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Community Profile

Williams Lake Community Profile

Community Profile Overview (one page)

The 2016 census shows the City of Williams Lake has a population of 10,508 and the trading area has a population of 25,000. Williams Lake is located 552 km north of Vancouver at the junction of highways 97 and highway 20 in the Central Cariboo-Chilcotin area.

The climate has a distinct difference in the seasons with summer temperatures in the mid-twenties (Celsius) and winter temperatures varying from above zero to –30 C. Annual rainfall is only 30.76 cm (12.3 in) and annual snowfall 176.8 cm (70.7 in), for a total precipitation of 45.7 cm(18 in). Average July temperature is 16.0 C and average January temperature is –6.7 C. The weather pattern gives us many opportunities for both summer and winter sports, such as hiking, biking, boating, swimming, white water rafting, fishing (both summer and winter), and other winter sports such as cross country skiing, downhill skiing, heli-skiing and winter camping.

There are many educational facilities in the city and immediate areas, being administrated by school district # 27 with offices in Williams Lake. The Thompson Rivers University has a regional campus in Williams Lake and new courses are constantly being added. There are also private schools and homeschoolers in the community.

The Cariboo Memorial Complex features the Sam Ketcham Memorial Pool, the Twin Ice arena and the Gibraltar room (seating up to 300) (multipurpose meeting and theatre room). The pool with lifeguards is open daily. Also provided is a kiddie pool, hot tub and exercise room. Ice hockey of all levels is popular and summer sports such as soccer, minor baseball and softball are also very popular.

Community Arts in Williams Lake offers many opportunities for music lovers, theatre, quilters, weavers, artists and potters. Our local train station has been converted into an attractive art gallery and gift store. Piano, ballet, dance and gymnastics lessons are available for children and adults alike.

Good shopping is available in Williams Lake with many small retail stores and the large chains such as Fresh Co, Save on Foods, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Wal-Mart, Staples and Canadian Tire are all represented.

Approximately 20 different denominations hold church services in various churches and temples in our city.

The main industry is the Forest industry, employing many people in 5 main mills and many more in secondary lumber industries. Two copper/gold mines are open, with a proposed third mine in the area. The cattle industry is important in the area with about 1180 ranches and 40,000 mother cows(which represents about 40% of the BC herd).

House prices in Williams Lake are quite reasonable.

The general character of the population in the area is very friendly and hospitable. This is due to the fact that we are far enough away from the large cities to preserve our rural character and you can always find a friendly neighbour to chat with. Although the demographics of Williams Lake are always changing, the city is holding its own in terms of population and amenities. It is a very comfortable and amicable place in which to live and work.

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Detailed Community Profile

The history of Williams Lake is of a fairly recent nature and dates back to the early 1800 when the Cariboo was home to Chilcotin, Carrier and Shuswap Tribal groups. Several traditional tribal trails met in Williams Lake. The Roman Catholic Bishop (Modeste Demers) built a Chapel, just outside of what is now Williams Lake, and the community grew by leaps and bounds. Williams Lake was incorporated as a village in 1929 and as a city in 1981.

The city of Williams Lake is situated 552 km north of Vancouver at the junction of Highway 97 and Highway 20 and is the principal transportation, shopping, education, and entertainment centre for many of the smaller communities clustered around the city.

Population and average income
The City of Williams Lake has a population of 10,508 and the trading area has 25,000 (2016 census). This census also shows that the largest part of this population is in the age bracket of 35-64. Median personal income shows Williams Lake at $33,402/person and median family income $84,173/household.


Annual rainfall 30.76 cm (12.3 in)
Annual snowfall 176.8 cm (70.7 in)
Average July temperature 16.0 C
Average January temperature - 6.7 C
Average frost free days 120 days(from end of May to mid-September)
Growing Degrees (+ 5oC) 1329.9 GDD Units
Annual sunshine 2,082 hours
Elevation 940 meters (3055 ft)

The above figures are from the weather station at the airport, elevation of 940 meters(3055 ft), whereas the City of Williams Lake is situated at 586 meters(1900 ft).

