User groups and individuals are being invited to work with the Bouchie-Milburn Community Planning Team, as it looks to prioritize and move forward goals that have been built by the community, for the community.
The Bouchie-Milburn Community Planning Team, which includes Leslie Abbott-Holland, Susan Phillips, Peggy Smith, Heloise Dixon-Warren, Elaine Ross, Monika Roberts and project co-ordinator Susan MacNeill, is asking for the Bouchie Lake-Milburn Lake community’s help moving the goals of the Bouchie-Milburn Community Plan forward over the next six months.
They are hoping to hold their first community meeting May 13. The Community Planning Team has sent out emails to people in the community they think might be interested in participating, and they made a point of contacting individual community members, as well as local user groups.
“We want all community members to feel welcome,” said MacNeill.
The first steps in moving forward will be getting people’s input through Facebook, email and telephone to find out what they want to focus on, explained Leslie Abbott-Holland, one of the founding members.
The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is moving forward with a Bouchie Lake Neighbourhood Plan, and the Bouchie-Milburn Community Planning Team wants to augment that on a grassroots level.
“We’re adding onto what the CRD is doing,” said Abbott-Holland.
In May, the Community Planning Team will work with the community to gather data and prioritize goals and will also start to build volunteer teams that can work on specific areas of the plan.
“In order to move that forward, we need a coalition of volunteers,” said MacNeill. “We’ll see which groups and which people would like to move forward with which priorities. We’ve always believed this is the model we’d like to follow, and many people make light work. In the short window of time we have, we are trying to develop core teams that are willing to move these aspects forward.”
“I think that’s really important, to get volunteers and these user groups out to help get these things in motion because it’s a lot of work for a core group,” added Abbott-Holland.
The Community Planning Team is reaching out to the community to help advance the identified top three to five priorities from the two previous Cariboo Regional District Bouchie-Milburn Neighbourhood Surveys and the Bouchie-Milburn Facebook survey that have been done. These surveys started in 2017, and some of the top priorities identified were communication and cell service (which is already being addressed by the CRD), safety, lake health and water quality protection, fire protection and FireSmart, supporting community facilities and events, and trails and green spaces.
“From that, that gives us a jumping-off point,” said MacNeill.
MacNeill says they want to connect with people one-on-one as much as possible, and with the current social distancing protocols and government directives around COVID-19, that may mean having two or three meetings in the same day to keep numbers low, holding a socially distant parking lot tailgate party, or using technology in new ways, such as conducting meetings through Skype, FaceTime or teleconference calling.
“It’s all about reaching out to the community in a way the community can engage in,” she said, noting they will also ensure all meeting minutes will be distributed to participants’ email addresses and posted on the Facebook page, and hard copies will be available at Rocky’s General Store and the Bouchie Lake Country Store to ensure everyone involved has the opportunity to review information and provide feedback and input.
The funding to move this project forward has come from the Province of British Columbia under the B.C. Rural Dividend Fund, and there is a short time frame from May to October 2020 to advance their priorities.
“A well-developed plan does three essential things,” MacNeill says in a letter inviting individuals and user groups to participate in the planning. “It provides a vision of what you would like your community to look like, sets out clear goals to achieve that vision, and gives you an action plan to reach those goals. The plan, when completed, will be built in Bouchie-Milburn for Bouchie-Milburn.”
Groups and individuals who would like to participate in the first meeting in May have been asked to reply by April 30, and then they will decide the best way to connect while complying with public health directives around social distancing.
“We have a very strong community,” said Abbott-Holland. “People are wanting to help do things.”
MacNeill says people have already been reaching out, wanting more information and wanting to participate.
For more information about the Bouchie-Milburn Community Planning Team, contact co-ordinator Susan MacNeill at 250-991-9664 or BMCommunityPlan@gmail.com. Information is also being provided through the Bouchie-Milburn Community Plan Facebook page.
“There is a lot of uncertainty with so many things in the world right now; our first concern is with the health and safety of our communities,” says MacNeill.
“We will be in full compliance with all government directives, as we move this project forward together given the current challenges.”