Choose a Neighbourhood
The community that group 3 has selected for the term project and neighbourhood analysis is Kitimat BC. Kitimat is a community that is located in Northwestern BC. It is a community that was built and centered on the construction of Alcan (Aluminum Company of Canada) in 1950.
The main issue of all the neighbourhoods in Kitimat is the dramatic decline that they have experienced as a result of the major population loss from 1996 to 2006. The population loss during this period is 24.7%. The result of the population decline has resulted in real estate values plummeting, the highest vacancy rate in BC (of the 27 urban centers) and high unemployment levels. Further consequence from the decline is a lot of empty residential homes, rental units, commercial properties, and decaying old houses that are not being renovated.
Kitimat is a community that is located in Northwestern BC. It is a community that was built and centered on the construction of Alcan (Aluminum Company of Canada) in 1950. In the 1940’s the British Columbia government wanted to develop the northwest and north central regions of our province. On knowledge obtained from a 1920’s survey regarding the possibilities of hydroelectrical generating potential of the province it was identified that there was a great opportunity to generate inexpensive power from the Nechako River. Alcan (merged with Rio Tinto Alcan 2008) was given the opportunity to explore the opportunity that existed within this region in 1950. The company realized the enormous potential that was present and thus began the construction of the Kenney dam and the Kemano powerhouse.
The 2006 census states that the community of Kitimat has a population 8,987. The top five ethnic backgrounds are Portuguese (1,170), Canadian (820), German (535), English (455) and the North American Indian (385).
The census also reported 8,535 Canadian citizens in the community. 415 people declared otherwise.
The majority of the population is in the 15-34 population range with 2,015 people (22.29%). The next group that follows is the 45-54 age bracket at 1,810 (20.21%). The 35-44 range is the next largest group with 1,390 (15.5%) followed by the 5-14 age group of 1,245 (13.9%). The next group is the 55-64 age set with 1,165 citizens (13%). The 65 and up group consists of 955 people (10.6%). The final group is 0- 4 years. There are 400 youngsters that represent 4.5% of the population between the age of 0 and 4.
Approximately one-third of the population of Kitimat has a High School diploma. 17.1% have a College Certificate or Diploma. 15.6% have an apprenticeship or Trades Certificate. 11.5% have a University Certificate, Diploma or Degree.
The female average income is $22,753 with the national average being $23,828. The male average income of $45,044 is considerably higher than the national average of $34,834.
The community was designed by an individual named Clarence Stein. His premise for the design of the community was to incorporate the Garden City design. The layout of the community kept industry and commercial property away from residential neighbourhoods and provided plenty of greenspace along with 45 kilometres of sidewalks connecting all residential streets. This planned community was and still remains very unique and original compared to other communities in British Columbia as it is the only one of its kind in Canada. As well, there are only seven other communities with the Garden City design in the world. This design is an attractive feature for promoting the community as a place to retire.
The community was designed to have a City Centre that was separate from any residences. The City Centre includes shopping facilities (Overwaitea, Super Value) a mall, two ice rinks, five banks and numerous commercial businesses that include Home Hardware. City Centre has felt the effects of deindustrialization and increased automation (that has resulted in positions being eliminated through attrition) in its mall. The mall is experiencing similar vacancy rates as rental accommodation. The last two months have been no exception as two tenants closed their doors, Movie Gallery and Royal LePage. The community is back to one company that sells real estate. The recreation facilities have been maintained thus far, however, council had recently considered the closure of the Kitimat Ice rink (the original arena built in the community). Instead, council opted to maintain most services and increase property taxes by 20%.
The service centre is located west of the Haisla Bridge and is the home of services such as Emporium Building centre (Irly building centre), 101 Industries (plumbing, heating, sheet-metal and roofing company), TLT Electric, Couto Electric, one auto dealership (Ford), three welding shops, two Chinese restaurants, Kal Tire, one service station, three auto parts stores and a Hotel with a night club and a cold beer and wine store. This service neighbourhood has seen the loss of one building supply centre (1996), one auto dealership (GM – 1990), one body shop (2003) and one welding shop (1994). As well, there are numerous commercial stalls with various businesses that have closed their doors over the years.
