November 2013 - Newsletter

In this issue

Northern Development at a glance


The millions of dollars in funding the Trust has committed to 1,253 projects since its inception


The number of jobs that have been created


The number of funding partners the Trust has teamed up with to attract more than $1.1 billion in new funding to the region


The percentage of investments in communities with less than 5,000 people


The millions of dollars in funding community grant writers have helped communities access since 2010

Northern Development Initiative Trust’s board of directors has approved a $244,815 grant to support a major apron expansion at the City of Quesnel’s airport. The current apron is 52,500 square feet and is one of the smallest certified airport aprons in B.C., which means it cannot accommodate multiple aircraft

The city plans to expand the apron by an additional 22,500 square feet (a 42% increase in size), which will provide access to a new multi-use hangar. “Investing in our airports to improve access to the region is a key driver for economic growth in northern B.C. – and that’s what makes this a worthwhile project,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “The Trust is proud to support this exciting project through both our Feasibility Studies and Economic Diversification Infrastructure programs.”

The apron expansion is needed to connect the new hangar to the airport’s existing apron and runway. The hangar is expected to generate new economic development for the city, attracting aviation related businesses such as flight schools, technical training, logistic and cargo support and aircraft

The airport, which is owned, operated and funded by the City of Quesnel, is an integral asset for the local economy.

“The City of Quesnel is grateful for the generous funding received from Northern Development Initiative Trust for this project. Our airport is an important part of Quesnel’s transportation system and it is wonderful to see the lands being utilized to enhance the airport’s capacity,” said City of Quesnel Mayor
Mary Sjostrom. “It is exciting to see the project moving forward.”

"Investing in our airports to improve access to the region is a key driver for economic growth in northern B.C. –
and that’s what makes this a worthwhile project"
Evan Saugstad
Northern Development Initiative Trust

The apron expansion and development of the new hangar facility is expected to generate additional lease revenue and stimulate increased air traffic movements.

“We welcome this expansion as it will increase the apron area extensively, allowing users more aircraft parking options and easier access to onsite services,” said City of Quesnel Transportation Manager Harlene
Hunt. “As well, it will provide airport maintenance personnel with more maneuvering room for operating large equipment.”

The grant is being provided through the Trust’s Economic Diversification Infrastructure program, which provides up to $250,000 in funding to municipalities, regional districts, First Nations and non-profit organizations in Northern Development’s service area for projects that significantly strengthen the local economy via a major capital investment.

The grant approval for the apron expansion also shows the success of Northern Development’s Feasibility Studies program, which provides grant funding to local governments, First Nations bands and registered non-profits to help cover the cost of an advanced business case study that leads to a final investment decision for a major capital infrastructure project.

The airport apron expansion is a product of Quesnel’s Airport Land Development Plan, which was developed with the goal to make Quesnel Regional Airport a leader in general and small commercial aviation in northern B.C.

Northern Development helped fund the plan with a $9,500 grant through its Feasibility Studies program.
Construction on the apron expansion is expected to begin in the spring of 2014.

This is it.

You hold in your hand the final print edition of Building a Stronger North.

If you’re reading this online, however, I’m happy to report that there’s a lot more news to come.

Earlier this year, we told you that 2013 would mark the final year of print publication for this newsletter.

The reason for this is simple: we are now able to engage with more of you, our readers, through digital channels than we were ever able to reach with the print edition of this newsletter.

Northern Development serves a region that covers approximately 70% of the geographic area of this province, and it’s not only our duty to be responsive to that region’s economic needs but also to make sure the people in our region know what we’re up to.

During the last year, we’ve put a lot of time and energy into the way that we connect and communicate with the people in this great region.

For starters, our staff, directors and regional advisory committee members are doing what they’ve always done – meeting and speaking directly with the communities, First Nations and non-profit organizations that can access our funding streams.

We want to get more money out into the regions we serve to support exciting new economic development projects – and we believe that building strong relationships across this region is the key to building a stronger north.

Last year, the separate funding pools within each regional development account were combined in an effort to get more money out the door and into worthwhile community investments throughout the region.

I’m happy to report that the Trust has approved $5.8 million in funding in 2013 so far for a total project value of $30 million.

The lion’s share of that funding will go into communities with less than 5,000 people.

I’m also happy to report that the Trust remains sustainable – we only disburse the interest earned off of our existing capital base, which virtually guarantees the Trust will continue to disburse millions of dollars in funding annually to the region. But while we’ve been engaging with the region on a face-to-face basis, we’ve also been strengthening our digital presence.

This year, we’ve really put a focus on building digital engagement levels.

We’re now engaging with our communities on a daily, and in many cases an hourly, basis through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

We’ve also optimized our website to make sure information about our funding programs is simple, succinct and easy to find. After all, it’s our core business.

And, given that traffic to our website via mobile devices has soared more than 180% since last year, we’ve also optimized the site to be mobile responsive – we don’t want you to have to pinch and stretch the screen to get at the information you need.

