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Site 29 - Mackenzie, British Columbia

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The community of Mackenzie is a resource-dependent, single-industry, "instant town". Located in north-central BritishColumbia, the community was founded in 1966 in conjunction with the massive hydroelectric project which created the WillistonLake reservoir. The Mackenzie townsite was developed to be the processing centre for a regional forest industry. At present, two large sawmills (Finlay Forest Products and TimberWest) and a pulp mill facility (Fletcher Challenge) provide nearly all basic sector employment. With a local population (1996) of approximately 6,000 people, a small support service and local administration economy has also developed.

The town was planned and developed by the original forest industry company (British Columbia Forest Products) using new town planning principles. The design problems of transplanting a suburban, southern-Canadian, residential setting to northern BC is graphically shown in the National Film Board's "No Place for a Woman" (c.1979).

Three "geographies" are important in local economic development planning: 1) dependence upon the forest industry sector continues, 2) its location about two hours drive north of Prince George generates considerable retail sector leakage, and 3) its location 40+ kilometres off the main highway gives little opportunity to take advantage of passing tourist and commercial traffic.