|Town of Whitecourt|
Whitecourt's entrance sign on Highway 43
|Nickname(s): Snowmobile Capital of Alberta|
|Motto: Let's Go...|
|Municipal district||Woodlands County|
January 1, 1959
|- New town||August 15, 1961|
|- Town||December 20, 1971|
|• Mayor||Maryann Chichak|
|• Governing body|
|• CAO||Peter Smyl|
|• MP||Jim Eglinski|
|• MLA||Oneil Carlier|
|• Total||26.14 km2 (10.09 sq mi)|
|Elevation||690 m (2,260 ft)|
|• Density||367.4/km2 (952/sq mi)|
|• Municipal census (2013)||10,574|
|Time zone||MST (UTC−7)|
|• Summer (DST)||MDT (UTC−6)|
|Postal code span||T7S|
Whitecourt is a town in central Alberta, Canada within Woodlands County. It is located approximately 177 km (110 mi) northwest of Edmonton and 279 km (173 mi) southeast of Grande Prairie at the junction of Highway 43 and Highway 32, and has an elevation of 690 m (2,260 ft). The Whitecourt meteor impact crater is found on nearby Whitecourt Mountain.
The community was formed in the place known by the Cree as Sagitawah (the place where the rivers meet). While the first Hudson's Bay Company trading post was established in 1897, the first permanent resident on the present day town site was John Goodwin, who settled here in 1905. In 1910, with the expansion of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, immigrants were encouraged by Premier Arthur Lewis Sifton to settle in the vast scarcely inhabited area between Edmonton and the Peace River Country. The name "Whitecourt" was chosen in 1910 by Walter White, the postmaster of the young community. White was the son-in-law of former Kansas governor John W. Leedy who also settled in the community.
Whitecourt has three identifiable geographic components:
- the Valley that includes the town centre, the Athabasca Flats residential area, Millar Western’s sawmill and pulp mill, and three manufactured home parks;
- the Hilltop that includes the Hilltop and Southlands Estates residential areas, the Hilltop industrial area, a 2.5 km highway commercial strip along Highway 43 and two manufactured home parks; and
- West Whitecourt, between the McLeod and Athabasca Rivers, includes an industrial area, a 1.0 km highway commercial strip along Highway 43, and a manufactured home park.
|Source: Statistics Canada
The population of the Town of Whitecourt according to its 2013 municipal census is 10,574, a 14.9% increase over its 2008 municipal census population of 9,202. At its current population, Whitecourt is one of the largest towns in the province and is eligible for city status. According to Alberta's Municipal Government Act, a town is eligible for city status when it reaches 10,000 residents.
In the 2011 Census, the Town of Whitecourt had a population of 9,605 living in 3,629 of its 3,893 total dwellings, a 7.1% change from its 2006 population of 8,971. With a land area of 26.14 km2 (10.09 sq mi), it had a population density of 367.4/km2 (951.7/sq mi) in 2011. The 2011 National Household Survey reported Whitecourt's average dwelling value as $287,110.
In the 2001 Census, Whitecourt was among the 25 youngest municipalities in Canada with a population of 5,000 or more with a median age of 29.3 years. It also was among the top 25 with the highest men-to-women ratios at 110.2 men per 100 women. By the 2006 census, the median age and men-to-women ratios increased to 30.1 years and 112.3 men to 100 women respectively.
Whitecourt's economy is largely driven by three major industries – forestry, oil and gas industry and tourism. With some farm land to the south and east of Whitecourt, agriculture plays a minor role in the town's economy.
Whitecourt is the site of three forestry-related mills:
- Blue Ridge Lumber Sawmill / Ranger Board MDF (owned by West Fraser)
- Millar Western Sawmill / Pulp Mill (owned by Millar Western Forest Products)
- Alberta Newsprint Company Pulp & Paper Mill.
Due to Whitecourt and area's forestry heritage, the Canadian Forestry Association named Whitecourt and Woodlands County the "Forest Capital of Canada 2013".
Whitecourt is also home to many service companies in the oil and gas industry.
Attractions within Whitecourt include the Allan & Jean Millar Centre, Rotary Park, the Forest Interpretive Centre and Heritage Park, and a variety of other facilities and parks.
The Allan & Jean Millar Centre consists of both an aquatic facility, a fieldhouse, a fitness facility, a children's indoor playground area, and boardroom and classroom rental spaces. The aquatic facility comprises a main pool, a children's pool, a leisure pool, a lazy river, a water slide, a hot tub, and a steam room. The fieldhouse includes a configurable multi-sport area, a track, and racquetball and squash courts. The fitness centre provides cardio training equipment, weight training equipment, and a fitness studio. Overall, this recreation venue also provides a variety of programming including lessons, classes, and personal training.
