There was no shortage of Clearwater residents wanting to participate with him in putting together a community economic development plan, according to Don Manson.
The University of Northern British Columbia researcher was peaking at last Wednesday’s public forum held to present the final draft before completion of District of Clearwater’s new official community plan as well as the community economic development plan he did.
It was a member of one of the seniors groups that gave him the plan’s title of A Community for People of All Ages and Stages of Life, he said.
“That kind of surprised me a little bit,” said Manson. “I kind of expected them to be mostly interested in seniors’ issues. Instead, they were interested in the community as a whole. That was kind of typical.”
The UNBC researcher used about 120 interviews to collect information for the plan.
“We don’t make stuff up,” he said. “This is a reflection of your community, not Don Manson or anyone else.”
He said people had many things about what they liked about the community but had few concrete ideas about what needed to be done.
At one point the person who was taking dictation during the interviews said it appeared he had to drag the information out of some.
Out of that experience Manson came to the conclusion that Clearwater and area’s best asset is Clearwater and area.
“It’s the whole package,” he explained. “You’ve got to think of Clearwater as the hub of the North Thompson Valley, and think of the North Thompson Valley as one economic unit.”
With limited resources, local residents need to get the maximum benefit from their investments.
“You need to get $3 benefit from every $1 spent,” he said.
Manson gave as an example developing a recruitment and retention package for professionals.
Such a package would be useful for the ongoing doctor recruitment campaign, but also could be used for businesspeople looking at setting up shop here or tradespeople passing through.
“You never want to say, ‘Just give me a few days and I’ll research that for you,'” he said. “Instead it should be, ‘What’s your email address. I’ll send it to you.'”
“Start now,” he advised. “There’s the quick and the dead among resource communities. You need to be able to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Communities that don’t have services, that don’t have infrastructure, are already lost.
“We’ve had a lot of communities that thought they’d won the lottery when an oil well or mine opened, and then been overwhelmed.”