Burns Lake lacks unified plan

While there are worthwhile initiatives locally, I don’t see how they connect and compliment each other

Since I moved to Burns Lake in 2014, I’ve watched several strategic plans being presented to council to help Burns Lake achieve its full potential.

Just earlier this month, the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce made a presentation to council about their social media strategy and what their efforts have been to promote Burns Lake and encourage more people to visit our town and discover what we have to offer.

Lakes District News and the chamber have partnered to create a comprehensive tourism book for Burns Lake. Village staff and consultants have also created economic development plans and even a sign strategy. And in the meantime, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) has created its own marketing strategy to promote the region.

While these are all worthwhile initiatives, I don’t see how they connect and compliment each other.

For example, Prince George has been trying to attract Vancouverites to the city with their ‘Move Up Prince George’ initiative, which was launched in 2014. They sell Prince George as having more sunshine (compared to Vancouver), affordable homes, less traffic and plenty of cultural options. If you visit their website – http://moveupprincegeorge.ca/ – you can find all the information you need in one place.

What is Burns Lake’s strategy?

We all know what Burns Lake has to offer – incredibly affordable housing, world-class mountain biking trails, amazing cross-country skiing trails, beautiful lakes, friendly people, a modern hospital and plenty of recreation options. Yet, a Vancouverite would have to do some thorough research to find that all out.

Mountain biking is one of our biggest attractions here, and yet our chamber website does not have a link to the Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association’s (BLMBA) website.

When you visit the village’s website, it says, “It’s only natural.” Although that’s a nice slogan, it doesn’t really say much about Burns Lake.

Although the village’s website offers “external links” to BLMBA and the Omineca Ski Club, shouldn’t we have a website that highlights all this information? We should have a website that highlights our greatest attractions, upcoming events, videos of our town, important information for people considering moving up here, job posts, local groups and art events.

Shouldn’t we have a unified marketing strategy for the Lakes District that sends a message to the rest of the province? This way, when someone hears about Burns Lake, they will know what this town is all about.

Last week, council met with the RDBN to discuss the village’s economic development strategy. Councillor Susan Schienbein reminded council that in 2012 the village developed a comprehensive tourism plan in partnership with Tourism B.C. and Community Futures.

“There were some key things identified there that there wasn’t a lot of capacity in the community at that time [to implement them],” she said.

Council agreed that the village should take another look at that tourism plan.

There’s plenty of opportunity in our town. We just need an effective and unified strategy.