The Village of Cache Creek is holding a series of economic development strategy focus group sessions on Oct. 14 and 15, and wants to hear from the public about issues, constraints, and possibilities with an eye to growing existing businesses, attracting new investment, and enhancing opportunities for sustainable employment.
In 2016 the village applied for $32,000 in grant funding to prepare an economic development action plan. The funding was received in 2017, but the project did not go forward, and at its meeting on March 1, 2021 council had to decide whether to return the money or proceed with the plan.
Council voted unanimously to proceed, and Lions Gate Consulting has been contracted to develop the strategy. CAO Damian Couture says that the focus group sessions will be the public’s way to take part and have their say.
“If you want to have your voice heard and put in an official community document, this is how to get it done,” he says. Information and ideas received at the sessions will be collated by Lions Gate and included in their final report, which is expected at the end of the year.
There will be five in-person sessions at the Cache Creek community hall, and anyone interested is asked to pick one preferred session and one alternate session from the following:
Outdoor recreation/tourism: Oct. 14, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Downtown/commercial/retail: Oct. 14, 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Young families: Oct. 14, 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Seniors: Oct. 15, 7 to 8:30 a.m.
Public services (i.e. health, education): Oct. 15, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Couture says the sessions are primarily for residents of Cache Creek, but that the overall goal is to stimulate the economy. “Potentially we could be looking at people who are thinking of moving here, and what things they’re looking for in the area; what would bring them here?
“In outdoor recreation and tourism, we want to know what people enjoy doing in and around Cache Creek now and what they want in the future. If someone in Ashcroft is an outdoor enthusiast and is going for walks in Cache Creek, we’d be looking to hear their opinion.”
Couture says there was a pretty big discussion between staff and Lions Gate about the topics for for the focus groups, many of which arose from council or from previous studies undertaken by the village, such as the housing and seniors’ needs assessments and the downtown visioning framework. “We saw people engaging about some of these things online, so this is another forum for them. They’re things we feel need to be discussed.”
Consultants from Lions Gate will lead the individual sessions with some seed questions, but Couture says they’re really looking for participants to discuss things they like and don’t like about the area. “We want to hear where there’s room to grow and see improvement.”
He adds that parents are encouraged to bring their kids to the Young Families session on Oct. 14, which has been scheduled for after school/before dinner.
“Our intention is to have kids there. We understand that the needs of young families are important, so we’ve scheduled that one for later in the day. School-aged children need to be represented, because they’re often the ones left out. We’re talking about shaping the future, so they should have a say in it. The consultants have had other sessions with children, and they have some creative ideas.”
Couture says that if people have supporting documents — such as examples from other communities — they should bring them along. He also notes that while the sessions will be in-person, names will not be used in the final report.
Space is limited at each session, and participation is on a first-come, first-served basis. Couture is encouraging anyone interested to apply as soon as possible, as the village is looking for a representative cross-section of participants from residents, businesses, and community organizations.
An online survey is also being prepared, which will be available later this month for people who were unable to attend the in-person sessions.