At Terrace City Council Monday night, Terrace Economic Development Authority (TEDA) once again became a victim to the desires of executive staff by failing the first test of honesty, truth. Sam Harling blatantly misled Councillor Bruce Martindale after his very direct questions. Four years ago TEDA was involved in another “mistruth” over the Terrace Tourism Society when Councillors were told by the CAO, Ron Poole, how there was acrimony between the two organizations when there wasn’t.
Monday night TEDA Executive Director Sam Harling came asking for money from the taxpayers of Terrace to help pay for a charter flight to Dease Lake. Over 15 business people and others wished to attend the first Environmental Assessment Review of the Northwest Transmission Line and Harling was asking the City to contribute $1500.00 to the cost of the flight.
The two Bruce’s of the Terrace City Council, Martindale and Bidgood, along with Councillor Christiansen, all spoke against the City paying any money towards this flight. Mayor Pernarowski stated he had already agreed to board the plane and along with Councillors Pollard and Downie voted in favour of contributing the $1500.
Harling stated it was very important to have a large turnout in Dease Lake and spoke about how “We have instigated a plan.” They already had 15 people signed up for the 19 passenger Thunderbird Charter flight and through TEDA had committed to pay for $1500 of the $3000 cost. He claimed they wanted the City to pick up the other half stating, “to not allow or disallow people to joining, based on finances. […] keep it completely open to anyone who would like to attend.”
Councillor Martindale asked about the expected outcome, stated he did not like how this would look, and expressed concerns about interfering and appearing to take a position on the issues by paying for this flight before they, as a Council body, had a chance to consider it. Councillor Bidgood raised concerns about the suddenness of this request as well stating that in his experience a quick decision is a bad decision. Harling’s request for funding was a late addition to the Council agenda.
As expressions of concerns of Terrace interfering were being voiced, Martindale pointedly asked Harling two more questions. The first was, “Have you received an expressed invitation from residents or leadership in that community to come for it?” To which Harling immediately, almost interrupting, replied with “Yes”, and then stopped.
Martindale then asked, “From?” where Harling stammered a bit with, “From various Chiefs, staff and business people in the community, yes.” With Martindale nodding his head, Harling had to come up with a name so he stated, “Chief Rick Mclean of the Talhtan Band is, ah, key, ah, participants in that.” Mayor Pernarowski immediately changed the course of the exchange by turning the discussion to the proposed route of the flight he would be taking.
Not so according to Tahltan Chief Rick Mclean. “They told us they were coming,” he stated during a call this morning. “I didn’t oppose it, from my point of view they have to know who their nieghbours are.”
Chief Mclean is a key participant but he did not ‘expressly invite TEDA’ or any others of the crowd Harling was speaking on behalf of. The Tahltan Chief did speak about how nice it was to have a packed hall. He stated two planes landed, one from the Highway 37 coalition and the other from Terrace which brought the Mayor. “These kind of things are not well attended on our communities behalf,” stating only two or three, maybe a handful of people might attend these types of meetings. “Young blue collar workers should be attending but they aren’t.” Chief Mclean estimated 50 people were in attendance.
Harling stated there needs to be a large turnout to express their opinions either for or against and spoke about the concerns of the first nations and the cumulative impacts.
It is these cumulative impacts of intensive mining expansion that has the Tahltan Chief worried and it appears to be part the plan Harling spoke about, to interfere and ensure the message received by the Environmental Assessment Office Review Board is stacked.
Harling stated, “Being that the Dease Lake session being held tomorrow night is so keenly important, largely because it is the only one being held in specifically, in a large first nations community, and a community that is impacted by the cumulative impacts of the Northwest Transmission line so heavily, um, we have instigated a plan to go to this meeting tomorrow night in Dease Lake.”
Chief Mclean wished to have his message heard stating the Environmental Assessment Office is focused on science based information adding they do good work in that regard. “We need to control the rate, pace and development with the government. Sure they do their social and cultural studies but it is just not adequate.” He added the cumulative impacts on their society and culture is his concern.
Martindale held his ground even after the failed motion to fund the flight was revisited. The vote was three in favour and three against, paying the $1500 requested. After a brief recess, in which the Mayor determined the motion would be brought forward again, Councillor Pollard suggested they approve the Mayor attending the meeting anyways. The Mayor had already decided to attend and with the failed motion it might have been wrong for him to go. Martindale suggested the optics of this were even worse; accepting a free flight to attend in a different community.
Both Councillor Downie and Mayor Pernarowski accepted money to attend meetings by Enbridge causing an embarrassment to Terrace’s perceived independence on the crude oil pipeline construction. This new motion by Pollard to allow the Mayor to board the flight passed as Christensen supported it and Councillor Bidgood was no longer participating in the Council meeting. Only Martindale opposed.
“I would suggest that if we go and we don’t pay that would be worse because it sends a kind of message that ‘hey, we’ll take the free ride’ and that’s not anything I want to be a part of either. But I think that we should be very careful with the message we send.” Martindale added, “I don’t know what message we are sending to the people of Dease Lake and I’d like to think about that a lot more before we start sending people.
He began to state that people can go as private citizens when the Mayor interrupted him, “That’s not the motion on the floor.” The motion passed and the Mayor was now permitted to take the flight and attend in Dease Lake.
On Tuesday morning the Kitimat-Terrace Industrial Development Society (KTIDS) sent out a news release stating they would be covering the other half of the $3000 charter flight ‘so that members of the business community have an opportunity to support the proposed line and the environmental review process.’
“It is important that all citizens of the northwest to familiarize themselves with this project,” says Bill Eynon, KTIDS Vice President. “Giving people from the beginning of the proposed line to the end of the proposed line and share their interests and concerns will help to move this project forward.”
Harling stated during the Council exchange there was a media seat available on the flight. Outside the Chambers we asked Harling to be on the flight, stating we would pay our share. He refused to consider us and stated Saz Communications would be their conduit. When we questioned this stating Saz Communications was a marketing company not media, he did not have an answer.
Misrepresentations presented at Terrace City Council continue on a regular basis. Shames Mountain, variances and in particular the misrepresentation to Councillor Bidgood on the refusals to make proclamations leaves this elected body of representatives open for ridicule and corruption, which is leaving some citizens with a sense of despair. One prominent businessman who wishes to remain nameless, openly supported the current Mayor and has recently expressed regret.
Today, Wednesday April 28, 2010, the Environmental Assessment Office is holding the next of three meetings, in Smithers at the Hudson Bay Lodge and tomorrow they will arrive in Terrace to hold the information session in Terrace at the Coast Inn of the West. WATCH THE ENTIRE EXCHANGE HERE.
And for the first such meeting.