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District of Kitimat[1]
Aerial photo of Kitimat residential area with Douglas Channel in the background.
Aerial photo of Kitimat residential area with Douglas Channel in the background.
Flag of Kitimat
Kitimat is located in British Columbia
Location in British Columbia
Kitimat is located in Canada
Kitimat (Canada)
Coordinates: 54°03′12″N 128°39′08″W / 54.05333°N 128.65222°W / 54.05333; -128.65222[2] CCoordinates: 54°03′12″N 128°39′08″W / 54.05333°N 128.65222°W / 54.05333; -128.65222[2] C
ProvinceBritish Columbia
Regional districtKitimat–Stikine
 • MayorPhil Germuth[3]
 • Total242.63 km2 (93.68 sq mi)
40 m (130 ft)
 • Total8,131
 • Density34.7/km2 (90/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-07:00 (PDT)
Forward sortation area
Area code250 / 778 / 236
Highways Hwy 37

Kitimat is a district municipality in the North Coast region of British Columbia, Canada. It is a member municipality of the Regional District of Kitimat–Stikine regional government. The Kitimat Valley is part of the most populous urban district in northwest British Columbia, which includes Terrace to the north along the Skeena River Valley. The city was planned and built by the Aluminum Company of Canada (Alcan) during the 1950s. Its post office was approved on June 6, 1952.[4]

Kitimat's municipal area is 242.63 km2 (93.68 sq mi). It is located on tidewater in one of the few wide, flat valleys on the coast of British Columbia. The 2016 census recorded 8,131 citizens.[5]

The District of Kitimat Development Services situates the port of Kitimat as an integral part of the Northwest Corridor connecting North America to the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Rim.[6]


"Kitimat" in the Tsimshian language refers to the Haisla First Nation as the "People of the Snow". Before 1950 the Kitimat township was a small fishing village at the head of the Kitimat Arm of the Douglas Channel, a deepwater fjord.[7]

The municipal town of Kitimat came into existence in 1951 after the Provincial Government of British Columbia invited Alcan to develop hydroelectric facilities to support one of the most power-intensive of all industries—the aluminum smelting industry.[8] The company built a dam, 16 km (10 mi) tunnel, powerhouse, 82 km (51 mi) transmission line, a deep-sea terminal and smelter. The company also designed, laid out and assisted with the initial construction of the city. At the time, the combined development was considered "the most expensive project ever attempted by private industry."[7]

Alcan employed the services of city planner Clarence Stein in order to ensure the community design facilitated an environment that would attract and retain workers, although Alcan intended it to not be a company town.[9] Today, Kitimat benefits from the quality of planning resulting from the Garden City design concept. Stein's design kept industry well separated from the community with large areas for expansion. He also created looped streets surrounding an urban city centre mall and linked by over 45 km (28 mi) of walkways connecting to all areas of the community.

The substantial greenspace areas and future expansion concepts designed by Stein have been upheld to this day by the city planners, thereby resulting in a low-density settlement pattern interspersed with forested patches. Also, the Alcan-based city origin and land provenance remain documented in the form of restrictive covenants registered on title.[10]


Aluminum producer Rio Tinto is the main employer in the municipality. Local government, schools, small manufacturing and service/retail are secondary contributors. Secondary core activities include engineering, import of petrochemical products (methanol and condensate), and metal fabrication. Approximately $5 billion in manufacturing investment is anticipated in the 2010–2015 period with a further $5 billion-plus in the investigative stage over the next decade.[citation needed] Anticipated investment includes an approximately $2 billion modernization to the Rio Tinto Alcan facilities and $3 billion in the Kitimat liquefied natural gas export development on Haisla Industrial Land at Bish Creek. The export facility would see natural gas piped in from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (particularly from shale gas developments such as the Montney and Horn River) and shipped to Asian markets.[11] The LNG Canada project, a joint venture between Shell and affiliates of Mitsubishi Corporation, Korea Gas Corporation and PetroChina would, if permitted, begin construction in 2015 of a gas pipeline from northeastern BC and a LNG export terminal with an expected lifespan of 30 years. The terminal, located on the Douglas Channel near the aluminum refinery, would be able to accommodate two LNG vessels at a time. Annual volume would be 24 million tonnes.[12] In July 2014 the Financial Post reported that Apache Corp. will "completely exit" the Kitimat LNG mega-project planned for B.C.'s West Coast. The U.S. hedge fund Jana Partners LLC has pressured Houston-based Apache to sell its 50% stake in the BC shale gas plays.[13]

Pending energy projects that have identified Kitimat as a strategic gateway include Pacific Northern Gas' Pacific Trail Pipeline (federal and provincial environmental assessments issued) and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines (currently being reviewed by the National Energy Board).

Additional investigations into clean energy developments include a Kitimat port development project featuring break-bulk port facilities and consideration of the best uses for the former Eurocan Wharf.[citation needed] In addition, the decommissioning of the former Eurocan pulp and paper facilities or a slimmed down operation are still under consideration. There is also renewed interest in mineral development potential in the Kitimat area. The neighbouring community of Terrace is also in advanced stages of approval for a number of clean energy projects along with the associated infrastructure for linking those projects to the provincial electrical grid.

