Chamber and District Renew Service Agreement

September 11, 2014

The Summerland Chamber renewed its agreement with the District of Summerland this week to provide tourism and various economic development services to the community for the next five years.  Similar contracts have been in place since 2001.

However, in the past few years, the Chamber Board has worked to streamline our strategic plan so the services we deliver in each area remain consistent and relevant.

Generally the Chamber works in 3 key areas.  These are member services which we provide on behalf of our 700+ local business members, as well as tourism and economic development services which we provide on a fee-for-service basis to the District.

The Summerland model is a very cost effective one.  In neighboring communities, similar services are provided by multiple organizations with associated costs for staffing, etc. while the Summerland Chamber provides comprehensive services under one roof.

In the past few years the Chamber has created or enhanced all of our tourism and investment promotional tools.  This includes a library of visitor and investment videos, a new tourism website, revamped visitor guides and a comprehensive investment and relocation guide.  Visit the Chamber website at www.summerlandchamber.com if you have not yet seen these items.  The last upgrade will be the new Chamber website which will be launched before year end.

We’ve also emphasized expanded partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships with tourism and economic development branches throughout the South Okanagan.  We currently represent our community in more than nine separate initiatives and work with more than a dozen regional partners.

As the second largest community in the South Okanagan we need to be represented in these regional partnerships.  The Summerland Chamber of Commerce professionally fulfills this role and acts as a cohesive marketing arm for Summerland – promoting our community in person, via print and online as a place to visit and do business.

We look forward to continuing to serve all our stakeholders in the coming years.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at president@summerlandchamber.com or Christine Petkau at manager@summerlandchamber.com.

Arlene Fenrich is President of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.  All of the members of The Board of Directors serve as volunteers.

This article was also published in the Summerland Review, September 11, 2014


Cycle Project Moving Forward

August 14, 2014

What a difference a year can make!

Fourteen months ago the Trail of the Okanagans bike path advocacy group was formed to promote the plan for a world-class regional biking network. With seed funding and the initial vision provided by the Summerland Rotary Club, the group quickly gained traction and tourism organizations, local businesses, politicians, regional economic development professionals, the RDOS and various government departments, as well as interested members of the public came on board to support this cause.

This long term vision builds on existing infrastructure to create a regional bike path will allow cyclists to travel from Osoyoos all the way to Sicamous on connected trails, many of which are already in place.  Two key gaps in the pathway are in Summerland – the stretches adjacent to Hwy 97 along Okanagan Lake between Lower Town and Illahie Beach and between Sun-Oka Park and Penticton.

The Trail of the Okanagans, working with the District of Summerland, achieved a major advocacy milestone in July, when the funding to close the first of these gaps was announced.  Our own MLA, Dan Ashton, who was instrumental in making this happen, along with Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Todd Stone, and Mayor Janice Perrino, were in Summerland on July 3, to announce a contribution of $420,000 to be combined with an additional $80,000 from the District of Summerland to complete the pathway between Lower Town and Illahie Beach.  The Ministry of Transportation has already proposed design plans and work will commence in spring.

On July 3, Minister of Transportation Todd Stone, MLA Dan Ashton, and Summerland’s Mayor Janice Perrino, along with members of the Trails of the Okanagan Committee gathered for the announcement of a new one-kilometre section of lakeside trail that will connect lower town and Trout Creek.

On July 3, Minister of Transportation Todd Stone, MLA Dan Ashton, and Summerland’s Mayor Janice Perrino, along with members of the Trails of the Okanagan Committee, gathered for the announcement of a new one-kilometre section of lakeside trail that will connect lower town and Trout Creek.

Two complementary initiatives are also moving along.  Currently, utilizing a BC Healthy Communities grant we are working with Penticton to develop a survey that will identify the public’s bike habits as well as barriers to doing more biking and what you’d like to see improved.  This survey will be available shortly and will be posted on the District’s and the Chamber’s website and facebook pages.  Please make sure you are following these sites so you can participate.  We need your feedback.

