First off this week I want to extend thanks to Darlene Hagen, president of the Yellowhead Pioneer Residence Society for her remarks in her letter to the editor. Ms. Hagen and the rest of her team have an unbridled passion and dedication to the Yellowhead Pioneer facility which forms the cornerstone to the success of Barriere’s existing senior care centre. Without the dedication of residents like Ms. Hagen our community would most likely have been without a seniors’ facility long ago. They have done an outstanding job maintaining the facility and should be commended for their efforts.
Looking into the future our community needs to grow and indeed will grow if we make the proper planning decisions now. That growth in population will include a number of residents that in the near future may require housing suitable for seniors no longer able to care for their own homes unassisted. The statement I made earlier around “the creation of a firm plan around building the initial level of a senior care facility” points to that need for planning for future growth. The plan would be to build in stages as the need for facilities grows and changes. Hopefully the facility could be designed so that seniors could transition from the initial or first-to-be-built level to the next with no need to move out of Barriere.
Information from Interior Health given in the past was based on the need for funding from the other orders of government. They have very definite constraints on where and how they invest the taxpayer’s money and so they should. This does not mean that the need goes away.
If we investigate other sources of funding, such as from the private sector, we have a greater level of success. Health care for seniors is a growing and very lucrative industry. We need to be looking for ways to create partnerships to build additional facilities to keep our residents here in Barriere for as long as they are able. It is not inconceivable in the future that if we are able to build a facility able to provide a higher level of care that the province will help staff such a facility. Getting public funding to build the infrastructure is a long and often unsuccessful venture. If we look to the private sector and fill a market niche everyone will benefit.
It all hinges on building a proper business case for the project to attract investors to our community. In fact this is true of all future enterprise here in Barriere. We need to adopt the attitude of we can make things work for those that come here to invest and provide services and jobs. Ours is a small rural community and the standard planning models might not work for us to go forward. We need to be innovative and aggressive in our quest for growth in our commercial and services sectors. It is time to stop remembering all the reasons why we can’t and continue looking for ways we can.
Speaking of ways we can go forward our downtown core has had a long standing problem with any sort of business expansion due in part to a lack of parking. By purchasing the HY Louie property the District acquired a considerable amount of land that can accommodate not only much needed parking areas in the downtown core but the land needed for future expansion of our fire department. Again as we grow not only in the District but in the surrounding area we will need to expand our essential safety services. While this expansion is not an immediate need the requirement to have the resources, such as land, in place is very much needed.
We are a small community with very limited resources. We need to maximize our efforts both on the governance and operational side. Promotion of our community to the world, building partnerships with other communities and levels of government and seeking out those that will come to our community to invest are the building blocks to success.
While doing this Council needs to keep a firm grip on what seems to be the ever rising cost of living here in Barriere.