Gentrification is the process where high income household’s purchase and upgrade housing that was previously occupied by residents of a much lower income level. Today, gentrification may be considered as a condominium development. The only form of gentrification that has taken place in the community of Kitimat is a condominium development in the older section of the Whitesail neighbourhood. This part of the neighbourhood has not seen new construction since 1980. In 1997 a vacant parcel located on Creed Street (intersection of N. Lahakas Blvd and Nalabila Blvd) was developed with a modern 14 unit town home condominium development. This project was finally completed in 2006, nine years after breaking ground. To date, this is the only the only form of gentrification that has taken place.
Neo-Liberalism is the tendency for government withdraws from the economic and social scene. The premise of this policy is to reverse Keynesian strategies of government spending. The community of Kitimat has received minimal impact regarding Neo-Liberalism policies. The only present form of the municipality leading to this type of policy and change is when the District of Kitimat eliminated refuse collection and the maintenance of the local land fill site as services that they provided. This change eliminated municipal jobs that paid union wages and benefits. Privatizing these services has provided employees with a job at a much reduced wage without benefits. This type of change is beneficial to the companies that receive the contracts to provide these services.
Recreation Facilities and Services offered by community
Kitimat has made it a priority to provide excellent recreation due to its isolation from a large centre (Prince George is located 628 KM east). The community feels that providing excellent facilities will attract skilled individuals to the community.
The community has been fortunate to have two ice rinks since 1980. The original Kitimat Ice rink was built in 1955 and it offers a 26m x 58m ice surface and a seating capacity of 600. The second sheet of ice (Tamitik arena) opened its doors in 1980. It has a 27m x 61m ice surface with a seating capacity of 1,977 and standing room for 400.
Sam Lindsay Aquatic centre has received a 15 million dollar upgrade that was completed in 2008. This facility now offers features such a 25m six lane pool, a water park toys, lazy river, water slides and a sauna with 50 person capacity. As well, the facility has two squash courts, one racquet-ball court and a strength training room.
As mentioned previously, the community also offers a recreational facility (Riverlodge – located in the Kildala neighbourhood). This facility offers a 14.63m x 30.48m gymnasium, a strength training room, cardio room, 3 soft ball fields, soccer pitch and 3 tennis courts. As well, the facility offers a racquetball court and a boulder wall.
The Hirsch Creek Golf and Winter Club (located in Whitesail neighbourhood) offers an 18 hole golf course and Winter Club (that was constructed in 1997) that offers a restaurant and a 4 sheet curling rink.
The fire and ambulance service is the finest in BC when compared to the population of the community. The department is made up of a fire and deputy chief, 4 captains and fourteen firefighters. This is the largest department per capita in BC and provides ambulance service as well.
The community has recently had a new hospital that was built and completed in 2002. The new facility is a modern 120,000 square foot health complex that provides 58 beds (36 multi-level care and 22 acute care) two operating rooms and a complete laboratory, rehabilitation and diagnostic imaging department. The facility also contains clinics for diabetes, outreach, public health, home care, home support and mental health services.
The community consists of 4 residential neighbourhoods that include Kildala, Nechako, Whitesail and Cablecar. As well, the community has a service, industrial and city centre.
Kildala was the first neighbourhood that was developed with homes and one neighbourhood school. This neighbourhood is located in the lower level of the community known as the downtown. The boundaries start just after the Haisla Bridge as you leave the service centre. It then travels east along Haisla Boulevard and then turns right at South Lahakas Boulevard. From here the boundary continues and then travels south on Quatsino Boulevard travelling past a rural development
(Cranberry and Blueberry St. - developed in 2000 with many lots still remaining vacant). The boundary then continues as you turn west and travel along Kuldo Boulevard (BC Assessment map shows the outer limit as the Dyke road which is a gravel road) and then straight up to Haisla Boulevard. This neighbourhood had the bulk of its homes constructed between 1954 and 1960. The typical homes are single detached one-storey crawlspace homes that range between 950 to 1,000 square feet. There are also semi-detached units that are between 900 to 950 square feet. As well, two mobile trailer parks are located in the neighbourhood. The population of this neighbourhood is approximately 2,426 (represents approximately 27% of 2006 census population statistic of 8,987). This neighbourhood is provided with public transit service every half hour seven days a week (6:00 am -11:00 pm). Other services include a riverlodge recreation centre, one hotel (with motel as well) with a restaurant and pub and a neighbourhood convenience store with Laundromat. Rental accommodation includes 186 apartments (mixture of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments) and 96 townhouses.
