It’s hard not to learn about Valleyview without getting the urge to pack up and move there, immediately.

A combination of a balanced economy, excellent investment opportunities, friendly neighbours and big-city amenities – in a small-town setting – make for remarkably high-quality living.

“Overall, it’s just a great place to live,” says Mayor Vern Lymburner, “It’s a great place to raise a family.”

It would be easy to accuse the mayor of bias. However, he didn’t always live in Valleyview. “I’m one of those people who came here on vacation 25 years ago,” he laughs. “I’m still here.” Tim Harris is a newer arrival, moving from New Brunswick in 2011. “It’s an awesome little town to live in,” he says. “I live here, my brother lives here and some of our cousins are moving up, so there’s obviously something good going on here.”

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Solid Economic Base

One major benefit of Valleyview that people mention over and over again is its steady economy. “Valleyview has a very stable economy,” says Dale Gervais, Reeve of the MD of Greenview, the local rural municipal government.

“Our economy is not based on just one entity,” says Lymburner. “We’re multidimensional with oil and gas, agriculture and forestry, as well as highway commercial. We’re not like a lot of communities that have just one industry.”

It’s a growing town, in an economically-beneficial location. “There is a lot of opportunity here for new businesses, definitely,” says Harris. “I see Valleyview as the last frontier to be developed,” says Marty Paradine, town manager. “The neighbouring communities are running out of real estate and prices are getting really high. Valleyview has very affordable, very attractively-located land in these prime corridors still.”

Highway commercial development is a major opportunity available in the community right now, Paradine says. With Valleyview located directly at the crossroads of two major highways, the community sees 7,000 to 8,000 vehicles passing through every day. It is already a popular stopping point for travellers. “Valleyview’s definitely unique, having both highways, which are very busy, and having land opened up on both sides,” says Paradine.

A tight-knit community adds to the town’s attractiveness for investors, Paradine says.

“It’s nice when you’re diversifying your portfolio, to put a development in a community that’s more stable in the long run,” he says. “People live here full-time, all the time, with roots. It’s not a transient population like communities you see elsewhere.”

Supporting Development

Valleyview is a growing community with more growth on the horizon. The municipal government is committed to positive cooperation with property developers. “We are focused on working with developers, supporting them, to make sure we’re meeting community objectives as well as helping a developer do something that’s economically viable and to expedite the process so they can get things done in a timely manner,” says Paradine.

Beyond highway commercial development, Valleyview, with its growing population, is a prime market for residential expansion.

“Residential development is something we see the need for,” says Paradine. “Multi-family residentials, condo-style living are needed here.”

The town is seeking to work with developers to make the process as painless as possible, he says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. We’re more about working with developers, negotiating based on our common interests and coming to a consensus versus just blindly following regulations and bylaws.”

“Things are pretty quick in Valleyview in terms of our permitting processes. There’s not a lot of bureaucracy,” he adds.

“We’re definitely pro-growth in Valleyview,” says Lymburner. “We try to make it quite easy for developers. We do assist them to get them on the right road, to try to push through their developments faster so they don’t have to wait.”

Stellar Geographical Spot

The community’s location is another draw for investors. “It’s a really good location,” says Debbie Wirth, an office manager who has lived in Valleyview most of her life. “We’re at a crossroads between two major highways so there’s a lot of highway traffic coming in that businesses can capitalize upon. We’re also centralized to a lot of the oilfield activity that happens in the Peace Country.”

It also has a wide trading area. Valleyview has 2,000 residents and another 2,500 in its recreational boundaries. The nearby Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation has 1,300 residents. Over 7,000 vehicles pass through each day on Highway 43 with another 3,000 on Highway 49.

Beyond the investment opportunities, the location of Valleyview adds to the quality of life of its residents.

“You’ve got the best of both worlds here, in my eyes,” says Paradine. “You have all these amenities and a lower cost of living but are still in reasonable proximity to larger centres if you want to do something special, like go to a concert or to Costco.”

It’s an hour to Grande Prairie, an hour to Peace River and three hours to Edmonton with a four-lane highway in both directions. “That’s what’s fairly unique about it. It’s north but not remote,” says Adam Esch, recreation coordinator for the MD of Greenview.

Warm Welcome, Future Friends

The welcoming nature of Valleyview residents is often mentioned, as something remarkable. “The people in town are friendly. It’s not like a big community where you don’t know your neighbours. People don’t even know their own street addresses around here. If someone asks, you’ll say ‘I live next to Bill,” says Lymburner.

It’s a place that actively believes in building community. “We’re always getting together,” says Harris. “Everybody’s trying to get people together to hang out. There are always different functions going on for people to gather.”

It’s a place that people fall in love with, even if they don’t intend to, according to Gervais. “Some RCMP members are hesitant to come here but when it comes time for them to leave, they don’t want to.” He knows at least four RCMP members who returned to Valleyview after they retired. Paradine, the town manager, has lived all over the world, including Germany, Australia and Wales. Why Valleyview? “I like being able to walk to work,” he says. “I like the pace; it’s a little quieter. People are a little more neighbourly, more open and friendly.”

“It’s definitely a small town at its heart,” says Wirth. “It’s not hard to find someone to share a friendly smile with as you walk down the street, or someone to chit-chat with.” The community has a new $3.2 million health centre with five doctors and a dentist, 10 churches, four schools, an outdoor swimming pool, curling rink, library, a golf course, not to mention a $35 million aquatics multiplex in the works.

“You’re close to everything – everything we need is here,” says Harris. “Grocery stores, bowling alley … if you need a haircut you just go up the street and talk to Penny.” It’s a town with opportunities for employees as well as business owners.

“There are jobs available here,” says Lymburner. “A lot of people say, ‘if you’re not working it’s because you don’t want to.”

It’s also a town built for children and families. “It’s a healthy community to raise your kids in,” says Lymburner. “It’s a safe community. As a kid you don’t like that everyone knows what you’re doing but as a parent you’re happy to know that your kids are safe out there.” “It’s a great, close-knit community,” says Esch. “Really, there’s a spot for everyone in Valleyview.”

Untapped Wilderness Recreation

Another benefit of Valleyview is the wilderness that surrounds it, Esch says. “It’s surrounded by Crown land and has rivers and lakes throughout. It’s close to vast remote wilderness which features some great hunting opportunities and recreational opportunities.” The MD is working on plans that include adding amenities to the wilderness like walking trails, campgrounds, boat launches and more. “It has so much untapped potential,” says Esch.

With its abundant economic opportunities, family-friendly small-town values and easy access to big centres, Valleyview is already growing and there’s a lot of growth to come. Extensive effort and careful financial planning have brought them to this point, says Lymburner. “We have all the infrastructure in place and we’re primed to move into the future,” he says.