The District of Chetwynd ( /ˈtʃɛtwɪnd/) is a small town located on the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. Situated on an ancient floodplain, it is the first town travellers encounter after emerging from the Rockies along Highway 97 and acts as the gateway to the Peace River Country. The town developed during the construction of infrastructure through the Rocky Mountains in the 1950s, and was used as a transshipment point during the construction of hydroelectric dams in the 1960s and 1970s and the new town of Tumbler Ridge in the early 1980s. Home to approximately 2,600 residents, the population has increased little in the last 25 years but is significantly younger than the provincial average.
Once known as Little Prairie, the community adopted its current name in honour of provincial politician Ralph L.T. Chetwynd, just prior to its incorporation in 1962. The 64-square-kilometre (25 sq mi) municipality consists of the town, a community forest, and four exclave properties. Chetwynd has dozens of chainsaw carvings displayed throughout town as public art. It is home to the weekly newspaper, the Chetwynd Echo, and a Northern Lights College campus. Nearby, there are four provincial parks, two lakes, and several recreational trails.
Highways 29 and 97 intersect in town; the east-west Highway 97 connect the town to Prince George and Dawson Creek while the north-south Highway 29 connects Tumbler Ridge and Hudson's Hope. A rail line branches off in three directions: northward to Fort St. John, east to Dawson Creek, and west through the Rockies to Prince George. Its economy is dominated by the primary industries of forestry, fossil fuel extraction, and transportation. A member municipality of the Peace River Regional District, it is represented in provincial politics by the independent MLA Blair Lekstrom.
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