May 2024 - Newsletter

In this issue

The second annual Indoor Spring Classic Rodeo kicked off April 19 at the Cariboo Memorial Recreational Centre in Williams Lake. This three-day event featured barrel racing, a barrel man/clown and dog act, bronc and bareback riding, bull and mini-bull riding, and steer riding. The Saturday event and dance were sold out with over 4,000 attendees for the duration of the weekend.  

This is the first rodeo of the season in B.C. and Northern Development supported the Indoor Spring Classic with a $5,000 grant through the Fabulous Festivals and Events program.

The rodeo enhances and builds on the theme of the western lifestyle that the Cariboo is so famous for.  It allows a safe, first-hand, up-close view of the rodeo sport and the participants, in a family-friendly environment.

“We were very pleased with the results of our changes to the rodeo format. The new roughstock and barrel racing template allowed us to add some extra entertainment and keep the running time under three hours all three performances,” said Roy Call, vice-president, Interior Rodeo Event Association. “The attendance was similar to 2023 with very near capacity crowds at all the rodeos and like always, the barn dance was a big hit and sold out. The event is such a big part of the event calendar in Williams Lake and we are already making plans for next year’s rodeo.”

In July of 2022, the Geoscience BC Society was approved for a $200,000 grant to collect data about the amount of lithium available in Northeast B.C. The NEBC Lithium – Formation Water Database project tested brines from deep below the surface of natural gas wells to create the first database of lithium and other critical metals in Northeast B.C. formation waters.

The results indicate that it may be economic to extract lithium from the brines alongside natural gas development in the region. This project created a legacy database of lithium, other elements, and water chemistry properties and concentrations in NEBC. The public, peer-reviewed results can help the natural resource sectors, governments, communities, Indigenous groups and academia further understand the potential for lithium extraction from brines in the region.

In Alberta and Saskatchewan, similar programs have led to the creation of many new companies and jobs. Some of these companies are finding ways to extract lithium directly from natural resources using methods originally developed for oil and gas. They’re using techniques like solvent extraction, molecular recognition technology, and electrochemical processes to get lithium from the water. These methods are becoming more efficient, even when the lithium concentration is relatively low.

“Northern Development’s contribution to this project supports a transition to a net-zero emissions economy by researching potential sources of critical minerals like lithium,” said Randy Hughes, manager, energy and water for Geoscience BC. “This project provides independent, public information for industry, government, communities and Indigenous groups looking to understand the potential for extracting lithium from northeast BC’s subsurface brines.”

In October of 2023, the Mackenzie Outdoor Route and Trail Association (MORATA) completed a 9 km trail around the community of Mackenzie. The trail is an extension of a 1.3 km trail that was completed in 2020. Prior to the expansion, the shorter trail was very popular among Mackenize residents and MORATA received substantial positive feedback.

Northern Development provided a $100,000 Recreation Infrastructure grant to MORATA to assist in the construction of the trail.

The expanded loop is also a key component of a larger trail network, which connects several existing trails and increases the opportunity for a variety of options for users, with minimal additional infrastructure required. The expansion of this network is part of an initiative to draw tourists, and new residents, to the region through mountain biking, and the development of a world class trail network.

As the trail loops around the community, it allows for equal access to all residents. The completed project is now named Azan Tunneh, with the name being chosen by the Mcleod Lake Indian Band. Azan was a Tse’Khene trapper whose trapline was located in and around Mackenzie. Tunneh means trail in Tse’Khene. The full loop represents 10 km of purpose-built trail or an 11 km continuous loop including roads and sidewalks that connect the sections of the Azan Tunneh together.

“The funding provided by Northern Development Initiative Trust was instrumental in the project’s success,” said Russ Hobbs, president, MORATA. “The trail provides easy access to the natural beauty around Mackenzie, has had health benefits for residents, and is a highly valued asset in the community. Through this project NDIT has once again provided immense value to our northern community.”