The main issue that is faced in this residential neighbourhood are high vacancy rates in rental units and the mobile home parks. This neighbourhood has experienced the greatest amount of homes in the community that are in disrepair and vacant. The mobile home parks are experiencing a 50% vacancy with continual departures of the newer mobile homes being relocated elsewhere. As well, the local neighbourhood gas station (Petro-Canada) closed its’ doors in 2007. The neighbourhood hotel and motel only experienced no vacancy when The Eurocan Pulp and Paper mill had their annual shut-down.
The Nechako neighbourhood was constructed shortly after Kildala’s neighbourhood began. The boundary of this neighbourhood starts at the intersection of North Lahakas Boulevard and Nalabila Boulevard and extends east through to highway 37. From this point the boundaries extend south down Haisla Boulevard to the intersection of Haisla Boulevard and Lahakas. At this point the boundary continues north along Lahakas Boulevard until its intersection of Nalabila Boulevard.
The bulk of homes constructed in this neighbourhood were between 1955 and 1965. The homes are predominantly semi-detached one-storey slab homes that range between 900 and 1,000 square feet. As well, there are single detached homes on slab and on basements. The population of this neighbourhood is approximately 2,426 (represents 28.5% of the 2006 census population statistics). This neighbourhood is provided with public transit service every half hour seven days a week (6:00 am -11:00pm). Other services include one neighbourhood elementary school, a corner store, local gym, gas and convenience store, Klassik home Fashions (supplies paint, blinds, cabinets etc.) neighbourhood pub, Pizzarama ( take-out pizza business), Insta Loan and a Laundromat. Services that have closed their doors in this neighbourhood include Nechako theatre (2007), Cormorant Elementary (2002) and 75% of Nechako centre which has been slowly emptying out over the years. Rental accommodation includes 30 three bedroom townhouses, and 256 apartments that include a mixture of one, two and three bedroom units.
The issues that have faced this neighbourhood are high vacancy rates, rental apartments that have been decommissioned because of deferred maintenance, one elementary school closure and numerous commercial buildings that have lost their tenants and thus have not been maintained. The original building in Nechako centre has been decommissioned and is currently unrentable due to the lack of upkeep over the years (roof is leaking severely). This neighbourhood is also experiencing homes that are in disrepair and vacant.
The Whitesail neighbourhood began construction in 1957. This neighbourhood is the largest in the community. It continues to grow (at a very slow pace) today as the latest subdivision development (Wakita, Wozney Ave.) are located in it. The boundaries of this neighbourhood begin at the intersection of Alexander Ave. and Nalabila Boulevard. The boundary proceeds north along Alexander Ave. and then turns and travels south to the intersection of Kingfisher and Nalabila. From here the boundary line proceeds east and west along Nalabila intersecting at its point of origin, and at Hwy 37.
The homes in this neighbourhood typically range between 1,100 and 3,000 square feet. The bulk of the homes built in the 1970’s are one-storey on basement. The homes built in the mid 1980’s until present are typically two-storey homes on a full basement. The population of this neighbourhood is approximately 3,530 (represents 39.25% of the 2006 census population statistics). This neighbourhood is provided with public transit service every half hour seven days a week (6:00 am -11:00pm). ). Other services include one neighbourhood elementary school, the only secondary school in the community, one corner store and a service station. Rental accommodation provided includes 117 townhouses, and 224 apartments that include a mixture of two and three bedroom units. The issue that have faced this neighbourhood are high vacancy rates, rental townhouses that have been decommissioned because of deferred maintenance (lack of tenants to support upkeep), and one school and corner store closure. As well, there are several homes that are in disrepair and are vacant.
