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Economic Development

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Economic Base

economic base3

Big Lakes County has a diverse economic base. The energy sector is the largest along with other resource based industries including forestry, agriculture, and coal (gasification). Deriving its name from the big lakes in the region, the local economy also includes commercial fishing and offers a growing host of tourism and recreation opportunities along the lakeshores.  


economic base2

Some industries have geographical concentration. The southern-east portion of the County (near the Town of Swan Hills) has a strong energy and forestry base with a new coal gasification project proposed for the area. The agricultural industry is concentrated near Highway 2 gaining strength towards the west and north-west edge of the municipality. Tourism is strongly based along the west and south shores of Lesser Slave Lake with Winagami Lake and Snipe Lake also providing recreational opportunities. Forestry harvesting is active both north and south of Highway 2 in the green zone with a large processing facility near the Town of High Prairie.

economic base4


The Peace Oil Sands dip into the northwest of Big Lakes, accessed by the Seal Lake Connector Road north out of the Town of High Prairie. Ideal access to the oil sands industry is fuelling new economic activity within the region. The southwest section of the County also has a growing energy sector in addition to agricultural production and tourism opportunities.

economic base








Population Base

Big Lakes County, including its hamlets and rural population, totals approximately 5,900 residents. Unlike most other municipal governments, Big Lakes maintains close partnerships with other local governments; within the boundaries of the County are the Towns of High Prairie and Swan Hills, the Metis Settlements of Peavine, Gift Lake and East Prairie and the First Nations reservations of Kapawe'no, Sucker Creek, Driftpile and Swan River. The combined population of the region is 13,604  (Federal Census, 2011).



see County Tax Rates

Economic Assessment & Tourism Strategic Plan 2011

Appendix A: Economic Base & Tourism Sector Analysis

Appendix B: Action Comparison

Tourism Strategic Plan Final Report 2011