Williams Lake city council has approved a new economic development strategy that focuses on quality of life, investment attraction, partnerships and skill development.
Council received the report during its regular council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Funded through Northern Development Initiative Trust, the strategy is the result of six months of focused work undertaken by the City’s economic development officer, Beth Veenkamp, developed by Randy Sunderman of Peak Solutions Consulting in association with Trevor Kier of Kier and Associates.
A draft of the strategy was presented during a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11 and received praise from several city councillors, notably because it addresses challenges such as the forest industry needing to prepare for the reduction of the annual allowable cut.
During the COW meeting Veenkamp said the consultants “definitely” engaged stakeholders.
“There is nothing in their report that’s really innovative and new,” she said. “Over and over again in the 10 engagement sessions we heard people say ‘develop your mountain biking, capitalize on that,’ ‘we kind of like where we live — it’s small and that’s good with us,’ and ‘we care about the environment.’”
Three hundred people responded to the survey, which Veenkamp said is unheard of and speaks to the level of commitment people have to Williams Lake.
Four major themes emerged from the consultation sessions, and have been captured in the strategy.
*Enhanced livability and quality of life: includes housing diversification and rental development, increasing investments, and partnerships in mountain biking development, which repeatedly emerged as a community asset worth investing in.
* Investment attraction and business development: includes opportunities such as airport development, tourism product development and agriculture diversification.
* Skill development and labour force attraction: includes attracting skilled workers and expanding education opportunities.
* Partnership development: includes collaborating on projects with neighbouring First Nations communities, leveraging opportunities with the Cariboo Regional District, and focused work with the Province to tap into its programs and initiatives.
FINAL Williams Lake Econ St… by on Scribd
Veenkamp is encouraging other groups to use the strategy to help guide their priorities.
“There is a lot of positive momentum happening in the community right now, and it is exciting to see this work come together so we can continue to capitalize on all the great things about Williams Lake.”