2022 Fernie Living Wage

The living wage is the hourly wage that two parents working full-time need to earn to support a family of four.

The living wage has increased across BC in all of the communities where it has been calculated in the past and is driven by two essentials that every family needs: food and shelter. 

“With general inflation shooting up to a 40-year high this year, and with the cost of food rising even faster and rent increasing everywhere, especially for families that need to move and are no longer protected by rent control, it’s not surprising to see such big increases this year,” says Anastasia French, Living Wage for Families provincial manager.

Food is the second-highest cost in most communities, only exceeded by the cost of housing. Food used to be the third-most expensive item but has now edged ahead of childcare costs after the BC government made major investments in childcare affordability in 2018 that significantly reduced out-of-pocket childcare costs for the living wage family, French says.

Taylor Jenkins, the Elk Valley Economic Initiative Coordinator, who was responsible for calculating the Fernie Living wage, highlighted that rental costs are driving the cost of living up in Fernie. “There has been a significant increase in the cost of rent in Fernie in the last year alone. This issue has a wide-ranging social and economic impact and needs to be addressed, with urgent action taken at local and regional levels. We need to identify how municipalities, housing societies, developers, and the Elk Valley Economic Initiative (EVEI) can work together to increase the supply of rental, workforce, and affordable housing in the Elk Valley.”

The EVEI’s 2022 Elk Valley Business Retention and Expansion report highlighted housing as a top community weakness, a major issue for employee recruitment, and an underlining issue for employee retention.  The EVEI continues to work on the action items outlined in the report to improve the housing situation in Fernie and the Elk Valley.

 The EVEI plans to include calculations of the living wage for Sparwood and Elkford next year, communities who are also experiencing rising costs of living driven by increasing rental costs.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-BC), through report lead and senior economist Iglika Ivanova, provide the detailed structure for each communities living wage calculation, which is based on core living essentials along with government taxes, credits, deductions, and subsidies. Local partners calculate community specific numbers such as the median rental cost for a 3-bedroom house and average yearly childcare costs. The final calculation is then reviewed and verified by the Living Wages for Families BC. 

Title page of the Elk Valley Community Profile – “Think Elk Valley”


Following the successful completion of the business retention and expansion reports, the Elk Valley Economic Initiative (EVEI) has published four community profiles, one for the Elk Valley, and three supporting documents for the communities of Fernie, Sparwood, and Elkford. Local businesses, community groups, and individuals can use these profiles to assist with workforce attraction and to learn more about the Elk Valley.

The profiles are focused on highlighting positive community aspects and promoting the Elk Valley as a place    to live, work and play. There are multiple sections in each profile, outlining key information on areas such as: reasons to live here, the current labour force, top industry sectors, business growth & climate, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Each section of the profiles contains relevant data and information to assist local businesses and potential long-term residents to begin a career here. There are over 25 sources and 50 data calculations in the profiles, bringing together all pertinent information for the Elk Valley and each community.

Taylor Jenkins, the EVEI representative responsible for the profiles stated, “I designed the profiles with a focus on workforce attraction to help local businesses. They were originally slated to be investment profiles, and while the documents include all relevant information for investment attraction, the business retention & expansion data provided by local businesses showed we need to focus on workforce attraction and housing first.”

There has never been a community profile for the Elk Valley before. The EVEI hopes it is the first step, along with the 2021 Elk Valley BRE report, in presenting a unified front to address the key community issues that are affecting the whole Elk Valley. This can be accomplished through community centered economic development, focused on improving the economic well being and quality of life of the community.

View the Elk Valley profile here

View the Elkford profile here

View the Fernie profile here

View the Sparwood profile here


Elk Valley BRE Report Cover
Elk Valley BRE Report Cover

Completed by the Elk Valley Economic Recovery Advisor, these reports describe the findings from a Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) survey conducted online via Survey Monkey from October 22nd to December 22nd, 2021, by the Elk Valley Economic Initiative for businesses operating in the Elk Valley. 318 individual business responses were received, amounting to approximately 1 out of 3 licensed businesses in the Elk Valley. BRE is an effective economic development tool that encourages local businesses to stay and grow in the community through identifying and responding to their needs.

The findings for the entire Elk Valley corridor are presented in the Elk Valley wide report with action items for the corridor. The findings are also being presented in community-specific reports from each of the three Elk Valley Communities – Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie.

The three biggest factors impacting businesses in the Elk Valley are cost of doing business, housing, and workforce attraction. The latter two factors need to be addressed as they are major impediments to business expansion and retention in the Elk Valley, as well as future investment attraction and overall economic growth. Challenges identified in this report are not necessarily unique to the Elk Valley, however it is important that specific supports and action items are developed for the region’s businesses to stimulate a strong economic climate.’

Download the Elk Valley wide report here.

Download the Elkford only report here.

Download the Fernie only report here

Download the Sparwood only report here.


In June 2021, the Elk Valley Economic Initiative (EVEI) announced the hiring of a brand-new position – the Elk Valley Economic Recovery Advisor. After a thorough hiring process, Taylor Jenkins (pictured below) was appointed to the new full-time role on a 12-month contract and officially started on Monday 14 June 2021.  

The Elk Valley Economic Recovery Advisor position was made possible by a grant from the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior BC (ETSI-BC), with support from the Province of British Columbia. The role will focus on establishing a strong economic development foundation for the entire Elk Valley by engaging with businesses and compiling economic data. This will include a Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) survey of businesses in the Elk Valley, as well as the completion of new investment profiles for the Valley and its three major communities of Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie. The reports and data generated by this work will help agencies in the valley (like Chambers of Commerce and local governments) better understand our local economy as we come out of the pandemic, and what is needed to help create more diverse and resilient communities.  

Brad Parsell (Coordinator of the EVEI and Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber) explains, “We are collectively very excited about this unique opportunity to build the foundation for the Elk Valley’s economic recovery from the pandemic and future economic development with this new position. We look forward to engaging as many businesses up and down the Elk Valley as possible to really understand their opportunities and challenges. This work will be a great foundation to build on for future economic development efforts including investment and workforce attraction. We are sincerely grateful to ETSI-BC and the BC provincial government for this funding and look forward to working with Taylor over the next year.” 

Taylor Jenkins - Elk Valley Economic Recovery Advisor
Taylor Jenkins – Elk Valley Economic Recovery Advisor


“I’m excited to get to work with businesses in the Elk Valley to get a better handle on their needs and challenges as we come out of this difficult period,” says Taylor Jenkins (new Elk Valley Economic Recovery Advisor). “I look forward to contributing to this important research project and developing recommendations that will make a positive impact on the health of our local economy.” 

The Elk Valley Economic Recovery Advisor will start initial outreach to businesses over the summer, ramping up in the fall with the Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) survey. Reports and investment profiles are scheduled to be completed in 2022. All businesses in the Elk Valley should stay tuned for more information on this project and how to participate as it gets underway. –