When son No. 4, who lives in the Lower Mainland comes to visit, he usually tours the town to note any changes.
Last week he was startled and dismayed by the number of “for lease, rent, or sale“ signs in the empty windows of former businesses in the downtown area. All over town for that matter. It is dismal.
Does anyone remember Imagine Our Future — the document outlining the hopes and dreams for the future of Williams Lake? Council adopted it in 2011 after exhaustive community involvement that used almost every method of collecting public input known to man. One goal was a Lively Downtown. Council has accomplished some of the goals, but that isn’t one of them.
“Our community’s heart and soul is our downtown,” the document says, a “vibrant, distinct and welcoming place for community gatherings and social interactions and acts as the retail, cultural, entertainment, and social centre of the city, and it is the principle place for the exchange of locally produced goods.”
One suggestion was that the Lively Downtown have a Cariboo Theme.
“Williams Lake’s history is predominantly centred on the ranching industry which, during the past 150 years, has created numerous colourful stories.
“Forestry and mining have also had a huge impact in area development. This history began to emerge as character in the building form in Williams Lake as early as the 1930s with the construction of the western style Delainey’s building still found on Oliver Street today. This type of façade treatment and Williams Lake character is recently taking a comeback.”
(Question. So why did council consider the Republic of Life as the city theme?)
This is an election year.
Maybe contenders for council seats will come up with some ideas on how to revitalize the downtown. For a start they might have a look at the Imagine Williams Lake document.
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.