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BC Regional Highlight: Northeast

The Northeast region of British Columbia is characterized by rural communities and picturesque landscapes. This region is bordered by the Yukon and Northwest Territories in the north, the Rocky Mountains to the west and Alberta to the east. A strong, established history of industrial success in natural resources and a diversifying economy provide diverse investment opportunities.

The Northeast is one of the fastest-growing regions in British Columbia thanks to the rapid development of the energy sector and currently boasts the province’s highest rate of employment and demand for workers. Wind energy and hydro power are key industries that round out the power-source economy of natural gas production and coal mining. Other important industries include logging, wood products manufacturing and agriculture.

The Northern Rockies have a strong, established natural resources economy and have recently launched several initiatives to support further development in the region, including a new Invest Northern Rockies website that highlights community assets and advantages.

Dawson Creek enjoys a climate of warm summers and temperate winters which have made agriculture a major sector. The excellent growing conditions, proximity to west coast grain terminals, low land prices and low cost of production mean agriculture in Dawson Creek sees excellent potential returns on investment. To explore, produce and deliver the still untapped oil and gas products here, extensive roadways, railways and pipeline networks have been developed with Dawson Creek at the hub.

Communities like Tumbler Ridge are seeking to grow their “virtual entrepreneur” sectors by catering to remote workers who want high quality of life, access to outdoors, and more affordable living than in southern population centres. It is an innovative community that continues to redefine what opportunity and quality of life are in Northern B.C. Serviced heavy industrial and commercial space, as well as space for new startups or expansions, make this town an attractive location. Tumbler Ridge also enjoys the eleventh lowest residential tax rate in British Columbia and one of the lowest business tax rates.

Affordable housing and unlimited recreational opportunities attract and retain an active and exciting community of adventurers, entrepreneurs, tradespeople, clean energy and resource professionals. The Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark comprises six provincial parks and contains a wide array of dinosaur tracks, bones and fossils of Triassic fishes and marine reptiles for family and lifestyle appeal.

Fort St. John is known as British Columbia’s Energy Capital and is home to some 20,000 residents working in the resource industries and service enterprises that give this city its culture. Quality of life is a priority in Fort St. John and local recreational facilities are second to none. The Pomeroy Sport Centre opened in 2010 and boasts an Olympic sized speed skating oval, indoor walking/running track and two NHL sized hockey rinks. Made for participation, this facility sees over 60,000 visits each month in the winter season! They were proud to host the B.C. Winter Games in February of 2020.

Over 25 km of trails weave through the city and new developments are required to connect to the trails to promote a safe and healthy community. The population is dynamic, young and energetic. With a median age of 31.4, Fort St. John is one of the youngest municipalities in Canada.

The community is served by the regional hospital which opened in 2012 and includes 55 acute care beds, an ICU, maternity ward, two state-of-the-art operating rooms, an expanded ER and endoscopy suite. Adjacent to the hospital is a new 7,500 square metre Residential Care Building consisting of 123 beds. The pods are designed to provide physio-geriatric care, special care and palliative care.

The North Peace regional airport welcomed 278,720 passengers in 2019, travelling on three different commercial airlines: Air Canada, Central Mountain Air and WestJet. Scheduled passenger service connects business and leisure travellers to Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Prince George – and to more than 100 onward destinations via airline hubs in these cities.

Situated at the junction of Highways 97 and 29 and the BC Rail mainline, Chetwynd is the natural transportation hub of the Peace River area. Chetwynd is a service centre for a diverse range of industries including logging, sawmills and pulping; oil and gas production; transportation; coal mining; wind farms; ranching; and farming. Businesses have access to bulk water, a selection of heavy industrial, light industrial and commercial properties centrally located close to an airport, rail and major highways. With recent announcements for increased coal production, wind power development and steady growth in gas and forestry, Chetwynd is one of the fastest growing economies in British Columbia.

British Columbia’s Northeast region offers top-quality amenities and opportunities for business and lifestyle needs. Families can take advantage of proximity to nature and abundant outdoor recreational activities as well as leading educational facilities. Institutions like the Northern Lights College, French Immersion schools and trades training are readily available. Explore British Columbia’s Northeast region.

Learn more about economic development opportunities and supports from the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

You can also visit our communities page or contact the regional expert. Stay tuned for future blogs on other regions of British Columbia, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter for regular updates.