Cablecar is the last neighbourhood that was constructed in Kitimat. Phase one was developed in 1976 and phase two was developed in 1982. This neighbourhood is located 5 kilometres north of Kitimat on highway 37 travelling towards Terrace BC. The boundary of this neighbourhood is clearly defined in the two maps provided. This neighbourhood is not adjacent to any of the other three neighbourhoods.
The homes in this neighbourhood typically range between 1,100 and 3,000 square feet. The bulk of the homes built in the 1970’s are one-storey on basement. The homes built in the mid 1980’ and 1990’s are typically two-storey homes on a full basement. The population of this neighbourhood is approximately 470 (represents 5.20% of the 2006 census population statistics). This neighbourhood is not provided with public transit; however, elementary and secondary students receive bus service. This neighbourhood consists strictly of residential homes on 1 and 2 acre parcels. This neighbourhood has not experienced the impact of deindustrialization as the others have. The possible reason is that it is strictly a residential neighbourhood that is very small in comparison to the rest. As well, there are no rental units, commercial businesses or schools that can be affected.
What are the causes?
The main contributing factor of the decline of the three main neighbourhoods in the community is population loss. In 1974 Alcan smelters employed 2,730 individuals. In 1990 the company employed 1,900. In the 1980’s Alcan began to remove positions through attrition, citing changing technology and market forces. By 1990 the workforce had been reduce by 830. Deindustrialization began in the community in November of 1981 when Eurocan announced the closure of its saw mill. This shut-down meant the loss of 350 jobs. Thus, between 1974 and 1990 the community lost 1,180 high paying jobs. This initiated the start of business closure in the service centre and the Nechako centre. As well, rental townhouses starting to empty out. Some homes built in the 1950’s were selling for as little as $19,000 as there was an abundance of them on the market. The period between 1990 and 2010 has experienced a surge in real estate prices (1994-1997) that was sparked by a large number of European couples that arrived in the 1950’s to work at Alcan and then decided to retire in the community. Their positions were filled by the younger generation. In 2000 Alcan began to reduce staff once again. During this reduction the number of employees went from 1,900 to 1,600. The economy of the community once again went into an economic downturn. In 2002 Methanex shut down their Methanol plant in Kitimat for a period of one year. This was an attempt to minimize costs during a poor economic period. The company eventually seized methanol production in 2005.
The resurgence of the economy returned in Kitimat when Enbridge announced Kitimat (October 15, 2005) as their choice for their pipeline destination from the Alberta tar sands. As well, Kitimat LNG makes their announcement of an agreement with the Haisla First nations regarding the construction of a regasification terminal on native lands. These two announcements fuel the economy with real estate values rising until October 28th 2009, the day West Fraser’s Eurocan Pulp and Paper plant is announced that it would be closed as of January 31st 2010.
As of September 1, 2010 BC Assessment estimates that the real estate values in the community have dropped 30%. Deindustrialization has once again reduced values in the community and raised the vacancy rates of rental units.
Why study Kitimat?
This issue is worth analysing because it is an all too common issue that has faced a lot of communities throughout the province of BC, the rest of Canada and parts of the U.S. There have been numerous mill closures in recent years that have had devastating impacts on people’s lives. This issue is very common in today’s business world as industry in Canada and the United States are faced with competing industry in other parts of the world that have a competitive edge, thus resulting in the demise of the weaker corporations. The net impact is the deindustrialization of Canada and the United States which is a significant issue that has faced these two countries. The result is polarization in the Canadian and US cities with a shift in economic system to deindustrialization and the emergence of the service, entertainment and culture economy. This new economy does not command the higher wages that are typical in industry employment. As a result, this new economy is slowly eroding the middle class income earners that had the ability to purchase the goods that they manufactured.
