Kitimat: a community fights back

Kitimat is taking Alcan to court. It’s asking the BC Supreme Court to review all the agreements with Alcan, and rule on whether the company is breaking them by selling power.

The town’s mayor, Richard Wozney, says it’s a matter of life and death for Kitimat. But it’s a daunting prospect – a small town taking on a massive global corporation and a government.

The provincial government, whose policies are killing BC’s rural economies and communities, quietly condones Alcan’s practise. It even dares to whine that Kitimat isn’t making BC look very good, and complains that Kitimat’s behaviour is bad for business.

This province has never had a government that so cruelly treated its towns and rural peoples. Slashing jobs. Closing hospitals. Suffocating the school system.

Kitimat is just one of dozens of BC towns feeling the squeeze between profiteering corporations and revenue-mad government. Its case is somewhat unique, but it is not the only town being kicked around.

For example, Courtenay and Hudson’s Hope. Two of a number of towns feeling the threat of coalbed methane development. The government and the companies want it to proceed, because both are enriched by it. But the communities are stuck with all the environmental risks and impacts.

How about Youbou and Louis Creek? Two towns virtually written off the map of British Columbia as the mills that once sustained them were allowed to close. The loss of “appurtenancy” – which requires a company to process wood locally in exchange for the rights to harvest wood from the same area – is an instant death warrant to a number of BC towns. (Shouldn’t jobs in Kitimat be considered a kind of “appurtenancy” to Alcan for the electricity benefit received?)

Another example? All the communities along the BC Rail route which would like the passenger service to be retained.

Then there’s Bill 75 – the Significant Projects Streamlining Act. This is the club that makes the offer that no town can refuse. Who knows what injustices will be meted on BC’s communities with the enactment of Bill 75, which gives government the authority to override community and regulatory “impediments” and ram through any project the government wants to expedite.

British Columbians have been reeling from the blows. Yet the Liberals keep hammering us. Kitimat is the little town that is fighting back – and we support them in their struggle to save their town.

We will begin to take back our province, for our communities and First Nations.

Check out the Dogwood Initiative website for other stories about First Nations and communities which are taking back their lands and resources.

The City of Kitimat has a comprehensive set of news releases and information updates on the issue of Alcan and power sales. Visit their webpages at www.city.kitimat.bc.ca

More on the Kitimat story:
Brian Lewis from the Province
Jeff Nagel from the Terrace Standard
Paul Willcocks at willcocks.blogspot.com

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