REPORTING · 11th August 2010
Dark Clouds on a Bright Summer’s Day: Part 5
The Kitimat Council Meeting on Tuesday August 3rd had already gone down hill once. Gottschling had read a prepared statement which had accused Mayor Joanne Monaghan of being a weak Mayor among other things. When the dust settled, it appeared Council was getting back to their meeting. But the storm was getting ready to pick up again in new business. Councillor Randy Halyk was about to pull several items out of Information Package.
“We received this information and I was reading at the top of it, the presentation to Regional Community Advisory Board, July 13th, BC North Community Advisory Board by NC Cab Elected representative Dianne Hewlett and again, I’m concerned about our employees discussing… working it seems for Enbridge,” said Halyk. “I don’t understand why our employee would be running this kind of a thing without Council’s knowledge; I never heard this until I saw this happened and I have been in the CAB scenario from the start.”
Hewlett explained to Council there were community boards set up by Enbridge across the corridors to have citizens and people with information about the communities economies to come forward and discuss opportunities and concerns about the pipeline project. She stated at a recent meeting, names were put forward to represent the group and report to the other community CABs. She provided information on the Socio Economic activities of the region, how the cab started, membership and the activities they were doing.
Halyk expressed concern she had presented for the CAB when in the past, Enbridge had been doing the presentations. He reminded her that the District should not be involved trying to move the project. Municipal Manager Trafford Hall said Council should not be debating with staff at a public meeting and clarified Halyk’s argument.
“Is the Councillor’s concern that by our economic development officer being a chair or taking a lead roll in the CAB it may be perceived that the District of Kitimat is taking a position on the project?” asked Hall.
Halyk replied: “Absolutely”
Hall asked if the CAB was paid for by the Company. Hewlett answered the expenses were reimbursed by the company. Hall wanted to know if the CAB was being put forward by law. Hewlett answered it was a company process to get public input.
Hall pointed out this was a meaty subject and would probably be returning. They want the economic development officer to take a role in regional initiatives but with the controversy around this project, they had to make sure they did not leave any impression they were for or against Enbridge until they had all the facts.
Part 6 - DID SOMEONE JOIN AN ALLIANCE?
It was the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, August 3rd and into New Business. Councillor Randy Halyk had a concern with an letter from Enbridge in the information section of his Council Package. It was addressed to all Alliance members.
“I’m just wondering, who is the member? Are we members of this Alliance? And if we are, when did we actually come together to determine if we would be members of this alliance. I understand this alliance is actually promoting the project. I’m not saying that we agree or disagree but we have to back off of promotion,” said Halyk.
Mayor Joanne Monaghan said she had requested some information because she thought Council would want to know about it. This was the information which was sent. Neither Monaghan nor Municipal Manager Trafford Hall were aware of being members of an alliance. Halyk understood it was a Leader’s Alliance.
“These are people who are for the project. Colin Kinsley has certainly spoken out in favour of it. Many of the Mayors are in the Alliance, a group of Mayors who are all for in the project,” said Councillor Bob Corless.
Hall reminded council they have explained to these groups about Kitimat’s neutrality and added that just because Council receives correspondence does not make them members.
The Enbridge Leaders Alliance is the operator of the webpage which Mayor Monaghan’s picture was recently taken down from.
Part 7 - TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY
Mayor Joanne Monaghan brought a letter forward at the City Council Meeting on Monday, August 3rd under new business. She explained it had arrived that afternoon. “In answer I guess to several of the ‘incompetancies’ that I have been charged with, one is confidentiality and I would like to read this too you tonight.”
Dear Mayor Monaghan
Confidentiality and professionalism
We at Sandhill Materials Inc. were very upset to learn that your ethical conduct has come under scrutiny. In our discussions regarding confidentiality, it seems to me, that we mutually agreed that there were many issues, on the part of both parties, that would not be open to discussion and others that would be discussed but must remain confidential. To that end we entered a legally binding confidentiality agreement between our company and yourself.
We, who have had the opportunity to meet with you, have been very impressed with the level of professionalism that you have shown in business and the sincere commitment you have in your enthusiasm and conscientiousness for the growth of the community you serve.
We, at Sandhill, are prepared to draw any affidavit to support our sincere belief that any business conducted between our two parties, was and has been handled with the highest degree of ethical behavior and fully complies with the parameters of any verbal and written confidentiality agreement we have between us.