Throughout the region our local Visitor Centres have daily requests for information about biking and hiking trails.  The RDOS has excellent mapping resources and we are working with our South Okanagan tourism partners to present these maps in a way that is the most user-friendly.  These resources will be available by autumn both in print and online.

: Regional committee members discuss new bike trail guides geared to visitors.   l-r, Colleen Pennington, EcDev officer for Penticton; John Powell, EcDev officer for Okanagan Falls; Raquel Miriam and Chris Bower from Tourism Penticton.

Regional committee members discuss new bike trail guides geared to visitors. l-r, Colleen Pennington, EcDev officer for Penticton; John Powell, EcDev officer for Okanagan Falls; Raquel Miriam and Chris Bower from Tourism Penticton.

Step by step, these initiatives are going forward and are being supported because of the tremendous opportunity to impact our regional economy.  The development of this world class resource will create new business opportunities and support many existing businesses by dramatically extending our tourism season.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at manager@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, at president@summerlandchamber.com.


This article was published in the Summerland Review, August 14, 2014

Christine Petkau is the Manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce. 



May 7, 2014


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, May 7, 2014



Summerland launched a bold new website and video today as the latest move in its rollout of a first-class tourism brand designed to market the wonders of the beautiful community to increasing numbers of visitors from around the world.

In partnership with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) and with program support from Destination BC, the Summerland Chamber of Commerce began developing its new brand more than two years ago with a task force of more than 15 stakeholders representing all sectors of the local tourism industry.  This initiative was identified in the Tourism Plan completed in 2011 through the Community Tourism Foundations program.

It also partnered with other agencies and enlisted the talents of a number of local and regional resource people to develop a high-quality new brand using vibrant images and compelling text that aligns with some of the best new tourism marketing guidelines available.

The resulting brand, with the tag-line ‘Summerland – Take Your Time’, has been used in recent months for improved tourism marketing and the latest Visitor Guide, produced in partnership with Black Press.

The new brand, website and video make Summerland the latest community to align its tourism marketing with the Thompson Okanagan’s new Regional Tourism Strategy “Embracing Our Potential” and the Canadian Tourism Commission’s research-based ‘EQ’ (Explorer Quotient) marketing strategy.

Now, the Chamber has unveiled its new tourism website – at www.tourismsummerland.com – featuring an entertaining new tourism marketing video on its homepage.  Both products received support from Destination BC’s Community Tourism Opportunities program and the District of Summerland.

The website, produced by Tambellini Design Studio, includes information about Summerland’s many attractions and activities including its Okanagan Lake beaches, scenic hillside vineyards, orchards, mountains, restaurants, accommodations, stores, golfing, fishing, touring the wineries along ‘Bottleneck Drive’, visiting fruit stands, hiking, biking, visiting the Summerland Ornamental Gardens, and riding on the historic Kettle Valley Steam Railway.  The engaging text was authored by Summerland writer Denise Howie and active photos were shot by professional photographers Eric Simard, Kelly Funk and Darren Robinson – all designed to appeal to the types of travellers likely to want to visit Summerland.

The video, produced by local company ET2media, follows accomplished Summerland guitar player Kirk Dixon as he visits attractions throughout the community.

Tourism Video

Chamber Manager Christine Petkau says, “We hope the website and video will showcase the depth and breadth of all that we have available for visitors in Summerland.”

TOTA Community Development Specialist Simone Carlysle-Smith applauds Summerland’s alignment of its brand and website with the goals of the new Regional Tourism Strategy and the leading-edge principles of the EQ marketing program, which identifies and markets to potential visitors based on their social values and travel preferences.

“Summerland has shown how communities throughout the region can incorporate the regional strategy into their local initiatives, showcasing their uniqueness while demonstrating industry best practices,” Carlysle-Smith says.

TOTA President & CEO Glenn Mandziuk says, “This excellent development by Summerland demonstrates the power of partnerships – local destination marketing organizations working with local companies, stakeholders, writers, photographers, and with TOTA, Destination BC, and regional resource people, to create a strong, world-class tourism brand and marketing approach.”

