Photo: Village of Fruitvale

Fruitvale looks at re-branding village image

Council is applying for rural dividend grant to begin the work

Fruitvale council has an interesting prospect for the home front, that being an image makeover to pay homage to the village’s roots.

“Fruitvale was developed because of the Nelson and Fort Shepherd Railway and following that, the lumber industry,” Mayor Steve Morissette began. “We would like future plans to reflect our history and showcase the natural beauty of our valley.”

Earlier this summer, municipal leaders directed staff to apply for a $125,000 grant through the BC Rural Dividend Program to help fund the “Village of Fruitvale Re-Branding Strategy Project.”

“Council has a number of potential initiatives at the discussion stage, things like a downtown revitalization, a refresh of the community hall, a return to a more natural and user friendly Creekside Park, and a mixed housing development on the old Beaver Valley Middle School site,” Morissette told the Trail Times.

“We would like to have a general theme that defines who we are and where we came from, to tie these initiatives together into a cohesive plan,” he said. “There have been a few different ideas for our brand over the years, but never anything that really related to Fruitvale’s origin.”

The rural dividend program provides $25 million annually to assist British Columbia’s rural communities, with populations of less than 25,000, to bolster and diversify their economies.

Further, this pot of provincial funding aims to strengthen the stability of smaller towns through initiatives that embrace the principles of economic development, such as sustainability, self-reliance and engagement of citizenry.

“We are the Beaver Valley and we have beautiful Beaver Creek running through town with little access to it, even our Creekside Park has a retaining wall and fence blocking access to the creek,” Morissette said.

“We’d like to change this so people can more easily enjoy our creek. This is an example of how we’d like to better focus on the natural amenities we have,” he said.

“A re-branding will give us and future councils a theme to follow with local developments.”

Step one of the project will be to develop a blueprint which will look at goals that come to light through community engagement, a review of municipal assets, and the current village identity, explained Kelli Tuttle, chief financial officer for Fruitvale.

“Gaps between the community goals and the village’s current status will be identified and a playbook for moving forward will be developed,” she said. “Community engagement will be included in the process as an important variable in moving forward.”

Brand refinement will be tackled in step two as well as the mobilization of strategies identified in the first round, which may include façade improvements, infrastructure, or a community improvement plan, Tuttle added.

“The process will include public brainstorm forums and consultation with important stakeholders from the business community to ensure the community owns the plan.”

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