B.C. City Guide 2018 - Terrace
Credit: Destination BC/Andrew Strain

widgetAdventure is always at your doorstep in one of B.C.’s northern hubs

If you’ve ever dreamed of being surrounded by mountains, lakes and forests (and not in a nightmarish, lost-in-the-wilderness scenario), you might want to venture up the western side of the province’s Interior to Terrace.

Enclosed by nature, it’s the closest city to about a dozen peaks and provincial parks—and thanks to its placement in the mountains, it enjoys less than half the rainfall of the coast. This is northern B.C., so winter temperatures regularly dip below zero, but polar bears don’t live here; it just looks that way sometimes.

Terrace is one of the only places inhabited by the Kermodei bear—also known as the spirit bear—a subspecies of black bear with white fur. These rare animals are partial to the area’s mountainous terrain, lush forests, mild climate and productive salmon streams and rivers.

Kermodes were once hunted for sport, but provincial enforcement, as well as increased interest and concern from local residents, have helped stabilize the population. The bear is just one piece of a growing tourism business in Terrace, which is also home to wildlife such as mountain goats and eagles. 

Visitors are also typically drawn to the area’s geographical wonders, including hot springs, lava beds and rock formations, the latter decorated with ancient petroglyphs. There’s also the nearby Kitlope Valley, which preserves the world’s largest continuous tract of coastal temperate rainforest. The valley has no developed trails or roads, so enter at your own risk. (Remember that note about nightmares?)

Then there are Terrace’s almost 16,000 residents. Although many would categorize themselves as the adventurous type, their escapades often involve activities like hiking and canoeing around the Pine Lakes; walking Queensway Drive along the Skeena River, which divides the city; and setting up summer campfires at Gruchy’s Beach.

Health care and education play a big role in the local economy. Northern Health posts about 650 of its 7,000 provincewide workforce here, while the largest employer, School District 82, has more than 700 people on the payroll, and Northwest Community College’s main campus accounts for another 200.

Terrace is home to a young population, and with robust five-year income growth and a university graduation rate much higher than in surrounding areas, their prospects in this valley look encouraging.

Population: 15,931
Household age (0-45, 45-64, 64+): 38%, 37.4%, 24.6%
University grads: 15.3%
Average household income: $94,616
Average household income under 45: $92,087
Five-year income growth, 2012-17: 22.5%
Five-year population growth: 0.6%

Average detached home price: $284,000
Average condominium price: $175,000
Average monthly rent for a two-bedroom: $828
Average annual household spending on shelter: $17,786

Key industries: Education; health care; tourism; manufacturing; construction
Notable employers: Northern Health; Northwest Community College; School District 82
Regional unemployment: 5.8% (February)

Total value of building permits issued in 2017: n/a
Change from 2016: n/a
Cost of a business licence: $55-$450
Average processing time for a building permit: n/a
Business property tax rate: : $21.25 per $1,000 of assessed value
Average office lease rate per sq. ft./year: $8.50
Average retail lease rate: $11

Quality of LifeQUALITY OF LIFE
Major post-secondary institutions: Northwest Community College; UNBC regional campus
Major recreational amenities: Aquatic centre; seven parks; Kitselas Canyon; two ski resorts; skating rink; 14 hiking and mountain biking trails; golf course
Key annual events: Pacific Northwest Music Festival; Riverboat Days
Average annual household spending on recreation: $4,449
Residents who walk or bike to work: 7.9%