where those signers came from and created a percentile spreadsheet of petitioners to population count. The issue of the petition should have received the spotlight but did not.

Other then the Area C Director, the regional district board showed no interest or concern for any of the residents who signed the petition or for the ones who flooded their meeting room to overflowing when this contentious issue was to be voted on.

What resulted was approval by the board of Bylaw 640 back in Nov. 2014.

In the final analysis the data collected by the regional district to discredit petitioners was also incorrect on their part but apparently their calculations don’t matter.

The regional district decided to do its population comparisons based on total population numbers, including those less than 18 years of age who are not eligible to vote. Coincidently those individuals were not allowed to be counted on our petitions.

You would think we would both have to conform to the same criteria, but apparently not if you are the regional district. It even went so far as to do handwriting comparisons and address checks.

In the end it determined 661 signatures were “legitimate”, which still represents 13 per cent of electoral area C and E residents.

For those of us who believe in  democratic principles, the regional district board of directors and its administration totally disregarded the intention of our petition.

The board also disregarded the concerns of the people they are supposed to represent.

As a result the board approved Bylaw 640 in November of 2014.

The board is also voting on another issue that many taxpayers have also opposed.

The issue is the huge cost of the proposed Forceman Ridge landfill and the ensuing waste management plan.

I am concerned about the enormous costs associated with the current landfill proposal.

Based on the regional district’s five-year financial plan, taxes in the first year increase by 38 per cent and in the following four years there is a projected additional 10 per cent increase.

In addition residents will also pay no less than $200 per year for mandatory garbage collection as secured by Bylaw 640.

The overall cost projections are estimated at $36 million over 10 years.

Despite this and environmental concerns to the Lakelse Lake and Onion Lake area the regional district administration recommended that the board approve the 25 per cent design of the Forceman Ridge Landfill and Thornhill Transfer Station.

The proposal will use a combination of revenues to fund the Greater Terrace area services.

This will include property tax requisition to recover 68 per cent of required revenue, tipping fees to recover 30 per cent of required revenue, and First Nation contributions in the order of two per cent.

The proposed draft model will instigate a significant increase to property taxation.

This will disproportionately impact and penalize home owners while still not addressing many of the solid waste concerns.

This is not the first time that I have expressed my disappointment that neither the regional district administration nor the regional district board have given any consideration to the gargantuan costs of the proposed Forceman Ridge Landfill.

They do not want to look for less expensive alternatives or review their outdated studies.

The regional district uses taxpayers dollars without concern for project costs.

The lack of transparency and consultation by regional district with the public is not good enough for me.

Les Pawlak,

Terrace, B.C.