Forestry, tourism and agriculture form a diversified economic base for the area. While Forestry remains our most dominant industry sector; tourism has been showing continual growth and stands as our most rapidly expanding sector. The phenomenal growth of tourism is characterized by a substantial increase in tourism based businesses throughout the area and the recognition of the region as a destination vacation spot. Agriculture, though small in scale, still represents substantial importance to the local economy.
For more information on business please refer to the Clearwater and District Chamber of Commerce website or by calling 250-674-2646.
Agriculture is an important component of the local economy; there is a rich history of ecologically diverse and healthy living since the first peoples arrived over 10,000 years ago, to modern day farmers who have homesteaded, raised families, and worked in the valley since the mid 1800’s. Agriculture in the region has traditionally been livestock operations of beef and sheep, predominately beef, with alfalfa and hay crops providing a value added component to the beef operation. Beef production continues to be the primary agricultural activity in the region. The diverse climate of the region supports major crops like alfalfa, hay, and most vegetables. Local crop production is consumed partially by the weekly Farmers Market during the months of May to October. A local group of non-profit working volunteers (Food Action North Thompson) help improve food security in the North Thompson Valley by strengthening our local food system through communication, education, and by championing local food security initiatives.
Since the early 1900’s the area has been a forestry based economy, growing to accommodate three major mills in the early 1970’s,more recently down sizing to one major licensee in the area and smaller value added manufacturers. British Columbia is the largest producer of forest products in Canada and the North Thompson has been a significant contributor to the production of conventional lumber.
Forestry and value added wood are still one of the major economic sectors in Clearwater. Through a strong trained labour pool of forestry professionals, technicians, contract loggers, truckers and silviculture workers, forestry continues to support employment in the area.
The number of value-added wood products manufactured in Clearwater and more specifically in Well Gray Country ranges from veneer products, housing products, wood crafters and more. Custom cut lumber is available at various specialty mills. There are several woodlot licences and the Wells Gray Community Forest within and adjacent to the District boundaries which provide for opportunities to grow value added and green energy components of forestry.
The housing sector within our region is growing with the addition of an affordable housing complex consisting of 26 units under the current management of Yellowhead Community Services, a 20 unit independent living facility (the third of its kind) managed by the Evergreen Acres Society and an assisted living facility that is currently in the rezoning application stages with a private developer.
The mining sector is another important component that provides for our local economy. The District of Clearwater is within close proximity to two operational mines, the Ruddock Creek mine operated by Imperial Metals and the Harper Creek mine operated by Yellowhead Mining Inc. The BC Environmental Assessment Office for Environmental Assessment certification for the Harper Creek mine has been accepted and construction and production has begun. Both projects serve to provide the community with hundreds of job opportunities over the following ten to twenty-five years.
Wells Gray Provincial Park is a popular destination for tourists from May to October. The milder climates during the spring and summer along with our pristine wilderness make it ideal for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Opportunities abound for world-class hiking, canoeing, and white water rafting. The winter months provides for plentiful winter tourism opportunities such as Cross Country Skiing with 84 kms of groomed trail.
Tourism Wells Gray is moving tourism forward which has an increasingly important role in the local economy, with 15% of the population employed in or involved with the hospitality industry, generating in excess of 123 person years of employment and contributing over $20m in community revenue.
In 2011 Clearwater and district hosted over half a million visitors from around the world, who came to enjoy the accessible wilderness and adventure lifestyle that Tourism Wells Gray promotes on the global stage.