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Northeast: Energizing BC

Sustained by energy and agriculture, the Peace Country runs a little differently from the rest of the province.

Credit: The Site C dam will begin generating electricity in 2025.

Sustained by energy and agriculture, the Peace Country runs a little differently from the rest of the province

Few southerners stop to think of it this way, but British Columbia is a prairie province. About one-sixth of B.C.’s land mass lies east of the Continental Divide, from the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains down to the rolling plains of the Peace River Country, where most of B.C.’s grain and canola is grown.

The Northeast’s economy is buoyed by its key industry of oil and gas exploration and production, with the agriculture, metallurgical coal mining, and forest industries playing supplementary roles. Natural gas output from the gigantic Montney, Horn River and Liard Basin shale formations is expected to only grow, especially once the Coastal Gaslink pipeline and LNG Canada terminal are operational in 2025. These megaprojects will end up diverting the equivalent of one-third of Canada’s current natural gas production to previously untapped export markets on the Pacific Rim. That’s expected to support prices for the resource and spur further exploration, feeder pipelines and future production.

Credit: The prospect of LNG exports in 2025 bodes well for natural gas producers.

The Northeast makes a huge and soon-to-grow contribution to the clean energy conversation as well. The existing two BC Hydro dams on the Peace River generate around 30% of B.C.’s hydroelectric power and a third, Site C, will supply 1,100 megawatts more—ensuring the province’s electrical grid is almost 100% renewable far into the future. Work on the $16-billion BC Hydro Site C project is nearing completion, with reservoir filling to begin as early as the fall of this year and full electrical generation capacity online in 2025.

Site C is just southwest of Fort St. John, the Northeast region’s urban hub and location of the North Peace Regional Airport, served by both Air Canada and Westjet. Reflecting the optimism in the area’s economy, the city boasts several new developments. Parkwood, a master-planned, mixed-use community is unfolding on 600 acres, as is The Station Town Centre, a residential/ commercial development on 207 acres. Surerus Industrial Park provides 90 acres of serviced industrial land alongside the Alaska Highway. The Landing brings hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space to the city, anchored by a new Canadian Tire store.

Credit: The Centennial Park Festival Plaza is part of Fort St. John’s downtown revitalization. | City of Fort St. John

In 2023, a new Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment opens, and work is ongoing on Fort St. John’s downtown revitalization. In 2021, the city opened the Centennial Park Festival Plaza, providing a partially open, partially covered public space for programmed events and community gatherings.

Indeed, virtually all the communities in the Northeast have something to celebrate. Dawson Creek has a five-year agreement with Hockey Canada for showcase events taking place at the Ovintiv Events Centre. There are plans for renewable wind farms in the Taylor and Tumbler Ridge areas. Tumbler Ridge continues its resurgence as more than just a mining centre with the potential of becoming a remote working center with pending improvements to the connectivity infrastructure.

Not surprisingly, with all this investment and economic activity in the pipeline, the Northeast overall boasts the highest median household income and the highest workforce participation rate—over 70% of adults aged 15-64—in the whole province. For consumer-facing businesses looking to locate here, it’s fertile ground.

Northeast: Energizing BC

Visit Other Regions of BC:

Lower Mainland-Southwest: Bullish Outlook

Vancouver Island/Coast: Fairer Shores

Thompson-Okanagan: Migrant Haven

Kootenay: Rooted in Community

Cariboo: Northern Crossroads

North Coast-Nechako: Export Driven

Browse Invest in BC:

British Columbia: The Sustainable Advantage

Download the full PDF of Invest in BC