(Left to right) Moderator Jennifer Kinneman facilitates a discussion on how to define Mission with retired planner Terry Lyster

(Left to right) Moderator Jennifer Kinneman facilitates a discussion on how to define Mission with retired planner Terry Lyster

What is Mission’s story?

Workshop encourages discussion on how to define and brand the community

“I’m not allowed to be me, unless you’re allowed to be you,” said Bob Rennie, principal of Rennie Marketing Systems and keynote speaker at the Defining Mission seminar and workshop Thursday night.

That statement is an important life lesson as well as a key to branding this community.

“Celebrate your difference,” he noted. “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.”

Rennie spoke to about 60 members of the community about his experience in branding, and suggested Mission should to re-evaluate its positioning statements.

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.

“You have to get it down to one message.”

Transit, downtown development, waterfront development, and how to engage families in the community were also discussed with panel members 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.

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, and encouraged the community to build something people can walk or cycle to, like a post secondary institution or a full service supermarket.

“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.

“There was a vitality in the streets today that I have not previously seen,” he noted.

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 amain@northfraser.org.