Regional web page cited in proposed grant

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County and the Town of High Prairie may apply for a grant to help the two municipalities develop a web page to promote the region to attract newcomers.

At its regular meeting July 26, Big Lakes council approved a motion to jointly apply for a grant from the Northern and Regional Economic Development (NRED) program for the second intake to support the local project estimated at $40,000.

The request from Big Lakes council will be forwarded to High Prairie council.

Approved applicants are eligible to receive from $20,000-$200,000 to support eligible projects, says Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.

Joussard Councillor Richard Mifflin says a web page would be valuable to attract new workers and residents to the region.

“It is absolutely critical that we develop a web page with the Town of High Prairie to promote our region.”

Hawken says the NRED program provides up to 50 per cent of total eligible project costs.

A joint application submitted last December was denied, he says.

“On July 7, 2023, administration received confirmation that the joint application between Big Lakes County and the Town of High Prairie for a one-stop web page was not successful,” Hawken says.

Both municipalities plan to build a web page to promote businesses, services and communities in the region.

“The NRED program allows us to create a larger scale, more professional product that has a higher likelihood of someone or a company willing to do the project at a higher price,” Hawken says.

He says the plan is to create the web page with $20,000 from the province and $10,000 each from Big Lakes and High Prairie.

“This would allow the project to start and be completed by a professional rather than done piece by piece by both outside consultants and in-house staff.”

He says the web page would be posted on the websites of Big Lakes and the Town of High Prairie.

It could also be a simple link to give out to employers throughout the region to help recruit workers.

A web page would respond to a survey conducted last year.

“One of the biggest complaints administration has heard is that information regarding various services such as food options, recreational services, utility companies and services, and daycare are not easily accessible due to businesses not being online or information being spread throughout multiple channels, businesses or municipalities,” Hawken says.

About 150 people responded to a survey that asked people what information they look for when they move to a new community, he says.

He says the grant is not a sure thing.

“There’ is no guarantee the second application will be successful which would create a longer delay in the creation of a web page,” Hawken says.

No immediate deadlines for application and timelines have been set, he notes.

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