Premier’s Summit on Economic Opportunity: Kootenays

Pre-Summit Community Consultation

Report on Focus Group Meetings

October 23, 1998

Prepared By:

Ruth Beck, Lynne Betts, Diana Brooks, Susan Mulkey, Cathy Scott-May and Lee-Ann Walker




A Premier’s Summit on Economic Opportunity for the Kootenays region will be held at Selkirk College in Castlegar on November 4-6, 1998. The Summit will bring together more than 175 business, labour, community and First Nations leaders and youth from various communities to develop a plan of action for short- and long-term investment, job creation and economic development in the region. The Summit is a key component of the government’s three-year plan to make BC more competitive, stimulate investment in the province’s economy and to create jobs.

Community Consultation

In preparation for the Summit, community consultation has been undertaken in order to:

  • inform Summit delegates of regional views and add value to their discussions;
  • assist in identifying issues, opportunities and priorities relevant to the economy of the region and to developing economic development and job strategies; and,
  • involve a cross-section of the region’s population in the Summit process.

As part of the consultation effort, focus group meetings were held in 14 communities around the region, including Elkford, Fernie, Invermere, Cranbrook, Kimberley, Creston, Nelson, Salmo, Nakusp, Trail, Rossland, Grand Forks, Revelstoke and Golden, between September 28 and October 8, 1998. A total of 152 people attended and represented a cross-section of community views and interests, thereby broadening the involvement of the region’s population in the Summit process. Additionally, two youth focus groups were held, consisting of a total of 16 people, one at Selkirk College in Castlegar, the second at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. These meetings addressed the same issues as the other focus groups, but provided youth with a more comfortable forum to express their views and needs.

Focus Group Discussions

The agenda for the meetings focused on four main topics of discussion:

  1. community and regional assets/attributes/characteristics that we can and do build on
  2. key economic development and job creation issues facing the community and region
  3. identification of opportunities for economic development and job creation
  4. specific action steps were then identified which would be necessary to realize the opportunities.

Results of the Focus Group Meetings

A comprehensive report detailing the selection process for focus group participants; agenda and structure of the meetings and the substance and conclusions of the discussions was produced by the team of local contractors hired to organize and facilitate the meetings. The report has been made available to Summit delegates and is also available to the general public. This overview is based on the comprehensive report.

General Themes Identified by Focus Group Participants

  • Support community based development and delivery of programs related to economic development, education and training and business support.

This approach will capitalize on local knowledge of both the strengths of, and challenges facing, a particular community. It requires flexibility in provincial programs to enable local decision-making to effectively target the available funding and support. 

  • Support programs that result in healthy and stable communities which, in turn, are necessary to attract investment.

The natural beauty of the landscape as well as quality water, air, health, education and social services were all identified as key assets in the region. Together these values equate to a quality of life which has, and can continue, to attract people and investment into the region.

  • Improve the business and investment climate by reducing the cost of doing business.

A common theme was the need to reduce red tape and streamline the cumbersome bureaucracy and regulatory environment. Identifying special government staff in the various agencies to assist business in navigating the permitting processes would be a positive step. Addressing both the level and structure of taxation was seen as important.

  • Economic development initiatives should recognize and support traditional resource based industries.

The abundant natural resources were consistently identified as important assets in the region. Support for mining, forestry and agriculture includes: education of government and the public of their contribution to the economy and communities; access to the landbase; streamlining permitting and regulatory requirements; and incentives and assistance in developing niche markets and value-added products.

  • Support diversification of the economy to provide increased stability for communities.

A number of economic sectors were discussed in relation to broadening the economic base, thereby creating more jobs, particularly for youth. Tourism, both in relation to adventure and eco-tourism as well as to the arts, culture and heritage resources was often cited as a major area of opportunity. The high technology industry was also seen to be a significant area for growth if issues around infrastructure development are addressed. Finally, the small business and services sector was felt to have the necessary flexibility to service niche opportunities that are being created by an aging population, changes in technology and recent real estate booms in many communities in the region. It was noted that all these sectors require increased support and recognition, partly through greater flexibility in, and coordination of, support programs.

Table of Contents

  1. Agenda and Structure of the Focus Group Meetings
  2. Focus Group Discussion Considerations
  3. Results of the Focus Group Discussions
  • Appendices



A Premier’s Summit on Economic Opportunity for the Kootenays region will be held at Selkirk College in Castlegar on November 4-6, 1998. The Summit will bring together more than 175 business, labour, community and First Nations leaders and youth from various communities to develop a plan of action for short- and long-term investment, job creation and economic development in the region. The Summit is a key component of the government’s three-year plan to make BC more competitive, to stimulate investment in the province’s economy and to create jobs. The region’s boundaries, for the purposes of the Summit, take in the East Kootenay, Central Kootenay and Kootenay-Boundary regional districts and Golden and Revelstoke in the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District.

In preparation for the Summit, the Ministry of Employment and Investment has undertaken an economic analysis of the region in order to provide current background information for strategic discussions leading up to and through the Summit. This analysis is being accomplished through several means, including community consultation. The consultation effort has involved three approaches: focus group meetings, opportunities for the public to make written submissions and an interactive web site. Ministry of Employment and Investment staff have been working on Summit preparations with an Advisory Committee. The committee was appointed by the Premier to provide advice to the government to ensure the Kootenays Summit is constructive and fruitful.

This report summarizes the process and outcomes of the focus group meetings and includes:

  • an overview of the goals of the focus group discussions;
  • an outline of the process undertaken in defining focus group participants; and,
  • a summary of the focus group discussions highlighting economic development and job creation opportunities and actions for implementation identified by focus group participants.

This report has been distributed to the delegates of the main Summit and the focus group participants. Additionally, this report is available to the general public.


Pre-Summit Community Consultation: Focus Group Meetings

The main objectives of the community consultation have been to:

  • inform Summit delegates of regional views and add value to their discussions;
  • assist in identifying issues, opportunities and priorities relevant to the economy of the region and to developing economic development and jobs strategies; and,
  • involve a cross-section of the region’s population in the Summit process.

A team of local contractors* was hired to organize and facilitate 14 focus group meetings in the region. The meetings were held in Elkford, Fernie, Invermere, Cranbrook, Kimberley, Creston, Nelson, Salmo, Nakusp, Trail, Rossland, Grand Forks, Revelstoke and Golden between September 28 and October 8, 1998. A total of 152 people attended and represented a cross-section of community views and interests, thereby broadening the involvement of the region’s population in the Summit process. Additionally, two youth focus groups were held, consisting of a total of 16 people, one at Selkirk College in Castlegar, the second at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. These meetings addressed the same issues as the other focus groups, but provided youth with a more comfortable forum to express their views and needs. The process for selecting focus group participants is outlined in Appendix 2.

(*The team of contractors consisted of Ruth Beck, Lynne Betts, Diana Brooks, Susan Mulkey, Cathy Scott-May and Lee-Anne Walker.)

I. Agenda and Structure of the Focus Group Meetings

It was recognized that there have been numerous regional consultation efforts in the Kootenays over the past five years which have addressed economic development issues. The agenda and structure of the focus groups were designed to build on the results of the past regional consultative processes and emphasize the identification of specific opportunities and action steps for implementation.

