As Burns Lake is currently trying to diversify its local economy and “reinvent” itself, it should focus all its efforts on becoming a mountain biking town.
I came to this conclusion last week after covering a few stories and events, and listening to several people.
If you read last week’s issue of Lakes District News you’ll know that two Burns Lake councillors have recently brought some empowering ideas from a conference held in Kelowna. What the councillors learned is that instead of asking, “What’s wrong and how do we fix it?” municipalities should ask, “What’s worked and how do we get more of it?”
Well… if you had to pick one thing that Burns Lake has done well in the past few years, what would it be?
We have an incredible system of trails at the Boer Mountain Recreation Site, which are maintained entirely by local volunteers. These trails are not only a source of local pride, but they have also been growing and becoming better each year. Last week Burns Lake hosted for the first time the B.C. Bike Ride North event, welcoming over 70 bikers from all over the world at Boer Mountain.
What also happened last week is that UNBC released a study conducted earlier this year which assessed the economic and social impact of mountain biking development in Burns Lake. What the study found was no surprise – that the trails have not only been contributing to the local economy, but that locals feel that their physical and mental health have improved and that they feel a stronger sense of community pride because of them.
Last week council also expressed an interest in finding ways to support the Kager Lake Recreation Site. And with the village considering a possible expansion of its boundaries to include Gowan Road, the Kager Lake site could potentially be within the village’s boundaries.
Imagine what Kager Lake would look like if the municipality made some aggressive investments – maybe creating a beach or improving the mountain biking infrastructure – or if the area had a cafe, a restaurant or a hotel.
Burns Lake needs to be much more consistent with its marketing strategy by selling a main idea. Mountain biking is our golden ticket, and we should capitalize on that.
Imagine if mountain biking was the main theme across our town – with signs, art and infrastructure that reflected that. Imagine if all our marketing strategy revolved around mountain biking.
Imagine what it would be like if you spoke of Burns Lake in Vancouver and people responded with, “Oh, that mountain biking town.” We can put Burns Lake on the map.
Of course, mountain biking is not all we would offer, but we have to be consistent with one main strategy, and it can’t be the same one used in Smithers or Prince George.