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voices or opinions. Consultants can have their place, but their interpretation of the community, and of what was successful elsewhere, is limited and structured by their own ideology, by their shallow insight into the community and by their need to sell ideas to and make their mark on local governments.

CASE STORY: LEARNING FROM NELSON In British Columbia, we found an interesting example of how strategy development inspiration moved north, from Nelson, to Revelstoke, to Smithers. We have previously discussed how Revelstoke’s initiative to revitalize its downtown starting in the 1980s gave the community unexpected opportunities to explore not only economic diversification but also to attract a dynamic young demographic and, in general, new vibrancy. This was not, however, an easy step to take. There had been several attempts to revitalize the downtown, including, for example, an attempt to promote an “alpine” theme (copied not from the Alps but a Washington State town) and which was short-lived and not successful. Its final and well-known attempt at revitalizing the downtown core was inspired by the not-so-distant town of Nelson, further south. Nelson, on Kootenay Lake, but connected to the Columbia river, hence the US and the Pacific Coast, struck it rich in the late 19th century when a mining boom (silver first) transformed the town quickly from a shacks and rags place to a community filled with well built and elegantly designed homes. The American influence was a bit too big for Canadian authorities -abundant American prospectors, claims, investors, navigators- so they encouraged immigration and resettlement as ways of Canadianizing the place. They also promoted linkages with Revelstoke and Vancouver, but the natural course of the river and the minerals was still south, where Spokane (Washington) flourished under the aegis of Canadian mining and timber wealth. When the mining booms seemed over after World War II, and Americans came up with ideas for hydro- electricity projects, in effect rendering the southward river traffic nearly impossible. Canadian authorities were not only pleased with the prospect of income, but also saw it as the closing chapter of a history of reorientation of the region, from north- south to west- east (via railroads and highways, via trade and immigration barriers). Nelson meanwhile was left with an unusually rich stock of interesting old architecture, a large downtown, a picturesque location, and low housing prices. In the 1970’s, alternative lifestyles and draft dodgers discovered Nelson outdoors lovers, pot lovers, art enthusiasts, yoga practitioners

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Boom and Bust: a guide

Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

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