Kitimat’s worn, utilitarian downtown is scheduled for a facelift as plans are made for the new LNG project. Rumours of other projects by Shell and Enbridge have the real estate market hopping again after years of stagnation. Posters on downtown businesses “down the hill” show hypothetical new digs — glossy new malls, high-rise hotels, and even SUSHI RESTAURANTS with thrilled, smiling cartoon men and women milling about. Meanwhile, people living in the residential neighbourhoods “up the hill” are noticing gaps in what used to be impenetrable forests. Trees are being cleared away, and brand-new neighbourhoods are ready to be populated with brand new homes.
And then you have… Kitimat’s industrial area.
I don’t spend a lot of time in industrial parks as a rule, but the one in Kitimat seems like an especially quirky example of what one would expect an industrial park to be. It is home to a couple of auto-body shops, equipment rental offices, and a Napa, all of which are not uncommon. It houses some old, abandoned shops and decrepit industrial warehouses, also not uncommon. It is ALSO home to Kitimat’s best Chinese food restaurant, Kitimat’s ONLY gourmet restaurant (Cor’s), and also Kitimat’s only stripper. (Out of the three, only the “exotic dancer” is clearly advertised — the restaurants are tasty gems that the locals know but visitors will miss in favour of more visible and outwardly reputable looking establishments.) And the industrial park is the literal gateway to some of Kitimat’s most lovely natural scenery — things you won’t find in any guidebook or on any map.