Our Economy

Many first-time visitors are surprised by the lack of visible industry while driving through the Slocan Valley. No smokestacks, no strip malls, no fast food joints. The occasional sign entices visitors to a Bed & Breakfast, artisan studio, or adventure tourism business. There is a restaurant here, and a small organic grocery store there.

So, many tourists ask, “How do people make a living here?”. Historically, the response would be met with a smirk and, “It’s best if you don’t ask.”

The Slocan Valley has been home to craft Cannabis cultivation for generations. Now that Cannabis is legal in Canada, the legacy growers here are transitioning to the legal industry, and new Cannabis entrepreneurs are setting up shop in the Slocan Valley because of its reputation for quality product, cooperative community and supportive local government and organizations.

For the approximately 5,000 people who call the Valley home, making a living usually means either creating their own business, working in the gig economy or for one of the numerous small businesses spread throughout the Valley.

Many businesses are home-based by choice, allowing the business owners to live where they work. Here, quality of life comes first.

Small private farms, some originally started by Russian Doukhobors, still produce organic fruit and vegetables for sale. A new crop of business-savvy farmers and young agrarians have relocated to the valley in recent years, producing beautiful bounty for local farmer’s markets, restaurants, grocery stores and food processors, with some distributed through Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs). The healthy agriculture sector here is supported by a host of local organizations.

The Arrow Slocan Tourism Association is helping to organize local tourism businesses and promote the area in an appropriately scaled, sustainable way. Independent tourism operators provide world-class rafting, hiking, fishing, bicycle tours, mountain biking and back country skiing. Golfing is a fraction of the price you are used to paying at our two nine-hole courses.

Small manufacturers produce a wide range of food products. Natural soaps, wellness products and clothing made in the Valley are often distributed widely and sold online.

farmer holds bunch of beetroot and carrots

Many artisans, makers and crafters have made the Slocan Valley their home, far from the bustle of the big city. For some, their work ends up in homes and galleries around the world. There’s a team of ice and sand sculpturers here that travel the globe, snatching up countless prizes for their creative work. Writers craft their words from their home office, yards or decks, inspired by their awe-inspiring and peaceful surroundings.

Urban refugees and knowledge workers have been escaping to the Valley since the mid 1960s. With the connectivity of internet and recent cell networks in the Valley, and greater access and faster speeds to come, many people are discovering that they can own a home and run a remote business for a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere.

Some people live in the Slocan Valley and commute to work in bigger centres like Nelson, Castlegar and Nakusp.

Small general stores, credit unions, hardware stores, local co-ops, service stations, coffee shops, restaurants, and artisan shops all provide locals and visitors with the necessities of life.

And that’s how we make a living here.