The common argument that support should not be given to industry that will not last and that centralizing activities in the urban core to benefit many instead of a few will result in the cities of Canada and the US increasing in size. The net result is the rural communities that provide service for tourism and transport trucks will decline. British Columbia and other provinces in Canada are more than just the large centres that exist within the province. However, to explore a province you need service such as hotels, restaurants, and well maintained roads. The Kitimat closure of the Eurocan Pulp and Paper Mill represents approximately $37,000,000 lost in wages. A lot of this income is spent in the community and in others in the province. Thus, it is diffused in the BC economy and is a contributing factor in paying for services in other parts of the province as well.
The outsourcing and relocation of production –oriented activities to offshore locations are jobs that may never return. These positions were high paying jobs that provided employees with the opportunity to buy vehicles and homes. The new post- Fordism economy is a service, entertainment and cultural economy. This economy is currently working well in large centres such as Vancouver as they can attract the film industry from Los Angeles. The film industry in Vancouver is the third largest in North America, as well; the video game industry is currently employing 3,500 in the lower mainland paying professional salaries. With the thriving movie and video industry paying professional salaries, the economy will strengthen in the service and entertainment sector as these individuals spend their earnings. With the service sector booming an abundance of jobs are created. Thus, a lot of people today will work two or three jobs to make ends meet. This economy seems to be functioning fairly well in the Cities. However, in the smaller communities once they lose their economic engine of an industry they do not have the entertainment industry lining up in their community to do business. Thus, the service and entertainment industry does not do nearly as well in smaller communities. It is difficult for an individual to obtain even one job. For communities such as Kitimat that do not have drive through traffic, industry loss is devastating to businesses and restaurants.
This issue should be analyzed for all communities not just Kitimat. However, Kitimat is a unique community that was planned from its initial stages and provides an abundance of recreational services along with an excellent medical facility (new hospital) and fire and ambulance service. Thus, this issue should be analyzed for the sake of the communities continued existence. If the community loses more population the community will lose recreation service (shut-down an arena etc.), and hospital and fire department service. The community has an infrastructure for a population of 20,000 it should be utilized.
Need for Resolution
The issue facing the three main neighbourhoods in the community need to be resolved because the cause of the neighbourhood’s demise will affect other communities as well. The impact of people departing has already impacted the restaurant business in the community. It has been stated by local business owner Louisa Teves (Pedro’s Grill) has stated that business is down 30% since the end of August as people have vacated the community in pursuit of other employment. The fact that the community is shrinking will have an adverse affect on Terrace BC (The hub of the northwest) as well. Terrace is the hub of the northwest and relies extensively on the high paying salaries that the community of Kitimat provides. If further industry or retirees do not enter the community then the population will plummet to 5,000 people. It has been stated that the last time the community lost 500 jobs the population drop in the community was approximately 4,000 people. If this prediction is correct the community will be reduced to a population of 5,000 and will continue to lose services, businesses and more rental units will be decommissioned. The community will be the home to a lot of empty rental units, businesses and older houses. The decay will be widespread throughout the neighbourhood and will affect the neighbouring community of Terrace as well.
Furthermore, if we do not try to resolve this issue in the community of Kitimat or others like it, tourist will have no reason to travel beyond the metropolitan centres of the Country. Why travel beyond city limits if you are going to enter communities that have boarded up businesses, rental units, vacant houses and roads that are in need of repair. The issue is important because you want to promote your province to tourists abroad to explore what British Columbia has to offer. Kitimat is a one of the greatest communities in the world for the great outdoors and its legendary fishing. For the tourist and fisherman that visit Kitimat their first impression will be a community that has experienced financial hardship with bankruptcy being prevalent. Tourist would like to see vibrant communities with growth in progress. A community that has land development followed behind by construction development. Instead the community of Kitimat (and others in the province as well) have developed subdivisions that will take over 20 years to fill.
What is the solution?
