Cache Creek Village office, date unknown. (Photo credit: Wendy Coomber)

Cache Creek moving forward with economic development action plan

Council reviewed the plan and its recommendations at their Feb. 7 meeting

Notes from the Cache Creek council meeting of Feb. 7, 2022.

Economic Development Action Plan

Representatives from Lions Gate Consulting made a presentation about the village’s Economic Development Action Plan, which can be viewed at Work on the plan started in September 2021, and included meetings with stakeholders, a community survey with more than 200 responses, and a planning workshop.

The plan notes several challenges facing Cache Creek, including the high average age of residents, lack of housing, scarcity of some local services, the need to attract working families, and a narrow economic base dominated by services. It took into account previous planning documents, such as the Official Community Plan (2013), the Age-Friendly Plan (2018), the Seniors’ Housing Needs Assessment (2019), and the Downtown Vision Plan (2019).

The report noted that “The major economic development challenge for Cache Creek is to overcome a prevailing sense of vulnerability after years of setbacks brought about by a series of natural disasters and lacklustre economic performance. Rebuilding community spirit and a sense of purpose will be critical to empowering the community in the years ahead.” A way to address this would be to focus on doable projects that gradually add a foundation that will bring positivity.

Five goals identified were population growth; a revitalized downtown; housing diversity; sustainable jobs; and economic diversification. Strategies include remediating brownfields (former industrial sites such as gas stations) and fixing the downtown (which was identified as the biggest challenge); marketing the community; developing housing and community-owned broadband; and expanding primary and secondary health care services.

After the presentation, Mayor Santo Talarico noted that the process of incorporating items mentioned in the plan has already started. “It will play a big role in how we move forward in 2022 and 2023. It’s already having an impact.” Coun. Wendy Coomber said “This is excellent. It gives me hope, much more than any economic development study that we’ve had done in the past has. This looks so doable to me, and I’m really looking forward to taking it to the community and getting to work on it.”

Grant writer

The village’s application to Northern Development Initiative Trust for a grant writer has been successful, and the position has been posted. Talarico added that NDIT’s Business Façade Improvement Program has now been expanded to include improvements to patios.

Zoning amendment

Council gave first reading to Bylaw No. 6-002, Zoning Amendment, 2022. It concerns the property at #5–1064 Trans-Canada Highway now occupied by Club Cannabis, which needs a site-specific bylaw amendment to allow retail cannabis sales at that location in order to comply with the village’s current zoning bylaw.

The next step in the process will be a public hearing, to be held at the beginning of the Feb. 22, 2022 regular meeting of council.

Community Hall

Coun. Sue Peters noted that the website had a banner asking for input on the uses of the community hall, and asked for more information. Couture replied that part of the strategic plan is rewriting the policy about recreational facilities, and said that members of the public can provide feedback about what they would like to see in terms of the policy, to make facilities such as the community hall more attractive for users.

Rodeo ground support

In response to a letter from Bonaparte First Nation, council voted to write a letter of support in principle for BFN as they attempt to find funding to design and construct a professional rodeo ground within their territory.

Landfill report

Coomber said that the Campbell Hill landfill has temporary permission to pump biosolids into the Cache Creek landfill’s leachate evaporation ponds. The permission is in effect until June 2023. She also reported that the landfill was impacted in the fourth quarter by highway closures, and that the landfill has not been asked to take any agricultural waste from the floods.

Emergency planning

Peters said that staff were already preparing for flood season, knowing that the village needs to be proactive rather than reactive. The village is now seeking information from anyone who has equipment or services that could be used by the village, during emergencies and at other times, so that a call-out list can be compiled.

The next meeting of Cache Creek council will be on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m., and will be preceded by a public hearing.

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