This morning I led a webinar on Amenity Based Rural Development with colleague, Michael McLauglin from Rural Futures. There was strong attendance by a very diverse group of individuals from across BC including planners, economic development folks, First Nations representatives and researchers. If you missed the session, the BC Rural Secretariat will be posting the recorded session and notes on their site soon which you can access at: CLICK HERE
I thought the questions were excellent, and am sure there were others, so I invite individuals to pose other questions to me after the fact, and I can try to respond further. A few other thoughts I had after the call though... I tried to stress that ABRD has the potential to act as a tool for integrated rural development - as it brings in economic development strategies, planning, tourism, and infrastructure and services together with a common focus - attractiveness. We often find rural areas short on time and human resources to address all of the various issues that require attention. And, what is missing perhaps, is a broader level understanding about how they all fit together to enhance the overall quality of life of rural areas. I have seen that in regions where there is clarity on values, there is often more collaboration on initiatives with less conflict or friction from competing interests. So in that sense, it can be used as an umbrella concept to get regions identifying their amenities, learning about how they are currently being promoted (and to who), protected (by who) and valorized (by who and how much).
I encourage folks to take a close look at the handout I provided on the webinar as well, the typology of amenities in rural Canada. This tool may help to spur discussion in your region about what your potential amenities are - and how they are valued by different audiences. Look closely at them and perhaps engage in dialogue on these with others in your region.
Thanks to everyone for attending and participating, and to the team in Victoria at the BC Rural Secretariat for facilitating this session. You made it easy for us, and the strategy of sharing knowledge with rural audiences in ways that work for them is to be commended.