The new Downtown Williams Lake team is has been busy planning and preparing for an exciting year of community events and projects throughout 2020.
In 2019, Downtown Williams Lake saw much success with their new programs but also some staff overturn as team members like Vanessa Moberg and Stefanie Hendrickson moved on to different things. However, for 2020 they have a solid team of new faces who have learned the ropes of their positions and how to work together.
Jasmine Alexander remains their events coordinator in charge of organizing their four main events while Brent Dafoe has stepped into the role of business coordinator and is currently working on a rural dividends grant project. Jordan Davis, meanwhile, remains in the executive chair overseeing everyone and working to bring their vision of a vibrant downtown to fruition.
“2019 was a year of transition for the BIA,” Alexander said.
In addition to supporting their annual events in 2019, Alexander said they also introduced some new events in the form of the inaugural Spring Into Downtown and the grand opening of 2019’s Art Walk. Both were very well received by the community and Alexander said they were blown away by the support, especially from the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society who gave them the grant needed to pull off the grand opening.
In September of 2019, meanwhile, thanks to grants he was able to secure Dafoe said they were able to get small Downtown Williams Lake banners hung down the remaining streets that were missing them. They also funded the Cariboo Artbeat Wave Mural and the Carizoo Mural, all thanks to rural dividend grants.
Davis agreed with them and said overall, despite some difficulties here and there, all of their events were really well attended no matter the weather. Now with their feet firmly under them, she’s looking forward to seeing what she and her new team can do in 2020.
“I would say (2019) was a lot of continuing momentum and building off what we have that has been so good. All of us, I think, we have a very similar vision (for what we want to do,)” Davis said.
Davis said the positive community response to the news events has shown that Williams Lake is ready for some new ideas and inspiration. Davis and her team are always looking ahead to the next event, she said, and how to make them bigger and better.
First on their list for 2020 is the second annual Spring Into Downtown event complete with a new theme “Grow Here” which Davis feels is a good motto for all of Williams Lake. For Spring Into Downtown, she said they really want to emphasize all Williams Lake has to offer including local food, local shops and organizations.
“We really felt like, when we looked at themes this year, we wanted growth, that’s something we all want for the community,” Davis said. “We really need to look at more diversification. It was a rough year with the mills and the economy and stuff, people really felt that we felt it from our businesses, so we are really focused on showing a different side of Williams Lake and getting people excited.”
In that spirit, Alexander said they will be hosting an urban garden-party style dinner called Fork and Fair that will highlight the best the downtown has to offer on Saturday, May 30 in the evening of Spring Into Downtown. Dafoe added that this dinner was inspired by the success of Art Walk’s Grand Opening and was created in that same vein.
Outside of the dinner, Alexander said they’re looking to expand on some of the things they did foundationally with Spring Into Downtown, such as the children zone and the fashion show, by encouraging more business leadership and participation. She encourages businesses with ideas to reach out to them as they’re still planning the event’s details.
Dafoe, meanwhile, in partnership with the City is working towards the roll-out of applications to wrap five B.C. Hydro boxes. Once done he’ll be putting out a call for art to decorate these boxes, which are mostly around the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.
He’s also working towards updating the lakecity’s heritage signs, the small red signs scattered around town that outline the lakecity’s history and heritage. Dafoe said there are 35 of them that they will be refurbishing and rebranding to make them more eye-catching as he feels most people don’t know there’s more than 10 of them.
Alexander reminded businesses and artists to keep an eye out for Art Walk registration and the fact the event will be taking place on a four-week model this year from Aug. 7 to Sept. 4.
They’re also working on planning the grand opening but are waiting on funding to announce further details.
“I want to take everything we’ve been doing and make it bigger and better. I want the community to have fun and all of my team to have fun,” Davis said.
Continuing to create meaningful experiences will be the cornerstone of the work Downtown Williams Lake does moving forward, Davis said.