Williams Lake Social Planning Council (SPC) is excited to continue working with city council, said president Sharon Taylor during a presentation to council Tuesday evening, Dec. 17.
Working with other local stakeholders, the SPC provides a perspective in discussions about economic, social and environmental development in the community, Taylor said.
“Through us the council has access already to an active, involved work of citizens already meeting and discussing issues in town.”
It seems a natural step for the two groups to share information with each other, she added.
During 2013 the council’s main focus has been in three areas — poverty reduction, particularly in terms of a living wage campaign, community collaboration and networking, and retention and succession of residents in the area.
“The living wage campaign is preparing to go to the next level,” Taylor said. “We will be starting a community discussion about what the term living wage means and how the community as a whole benefits from better economic security for all the people in it.”
Issues of retention and succession are common topics around many community tables, Taylor told council.
“I sit on six different community tables and it comes up consistently. Within that conversation are other conversations about daycare, skills training and adult literacy.”
There are no common causes or simple solutions, so the SPC specializes in difficult conversations about where people want to see Williams Lake and area moving in the next two years, five years, and 10 years down the road.
“We don’t always agree, we come from a wide variety of backgrounds and a wide variety of vision.”
Disagreement can in fact be collaborative, Taylor said.
Networking can help the community understand other viewpoints, explore new ways of doing things and consider the impact one sector has on another before any damage is done.
Taylor said in 2014 the SPC hopes to meet with city council in public consultation regarding council’s plans on policy issues.
Mayor Kerry Cook said council looks forward to working with the SPC.
The newly-elected SPC executive consists of vice-president Bruce Mack, secretary former School District 27 superintendent Diane Wright, treasurer Rosanna McGregor, executive director Jessica Knodel board members Carla Bullinger, Kourtney Cook, Matt Neufeld and Shannon Thom.
As a member of the SPC, McGregor also sits on the Cariboo Lodge Task Force.
“You see that those links are there,” McGregor said. “When you have some of those further discussions in regards to some of the on-street parking or lack of on-street parking and the whole process of the snow removal, that’s one of those questions, along with others that need to be part of the discussion when you talk about the development of the downtown core.”
More than 30 individuals, groups and organizations support the efforts of the SPC through paid memberships, with many more attending monthly meetings.
“There’s no requirement to be a member to attend our meetings,” Taylor said.
Nearly 300 people receive the weekly updates sent out by the Knodel, and the SPC blog receives 1,000 hits a month.
“That’s pretty good for a community this size. That means a lot of information is going out to a lot people,” Taylor added.