Rotary Park, located in the river valley adjacent to downtown, is a multi-use outdoor park facility consisting of a pond stocked with fish that is cleared for skating in the winter, trails, sports fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, an off-leash dog park, and a river slide attraction featuring two flowing artificial creeks with drops for tubing. A splash park with 19 water features opened within Rotary Park in 2012.
The Forest Interpretive Centre includes a multi-media museum that presents the forestry industry's role in Whitecourt's history. It also features meeting rooms and hosts the local chamber of commerce, a tourist information centre, and town council meetings. The Forest Interpretive Centre's associated Heritage Park includes antique vehicles and farm equipment, a barn, and an interpretive trail among other features.
|Club||League||Sport||Venue||Established||League championships||Provincial championships|
||Ice hockey||Scott Safety Centre||
||Ice hockey||Scott Safety Centre||
Travis Roche and Rocky Thompson are current and former professional hockey players that were raised in Whitecourt. Roche played 60 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) between the Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes and now plays for SC Bern in Switzerland's National League A. He has represented Team Canada at the Spengler Cup on numerous occasions, winning gold at the 2012 tournament. Thompson played 25 games in the NHL between the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers and is now an assistant coach for the Edmonton Oilers in the National Hockey League.
Normand Lacombe is the strength and conditioning coach for the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), and was the head coach of the predecessor Wolverines of the North West Junior Hockey League prior to the AJHL's arrival. Lacombe played 319 games in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers, winning the Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1988.
Whitecourt Town Council consists of a mayor and six councillors that were elected in the 2013 municipal election. The current members of town council are Mayor Maryann Chichak and councillors Darlene Chartrand, Paul Chauvet, Norman Hodgson, Bill McAree, Eris Moncur, and Derek Schlosser. The town's chief administrative officer is Peter Smyl.
The Northern Gateway Public Schools division office is located in Whitecourt. The school division is responsible for public schools within the geography comprising Lac Ste. Anne County and portions of Woodlands County and the Municipal District of Greenview No. 16, including the towns of Fox Creek, Mayerthorpe, Onoway and Valleyview in addition to Whitecourt.
Whitecourt is located within the Whitecourt-Ste. Anne provincial electoral district, which is represented by Oneil Carlier of the Alberta New Democratic Party. Progressive Conservative George VanderBurg was a four-term MLA for the district until 2015. A resident of Whitecourt, VanderBurg was a businessman and the mayor of the town for nine years prior to his entry into provincial politics.
At the federal level, Whitecourt is located within the Yellowhead electoral district, which is represented by Conservative Jim Eglinski. Conservative Rob Merrifield was a four-term MP for the district until 2014. Merrifield is a resident of Whitecourt and a farmer. In the next federal election, Whitecourt will be part of the newly formed riding of Peace River—Westlock.
Other former politicians that have lived in Whitecourt include Raj Pannu, Allen Sulatycky and Rod Fox. Pannu, former MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona and former leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party, taught high school in Whitecourt between 1962 and 1964. Sulatycky, judge and former MP for Rocky Mountain, was a lawyer and was elected the first Liberal to represent Whitecourt's constituency in 1968. Fox, former Wildrose Party MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, was born and raised in Whitecourt.
The full air-service Whitecourt Airport is located west of Whitecourt on the north side of Highway 32, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Highway 43. It is Alberta's ninth busiest airport with up to 32,000 aircraft using the airport annually. The airstrip is 5,800 ft (1,800 m) in length and 100 ft (30 m) wide and can accommodate 747 jets. Numerous carriers offer scheduled charter flights out of the airport.
The CN Sangudo Subdivision provides rail service through Whitecourt from Edmonton to numerous gas plants south of Fox Creek. The Millar Western Sawmill / Pulp Mill and the Alberta Newsprint Company Pulp & Paper Mill are both served by rail.
The Town of Whitecourt is served by two highways. Highway 43, which is part of the CANAMEX Corridor, is a twinned highway that provides connection to Edmonton to the southeast and Grande Prairie to the northwest.
Highway 32 provides Whitecourt with a direct link to the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) to the south, which connects the town to Edson and Hinton to the southwest. Another segment of Highway 32 begins approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) northwest of the town, providing a link from Highway 43 to Swan Hills and Slave Lake.
Numerous local roads provide connections from Whitecourt to surrounding rural areas within Woodlands County. Within the McLeod River valley, Govenlock Road feeds two rural roads – West Mountain Road (Range Road 122) and Tower Road (Range Road 121A) – that provide access to numerous country residential subdivisions and some agricultural operations to the south.
Within the Athabasca River valley, Flats Road (Township Road 600), which exits the town following its northern boundary, serves numerous agricultural operations to the east.
On the Hilltop, 41 Avenue (Township Road 594A), which was the original highway alignment into Whitecourt, exits the town eastbound for the Hamlet of Blue Ridge. This road is commonly referred to as Blue Ridge Road.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Whitecourt, Alberta.|
||Fox Creek||Swan Hills||Fort Assiniboine|
|Grande Cache||Blue Ridge|