November 2020 - Newsletter

In this issue

Northern Development at a glance


of Trust Funds invested into projects since 2005


projects approved since 2005


projects approved in 2020


of funds committed to projects in 2020

Rendering of people dining along the river.
All photos: City of Quesnel

Northern Development has committed $855,559 to first phase of multi-year project

Earlier this month, Northern Development announced the approval of its single largest investment through the Strategic Initiatives Fund: $855,559 for the City of Quesnel for the first stage of its multi-year waterfront development project. After thorough research and public consultation over more than 12 months, the plan was approved in December 2019 and received the 2020 Gold Winner in Excellence in Planning Practice – Small Town and Rural Areas award from The Planning Institute of British Columbia.

People attending one of the planning session.

“Quesnel City Council is thrilled to have Northern Development once again invest in our community’s transition plan,” said Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson. “This particular investment will enable us to accelerate the implementation of our waterfront development strategy, a key component of our plan to position Quesnel as an attractive destination for visitors, residents and investors.”

In its entirety, the Quesnel Waterfront Plan includes conceptual plans and an implementation framework for improvements to areas along the Fraser and Quesnel Rivers. Long-term plans include upgraded trails, river access, Indigenous interpretive elements, celebration of water, public art, an RV park and much more.

The first phase, which received funding through the Strategic Initiatives Fund, has three components that will be completed in the downtown area to increase Quesnel’s marketability as a tourism destination while creating opportunities for economic transformation. The trio of components are renovations to the Fraser footbridge entrance, planning for Indigenous interpretive elements along the waterfront and improved lighting along the Riverfront Trail, the city’s most well-known trail.

“Quesnel is situated in a stunning and diverse natural environment. The Quesnel Waterfront Plan will greatly enhance people’s enjoyment of the area – both for those who live here and those who are visiting our community,” said Mayor Simpson. “As we continue to diversify our economy, the waterfront provides opportunities to grow tourism and increase the attractiveness of living in our city. We will be working with Lhtako Dene and Nazko First Nations to share their rich history in the area and educate people about their traditional practices on the land and rivers. This plan also includes a vision of conservation for existing ecosystems and a celebration of the biodiversity that thrives on the riverbanks and beyond.”

This stage of the Quesnel Waterfront Plan is expected to be completed by October 2021 and has a budget of $1,069,450. It is anticipated the project will increase tourism visitation and increase the length of stay by visitors. Downtown businesses are also expected to benefit from the development as more people spend time in the downtown area.

Funding for this project is through Northern Development’s Strategic Initiatives Fund. Launched in 2018, this versatile funding program allows local government and First Nations to apply for funding for innovative projects that are not eligible for funding through the Trust’s other programs. Projects must be large in scale, strategic in nature and support long term economic transformation and sustainability.

Outside the West Fraser Centre.
Photo: Northern Development

Since 2017, Northern Development has invested $2.6 million through three funding programs into the Quesnel Hosting Precinct

The Quesnel Hosting Precinct is a purpose-built area in Quesnel’s downtown that brings together new and existing adjacent facilities to create a unique space that is modern, welcoming, and capable of hosting a variety of events in all seasons. In 2018, Northern Development approved a $574,191 grant through the Strategic Initiatives Fund to support the development of this space connecting the West Fraser Centre, curling arena, secondary arena, ice plant building and plaza.

The $722,031 project saw the development of an area that strongly positions Quesnel as a competitor in sport and event hosting while supporting the City of Quesnel’s goals of diversifying its economy. The project included a variety of interior and exterior upgrades, including the painting of two murals, extensive signage, new landscaping, increase power supply, façade improvements and the construction of a gazebo. 

“The vision for this project is a unique precinct that will have hosting capabilities like few other communities in Northern B.C.,” said Bob Simpson, mayor of City of Quesnel. “Through this project, council has established a goal to redefine the community as a modern, attractive and welcoming city.”