Summerland Chamber President Arlene Fenrich says, “The Summerland Chamber of Commerce has been supported by TOTA for many years and has been actively working with TOTA on this rebranding project since the fall of 2012.  TOTA’s expertise in the tourism arena is substantial and they have brought this expertise to bear throughout the branding project and the variety of ways the new brand has been implemented in the past year.  Today we are delighted to be unveiling this pivotal piece of our tourism brand – a dedicated visitor website.  We believe this new website provides a striking showcase for all that we have to offer visitors to Summerland.  The Chamber Board also wishes to thank our own staff for their work on this project as well as the design team, the photographers, the videographers and the content writer for their dedication to the task, and the District of Summerland for their ongoing support for the project and recognition of tourism as a key economic driver in our community.”

- 30 –

PHOTO — Attending the May 7 launch of the new Summerland tourism website and video were, from left: Eric Thompson, ET2media; Connie Denesiuk, Director, Summerland Chamber of Commerce;  Summerland Councillor Robert Hacking; Summerland Mayor Janice Perrino; Summerland Councillor Bruce Hallquist; Ellen Walker-Matthews, TOTA Marketing Experiences Specialist; Ian McIntosh, Director of Development Services, District of Summerland; Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA President & CEO; Thor Clausen, Director, Summerland Chamber; Arlene Fenrich, President, Summerland Chamber; Stephanie Tambellini, Tambellini Design Studio; Christine Petkau, Manager, Summerland Chamber; Shannon Brilz, Summerland Visitor Centre Co-ordinator; Sophia Jackson, Summerland Chamber Membership Services; Christina Anabo, Marketing Specialist, Tambellini Design Studio; Writer Denise Howie; and Simone Carlysle-Smith, TOTA Community Development Specialist.


Glenn Mandziuk, TOTA        

250-860-5999  ext 216                                                   


Christine Petkau, Summerland C of C



Simone Carlysle-Smith, TOTA

250-860-5999 ex 214



Sports Tourism on the Rise in Summerland

April 25, 2014

From hockey tournaments to cycling holidays, sports tourism can bring communities year-round economic benefits. In 2010, spending associated with the Canadian sport tourism industry was $3.6 billion and rising.

Sports tourism is certainly on the rise in Summerland, where creative event organizers are making the most of the community’s rolling landscape and quality tourism options, to design experiences that will draw those looking to combine a fitness challenge with a relaxing holiday.


One project that is garnering support from both local government and tourism providers is The Trail of the Okanagans: a proposed lakeside cycling and walking path that would connect communities around the Okanagan. The vision of the Trail of the Okanagans is akin to the great cycling routes of Europe, which draw thousands of visitors annually. Those interested in learning more about the project can attend a free public information session in Penticton on April 26.


Even short events can have great economic impact, as participants flood to town and inevitably take advantage of local goods and services, from food and accommodation to downtown shopping excursions. Summerland’s long-running Action Festival continues to attract thousands of participants and spectators from around B.C., and over the winter Summerland Minor Hockey hosted several weekend tournaments, which brought hundreds of families to town.

Niche Markets

Last month, Summerland Council gave the green light for the expansion of the already popular Giant’s Head Freeride Longboard competition in August. Also known as “Ride the Giant,” the event is renowned as the oldest such competition in the world, and draws daring souls from around the world.

NEW: Giants Head Grind

Now a new event featuring Summerland’s iconic mountain has leapt onto the community’s calendar. May 17th will mark the inaugural Christopher Walker Memorial Giants Head Grind. Hundreds of people will run, walk and generally will themselves uphill for five kilometers (and 500 metres of elevation gain) from Peach Orchard Beach to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain.

Inspired by Vancouver’s Grouse Grind, organizers are betting on the innate human curiosity that bubbles to the surface in the face of extreme physical challenges. “I wonder if I could” turns into a race registration, and then there’s no turning back. It appears to be working; the race is capped at 300 participants this year and they are well on their way to that target.

