Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in northeastern British Columbia is Chetwynd – the transportation hub of the Peace River area. Nestled into beautiful rolling hills, Chetwynd is surrounded by numerous trails and is known for hiking, hunting, fishing and winter sports – perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Uniquely beautiful chainsaw carved statues can be found throughout the town site, which is renowned for its annual chainsaw carving competition.
Land Area, km2
Mining Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction, Manufacturing
Prince George, Dawson Creek
Chetwynd is central to some principal resource industries – sawmills and logging, coal mines, and oil and gas. These industries provide good-paying jobs, but periodic shut-downs can lead to some uncertainty. The main industry of logging and forestry keeps the community moving forward and maintains the original population, keeping them well employed. Outside of the mainstay population there is quite a large number of transient workers who come in from all over the province, the country and abroad. Most of these workers reside in the community to work for a week or a few weeks at a time and then return to homes in other regions for their time off, so it can be difficult for local businesses to attract workers from the community, as they are unable to compete with the wages in the resource industry. Several small businesses have come into the community due to an increased economy, but many businesses have brought in Temporary Foreign Workers because the increase of high paying positions has decreased the service worker pool from within Chetwynd. This is a very popular trend in the Peace area, as it allows for bigger brand food services to be offered within smaller communities.
The community’s high school is close to the recreation centre and the community library, but the high number of youth moving to larger centres, such as Fort St. John, has created financial challenges for schools, limiting course offerings. The local campus of the region’s college is closely situated to the child care centre,
but the cost of delivering training in a small community is a challenge. Though they have countered some of the issues by offering video conferencing to larger campuses and online courses, many youth start their education using these avenues, but leave the community for post-secondary education.
Due to the boom of the town’s economy, housing and cost of rentals have steadily increased. Many big companies rent out floors of furnished apartments to provide to their transient employees, which helps perpetuate the large rent increases. There is no public transportation in the town other than a taxi company. The long and cold winters are a hardship of this northern community but despite these challenges, there are many positive opportunities for Chetwynd and its residents. The possibility of Site C Dam and LNG pipeline opening in the near future may create numerous jobs in the area. This potential boom is something that the community is used to and handles well, given the cycle of resource industries. As Chetwynd is situated along a well-traveled highway, there also exists the opportunity to expand on the highly popular and well-advertised tourism and eco-tourism – with hiking, hunting, fishing and winter sports all a draw for the area. This is a community on the move – with an established base industry to keep it going well into the future and can handle the ever-changing economic growth that ebbs and flows year after year.