The District of Fort St. James Grant Writer, Shauna Hesse had a very busy year in 2013.  Below are the results from all of her hard work!  Congratulations Shauna!

The total amount of approved grant applications in 2013 was $188,389 with  $87,889 being from the 2013 grants alone!

We have submitted $451,236 worth of applications with $202,470 combined value of applications awaiting response.

33 applications were submitted.  16 applications were approved and 6 were declined.   11 are awaiting a response and  9 non-profit organizations received some funding through the grant writing program.

Please visit for information on available grants and their respective application deadlines for January – March 2014.

Please visit to provide feedback to our Grant Writer about the program.

Community Forest Update: Witch Lake Expansion Area

Doc1Fort St. James Community Forest has been relatively inactive for a couple of years, as we were awaiting the closure of the Witch Lake expansion process. We have been working with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, BC Timber Sales, Major Licensees, Nak’azdli First Nation and several Keyoh holders to finalize the boundary areas and get the higher level plans in place.  The process was a long one, but on November 15th, we got the news that the Boundary of the Fort St. James Community Forest had officially been changed to include the planning cells around Witch Lake.  Thank you to everybody (Government, Licensees, First Nations and the District) who worked on this process and remained focused on the goal of expanding the Community Forest. Well done!

The Witch Lake expansion area straddles the height of land between Chuchi and Witch Lake and is accessed from the West by the Leo Creek FSR and from the East through the Germansen-Witch FSR.  The new area includes approximately 9,000 hectares of expansion, of which 7,400 hectares is part of the Timber Harvesting Landbase (THLB). The long term allowable annual cut for the newly amended Community Forest, which includes all the planning cells, is modelled in the order of 45,000 cubic meters per year.  The area was chosen primarily because of the long-term sustainable timber supply and uniqueness of the area with regard to cultural heritage and recreation values associated with the Nation Lakes system.

For more information, please see the Winter 2013 Community Forest Newsletter.

Fort St. James Celebrates Local Businesses by Rolling out The Red Carpet

town logos pilot project2Fort St. James is “Rolling out the Red Carpet” for its local business owners, by hosting a Small Town Love launch party at the North Arm Pub this Friday, Nov. 22 from 7-9p.m.  The party is open to the public and will include a snack table as well as prizes, giveaways and games for attendees.

Small Town Love is a buy-local campaign piloted this fall by Northern Development Initiative Trust in six communities, of which Fort St. James is one.  The project has resulted in a local website which initially highlights thirty-one local businesses  and can be viewed at The objective of the project is to deliver a unique marketing campaign that celebrates locally-owned independent businesses with an aim to strengthen their competitiveness and keep more dollars in the local economy

“Small Town Love has helped the business community in Fort St. James collaborate in a new and innovative way that celebrates the many amazing locally-owned businesses that call this historic community home,” said District of Fort St. James Mayor Rob MacDougall.

The Small Town Love project falls on the heels of the District’s awarding of the 2013 Open for Business Awards presented by BC Small Business Roundtable.  The Open for Business Award includes a $10,000 cash prize for the community which will be used to help implement small business initiatives such as a Business Retention and Expansion program with the District’s Economic Development department, and the hiring of a “Business Development and Tourism Assistant” position to be shared  with the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce.  More information on the Open for Business Award can be found here.


Business Façade Improvement Program

132_0795The appearance of a community can create a sense of appreciation and civic pride for citizens, and make a place more attractive for visitors to that community. We believe that the building frontages of the business community of Fort St. James should be a reflection of how our town is valued by its citizens, the character and quality we uphold, and the quality of life we welcome.

The District of Fort St. James is pleased to provide the Business Façade Improvement Program to give monetary assistance as an incentive to buildings/ business owners, to improve the character and physical appearance of their buildings, while allowing them to assert their identity.

We intend that this Program will:

– Make our downtown community a more inviting and interesting place to eat, shop, walk and play

– Promote the marketability of commercial ventures, to visitors and residents of Fort St. James

– Help building owners to attract and retain tenants

– Improve the quality of life residents, workers and visitors to our community enjoy

– Build civic pride among business community and citizens

Detailed program information can be found at and the Application Form can be found at  Please contact Emily Colombo the District Office if you have any further questions.

LOVE Fort St. James!

town logos pilot project2Local businesses in Fort St. James will receive an extra boost in the coming months as part of a “Love Fort St. James” buy local campaign piloted by Northern Development Initiative Trust.  The project will celebrate home grown businesses and their contributions to the local economy, while encouraging citizens to consider the wide variety of products available in town. The program will also help celebrate the personal connections which take place between consumers and business owners when they support independent businesses.

The Northern Development-led pilot program supports the development of strongly branded buy-local campaigns for six communities including Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Logan Lake, 100 Mile House and Valemount.  Each community will have their own website that will promote local businesses through high-end photography.  A website to support Fort St James’ involvement will be located at in the coming days.

To fund the website development and graphic design of the project, Northern Development’s board of directors approved $75,000 to include all six pilot communities. To execute the project, Northern Development will contract the services of Amy Quarry, who launched a similar project in Quesnel that engaged more than 50 local businesses.  Quarry will provide the branding materials for the Love Fort St. James initiative, and will work with the District’s Economic Development Department to engage local business owners in the project and coordinate professional photographs of each business involved in the campaign.

“The Small Town Love project is a great opportunity for local businesses in Fort St. James to collaborate and promote what products and services are locally available to the community,”, said Mayor Rob MacDougall. “We’re very excited as this helps us to build a critical awareness for community members, business and industry to highlight the benefits of shopping locally, in turn helping to strengthen the resilience of our local economy.”

