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We have arrived

Dear sir,

This is the time to call an urgent halt to further actions by our District of Kitimat politicians in what they describe as their battle to stop what they believe are Alcan power sales.

The councillors of the town have said this is not a battle against ‘Uncle Al’ so much as to protect the future of Kitimat in the light of what they believe are Alcan’s shareholders’ interests, whereby they have deduced Alcan’s maximum profit from the Kitimat smelter can be made by simply selling all the power that Kemano, Alcan’s hydro–electric powerhouse, can make. This just ain’t so!

Alcan’s maximum profit from its Kitimat smelter, thanks to the nature of the local grid, the sustained value of the London Metal Exchange and the avowed intention of the company, can only be made by smelting aluminium.

Therefore, with the new rebuild the future for our small town and its smelter, along with that of the wider Northwest, would be one of the most secure in the company’s portfolio.

Indeed, at the conclusion of the proposed smelter rebuild with the modern and clean technology - which will save lives and which we all wish to see - the only power that will be sold by Alcan to BC Hydro will be just enough to heat and light half of Kitimat on a good day.

BC Hydro will continuously have to provide the power for at least 50 per cent of the town. And on a day a Kemano generator is down for repair, it will have to import all the power for the town via the line alongside Highway 37S.

In other words, absolutely zero power will leave Kitimat ever again once the new smelter is built, and our neighbours in Terrace and Prince Rupert will have to become dependant on BC Hydro’s ability to deliver alone.

Isn’t this what was argued for by the District of Kitimat at a cost to the town of more than a million dollars? Why is there still dissension? What can be gained by refusing to admit that we have at last reached consensus together?

At risk is the imminent demise of the town and absolutely everyone’s investment in it. That new mortgage, new bathroom improvement, new driveway, porch or deck - all may well prove completely worthless if the city continues its utterly pointless action.

We have arrived! Call off the dogs! Nothing can be gained by further expenditure on lawyers, spin doctors, theatre in council chambers, advertisements or press.

Whether one believes that expenditures on lawyers and spin doctors was worth it or not, we have all now arrived at a point where company, town and region should rejoice that we are singing off the same page.

Whether or not egos may be bruised by having to shake hands in recognition that we finally have what we have long argued for from our different corners, we absolutely must urgently heal the wounds that have recently caused both an unhealthy and vulture-like interest in our small town throughout the nation, and great concern at Alcan’s head office.

We then need to trumpet our pax to the world, reassuring investors interested in our magnificent corridor and its potential that they are welcome, and defusing the recent speculation about our differences which was about to scupper our bright future.

At this moment however, the rebuild is right on the edge of a very slippery slope which, once momentum takes over, could in the next few weeks make it impossible to prevent the funding for our project going to other Alcan plants.

Should that happen, it could well be another decade before the company decides to invest in Kitimat when, with an even more efficient technology, the plant could be run with a workforce of only five or six hundred, rather than the more than 1,000 promised for the next 50 years today.

Kitimat needs to know Alcan’s head office has in the last couple of weeks frozen funds initially advanced for the rebuild, and has forbidden management to discuss the rebuild project in public. It is only the stroke of a pen that currently stands between us and the abyss.

We in Kitimat and the Northwest, always the envy of all other BC communities, now have everything we could possibly wish for. If we refuse to acknowledge it immediately, we will freeze in a 1950s time warp for at least another decade.

Yours sincerely,

Howard Mills.

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