Nechako Centre goes up for sale in Kitimat

One of Kitimat's notable properties, Nechako Centre, has been put up for sale.

For $1.7 million Nechako Centre can be yours.

The infamous building in Kitimat’s Nechako neighbourhood, which was once a prime shopping destination but now has been rundown by age, may possibly see new life, with its recent listing through a realtor.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan said that the Nechako Centre has been an ongoing priority for the Unsightly Premises Task Force since it was formed.

“That was the one property we had the most feedback on,” she said. “Now [the property] is up for sale.”

The Task Force has worked with the District of Kitimat administration to set a plan on how to address unsightly premises, and with the Economic Development Office sent out letters to landowners whose properties were deemed an issue by them.

The listing’s description for the property says, “With the current economical development the potential to revitalize this once bustling property is tremendous.”

The property is listed through Kitimat Realty.

The current owner of the property, Lloyd Wittowski, who lives in Terrace, didn’t say much about his reason to sell the place now, which he’s owned for over 10 years.

He simply said that at his age it was time to let it go.

He did have plans for the building. He said at a time he had wanted the local RCMP, for instance, to have a sub-detachment based there, to reduce response times for incidents up the hill.

The arrangement never quite panned out.

Unsightly premises are a challenging issue to municipalities.

Kitimat Chief Administrative Officer Ron Poole said determining an unsightly building or property is different depending on what town you’re in.

“In Kitimat’s situation we have a lot of old housing stock, probably more from the 70s, maybe 80s, whenever Kitimat hit its peak,” said Poole. “The concern in this community is just the deterioration of structures.”

A municipality can get its power to deal with unsightly properties through the Community Charter.

And in so many words, a town can approach property owners the easy way or the hard way. That means either encouraging development, or imposing fines and ticketing owners.

“Almost like a penalty system,” he said.

Because the economy is doing so well in Kitimat right now, he said, they want people to either develop their properties or sell them off.

“There is now value. Over years that value wasn’t really going up so people were holding on.”

He added, “I think that’s the sort of road the municipality should be going down, is working with and encouraging business owners, home owners, to develop the property, rather than imposing penalties.”

The benefit to Kitimat is further improving property values, and encouraging further development.

He said an investor coming to town seeing deteriorating buildings may shy away from putting any of their own money in town.