The contractors undertook a review of previous regional consultation processes, including those initiated by the Commission of Resources and Environment (CORE), Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), Forest Renewal BC (FRBC) and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology (MAETT). A summary of key issues and opportunities identified through those consultative processes was provided at the focus group meetings as a starting point for discussion in order to avoid duplication of effort (see Appendix 1).

The agenda for the meetings focused on four main topics of discussion:

  1. community and regional assets/attributes/characteristics that we can and do build on;
  2. key economic development and job creation issues facing the community and region;
  3. having prioritized the issues, the discussion then moved to opportunities for economic development and job creation; and,
  4. specific action steps were then identified which would be necessary to realize the opportunities.

Each focus group meeting was led by a professional facilitator to ensure all participants had an opportunity to express their views. A few key points of process are worth noting:

  • while consensus was promoted, it was not required in the identification and prioritization of issues, opportunities and actions;
  • an integrated approach was promoted (e.g., avoid identifying opportunities for one sector that would negatively impact others) but it was assumed that further work is required to review the results and integrate them into a workable and balanced economic development and job creation strategy;
  • a regional focus was encouraged but community specific assets, issues, opportunities and actions were identified and discussed where appropriate; and,
  • in order to ensure consistency with the discussions to be held at the main Summit, the definition of economic sectors used in the background materials and during the focus group discussions were those provided to the contractors by the Summit Advisory Committee.

II. Focus Group Discussion Considerations

As the selection of focus group participants was based on the desire for a broad cross-section of interests, and individuals were chosen based on their past involvement in community issues rather than being chosen randomly, the results can not be considered a statistical sampling of public opinion. Rather, the results reflect an overview of a wide range of community interests and views on the economy and job creation.

While considerable effort was made to ensure all key economic and community interests were represented and balanced at the meetings, some gaps may have occurred. For example, some people who were invited and confirmed did not attend. In order to provide the necessary context for the review of the results of the focus group discussions, Appendix 2 includes a list of the perspectives which were represented at the various meetings.

III. Results of the Focus Group Discussions

The results of the focus group discussions are presented as a thematic summary of key assets, issues, opportunities and action steps as identified by participants. These are in turn summarized by economic sector, as defined by the Summit Advisory Committee. In addition to the ten Summit identified sectors, Common Cross-Sectoral Themes are also included.

While a prioritization exercise was undertaken by focus group participants at each meeting, it is not possible to establish priorities between the results of each meeting. Therefore, the issues, opportunities and actions are presented as a collection of ideas without any ranking. Appendix 3 contains the top three opportunities as identified at each focus group.


Common Cross-Sectoral Themes

Some of the points raised in the focus group discussions were aspects of economic development and job creation which are common to all sectors of the economy. These points fall into two general categories: the need for healthy and stable communities to attract and maintain investment and the business climate.

Healthy and Stable Communities

Focus group participants identified a number of key aspects of healthy and stable communities, including quality social services; diversity of economic and community interests and mechanisms to promote constructive collaboration among such groups and individuals; and the need to address youth issues.

In many of the focus groups, participants expressed an appreciation for the strong sense of community which exists, including the strong commitment to volunteerism and to sports which develop skills related to teamwork. The sense of community also extends to the support of community initiatives by large industries. This, combined with the overall high quality of life and strong spiritual and alternative health components of many communities, provides a strong incentive for people to move into the region, including seniors.

Some of the challenges facing communities which affect economic development and job creation potential, include:

  • high unemployment and regional/sub-regional inequities of wealth distribution;
  • recent real estate booms are perceived to threaten the quality of life in many of the region’s small communities;
  • volunteer burn-out in communities is adversely affecting community services and the representation of a broad cross-section of community views on boards. In some communities this is leading to low community and/or local government support for non-profit agencies;
  • a culture of collaboration is lacking between and within communities and sectors;
  • increasing numbers of retirees moving into the region contribute to the economy but also require increased health services;
  • health care issues include the difficulty in attracting and maintaining rural physicians as some communities in the region are not included in the northern isolation allowance program; downsizing; and the lack of ability to potentially deal with large scale industrial accidents;
  • social services issues include parts of the region having the highest rates of child poverty in the province;
  • some communities are experiencing an influx of youth with misperceptions about what opportunities might exist which is creating pressure on housing and social services;
  • many youth are without inspiration for the future;
  • lack of decent paying jobs for youth and no entry-level jobs available in the resource sectors;
  • limited access to start-up money for youth wanting to create their own business;
  • cost of rental housing for youth in the region is high; and,
  • lack of accountability for the responsibility of job creation.


Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Create accountability for job creation and economic development
  • Establish a commission as a result of the Summit that is accountable and responsible for implementing any job creation/economic development strategy created through the Summit process
Create jobs out of positions that are an over burden for volunteers
  • Implement better volunteer recognition in communities
  • Quantify the contribution of the volunteer workforce to the economy
  • Encourage more programs like the youth initiative by government to compensate post-secondary volunteers by granting money toward tuition
  • Explore corporate programs like Canadian Pacific-Fording Coal, where the company will grant a fixed amount to registered non-profit societies to compensate for their employees’ volunteer contribution
Support rural communities through quality health care services, partly by encouraging small businesses to service client niches. This in turn will be an incentive for people to move and travel to communities with unique health services
  • Use community health councils to lobby government
  • Educate government about the differences between rural health care and services offered in large urban centres
  • Develop alternatives to public funding for health services including potential for private sector health services, e.g., a spa
  • Support the WCB work conditioning program utilizing health services and facilities for a fee
  • Offer fee for service on a contract basis to local businesses and clients e.g., physiotherapy
Attract seniors and the retired population partly through improved medical infrastructure and affordable housing
  • Upgrade medical facilities
  • Develop community based intermediate/extended care facilities
  • Encourage municipal governments to work with community health councils to develop housing strategies for the aging population and identify opportunities for private sector partners
Ensure sufficient family support to create healthy and stable communities as desirable places for economic development and investment
  • Increase family support services
  • Generate and subsidize affordable housing
  • Colleges should pursue development of affordable student housing
  • Provide access to quality childcare which supports economic development if the training, facilities and licensing are in place
  • Create a sense of neighbourhood in community planning
  • Utilize true cost accounting of poverty ramifications
  • Ensure grant programs, tax rebates, etc. are in place in order to make services affordable
Take a proactive approach to community planning and conflict resolution
  • Strengthen the official community planning process and ensure that municipal governments work with citizens to have the plans reflect the maintenance of natural and cultural values. Development guidelines must be enforceable and of high quality
  • Quantify in economic terms the value of quality as opposed to quantity development to educate the business community
  • Plan for change to ensure maintenance of quality of life
  • Support forums for cross-sectoral dialogue at the community level
Increase local self-sufficiency to buffer changing economy
  • Grow more food locally
  • Increase community loan funds
  • Utilize barter systems and develop local currency systems
  • Promote community land trusts
Support youth business development
  • Create a networking base for youth for business development
  • Develop programs to provide diverse mentors and role models to generate inspiration for young people
  • Establish a provincially funded grant program to support new businesses started by youth
Construct more youth housing
  • Colleges should lead the development of affordable, accessible student housing

Business and Investment Climate

A consistent theme throughout the focus groups was the need to improve the business and investment climate in the province.

