Kitimat is a small British Columbia town located at the mouth of the Kitimat River in the North Coast region of the Province, with a population of around 8,000 people and 63km south of Terrace and 629km west of Prince George. Kitimat is blessed with the best deep-water port on the B.C. North Coast, with an arm that reaches 88 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and Kitimat Port at the end of it.
The Haisla First Nations are the ancestral inhabitants of the B.C. North Coast and they work to be environmental stewards for the region, adhering to their traditional Nuyem laws. Residents, newcomers, and visitors alike are encouraged to learn about the history of the Haisla culture and their history.
Kitimat became its own municipality in the 1950s as civic development by Alcan (Aluminum Company of Canada) began to accommodate staff working at what was then the world’s largest aluminum smelter. Since then Kitimat has done very nicely building a small coastal community and an impressive garden city civic design concept, with self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts and proportionate areas of residential, industrial, and agricultural developments. Kitimat’s looped streets are designed around an urban city centre mall.
Weather and Climate
Milder summer and winter temperatures compared to the rest of Northern B.C. are countered by heavier annual rainfall levels in Kitimat. Snow levels are at their highest in December and January. Summer weather in Kitimat can be spectacular, as can be said for all of Northern BC. Anyone who is enthusiastic about outdoor sports and exploring will love their time in Kitimat.
Attractions and Activities
Nearby expansive forested areas and mountains around Kitimat are great for outdoor sports and adventure, and there are plenty of watersport opportunities on the Kitimat River and the nearby ocean coastline. Views of the rugged coast mountain vistas are also a big part of Kitimat’s appeal.
Kitimat’s Big Tree is a 500-year old Sitka spruce tree in Radley Park, and it’s the oldest and largest Sitka spruce in BC at 50 meters high and 11 meters around. People who love to hike and get amazing photos of their experience will love the views from Moore Creek Falls, Hirsch Creek Canyon, and Humphrey Creek Falls.
Lakelse Lake Provincial Park is also especially nice, with forest stands of Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedars between the entrance to the park and Gruchy’s Beach. Lakelse Lake Wetlands Provincial Park at the south end of Lakelse Lake is a natural habitat for spawning salmon, moose, and grizzly bears. The wetlands also have cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities in winter.
Furlong Bay is also a nice spot, and has 100 Provincial campground sites in an old-growth forest and is regarded as one of the nicer campgrounds in all of Northern B.C. Rock climbing and scuba diving at Focht-Gilttoyees Provincial Park are excellent, and Kitimat mountain biking is best on the Onion Lakes x-country ski trails north of town up Highway 37.
If you’ve never soaked in the beautifully warm waters of a natural hot spring, Kitimat has that for you too. Weewanie, Europa, and Bishop Bay natural hot springs are all nearby, and there’s good golfing in Kitimat at the summer at the Hirsch Creek Club.
Dynamite Fishing in Kitimat
Fishing in Kitimat is excellent, with chinook (spring), coho, and chum salmon available throughout the year and lots of big ling cod and halibut too in areas like Gitnadoiks River Provincial Park. Freshwater fishing is also good, with plenty of cutthroat trout in the Kitimat River and local lakes. The Kitimat annual fishing derby goes every Labor Day weekend.
Many people come to Kitimat to see the Kermode bear, or ‘Spirit Bear’ as it’s also known. These magnificent bears are found nowhere else in the world but here, and Princess Royal Island near Kitimat is one of the best places to see them. Spirit bear tours leave from Kitimat.
The Kitimat economy is set to be boosted considerably by the BC LNG Project that was approved in October of 2018, and work has already begun. The LNG export facility at Kitimat will load liquefied natural gas onboard ocean shipping vessels for export to Asian markets, and will create hundreds of jobs for Kitimat residents.
Inexpensive accommodations can be had at the Kitimat Hotel or Chalet Motel & Restaurant and for more rustic yet deluxe accommodations the Kitimat Lodge is an excellent choice, with 6 of its 18 suites being panabode log cabins.
Detached single-family homes can be purchased for very competitive prices based on what you’d pay for the same square footage and home design features elsewhere. Kitimat real estate features numerous spacious 3-bedroom homes routinely being listed for less 400k. There are also commercial real estate business investment opportunities in Kitimat as well. Kitimat real estate is popular with retirees who want the best of the natural outdoors and a well-designed, friendly small-town community to live in.
Kitimat is a 7 hour+ drive from Prince George along Highway 16 if driving directly, but it is recommended that you drive more leisurely to enjoy the spectacular scenery and enjoy lunch in Houston, BC. Alternately, you can fly from YVR Vancouver International Airport or YYC Calgary International Airport to Northwest Regional Airport serving Kitimat and Terrace.
There is also the option of taking a ferry from Port Hardy at the tip of Vancouver Island that goes to Prince Rupert, and then a 2.5-hour drive to Kitimat or 1 hour and 20 minutes on the Via Rail train.