I know that you understand how important it is, at this time, that any discussions or negotiations that we are currently involved in, not be discussed publicly. Many of our undertakings are of such a delicate nature that they would be seriously compromised by such a serious breach of information exchange.
With best regards
Ken Enders, CEO
Councillor Randy Halyk appeared to be ready to leap from his seat.
“I would submit that it was illegal of you to sign a confidentiality agreement without Council being involved in that,” said Halyk.
“I didn’t sign a confidentiality agreement. I know it says that there but I did not sign it,” said Monaghan.
“Then why would you read that then?” asked Halyk.
“Because that’s the way the letter came,” replied Monaghan.
“In any case, I believe that Council has a right to be… and through George Cuff… his writings talk about this: That everything that the Mayor knows, Council should also be aware of and that’s important for us to be able to lead and do our jobs,” said Halyk.
“I think you heard what he said. Some of these things would not have happened if I had discussed this with you,” said Monaghan.
“We are not a public, we have all done our oath and we would not be telling the public anything that is In Camera. And if you say that we have, I will take you…” started Halyk.
“What are you going to do,” challenged Monaghan.
“Take you to task…” replied Halyk.
“It sounded much worse then that,” said Monaghan.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff thanked Monaghan for sharing the information and suggested they have Cuff discuss the issue confidential information with them. Monaghan replied: “It was a verbal, it wasn’t a signing but it was a confidential agreement and I did say and I did email that I would not and promised I would not…” said Monaghan before Feldhoff cut her off to suggest this be one of the topics sent to Cuff.
Councillor Gerd Gottschling was concerned they were not following decorum and the rules of conduct. Feldhoff replied they should share this letter with Cuff so they know how these situations should be carried out in the future as well as the concerns by Halyk. Gottschling expressed he agreed with sharing this with Cuff. However, something which had happened earlier did not sit right.
“When I read to you a quote from Mr. Cuff, you were indicating that that is not pertinent. You chastised me for speaking out what the people of Kitimat are recognizing every day. They see rancour and discord in this Council and I’m trying to bring that to this council and the sooner we get Mr. Cuff involved… now that by the way would be the 3rd consultant that we’re introducing. When are we going to read and understand the Rules and Regulations and Rules of Engagement. That’s what I’m asking,” said Gottschling.
Feldhoff suggested it had little to do with the consultants but how the Councillors debate in Council.
“I find it very, very interesting that your saying decorum and all these many things and yet the people who are talking about it the most are the ones who are doing it,” said Monaghan.
Halyk clarified the letter came to Council and was put on the desk at the end of the meeting. Monaghan replied it had come to here half an hour before the meeting. With that, Monaghan closed the meeting and Council went in Camera.
Monaghan also stated the agreement was not a signed contract but a verbal agreement and a handshake.
Part 8 - FULL CIRCLE
Mayor Joanne Monaghan’s letter from Sandhills had to have been the strangest item to be added to the agenda on Tuesday August 3rd. Obviously it came in at a very convenient time for her. In fact, the timing was so perfect, the question the public should be asking is: “are these Council Meetings being staged for ratings?”
After all, Monaghan has been the top focus of Council for some time. Back when she spoke to the Northern Development Initiative slides prepared for her earlier in the year and actually spoke against the will of Council… and then misled Council regarding the issue on the third of August. How about when she went on the radio and insulted the people of Kitimat by telling the world we were rich enough to afford the 20% tax increase with our cars, boats, ATVs, gold toilets, etc… and then denied it during another Council Meeting. Or maybe how when Council told her they wished to remain neutral on the Enbridge project and she went and appeared with a positive message in the proponent’s propaganda… I mean… literature. Council was obviously unable to get their concerns through to her as she appeared in several other interviews explaining Council’s neutrality was her message all along.
This letter from Sandhills was as much an attack on the Kitimat Council as Councillor Gottschling’s statement was an attack on her, the subject of the letter being confidentiality, a topic which has yet to come up in those chambers. After all, several Councillors have expressed disdain over her constant public Mayoral approval of the project making Kitimat Council look like they have given the project their blessing when they wish to remain neutral.
First and foremost, by reading this letter, Monaghan makes the majority of them, Goffinet, Gottschling, Corless and Halyk look ‘incompetent’ because they are the ones questioning her appearances in the media. After touching on her “Ethical conduct coming under scrutiny,” the letter veers right off the topic and praises the Mayor on confidentiality.
