Two inspiring events were held at the Heritage Centre last week as part of Burns Lake’s economic diversification project.
The first one, held on Oct. 18, was an open house where residents were asked why they love living in Burns Lake.
I was thrilled to see that digital marketing company Life Work Communications has been chosen to conduct this phase of the project. I first met the company’s co-owner, Shauna Harper, about three years ago when she helped host an event in Burns Lake called ‘Ignite the North.’
Through small facilitated group discussions about innovation, the Ignite the North event encouraged participants to come up with inspiring ideas that would affect positive change in the community.
That event left a lasting impression on me. I remember leaving full of excitement, and feeling that I could help spark positive change even though I had moved to Burns Lake just a few weeks prior to that event. It’s amazing to witness the amount of energy that rushes through people when they are actively trying to come up with solutions and using inspiring ideas to make a difference.
So when I saw Harper at the workshop, I knew that this town was in good hands.
Posters were placed all over the walls asking residents and newcomers what Burns Lake’s hidden gems are, why they’ve found more opportunities living in a small town, and even asking them for winter survival tips (I was genuinely interested in that one for personal reasons).
Residents seemed to have taken this open house seriously, taking the time to write down their answers and practically filling out all the posters. Harper said she was positively surprised by the turnout.
The next morning the event had a different format – this time it was a workshop. But the goal was the same – helping residents and newcomers brainstorm ideas to help attract residents, investors and visitors to the area.
I also enjoyed that Val Anderson, Burns Lake’s economic development officer, encouraged newcomers to participate in these discussions. This is positive not only for newcomers – because it helps them feel like a part of this town, enhancing their sense of community and belonging – but it is also good for Burns Lake, as newcomers offer a fresh pair of eyes and a unique perspective on how to improve our community, bringing ideas and solutions from other parts of Canada and the world.
All this information will be used by a new committee that will be leading the discussions on how to diversify the local economy, moving beyond its reliance on the forest products industry.
This project is off to a great start and I hope that 30 years from now we will look back on this project and realize that that’s where we set Burns Lake on a path to a great future.