The key issues identified by participants included:

  • the degree and structure of taxes;
  • cumbersome bureaucracy and regulatory environment;
  • high wage expectations because of strong labour unions;
  • the cost of capital is 1% higher than the lower mainland due to higher risk; and,
  • the close proximity of many communities to Alberta has resulted in an out-flow of expenditures as well as hiring Albertan sub-contractors who consistently underbid BC contractors. 

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Address the existing adversarial development process through improvement of relations between business and government, and reduce the cost of business e.g.,, permitting, concern over liability, regulatory environment and degree of bureaucracy
  • Streamline permitting processes and the number of government agency staff involvement in any particular issue to allow for more responsiveness and accountability to the public: ‘one stop shopping’
  • Create a community-based advocacy and support network for navigating government bureaucracy and permitting processes
  • Act on community input when sought through public consultation processes
Improve the investment climate for business
  • Federal and Provincial government need to reduce the tax burden on citizens and businesses
  • Make labour laws, taxation, etc. on par with the rest of Canada
  • Address issues around taxes (PST, capital tax) cost of developing natural resources (stumpage), labour regulations and high labour costs
  • Stop confrontational talk (salmon negotiations) that is alienating BC from the rest of Canada and the US. It is bad for all businesses
  • Settle land claims
Address the fragmentation of local government
  • Streamline local government, regional districts and irrigation/water improvement districts
Address labour issues which can negatively impact economic development
  • Revise WCB Due Diligence legislation as it discourages trades to take on new staff
  • Revise labour policies which discourage small companies from hiring staff and encourage sub-contracting


Advanced Education and Training

The discussions on advanced education and training centered on two key aspects: youth related issues and their access to post-secondary education, and worker retraining for sectors of the economy which are down-sizing and restructuring.

While the discussions tended to focus on the needs of the individuals, many participants noted the important contribution of educational facilities and opportunities to the overall health of the region’s communities. It was also noted that an important regional asset is the strong local human resources with experience and good skills set.

Focus group participants identified the following key issues with respect to advanced education and training:

  • there are high levels of illiteracy and high school drop out rates in the region;
  • there is a need to recognize the aging workforce, particularly in the trades;
  • there is a need for flexible use of funding to customize training for individuals at the community level;
  • there are no ‘quick fixes’ for worker re-training and those displaced workers who select to train locally instead of leaving the area may not find jobs after training;
  • the region lacks a trained and specialized workforce for some aspects of the economy;
  • students often must travel for education, sometimes outside of the region which results in higher costs;
  • financial issues also impact access to education;
  • there is a lack of training for aboriginal youth in economic development;
  • the perceived quality of education is either an attractant or deterrent for people moving to/staying in a community;
  • the availability and flexibility of the student loan program affect students; and,
  • there are higher costs associated with providing education programs due to the remoteness and distance of education and training facilities from major urban centres.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Focus education and training on developing an employable workforce that has the training and attitude required to be productive and will build business confidence in the region’s colleges
  • Recognize and address literacy needs through training and upgrading
  • Understand the role of drugs and alcohol and their impact on a productive, motivated workforce
  • Provide entrepreneur training and encourage an entrepreneurial approach and skills
  • Start to establish a career direction for students in the schools through dialogue and early training. Provide more hands-on education (e.g., career preparation and cooperative learning in the workforce). Improve communication with industry to understand training needs
  • Expand work experience for tuition credits program and strengthen cooperative education programs to offer students hands-on learning and networking opportunities
  • Establish more local apprenticeship programs and opportunities for trades training
Improve Entry Level Trades Training, recognizing the aging trades workforce
  • Private/public sector investment should be pursued for a training facility for secondary manufacturing of wood
Provide alternative education opportunities
  • Support starting private schools and businesses that service home-school families
  • Support upgrading and training opportunities that people can do locally and/or from home - telecommuting, mentoring, etc.
  • Identify and utilize a more diverse group of delivery agents for training
Support long term funding and flexible programs to focus on local and individual needs, particularly for adult basic education and re-training
  • Support transition workers for 3-5 years and encourage workers to take a longer view on training - training itself won’t necessarily lead to a job
  • Recognize that training is an investment
  • Develop modules for remote training which allows for the necessary social and face-to-face context
  • Streamline access to training by rationalizing policy differences/structures which create competition between government agencies
  • Promote closer community input to development of appropriate, realistic training programs and the opportunity to screen participants to identify the most suitable training program
  • Undertake a study to determine if regional training centres/programs are, in fact, cheaper and better than offering local training centres
  • Forest Renewal BC Board should overturn its decision to cut funding to the Woodlinks training program. There is a need for this type of good program
  • Forest Renewal BC Board should continue to support Human Resources training
  • Capitalize on the ‘crisis’ mentality when people are looking hard at their training and skills. When the crisis passes, the motivation for upgrading skills also passes. Therefore, design courses in modules that can be picked up as required
  • Use Federal EI excess moneys to support federal/provincial/municipal training programs
  • Educate youthful mill workers about training and other education opportunities
  • Update and increase the number of computers available within colleges
Expand services to meet the demands of the growing senior population
  • Offer Post-Secondary training opportunities to meet the needs of this growing market
Increase the flexibility of the student loan program and increase financial support
  • Improve the flexibility of the Work Study Program as it is currently only available to students with loans
  • Expand funding for childcare services required by families pursuing advanced education and training



The region is recognized as having significant agricultural potential, in particular fruit trees which are being underutilized, niche markets and an abundance of local organic food.

The key issues which were identified by participants include:

  • needing to recognize the vast agricultural potential in the area;
  • the lack of agriculture storage, processing facilities and marketing support; and,
  • it is important to recognize the contribution of illegally grown substances to the local economy.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Develop the vast agricultural potential of the region and promote self-sufficiency
  • Educate consumers on the value of buying local produce
  • Coordinate utilization of local tree fruits
  • Develop value added food products (niche markets, fruit leathers, jams)
  • Coordinate processing and marketing of local produce
  • Seek Columbia Basin Trust support for food processing plants
  • Change policies to support agricultural cooperatives
  • Coordinate leasing opportunities of underutilized agricultural land
  • Protect the ALR
  • Make Crown land available for agricultural small holdings
Support and implement ecosystem restoration (e.g., grasslands in the Rocky Mountain Trench) to increase grazing opportunities
  • Seek support from Forest Renewal BC and the Columbia Basin Trust
  • Develop a training institute for applied, integrated resource management to train young people to carry out ecosystem and habitat restoration
Recognize the reality of marijuana growing and its economic and social impacts on local communities
  • Develop community forums for discussion
  • Legalize and tax
  • Use more infrared technology to identify patches and map
Develop a local hemp industry

