Community tourism vision

According to the recently developed 'community tourism plan' the vision for the Lakes District is to be part of a vibrant community.

Sheryl Worthing

Sheryl Worthing

According to the recently developed ‘community tourism plan’ for the local area, the vision for the Lakes District is to be part of a vibrant community that includes a desirable, healthy and affordable lifestyle.

The area is to be a family orientated destination and a place where people want to come back.

Sheryl Worthing, Village of Burns Lake chief administrative officer said to Lakes District News that the tourism plan is a comprehensive document that was developed by a large working group committee made up of Burns Lake and Lakes District representatives, as well as a team from Tourism B.C.

Worthing said the overall goal of the plan is to increase tourism in the Lakes District in order to diversify the local economy in a sustainable manner. The longer term vision for the plan is expected to be achieved over a period of five to 10 years.

The process started with a community tourism vision that was first developed in 2008 and expanded in 2012. “The outcome was to identify short, medium and long term tourism strategies,” Worthing said.

The report was finalized last month and resulted in 32 key recommendations.

According to the plan, the short term goal is to increase participant registration at the Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival by 30 per cent through leveraged investments in the mountain biking trails and festivals.

Medium term goals include increasing the number of tourists who stop in Burns Lake, increasing participants during festival weekends and long term goals include growing overall tourism and establishing interpretive centre visitor attendance and revenue targets.

This will be achieved by destination development initiatives that will focus on unique areas that have tourism potential such as the Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival, a proposed clan carving walking tour through the downtown core that will be developed this summer and further investments in trails, campsite maintenance and the development of one or two more festivals, which the plan suggests could be a winter festival to coincide with the Coldsmoke Snowmobile drags, a Southside bluegrass festival, or a performing arts festival.

In the plan, it is noted that a longer term vision for the development of an Aboriginal cultural centre will offer significant potential to draw in travelers off Hwy. 16.

Worthing said the goal for local tourism initiatives is to market Burns Lake to tourists traveling along Hwy. 16.

The tourism plan characterizes these tourists as international travelers from the U.S. Germany, Netherlands and the U.K., who are 55 plus years of age, well educated, often retired and traveling without children. According to the plan, the older demographic is interested in unique Aboriginal culture and heritage experiences, festivals and events that coincide with their journey and easily accessed outdoor adventure opportunities, such as walking tours, short interpretive hikes, rock hounding tours and boat rentals.

Some results to date include securing funding from the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition and Northern Development Initiative Trust for the August 2012, Big Pig Mountain Bike Festival as well a  contracting the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce to carry out the tourism aspect of the Big Pig Mountain Bike Festival based on recommendations from the tourism committee.

Funds have also been secured for the Burns Lake Band initiated four clan carvings which Worthing said will be placed in the downtown core this fall. She also said a walking tour of the downtown core including informational signage will be developed for next tourism season.

“Tourism B.C. has committed $30,000 towards ongoing tourism initiatives,” she said adding that the tourism committee has not met since the completion of the plan.