Container houses, tiny homes, livable communities with work and home life intermingled. It sounds like a promotion for a new master-planned community elsewhere. It is, in fact, an idea milling about Canal Flats right now as the village looks to rebrand itself for the future.
The concept, as explained by Chris Fields, economic development officer for the village, would be to draw in permanent residents that will add to the entrepreneurial spirit of the community, and increase the tax base.
He envisions, ‘what if you could retire 10 years earlier, what if you could buy a house at 25, not 35, what if there was enough money left in your pocket for entrepreneurial vision’: “The key there is to open up policy and create enabling framework for a series of innovative housing,” he explained.
His target goal would be a 30 per cent increase in full-time resident population, from the under 700 it sits now, according to the 2016 census, to a potential 1,000 residents.
“How do we go about doing that? To me, the vision is: Canal Flats is a B.C. community for B.C. workers and families. It serves as a family-friendly location within the Columbia Valley where people live and work. So working families, a younger working population, entrepreneurs, early retirees, really becomes the focus.”
A focus on remaining a working town for working families draws on Canal Flat’s assets, notably the last large block employment lands in the Columbia Valley, explained Mr. Fields.
“The other reason is we think a real way to differentiate Canal Flats is to create lifestyle-priced housing. Let’s be innovative with housing,” he said, adding this is not to discourage tourism and seasonal residents because those are important components of Canal Flats too.
Between opening up policy and creating a framework for “innovative housing,” there is an opportunity to attract people who will move to and contribute to the village life, and tax base, he elaborated.
Mr. Fields was in town last week to walk through the economic development plan and to work to get as many people on board with a shared vision for the future as possible, which is “we want to be more self-sustaining, we want to grow more local jobs.”
Mr. Fields made the point that while Canal Flats could market itself as a community open to new building opportunities and entrepreneurial ideas, it does not mean the village needs to accept any development that comes along the way.
“You have standards and you plan these things, and you can still say ‘no,’ if it’s something that doesn’t meet your vision,” he explained.
For residents who missed the presentation or who want to connect with Mr. Fields, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.