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Kitimat, B.C. : an evaluation of its physical planning and development Endersby, Stanley Alfred

Abstract

The new town of Kitimat was built in an undeveloped area on the north-west coast of British Columbia in response to the need for a site for an aluminum smelter, an operation which was located there because of its need for the abundant hydro power which was available in the region. The town was planned under the direction of Clarence S. Stein, who as the author of the Radburn principle, embodied this concept extensively in its physical plan. It is now more than a decade since the first part of Kitimat townsite was occupied in 1954, and sufficient time has thus elapsed to give some indication of how effective certain aspects of its planning have been. This study attempts to determine whether the planning principles used in Kitimat have been successful and why, as well as to determine whether the planners succeeded in achieving what they set out to do. There were several methods used in the evaluation - a study of the available literature on Kitimat; numerous personal interviews; a questionnaire type survey of the community; and the personal experience of the author's three years of residence in the community. The questionnaire type of survey entailed the distribution of 230 questionnaires to residents of the community. These questionnaires included a total of 28 questions to determine the attitude toward various aspects of the community. Two questions asked what the residents most liked and most disliked about Kitimat and another asked what suggestions they had for its future development. The results of the study indicate that the basic objectives that the planners initially put forth for the development of the town have been reasonably well achieved. These objectives include firstly, the industrial success of the plant and the importance of a contented work force, and secondly, the importance of family needs as a basis for the Kitimat Master Plan. The study goes on to analyse various aspects of the physical planning. It puts considerable emphasis on the results of the attitude survey on the assumption that an important factor in the degree of success of a community is the attitude of its residents toward it. Consideration is given to the effects of the curtailment of the 1957 construction program, and the importance is shown for a staging of development in new towns which allows a good relationship of all areas and uses to each other at all stages of development. Basically it can be said that the planners of Kitimat achieved much of what they attempted to do through the physical planning concepts which were applied in Kitimat. Certain aspects of the development have presented problems or have been limited in their degree of success, notably the design and quality of housing, the orientation of some of the housing, and the minor walkway system. However the main elements of the physical planning of the community, including those related to the Radburn principle, have proven quite successful. These include the application of the neighbourhood unit idea, the inclusion of a neighbourhood commercial centre within a neighbourhood, the separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic as demonstrated by the arterial walkway system and interior park areas, the separation of vehicular traffic by its function, and the exclusion of through vehicular traffic from the neighbourhoods. With the reservations outlined above, the hypothesis is considered to be valid, namely "THAT THE PHYSICAL PLANNING CONCEPTS USED IN KITIMAT HAVE GENERALLY BEEN SUCCESSFUL."

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