Create a provision for small holdings of less than 10 acres


Arts, Culture and Heritage

Arts, Culture and Heritage was noted as being both an important sector to the economy as well as contributing to stable and attractive communities. The creative and artistic people who live in the region are viewed as an important asset for economic development. Cultural amenities attract a well educated, professional population. As well, the region includes many valuable heritage and cultural resources which are important to both residents and the tourism sector.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Create an umbrella arts foundation with shared marketing
  • Seek support from the Columbia Basin Trust for sponsorship and funding
  • Promote arts and culture networking at the local level to develop opportunities
Expand the concept of recreation to include arts and culture
  • Support arts at a local level through use of Recreation Commission funding
Develop First Nations heritage interpretation/education cross cultural awareness and understanding
  • Encourage First Nations to develop cross cultural awareness programs for the community to better understand and appreciate cultural similarities and differences
  • Build community respect for sensitive First Nations natural and cultural resources
  • Involve First Nations in order to obtain an accurate portrayal of their culture
  • Capitalize on tourist interest, particularly Europeans, in learning more about First Nations heritage
Develop and support the community arts infrastructure
  • City of Cranbrook should explore the tourism benefits of developing a new theatre
  • Fund existing level of service offered at Fort Steele Heritage Town to maintain important services like the living history program
Capitalize on the increasing demand for heritage tourism
  • Review the feasibility study for the Mining Interpretative Centre in Sparwood and identify business opportunities
  • Provide more funding programs for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Capitalize on niche opportunities in arts education
  • Support the Fernie and District Arts Council in researching the gaps in program offerings at existing arts schools in order to develop a Summer Arts School



The abundant and diverse natural resources was cited as a key regional asset in many of the focus groups. The forest resource is seen to include timber as well as a range of other land and water values which are key to the long-term economic health of the region.

The improved standards of forest management and community-based tenures, such as the Kaslo and Creston Community Forests, are seen as positive attributes of the forest sector. As well, participants identified value-added potential as a key asset for the forestry sector, including those resulting from small and soft wood utilization and the gain to be realized through juvenile stands and commercial thinning.

The key issues identified by focus group participants include:

  • the need to strike a balance between traditional natural resource extraction industries and the value of the landscape for other economic uses, such as tourism, agriculture, wildlife habitat, etc.;
  • the high cost of Forest Practice Code regulations and compliance and the red tape associated with it;
  • recognition that the primary forest industry is in transition which is resulting in downsizing and the need to diversify the industry;
  • funding needs to be directed to on-the-ground activities;
  • wood fibre leaves the local area rather than being further processed; and,
  • forestry is adversely affected by restricted access to US markets and the high cost of production.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Ensure long term economic viability of the resource industries
  • Review various government legislation and ensure policies are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable
  • Implement a mechanism within the provincial government to achieve a balance of power between agencies (e.g., Ministry of Forests appears to be more powerful than Ministry of Environment)
  • Redirect Forest Renewal BC funding to silviculture and reduce excess planning. Stabilize policy and program delivery as there has been constant change in the last 2 years
  • Utilize Forest Renewal BC funding for long term productivity and inventory not short term jobs
  • WCB regulations for wildlife trees and snags should be relaxed to enable more local use of common sense and flexibility in practice
Reduce the cost of business by reducing red tape
  • Streamline the Forest Practices Code
Support and implement ecosystem restoration (e.g., grasslands in the Rocky Mountain Trench)
  • Seek support from Forest Renewal BC and the Columbia Basin Trust
  • Develop a training institute for applied, integrated resource management to train young people to carry ecosystem and habitat restoration
Capitalize on value-added wood manufacturing opportunities. This includes improving community awareness of the needs and opportunities to add value to wood products; produce remanufactured, finished products; and generate future markets
  • Fund and move on identified market opportunities
  • Develop a generalized program with standard eligibility requirements for business startups and training (FRBC, HRDC, etc.)
  • Develop mentor programs for small value-added businesses with on site support
  • Extend support time for new businesses as 50 weeks is too short
  • Designate special staff in government to encourage, develop, provide support and leadership for secondary industry with market development and information
  • Government should provide incentives to primaries to provide wood to the value-added sector: re-work the credit system
  • Support local level initiatives through funding for Forest Economic Development Officers’s, EDO’s
  • Government needs to think in entrepreneurial terms to be more in touch with current realities
  • Provide flexibility and more on-the-ground worker autonomy to capitalize on opportunities
Create a tenure system which is more responsive to community needs
  • Initiate tenure reform to facilitate access to wood by the value-added sector, including selling more wood on the open market
  • Community based tenures where the licensee is directly accountable to the community (necessary to build trust)


Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Allow for access to decadent small diameter wood


  • Restructure to support off quota, small business or salvage programs
  • Access before harvesting of main crop by small operators to allow for local job creation without large capital equipment costs
  • Capitalize on the existing market for grape stakes/posts and rails
Capitalize on agro-forestry opportunities
  • Reduce red tape for agro-forestry
  • Provide for local opportunities to manage small woodlots and agro-forestry
  • Access Christmas trees on hydro lines
  • Support sustainable harvesting of botanicals, cattails, wild rice and morels


High Technology

The quality of life, including the quality of the natural environment and standard of services, was seen by participants as an important asset in attracting high tech businesses into the region’s communities.

The discussions in the focus groups can generally be defined by two categories: support for existing industries that are viewed as the economic foundation of the communities or the need to diversify to promote economic stability. High technology industries fall into the second category. The need to improve the technological infrastructure and the high telephone rates for rural areas to connect with centres were the key issues identified in the focus groups.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Attract high tech industry. Increase small business opportunities to diversify the local economy by increasing technological infrastructure.
  • Upgrade phone lines (eliminate party lines). Government should encourage this through incentives including partnerships with the Columbia Basin Trust to challenge service providers to enhance infrastructure
  • Investigate potential to utilize West Kootenay Power capacity
  • Develop high speed internet access opportunities; increase band width
  • Enhance cell phone reception
  • Improved high tech access would increase opportunities for telecommuting for training (virtual university classes) and work
Attract high tech industry to improve efficiency/effectiveness of existing industry (forestry, tourism)
  • Evaluate areas where high tech could assist existing industry
Capitalize on the opportunities associated with servicing business and personal users of computers
  • Expand training in high school and post-secondary institutions to service and repair computers locally
Improve high tech training
  • Use incentives to attract high tech instructors to the area
  • Provide grants to stimulate student entrepreneurial ventures in the high tech industry
Promote the technological support for telecommuters to relocate to this region
  • Develop a marketing program through the Chambers of Commerce specifically targeting telecommuters


Opportunities: West Kootenays

Specific Action Steps

Improve the high tech infrastructure
  • Improve the phone lines in the Slocan Valley


Infrastructure Development

The existing infrastructure in most communities was cited as an important asset to build on for future economic development. This includes transportation networks, schools, hospitals, recreation centres, water systems, good sources of relatively inexpensive power, etc. Also identified was the existence of available and affordable land for development as being a positive factor.

