Find the strengths of Mission and celebrate its differences, said Bob Rennie, principal of Rennie Marketing Systems, who was the keynote speaker at the Defining Mission seminar and workshop last Thursday night.
Organizers of the event are reviewing the ideas from the panel discussion and suggestions from the workshops this week, and will be forming a committee to decide the next steps, said Allan Main, executive director of Community Futures North Fraser, who will be taking the lead on the project.
“It will be a committee of the willing,” said Main, who isn’t putting a limit on the number of committee members yet. “We want to allow whoever wants to participate to be a part of it.”
The committee will organize the information gathered and develop a report and proposals, Main explained. “I suspect there might be a few projects that come out of it. Maybe some things people want to see aren’t government led.”
“A lot of people believe we should be shouting what makes Mission great from the rooftops,” said Michael Boronowski, Mission’s manager of civic engagement and corporate initiatives. “People recognize change is coming and want to do the best job they can with it instead of hiding from it.”
Community participants identified potential energy centres and shared their thoughts on Mission’s strength and weaknesses.
“Participation was excellent,” said Boronowski.
Prior to the workshops last week, Rennie spoke about his experience in branding and encouraged Mission to focus on one message.
On the district’s website Mission is known as Mission on the Fraser, but as you’re entering Mission from other communities, the welcome sign states Mission is the proud sister city of Oyama in Japan, he explained.
“You have amazing underlying assets. Pay attention to your assets,” he said. “We all survive on similarities, but in the end, you will be known for your differences. Find your strength and work on it. Find your weakness and make it your strength.”
The panel group discussion with Gordon Price, a former Vancouver city councillor and director of the city program at SFU; Craig Toews, executive director of campus planning for UFV, and Terry Lyster, a retired municipal planner, offered further tips on transit, downtown and waterfront developments, and how to engage young families.
The West Coast Express could be a game changer in bringing people into Mission, Price suggested.
“Mission is not that far away from Vancouver,” said Price, adding many people think it’s far away because many don’t know where it is or what it’s a part of.
He advised residents to let go of the idea that shoppers don’t come downtown because of the lack of parking.
“You have to provide for the car, but if you only provide for the car, you will kill the city,” said Price, noting it’s people, not cars, that should be the focus.
“If you have a quaint village, people will walk for three blocks to get their ice cream,” added Rennie. “It’s better to have four blocks of energy than eight blocks of mediocracy.”
Lyster agreed the downtown is a vital part of a community’s identity and noted the changes in the last five to 10 years in the area have been positive ones.
Toews encouraged Mission to create an environment to stimulate young people to keep them in the community.
“Most organizations are struggling with hot to remain relevant to the next generation,” said Toews, who suggested cultural events, like high tech facilities.
UFV has been working with the district and is “extremely interested in moving downtown,” Toews added.
The event was sponsored by Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures North Fraser, Mission Community Services Society, the District of Mission, and Mission Record.
The next step in the process to develop a brand identity is to form a committee and create a plan. Anyone interested in being a part of the project can contact Allan Main at 604-826-6252 or e-mail email@example.com.