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Canadian ghost town up for grabs

John Gray, South China Morning Post, September 29, 2004

Despite rising prices, C$7 million (HK$42.81 million) seems high, even for a spot on the Pacific Ocean coast ringed by snow-capped mountains.

But think what you get for your money. On sale is Kitsault town, 800km north of Vancouver. It covers 130 hectares, on which stand 90 houses, seven apartment buildings containing more than 200 units, a shopping centre and two recreation centres.

And, of course, there is a pub, appropriately called the Maple Leaf.

The general hospital is equipped with X-ray equipment still in its shipping containers.

For those in the mood for a cruise, there is a dock on the exquisite Alice Arm fjord. The total coastline is 2.4km.

The town of Kitsault as it now stands is a testimonial to the importance of resource development in remote parts of Canada 25 years ago.

Molybdenum, a lubricant and an additive used in steel production, was discovered in the area in the 1960s.

In 1978, the United States mining company Phelps Dodge committed itself to building a C$200 million mine at Kitsault. The company spent a further $50 million in developing the town, and the project opened in 1981.

A year later, the bottom fell out of the molybdenum market, the mine closed and, over the next few months, the 1,200 residents reluctantly departed. So the town is much as it was when it opened.

Over the past two decades it has been occupied only by a caretaker and his wife, who have kept the buildings heated and the town in good repair.

The owner now wants to sell it. There will be public showings of the town early next week.

Brian Harris, of LandQuest Realty, the firm handling the sale of the town, said several letters of intent had been submitted but there had been no formal offers to buy.

He would not speculate if the bids from prospective buyers would be higher or lower than the C$7 million target.

In contrast to many remote northern communities, the roads are paved, the town is landscaped and there is a complete sewage system and treatment plant, according to the agent.