Community encouraged to participate in place branding of Williams Lake

City council is encouraging the community to help with a place brand for Williams Lake.

City council is encouraging the community to help with a place brand for Williams Lake.

There will be an updated survey for residents at the existing www.mywilliamslake.placebrand.ca/ website.

Public meetings will also take place, perhaps toward the end of the month, the city’s manager of economic development said at the May 7 council meeting.

“The branding company has agreed to work with us to gather additional input and then look at some new slogan ideas, and some of those things, at no additional cost,” Madrigga said.

So far the cost has been around $41,000. An additional $50,000 is set in the 2013 budget for marketing, he confirmed.

“We will communicate out more as well as try to get people to participate better this time around. We anticipate that people will engage and we will be responding to some of the comments we have already received the last month,” Madrigga said.

Last month a delegation showed up at the April 9 city council meeting to protest the proposed “Republic of Life” tag line.

There have been online discussions protesting the slogan and the branding process, and several letters to the editor in the Tribune.

Madrigga said the original brand advisory committee will be active and explained the committee has representatives involved with the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, other service clubs, Thompson Rivers University, Williams Lake Construction Association, and people who are trying to attract workers with investment dollars to the community.

Coun. Laurie Walters asked if other community members could be involved, and Madrigga said there’s always an opportunity to engage more people, but the point of having a smaller committee was not to be reclusive or non-inclusive.

“If you have a large committee you end up with no consensus, but the committee members will go out to the public and gather input before anything is finalized,” he said.

Coun. Surinderpal Rathor said he will not support the branding project moving forward.

“I supported the budget originally, but that doesn’t mean we should spend the money. I think council should rethink if we need to spend this type of money. The hall was full here last month and 92 per cent of the people were against it, plus or minus.”

Contradicting Rathor, Coun. Geoff Bourdon said council has identified it needs to develop a brand.

“Just because we meet some resistance I don’t see that as a reason to throw it out the window.”

It was made clear that everyone did not like the word “republic, he said.

Otherwise most people identify with the effectiveness of having a brand.

“The fact that we have a consultant doing work without additional expense to the community I can’t justify throwing $40,000 out the window.”

Coun. Danica Hughes said she didn’t recall many people saying they are against branding.

“It was about being against the tag line and that people felt they didn’t have an opportunity to give the input they would have liked to contribute,”  Hughes said.

There needs to be some balance put forth to the project, she added.

“Not only who we were, and who we are, and who we are going to become. The whole point of the branding is about our future.

“I don’t think anyone would consist that everyone sitting around this table is concerned with our residents and our future residents.”

She also stressed that while the initial proposal was not her “cup of tea,” she wants to move forward with the project.

Mayor Kerry Cook said council is taking a step back and encourages  people who are passionate about the community to provide input.

“People can be involved, we’re using the website. This is the beginning of the process, we haven’t adopted anything, we haven’t moved forward, we still have a long way to go in the process,” Cook said.

Hughes said branding is one piece of the pie.

It is only one of a number of initiatives that are going on for succession and retention, she added.

“I think there’s a notion out there that we think this is going to be the be all end all for Williams Lake and bring all these people in,” she said.

Madrigga agreed saying a place brand is one thing in the tool box for marketing.