Community sustainability and economic development must work well together

As The Mayor Sees It With District of Barriere Mayor Bill Humphreys

For a number of years I have constantly, and I believe consistently stated that the c. Since incorporation a number of studies have been done and through that work the District of Barriere’s Official Community Plan (OCP) was created.

There are a number of parts to the OCP. Under the heading Sustainability Definition & Goals you will find the following: The development of the District of Barriere Official Community Plan (OCP) is guided by sustainability principles and goals developed through the BE BARRIERE Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP). Sustainable development is often defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Some of you may remember the “Be Barriere” meetings that brought a number of residents and acknowledged experts together to formulate a plan that contained defined goals that would guide the growth of our community through the coming years. One of the goals was stated as Promoting Economic Development and Diversification. The description of this particular goal is given as

“The strong business and industrial base in Barriere contributes to a diverse and thriving economy. Local businesses provide for the daily needs of residents and support tourism and large parcels located along the highway serve as desirable locations for service-based enterprises.”

The statement is written based on what should happen in the future if the plan was followed and all went well. The OCP contains a number of certainly lofty goals. I believe that those of us that sat on the ICSP committee understood that what was being proposed was not something that would happen overnight.

Promoting Economic Development and Diversification is not based on a single focus plan,  like trying to get a large industrial enterprise to move to your community backed by foreign investors so that there are dozens of high paying jobs created. The cases were this works are few and far between.

Unfortunately, a number of communities do go through trying to improve the economy of their community by investing in schemes sold to their council by supposed economic development experts. It is all too easy to think that there is some magic fix.

In theory, city staff would provide the guidance and properly informed recommendations to city council that would head off these flights of fantasy. However, if the city staff is inexperienced and the council is new the stage is set for all sorts of exceptional tomfoolery.

It is possible that in a worst case scenario an unscrupulous “advisor” could manipulate a hungry for results elected official into allowing the improper use of public funds to finance the “advisor’s” particular money making scheme as fraudulent as it may be. As farfetched as this may seem they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In a proper economic development plan it is recognized that each local area has a business profile with unique attributes and limitations. These need to be defined, possibly refined, and then marketed to entrepreneurs looking for a new location for their business. Building a community business profile is a complicated process. It takes time and a large amount of effort. Both council and staff have to work to bring the profile together.

This week there was a seminar held in Barriere on land development and marketing as it relates to municipal government. The information presented will guide council and District staff on how to develop a proper marketing plan and prospectus for our District owned industrial and commercial land. This is vitally important for the success of our endeavours. We need to present to investors a well thought out plan that will provide for the success of their investment while at the same time protecting the assets of the public.

In any business, success depends on recognizing good advice and following it. Running a community is no different. Skilled and knowledgeable resources are the key to the sustainability of our community.

As is the case with most small communities, we cannot afford costly missteps that could eat up our limited resources. Bad advice produces bad results and is no less expensive in the end.