by Andru McCracken

2018 file photo

The final draft of McBride’s new Economic Development Action Plan was presented to council on Tuesday and the Rocky Mountain Goat Newspaper received an advance copy.

The plan outlines 15 initiatives under four themes.

Some high priority initiatives include:

Business retention and expansion, expanding value-added wood processing; tourism and recreation trail and access; community marketing and promotion; introducing a tourism tax (underway); supporting quality of life and livability; and getting better Internet access.

“If McBride and area is to expand and diversify its job base, it must foster an environment conducive to the attraction and development of human and financial capital,” the report says. The report notes that McBride can use its strengths like low land costs, affordable housing costs, proximity to Prince George, Valemount, Jasper and Edmonton, and exceptional natural environment, while correcting weaknesses that inhibit job creation.

Weaknesses identified in the report include labour supply, population loss, remoteness and the outflow of wood from the region.

Consultant Randy Sunderman has been developing the report. He said the action plan is designed to live for several years and that during that time priorities will shift.

For example, one of the priorities is attracting government services, like a district forest office.

“If you get traction on that, you move it up,” said Sunderman.

Sunderman said McBride has some positives that people don’t consider.

“In some communities the downtowns are so disorganized, there is no real core of business. McBride is well laid out, and well designed,” he said.

Sunderman said that if the community applies the action plan, good things are in store.

“McBride will be well on its way to moving in the right direction,” he said.

McBride’s Economic Development Officer Karen Dube said she is feeling positive about the plan.

“I’m very excited about the plan – it was created with input from locals and is a plan designed to move our community forward in a positive direction,” she said.