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Council approves development permit for old Northstar property

Plans are in the works to update and reopen the two accomodations at 650 and 656 Kuldo Blvd.
The old Northstar Suites on Kuldo Blvd. The two buildings (a motel and a rooming house) are being renovated and expanded under new ownership. (Clare Rayment)

The District of Kitimat Council has approved a development permit, with conditions, for exterior renovations and additions at the old Northstar Inn and the motel on Kuldo Blvd.

The accommodations, which are currently owned by IAG Enterprises (IAG), have been out of use for over a decade. IAG plans to combine the two buildings into one business, named the “Kitimat River Motel and Suites.”

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However, the properties have existing land use contracts (LUCs) in place. LUCs are a formal agreement between a municipality and a property owner which allow for land uses that are not permitted in the municipality’s zoning codes. In the case of the Northstar property, the LUCs were put in place to include the allowance of a motel and a restaurant.

However, LUCs for the property end in 2024. IAG has agreed to get rid of the LUCs earlier than that, but municipal zoning codes are going to be revised so the property can keep the motel and the restaurant and still be within code.

As well, the code changes will include the option to convert the buildings into multi-family rental residences in the future if necessary. This means that the Northstar buildings can still be used if the short-term residences option becomes no longer viable. This was a concern for many residents, who were worried that the buildings would become vacant again once LNG Canada construction is finished, and all the construction would be for nothing.

“I live next door to the Northstar, it has always been an eye sore,” Leo de Sousa wrote in an email to the District in early June. “It’s been cleaned up a few times and in short order becomes that eye sore. Problem I have is that by the time all the construction is finished there will be no need for it or so few people renting rooms it will once again become dilapidated.”

Some minor work has been started on the exterior of the Northstar rooming house building, but no major construction will start until the zoning changes have been brought in. A Public Hearing is scheduled for Monday, July 20 at 7:15 p.m., which will be the first opportunity for a formal public discussion about the changes and any decisions that are going to be made.

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