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Alcan Project History

The Town

To match the futuristic industrial development, Alcan constructed an equally modern town. Kitimat would be British Columbia’s first planned community – a suburban utopia so desirable to the worker that a stable work force would be maintained. Swaths of land for the Townsite and roads were cleared. Neighbourhood A - "Nechako" or "The Shield" - was begun first, then Neighbourhood C, "Kildala", City Centre by 1956, and a portion of the Whitesail Neighbourhood.

When planning the town, Alcan maintained two basic principles - Kitimat would not be a company town. Economic diversification would be promoted. 2) Alcan would not remain in the "town business". Housing and commercial property would be sold. In 1953, the District of Kitimat became the first town without residents to be incorporated in B.C.

The fulfillment of people's needs as the focus of a town plan was considered revolutionary. Famed American architect and town planner Clarence S. Stein, and town planners Mayer & Whittlesey of New York fulfilled Alcan's focus. A green space community model was chosen separating pedestrian and vehicular traffic and having a home, store, and community building face "peaceful open spaces, removed from intrusion and hazard by the automobile".

Many construction companies were involved. In keeping with the short time frame for town completion, houses were prefabricated and assembled on site. Two housing companies were prominent in the earliest days – Johnson Crooks and Hullah. Prototype homes were constructed on Oriole, Partridge, and Pintail streets. Homes of pan abode and others with high-sloped ceilings or banks of windows were among the choices. The builders of Kitimat chose innovative materials and designs.