Program Spotlight: Love Northern BC

Love Northern BC is the largest shop-local program in Canada and is administered by Northern Development. Since 2013, Love Northern BC has been connecting people with locally-owned businesses in the Trust’s service region – stretching more than 1,300 highway kilometres from Logan Lake to Fort Nelson and crossing from Haida Gwaii in the west to Valemount in the east.

Since 2013, Northern Development has been collaborating with communities throughout Northern B.C. to encourage residents and visitors to shop at local businesses and keep their money in the community. Love Northern BC, formerly known as Small Town Love, began in Quesnel as the brainchild of a local resident and entrepreneur that saw the value in supporting small businesses. In 2013, six additional communities participated in a pilot project to test the concept in other small communities. The Districts of Logan Lake, Fort St. James, 100 Mile House and Vanderhoof and the Villages of Valemount and Burns Lake participated in the pilot project and as a result more than 200 locally owned businesses received professional photography and business descriptions on unique websites. Read more about the pilot project in this November 2013 press release.

Following the 2013 feasibility testing in the six communities, other communities have seen the value in this program and have eagerly joined. In 2014, 15 communities were under the Love Northern BC umbrella, each with their own online identity and website for business profiles. By 2016, this number jumped to 30 anchor communities, representing more than 75 communities. Some anchor communities represent smaller, outlying communities in addition to their own community. Love Haida Gwaii is a good example of this. Alanah, the community champion for Love Haida Gwaii, is based in Queen Charlotte. However, businesses from across the island, including Tow Hill, Sandspit, Tlell, Port Clements and Masset are all represented through Love Haida Gwaii.

Through Love Northern BC, more than 1,500 businesses have a high-quality online presence. Participating businesses pay a one-time $100 fee and they receive a professional photoshoot of their business, a professionally written description of their business and background and a listing on LoveNorthernBC.com. Businesses are categorized into different sectors, helping potential customers learn about them. Currently, food production and service is the top category, with 469 businesses represented. Next is shopping, with 310 businesses listed. Rounding out the top three is accommodations and tours, with 268 businesses.