The city of Quesnel is launching a new branding campaign aimed in part at attracting people fed up with the cost of living on the Lower Mainland.
"I think part of the issue for the North is that we're not speaking to that change that's occurring in the Lower Mainland right through the Okanagan," said Mayor Bob Simpson.
"People are struggling with the affordability issue. They're struggling with an unbalanced lifestyle. They're struggling with a desire to be engaged in more activities but they can't afford it anymore or they can't get to it because it takes them 45 minutes or an hour to get to the actual activity and then another 45 minutes to an hour to get back."
"We've got a story to tell where all of that is accessible."
'Gold Pan City' stuck in the past
Until now, Quesnel has positioned itself as "The Gold Pan City," a reference to its roots in the Cariboo gold rush of the 1860s.
Simpson says the new brand focuses on the city's future, rather than its past.
"The city was given quite a bit of feedback, especially from our business community, that Gold Pan City ... was dated and needed to be refreshed," he said.
He told the story of trying to recruit a doctor to move to Quesnel and discovering its online presence was getting in the way.
"The family of that physician was on the internet trying to figure out what Quesnel was and what we had to offer, and we were just really poorly positioned," he said.
'Quesnel: It's In Our Nature'
Based on this sort of feedback, the city partnered with a marketing group to come up with a new visual identity and slogan.
After nearly a year of consultations, it is prepared to adopt a campaign centered around the line "Quesnel: It's in our nature."
"We live in nature. We're dependant upon nature for our economy, whether that's agriculture or forestry or mining our tourism," Simpson explained.
"But the other aspect of it is it's in our human nature to be an inviting, friendly community and to be a community that will thrive."
Simpson said the new identity comes with a new logo, a new visual identity for promotional materials and a new website aimed at attracting new residents and retaining existing ones.
"We think that we are on the cusp of actually growing the population base of our community because we have some of the most affordable housing in the Pacific Northwest. We have amenities that can compete with amenities in larger communities," he said.
"We believe that we have a very good story to tell to people that are being pushed out of the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan, simply on an affordability issue."
Through it all, he wants to change the way people think about Quesnel as a destination.
"We are a sustainable, accessible, trail-blazing and fun place to live."
The new campaign is scheduled to officially launch February 1.
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To hear Bob Simpson explain the campaign, click on the audio labeled 'Quesnel mayor Bob Simpson believes a new brand can help attract disenchanted Vancouverites.'