Kitimat council is working with district staff on taking the next steps to change the Nechako Centre for the better, by developing a concept plan, starting July this year.
The planning staff believe that the creation of the Nechako Centre Concept Plan will be a strategic first step in being able to revitalize the Nechako Centre lands.
The objective of the plan is to attract future development possibilities for both privately-owned buildings, and lands owned by the district within the boundary area.
As the District of Kitimat (DoK) is beginning to work with the owner of the property, encouraging them to support a redevelopment proposal for new applicants, staff planned to undertake the community engagement portion of the project and develop a concept plan, which was supposed to be led by the deputy director of planning, to increase the scope of their project proposal.
However, the district had no luck filling the role of deputy director of planning as they’ve been looking for someone since October 2020, therefore, the council decided to increase funds – of $25,000 to $47,000 – from the 2021 capital project budget, so staff can hire a consultant to come in and create community engagement opportunities for residents and stakeholders, as well as to add information and ideas to the creation of the concept plan.
In support of the motion, Councillor Mario Feldhoff emphasized that the need to demolish the derelict buildings should still be considered a high priority as he believes it would create a higher interest to investors.
Council Mark Zelinski agreed with councillor Feldhoff’s statement about the need to demolish the building but believes that developing a concept plan would be beneficial regardless if it comes in before or after the demolition of the Nechako Centre building.
Though the Nechako Centre building is currently for sale for $4.4 million, the B.C. Assessment Authority only estimates the land value at $492,000 with a total value including the building at $843,000.
In April, the DoK said the council is considering implementing a “Demolition of Vacant and Derelict Properties Grant or a high-value Commercial Centre Facade Improvement Grant” to be part of Kitimat’s 2021 budget deliberations. Meaning, they are willing to invest in the property by offering grants to new applicants who are willing to align their land-use intentions in concert with the council’s and community’s best interests.
Built-in 1955, the property sits on 0.72 acres and is already zoned as a commercial centre.