However, a number of challenging issues were also identified, including:

  • high transportation costs;
  • access to major centres and markets is often difficult from rural areas;
  • lack of public transit within the region;
  • lack of infrastructure in some more remote communities is hindering economic development;
  • unreliable air access to Castlegar and other areas affected by adverse weather conditions;
  • unreliable power distribution system resulting in power outages;
  • requirements to improve community infrastructure translates into higher local taxes; and,
  • irregular flight service to Cranbrook and Invermere via Fairmont.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Capitalize on alternatives to single vehicle highway transportation
  • Develop regional rail opportunities including subsidizing rail transport and stop deactivating the lines
  • Reduce highway subsidies
  • Develop water transportation options
  • Improve regional bus service
Provide more flexibility in regulations to reflect community needs
  • Revise the drinking water policy to allow for more options to meet disinfection legislation other than chlorination
Keep existing and increase potential for government jobs
  • Decentralize government ministries out of Victoria
  • Keep existing ministries open (MOTH, MOF)
Add value and capitalize on the spin-offs from large projects
  • Pursue opportunities resulting from the power projects such as the upgrade to the Keenleyside dam


Opportunities: East Kootenays

Specific Action Steps

Further develop the community infrastructure of Cranbrook
  • As a community, work toward minimizing the image of Cranbrook as ‘the strip’
  • Learn from the mistakes of the east entrance to Cranbrook and provide better guidance for development of the west entrance
  • Improve public transportation
Increase the four season viability of the Panorama Resort
  • Improve the highway to Panorama


Opportunities: Golden

Specific Action Steps

Improve the infrastructure to ensure that local natural resources are not shipped out of the community
  • Bring natural gas to Golden for both industrial and residential use. While it is expensive, the economic development spin-offs would be significant and industry won’t come without it
  • Pursue other accessible power such as micro-hydro power, co-generation, etc.
  • Improve the highway through the canyon so Golden is more accessible for tourists and business. Fund this through a joint Federal/Provincial Works program. Infrastructure programs will attract workers and money and some will stay in the area


Opportunities: West Kootenays

Specific Action Steps

Develop public transit particularly between Nelson, Castlegar and Trail
  • Seek financial support and donations from the Columbia Power Corporation
Integrate transportation corridors with the needs of the local communities
  • Relocate the major truck route through Rossland to a safer, more convenient location
Improve air transportation
  • Install microwave landing system in Castlegar
  • Secure Nelson as an alternative landing site for Castlegar but deal with the geese on the runway
  • Relocate airport
Create a local industrial park in Salmo for light industry
  • Town to provide the zoning and set up infrastructure to attract business


Mining and Smelting

The abundance of natural resources was consistently identified as a vital component of current and future economic development. This includes a variety of mining opportunities including the known coal deposits in the East Kootenays as well as base metals, industrial minerals and gem stones.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Support traditional natural resource extraction industries such as mining to provide economic stability
  • Streamline permitting processes
  • Government should increase the percentage of fossil fuel taxation return to the region for infrastructure development
Educate communities and governments about the needs and opportunities of the coal mining industry that will address the mistrust of the industry
  • Encourage the mining industry to increase editorials and articles in local papers educating the public about issues and management practices
  • Maintain the Mine Tours for general public awareness and education
  • Mines and/or Canadian Coal Association, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, should develop an education program about the mining industry for schools. The program should encourage parents active involvement, particularly parents who work in the mining industry
  • The industry should educate governments by comparing the regional issues of the mining industry to other operations around the world e.g., freight costs, tax burden
  • Industry should lobby government using organizations like the Federation of Coal Mining Communities


Opportunities: West Kootenays

Specific Action Steps

Utilize the availability of cheap power to attract major investment
  • Support development of an aluminum smelter in Trail


Small Business and Services

While the need for attracting large industry was mentioned, the role of small business and the service sector in future economic development was emphasized. It was felt that small businesses have the necessary flexibility to service niche opportunities that are being created by an aging population, changes in technology and recent real estate booms in many communities in the region.

Focus group participants identified a number of concerns facing small business, including:

  • high levels of taxation;
  • labour legislation is seen as an impediment to small business;
  • too much government bureaucracy, red tape and inconsistencies in regulations;
  • better coordination of government agencies and programs is required;
  • lack of on-site mentorship for start ups, no follow through, existing programs gravely inefficient;
  • lack of adequately trained workers in small towns;
  • government attitude does not service small business;
  • lack of service and flexibility in local businesses which, in turn, impedes other small local businesses; and,
  • local retail selection is limited.

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Promote small business through community level economic development support
  • Commit to delegating more decision making authority to municipal and district governments, local boards, etc.
  • Restructure large sectoral corporations (e.g., Forest Renewal BC) in order to put more money into local communities
  • Ensure provincial initiatives are flexible and allow communities to design programs that fit local needs
  • Improve coordination between government agencies to reduce red tape, and eliminate duplication and contradicting or vague policies, etc.
  • Reinstate the Regional Economic Development Officers
  • Provide long term economic development officer positions in small communities
  • Local government can facilitate business start ups through zoning for land and water access
  • Develop on-site intergenerational mentoring support networks
  • Ensure continuity of support for new businesses over a longer term
  • Provide stability in economic development support programs as constant change creates uncertainty about what programs exist and how to access them
  • Make Community Futures training more accessible to small business
Increase collaboration between economic development interests
  • Promote increased collaboration between economic Development Offices and Chambers of Commerce. These bodies can become advisory resources for other organizations and investors, e.g., trade missions
  • Encourage collaboration at the local, sub-regional and regional scales
  • Encourage collaboration between the Columbia Basin Trust, economic development organizations, small initiatives, aboriginal interests
Improve the climate for small business within government policies, attitudes and support
  • Set up a government agency to directly support development of individual small businesses
  • Support small businesses in targeting foreign markets
  • Pursue alternatives to the low bid policy as it is not always the most efficient and desirable
  • Change the 60 day government payment policy so small business does not have to carry the load
  • Provide professional development for government staff in order to service the small business sector and culture. This includes updating the technology and information being utilized by government staff
  • Provide flexible funding programs with local decision making for implementation
  • Support the type of businesses that are already in BC instead of trying to lure new, big players to the province



Tourism was a major topic of conversation. The natural scenery, abundant wildlife, air and water quality and recreational opportunities were consistently identified as key assets which provide both a high quality of life for the region’s residents, as well as opportunities for growth in the tourism sector.

In particular, the major lakes and facilities such as the Creston Wildlife Centre were seen to be important to the tourism sector. The region’s climate, with four seasons and relatively mild winters, was deemed to be an attractive quality. The existence of a number of community festivals that attract visitors was also seen by participants as positive attributes for the tourism sector to build on. Finally, the Forest Service Recreation Sites and Provincial and National Parks were identified as assets for the region.

To capitalize on the economic development and job creation potential of the tourism sector, focus group participants feel it is important to recognize the following issues:

  • tourism requires a shift in the way the public and government view the landscape;
  • land use planning needs to manage the natural assets to preserve the important features and values for tourism and recreation interests and reflect the access needs of the industry;
  • currently, there is inadequate government support for marketing and product development;
  • need to improve the standard of service in some of the tourism sector; and,
  • given the seasonal nature of the industry, there is a need to concentrate on attracting visitors during the shoulder and low seasons (October, November, April and May).

