Barriere-to-McBride corridor project makes progress

The Barriere-to-McBride Corridor Pilot concluded on March 31 but it met its original objectives

The Barriere-to-McBride Corridor Pilot concluded on March 31 but it met its original objectives, according to a report tabled during a District of Clearwater council meeting held March 24.

Those objectives were:

• a strong foundation for regional investment and job creation;

• regional cooperation on economic development; and

• an enhanced understanding of how the provincial government can best assist with regional economic development.

“When we first started looking at diversifying our economy, the need to collaborate with our neighbors in order to succeed was clear. So we went to the province and our federal representative and said we need help with this – not just for Clearwater but for the whole valley,” Clearwater chief administrative officer Leslie Groulx is quoted in the report.

Highlights of the report include:

• North Thompson tourism strategy was completed in the fall of 2013 and is now being implemented. Priorities include a Wells Gray Park geopark feasibility assessment to be completed by the spring of 2015, and a North Thompson marketing and materials development, to go live early 2015.

• The province has approved an interim agreement for the Valemount Glacier destination resort, which will allow the resort to begin preparing a master plan. The resort would be located immediately west of Valemount.

• Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association is exploring with other agencies the concept of a mountain bike strategy along the Yellowhead Highway from Barriere to Terrace.

• Two independent power proponents in the McBride area failed to conclude negotiations with BC Hydro by Dec. 31 and so their proposed electricity purchase agreements have been terminated.

The public power utility is pursuing opportunities with three other IPP proponents in the Barriere to McBride corridor: Sorgent.e, Snowshoe Power and Castle Creek.

BC Hydro suspended planning for the North Thompson line reinforcement project in January, 2013, due to uncertainty in the load forecasts. Planning will resume when large industrial loads materialize.

• The Bridges II forest industry renewal project has completed a directory of value-added operations and a post and rail business feasibility study.

• Venture Kamloops is leading a labor market partnership that will identify labor market issues plus develop and implement action plans to resolve those issues.

• During 2013-2014, Telus updated its wireless coverage along the Barriere-to-McBride corridor, with the result that there is now almost continuous cellphone service.