Water and Sewer are provided by the City of Williams Lake from drilled wells drawing water from an underground aquifer in the centre of the valley below the lake. Outside the city some community water systems provide water to some areas, but in these areas people mostly depend on water from drilled wells.
Electricity is provided by BC Hydro at rates the same as in the rest of the province and similarly gas is provided by Fortis Gas .


Newspaper Williams Lake Tribune/Advocate
Several larger daily newspapers are available by subscription.
Cable Service Shaw Cable
TV Stations Global
Radio Stations CKWL , CFFM , CBC
Telephone/Cellular Telus , AT&T , Bell ,
Rogers , Shaw
Internet Access Providers
Wireless, Broadband, ADSL, high-speed and fiber optic internet service are available in the community.

Is provided by the Cariboo – Chilcotin School District # 27 , with the School Board office being located in Williams Lake.

The district operates:
One large secondary school(Lake City Secondary) with two campuses in Williams Lake (Columneetza Campus with grades 7 - 9 and Williams Lake Campus with grade 10 - 12).
Five elementary schools within 15 minutes of downtown and several rural elementary schools in the area.
The District provides an adult education centre in Williams Lake and distance education/Home Schooling programs throughout the school district.
French Immersion program is provided from Kindergarten to Grade 12 at Nesika Elementary/Ecole Nesika.
There are also three private Christian schools within Williams Lake.

The Thompson Rivers University
TRU is based in Kamloops and has a campus in Williams Lake which has undergrad courses and trades courses available. Other universities occasionally offer graduate level courses in Williams Lake.

Williams Lake is readily accessible by road and air.
Williams Lake Airport – 14 km north of the city is capable of handling aircraft as large as 737's and Hercules. A number of airlines provide daily flights to Vancouver. The airport is open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Recreation and Leisure
The Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex features the Sam Ketcham Memorial Pool, the Twin Ice Arena and the Gibraltar Room. The pool is open daily and is properly supervised. also provided is a kiddie pool, hot tub, and exercise room, with various pieces of equipment. There are also 2 private gym facilities, one with Squash and Racquetball Courts.
The Blue Fins swim club has won many trophies provincially and is a popular swim club, with many teens and younger members.
The Williams Lake Junior A ice hockey team THE TIMBERWOLVES and all levels of minor hockey operate out of the Cariboo Memorial complex. There is also recreational hockey for adults, as well as The Stampeders semi-professional team. A variety of recreational programs are offered by the Leisure Services Department.

The Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin is operated by the Williams Lake and District Historical Society and houses some unique ranching and rodeo displays, first nations people and ranching pioneers are well represented in this cowboy heritage museum. The Museum is also home to the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Performances in the Park is a summer series of concerts, performed in the Gwen Ringwood Amphitheatre by local and touring artists every Thursday evening. The setting is spectacular and scenic and attracts audiences of up to 700 people for an evening of music.

Scout Island. A jewel in the heart of Williams Lake, Scout Island provides the main public access to Williams Lake itself. It provides a sandy beach, picnic area and boat launch. In the winter it is a central starting point for many winter activities, such as ice fishing, skating, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. For summer evenings it provides comfortable walking trails and sites for watching waterfowl, beavers and otters. The Scout Island Nature Center has educational facilities and summer children’s programs.

The Williams Lake River Valley this valley is a unique natural area within the city boundaries, providing numerous opportunities for walking, bicycle riding, running, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and nature appreciation. In the fall spawning salmon can be watched. A total of 13 km of gravelled trails are provided and 17 rustic bridges cross the Williams Lake River. Picnic tables and toilets are provided and this is a unique opportunity for a quiet walk, using part of the trail or a 3-hour walk to follow the river to where it spills into the Fraser River.

The Forest Industry is the main economic driver of the region. It provides employment to a thousand workers in Williams Lake in the 5 main saw mills and other smaller operations that produce other wood by-products. The Ministry of Forests carefully monitors logging operations and therefore one can go for a drive in the woods and one will see very few clear-cut sites. Wood waste from the mills is used by the Trans Canada (Williams Lake) power plant. It produces 67 mw of electricity for sale, primarily to BC Hydro.
A plant produces pellets for home heating from mill waste.
Various other plants produce lumber such as doorframes, casing and other products from small dimension lumber. The extensive use of lumber and timber that used to be called waste is now a valuable addition to our economy.

