The cover of the State of the Basin 2019 snapshot report, released by the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College. The data in the report is derived from the work being done by a team of researchers based in Castlegar. It gives policy makers hard data they can make decisions from.

The cover of the State of the Basin 2019 snapshot report, released by the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute at Selkirk College. The data in the report is derived from the work being done by a team of researchers based in Castlegar. It gives policy makers hard data they can make decisions from.

Basin economic snapshot shows Kootenay a mixed bag

State of the Basin report shows economic recovery from recession a slow go

A snapshot of the Columbia Basin economy shows an area with an aging population, where many still struggle to make ends meet.

The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Selkirk College released its 2019 snapshot report, a region wide check-up that investigates economic, social, environmental and cultural indicators for the Columbia Basin and Boundary.

Along with trivia (there are 180 annual festivals in the Basin; Basin residents visit the library on average eight times a year) are indications that the recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow.

Business down

There were 38,080 businesses in the region — the first drop in numbers in seven years.

There were 729 business starts in the region, with the rural area between Salmo and Fruitvale seeing the most starts, while Nakusp saw the biggest decrease.

Housing starts were down too, with $397 million in permits being issued.

SEE: State of the Basin Report 2018 (and past reports)

“Only nine out of 26 communities in the region (Golden, Nelson, Canal Flats, Sparwood, Rossland, Fernie, Grand Forks, Salmo and Trail) have surpassed the level of spending on building prior to the 2008 recession,” says the report. “Building activity in the region has not yet fully recovered since the recession, but spending has been increasing annually.”

Job picture

The slow recovery also sits on the job market.

The region’s 2018 unemployment rate was 5.3 per cent, compared to the B.C. average of 4.7 per cent

The average offered hourly wage was $20.75 in the Kootenays, compared to the B.C. average of $20.51 and Canadian average of $20.95

The median annual household income in the Columbia Basin-Boundary in 2016 was $66,480, which was less than the provincial median of $69,995.

Jobs in the retail and wholesale industries employ the greatest number of people, closely followed by health care and social assistance in both the region and the province.

On average, 15 per cent of Columbia Basin-Boundary residents, or 16,830 families, were considered low income in 2016.

The median after-tax income for these families ranged between $26,624 per year for families with no children to $47,320 for families with three or more children.

Aging and moving

The snapshot also gives insight into the make-up of the population.

About 173,000 people live in the Kootenay-Columbia-Boundary area, an increase of about 1,320.

Invermere, Kimberley, and Radium are among the fastest-growing communities in the Basin. Greenwood, Fruitvale and Canal Flats were shrinking the fastest.

The Kootenay’s population is getting older, faster. The average age was 44, and the fastest-growing cohort by far were seniors. There was a 41 per cent increase in the number of Kootenay residents over 65, while the numbers of both youth (under 19) and 19 to 65 year olds declined.

Overall, our population is expected to decline by about five per cent by 2041, while the province’s overall population is expected to climb more than 25 per cent.

Racial makeup

The numbers show the population of the area remains overwhelmingly white and European. Only about 3.6 per cent of the population belongs to a visible minority group, which is well below the provincial average of 30.3 per cent. People with South Asian, Filipino and Chinese ethnicities make up the greatest proportion of the visible minority population in the Columbia Basin-Boundary.

Crime down

You may not know it from local community Facebook pages, but crime is down in the region, according to stats.

“Crime rates (including violent crimes) in our region were at their lowest in 2014 since 1998,” the report says. “Crime severity fluctuates annually in our region, but has decreased 37 per cent from 1998 to 2017. We continue to be well below the provincial average on the crime severity index.”

Policy development

The check-up is important to residents, organizations, businesses and local governments to understand present conditions and trends. The data in the report informs decision making that shapes the future of communities in the region.

“RDI is continuing to provide research on well-being to support evidence-based decision making across the Columbia Basin-Boundary,” says Dr. Adela Tesarek Kincaid, Rural Development Institute lead researcher at Selkirk College. “The suite of State of the Basin research initiatives will continue to assist local communities by providing relevant and reliable data.”

The 2019 snapshot report is part of the State of the Basin initiative that monitors and reports on indicators of social, economic, cultural and environmental well-being in the Columbia-Basin Boundary. The initiative helps inform citizens and organizations through access to accurate, credible and timely information; encourage understanding of complex issues; signal areas to celebrate achievements or identify challenges; and motivate discussion, information sharing and collaborative actions.

 

The snapshot looks at population growth in Basin communities.

The snapshot looks at population growth in Basin communities.

The snapshot shows a real gap between demand for retail workers and wages offered in that field.

The snapshot shows a real gap between demand for retail workers and wages offered in that field.

Just Posted

Tammy Bradford, manager of the Creston Museum & Archives for the last 23 years, wants to welcome visitors to check out their exhibits and programs this summer. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston Museum encourages summer visitors to check out programs and activities

After some temporary closures of indoor exhibits due to COVID-19, the museum has re-opened to welcome visitors

Nasukin Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band poses under the mural in the administration building. The mural depicts past elders David Luke, Wilfred Jacobs, Isobel Louie, Charlotte Basil, and Louis White. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Lower Kootenay Band announces cross-border COVID-19 vaccine clinic

In partnership with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the clinic will be held on National Indigenous Peoples Day

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read