The solution to this problem is to increase the population of the community. If the population increases to the levels of the 1970’s and early 1980’s the community will be vibrant with growth and wealth instead of desolation and decay. How can we increase the population of the community? There are several ways that it can be done. The obvious solution is to promote, advertise and market the amenities of the community. As mentioned previously, the community of Kitimat has a great deal to offer for many people. The community has excellent recreation facilities, fire and ambulance service, and medical facility. As well, it provides great fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation. When you view the property values in the community they are considerably lower than most communities in BC. As well, the local crime rate is much lower than all the other communities. The infrastructure that is in place for this community is enough to accommodate a population of 20,000 people. Thus, if the community increases in population there will be incentive for individuals to start up a business.
Policy Recommendations at the Municipal level
It is municipal policy for every property owner in a community to pay annual property taxes that are due each year on July 1st. The municipality of Kitimat could make some exceptions with this policy to stimulate the interest of individuals that may consider buying a home or starting a business in the community. Policy exceptions could include an incentive for new homes being built in the community. An exemption clause allowing individuals who build new homes to have the opportunity of not paying property tax on the improvement portion for five years. This may stimulate speculation building that may attract retirees from other communities. As well, people from other communities may consider buying a vacant parcel and building their dream home on it. For people that are interested in buying a home (that is already constructed), rental unit or starting a business in the community a two year exemption would be provided on land and improvement property taxes. These people of the community would have to be educated on the benefits of this policy. Initially, citizens may oppose citing that this would not be fair to the other citizens of the community. However, when educated they will understand that houses that remain empty for a long period of time and cannot be sold will usually end being obtained by the municipality for unpaid taxes. When these homes are in the possession of the municipality there is no collection of property taxes from them. Thus, there will be a tax shift from homes that are empty and owned by the municipality to people that are owner occupiers.
As well, the policy should be extended to any industry that is interested in establishing their presence in the community for a minimum of 25 years. Other stipulations for agreement would include a minimum of 50 jobs and property tax exemption for land and improvements for a period of five years.
Policy recommendations at the Federal and Provincial level
The Federal and provincial government can provide stimulus to industry that would like to establish their production in any of the provinces in Canada. The initial cost of every industry is expensive. For this reason incentives are necessary in order for industries to be attracted to a region. Methanex shut-down their facility in Kitimat in 2005 because of high North American natural gas price. Instead the presence of Methanex has grown with the completion of Chile 4 in 2005. The large presence in Chile exists from favourable natural gas prices provided by the government. Our government could provide favourable incentives to lure potential investors. An example would be corporate tax relief during the first three years of operation for a facility that will employ a minimum of 50 people and will be operational for a minimum of 25 years. As well, crown land can be provided at no cost as a cost saving measure for the initial start-up of the project.
When Alcan began their operation in Kitimat in 1950 they were given the Nechako River to dam and generate power. As well, they were given all the land in Kemano (home of the power generation facility) and Kitimat at no cost. The company was given a natural resource of BC to create jobs. This type of incentive must be provided if corporations are going to return.
1. The first obvious solution is to use the assets of the community to promote it. The community has the great outdoors for hiking, fishing, and hunting. Kitimat is known world-wide for its great world-class fishing. As well, the community has great recreational and medical facilities that are above average for a community of its size. This combination is very marketable to individuals that are very active and enjoy the outdoors, thus this would be one good target market of retirees.
2. The second target market would include retirees that lived in large centres for most of their lives acquiring real estate many years ago when it was much more affordable. However, with the increased cost of living in the City (property taxes, fuel cost etc.) a lot of these retirees do not have the savings or pensions to cover the increased cost of living every year. Thus, a community like Kitimat will allow then put some of their equity that they have obtained in their home in the City into a savings account as comparable homes in Kitimat are on average one-third (if not less) the value of homes in the City.
