Members of the Friends of Bouchie-Milburn Society meet in June. The society has received a $10,000 grant from the provincial government to support the creation of a Community Development Plan. Photo submitted by Friends of Bouchie-Milburn Society/Facebook

Friends of Bouchie-Milburn Society receives $10,000 grant

Funds will aid with creation of community development plan for Bouchie Lake, Milburn Lake area

Lindsay Chung

Observer Reporter

The Friends of Bouchie-Milburn Society (FoBM) has received a $10,000 grant from the Province of British Columbia to support the Bouchie-Milburn Community Planning Team (CPT) with the creation of a Community Development Plan for Bouchie-Milburn.

The grant received is under the BC Rural Dividend Fund “Project Development” funding stream, which the FoBM applied for in July.

The CPT is composed of volunteers and first met in April.

“We are trying to involve people in the CPT, people in the community at large and also from other community groups, such as the fire department, the school and the riding club,” said Heloise Dixon-Warren from the FoBM.

In June, the group adopted a mission statement “to bring Bouchie-Milburn community residents together as involved members of the Community Planning Team. The team will have a collaborative voice in the planning, organizing and implementing of any, and all, community development and initiatives, that either promote or hinder the growth of our immediate area. This grassroots team will work together to promote growth, inclusion, transparency and non-partisan community involvement.”

The goal is that the community planning process be collaborative, inclusive, community-led and community-built, according to a press release from the FoBM.

“It will build capacity in our community in that it will discuss, review and address issues such as demographics, resident retention, quality of life, safety, recreation, infrastructure and facility improvements, housing, lake health and access, fire protection, community emergency services and evacuation, economic development, heritage, fire smarting, beautification, trails and green spaces, taxation, government services and roads and transportation,” states the release.

The FoBM hopes the plan will provide a vision of what community members would like their community to look like, set clear goals to achieve the vision, and develop an action plan to reach those goals.

“There are all these different groups doing things with visions and goals, but there is no place where they are all captured in one place,” said Heloise Dixon-Warren from FoBM. “What we are trying to do is develop a Community Development Plan.

“The first thing you have to figure out is exactly where Milburn-Bouchie Lake is because unlike a city, we don’t have boundaries.”

Through this community development planning process, the community will decide where those boundaries are, explained Dixon-Warren.

“Once the geographical area is established, we will do some community engagement to find out what the priorities are,” she said.

The FoBM has had an online Facebook poll for the past two years where people vote on priorities, and Dixon-Warren says safety is the No. 1 priority identified in that poll.

“The intention is to create some vision, some goals and some action items,” says Dixon-Warren. “Through that, the community will hopefully connect more with their community and hopefully get more volunteers. Once you have a plan that’s been signed off by the community, you might have more of an ear with government.”

Dixon-Warren says the Community Development Plan process will involve reaching out and asking the community what its priorities are and coming up with the priorities that will be focused on in the plan.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said.

Dixon-Warren says some of the grant money will go towards hiring a facilitator who will be tasked with work such as creating polls in partnership with the volunteers.

Dixon-Warren says they have about a year to do the work, as the plan must be completed by the end of 2019.

Dixon-Warren says the next step will probably be to convene a meeting of the CPT and then do a Request for Proposals to find a facilitator.

“Hopefully, it’s going to provide us with something that doesn’t just sit on a shelf,” said Dixon-Warren.

“That’s why I think we need to have community buy-in. That’s why that’s so important. I think that will be our job and the job of the CPT.”

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