Wednesday, August 16, 2006

About Northern British Columbia

Well, since I'm going to talk about Northern British Columbia sometimes, I'm going to write a post about basic stuff, with a link to my sidebar, so that it will be easier for people on the other side of the country to understand the region. If you have any questions, or if you are from Northern BC and I got something wrong, please make a comment in the comments section.

Basic Stats (From BC Stats)

Region: Northern British Columbia
Location: Approx. All of British Columbia north of Latitude 52 degrees North
Land Area: 618,142 Square Km
Population (2001): 300,946
Population of BC (2001): 3,907,738

Largest Cities and Towns (2001):
  • Prince George: 72,406
  • Fort St. John: 16,034
  • Prince Rupert: 14,643
  • Terrace: 12, 106
  • Dawson Creek: 10, 754
  • Kitimat: 10,285

As you can see from the stats above, Northern BC is large in terms of land area but small in terms of population. This results in two things politically. First of all, provincial constituencies and federal ridings are massive in size, therefore making it hard for politicians to visit every part of their electoral district often and political organizers to organize with the entire region in mind. Secondly, the provincial parties tend to focus on the Southern part of the province as that is where the votes are. This seems to lead to Northerners being jealous of Southerners because the South seems to receive more government projects. I'll call this "Northern Alienation", even though I'd say it is not really that strong, not compared to Western Alienation.

The economy of Northern BC is based on raw resource extraction. The largest industry is the forest industry, so things such as the Mountain Pine Beetle and the Softwood Lumber fights with the Americans really concern us all. Other industries include mining, fishing, and agriculture. Like the rest of BC, there is quite a lot of illegal agriculture in regards to the marijuana crop. The raw resources extracted in the North helps fuel the entire BC economy.

Subregions of Northern BC

Northern BC, however, is not a giant bloc of people sharing the exact same concerns (though many concerns are similar). I tend to divide Northern BC up into subregions to get a better general idea about the people living there.

Central Interior: This is where I come from, so a lot of my knowledge (and biases) of Northern BC is focused on this subregion. It is dominated by the largest city (and my hometown) in Northern British Columbia, Prince George. Prince George calls itself "B.C.'s Northern capital" and a lot of people from all over the North come to Prince George to get goods that they can't get in their hometowns. Prince George also is where the main campus of the University of Northern BC is located. There are also three pulp mills and an oil refinery, as well as numerous industry; combine this with Prince George being located within a bowl-shaped geographical feature and the result is higher than average pollution. Outside of Prince George, the Central Interior is full of wilderness and lakes, interpersed by a few villages. The main focus on the Central Interior economy is forestry. In politics, provincially the Central Interior tends to contain constituencies that tend to elect MLAs of the party that becomes government, with the exception of the west-most constituency which tends to be very right-wing. Federally, Conservatives tend to be elected.

Peace: The Peace is on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, so it shares the plain that Alberta is located on. The main industries here, besides forestry, are oil and agriculture. There are also a few hydroelectric dams. Because of geography and industry, the Peace tends to be oriented towards Alberta, resulting in the same types of political views. In fact, there was discussion a few years back of the Peace separating from BC and joining Alberta. Remember my mention of "Northern Alienation"? Well the Peace seems to suffered from Northern "Northern Alienation". Not only are they jealous of the more government projects that Southern BC seems to receive, but they are jealous of the government projects that Prince George and the Central Interior receive. Politically, the Peace is very right wing, both federally and provincially.

Northwest: The Northwest is located along the coast of Northern BC. The main industries here (besides forestry) are fishing and aluminum smelting. Therefore Salmon Fish Farming, and the environmental effects of it are big political issues here. Other political concerns include the Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat. Alcan is finding that producing electrical power creates more profits than using that power to run the smelter; therefore resulting in layoffs. This angers the residents of Kitimat, who are going to court to try to get Alcan to follow the provincial-Alcan agreement made in the 1950's that gives Alcan cheap electricity in exchange for smelter jobs. The BC Liberals seem to have no interest in enforcing this agreement. Politically, the Northwest tends to vote NDP provincially and switches between NDP and Conservative federally (and it really the same for all of the North, as the federal Liberals are really a non-factor).


I hope that this post really helps you to understand the events and politics of Northern BC. It does not cover everything, but it is a start. Again, if you have any questions or corrections (if you are a northerner), just use the comments section. If you do have the chance, do come to Northern BC sometime.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Remember my mention of "Northern Alienation"? Well the Peace seems to suffered from Northern "Northern Alienation".

My partner is from Fort Nelson, and I've certainly seen elements of this in her. In fact, she'd likely take you to task for calling Prince George "Northern British Columbia," and encourage you to take out a map as proof. :-)

Northern BC Dipper said...

Idealistic Pragmatist,

I guess it is all a matter of perspective. I get annoyed when people from down in Vancouver refer to places such as Kamloops as part of Northern BC. But I agree, Prince George is technically not Northern BC. :-) It is sorta more Centre-ish.

Raven said...


I'll give you a measure of credit for tossing in your two-cents worth as it pertains to political discourse in northern BC, such as it is. However, your profile of northern BC intended to inform "people on the other side of the country to understand the region" is so deficient that it is almost beyond redemption.

Most glaringly, you don't mention First Nations. It's as if they don't exist. Yet they are individually and collectively influencing matters of great importance in northern BC, not to mention that the geopolitical region you refer to and live within is in fact their homeland, too. If I were reading your post from afar and adopted your profile as a starting point to understand northern BC it wouldn't take me long to see you had started me out in a deficit position on this front alone.

But because you're a young NDPer, with notable NDP role models in that region such as Frank Calder and Jim Fulton, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, I hope you'll seriously consider expanding your consciousness and your blog along with it.

If you want to become a legitimate source of information and provide credible discourse on political events in northern BC for locals and outsiders alike then your baseline knowledge of the region must reflect far more than it currently does, in particular on First Nations. Otherwise, your blog will slide to beyond the pale and it will go from the blog-osphere to the blah-go-sphere, so to speak, in quick order.

Northern BC Dipper said...

Well, Raven, the post about Northern BC was supposed to be quick and simple; based off of my understanding. And while First Nations are important, what with the Lheidli T’enneh (pronounced for everybody else something to the effect of "Le-Clay-Ten-Eh", which means people of the river confluence in Lheidli Carrier) final agreement, I must say that I only really know little bits about the Lheidli T’enneh, Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council, and the Tsay Keh Dene.

And this blog, while it does talk about Northern BC sometimes, tends to focus more on federal politics, and provincial politics, based on my opinion.

Opinion 250, might be a better source "...of information and provide credible discourse on political events in northern BC for locals..."

And I mean no disrespect, but my blog has existed for a while now, and I don't think that I'm in dangers of sinking from the "blog-osphere" to the "blah-go-sphere", thank you very much.

And while I respect Frank Calder for his actions on behalf of the Nisga'a, I don't think that he is a good NDP role model for me, considering that he crossed the floor to the Socreds.