The Peace River region of British Columbia, Canada is an economically and environmentally diverse region of the province. This is a place of wonder and natural beauty. The region is fortunate to possess rich fertile soil, abundant natural resources, robust wildlife populations and an industrious local population. From the first European Settlers to homestead the region in 1792, to the present day travellers, passing through on their way to Alaska, British Columbia’s Peace River region has never failed to inspire.
The Peace River Regional District (the region’s main governing body) spans an impressive 128,000 square KMs, but has population of only 63,000 permanent residents. This means wide open spaces, and big opportunities for those looking to live, or invest in the area.
Agriculture is the driving force behind the local economy, as the region lays claim to approximately 11,425,354 acres of agricultural land. This equates to approximately 27% of British Columbia’s total Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). It is estimated that there are 1,532 farms and ranches located throughout the Peace River region, which accounts for approximately 8% of the total farms in British Columbia.
The Peace River region is capable of producing a wide array of crops depending on the specific location of a farm. The most common crops include wheat, oats, barley, forage seed and alf-alfa. The Peace River region has the distinction of producing 90% of all grain in British Columbia and 95% of all canola. Various micro-climates throughout the Peace River region will dictate the success of a specific crop in different locations throughout the region.
British Columbia’s Peace River region is home to some of the provinces most impressive ranches and most resilient ranchers. A few short years ago the Peace River region laid claim to 23% of British Columbia’s total cattle population. This figure has declined as of late, as ranchers seek to meet new challenges that face the industry here in Western Canada. Cattle ranchers throughout the region have looked to diversify their operations with many turning to bison farming to augment their traditional cattle production. This facet of the industry will continue to shift and evolve as ranchers face and overcome the challenges of tomorrow.
Oil and gas has been a staple industry in the Peace River region with numerous major oil and gas companies setting up offices and facilities in both Dawson Creek and Fort St John. Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) has played the most prominent role in the regional economy in recent years with construction having already commenced on the Coastal Gas Link Pipeline. This 670 KM pipeline will provide the Peace River region’s abundant natural gas fields with a safe and direct route to the west coast and markets abroad.
In the Montney Gas play alone it is estimated that there are 12.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 14.5 million barrels of marketable natural gas liquids and 1.1 million barrels of oil.
The presence of lucrative Mining, Oil/Gas, Agriculture and Logging job opportunities mean that the Peace River region in British Columbia has one of the highest median household incomes and one of the lowest regional unemployment figures of any area of the province.
70% of the local population is of working age in the Peace River region (15-64) providing employers with a skilled and ambitious work force. The regional population may increase dramatically at different times of the year, as transient workers come and go with new/temporary job opportunities.
Of the 63,000 permanent residents, the median age sits at just 34 years old. This is 10 years younger than the median age for the remainder of British Columbia. These 63,000 residents occupy 24,260 private dwellings with the majority being concentrated in the municipalities of Fort St John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Hudson’s Hope and Tumbler Ridge.
Across the region there are approximately 33,000 men and 30,000 women, however, men form a larger proportion of the overall regional economy relative to other parts of British Columbia.
There are several governing bodies throughout the Peace River region depending on the location of a property. The Peace River Regional District (PRRD) is the primary governing body. The district comprises of seven municipalities (Fort St John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Hudson’s Hope, Tumbler Ridge, Taylor and Pouce Coupe) and four electoral areas (B, C, D, E). The Regional District itself is responsible for governing and legislating those lands located outside of the region’s major municipal centers. The Peace River Regional District handles items such as planning, zoning, garbage, water services, waste management and more.
If a property is located within one of the aforementioned municipalities, then most of the governing responsibilities will fall on the municipalities legislative body. However, there can be overlap in responsibility (especially in smaller municipalities).
The Peace River region is famous for its outdoor recreation and is known for its access to the Northern Rockies. The outdoor opportunities are endless from hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, hiking, equestrian, canoeing and camping. There is truly an endless supply of outdoor recreational pursuits. An individual could spend a lifetime exploring the Peace River region and the Rocky Mountains to the West and North without ever venturing to the same place twice.
The various urban centers in the region offer an eclectic mix of activities as well. These activities include a diverse selection of restaurants, arenas, sporting facilities, casinos and movie theatres. Dawson Creek’s illustrious Encana Events Center plays home to some very prominent music concerts throughout the year.
British Columbia’s Peace River region is a place of wonder, excitement and opportunity. The region is strategically positioned for growth both economically and socially. The region is blessed with abundant natural resources, a skilled/youthful populace and an evolving infrastructure system to meet growing demands. For a farmer/rancher there is no better place in British Columbia to commence your agricultural business venture and for an investor few locations are safer, or more lucrative than the Peace River region.