Human trafficking ask
An anti-human trafficking advocate and educator wants help from Smithers town council to put pressure on the provincial government to address the issue.
Cathy Peters appeared as a delegation to the council at its June 8 meeting outlining that sex trafficking thrives because there is serious demand. That the common age a child enters sex trafficking is 13 years old, younger in large urban centres, and 54 per cent of these children are Indigenous.
Peters had three requests. The first was that council write to the premier and solicitor general asking to make this crime a priority in B.C., provide considerable funding and training for provincial law enforcement and a provincial awareness campaign and create an inter-agency task force similar to what is available for drugs and gangs.
The second was a letter of support for herself to use in approaching other organizations and officials.
Finally, she wants council to facilitate her presenting to other stakeholders in the area.
Council deferred the request to the next regular council meeting on June 22.
Work camp delays
COVID-19 has delayed progress on work camps for the Coastal GasLink pipeline project.
In a delegation to council on June 8, the company reported camps will not be ready for personnel until mid-November, requiring CGL to seek approximately 200 people accommodations starting in August between Smithers and Houston.
Both communities have established roundtables working on finding solutions and addressing community concerns such as leaving availability of hotel rooms for tourists and utilizing R.V. spots in local campgrounds when possible.
Council will be kept apprised of ongoing talks by the mayor and CGL of any changes and solutions as they work together in both communities
Walnut Park Totem Pole
Council has approved a $100,000 donation to School District 54’s Totem Pole Project at the new Walnut Park Elementary School to come from municipal Gas Tax Funds.
Councillors felt this project is one the town should be a collaborative partner in as it is a chance to be a positive part of the history in Smithers and will help council to participate on a new page with Indigenous community members.
The project from inception is to support and recognize the culture and history of the Witsuwit’en community. The project coordinator is Ms. Birdy Markert, District Principal of Indigenous Education.
The master-carver Ron Austin has a personal connection with the story of “Indian Town,” the land on which the totem pole will sit. The story of “Indian Town” will also be on a marker onsite to explain the history.
The $335,000 budget for the project includes $200,000 in fees for the carver and apprentices; $60,000 for foundation construction, labour materials, pole connection, power and signage; $40,000 for erecting and dismantling a totem pole carving shed; $19,000 for the log purchase, transportation and poles raising; and $16,000 for engineering and architecture.
The totem is scheduled to be raised in the fall in conjunction with the opening of the new school.