Regional Opportunities

Specific Action Steps

Improve the current government understanding of the importance of tourism to the region
  • Create greater regional representation in the Ministry of Tourism and increase the profile for the provincial tourism ministry
Take a proactive approach to tourism planning
  • Develop management guidelines to regulate growth to ensure quality of life and recreation experiences
  • Process the backlog of backcountry permit applications
  • Expand or bring back tourism programs such as Super Host or revitalization
More effective and coordinated packaging of the unique tourism opportunities is required
  • Restructure the tourism marketing associations to increase their effectiveness - explore amalgamating Tourism Action Society in the Kootenays (TASK) and Tourism Rockies
  • Coordinate information on local attractions and services to a centrally accessible point (joint packaging of tourism products)
  • Promote tourism/forestry collaboration to develop tourism products on a multi-use land base, e.g., educational tours, trail networks
  • Package and market in the US because of the proximity to the border
  • Seek provincial/federal funding for promotion and pool marketing dollars to reach broader markets
Feasibility study shows railway excursions are viable through the region
  • Secure investors and attract operators
Develop facilities and opportunities to attract shoulder/low season tourism
  • Develop sub-regional conference facilities
  • Work with local businesses to draw tours into towns for longer stays
  • Encourage more tourism activities and destination resorts
  • Attract small convention traffic
  • Target a flagship tourism operator to invest in infrastructure e.g., CP Hotels to attract a larger convention market
  • Market outdoor adventure activities especially shoulder-low season products e.g., hunting, guide outfitting, fishing, hiking
Manage Arrow Lakes and Lake Koocanusa water levels with a plan for tourism opportunities
  • Maximize recreational opportunities through reduced draw downs
Develop a recreation strategy to better mark staging areas and trail locations
  • Develop and increase trail infrastructure with sensitivity to impacts on other interests
  • Increase education of benefits with those impacted
  • Increase dialogue between various users of the land base to manage impacts, address perceived threats and generate funding
  • Adopt a trail program where community citizens or groups volunteer to maintain trails
  • Develop programs with the E-Team to construct trails
  • Solicit corporate sponsorship for trail signage
  • Offer special use permits with limited entry window periods for motorized access into closed areas


Opportunities: East Kootenays

Specific Action Steps

Develop adventure and eco-tourism products
  • Utilize/renovate Cominco’s infrastructure following closure to develop a world class avalanche search and rescue training facility
  • An eco-tourism business opportunity exists in educating people about the Rocky Mountain ecosystem
Bring the Trans Canada trail through Sparwood and Fernie
  • Re-open communication around an alternate route into the Elk Valley since the Elk Pass/Fording Pass options are not viable
Increase tourism product availability for the shoulder/low season
  • Attract small conference traffic to utilize existing infrastructure
  • Target flagship tourism operators to invest in larger infrastructure to accommodate a larger share of the convention market e.g., CP Hotel
Support tourism development to provide a wide range of opportunities
  • Develop a local museum to interpret the history of the East Kootenay Region in Cranbrook
  • Develop a new Recreation Centre and Theatre in Cranbrook
Take a proactive approach to tourism planning
  • Implement the Commercial Recreation Permitting process on the Elk River to ensure the health of that resource


Opportunities: Golden

Specific Action Steps

Improve tourism facilities and Golden’s reputation to attract more businesses and residents
  • Develop more local appeal through more festivals, events and destination-type activities
  • Develop a unique and genuine town identity through architectural style, a development plan, etc.
  • Make better use of the waterfront
  • Expand on the improvement work already underway
  • Showcase the natural resources and the lifestyle in the area


Appendix 1: Background Information

The following information was available for use by the 14 community focus groups. The intent was to provide participants with the results of previous regional consultation processes which addressed economic development and job creation issues to provide context and avoid duplication of effort.



Advanced education and training
  1. link training to jobs and improve communication between industry and education to identify skills needed and prepare people for work (CBT, MAETT, CORE)
  2. develop entrepreneurial skills (CBT,MAETT,CORE)
  3. more training tailored to workers displaced by the economic transition (MAETT, CORE)
  4. broader based approach to training including more literacy, numeracy, mentoring, coaching, trades, apprenticeships, technology, hospitality, multicultural, service sector, film, culinary, life skills, workplace etiquette training needed (MAETT, FRBC)
  5. increased training funding and access to funding for youth, lower income people, disadvantaged groups (CBT, MAETT)
  6. more education curricula on regional culture, history, ecology and socio-economic reality (CBT, CORE)
  7. lack of programs to meet needs of people with disabilities, women and youth (MAETT)
  1. shift in fruit crops to more commercially viable varieties (MAETT)
  2. need to explore agro-forestry opportunities (CORE)
Arts, culture and heritage
  1. lack of infrastructure (MAETT)
  2. need to create a sense of shared regional culture (CBT)
  1. industry restructuring, downsizing and impacts of land use plan, Forest Practices Code, Timber Supply Review (CORE, FRBC)
  2. lack of industry diversification (FRBC)
  3. aging workforce (FRBC)
  4. overlaps in training programs (FRBC)
  5. need to ensure sustainable cut levels (FRBC)
  6. more skilled, trained people needed to support enhanced forestry (FRBC)
  7. better planning needed to support industry initiatives (FRBC)
  8. need coordinated, compatible resource inventories (FRBC)
  9. need inventory, planning, funding and training to support watershed restoration (FRBC)
High Tech
  1. lack of technology infrastructure, especially high speed Internet access (CBT, MAETT)
  2. better technology training needed in high schools (MAETT)
Infrastructure development
  1. need more affordable, accessible childcare to make work and training possible for parents (CBT, MAETT)
  2. affordable, decent housing (CBT)
Mining and metallurgy
  1. technology and skills upgrading training needed (MAETT)
Secondary manufacturing
  1. need to encourage development of the value-added sector (CORE)
  2. more technology transfer and marketing support for value-added (FRBC)
Small business and services
  1. government regulations, taxes and red tape impact small business (MAETT, CORE)
  1. low wages in tourism and insufficient advanced education for tourism management (MAETT)
  2. backlog of access to Commercial Backcountry Recreation permits (CORE)


Sector Opportunities and Actions
Other sectors


  1. analysis of work and training opportunities in the health care sector is needed (MAETT)
  1. economic transition and diversification (CBT, MAETT, CORE)
  2. regional and community self-reliance (CBT, CORE)
  3. government policy and programs structured to meet needs of rural, resource based communities (MAETT, CORE)
  4. need long term, sustainable employment and a dynamic business environment (CBT, MAETT)
  5. service agency cooperation needed (MAETT, CORE, FRBC)
Advanced education and training
  1. eliminate eligibility restrictions for student loans and self-employment assistance (MAETT)
  2. develop "centres of excellence" (CBT)
  3. make training available locally that is targeted to community needs (MAETT)
  4. provide flexible funding assistance to people pursuing more than one strategy to make ends meet (MAETT)
  5. provide counseling for unemployed and underemployed people (MAETT)
  6. encourage a culture of life-long learning (MAETT, FRBC)
  7. promote a multi-skilled, multi-task work force (FRBC)
  8. expand apprenticeship programs (CORE)
Arts, culture and heritage  


