The District of Invermere (DOI), together with the Shuswap Indian Band (SIB), has hired Pete Bourke as the program facilitator to continue the work accomplished throughout the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI).
Between 2019 and 2021, the DOI and SIB were among nine partnerships across Canada facilitated by the Council for Advancement of Native Development Officers and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to strengthen community relationships.
“The initiative was fabulous,” DOI Mayor Al Miller said. “It was a great way for our two communities to be able to work together economically and socially.”
Miller said the two communities learned a lot about each other’s governance and people. Communities that participate in the CEDI program benefit from facilitated workshops, best practices, study tours, and peer mentorship. The assistance helps build capacity for joint economic development planning, build and strengthen inter-community relationships, and improve the quality of life for all residents.
When the program ended, both the DOI and SIB felt it was necessary to find someone to pick up where the previous facilitator left off. “We wanted to get together and work on more initiatives,” Miller said. “Going forward, we felt that for this program to work successfully, we needed to continue with a facilitator.”
When the DOI and SIB found out the original facilitator couldn’t continue, that’s when they put together a request for proposal. The contracted position is one year in length with an option for renewal. Among several candidates, Bourke’s proposal stood out. “I believe Pete Bourke is going to be a tremendous facilitator,” Millier said.
Bourke wants to be clear about his role. Before he submitted his proposal for the contract, he was (and still remains) the executive director of the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC). “I want to be really clear, this contract is outside of the chamber’s scope but supported by the chamber to help these two great communities,” Bourke said.
Bourke will help the DOI and SIB execute the plans hatched during the CEDI program in his new job.
The capstone project to come out of the initiative was the initiation of a joint active transportation network route. In simpler terms, the DOI and SIB have agreed to connect the two communities with a pedestrian bridge across the Columbia River north of the Althalmer bridge.
Another key outcome of CEDI was the signing this past fall of a friendship agreement between the DOI and SIB to build upon the existing community-to-community relationship.
“The friendship agreement is what a friendship is, that is, built on trust, respect and recognition,” said SIB chief Barb Cote in fall dated press release.
The bridge is still in its planning process. Urban Systems, an engineering firm that has done work for both the DOI and SIB on separate occasions, have presented various drawings with associated costing. “But we still need to bring in the relevant ministries for approval,” Miller said.
Miller sees a new bridge across the river as a symbolic crossing. How soon can we expect to see construction start? “It’s a five-year project,” Miller said. “It will take time to decide on a plan and then find the funding.” Funding for the pedestrian bridge will, for the most part, come from federal and provincial grants and local fundraising. “We don’t want to burden our taxpayers with any further taxes,” Miller said.
“Being able to stand in service in this role is incredibly rewarding,” Bourke said. “I have great respect and admiration for both communities, and it’s an honour to be selected to do this work. I am grateful for the support of the chamber board.”
Check out future issues for a full story on chief Barb Cote thoughts on the partnership.
James Rose, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Columbia Valley Pioneer