Tag Archives: Alcan

Kitimat: Life in a northern B.C. boomtown

By Matt Simmons, The Narwhal, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

The town of Kitimat, B.C., is folded into a forested valley, tucked back from where the ocean meets the land at the end of a roughly 100-kilometre long inlet. The hub of the community is a jumbled complex of malls with a handful of shops, restaurants and offices serving the population of around 8,000. You can’t see the ocean from here or the sprawling industrial complexes that crowd the waterfront.  

Kitimat was settled on Haisla lands in the 1950s, a planned community built on a promise of prosperity from the Aluminum Company of Canada, also known as Alcan. The town was designed to serve the company’s energy-intensive smelter, which would be powered by a dam built on the other side of a range of snow-capped mountains. Now owned by international mining giant Rio Tinto, the smelter’s smokestacks have been puffing ever since.

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