Funds raised from The Giant’s Head Grind will go to the Summerland Rotary Club benefiting Colon Cancer Diagnostics and Research and the continued upkeep and improvement of the trail system in Giant’s Head Park.  Visit www.giantsheadgrind.com to learn more.


Content is King

April 10, 2014


As published in the Summerland Review, April 10, 2014

One of the key areas where the Summerland Chamber of Commerce works is Tourism.  We market our community as a tourist destination in local markets, in key Canadian and US markets and internationally.

For some time we’ve been working on the new dedicated tourism website, tourismsummerland, which will launch in a few weeks.   And as part of the process of gathering photos and information from our tourism related businesses, we’ve been evaluating our social media and the role of content in this digital age.

We all know that social media is a great way to communicate.  Marketing professionals have described it as a channel, similar to other channels such as T.V. or print media.  Others say it is ‘the new telephone’, allowing us to open a direct line of communication with our audience.  In the case of a business this is our customers or prospects.

It’s important to remember that social media is not a fad; it’s here to stay.  A stat from 2010 showed that even four years ago US internet users were spending 3X the amount of time on their social media and blogs then they did on their email.  And what they are reading/viewing is content – all the photos and information that they can find about the topics that interest them.  So if social media is the new telephone, think of content as the new brochure.

The new dedicated tourism website will be the largest promotional tool the Chamber will use to market Summerland to visitors.  In order to help drive traffic to the website and further promote Summerland, we also manage several social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Having so many different ‘telephone lines’ allows us to engage with a variety of social media users so they can find information about Summerland.  For example, the fastest growing demographic for Facebook is 45-54, and the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is 55-64. Both Instagram and Pinterest are dominated by younger users (18-35), and Pinterest is known for having a higher percentage of female users.  Our content (our brochure) needs to reach all of these people in the way they like best.

There are two ways to use social media: create your own content, or share someone else’s. We create a great deal of content here at the Chamber but we are always looking for more great content to share with our followers.   We follow the content generated by others in Summerland as we want to repost, retweet, and regram it.  This also drives traffic back to your website.

Remember, content can be a photo of your breakfast at a local café, a great blog post, or a tweet about an upcoming event.  The more shareable content we all create, the bigger the spotlight we can cast on our community.  If you are active on social media, please tag your photo or post with #visitsummerland to help us track and share your content.  If you want to learn more about social media, please call us and we’ll get you started.  After all, marketing our community is a shared effort.  We need your help!

Follow Tourism Summerland and help us follow you:

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at manager@summerlandchamber.com or our Chamber President, Arlene Fenrich, at president@summerlandchamber.com .

Christine Petkau is the Manager of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce. 



Chamber Speaks For Business Community

March 27, 2014

As published in the Summerland Review,  March 28, 2014

Last week, the Summerland Chamber of Commerce held our Annual General Meeting.  Like many non-profit organizations, our members don’t turn out in droves for this event.  They miss the great food and door prizes but more importantly they miss seeing all that the Chamber of Commerce accomplished on their behalf in the past year, where the budget was spent and what is planned for the coming year.

They also miss the opportunity to meet their new Board of Directors.  The Summerland Chamber of Commerce is the 3rd largest Chamber in the Okanagan after Kelowna and Kamloops and among the 25 largest Chambers in BC.  As well we are the largest membership organization in Summerland with more than 750 business, corporate and associate members.  As I shared at the AGM, the Chamber’s role in any community is to represent the interests of the business community and to advocate on their behalf.  We do that on a national level through the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, provincially through the BC Chamber network and here in our own community at the municipal level.

Through the nomination process outlined in our by-laws and communicated to members annually, voting members elect a Board of Directors charged with setting policy for the Chamber.  Here in Summerland the Chamber has done this for more than 75 years.  Much of the time, this process and the ramifications go unnoticed by members.  Occasionally though, the Chamber Board must take a stand on a particular issue and, as the elected Board, must speak on behalf of its members on matters that pertain to business growth and improvement.  Again, it is our bylaws that dictate that only the President of the Chamber (or their designate) is authorized to make the Chamber’s position on such issues publicly known.

