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Federal grant spurs Kitselas community hall project

Kitselas adding in money from LNG benefits deal
An artist’s rendering of the inside of a planned community hall to be built by the Kitselas First Nation. (Illustration courtesy the Kitselas First Nation)

The Kitselas First Nation is about to embark on a significant community use project in the form of a two-storey multi-purpose centre to be constructed at Gitaus, the rapidly growing residential area adjacent to Hwy16 east of Terrace.

Planning for the 2,276 square metre (25,000 square foot) facility over those two storeys began in 2020 and was bolstered last week with a $3.9 million grant from the federal government.

It’ll contain a theatre, multi-purpose rooms, a fitness room, gym and commercial-grade kitchen.

Kitselas First Nation infrastructure director Ulyses Venegas described the proposed centre as a gathering place for the Kitselas community and for the surrounding area.

“The Kitselas Community Recreation Centre is designed to reflect upon the form of traditional Tsimshian longhouses while looking to the future of the community at large,” he said of the centre’s planned capacity of 800 people.

Based on current projections, the plan is to have the centre open next year.

A project description indicates that in addition to space for physical activity and cultural events, there will be a small theatre space and an outdoor amphitheatre for performances and showings and an elders’ area.

“A focus on health is further assured by native plant food and community gardens and a traditional medicine garden,” the description continues.

Wood products will make up 80 per cent of the construction material and steel components are to be manufactured in Kitimat.

“This minimizes transportation of materials. The use of wood leads to a considerable carbon sequestration of carbon which helps to offset non-wood structural materials,” the description adds.

Aside from the $3.9 million federal grant, the Kitselas First Nation has committed itself to $1.3 million.

Venegas did caution that construction costs calculated in 2020 when planning first began are now being reworked in light of increases since then.

Beginning in 2014 and continuing into 2017 the First Nation signed a series of economics benefits agreements with the provincial government tied to liquefied natural gas developments affecting portions of its traditional territory.

One of the agreements signed in 2017 triggered a payment toward a community hall when LNG Canada announced in 2018 that it would build a natural gas liquefaction plant in Kitimat.

The Kitselas First Nation is not the only northwestern B.C. entity to receive a grant or grants for cultural and recreational construction last week.

The District of Stewart is getting $199,452 from the federal government and $1,263,127 from the provincial government and will add $531,937 of its own money to make $1,994,516 for a community hall.

The structure is to be approximately 9,500 square foot, be one level and have flex space along with a commercial kitchen and public washrooms.