Businesses and community members interested in learning more about the Love Fort St. James campaign should contact Emily Colombo, Economic Development Officer for the District of Fort St. James at 250-996-8233 or by emailing

Master Trails Plan

The District of Fort St. James has retained a qualified consultant to prepare a comprehensive Trails Master Plan that supports active modes of transportation.  Important goals of the plan are to foster the usage of active transportation while providing for population and industry growth, the development of a high quality of life for residents, and to assist with municipal efforts to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions.

The primary objective of the Trails Master Plan is to provide set municipal development goals and actions for connected active transportation and to support sustainable economic and community development through trails and transportation planning.  Included in the Trails Master Plan will be a map (both hard copy and electronic) which will highlight local and regional trails in our area.  Some limited trails signage will be implemented as a component of this project.

We anticipate completion of the master plan by late September 2013.




 As a result of funding from the federal government, the District of Fort St. James has been able to further protect the safety and health of its citizens during emergencies and disasters.  For more information visit

Northern Health Active In Physician Recruitment Across the North

Northern Health has successfully recruited nearly a dozen Northern Medical Program (NMP) graduates to include in a total of 55 physicians recruited since January 1, 2012 from around the province, country and world.

In addition to those recruited from the Northern Medical Program, Northern Health has also recruited 24 physicians since 2010, all of whom completed their residency in the north but were not from the NMP. Northern Health remains in contact with graduates of the NMP who have not reached the point of selecting a permanent home and expects many of those to establish practices in northern communities in the future.

In 2012 Northern Health was instrumental in the recruitment of Dr. Anton Meyer, Dr. Pieter nan Zyl and Dr. Marile van Zyl to the community of Fort St. James.  One more full-time physician, Dr. Hennie Putter is expected to begin working in the community in March of 2013.

“The community of Fort St. James deserves the credit for making the doctors that have been recruited feel welcomed and wanted,” said Michael McMillan, Northern Health chief operating officer for the northern interior health service delivery area. “Northern Health would like to recognize all the members of the community who worked tirelessly to recruit these physicians.”


Community Revitalization Tax Exemption

The District of Fort St. James Mayor & Council recently approved a tax exemption program for commercial and light industrial infrastructure improvements.  This program follows close on the heels of the successful “Industrial Tax Exemption” program which saw $30 Million in upgrades completed at a local sawmill.

Under the newly extended program, commercial and light industrial properties which implement property upgrades that result in increased property value assessments, will be exempt from paying increased municipal property taxes for a period of time following the upgrade.  Details on the bylaw can be found here. 

An additional program offered by Northern Development Initiative Trust can help property owners to leverage the tax exemptions into up-front loans which can be used for the upgrade itself.  Proponents interested in taking advantage of this additional opportunity are encouraged to contact Northern Development Initiative Trust at 250-561-2525 and the District’s Economic Development Officer, Emily Colombo at 250-996-8233,



At a Special Council Meeting held on July 31, 2012, Mayor and Council of the District of Fort St. James unanimously voted to adopt a resolution declaring their opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.  The District of Fort St. James is one of the first municipalities located along the proposed pipeline route to take a formal stance on the project.  The decision to oppose the project was based on the results of a public opinion poll, numerous presentations by Enbridge, concerns raised by a local Fort St. James Sustainability Group, conversations with members of the public and the personal opinions of Council members.

At the special meeting, Mayor MacDougall articulated Council’s rationale for speaking against the project: “We feel we have listened objectively to the presentations made by Enbridge, the Fort St. James Sustainability Group and the public.  We have taken the time to research the desires of our community, and we believe we have done our due diligence.  Our decision is based on our valuing of the land base and our fresh water sources.  Of particular concern locally is the crossing of the Stuart River, which accommodates one of the largest sockeye salmon runs in the world, and Pitka Creek which flows into Stuart Lake.  If anything should happen to the pipeline and spill into our river and lake, there will be no turning back the clock.  There is no economic benefit that could outweigh the impact that would have on people’s lives here and the quality of life we enjoy.”

In June 2012 Council made the decision to hold a public opinion survey and open house for community members to share their thoughts on the project.  Council’s objective was to see if there was desire from the public for Council to take a political stance on the project.  The anonymous survey was distributed by hard copy and through online media over a period of 12 days.  Of the 198 responses to the survey, a significant majority were in favour of Council adopting a stance against the Northern Gateway project.  The concerns expressed in the survey responses focused on the potential for negative environmental impacts in the community, region and province.

In response to the news of Council’s announcement of a position on the project, Chief Fred Sam of the nearby Nak’azdli First Nation spoke about the decision.  “We believe this is good news.  This will strengthen the partnership between ourselves and the District, and we look forward to continuing to build this relationship with Fort St. James.”

In July of 2011, the District of Fort St. James registered as Government Participants in the joint review process.  On the original registration Council cited their areas of interest as being environmental, social, economic, consultative, and engagement of First Nations.  An Information Request was submitted in August 2011 asking about local employment/contracting, community investment, the relationship between Enbridge and the Nak’azdli First Nation, components of the National Energy Board Act with impacts it may have on nearby landowners, emergency response coordination with the local communities, and potential forest fire impacts should a leak occur.  A response was received from the proponent in December 2011.

District of Fort St. James Mayor and Council intend to register to speak at the final Public Hearings of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) in Prince George this fall, as well as submitting a letter of comment regarding their public opposition.  Council has been appreciative of Enbridge’s responsiveness as a corporation to the questions raised in the community, and to the open communication processes they have worked to establish with Mayor and Council.