The economy in Chilliwack is diverse, with several key industry sectors leading the way in terms of economic impact and employment. New business investment in these sectors is creating opportunities for ongoing growth of the local economy.
Agriculture is an essential component of Chilliwack’s community identity that provides a solid foundation for the local economy. With approximately 67 percent (17,322 hectares) of Chilliwack land dedicated to agriculture, it is not surprising that Chilliwack is home to more farmland than any other Lower Mainland community.
A variety of food products are grown and produced in this region, combined with easy access to local and international markets, making Chilliwack an ideal location for agriculture and agri-food industries. It provides the community with an estimated $700M in economic activity, plus substantial secondary impacts.
From its 826 reporting farms, Chilliwack’s agricultural sector gains approximately $462M in gross farm receipts. Leading sectors are dairy, poultry and greenhouse/nursery operations. In addition, vegetable and berry production, floriculture, specialty livestock and crops, and agri-tourism play a growing role in the region’s economy.
The University of the Fraser Valley campus at Canada Education Park is also home to the physical infrastructure of the Food and Agriculture Institute (FAI). FAI works to support and steward agriculture both regionally and abroad. FAI conducts policy research to support the farm sector and support applied research into the crops of tomorrow.
Chilliwack’s diverse manufacturing sector includes machinery, transportation, oil and gas, aviation, mobile equipment, forestry and related wood production, metal fabrication, and food processing.
Chilliwack’s manufacturers use high technology and knowledge-based inputs to create products destined for world markets. Precast concrete, oilfield equipment, recreational trailers, elevator and escalator products, windows, and doors are just some of the product lines manufactured by local firms.
Nearly 8 percent of the local labour force is employed in the manufacturing sector, which is marginally greater than the provincial average.
Food and Beverage Processing
Chilliwack is located in one of the best agriculture production regions in British Columbia with access to many local meat, fish, grain, berry, fruit and vegetable products.
Chilliwack has over 25 food processing companies with nearly 600 employees (est.) in the region. British Columbia has world-class food standards and product research, the ability for clinical trials and product development, and easy access to the North American market. It is also an excellent location to access China, Asia, and other international markets.
The Kerr Avenue Business Park provides a greenfield location with land zoned to support growth and investment in food and beverage processing. Vantage Foods opened a 65,000 sq.ft facility in 2007, Sandel Foods opened a 67,737 sq.ft facility in 2009, and Berryhill Foods opened a 35,000 sq.ft blueberry processing facility in 2016. In 2019, Molson Coors opened its 400,000 sq.ft. brewery, the company’s largest brewery in Western Canada.
Aviation & Aerospace
The Chilliwack Municipal Airport (YCW) comprises a total of 130 acres and contains an air terminal building designed to accommodate aircraft handling of less than 20 passengers. The airport has a single 1,219 meters paved and lit runway and parallel taxiway. Additionally, there is a 24-hour fueling station that offers 100LL Avgas for small aircraft and Jet A for turbine and jet engine aircrafts and helicopters.
Aviation and Aerospace continues to be one of the city’s expanding sectors, with YCW home to approximately 20 businesses including: flight training schools, aircraft paint shops and MRO’s (maintenance, repair and overhaul providers), component R&O (repair and overhaul) businesses, as well as other general aviation-related support businesses. There are approximately 75 private and commercial aircraft located at YCW that are primarily fixed wing but also include some rotary wing – both are supported.
Chilliwack is a growing tourism destination recognized for a wide range of high quality outdoor experiences and attractions. The visitor mix includes people from throughout the Lower Mainland interested in a family vacation or excursion, as well as international visitors seeking outdoor activities such as world-class sport fishing experiences.
There are over one hundred businesses in Chilliwack that benefit from the tourism industry, including major accommodations and attractions, outdoor recreation operators, and retail, service and transportation sectors which depend, in part, on tourism.
Ongoing growth of visitors to Chilliwack, further product development, and proximity to Metro Vancouver’s population will continue to present opportunities for business investment in tourism.
Distribution and Logistics
Chilliwack is an ideal location for businesses to distribute materials and products to market in an efficient and timely manner. The convenient location of Chilliwack, only one hour east of Metro Vancouver on Highway 1, provides for access throughout British Columbia. Access to the USA, Canada, and overseas markets is all possible with easy connections to a US border crossing 20 minutes away, rail links, and the Port of Vancouver.
Excellent access, transportation links, affordable industrial land and lease rates have helped attract distribution facilities for companies such as Kal Tire, Nestle, and Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers.