A lower-than-expected turnout at the town hall meeting this past weekend left many feeling “disappointed.”
Residents were invited to voice concerns and express ideas the region could benefit from. The CRD and District of 100 Mile House were there to listen to these ideas and thoughts from the residents of the area concerning the local economy and the impact from previous fires, the pine beetles epidemic, agricultural, ranching and tourism changes and more recently, the mill curtailment.
“It was a really well-intentioned, well-organized meeting,” said Margo Wagner, chair of the Cariboo Regional District. “I think the turnout was really disappointing.”
On-site, were professionals in the mill industry, booths offering available services and a key speaker, Mark DeVolder, a change specialist.
“The objective was covered,” said Mark DeVolder, a change specialist. “My presentation, in particular, was geared to those who lost their jobs and are like ‘now what.’ A lot of the people who were there were the support staff, politicians and others alike. It wasn’t the audience I was geared up for.”
Wagner said that to her understanding, the meeting was set for a Saturday because that is the response that was provided to the district.
“I think the district and Anny Horton, did their best to accommodate what they were being asked to provide and unfortunately for whatever reason, it wasn’t taken advantage of,” said Wagner.
Despite this, Wagner said that the people who did go were able to take something away, hopefully.
“It’s like a double-edged sword,” said Wagner. “If we waited to do something like this until the workers were not actually working, well it probably would have been “we waited too long,” and so we did it sooner because there was a suggestion that people were looking for this kind of event and we didn’t get a response.”
Mayor Mitch Campsall said there was a lot of positives to the meeting, regardless of the turnout.
“It’s going to be a struggle for the next year or two, but we will be better from it,” said Campsall.
The better part of the day focused on various speeches from industry professionals and community dignitaries, such as MLA Donna Barnett and Coun. Maureen Pinkney. DeVolder said a lot of good things had to be said during the speeches but one thing was missed.
“I didn’t hear anything about ‘this is what we are going to do’ or ‘this is what we are doing to help the community move forward’,” said DeVolder. “The message shouldn’t be that the town will get through this but that this is a wake-up call and this is what’s going to be done. That being said, I am an outsider and all I can give is how it struck me. There is a real vision there for going above and beyond for what would normally be done in these kinds of situations.”
DeVolder said the meeting was very innovative to offer a keynote speaker but also offering tools to help individuals navigate the transition.
“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly the help that workers are looking for in a small community,” said Wagner. “I don’t know if there is an easy fix for this.”