3. The third solution to the problem is to ensure projects like the proposed Enbridge pipeline and the Kitimat LNG project become a reality in the community. Currently, there is a lot of media attention that pertains to the construction of a pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat. As well, the concern is magnified even further with regards to the construction of the loading facility to fill tankers with crude oil to be shipped to the Asian markets. The concern with the construction of the proposed pipeline and Tanker traffic along the coast is that there have been two recent pipeline leaks in the US along with the highly publicized British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Enbridge must alleviate these concerns by educating the public regarding the differences in each of these situations as compared to the proposed project. The first concern regarding the oil spill in the Gulf must be identified as a different circumstance. This accident occurred because of an oil platform that exploded. The platform involved a different company and a different process. British Petroleum was involved in the process of oil extraction, whereas Enbridge is involved in oil transport. As well, the latest pipeline ruptures in the US (Michigan) involve pipelines that are much older technology as they were installed in the sixties. The company has recently lost the support of the municipal leaders in BC. The civic leaders of our province at the annual conference in Whistler passed a resolution opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway. They have also voted in favour of contacting senior government officials to formally legislate a ban on offshore oil drilling and to ban oil tanker traffic in the waters surrounding Haida Gwaii. The Mayor of Haida Gwaii has stated that the entire pipeline and oil tanker process involves unacceptable risk. The mayor has also stated that the consequence is too high, and our knowledge insufficient.
For the reasons mentioned, Enbridge must put forward a superior information package that involves addressing the recent oil spills that have taken place. The address must include the differences that exist between these spills that have occurred and the modern process that Enbridge currently uses that will help minimize the occurrence of a similar disaster. The best result would be to address the citizens of BC from a televised broadcast. By doing so, Enbridge would be able to address the people of British Columbia all at once, and provide individuals such as the Mayor of Haida Gwaii with the sufficient knowledge that is needed for them to make an educated decision of whether to support or reject the project.
4. Another solution to the problem could be to attract recreational enthusiasts to reside in Kitimat on a part-time basis. As an appraiser with BC Assessment I have met one individual who travelled to Kitimat for 20 years during his holidays to fish. When he retired he and his wife moved to Kitimat to retire. I met another individual who moved with his wife to Kitimat from Alberta. This individual is a retired farmer who loves salt water fishing in the Douglas Channel. He built an extravagant home on one of the acreage parcels that are available in the community. A third individual from Saskatchewan built a brand new home on acreage as well. This individual is a businessman who enjoys seasonal fishing and hunting in the community.
Thus, this provides evidence that the community is an attraction for individuals who enjoy hunting and fishing. There is a great deal of people all across Canada that shares this enthusiasm for the outdoors. A promotional package could be put together to target groups of people to buy homes jointly in the community for seasonal use. There are currently many homes that are listed on the market that are below $100,000. You can have a group of two or three people (that are friends) purchase one home and use it together or separately throughout the year. As an appraiser for BC Assessment I have spent a lot of time in Atlin BC (180 km south of Whitehorse) and have reviewed a lot of sales that involve purchasers buying cabins and homes for seasonal use. These sales transactions are a common occurrence every year. The medium used to attract these buyers is the internet. Since 1996 the real estate values in Atlin have increased dramatically due to the internet’s ability to provide information and photos of the community throughout the world. People have bought properties without physically travelling the distance to personally view the property. Kitimat has never had to promote the community until now. The community has the infrastructure to accommodate a lot of seasonal dwellers with its abundance of older stock homes. The amenities that the community has to offer can attract individuals from all over the world to enjoy Kitimat as a vacation destination on an annual basis.
5. A fifth solution to the problem that could contribute to the resurgence of the neighbourhood’s in the community is the construction of an oil refinery. This project would provide new employment and would also alleviate concerns that the public has regarding crude oil transported in oil tankers through the Kitimat Douglas Channel and onto the Queen Charlottes (Haida Gwaii). Refined oil would not impact the environment in the same manner as unrefined oil. If a spill occurred the bulk of the fuel would evaporate with the environmental impact being minimal.
An additional project that could provide similar results would be to promote the construction of an auto parts manufacturing plant. Aluminum and magnesium is going to be the future in the auto industry as auto makers will have to increase the overall fuel economy of their fleet. The reduced weight of these parts will increase the fuel economy of the vehicles that they produce. The benefit of locating a manufacturing plant in Kitimat is the transport cost of the aluminum ingots to the manufacturing plant is extremely low as it is located in the same community. As well, the finished product would be able to be transported by ship to customers.
