Is anyone else surprised to hear the amount of money spent locally by hunters who live in the region?
It came as a real eye-opener for me. Skeena region hunters, those hunters who live in the region that roughly equates the Skeena-Bulkely Valley federal riding, spent almost $10 million last year on their hunting trips. Eighty-seven percent of those trips were within the region itself, so it looks like most of that money stayed local.
Out-of-region hunters spent almost another $3.5 million in our region. That’s not small change when it comes to local businesses that count on tourism dollars.
With this phase of downtown revitalization virtually complete, I can’t help but think that we’ll see more of those dollars spent here in Burns Lake. Despite a bit of friction along the way – change is always a challenge and some legitimate concerns remain – the Village of Burns Lake was able to pull off a fantastic upgrade to the look and feel of downtown.
I’ve heard it anecdotally quite a few times that visitors to town are consistently pleased with how great town looks now. The results of my own unscientific polling of out-of-town visitors at the Big Pig Mountain Biking Festival, and whenever I meet someone from out of town, is that rolling into Burns Lake is now a very welcoming experience.
Having moved here not too long ago myself I, remember what it was like to first drive into the village limits, or rather, straight through Burns Lake without realizing I had missed it.
The feeling was, “That was it? I thought downtown was still to come but I guess I missed it.”
This isn’t to say anything negative about the old downtown, it’s just that it was easy to think that there was still more to come because nothing really said, ‘this is downtown; stop here.’
Now everything jumps out at you once you arrive. The bright yellow markings, although maybe not something everybody likes, signal to me to start looking for a place to park. The clan carvings say there’s something here to stop and check out.
Get out of your car or truck and stay a while. That’s what we were after, right? I think the village hit it on the head with this one.
Granted, there’s more to come and more needs to be done. A lot of it is out of the village’s control. Brownfield sites – former fuel sites undergoing environmental remediation – defy a quick fix.
It’s probably still a little tricky to park a large trailer or RV, and one long-time business in town lost all its curbside parking. That can’t be dressed up as a plus, no matter how much lipstick you put on the pig. So the expanded parking planned for phase two will be a real boon.
The planned town square will be the final piece of the puzzle. There’s no better advertising for a place as somewhere to stop than the sight of other people enjoying their stay. There are challenges to having the highway cut straight through town, but a lot of possibilities as well.
It’s great to see the village highlighting the positive.