This raises the second concern. Why go for confidentiality. It is simple. This is an attack on a Councillor who released letters to the media, which appeared to have been forwarded to him by Dolores Pollard, the Chief Councllor of the Haisla Kitamaat Village. Shortly after the content of these letters appeared on the Kitimat Daily, someone who would be in the loop accidentally revealed Kitimat City Council had been aware of these letters for some time.
While the latter revelation might have caused some of the outrage in Council, the fact the Mayor signed and/or made a verbal confidentiality agreement behind Council’s back; the fact this agreement is legally binding, is appearing to be the catalyst as it shows she has a lack of faith in her Council.
“Some of these things would not have happened if I had discussed this with you,” Monaghan boldly told her Council. This outraged many of her Councillors and some just sat in shock. One spoke about the oath they took and referred to Councils private closed door meetings called ‘In Camera’.
What… Does Council get cake if Monaghan keeps her lips sealed on all this? What are these things which are coming here? If they are secret and the public does not know about all the details, are we going to wake up and find our way of life changed?
On this same thread, after the meeting, an insightful man who would most likely wish to remain anonymous asked: Why is Monaghan taking the credit for all of these projects? They would be coming here whether she was Mayor or not.
Then there is the double standard. This is not the first time Monaghan has blindsided Council with a letter, which she received, conveniently, at the last minute when all others are denied such last minute presentations.
Finally, if Monaghan did make a legally binding confidentiality agreement with this group, is it at all possible that she violated this agreement by reading the letter out loud at City Council? And further what was the point? Was it to create more controversy or was it an attempt by her to prove to the people of Kitimat that outsiders think she is doing a good job and respect her so they should too.
The storm of events which took up the last half of the City Council meeting was now over. But the problem with this storm overshadows something which took place prior.
Part 9 - KITIMAT COUNCIL SUPPORTS LOG EXPORTS
Under reports, before the storm at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, August 3rd, Council was dealing with a particular TINUP. A TINUP is a Temporary Industrial Use Permit and this was for the Log Sort Yard owned by All West Trading Ltd. at 2234 Forest Avenue.
Mayor Joanne Monaghan called for a motion and Councillor Bob Corless moved the 2 year TINUP. Councillor Mario Feldhoff wished to amend the motion to deal with vehicle noise. Corless spoke against amendment. Feldhoff said he had talked with the owner but things would always go back to the way they were. The amendment was carried.
Halyk was opposed to the TINUP. “I’m concerned about this TINUP only because since Eurocan has closed and now, with the things that have gone on with Eurocan and potentially never starting Eurocan again, I’m wondering if we as a community really do want to support shipping whole raw logs out of BC. This potentially is an opportunity to put the brakes on it and maybe they’ll have to go to Prince Rupert or whatever but it will make them a little more difficult for them. I think this might be an opportunity for Kitimat to stand and say: ‘Stop shipping our jobs out of Canada.”
Councillor Rob Goffinet who seconded the motion agreed that he did not support the export of raw logs. However, he was willing to support it for the Eurocan viability study to succeed which was possible with the logging companies who were shipping saw logs. Goffinet said he would not vote for this if there was wood being brought into the community they could mill but they would have to vote for this so the lumber companies would continue to generate revenue.
“We would be accused of waiting years, possibly years or many months, to get something that we presently do not have by denying an operation that we presently do have. To me it’s a tough choice but it would be counter productive to vote against it,” said Goffinet.
Monaghan suggested the debarking would create local opportunities for business. Halyk replied to Goffinet saying the business will still survive and most likely go to Prince Rupert. He added the business was already going to Prince Rupert. As for the chipping, there was none as the Eurocan model was not happening.
“At this point, there are no chips Madam Mayor for Poyry or any of those people. The chips are down. We have an opportunity now to make a difference with this tiny little thing like this ‘TINCUP’. And as to re rout these logs to somewhere else and make it hard for them to stay in business and maybe then put some pressure on the Provincial government and say, maybe this is a good opportunity this model that Poyry came up with,” said Halyk.
Corless considered the 13-20 jobs in Kitimat, the tug owners. Halyk replied the jobs would still be there, only shipped out of Rupert. “Maybe there has to be a little bit of hurt before there is a little bit of gain,” said Halyk.
“I think there has been a whole lot of hurt already and I don’t think, as much as it is not ideal to have the Eurocan running, I don’t think we want to make it harder for businesses,” said Feldhoff. He reminded Halyk of all the opportunities which had been mentioned so far and Eurocan’s Viabilty Study would also ship raw logs.
The question was called and carried.