Kitimat, British Columbia Canada

Discover Kitimat, British Columbia: A Blend of History and Natural Beauty

Kitimat, a district municipality in the North Coast region of British Columbia, Canada, is a member municipality of the Regional District of Kitimat–Stikine regional government. Nestled in the Kitimat Valley, it forms part of the most populous urban district in northwest British Columbia, which includes Terrace to the north along the Skeena River Valley.

The Historical Journey of Kitimat, British Columbia

The term "Kitimat" in the Tsimshian language refers to the Haisla First Nation as the "People of the Snow". Before 1950, Kitimat was a small fishing village at the head of the Kitimat Arm of the Douglas Channel, a deepwater fjord. The transformation of Kitimat into a municipal town began in 1951 when the Provincial Government of British Columbia invited the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan) to develop hydroelectric facilities to support the aluminum smelting industry.

Alcan not only built a dam, tunnel, powerhouse, transmission line, a deep-sea terminal, and smelter, but also designed, laid out, and assisted with the initial construction of the city. The company employed the services of city planner Clarence Stein to ensure the community design would attract and retain workers. Today, Kitimat benefits from the quality of planning resulting from the Garden City design concept.

The Geographical Landscape of Kitimat, British Columbia

Kitimat is located on tidewater in one of the few wide, flat valleys on the coast of British Columbia. It is situated 63 km south of Terrace and Thornhill on Highway 37, with Prince Rupert 207 km to the northwest, and Prince George 629 km to the east.

The Climate of Kitimat, British Columbia

Kitimat experiences an oceanic climate with mild summers and cold, snowy winters. The rainiest season is fall, with October being the wettest month. Despite a significant drying trend in summer, the region is too rainy to classify as such. Cloud cover is significant, especially in winter, with less than 30% of possible sunshine occurring each year.

The Demographics of Kitimat, British Columbia

As per the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Kitimat had a population of 8,236 living in 3,604 of its 4,381 total private dwellings, a change of 1.3% from its 2016 population of 8,131.

Controversies Surrounding Kitimat, British Columbia

The development of Kitimat was not free from controversy. The Alcan project faced opposition from politicians, aboriginal groups, farmers, and residents of the Nechako Lakes District. The creation of the new reservoir led to the flooding of homesteads, villages, burial grounds, and the disruption of prime fish habitat on the Nechako River.

In the late 1980s, the company began work on the Kemano Completion Project which would have doubled the generating capacity of the Kemano plant. After investing over $500 million into the project, Alcan took the provincial government to court. This controversy was settled when Alcan and the provincial government signed the 1997 KCP agreement.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the District of Kitimat was in court with the Provincial Government over the electricity rights granted to Alcan and its obligations to the Province and to the District.

Today, Kitimat is looking forward to the modernization of its aluminum facilities, with Rio Tinto Alcan planning to increase the output of its Kitimat smelter.