Jessica Rasmussen is the new Downtown Activities and Events Coordinator for the District of Fort St. James.

Breathing life into downtown

A night market in August is aimed at invigorating small business in the area.

During the long, hot days of summer, downtown can be a quiet place. Once the stores have closed for the day and people have headed home to stay cool indoors or conversely, to enjoy the evening sunshine on the beaches of Stuart Lake or backyard lawns, downtown can be downright silent.

But one night in August may have a livelier atmosphere if the new Downtown Activities and Events Coordinator has anything to say about it.

Jessica Rasmussen has been hired on for a part time position with the District of Fort St. James as part of an economic development initiative to help support local businesses.

“I needed help,” said Emily Colombo, economic development officer for the District of Fort St. James, “It’s just too much to do with just one person in the office.”

Rasmussen’s position is only part time until the end of August, but Colombo is hoping to find funding to continue the position.

The role is meant to fulfill a few objectives, part of which was helping to fill the massive gap left when Kandace Kerr moved to Vancouver Island. Kerr was a driving force for the local farmer’s market.

“With Kandace leaving the farmer’s market, they really needed assistance in terms of set up,” said Colombo. But Rasmussen will also be aiming at small business in the area in general.

At the August 20 event, she is inviting downtown businesses to stay open later for the evening, there will be a stage with musical acts to entertain the customers and vendors – including Canadian Waste, an up and coming young band from Prince George, artisans, the Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof farmer’s market vendors will also be invited to encourage cross-community networking and for people to know what is available regionally.

The event, while livening up downtown after 6 p.m., will also be where the District of Fort St. James will hopefully roll out their new buy local campaign.

The buy local initiative is part of a pilot project by Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) to design a promotional website and materials for local businesses.

Amy Quarry, a creative designer who developed a program in Quesnel, B.C. called Small Town Love is expected to be working on similar projects for Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Mackenzie, Logan Lake, Valemount and McBride.

The project will also help to fulfill some of the goals and strategic objectives the District of Fort St. James has identified in creating a vibrant, appealing and attractive community and having a strong, sustainable and diverse economy.

“Mayor and council have been very supportive,” said Colombo. “It’s like we’re all kind of moving in the same direction, which is nice.”