Air services for the community are provided through Northwest Regional Airport, with connections to Prince George, Smithers, and Vancouver.

Kemano hydroelectric project[edit]

External media
Kemano-Kitimat transmission line
image icon Catenary
video icon Helicopter landing on catenary

In the 1920s, the provincial government of British Columbia extensively evaluated the province's hydroelectric generating potential. In the late 1940s, the Canadian Government sought to tap the untapped resources of northwest British Columbia. All this led to the identification of the Eutsuk/Ootsa/Nechako River drainage basin as a potential site for a sizable reservoir. The potential of this vast system of rivers and lakes prompted British Columbia to invite Alcan to conduct a detailed investigation of the area. Alcan was searching for a site for a large aluminum smelter, an activity requiring vast amounts of electricity. Alcan concluded that the area was more than adequate to generate the required electricity, and decided to build a smelter there. The timing was right because the post-World War II boom saw a rising demand for aluminum.

Between 1951 and 1954, after signing the agreement with the British Columbia government for land and water rights, Alcan undertook the Kitimat–Kemano Project, one of the most ambitious Canadian engineering projects of the 20th century.[7] The project required not only building the Kenney Dam to reverse the Nechako River, but also boring a 16 km (10 mi) tunnel under Mt. Dubose, within the Coast Range, to the large hydroelectric Kemano Generating Station built under Mt. Dubose. Electricity from Kemano is transported 80 km (50 mi) across mountains via a custom built twin circuit transmission line. After avalanches tore away transmission towers, a catenary system was built.[14]

In three years, 6,000 construction workers built the dam, tunnel, powerhouse, transmission line, smelter, and town.[15]

The town of Kitimat was carved out of old-growth forest. The company invested over CA$500 million (equivalent to CA$3.3 billion) and employed over 35,000 workers over the five years required to build the Kenney Dam, the hydropower plant under Mt. Dubose at Kemano, a 250,000 tpy aluminum smelter, a year-round deepwater port, a townsite designed for a population of 50,000, and a paved highway to the outside world. As a result of this project other companies saw the potential of the area, resulting in further industrial development in the Kitimat valley.

LNG Canada terminal project[edit]

On 1 October 2018, Royal Dutch Shell and its Asia partners gave formal approval to an estimated $40 billion investment into the construction of a new liquified natural gas port terminal project named LNG Canada, coupled with the construction by a subsidiary of TransCanada of a gas pipeline, known as the Coastal GasLink Pipeline, linking this terminal to the Montney, British Columbia, natural gas field.

If and when completed, LNG Canada should become the first Canadian LNG export ocean terminal, which will compete with other LNG terminals in the US, either existing or planned on the West (Alaska, Washington, Oregon), Gulf (Louisiana, Texas) and Atlantic coasts (Maryland, Virginia).

This new terminal to be built in the port of Kitimat will be connected to the Pacific Ocean via the existing Douglas Channel. This development will add new sensitive ship traffic when the LNG Canada natural gas storage and liquefaction terminal will be completed and operational, which is estimated to be in 2025. The LNG Canada terminal project will see large LNG carrier ships loading liquefied natural gas at the future Kitimat LNG terminal, and sailing along the Douglas Channel to carry it to export destinations, mainly in Asia.


Kitimat is located 63 km (39 mi) south of Terrace on Highway 37. Prince Rupert is 207 km (129 mi) northwest, and Prince George is 629 km (391 mi) to the east.


Kitimat has an continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with mild summers and cold, snowy winters(much warmer than inland)with significant snowfall averaging 128 inches (325 cm) each year. The rainiest season is fall, with the wettest month October having 320 mm of rainfall. There is also a significant drying trend in summer. Cloud cover is significant, especially in winter, and less than 30% of possible sunshine occurs each year.

Climate data for Kitimat
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12.2
Average high °C (°F) 0.5
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.7
Average low °C (°F) −4.0
Record low °C (°F) −25.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 288.4
Average rainfall mm (inches) 195.7
Average snowfall cm (inches) 92.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 19.7 15.5 18.5 17.2 15.8 14.8 13.2 13.7 16.9 22.1 21.7 21.5 210.5
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 14.5 12.0 16.7 17.0 15.8 14.8 13.2 13.7 16.9 21.9 18.8 14.8 190.1
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 9.2 6.3 5.0 1.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 7.0 11.4 41.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 48.5 75.9 103.8 153.9 199.6 189.5 214.3 196.5 129.7 69.2 38.1 30.9 1,449.9
Percent possible sunshine 19.5 27.7 28.3 36.6 40.3 37.1 41.7 42.7 33.9 21.1 14.8 13.3 29.7
Source: [16]


Historical population

In 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. With a land area of 239.28 km2 (92.39 sq mi), it had a population density of 34.4/km2 (89.1/sq mi) in 2021.[20]