Today, accessing information about the Trust, what we do, how we do it and why we’re proud of it, is easier than ever – no matter if we see you in the community, you log on to our website or access information via your smartphone or tablet.

That said, we know there are still ways we could improve our communication efforts.

We also recognize that not everyone wants to read about what we’re up to on a screen.

That’s why, in 2014, we’ll be continually working hard to find new ways to improve our communication and engagement with our readers, our communities, our organizations and the region itself.

To us, building a stronger north is more than a corporate slogan – it’s a culture that our staff, directors and regional advisory committee members carry with them into their communities every day. It’s simply how we do business – and we hope that you’ll help us continue the conversation about our shared economic future in northern B.C.

Thanks for reading.

Lori Ackerman
It’s often difficult for the public to assess any large energy project like Northern Gateway or the LNG initiatives without a reasonable level of what many call “energy literacy.”

Energy literacy, of course, describes a person’s understanding of the role energy plays in our lives, how that energy is generated and transported, and touches on the ways the energy industry continues to evolve and improve over time. We need energy literacy to achieve long-term, affordable energy solutions. As the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources notes, “Every citizen must be part of the solution and start by becoming more energy literate.”

"To be honest, I’d much rather challenge the oil and gas industry to continue with innovation, than to say ‘no.’"
Lori Ackerman
City of Fort St. John

In our region we work in natural gas, coal, wind, solar, geothermal and hydro and yes, we also have a deep understanding of pipelines and pipeline safety.

Generally, this region is relatively energy literate.

But if energy literacy is to yield sound decision-making, then the public at large deserves a primer on energy innovation, and on energy more broadly.

The oil and gas industry, from production right through to distribution, has made enormous strides toward ever-newer technologies and better methods — from planning through construction, monitoring and maintenance.

One of the great aspects of being involved in my community is knowing our entrepreneurs and innovators. These are the people that get up each day and ask themselves: “How can I make my work more efficient, effective and leave a lighter footprint?” That intellectual property is creating wealth.

I am passionate about this approach because I was raised by an innovator and I see it as an antidote to simply saying ‘no’ to industrial development, including large energy projects like the proposed Northern
Gateway Pipeline or the LNG projects.

Saying ‘no’ can temporarily preserve the way things are, but inevitably saying ‘no’ can also mean tough
decisions need to be made and some of the services we rely on to create quality of life may face closure.

Sure, saying ‘no’ is always an option, but it can’t be a community’s only option.

To be honest, I’d much rather challenge the oil and gas industry to continue with innovation, than to say
‘no.’ My experience has been that when you challenge this industry to do something better, it’s amazing
how the industry comes up with proposals to meet that challenge. Their regard for safety can only be
described as remarkable. As a mom of some of these workers, you can only imagine how I appreciate this.

As a leader in the community, the sector’s outreach to ensure social license is unlike any other industry.

That’s why we held the Fort St. John Energy Conference from Oct. 1 to 3 (

We can change the conversation, and raise the level of energy literacy across the province. We view this as a very important initiative for moving our region and our province forward.

But oil and gas aren’t our only natural assets in northeastern B.C., and nor is energy. Among other things, the Fort St. John region is also the northernmost agricultural region in the country and we have a vibrant forestry industry as well. So when we talk about the four pillars of our community plan, we take a wideranging view of what it is we want to achieve in the future, including economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and cultural vitality.

For us, being proactive means consulting with our community, engaging as many citizens and businesses as we can, and preparing our community for growth and change within the framework of the four pillars.

To be honest, residents from this area of the province well understand how to work toward lower CO2 emissions, and how to build and maintain safe energy infrastructure, including pipelines. We do this every day.

We want to share that experience with those outside our region. The Energy Conference in October is one way for us to help re-focus the discussion and to bring more British Columbians into the conversation to raise the knowledge level on energy issues. After all, it’s a conversation that needs changing.

Northerners recognize the world is moving ever closer to a knowledge economy. We also know we’re a small
population spread out across a very large country, and natural resources are highly valued worldwide. If we’re going to continue with our resource-based economy, then let’s ensure we proceed in an effective and efficient manner that leaves a lighter footprint — that approach is knowledge that can then be exported as well.

We need to be a proactive part of creating policy that drives all industries in a more sustainable direction.


Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program has helped craft a top-line vision that’s generated bottom-line results for one of Prince George’s largest forestry conglomerates.

Winton Homes, a subsidiary of Sinclar Group Forest Products Ltd., has launched a re-envisioned marketing and brand strategy that includes a new digital presence that’s helped the company move into a marketplace leadership position.

The company, which specializes in building pre-manufactured homes and cottages and was formerly known as Winton Global, has tapped into the Trust’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program two years in a row.

The program, which provides an annual rebate of 50% up to $30,000 for small and medium-sized companies in the region to hire specialized consultants to help improve their performance, provided nearly $60,000 to Winton to help it pursue a business improvement initiative, marketing plan and develop a new website. The projects with Winton were delivered in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

The program not only provides funding to help a business offset the cost of hiring consultants, but also allows a business to tap into an existing pool of highly qualified business improvement experts.

