CL community groups work diligently to boost community year-round

Kate Lee
By Kate Lee
November 25th, 2013

Since it got its start in March this year, the Christina Gateway Community Development Association (CGCDA) has been propelling the community forward.

Although the association has only been incorporated for a few months, they have accomplished much, thanks to their broad voice that represents every sector of the community.

“Gateway (CGDCA) is what has bought all the non-profits together at Christina Lake,” said Grace McGregor, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Area C Director.

This is a critical time in community economic development. Even though Christina Lake gets up to 8,000 people in the summer months, they don’t have a high enough population to sustain a growing community year round.

CGCDA coordinator Sandy Mark says the main problem is a succession and business retention issue that all of the Boundary area as well as the whole of society where a huge shift in people retiring in the near future is being expected.

McGregor is the driving force behind the CGCDA, which aims to support existing local business and create more year-long jobs that will attract younger families to the lake in order to keep the community alive.

However, McGregor credits the tireless effort of CGDCA coordinator, Sandy Mark and the team made up of members of the community and non-profits as the lack of big industry at the lake makes it difficult to support community and pay for taxation.

“We know without increasing the business in the community, without attracting young people with families, this community is in jeopardy as a lot of rural communities are. It is critical we take action for our community economic development at this time,” said Mark.

Strategies like improved online marketing capacity, assisting retail businesses, creating incentive for local and international investors, upgrading the current internet bandwidth scope and working with existing community organizations to create education are at different stages of operation and planning.

CGCDA found very few local businesses were very active online so they have implemented an outreach program for the 100 or so existing businesses. This assesses their digital capacity and assists them to improve their skills and connect with popular social media tools like Trip Advisor, Facebook and Twitter.

They also help to provide support for business owners who wish to sell, helping them to prepare and implement necessary steps in order to create an attractive business opportunity for prospective buyers.

Venture Capital

Another initiative is the Christina Lake Community Venture Capital Association (CLCVCA) which is the first of its kind to be registered in BC although it is already in effect in rural communities throughout Canada. 

The new association would allow people in Christina Lake to invest some of their investment money back into the community in the near future.

Working alongside existing organizations is part of CGCDA’s plan and will partner with the Boundary Women’s Centre and run workshops for women who want to start their own business early next year.

They are also currently in works with several partners including Columbia Basin Trust Broadband Corporation to introduce fibre optics into the area to increase the current bandwidth to allow better internet usage.

Community support is already coming through with most businesses saying they would like more reliable bandwidth.

The aim of the upgrade is to help attract more e-businesses that could bring potential year-round businesses to the lake. It also hopes to attract more nomadic businesses where individuals choose the community they would like to live in and can work anywhere.

“We want to be one of those ‘anywheres,’” said Mark. “A really good ‘anywhere,’ where we can offer a beautiful location, wonderful community, great amenities and bandwidth.”

Categories: General

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