This occurred at the recent public meeting regarding the District of Summerland’s proposed by-law amendments to the Official Community Plan.  At that time, I spoke from my personal perspective as a downtown business owner and also as the President of the Chamber elected to represent the interests of the business community.

We have communicated our support for the District’s proposal as it balances a number of important community priorities and is a reasonable and forward-looking solution for ensuring land is available in the coming decades for community growth.  The full text of our position was posted in our previous article.

In the last week, we have received communications from approx. 3% of local business license holders who communicated to us that they did not agree with the Chamber’s position on this issue.  We very much appreciate their efforts in writing and we acknowledge their position.  The Chamber Board cannot possibly know the wishes of the remaining 97% of our members, but as elected by them, must speak for the business community as a whole.

The Chamber understands that the current delay in the process will allow time to accommodate everyone who wishes to speak to the issue at a public forum.  This is commendable.

However, we also wish to communicate that delays of this kind send mixed messages about Summerland’s support for growth to the wider business community, to the agri-businesses that are interested in relocating in the proposed areas and to our citizens.

We encourage Mayor and Council to remain committed and to proceed with their progressive agenda of building our community.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at president@summerlandchamber.com or Christine Petkau at manager@summerlandchamber.com.

Arlene Fenrich is President of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.  All of the members of The Board of Directors serve as volunteers.


Chamber Supports Community Growth

February 27, 2014

As published in the Summerland Review February 27, 2014

At its recent February meeting the Chamber Board discussed an issue that is of importance to all of us, the District of Summerland’s new Urban Growth Strategy Report.  The District’s Director of Development, Ian McIntosh, walked the Board through a presentation detailing the history of our community’s growth, the variety of efforts that were made to reach and communicate with all members of our community and the resulting recommendations found in the report.

Following discussion among the elected Board members, we want to publicly share our position on this issue.  First, we applaud the extensive public engagement process that the District has gone through in order to prepare this report.  More than a year and a half of staff time has gone into this process and multiple efforts were made to connect with all of us, to hear our voices, and to listen to input from even the youngest members of our community – the ones that will have to live with our decisions.  It’s important to remember that while the consulting firm that supported these efforts was from out of town, the bulk of the work was done by people at the District that are long term residents of Summerland and just as passionate about our collective future as any of the rest of us.

The Board also welcomes and encourages the healthy debate that has resulted from the recent report.  It’s good to see that when something is important enough, we can stand up for what is meaningful to us.  However, given that Summerland is home to two national anti-bullying organizations, it’s also very important that as adults we model only the most positive of discussion methods, respectfully acknowledge that people with differing views are no less committed to the community and remember that our comments in public and on social media live long after we’ve spoken them.  As the organization that’s responsible for marketing Summerland, we particularly see how negative news stories affect our town.

Regarding the report itself, the Chamber supports the principals of the report that apply to businesses and our business members.  These include: efficient and cost-effective planning for Summerland, a farmer’s right to farm, enhancing our downtown area, recognition of the need for community growth, reduced greenhouse gases, efficient use of industrial areas, reduced costs for infrastructure, the densification of the downtown core and walking convenience to downtown stores and amenities for residents.

As many recent letters to the editor have pointed out, we need growth in Summerland and places for young families to live.  The proposed trading of a central parcel of ALR land for one that is further from the core is a reasonable way to gain the needed land to build in the coming decades.  The land proposed for the exchange is highly useful to at least two agricultural businesses, both of whom create jobs in our community.

Housing, jobs, an improved tax base, investment and development are all things Summerland needs in order to thrive.  It’s almost impossible to have all of these things at once; they will come to us bit by bit as we make efforts in each area.  We can achieve these things and still retain our attractive rural character. Continued carful long-term planning efforts are required to ensure this.

We always appreciate your feedback.  Please contact me at president@summerlandchamber.com or Christine Petkau at manager@summerlandchamber.com.

Arlene Fenrich is President of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.  All of the members of The Board of Directors serve as volunteers.


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