It’s a long road to economic diversity

As part of the province’s economic recovery efforts for Burns Lake, a team of economic development officials arrived in town last week.

As part of the province’s economic recovery efforts for Burns Lake, a team of economic development officials arrived in town last week to help get the ‘economic development’ wheels in motion in the local area.

The team helped locals compile ideas which will be presented in a report and given to the village in the coming weeks.

Some interesting ideas for local economic development initiatives came out of the discussion.

I agree that there needs to be economic diversification in the local area and even if Babine Forest Products is rebuilt, the idea of diversifying the local economy should definitely not be forgotten. Putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.

In saying that however, achieving economic diversification in an area historically focussed on forestry is quite a daunting task.

Aboriginal culture was a focal point during the discussion and an idea for a culture centre was suggested. I think a cultural centre would be a great drawing card for tourism, especially for overseas visitors. Something like the Kasn Village just outside of Hazelton perhaps.  That would be a big economic boost to the area for sure.

The discussion also centred around the Village of Burns Lake’s phase one plans for down town revitalization. Despite the large price tag, locals said they hope this initiative will attract new businesses to the down town core.

Aside from encouraging new businesses to open up, it may also encourage tourists to stay a while, rather than pass right through on their way elsewhere.

I thought an idea for tourist signage presented during the meeting was also beneficial. Signage, featuring maps to local tourist attractions is something that is easy to achieve. Placing the signs at either end of town is great idea, as much of what Burns Lake has to offer is not directly on display to those driving through town on Highway 16. For example, Spirit Square is tucked away behind the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena and could easily be overlooked as if  Radley Beach. These are all fairly simple ways to attract more people to the area.

Some more challenging ideas were also discussed during the meeting. In particular, a high end hotel on Burns Lake. One of the issues I see with this idea is funding. I know that the group was probably not thinking the Hilton’s are going to come to Burns Lake and build a large hotel here, but even finding someone to build a small five star hotel in the area may be a bit unrealistic.

There is a lot of funding opportunities out there and while the spotlight is shining on Burns Lake, local organizations and groups should work quickly to apply for any funding opportunities.

I hope that the local community and the village choose to move forward with some   of the ideas presented at the meeting.