Sector Opportunities and Actions
  1. increase timber utilization standards (CORE)
  2. increase silviculture (CORE)
  3. facilitate commercial thinning contracts (CORE)
  4. implement a forest and range rehabilitation program (CORE)
  5. double the woodlot program (CORE)
  6. develop community-based forestry tenures (CORE Table)
  7. fund a forest jobs commissioner position (CORE)
  8. conduct an inventory of all non-timber forest values (FRBC)
  9. maintain and/or restore natural landscapes/habitats (FRBC)
  10. stabilize forest sector employment (FRBC)
High Tech  
Infrastructure development
  1. Columbia Basin power projects (CBT)
  2. develop an economic, business and demographics information and trends data base (CBT, MAETT)
  3. community land trusts (CBT)
  4. develop more transit systems (MAETT)
Mining and metallurgy
  1. implement the mineral strategy for BC and the Whitehorse mining initiative -- a strategic vision for a healthy mining industry (CORE)
Secondary manufacturing
  1. increase financial and policy support for value-added (MAETT, CORE)
  2. develop flexible funding initiatives such as emergency, seed and micro-credit funding (MAETT)
Small business and services
  1. create business incubators (CBT, MAETT)
  2. develop new markets (CBT)
  3. government provide more small business supports e.g., tax incentives, grants, mentoring programs (MAETT)
  1. support ski hills, community revitalization, mining interpretive centre, heritage rail tours, film commission, arts community, St. Eugene Mission resort (MAETT)
  2. support rails-to-trails (CORE)
  3. develop hospitality training programs linked to resort development (MAETT)
  4. develop tourism managerial courses (MAETT)
  5. conduct community education re: tourism opportunities (MAETT)
Other sectors


  1. support grassroots community economic development based on community priorities (CORE Table)
  2. provide financial support for community economic development officers (MAETT)
  3. conduct community and sub-regional planning and provide forums for discussion (MAETT, CORE, FRBC)
  4. implement a regional economic transition strategy, coordinated by one independent agency (CORE)
  5. compensate individuals and businesses impacted by the land use plan (CORE)
  6. review all resource tenure systems (CORE)
  7. establish community resource boards (CORE)
  8. support economic diversification outside the forest industry (FRBC)
  9. use the downstream benefits to achieve community development (CORE), (CBT)


  1. Columbia Basin Management Plan (CBT) by the Columbia Basin Trust, July, 1997. The purpose/scope of the consultation was to identify issues and goals for economic, environmental and social development in the Columbia Basin (excludes the Boundary region) for the purposes of directing the spending and investment of the Trust and its partners. Public consultation included 100 community outreach groups; economic, environmental and social focus groups; written submissions from workbooks; symposium. The parts of the report used were the spending goals and objectives and the spending criteria.
  2. People for Progress: Kootenay Community Consultation Process, by Human Resources Development Canada and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology, March, 1998. (MAETT) The purpose/scope of this consultation was to identify labour market issues in different communities in the Kootenay-Boundary region. 10 community consultations took place with about 300 participants overall. The regional summary is the aggregation of community-by-community responses. The report used was the Regional Summary Report.
  3. East Kootenay Land Use Plan AND West Kootenay-Boundary Land Use Plan by the Commission on Resources and the Environment, October, 1994 (CORE). And West Kootenay Table Report ("what the people said"). (CORE Table) The purpose of the CORE process was to develop a regional land use plan through a consensus based process. The plan included a strategy for economic transition. Public participation consisted of representatives of 21 resource dependent sectors, and public submissions (written and verbal). The parts of the reports used were Chapter on Social and Economic Transition and Section 6.5:Economic Diversification in the Table Report.
  4. Kootenay-Boundary Advisory Process -- Output Documents by Forest Renewal BC, March 6-7, 1997 (FRBC). The consultation was held in order to obtain input from regional stakeholders about their priorities for Forest Renewal’s 1998/99 regional investments. 107 people participated. The report used is entitled "Output Documents".


Appendix 2: Focus Group Participation

A. Selection of Focus Group Participants

The process of selecting participants for the 14 focus groups included reviewing:

  • the draft list of participants for the main Summit in order to ascertain the representation from local communities and identifiable economic sectors;
  • suggestions from the Summit advisory committee to identify suitable individuals and organizations which would effectively broaden the representation of community interests and views relative to the list of delegates for the main Summit;
  • participant lists from previous regional consultation processes which have addressed related issues; and,
  • any other relevant sources known to the team of local consultants who have extensive experience in both community consultation and economic development issues in the region.

A list of potential focus group participants was then drafted by the consultants for the 14 meetings. The list for each meeting contained a number of names above the desired number of 10 participants. These additional names were included to provide sufficient flexibility should some participants be unavailable and to achieve a balance of interests over two or more meetings. (It was recognized that, given the small group numbers required to ensure effective discussions, it might be difficult to achieve the desired balance of interests at each individual meeting. With additional names included, a balance of interests could be achieved over two or more meetings. This applied particularly to communities in close geographic location, such as Rossland and Trail or Cranbrook and Kimberley.) The list of participants was finalized following consultation with Ministry of Employment staff, and people were invited to the meeting via telephone and faxed an agenda.

Participants for the youth focus groups were selected by advisory committee members who are associated with the colleges in consultation with the Student Union Presidents. The intent was to draw students from a variety of college programs to ensure the meetings would address an array of issues and opportunities.

B. List of Perspectives Represented at Focus Group Meetings

Location of Meeting

Perspectives Represented

Perspectives Invited/Confirmed who did not attend

Elkford Municipal government, tourism, arts/heritage and culture,: value-added wood manufacturing, mine worker/outdoor recreation, women’s community issues Economic development, health,: service sector for mining, education, mine manager, secondary manufacturing, small business, advanced education, agriculture, backcountry tourism
Fernie Education, municipal government, high tech, small business and services, backcountry tourism, secondary manufacturing, health, arts/heritage/culture, infrastructure development First Nations, Forestry, Advanced Education
Invermere First Nations, Advanced Education, Eco-tourism, Front Country Tourism, Chamber of Commerce Agriculture, Arts/Culture/Heritage, Small Business, Forestry, Service sector
Cranbrook Community organizations - Community Futures, Environment, tourism, small business, municipal infrastructure, Advanced education, health, forestry, arts/heritage/culture Value added, community organizations/business services, information/high tech, agriculture, First Nations, labour
Kimberley Mining, small business, municipal government, health, tourism-ski/golf resort, Summit Advisory Committee member, East Kootenay Environmental Association, educator, consultant/agriculture, Chamber of Commerce, skills centre, arts, First Nations Seniors, community organization-events coordination
Creston Wildlife Management Centre, employment/human services, financial institution, primary forest industry, environmental, Chamber of Commerce, silviculture, economic development, arts, small business, adventure tourism, community forest First Nations, agriculture, credit union, tourism, education. No one invited from the East Shore attended the meeting
Nelson Wilderness tourism (cat skiing), Community Futures, high tech, municipal government (forest industry), accountant, tourism, silviculture, mechanical engineer (Columbia Basin Power Corp), agriculture, credit union, youth employment services, child care council, advocacy centre (housing, poverty issues) Forest consultant/woodlot licensee, small business, local ski hill operator, mining, manufacturing


