The Life in Whitecourt
Mayor Maryann Chichak is very proud to describe Whitecourt as a “proactive and innovative community.” Designated as a town in 1971 and with a population of 10,574 in the 2013 Census, Whitecourt is considered the largest town in the Province and eligible for city status.
With accessibility by air, road and rail, Whitecourt is situated in Central Alberta, northwest of Edmonton and southeast of Grand Prairie with four rivers at its confluence: the Athabasca, McLeod, Sakwatamau and Beaver rivers. In fact the area was known as “Sagiawah” by the Cree Nation, which means “the place where the rivers meet.” The Hudson Bay Trading Post was established in the area in 1897, and it wasn’t until after the early 1900’s that permanent immigrants began to settle the area with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway moving out west.
Known for its successful forestry industry, Whitecourt has been given the title of “Forestry Capital of Canada 2013.”
Three major facilities support the forestry industry; producing pulp and dimensional lumber, fibre board, and newsprint, and related industry contractors provide service for reforestation, harvesting and hauling services creating greater economic growth for the industry.
Other important economic factors in Whitecourt’s growth are the oil and gas sector as well as tourism. Well situated in the region for both the forestry and oil and gas industry, Whitecourt is slated to grow exponentially with projects in the next number of years. The tourism industry benefits from the outdoor winter sports – snowmobiling being the primary recreation that draws tourism to the region.
Over the years the median age range in Whitecourt has grown from 29.3 to 31.9 years based from the census taken in 2011. Men number just slightly more than women in this locale. The energetic young workforce contributes to the economic growth of the region, which is attractive to those seeking to relocate and open their own businesses. According to Stats Canada, Whitecourt reports to be one of the provinces highest family income, with averages standing at $109,911, and the 2011 National Household Survey reporting the average dwelling valued at $287,110; another contributing factor to the health and well being of this flourishing community.
Several large Canadian retailers support the residents in Whitecourt, and industrial complexes are planned through a number of phases at this time.
For recreation, Whitecourt boasts a multitude of parks.
Centennial Park is found on the southern boundary of Whitecourt, and features many walking trails; Friendship Park, and Riverboat Park which has a picnic area and boat launch with access to the McLeod and Athabasca rivers; Rotary Park is a great area in the summer for picnics, playgrounds and sportsfields, trails and a pond stocked with fish for those who enjoy the sport. There are outdoor ice rinks, and two indoor ice rinks at the Scott Safety Centre; with other sporting activities and clubs like curling at the Whitecourt curling rink, a golf and country club, community parks and playgrounds and Skateboard Park. The Allan and Jean Millar Centre has an aquatic centre, play park, racquetball and tennis courts. The multi media gallery at the Forest Interpretive Centre and associated Heritage Park highlights the role of the forest in the growth of Whitecourt.
Anniversary Square is located in the core of the downtown area. It has a park with a 2009 Time Capsule, which will be opened in 2049. For now it remains buried under the clock tower features in this Square.
For more information on Whitecourt visit the Alberta Community Profiles website.
“We value partnerships and aren’t afraid of hard work. We want you to be part of our future.” The Mayor’s statement is a testament to the ethics and values of Whitecourt’s industry and leadership – a town with a focused vision and a definite mission.