“The key message is the quality of people and resources that we could access given the additional funding and the speed, and that has allowed us to move into a leadership space in the marketplace,” said Don Ross, Sales and Marketing Manager, Winton Homes. “The funding allowed us to do it properly, and what that means to me is I was able to spend money on really good consumer-based research that provided real value for our customers.”

The program helped Winton develop a three year business improvement plan that focused on marketing and overhead improvements, said Ross.

With the help of the consultants Winton was able to access through the Trust and BDC, the company was able to achieve 80% of the marketing recommendations outlined for Winton in just six months.

Winton has not only launched an updated brand strategy, but has also aggressively pursued a robust
digital presence.

“Without exaggerating we have the best website in the industry right now, by far, it’s a real competitive
advantage we were able to achieve,” said Ross.

The company has already seen a significant increase in sales leads, and has also managed to reduce its
overall operating costs.

The goal of the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program is to directly support central and northern B.C. manufacturers, innovators, processors and their suppliers to grow their businesses, implement world-class business practices and become more competitive in the global market, which in turn generates a measurable economic benefit for the region.

The program provides a rebate to small and medium sized companies engaged in manufacturing, innovative technologies, resource processing, transportation, distribution and their first line suppliers for outsourced consulting services.

Eligible companies must be privately owned and have headquarters within the Northern Development Initiative Trust region.

"The quality of people
and resources that we could access given the additional funding… has allowed us to move into a leadership space in the marketplace"
Don Ross
Sales and Marketing Manager,
Winton Homes


Sam Quinlan and Tim Hazard have set themselves an audacious goal: to transform Lillooet into the hops capital of Canada.

Biologists, business partners and owners of HOOH Hops Inc., formerly Bitterbine Hop Company, Quinlan and Hazard are hard at work in the Lillooet Valley with shovels, pickaxes and astute green thumbs to build a business out of what they call the “spice of beer.”

“It’s funny, the business itself resulted out of a passion for beer between myself and my business partner,” said Quinlan. “It was a bit of a pie in the sky idea, but both of us were really interested in getting into the industry. All of the sudden the idea to grow hops for the industry seemed fun and we just jumped in full steam ahead, purchased a property, and it happened to be in Lillooet.”

HOOH’s main products include more than a dozen varieties of certified organic hops that serve small and medium-sized craft breweries, home brewing associations, home brewing supply stories, high-end restaurants and grocery stores.

The company has already sold hops to the Powell Street Craft Brewery in East Vancouver, which contributed to a beer recipe that went on to a win a national award.

HOOH, which stands for Harvesters of Organic Hops, has also sold its hops to Barkerville Brewing Company
in Quesnel and Wheelhouse Brewing Company in Prince Rupert.

The sheer explosion of new craft breweries throughout B.C. in recent years has generated new demand for
certified organic, locally grown hops, said Quinlan.

HOOH connected with Northern Development earlier this year to access funding to hire a consultant to help the company refine its business plan and develop a comprehensive marketing strategy.

HOOH was able to access $7,500 in funding to hire the branding firm Temporarily Unpopular Ideas to help them refine their business plan and marketing goals.

The funding was provided through the Trust’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program, which provides an annual rebate of 50% up to $30,000 for small and medium-sized companies in the region to hire specialized consultants to help improve their performance.

“In order to reach that next step we needed guidance and coaching to build a business plan to get us to that next level,” said Quinlan. “So with this grant from Northern Development we’ve been able to access some very talented business consultants.

We wouldn’t have been able to access this level of talent without this grant. What they were able to do
was help us envision what this company could be at a larger scale, exploring the market potential, how
can hops be marketed and branded in a way that makes our products unique.”

Quinlan said the company’s new brand, website and marketing strategy will be launched in the near future. Meantime, HOOH is well on its way to transforming Lillooet into the hops capital of Canada – a grower’s network has recently been established between the company and other farmers to grow even more hops to serve B.C.’s rapidly expanding craft brew sector.

Located at Mile 300 of the Historic Alaska Highway, the town of Fort Nelson, now known as the Northern
Rockies Regional Municipality, is a full-service stop situated in a seemingly unending landscape of soaring vistas and pristine wilderness.
Home to approximately 5,000 people, the town has a unique seasonal population with the oil and gas industry attracting approximately 2,000 additional people during the winter, and tourism attracting some 320,000 visitors throughout the warmer months.

Although natural gas extraction is a mainstay of the local economy, Fort Nelson serves as a gateway to a
vibrant and dynamic region that includes the rolling hills of the Peace Country, the craggy mountaintops
of the Northern Rockies, the incredible canyons and waterfalls of Nahanni National Park and a stream of natural wonders along the Alaska Highway all the way to Fairbanks, Alaska.

The town itself offers a wide range of amenities including first-rate hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as cultural and recreational facilities that include a performing arts centre, golf course, aquatic centre, bowling alley, library, two rinks and museum.