British Columbia

Search for B.C.'s best small town: Interior region, Round 1

Sixteen towns from the Kootenays will compete against 16 towns from the Okanagan, Columbia and Boundary regions to determine the best in this part of B.C.

No area of B.C. has as many small towns as closely packed together as the province's Interior

Every day, from Tuesday to Friday, there will be a new series of one-on-one votes in a different region for B.C.'s best small town. (CBC British Columbia)

What makes for a successful small town?

It's a question that is often answered emotionally or nostalgically, but can also be analyzed academically. 

"At a general level, all smaller communities are facing a range of changes," said Dr. Greg Halseth, a professor at the University of Northern B.C. and a Canada research chair in rural and small town studies. 

"They're facing economic changes, social changes, cultural changes, environmental changes."

Halseth said there were a number of factors in how well communities are able to thrive during these changes, including investing in infrastructure, a strategic economic plan, focusing on welcoming newcomers and assuring a diversity of housing and services for both the young and old. 

For some communities with aging infrastructure, housing challenges and limited resources, it could seem like a stiff challenge. But Halseth said there were a number of factors that will give small towns opportunities for success in the years to come. 

"People are looking for a rewarding job … they're also looking for a work-life balance and in small communities, you don't have any commuting," he said.

"They also want to get involved and make a difference in their community. They love to have access to the natural environment … and they want to live locally and live globally. So when we look at those things that people are looking for, we actually find that rural small-town places tick off all of those categories."

Who's top in the Interior?

The region of B.C. between Kamloops and the Coquihalla to the Alberta border arguably has more small towns than any other part of the province — but which is the best? 

The Search for B.C.'s Best Small Town is underway, and over the next seven weeks a friendly competition will determine (unofficially) which community reigns supreme.

We included every community in the province that was either:

  • A municipality with under 12,000 people, based on the 2021 census.
  • An unincorporated community, small island or Indigenous community with at least 500 people, based on estimates from the 2021 census.

A series of play-in votes were conducted last month to narrow the field down to 128 entries, leaving us with 32 towns that roughly fit into each of the following four areas of the province:

  • Vancouver Island (voting on Tuesday).
  • Southwest B.C. (voting on Wednesday).
  • Interior (voting on Thursday).
  • The North (voting on Friday).

Each day from Tuesday to Friday, there will be a new series of one-on-one votes in a different region. Each week, we'll narrow the field down — from 128 to 64, 64 to 32, and so on, until we have a champion. 

Over the next seven weeks, a friendly competition will determine (unofficially) which small town in B.C. reigns supreme. (CBC Vancouver)

But we'll also use the Search for B.C.'s Best Small Town to explore the opportunities and challenges the majority of communities in this province face. 

Voting will take place until 10 p.m. PT each day, starting with the first 16 matchups for the Interior region that you'll find at the end of this article. 

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