Canada 2016 Census Population % of Total Population
Visible minority group
South Asian 155 1.9%
Chinese 40 0.5%
Black 80 1%
Filipino 90 1.1%
Latin American 70 0.9%
Arab 0 0%
Southeast Asian 15 0.2%
West Asian 0 0%
Korean 30 0.4%
Japanese 25 0.3%
Other visible minority 15 0.2%
Mixed visible minority 40 0.5%
Total visible minority population 555 6.9%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 670 8.3%
Métis 225 2.8%
Inuit 0 0%
Total Aboriginal population 940 11.7%
European 6,560 81.4%
Total population 8,055 100%


According to the 2021 census, religious groups in Kitimat included:[23]


The Alcan project was not free from controversy. Politicians, aboriginal groups, farmers and residents of the Nechako Lakes District opposed the contractual release of provincial resources with the profits going to a private firm. Many individuals and groups protested the flooding caused by the creation of the new reservoir, with the destruction of homesteads, villages, burial grounds, millions of board feet of prime timber, 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 Alcan had already bored a second tunnel through the mountain and extended the generating station within the mountain, the provincial government of the day called a halt to the project for a variety of reasons. Having invested 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.

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

Rio Tinto Alcan plans to increase the output of its Kitimat smelter from 250,000 MT/Yr to 400,000 MT/Yr and initially committed $300 million to this effort. Since late 2008, relations between Rio Tinto Alcan and the District appear to have become more cordial, with the two parties working to achieve modernization of the aluminum facilities. In December 2011, Rio Tinto Alcan announced its investment of $2.7 billion to complete the modernization of the smelter.[24]



  • Kitimat Northern Sentinel[25]



  • Channel 3 – CFTK-TV, CTV 2 affiliate (Terrace)
  • DTBS cable channel 10

Notable people[edit]

  • Benjamin Arthur - actor
  • Mark Fitzpatrick - professional ice hockey goaltender
  • Wayne Kelly - Swimmer. 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. 5th - 4 x 200m freestyle relay.
  • Jon Kelly - Swimmer. 1988 Seoul Olympics. 7th 200m butterfly, 12th 400m Individual Medley.
  • Bill Leeb – musician and record producer
  • Alison Redford - lawyer, Canadian politician, Alberta Progressive Conservative Leader and MLA (2011 - 2014), first female Premier of Alberta
  • Eden Robinson – author

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" (XLS). British Columbia Ministry of Communities, Sport and Cultural Development. Archived from the original on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Kitimat". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada.
  3. ^ Mayor and Council
  4. ^ Hamilton, William (1978). The Macmillan Book of Canadian Place Names. Toronto: Macmillan. p. 44. ISBN 0-7715-9754-1.
  5. ^ "Census Profile, 2016 Census - Kitimat, District municipality [Census subdivision], British Columbia and Kitimat-Stikine, Regional district [Census division], British Columbia". 8 February 2017.
  6. ^ The Private International Port of Kitimat (PDF), Kitimat: a Port City on the Move, Kitimat, British Columbia: District of Kitimat Development Services, 2005, archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2013, retrieved 5 May 2014
  7. ^ a b c Boyer, David S. (September 1956). "Kitimat–Canada's Aluminum Titan". National Geographic. National Geographic Society. CX (3): 376–398.
  8. ^ 'Top Planners Here to Map Alcan City', Vancouver Sun 19 September 1951 p. 21
  9. ^ "The Town of Kitimat". Royal BC Museum. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  10. ^ "Sample Kitimat residential land-title document, including expectation of tolerance of emissions from Alcan smelter in Kitimat, Province of British Columbia, Canada" (PDF).
  11. ^ Kitimat LNG. "Kitimat LNG's terminal". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
  12. ^ "Shell submits Kitimat plans for $4 billion gas pipeline and terminal to government environmental agencies". The Province. Canadian Press. 3 April 2013. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  13. ^ Lewis, Jeff (31 July 2014), "Kitimat LNG mega-project in doubt after major American partner pulls out", Financial Post
  14. ^ "Challenges for Industry and Town". Royal BC Museum. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  15. ^ Kendrick, John. "Making It Happen". Royal BC Museum. Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  16. ^ "Calculation Information for 1981 to 2010 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Archived from the original on 18 February 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  17. ^ "2011 Census: Population and dwelling counts". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  18. ^ "2001 Community Profiles: Community Highlights for Kitimat". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  19. ^ "1996 Census of Population: Electronic Area Profiles: Kitimat, DM". Statistics Canada. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  20. ^ "Population and dwelling counts: Canada, provinces and territories, and census subdivisions (municipalities), British Columbia". Statistics Canada. 9 February 2022. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  21. ^ "Community Profiles from the 2011 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision". 6 December 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  22. ^ "Aboriginal Peoples - Data table". 6 October 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  23. ^ Government of Canada, Statistics Canada (26 October 2022). "Census Profile, 2021 Census of Population". Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  24. ^ Press Release: Rio Tinto to invest US$2.7 billion to complete the modernization of the Kitimat aluminium smelter in Canada. Online at Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Kitimat Northern Sentinel

External links[edit]