As published in the Summerland Review, April 25, 2013
“Summerland captures the essence of the Okanagan with an abundance of historical, cultural, recreational and agricultural experiences. Meandering roads with views of brilliant blue water, lush orchards and vineyards entice visitors to stop and sample the local fare. The charming town centre, anchored by Giant’s Head Mountain, offers an opportunity to share in the genuine allure of the community. A true patchwork of activities and vistas, Summerland is the local’s pick for an authentic Okanagan experience.”
In the recent tourism branding project conducted by the Summerland Chamber, this is the positioning statement that fifteen community stakeholder organizations unanimously agreed best represented our community to the world.
However, our community is not ‘just a pretty face’. It is underpinned by a thoughtful local government that engages with and listens to its citizens.
Right now the District of Summerland is working to create an even better community by initiating a review of the Urban Growth Strategy. Changes in the community in recent years, new climate action commitments, and an updated zoning bylaw make this the right time to ask pertinent questions such as: Where are we going to locate future growth in the District of Summerland? What do we want this growth to look like and how will it stimulate economic growth?
Housing costs, local jobs, sustainable agriculture, community services and infrastructure, as well as climate action are some of the issues affected by the choices Summerland residents will make about where and how to grow as a community.
This 6-month Urban Growth Strategy process has just begun. Citizens who attended the focus group meetings held on April 18 & 20 noted that there was consensus within the workshops around the concepts of utilizing existing infrastructure effectively, building a sustainable community, retaining our small town characteristics and livability and increasing our access to trails and recreational opportunities.
One local developer who attended commented that Summerland’s newly rewritten zoning bylaws are among the most progressive in BC and have earned respect for District staff through their intentional creation of plans that work. He also predicted that Summerland would see increased development very soon as a result of these changes.
An example of welcome new development is the mixed use building soon to break ground on Wharton Street in Summerland. This downtown commercial and residential property will build on our goals for downtown livability and will contribute to increased vitality in local shops and services.
The recently approved expansion to the Bentley Road Industrial Park is another example of good planning. This 7.2 hectare expansion will double the size of the existing industrial park and it is in an excellent location on the north end of Summerland with direct access to highway 97.
Here in Summerland we have every reason to be pleased with this community enhancing and business friendly progress. Remember to go to www.futuresummerland.com to complete the citizen survey and add your voice to the process.