The policy recommendations outlined earlier regarding property tax exemptions for five years if 50 jobs are created from a new project would be beneficial to companies that are considering the construction of a new plant. The initial cost of constructing a manufacturing plant of any type is a considerable amount, thus any cost savings in the initial stages of construction and start-up would be beneficial to any project that is currently under consideration.
6. Annually there are people who are immigrating to Canada. An added solution to the existing issue would be to attract these individuals who want to immigrate to Canada and provide them with tax relief, and municipal grant incentives (contingent on good business plan) to start-up a small business in the community. This investment condition will boost the economy of the small cities. People normally like to immigrate to the big cities with moderate weather like Vancouver. Providing motivations to start the business in smaller cities may have positive effects in growing the economy and consequently growing the city. New immigrants will get some benefits too. They can slowly become familiar with the Canadian culture and language on a smaller scale as coping in a metropolitan city is much more challenging.
The new economy that consists of service, entertainment and cultural has worked well for large centres such as Vancouver. It has also worked well for northern communities such as Prince George and Terrace. These communities have the benefit of being centrally located enabling them to benefit from the traffic flow from the neighbouring communities. With diminishing populations in the northern communities over the last decade due to job losses in the forestry industry, people have left their town to seek employment elsewhere. Thus, services have declined in these communities with shopping facilities, restaurants and movie theatres closing their businesses. An example of this would be the increased business that the movie theatre in Terrace has received since the closure of the Nechako Theatre in Kitimat.
For a community such as Kitimat this new found economy will not work well. The community does not have drive through traffic and is not centrally located. Similarly, Prince Rupert BC is a community located at the end of a highway as well, however, the community benefits from the BC and Alaskan Ferries that frequent the City. A lot of visitors to the community will spend the evening. This provides the City with the opportunity to have an abundance of restaurants and Hotels.
As well, the new economy consists of an increase in the financial, insurance and real estate sector (FIRE). This segment of the economy has been significant to the resurgence of the economy in the lower mainland during the period of 2003 to 2008. This segment of the economy does not prosper as well in the smaller northern communities. Centrally located communities such as Terrace will be more prosperous in the financial and insurance sector as it will draw individuals from the surrounding area. For a community such as Kitimat there is minimal financial and insurance service. The real estate sector has had its cycles over the years; however, real estate growth (new homes) has been on the decline since 1997. Thus, the FIRE segment of the economy does not generate a lot of employment in the community of Kitimat.
The new economies mentioned above will work well in the large centres in Canada and centrally located communities in the northern regions. For a community like Kitimat reliance for success is with manufacturing and the transporting of goods. The community has the infrastructure and excess land to accommodate any new industrial development. Also, Kitimat is in a prime location to serve the Pacific Rim countries such as China, Japan, and India; economies that are expanding at a rapid rate. For this reason the community should promote new manufacturing opportunities to established companies. The focus should be to present a marketing plan of what the community can offer a large corporation. In the past when Alcan established their presence in Kitimat they had to construct homes and rental units to accommodate the influx of people that moved to the community seeking employment. Eurocan Pulp and Paper also had to construct 300 homes to accommodate their immediate work force of approximately 1,100 people in 1969. A new company would not have to deal with the construction of infrastructure to support and accommodate their employees. This is a very attractive and enticing feature for any company looking to construct a manufacturing facility.
The infrastructure of the community of Kitimat can attract various groups of individuals and corporations. In order for success in attracting this group, the community has to be advertised and promoted. Advertising has been proven over the years as an effective avenue for communication that is intended to persuade an audience to purchase or take action upon a product, idea or a service.
Bunting, Trudi, Filion, Pierre, Walker, Ryan, (2010) Canadian Cities in Transition New Directions in the Twenty-First Century Fourth Edition (P.5, 6, 28, 30, 54, 56-59, 62, 88, 89, 95, 97, 101,113,121-124, 128, 170, 451)
Lawrence, A.T., Weber, J. Post, J. E, (2005) Business and Society Eleventh Edition (p.129-130).
Vannucci, Roberto, BC Assessment (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Louisa Teves, Owner, Pedro’s Grill
Trafford Hall, Municipal Manager District of Kitimat