Outside the Curling Centre in a welcoming seating area.
Photo: Northern Development

The precinct has already seen huge success for Quesnel. While the finishing touches were being completed on the development project, the community successfully hosted the 2019 BC Men’s and Women’s Curling Championships. This week-long event was held in the two-year-old West Fraser Centre and sold 713 full event passes, 52 weekend passes and 1,099 single passes. Hosting the championships was a big win for the community and reaffirmed that Quesnel can attract provincial sporting competitions and generate positive economic impacts from sport and event tourism.

Lacrosse in the multi-functional West Fraser Centre.
Photo: Northern Development

The West Fraser Centre is an $18.4 million building that was completed in 2017 and became the cornerstone of the Quesnel Hosting Precinct. The multi-use, energy efficient facility is 60,000 square-feet with seating for 1,300 people around the NHL-sized ice. Northern Development invested $2,000,000 into the construction of the centre through its Economic Diversification Infrastructure funding program.

“The West Fraser Centre has been an outstanding addition to Quesnel’s downtown,” said Mayor Simpson. “It is an appealing facility for our community to host an array of events – from graduations to tradeshows and tournaments to concerts, it brings Quesnel residents together to celebrate achievements and to appreciate the talent of visiting athletes and performers. Additionally, larger events bring more people to Quesnel, providing positive economic benefits for our accommodations, food providers and other businesses.”

Since the completion of the West Fraser Centre in 2017, Northern Development has invested more than $2.6 million into construction and upgrades in the Quesnel Hosting Precinct. Additional funding totaling $45,000 was for two separate projects in the West Fraser Centre: $30,000 for air conditioning to make the venue more comfortable during warmer months and to improve air quality in the facility and $15,000 for the replacement of guardrails. Funding for these two projects was through the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program – a funding program that retired in September 2020. Now, these projects would be eligible for funding through the new Recreation Infrastructure funding program.

Mural in the Quesnel Hosting Precinct.
Photo: Northern Development

Shannon Wright, left, and her mother, Nyanna Wright.
Photo: Northern Development

The Pepper Tree Hair Studio is proudly First Nations owned and operated business based in downtown Prince George that has been operating for over 40 years. Owner and Gitxsan hereditary chief Shannon Wright ensures that the business incorporates her values of sustainability and environmental protection and this focus has earned them the recognition of being the first Green Circle Certified salon in Prince George.

“I’ve really followed in my mom’s footsteps, she trained me from the ground up” explained Wright. “I started work with her as an early teenager; therefore, it was a natural progression. Out of all the training I’ve done, she’s given me that boost to succeed. I love what I do and I love working alongside her, she has a way to sharpen your skills and bring out the best in myself and others.”

Inside The Pepper Tree Hair Studio.
Photo: Northern Development

In addition to offering clients cutting edge hair styles thanks to more than sixty years combined experience, the mother-daughter team also focuses on providing a serene environment for clients. With soft music and the calming scent of Sweetgrass, the studio is a pleasure for all senses.

“As a business, we strive to be a place where people can come, relax and leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated inside and out” said Wright. “Our environment has a significant impact on our well-being and we want to do all we can to take care of people – our clients, artisans, ourselves and those we share this land with. We’re grateful to the Lheidli T’enneh for graciously allowing us to live and operate our business on their land. In gratitude for their kindness, we extend a ten per cent discount to all Lheidli T’enneh members who visit our studio. For the greater good we recycle hair – which is used in ‘hair boom’ to safely soak up oil spills – and we recycle foils, hair colour and product containers to prevent and mitigate harm to our environment.”

Shannon Wright is one of many women entrepreneurs that have their business listed on Love Northern BC. November 19 is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and Northern Development is celebrating the hard work and creative vision that Wright and other female business owners display to make Northern B.C. a better place to live, work and play.

Dr. Dolly Garza.
Photo: Northern Development

Dr. Dolly Garza is a Kaigani Haida award winning textile artist who has made her home in Skidegate after moving to the island from Alaska more than a decade ago. Garza is skilled in the traditional Haida arts of cedar bark and spruce root basket weaving and is especially recognized for her spruce root hats and baskets, sewing and Haida applique work. She is also an accomplished ravens tail and chilkat weaver.

