Beetle bucks target economy boosts

New funding targets strategies for moving forward

A boost for the local economy may be coming down the pike thanks to some new funding that targets finding ways to diversify and enhance community prosperity.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition (CCBAC) board has approved a request for $80,000 to be spent on developing community development strategies for the Central, North and South Cariboo, as well as an overall regional strategy.

Along with other local governments from around the region, Cariboo Regional District (CRD) chair Al Richmond says he is pleased with the Regional Diversification Project funding.

As a result of the new funding, CCBAC and local government representatives will meet with community and business groups in the region providing their ideas for economic diversification, he explains.

Richmond says ministry and industry involvement has been there in previous discussions with the CRD board and the region’s municipal councils, and they will continue to participate.

However, the local leaders now want to hear more thoughts from local groups identifying various related ideas, such as new sources of economic growth, he adds.

This might include a group’s input toward finding improvements, potential solutions to providing more economic stability, or other aspects of diversification.

“We need your people at the table to tell us what you need in the way of training, what you need in the way of people, and what you see for opportunities for your business….”

The CRD chair notes the South Cariboo Chamber of Commerce, local real estate boards, ranching/agriculture organizations and tourism operators will be approached for involvement, and numerous other groups will also be welcomed.

“It’s some serious work that’s got to be done and it’s not just what work is to be done here. “It’s what can the academics do with the kids at [university], and the young adults who are moving forward … in coming up with an economic diversification plan for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.”

Richmond explains these project ideas will be gathered through a series of meetings that will examine both sub-regional and larger regional opportunities.

“I think you’ll find a pattern throughout the groups of some commonalities that say ‘hey, here’s an opportunity, and maybe one that needs to be looked at’.

“Perhaps if we come up with a good plan, we can loosen up some of this money through the beetle action plan [of CCCBAC] to do some of these projects.”

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett’s role as Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development gives her an added insight and connection to the related ministries, Richmond notes.

“…[Our MLA] is quite keen on seeing this project go through and is being supportive, so we just need to see where the province sits in helping us diversify the economy.”

He adds the CRD and all the other local governments in its region have put money into CCBAC through administration fees for furthering projects like these.

“Bottom line is we need to provide jobs for people, and we need to diversify our economy.”

100 Mile House Free Press