British Columbia

Search for B.C.'s best small town: Interior & northern semifinals

Vote on Nelson vs. Kimberley, Revelstoke vs. Osoyoos, Smithers vs. Queen Charlotte and Quesnel vs. Bella Coola.

Who will make it to the final 8?

The Village of Queen Charlotte is one of four communities remaining in the northern quadrant of the Search for B.C.'s Best Small Town. (Christian Amundson/CBC)

The eight communities remaining outside southwest British Columbia in the search for B.C.'s Best Small Town are a diverse group. 

Towns known for ski resorts, gold rush heritage or influxes of draft dodgers. Population centres for the Nuxalk and Haida nations. 

Communities with as few as 900 people (Queen Charlotte) or as many as 11,000 (Nelson), with median ages as low as 29 (Bella Coola) and as high as 61 (Osoyoos). 

Only four of them will advance to the quarterfinals, but one thing linking them is that it takes several hours to get anywhere with at least 100,000 people — and that changes the way one lives. 

"Whether it be oceanfront, old growth forest behind mountain ranges, the sunset on the west or the straight on the east, we're surrounded by nature, beauty and bounty," said Queen Charlotte Village Mayor Kris Olsen, whose town faces Smithers today. 

"I see no negative side effects of living in Queen Charlotte. I mean, okay, maybe we get food once a week, and we all have to make sure that we get our milk on Monday."

(CBC News)

'Off the beaten path'

Most small towns in B.C. aren't on Haida Gwaii and aren't quite as removed from supply chains. But no matter the location, folks are likely to cite that connection with nature, and being close enough to urban amenities while still being relatively undiscovered.     

"Kimberley's off the beaten path. If you don't really know about [us], it's kind of tough to find," said Regan Hoko, owner of the greasy spoon Our Place restaurant.

The East Kootenay mountain town up against Nelson this round has 8,000 people, more than the majority of municipalities in B.C. But there's still a sense of isolation — you won't pass through it if you use Google Maps unless you're going there directly — and it can rely on nearby Cranbrook for larger services like a Wal-Mart. 

"As much as I love Nelson, it's got a different vibe … and it's moving into the bounds of a larger city because of its proximity in the west to things. Whereas we leave all the big city stuff to Cranbrook. We can get away with just having small boutiques," said Hoko.

(CBC News)

And no matter the small town you're in, you can always point to another one as being a little too glitzy.

"People need to vote for Osoyoos because I'm not sure it gets the kind of accolades that, you know, Revelstoke does being a mountain town," said Joe Dierickse, an Osoyoos chef.   

"It's kind of a hidden gem and, you know, some people like to keep it that way."

Osoyoos and Revelstoke faceoff today in the Search for B.C.'s Best Small Town, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals against the winner of the Kootenays final between Kimberley and Nelson. 

Voting will take place until 10 p.m. PT, with today's votes determining the regional finalists in the Interior and Northern Island quadrants of the competition.