Location of Meeting

Perspectives Represented

Perspectives Invited/Confirmed who did not attend

Salmo Chamber of Commerce/economic coordinator, hospitality, credit union, value-added, municipal government, community services, small business Recreation, seniors, arts council, more small business and value added, Businessman’s Association
Nakusp Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, small business, municipal government, Business Development Board, forest consultant, adult education Bed and Breakfast, arts, primary forest industry, adventure tourism
Trail Selkirk College, Aboriginal Youth, Labour, municipal government, continuing education, high school/arts, engineering consultant, Chamber of Commerce Health, credit union
Rossland Primary forest industry, municipal government, ski resort, culture, adventure tourism, silviculture, education, community, Chamber of Commerce, small business Real estate
Grand Forks School Board, Heritage/Culture, primary forest industry, small business, financial institution, Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce, community sustainability, municipal government, ranching, agriculture Community Futures, value-added, mining
Revelstoke Value-added forestry, tourism, national parks, small business (retail, forestry consulting, Community Futures), advanced education, health, arts, first nations, Chamber of Commerce, high-tech Manufacturing/processing, transportation, mining
Golden Forestry: woodlot and small business, agriculture, front-country tourism, small business, employment and family centres, high-tech, labour, education Women’s group, transportation, backcountry tourism


Appendix 3: Top Three Priority Economic Development Opportunities Identified at Each Focus Group

Location of Meeting

Top Three Priority Opportunities

  • Strengthen existing industry, primarily the coal mining industry, through education of the public and government, reducing government red tape and ensuring access to the resource
  • Provide quality health care through addressing rural health issues e.g., availability of physicians, downsizing of rural health care facilities, etc. in order to create desirable and stable communities for investors
  • Ensure land use planning reflects the needs of recreation interests, in particular maintain access for motorized recreation in the backcountry.
  • Manage the natural assets of the community to preserve the features/values currently attracting new people and providing residents with a unique quality of life.
  • Reduce the cost of business by addressing the high levels of taxation (PST, capital tax, personal income tax, property taxes, etc.). This is exasperated by the close proximity to Alberta which results in the out-flow of expenditures as well as the hiring of Alberta subcontractors who consistently underbid BC contractors on projects.
  • Address labour issues which are negatively affecting businesses: WCB Due Diligence legislation discourages trades to take on new staff, high wage expectations because of strong unions and competition with the mines, lack of apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Ensure government is responsive to community needs, e.g., lack of funding for public/private partnerships, agencies understaffed at specific times in the market causing delays in permitting, need for long range planning, expand youth funding/summer temporary employment programs.
  • Increase the competitiveness of the local tourism industry e.g., need to address the seasonal nature of tourism, increased cost of offering tourism services due to PST, BC liquor taxes, bus licensing, etc.
  • Diversify the economy.
  • Further develop Cranbrook’s infrastructure e.g., public transportation, medical amenities, new theatre, minimize the image of the "strip", other community cultural amenities.
  • Reverse the current trend of downloading of government responsibility to non-profit organization at Fort Steele. Over regulation and decreased funding inhibit the viability of these important anchor tourist attractions and ultimately limit quality of service.
  • Diversify the economy.
  • Work to achieve a balance between traditional natural resource extraction industries and the value of the landscape for other economic uses e.g., tourism, agriculture, wildlife habitat.
  • Support the tourism sector e.g., lack of adequate support for tourism marketing and product development, need to improve standard of service, address current seasonal nature of the industry.
  • Provide quality health care through addressing rural health issues e.g., Kimberley is not included in the northern isolation allowance program.


Location of Meeting

Top Three Priority Opportunities

  • Provide for local opportunities to manage and access small decadent wood to be processed as value added products
  • Streamline regulatory red tape to promote community level opportunities for economic development and job creation
  • Streamline local government, regional district and irrigation districts to one community government
  • Develop alternatives to highway transportation through rail subsidies, water transportation options, increased public transit and improved air access
  • Draw high tech industry and small business through improved telecommunications infrastructure
  • Ensure adequate funding for social and health services for families, seniors, children and youth
  • Increase value-added opportunities by developing partnerships to produce more finished products
  • Closer community input to development of realistic, customized training programs
  • Proximity to the US border and highway provide cross border trade and tourism potential
  • Change the community culture to add value to wood products. Produce remanufactured, finished products locally with easily accessed wood.
  • Streamline delivery of government funding to more control at the local level
  • Improve climate for small business through government policies, staff attitudes and support
  • Attract major industry to region through incentives of cheap power
  • Restructure apprenticeship programs and training for youth to ensure availability of a trained workforce
  • Lower taxes and streamline permitting/regulatory environment to generate a competitive business environment
  • Develop a long term strategy to attract High Tech industry to the area
  • Process Commercial Backcountry Recreation applications to develop local opportunities. Market tourism product/service targeting the US
  • Utilize cheap power to attract and provide incentives to new businesses in the region
Grand Forks
  • Increase trail development which ensures minimal impacts on other interests
  • Market local cultural and recreation features to tours to ensure longer stays
  • With more direct funding to communities, more efficient and appropriate programs can be developed
  • Give local communities more authority to establish flexible and
    streamlined funding and program priorities in order to meet local needs and
    better coordinate efforts
  • Focus training efforts to provide locally accessible programs, through a
    range of delivery agents (private and public institutions) based on local
    needs and proven programs (such as FRBC Woodlinks). Continued support for existing provincially funded programs should be a priority (such as FRBC
    human resource programs).
  • Cut the cost of doing business in BC through a range of program and
    policy changes, and improve the services available to existing businesses


Location of Meeting

Top Three Priority Opportunities

  • Improve the infrastructure, particularly local access to natural gas, in order to attract major employers to the area and to turn local natural resources into local jobs
  • Improve local access to training by using a range of different training models, offering a broader range of programs, a secure funding source, and ensuring that training programs link to job opportunities.
  • Improve the reputation and "equity" of the area by improving tourism opportunities, marketing, revitalizing the downtown and capitalizing on assets such as the waterfront.
Youth Meeting:
Selkirk College Castlegar
  • Establish a commission as a result of the summit that is accountable and responsible for implementation of any job creation/economic development strategies created through the summit process
  • Address youth employment issues through wage subsidies, more support for the tourism and agriculture sectors which represent opportunities for economic diversification
  • Establish a provincially funded grant program to support new businesses started by youth
Youth Meeting:
College of the Rockies, Cranbrook
  • Develop a strong cooperative education program offering students hands-on learning and networking opportunities
  • Improve the flexibility of the Work Study Program as it is only available to students going to school on loans
  • Provide grants to stimulate student entrepreneurial ventures in the high tech sector

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