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October 27, 2017 8:41 pm

Conference to Address Northern Housing Needs

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 @ 5:50 AM

Prince George, B.C. – A gathering scheduled for next month at UNBC hopes to help find solutions to housing challenges in northern, B.C.

The Northern B.C. Housing Conference: Housing Solutions for Changing Communities will take place Nov. 17-18 and be hosted by UNBC’s Community Development Institute.

It will welcome over 100 delegates – everyone from builders and developers to economic development organizations and realtors.

“The goal is to talk about housing in northern B.C. With the work the CDI has done across the region, we have come to realize that there are some communities in northern B.C. that are not really well positioned to take advantage of some of the economic growth potential that could come their way,” says CDI co-director Marleen Morris.

“And one of the reasons they’re not well positioned is that their housing stock is either insufficient or inadequate in some way.”

She says that realization is why the CDI approached BC Housing for the funding of a northern BC housing study –  the results of which will be discussed at the conference.

“And in that study we looked at 10 communities and we looked at the demographics in those communities and the housing stock in those communities and we prepared a profile for each of them.”

Morris says those communities are 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Dawson Creek and Fort St John.

She says the conference will also include a series of workshops examining the following topics: aging in place: opportunities for renovation and new construction, Flex Housing design, Passive housing, mixed market/non market housing, pre-fabricated building components and housing from a planner’s perspective.

To register for the conference, click here.


“… we have come to realize that there are some communities in northern B.C. that are not really well positioned to take advantage of some of the economic growth potential that could come their way.”

One would suppose they can talk all they want about something that has not happened yet, but economic growth potential could happen… sometime in my children’s life time. IMO, as long as mining companies are allowed to build live-in camps there will be little demand for housing stock in nearby communities, Mount Milligan is a good example of this.


    Actually Mt Milligan is a great example to justify a camp.

    Mining companies and other industrial sites build live in camps because the location is too remote to commute daily. You cant drive bush roads 1.5 to 2 hours one way (dodging logging trucks and dealing with weather) then do a 12 hour work shift safely. By the time all is said and done your looking at 16-18 hour work day.(Drive, Work Shift, Drive Home. After this 16-18 hour work day just consists of just work and doesn’t take into consideration making meals and spending time with family. I know people who do 7X7 (7 in and 7 out) shifts and they love it..They get more time focused time with family and hobbies when they are out.

    One other thing work camps prevent is a run on housing and utility prices(gas, food, groceries ect.)in local communities. Once the company is done operations the municipality is stuck with aging infrastructure costs when the workers have moved on out of the community.

We can’t rely on the market to build affordable family housing in northern BC. All they build is large executive homes that no young family can afford. Most of the rental stock is owned by slum lords from outside the region. Is it any wonder the school populations have all been in decline, and with it the government dollars for services that comes with a growing population.

What we need is a strategy around co-op type non-profit housing like the Elizabeth Fry Society and others that can utilize land equity to build multi family housing available for families at affordable rental rates. I would think with human nature geared towards greed and not a sense of dignity for others most on the list of developers of real estate would try to steer us away from this type of solution though.

The area they are talking about is the whole of North Central BC with a population of some 310,000 people.

Why do we believe that Citys like Kitimat,, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Ft St John, that have been around for 100 years, are not prepared for some economical growth.

Firstly most of these Cities are in a population decline, and should have surplus housing available.

Secondly, why would you plan for economic growth, when the Government and business cannot tell you when, where, or if, this growth will actually take place.

Prince George as an example has been taking about growth for the past 20 years or more, while all the time the population remains static, or has declined, good high paying jobs have decreased dramatically, and there is no significant projects that would create meaningful jobs on the drawing board.

The best the North Central Interior can hope for is to maintain the status quo.

Read the article on the right hand side of this post and you will see that the Bank of Canada is downgrading its forcast for growth in the next few years. In fact they are predicting a drop in exports which is basically our bread and butter.

Secondly, why would you plan for economic growth, when the Government and business cannot tell you when, where, or if, this growth will actually take place . ??? Exactly ! Real estate investors DO NOT put their money on the line until they see shovels going into the ground for proposed projects . Just like down south . You don’t see condo projects being built until one sees where , when sky train terminals will be avalible . It’s all in the Rein goldmine score card . Public transportation is the one of the most important factors especially when it comes to low cost housing . You really can’t talk about one without the other .

Exactly my point in the first comment Ataloss. When Mount Milligan Mine was first being build, real estate speculators in Ft. St. James and Mac. were busy preparing for the many families who would be buying homes, moving to their communities, and commuting by bus for the one to one and a half hour bus ride to and from the mine site. Heck that amount of commuting time is half the time it takes the average person to commute to and from their jobs during rush hour in the lower mainland.

Once it was learned that Thompson Creek Metals would be building a live-in camp at the mine site, it had an immediate impact on housing projects in both small towns; a subdivision that was slated to be built in Ft. St. James was mothballed, and today you can see very little economic impact in both towns from that mine.

Heck, even the live-in camp, and all food supplies, come from Alberta to the Mount Milligan mine site. Notice the 403 area code in the following employment ad? That is because all live-in services are provided by an Alberta Company called Brannock Lodging Services Group, based out of Calgary.

ht tp://www.allstarjobs.ca/index.php?post_id=274263&cat=144

ht tp://jobs.climber.com/jobs/Clerical-Administrative/Fort-Saint-James-BC-/Accommodation-Professionals-Wanted/54915619

    “today you can see very little economic impact in both towns from that mine.”

    BS..I lived there for 30 years and during the 2008 market crash. After the dust settled from the 2008 crisis, Mt milligan picked up the slack for sawmills that were shutting down (Stuart Lake Lumber)and also picked up the slack for the Kemess closure. Some housing speculators got burned and so did the people that priced their homes way out of market value. Right now house prices have never been higher. I bought a home there in 1990 for $55,000 and even during the market crash in 2008 the value was around $120,000. I sold last October for $175,000. Sounds like Being Human is just looking for an excuse stifle any heavy industry..

Might want to look at Figure 3.3 on page 18 of the following mining economic impact analysis report, dated 2011 and titled “Output Impacts by Economic Region Wages and Salaries Expenditures”.

Despite all the following mines being operational in Northern BC, not including Tumbler Ridge, the economic impacts in the region for wages and salaries spent is extremely low, why? Because Table Mountain, Turnagain, Red Chris, Mount Klappan, Kemess South and Mount Milligan all have live-in camps. Two weeks in and then the workers fly out to the Okanagan and points south, very little of their wages are spent up here and the figures bear that out!


We need a government that ensures northern communities get a better slice of the economic pie when it comes to approving mining permits up here in the North, for starters hire local, and where ever possible bus the workers in and out to mining sites from the closest communities. Make these conditions part of the permitting process.

    The problem is that nobody wants to live in those “closest” communities. I love MacKenzie but the main complaint I hear from people is that there isn’t enough to do or no shopping close by. I suspect the same is true for Ft St James and many other small towns in the north.

    What good is affordable housing when people don’t want to live where housing is cheap?

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