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Settling In: Highlighting 50 Years of Kitimat's History

Signing the Incorporation Papers

"...when the first plans for the layout of the streets of the town were presented to the government people for approval, they required as with any more established town or city, the signature of two officials with signing authority for the town.  There were only two registered professional engineers on the site, W. H. Sparks, P. Eng., was already the Reeve of the non-existent town so he signed and as I was the other registered engineer he quickly appointed me as an engineer with signing authority for the town.  I think that the signing was the only thing I did in that exalted position."  Fred DeLory, February 2002

Wilbur Sparks & Fred DeLory signed the town plan on linen and this was sent to Victoria for town incorporation.  To incorporate, town council members had to be property owners.  In the United Nations’ film “Power Among Men” (circa 1959), a tongue-in-cheek reference was made by one Council member of the “swampland” he received.

Building a Town

In 1954, a Company statement on growth was issued to the town planners:

“For the initial phase, we have in mind permanent housing and facilities for upwards of 1,000 employees who will be directly associated with the Aluminum Company of Canada, Ltd.  As further smelter capacity is authorized by the company, personnel will increase to an ultimate of about 6,000.  From the outset, we hope that other industries, such as a pulp and paper mill, will be erected there concurrently with the aluminum smelter.  [The town is to be successively enlarged as new increments of power are brought in.]  In the end, we envisage a community of 30,000 to possibly as many as 50,000 persons.”  R. E. Powell, President

Given industry diversification and increasing production - the town was arranged into ten neighbourhoods in four stages of development. The fourth stage would be dependent on the building of the second power tunnel - the Kemano Completion Project - doubling the aluminum capacity.

Stage I

7,000 people

Stage II

13,000 people

Stage III

23,500 people

Stage IV

31,000 to 46,000

First Council of Kitimat

Kitimat's first District Council. From left are D.P.I. Hawkins, Municipal Engineer; Councillors B.S. Baxter, E.G. Cronk, and P.G. Margetts; C. McC. Henderson, Municipal Manager; W.H. Sparks, Reeve; Miss Y. Mearns, Deputy Clerk; Councillors G.T. Malby, G.M.K. Davis, and P.W. Hallman; and L.W. Wheeldon, Treasurer. Copied from Kitimat: The First Five Years, 1958.

Mr. Wilbur Sparks

Wilbur Sparks, Kitimat's first Reeve had been senior instrument man on the Stanley Frame survey party into Ootsa Lake in 1937 - to identify hydroelectric potential in the region for the provincial government. Photographed June 8, 1959