Judy O’Neill and her team of Williams Lake Central Business Improvement Area delegates are on the proverbial cloud nine this week after winning two of the eight awards presented at the BIABC Best in the West Awards convention in Kamloops.
“I have some great news to share,” says executive director O’Neill, who traveled to the regional convention in Kamloops with BIA president Sheila Mortensen, treasurer Elaine Winslow and second vice-president Jan Hermiston.
The awards were for Williams Lake’s Alley Art Mentorship Project which saw the creation of two new murals downtown incorporating summer employment for two youth interested in a future in the arts.
The murals created last summer were entered in the Partnerships and Sustainability categories and won first place in both categories for excellence.
The alley art projects were kicked off with a grant from the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society, and developed in partnership with lakecity muralist Dwayne Davis, Cariboo Friendship Society’s Choices for Youth Program, and Deana’s Studio.
The mural in the Deana’s Studio alley is of an historical scene depicting old-time Williams Lake and featured some of our more notable characters.
The second mural located in the stairwell to the entrance of the gift shop at the Cariboo Friendship Society features a traditional First Nations fishing village.
“It was a great surprise and honour to win, especially twice, but it wouldn’t have been possible without all of the co-operation and support of the partners and in working so well together as a community,” O’Neill says.
She says she was humbled by the glowing accolades the BIABC president had for the first award presented, then just as she was heading back to her seat he called her name again for the second award.
The awards were given based on criteria.
“Entries that met the criteria were presented with Awards of Merit and entries that exceeded the criteria were given Awards of Excellence, and both of ours were for Excellence.”
She says the Best in the West entries are received from communities all over B.C. and Alberta and each entry was judged by a panel of experts.
“I would also like to acknowledge our awards were sponsored by Fortis BC and Ackroo.”
The Downtown Williams Lake’s submission presented by O’Neill included an extensive power-point documentary about the project, its partners and how it all came to fruition.
“The power point glowingly endorsed Dwayne as our expert, Cariboo Friendship Society, Choices for Youth Program and of course the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society (logo) and stated without their financial support this project would not have been possible,” O’Neill says.
“The power point presentation ends with a glowing tribute from Deana Derrick from Deana’s Studio and with a slide depicting the poster on the mural where all of the above with the addition of the City of Williams Lake, the Cariboo Regional District and of course our excellent local media were added.”
Another highlight of the conference was attending the session by keynote speaker and downtown expert Roger Brooks, author of 20 Ingredients for a Successful Downtown and better yet being able to get some one-on-one time when he joined our Williams Lake team later for coffee, O’Neill says.
“There were a number of great speakers and workshops where we learned a lot on what it takes to create a vibrant downtown core and I think as a downtown we are up for it,” O’Neill says.
“It was absolutely awesome. The speakers were great and we learned a lot about what other towns are doing.”