Elkford is a picturesque Rocky Mountain town founded in 1971 as a home for miners working at the newly-established Fording Coal Operations. From its early days as a collection of temporary homes, a one-room school, and a single general store, Elkford has grown to its current population of nearly 3,000 residents.
While Elkford continues to have a strong economic and social connection to the mining industry, a number of trends will, collectively, have a pronounced and profound growth influence on Elkford's future:
- modest expansion of community population with anticipated mine employment expansion;
- significantly higher than provincial average income
- growth of the regional tourism industry, particularly Fernie
- anticipated long-term expansion of the local mining industry
- exponential growth in mountain property and project investment originating most specifically from Calgary but also including Vancouver and North America.
Elk Valley Coal is set for several decades of strong activity as most of the coal mined near Elkford is destined for steel manufacturing in Asia. Long-term supply agreements provide operational stability. Many of Elkford's earliest mining residents are reaching retirement age – anticipated to generate replacement mine hiring and a growing local retirement community. Mining salaries are driving one of the highest average household incomes in British Columbia.
Elkford is largely undiscovered by lovers of Rocky Mountain recreation. Pristine natural wilderness is highlighted by proximity to the Elk Lakes Provincial Park, Height of the Rockies Wilderness area along the continental divide, world class fly-fishing on the Elk River, a local ski hill, and a full range of community recreational amenities.
Elkford's relative location – within a three hour investment radius of Calgary – is generating unmet demand for recreational housing in Elkford.
Demand for recreational housing generates a number of investment and economic development opportunities:
- local retail and commercial services supporting population growth milestones
- amenity migrant investment in residential property/commercial opportunities, particularly from the Calgary Region
- tourism service infrastructure
- investments in "anchor" mountain-based destination attractions/services (eg. timeshare, spa, golf development, ski hill expansion)
Visitors and investors have, in recent times, come to the community and the area to counter the pressures of urban environments. These outdoor enthusiasts seek the serenity, peace, solitude, and active lifestyle that is afforded, and affordable, in Elkford – a rare commodity that is core to a unique community identity. They have discovered what Elkford residents already know – that blank spots on the map to explore and/or witness are a freedom that nurtures the human spirit.
As one of the last portions of the southern Canadian Rocky Mountains to witness an influx of outside entrepreneurial investment, Elkford is positioned to benefit from the activities of visionary entrepreneurs.
Above all else, Elkford remains a place where nature prevails – and humanity borrows a bit of space. The thrusted and vaulted limestone peaks of the Elk mountain range harbour wild places that engender profound human emotion. Elkford inspires outdoor pursuits…the palette of both active adventure and passive pursuit of serenity is as big as the mountainous expanse that surrounds.
“Wilderness” remains core to what the community is and wants to be.