“Being an artist on Haida Gwaii is easy,” explained Garza. “Gathering spruce roots, cedar bark and ferns and grasses is a joy as the island has beautifully unspoiled woods to gather from. Having materials in abundance inspires me to create new pieces and the drawback is finding enough time for all I want to do.”

One of Garza’s pieces.
Photo: Northern Development

Garza has a Ph.D. in Marine Policy and was a professor at the University of Alaska prior to retiring and moving to Skidegate. She uses her knowledge and experience to contribute to a number of marine life commission boards. Garza also integrates her environmental knowledge into harvesting materials for her artwork and while foraging for food. She shares her knowledge with others by teaching workshops on gathering and using seaweeds.

Garza is one of many women entrepreneurs that have their business listed on Love Northern BC. November 19 is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and Northern Development is celebrating the wide array of contributions that female entrepreneurs are contributing to the culture of Northern B.C. and the well-being of its residents.

Hats created by Garza.
Photo: Northern Development

Host governments need to apply by January 8 and potential interns need to apply by February 12

Northern Development’s Local Government and First Nations Government Internship programs supports Northern B.C. communities by increasing their capacity while welcoming recent graduates into the world of local or First Nations government.

Offered annually, these two programs place skilled people in communities throughout Northern Development’s service region to benefit both the host community and the intern. This valuable work experience provides young professionals with many opportunities while enjoying Northern B.C.’s unique lifestyle.

“The Local Government Management Internship program provided by Northern Development has consistently filled a gap and need for local government capacity building over the last several years. Hosting an intern this past few months has provided the additional capacity needed in my department, as well as provided for a unique learning experience for our intern. As a previous intern in the program, I can share the experiences and opportunities that have shaped my career to benefit my mentee to reach their career aspirations. In addition, understanding the unique challenges of this internship through my experience has also provided additional support for our intern this year. This program provides for unique skills development in local government management which has distinctively proven to provide for the foundational skillset of local government leaders.”
Jessica Bagnall, Corporate Officer – North Coast Regional District and Local Government Internship mentor

The deadline for First Nations or local governments to apply to host an intern is January 8, 2021.
Visit the First Nations Government Internship or Local Government Internship page to learn more and to download an application form.

“I applied to the internship to hopefully be selected by my own band, Williams Lake First Nation, to learn about First Nation governance in a community that means a lot to me. The highlights for me have been the breadth of opportunities that the band has provided me from coping with emergency situations to being a community liaison for companies that we are currently working with. Looking forward I am excited to be involved in our economic development initiatives in the cannabis industry which pose difficult intergovernmental problems. I am grateful to the Williams Lake First Nation for the opportunity to further my career in my home community. I would advise anyone that is thinking of joining this program to pursue it because of the opportunity to learn from knowledgeable mentors and building a network of like-minded professionals that are able to assist you now and in the future.”

– Dylan Sellars, 2020-2021 First Nations Government Intern, Williams Lake First Nation

The deadline for recent post-secondary students to apply to be an intern through either the Local Government or First Nations Government internship program is February 12, 2021.
Visit the First Nations Government Internship or Local Government Internship page to learn more and to download an application form.

Love Northern BC introduces region-wide shop local contest

For the first time ever, Love Northern BC is hosting a Plaid Friday contest to encourage people to support local, independent businesses on Friday, November 27 as the holiday shopping season takes off.

To enter the contest, participants need to show how they are supporting local businesses by sharing a picture outside a storefront or a selfie with a receipt (perfect for those online purchases from small businesses) with Love Northern BC. Photos may be submitted in a variety of ways:

  • Posted on Facebook or Instagram with #LNBCPlaidFriday and tagging @LoveNorthernBC
  • Private message to @LoveNorthernBC on Facebook or Instagram
  • Email to

Love Northern BC has 20 prize packages valued at approximately $60 each available for winning to contestants who shop at local, independent businesses in Northern Development’s service region.  Learn more about the contest, including rules and regulations, here.

Every year, Love Northern BC takes part in a Plaid Friday campaign. This campaign is designed to support local independent business owners through a variety of Plaid Friday celebrations. Plaid Friday 2020 looks different than previous years to keep everyone safe and healthy. Keep an eye out for how Plaid Friday is being celebrated in your community.