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Settling In: Highlighting 50 Years of Kitimat's History

Maintaining the Town Plan a Challenge

"We are interested in building neither palaces nor monuments, but we are extremely anxious to avoid a shack town…we must not be extravagant or encourage the community to be extravagant.  Through proper planning, we will try to avoid many needless mistakes and expenses of haphazard growth."  J.B. White, Vice President and Director of Personnel, Alcan.

The importance of the Master Plan - a community plan - to Kitimat was foremost.  Zoning was part of this good plan.  By August 1959, Mr. W. J. Spence wanted a place for his 700 six-week-old chicks.  Kildala residents did not want a chicken farm at Kuldo and Quatsino, and on the recommendation of District Planner Edmund T. Ames, the area was re-zoned.

Continual pressures on the Plan caused the District of Kitimat to consult original town planner Julian Whittlesey.  He came back to Kitimat that summer with a message - commit to the importance of planning and be vigilant.  His three recommendations were 1) Kitimat must make a legal commitment to the Master Plan before the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, 2) subdivision regulations as an aid to administration must be added, and 3) be specific and act with forethought in zoning.

“Most land is simply zoned for the time being as forest reserve awaiting development.  Meanwhile, a wide variety of uses is permitted awaiting the filing of neighbourhood plans.  This is a poor substitute for a legal Master Plan because the zoning can be radically modified as might suit transitory pressures from various quarters.” Julian Whittlesey, July 1959.

Nechako and Cormorant

Green space in the planned community of Kitimat, Cormorant School and Lahakas in the foreground, swath of land cleared for Neighbourhood D in the background, June 18, 1959.  On the official "Town Plan for Kitimat, B.C." by Stein and Mayer & Whittlesey, "D" would have three elementary schools, one junior and one senior high school. 

Town Planner Julian Whittlesy

"Visions and plans become reality for town planner Julian Whittlesey last weekend when he stood and surveyed what was dense wilderness when he arrived with early parties in 1951.  He was 'thrilled and excited' by what he saw..." September 2, 1959.