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Dawson Creek Celebrates Business and Tourism Alike

Credit: Image courtesy of New Harvest Media

At Mile O of the Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek is the transportation hub for the entire region

With more than $72 million worth of growth over the past few years, the city welcomes new investment opportunities

Strategically located in the middle of the Peace Region, Dawson Creek (population 12,900) is the transportation hub for the entire Peace and northern British Columbia — which has helped make agriculture the city’s most important industry, closely followed by retail, tourism, and oil and gas.

But perhaps more importantly than Dawson Creek’s many distinctions (one being that it is Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, a huge lure for international visitors) is its attitude. The city is “open for business,” according to Kathleen Connolly, executive director of the Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce. In fact, it always has attracted a steady influx of diverse entrepreneurs.

Purely in terms of measuring business success in dollars and cents, Dawson Creek can claim more than $72 million worth of growth over the past few years, and 2018 finds the city, as usual, busy with projects and initiatives.

Connolly says: “The big news is that Louisiana Pacific is spending $130 million on a mill retrofit that will create up to 70 new jobs next year, but what is also significant about this investment is that the company has determined that our fibre supply is stable for the next 30 years – which bodes well for our continued prosperity.”

Connolly is referring to the conversion of Louisiana Pacific’s oriented strand board (OSB) mill, which employs 155 people, into an engineered wood siding plant whose production will commence in the first quarter of 2019. “Dawson Creek made sense to us on many fronts,” executive vice-president Neil Sherman said of the choice between this mill and two other sites. “We can quickly bring quality siding products to market using a facility that is already doing that with OSB products.”

Also fortifying Dawson Creek’s long-term business prospects is its agriculture industry. “Our grain producers are pushing into international markets, having recently visited India and Dubai as well as distilleries and wineries in B.C.’s Lower Mainland,” says Connolly. “They’re also expanding into the feed market in the Lower Mainland, demonstrating that there are huge opportunities in new markets for our traditional industries.”

Another emerging boon for Dawson Creek is the changing growing season in this part of B.C.: the region has enjoyed 60 additional days per year in which to cultivate crops and this — coupled with its long summer days — heralds what Connolly describes as “unbelievable opportunities for us moving forward.” Unsurprisingly, Ottawa has invested in more weather stations in the area to better determine climate trends.

All of this activity has of course facilitated a steady growth of lifestyle amenities in the form of arts, sport and events centres as well as expanded retail; in turn, an increasing number of young families have been compelled to locate in Dawson Creek, and today the average age of its population is under 40. 

In short, Dawson Creek is poised for even greater economic prominence in the years to come. “We’re excited by what lies ahead,” says Connolly. “Our diversity of talent, our versatility, and our spectacular quality of life makes Dawson Creek the ideal place to do business.”