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REPORTING · 26th November 2010
Merv Ritchie
James Archibald operates a Tug Service called Snow Valley in the Kitimat Habour and Douglas Channel. For years he has experienced difficulty with the Regional District Kitimat Stikine (RDKS) and more specifically, the Manager of the MK Bay Marina, Richard Smeal. When the Alcan owned Moon Bay Marina announced they were closing Archibald attempted again to get moorage at the RDKS owned marina in the Village of Kitamaat. When he was denied moorage, Archibald determined he would buy boats already moored with contracts for the space. This was a heavy expense, over $100,000, but due to his business contracts, involving almost $3 million in the Kitimat economy, he felt this was his only option to stay in business.

After he purchased the vessels he moved them out and moved his Tug boats in. That is when the real troubles began. Smeal untied the tugs and demanded he leave, Archibald however stood his ground claiming he now owned the spots. The RDKS backed Smeal with a lawyer who wrote letters demanding he remove his tugs and the Kitimat Council refused to get involved. Threatened with having someone else tow his tugs out and further hardship to his business, Archibald started a legal action against the RDKS.

Today, November 26, 2010, the Judge hearing the case in Vancouver ruled against the RDKS in four significant areas.

First the RDKS argued the court had no jurisdiction to rule on this issue that the RDKS was free to manage its affairs as it saw fit. The judge dismissed this application and awarded Archibald ‘costs’ for having to argue his case against the application.

Second the RDKS was withholding documents they were relying on for making their decisions and the Court ordered them to produce all the documents in their possession relating to the refusal of providing moorage to Archibald.

Third the Court considered the refusal to provide moorage might be related to issues of bias and discrimination and therefore all persons directly involved in the dispute are to be available for cross examination on their affidavit statements. This includes Bob Marcellin, the Administrator of the RDKS and Richard Smeal along with Archibald and others who wrote affidavits to support both Archibald’s and the RDKS claims.

The last and most important decision made in favour of Archibald is the order to return his access card for the Marina with an injunction to prohibit the RDKS from taking any further action to restrict Archibald and his Tugs from making use of the Marina facilities.

The Court has ordered the cross examinations to take place before the end of February 2011 and the trial date will be set following their conclusion. In the meantime Archibald will be free to conduct his business via MK Bay Marina. Presently he had moved his tugs to a marina inaccessible during low tide water creating serious hardship for his enterprise.

The RDKS has heard many complaints regarding Richard Smeal and the MK Bay Marina. Stories published are still available online along with picture that include a sunken boat and various hazards and damage at the facilities.

At the time of publication our call to the RDKS for comment has not been returned.

Previous stories HERE - HERE and HERE.
Comment by Dave Brown on 4th December 2010
Helmet, you have given a more fullsome description of Rio-Tinto's reasons for not continuing with the lease arrangement for the old Moon Bay Marina. My reference to own needs simply were intended to reflect that the property owner has the ability to use the land/foreshore as they see fit. You raise some good questions and thoughts with regards to Minette Bay.

Mr. Puge - you do not give enough credit to the goodwill and hard work of the City of Terrace and importantly the Kitselas First Nation who were instrumental in the airport lands being available for light industrial use. I believe that economic and recreational development in Kitimat will be enhanced once the Haisla and the Kitimat Administration/Council better their relationships. I believe this must happen and positive examples like the airport lands can serve as a model.
good news
Comment by H.Puge on 1st December 2010
,,, mr brown with due respect.
"Hopefully, the Regional District will examine what it can do to help address the lack of capacity while balancing demand for berths with economic issues."
Yes hopefully the rdks will address the issues at hand but I doubt it . I'm not sure that stewart and hazelton really care if kitimat has enough berths . As for relying district to help kitimat out of this mess is absurd. From what I've read in these articles the boat owners can't even get the manager to manage properly or clean up the messes dockside re fuel and wiring . The town of kitimat could easily take the bull by the horns . The foreshore is near kitimat not terrace . If you think not .Then explain how it was that the city of terrace got the airport lands out of the rdks right out from under the noses of both thornhill and kitimat . After all the airport belongs to both kitimat and terrace . From a business stand point having the most expensive moorage per foot is ridicules . Next time the district meets some one should ask why they want to kill whats left of kitimat . Btw is eurocan using their dock? Lines on maps are easily redrawn at the airport.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 1st December 2010
I don't know about the comment "on land leased and required by Rio Tinto Alcan". When Moon Bay closed there was no mention of the land being required by RTA. Instead it was all about the failure of the marina manager to improve conditions and the concern about liability. I never believed the stuff about environmental concerns because there was no effort made to lease the land to another interest. I always expected that there was some ulterior motive. If you above comment is accurate then it proves my point and the longer it takes to put a marina at Moon Bay the more it is confirmed.

It is a shame that a community that has access to tide water has such limited moorage. No one has yet seems to have calculated the economic hit that businesses took with RTA's action but I imagine that they were substantial and I feel for them.

I still say somebody should look at a bit of dredging at Minette Bay to provide access for small boat during low tide. If there are good reasons not to consider it, it would be worth knowing what they are.
Good News
Comment by Dave Brown on 30th November 2010
This is good news.

Mr. Puge - Kitimat is trying hard to gain new marine access either through having MK Bay expand or through development of another location. It has been a struggle to find enough berths following the closure of a private facility on land leased and required by Rio Tinto Alcan. The marina affects Kitimat but is run by the Regional District based in Terrace and is not under control of the town of Kitimat.

It is great news to hear that his business can continue and is great news for this Kitimat based business. Hopefully, the Regional District will examine what it can do to help address the lack of capacity while balancing demand for berths with economic issues.
Minote horor show
Comment by H. Puge on 27th November 2010
Thank you Terrace Daily . I'm a sailor and have been looking to buy a larger boat . Thank goodness I didn't. I had no idea how stupid Kitimat is . To squander a resource like the pacific ocean is unbelievable . I hope all those guy's that Kitimat is hoping retire there read these articles before they end up driving to Rupert to go fishing. What joke.