Traditionally there are 2 copper/gold mines operating near Williams Lake. Gibraltar mines is located approximately 30 km north of Williams Lake. Mount Polley mine is about 45 km north-east of town. Another gold/copper deposit is proposed to be developed into a mine. The Prosperity deposit is 200 km south-west of town.

Agriculture has been a stable industry for the Cariboo-Chilcotin. The cattle industry, contributes a lot to the Williams Lake economy. In the recent census there were 1,179 ranches and farms in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region and 43,000 mother cows (40% of the BC Beef herd). Ranches range in size from a few acres to 30,000 acres in size and real cowboys can be seen in the area during roundup times. The largest all-breed bull show and sale in the province is held in April every year in Williams Lake. This event is known for its high standards of quality. Agriculture in the Cariboo/Chilcotin has been going strong since 1860 and many of the ranchers have been in the business for generations.

Due to its varied geographical features, its many lakes, streams and rivers, the Cariboo/Chilcotin area has always been a favourite holiday destination for many people from the U.S.A., Europe and the rest of Canada. Due to the large area that is relatively uninhabited, it is not hard to find solitude. There are many quiet and beautiful areas for camping, tenting, motor home or resort stays. Hunting, fishing, hiking are popular sports in the area. Also heli-skiing is a popular (but rather expensive) sport. Extensive cross-country trails are laid out just outside Williams Lake and 100 Mile House. Also for the downhill enthusiasts a facility is available less than 40 km south of Williams Lake.

Major Events
Williams Lake Stampede.
Is held over four days on the July 1st Canada Day weekend. This is the second largest professional rodeo in Canada and attracts participants from all over North America. Many different events take place during these four days.

Numerous other events take place during the year. These include craft markets, Farmers Market, Home and Construction Shows, and the Harvest Fair.

Health Care
The City of Williams Lake is located within the Thomson Cariboo Chilcotin service area of Interior Health. Ambulatory, acute care, continuing care, extended care; community nursing, and mental health services are provided to the population of the region.

Cariboo Memorial Hospital
A 46 bed acute care facility is the principal medical facility in the area. The hospital offers full in-patient care including medicine, surgery and maternity care. These services are supported by occupational therapy and physiotherapy, pharmacy, lab, x-ray, ultrasound, mammography and 24-hour emergency services with on-call pharmacy, lab and x-ray services.
Medical Staff. There are 28 full-time physicians who reside and practice in the City of Williams Lake. Specialists include one Paediatrician, one Internal Medicine Specialist, two General Surgeons, two Obstetrician/Gynecologist, and one visiting Psychiatrist.

Intermediate and Extended Care
There are extended and intermediate care facility for seniors. A 31 suite Seniors Apartment is located in the downtown area which is low cost Seniors Housing.

Other Services available are:

Veterinary Hospital
There are 2 well-staffed professional facilities.
The SPCA has a facility just outside of the city.

There are many retail stores of all varieties in Williams Lake, including Freshco, Save On Foods, Sears Catalogue Office, Staples, Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart and many family owned businesses.
There are many good quality restaurants and fast food outlets represented in the city.
Due to the central location of Williams Lake a person can find all kinds of hotel and motel accommodation.

20 churches and temples are represented in Williams Lake. We have a close relationship with St Peter’s Anglican Church.

Community Social Service Groups
All well known Social Service Clubs and groups are represented in Williams Lake, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and Elks.

Cultural and Heritage Groups
There are quite a number of these, such as the Cariboo Festival Society, Cariboo Art Society, Station House Studio and Gallery Society and W.L. Studio Theatre Society.
The Community Arts Council offers a series of concerts by visiting performers. A community theatre society is very active, producing 2-5 plays annually.
Station House Gallery is a local art gallery showing works of local artists, it also has a gift shop.

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