A healthy economy for the future may require us to broaden our thinking and question our past assumptions. Business diversity, resourceful citizenry and attention to a triple bottom line (social, environmental and financial) will help create a truly sustainable and resilient economy for the long term.
In 2010, the before-tax average family income in the Powell River region was $71,717, compared to $91,967 for BC and $94,125 for Canada. The median income (half the families had total income below that amount and half above) in Powell River was $60,417, compared to $75,797 for BC and $76,511 for Canada. Couple-with-children families earned more (median $85,136) than couple-only families (median $56,432) and much more than loneparent families (median $35,635). In 2012, the median income for a Powell River family had risen to $65,290.
Average Individual Income
In 2012, people in Powell River who filed tax returns earned an average of $35,494, which was lower than the BC average of $42,453. The data show that income is rising. 2012 saw an increase of 1.5% over 2011 when the average income in Powell River was $34,965.
The farming sector in Powell River is still precarious. Out of the 94 farms counted by the Census of Agriculture in 2011, 62 (66%) grossed less than $10,000 for the year. This is very similar to the 65% of farms earning less than $10,000 in the whole Vancouver Island/Coast region, but much higher than BC (48.5%) and Canada-wide (21.4%). At the other end of the scale, just three farms in our region reported earning over $100,000 compared to five in 2006 and 2 in 2001.
Open Air Market
Powell River has an active economy of small craft and agriculture-based businesses. Many of these businesses sell through the Open Air Market, and the gross sales for the market show the increasing activity in this area. In 2010, the annual market gross sales were $157,203, while in 2014 the gross sales for the year were $257,910, an increase of 64% over those four years.
From the Survey …
How do you think our local economy will function in the future?
In general, survey responders were fairly optimistic about the future of Powell River’s economy, with over 50% convinced it will be a little or much better, and 27% thinking it will get worse. However, the 31-40 age group were less hopeful—nearly 35% think it will get worse compared to 45% who think it will get better.
Powell River Dollars
Powell River Dollars (PR$) are local money that can only be spent in Powell River. This keeps more money moving in the local economy instead of immediately leaking out. The program has raised over PR$40,000 for local non-profits since it launched in November 2012. The $1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 bills are adorned with works by local artists and contain security features to prevent fraud. You can get Powell River Dollars at CMG Printing on Marine Ave or the PR$ table at many community events.