For the past few months, the Village of Burns Lake has been engaged in planning and acquiring funds to kickstart a project to diversify the local economy, moving beyond its dependence on the forest products industry.
During a recent village council meeting, however, councillors expressed some concerns about this project – including the expected length of community consultation and the involvement of the core committee, which is currently being chosen.
While the village has basically “made a plan to make a plan,” it raises the question of who would be driving this vision that the village so desperately needs right now. Given the current challenges that the forest products industry is facing, perhaps there’s nothing more important that the municipality should be discussing right now.
As it was explained during the council meeting, it seems that this core committee would be responsible for engaging the community at large to create a vision, but it’s unclear if this committee would also be responsible for driving this vision, and for how long.
It’s also unclear how much involvement council would have. Although the mayor and one councillor were appointed to this core committee, so far council seems to have little involvement in this project, which is mainly being managed by Burns Lake’s economic development officer.
That’s why I highly encourage you to read this week’s story ‘Can Burns Lake learn from Quesnel’ on page 1.
It was very inspiring to me (and I hope it will be for you too) to learn how Quesnel’s mayor, who was elected in 2015, has changed the status quo of the city by making bold decisions while firing up the business community to help council achieve their vision.
The city has raised taxes and acquired funding to invest in core infrastructure, playgrounds, a downtown revitalization project and the city’s rebranding strategy. In the past couple of years, the city has managed to attract 13 doctors, bringing the total number of doctors to 28.
Although he was clear that each community is different, Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson had a great advice for other towns.
“Our council made the decision that we were community leaders; we had to have a vision for the community and it was really up to us to drive that vision and make things happen,” he said. “Don’t worry so much about the problems, but focus on the solution and the vision that you have for the community and drive that vision, and the others will come to the table.”
Without leadership, I don’t see how Burns Lake would turn any vision into reality.
Making big changes takes bold actions. That’s true for cities and life. Unless there’s a clear vision, people with determination and excitement to drive that vision and fire up the community, it will be hard to get anything off the ground.