A two-year process designed to find ways to reinvigorate the economy in the Nakusp region culminated in a public feedback session at the Nakusp Auditorium on Feb. 7.
Nakusp and Area Development Board president Laurie Page led a presentation that laid out findings of the process and resulting actions. She also garnered feedback from the audience, which numbered well over 100.
As a result of the process, the development board is working on several key initiatives. They include:
Centralized tourism marketing: “Tourism marketing needs to be coordinated bay a single organization,” Page told the audience. “That’s project number one.” There is significant marketing overlap both locally and regionally. Coordinating the effort was identified as a key direction. She said throughout the process, much feedback was received on this lack of a coordinated effort. Page heard: “If people knew about Nakusp, they’d want to live here and bring their incomes with them.”
Creating a centralized business directory: Page said the Nakusp and Area Development Board was already in the process hiring a contractor to undertake this project. Although she’s a long-time resident, Page said she often has trouble finding niche service providers locally, and hoped the directory would help. “Let’s make it easy to find information,” Page said. “Let’s make it easy for people to find local people.” The directory would be available online and in print.
The local businesses directory was in line with another key direction of the the economic vision study: stopping leaks. A consultant that worked on one of the sessions identified keeping money within the community as a key to success.
Creating an outdoor recreation inventory: “Where are the three places you could cross-country ski?” Page
asked. Currently, things like hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, ski touring and other outdoor recreation activities are not well coordinated; if someone asked you about good snowmobiling, would you know what to recommend? A focus group at the meeting agreed with this direction. It is hoped this directory would promote all-season tourism activity, as well as help entice lifestyle migrants into the community.
Page acknowledge there had been some concern about conflicting outdoor recreation uses – like motorized and non-motorized users on the same trail, but she said the group felt an inventory would help the situation, and she said there was enough room in the area for everyone if we worked in the spirit of cooperation.
Business retention and expansion survey: The NADB plans to conduct this survey in the near term. Page noted the importance of keeping existing businesses here, as they are often the generators of new businesses.
Wood waste and agriculture: Participants also heard of opportunities for expanding local agriculture or exploring opportunities for creating wood waste projects.
If you read through the reports generated during the two-year process, listen to suggestions from the audience at the Feb. 7 meeting, or read the Arrow Lakes Economic Vision 2025, it’s clear there’s no shortage of ideas and suggestions. After the audience was divided up into small working groups that focused on topics like forestry, tourism, business and agriculture, one final input session was held. The audience members suggestions were varied. Some stressed improving infrastructure was key.
Others suggested agriculture initiatives.
Page asked everyone to take the next step and envision who would be doing the work behind the suggestion.
In an interview, Page was encouraged by the turnout and also told residents how they could get involved: “People are continuing to be really engaged,” she told the Arrow Lakes News. “People can join committees on the Nakusp and Area Development Board. They don’t have to be involved at the level of doing everything. They can slice something off, and they can come and talk to me,” she said, adding there were opportunities to get involved with the Nakusp Chamber of Commerce as well.
The study was funded in part by the Columbia Basin Trust. Nakusp-based Community Liaison Linda Lafleur said the process and the big turnouts at meetings like this one were encouraging. “It is a sign that residents of Nakusp of area are keen to play a part in ensuring the sustainability of their community,” she said. “Maybe people will see that there’s an opportunity for them to volunteer in a way that maybe they haven’t thought of in the past.” She was encouraged by the sector-by-sector breakdown of the sessions, and the expertise and experience volunteers contributed to them. “You just never know when you bring people together one sector’s discussion will take you.”