The Chamber is asking all candidates a series of business related questions so you have the information you need to make an informed voting choice. Questions and answers will be posted here twice a week. Check back regularly and follow the Chamber on Facebook for notification of new posts.
Question 9: What do you feel are the key sectors that are important to the economic sustainability of the Summerland community and why?
Candidates for Mayor
Summerland is a complex variety of many sectors, not just one or two, and all of them are dependent on people, growth and investment.
Tourism, Agriculture, Industry, Wineries, Senior’s complexes, our business core, our arts and culture all contribute to the unique atmosphere we love in our community. Our schools, churches and volunteer organizations help make Summerland what it is and more.
The service industry is another business sector that supports people who reside and work here such as auto repair, body shops, rental outlets, lawn and gardening services, light industry, fabrication, home improvement business, as well as contractors, medical services, hairdressers, banking, lawyers and real estate.
All of these sectors are vital to promote, expand and sustain Summerland. These varied sectors are what thriving communities require to attract economic growth and development. The obligation is on all of us to make this a sustaining and vibrant community. “
Each and every Summerland resident makes-up the “key sectors” of this community. The Environment, along with people came first – business followed. Summerland’s first businesses were Agriculture and still are! They are the largest employer and exporter of goods. Businesses are needed to supply the needs of the people so retailers followed. Only a healthy mix of Agriculture, Business and Tourism involving the Young, Seniors Recreation and Arts communities – appreciating the role of the Environment we all live in, will this community be sustained economically. Developers play a crucial role in growing Summerland. They are an eager group but only when working in unison with the community will harmony result in prosperity including jobs for All ages (Summerland First Program), affordable housing and preservation of our Historical buildings. We all win if we don’t divide and conquer each other for our own benefit or Any one distinct group!
Agriculture, tourism and health and wellness have driven the economy of Summerland for years. Each sectors has brought enormous contribution to our local economy however it is important to adapt and continuously re-adjust each of these sectors to assure that they are fully productive and economically viable. For example, the promotion of agrico-eco tourism that encourage a local farmer to educate young families on how our fresh food is grown and its importance to our daily life.
Health and wellness is one of the fastest growing industries in this country; why can’t we explore the possibility of partnering with the University of British Columbia, Interior health and/or the private sector to become a center of excellence to do clinical research, studying and explore caring for people affected by dementia long term.
Tourism has brought many people to this town who, in turn, fell in love with it. As a result, many of us have decided to make it our permanent residence because of its beauty and quality of life. I know this because I am one of them.
Industry, tourism, and agri-tourism, agriculture, business and retail are the main sectors. The steadiest in terms of sustainability is agriculture, as it does not respond to the ups and downs of market cycles. Fruit and grapes have to be harvested and pruned, regardless. Tourism and agri-tourism in this community are built on the agriculture base. In my opinion business and retail are in a major change cycle. Big box stores and larger centers are changing the business model. This means that niche retailers, which can service local, valley wide and beyond market demand are changing the face of retail. Smaller hi-tech firms and high tech manufacturing concerns are coming here to take advantage of lifestyle, and bringing high paying jobs two and three and more jobs at a time. Woven into this, enhancing all sectors is our strong arts community which is key to the aesthetics of the town.
Key Sectors: Include infrastructure (water, electrical), agriculture, the service industry, recreation and tourism
Why: Our water system has been improved, but Summerland still has one source of water: the Trout Creek watershed. Over time, there is a need to add redundancy to the system (ie Okanagan Lake). The electrical system also relies on one source of electricity (Fortis). increasing reliability of these key resources adds to economic sustainability. This community was built on agriculture. Supporting our fruit and wine industry and protecting agricultural land, enhances a sustainable industry. An aging population will have increased demands on the service industry and this will become a prominent sector in our local economy. The recreation sector, supporting and enhancing parks, trails and beaches, will increasingly become a key sector improving our quality of life and retaining business. The Tourism sector and the celebration of our community’s uniqueness, instill community pride and improve tourist opportunities.
Candidates for Council
According to the website below, Health Care and Social Services are currently the biggest employers in Summerland. Agriculture is close but the opportunities for expansion in agriculture are not as great as in the Health Care field. The Health Care field is driven largely by our seniors population which not only provides a stable source of revenue for the people that serve them; seniors also tend to shop locally, increasing employment in the retail sector, which is not far behind in terms of the number of people employed.
I believe, therefore, that the retirement industry is a key sector in our economic sustainability. There are specific strategies and points to emphasize when pursuing this industry that should be defined and promoted; while still paying heed to other opportunities in industrial and commercial sectors.
In identifying the key sectors for growing Summerland’s economy let us not forget the two primary attractants to our town: quality of life/lifestyle and location.
Summerland, with its geography, climate, landscape, and proximity to transportation corridors, is in a ‘perfect’ location. Add to this our other valuable assets (arts and culture, people, and infrastructure) and we have a strong base to support economic growth, particularly in these key sectors:
- AGRICULTURE: value-added agriculture and food production/processing (including cheese and sustainably-raised livestock and poultry);
- RETAIL/WHOLESALE: focusing on those businesses that fill idenifed gaps in products or services;
- MANUFACTURING AND TECHNOLOGY*: (*information, food, plant, energy, etc.); and
- TOURISM: including agri-, rural, cultural and recreational tourism.
Summerland is not alone in BC municipalities struggling with their local economy. Creating a strong, self-sustaining economy will help shelter us from the next economic downturn.
Let’s work to our strengths. On a large scale we that recognize agriculture, tourism and industry are all crucial components to Summerland’s economy and must be encouraged and advanced, harmoniously.
But more directly, we can cater to retired people, while bringing families to the area. Encourage products and services for quality of life and aging-in-place. Increased demand for health services and the necessary management of facilities will draw professionals. A quick search of hrsdc.gov.ca shows that over the next few years, employees in healthcare and financial management will be demanded. The potential of Summerland is enormous.
People of all ages increasingly demand healthy food, and quality retail; good walking trails and fitness facilities. Shops, restaurants, and amenities draw people to our community.
We have hundreds of children and youth in this town. Supporting and encouraging Shakespeare Festival, triathlons, and SADI offers so much spinoff that I’ll need another 150 words!
According to the proposed OCP pre-amble, the sectors employing the most Summerlanders are health (13.6%), construction (12.7%), retail (9.7%) and public sector (7.4%).
The arts, wineries and tourism are important as they are the gateway attractors. New citizens who are the job creators, entrepreneurs and investors most likely visited our town as tourists enjoying the arts or wineries or just being tourists. Therefore we must ensure these 3 critical segments of our economy remain strong.
The key sectors we need to grow are knowledge workers and light industrial. These new enterprises will allow the district to increase the commercial/industrial tax base and relieve the pressure on residential taxpayers. With an expanded tax base that does not consume services as much as residential, we can re-fill our reserve funds and eventually rebuild our infrastructure.
Tourism & hospitality – From the Kettle Valley Steam Train to our hotels, B&Bs, and restaurants, we derive a significant amount of revenue from tourism.
Health and wellness – The “health” of this sector will attract both young professionals and the retiring baby-boomers.
Retail – This is what Main Street is all about. Many entry-level jobs are found here and a healthy downtown also supports our tourism sector.
Agriculture – With 36% of our land dedicated to farming and the number of citizens our Research Centre employs (not to mention farmers), our agricultural sector plays a vital role in our present economic sustainability. If this sector fails, we will be left with a lot of vacant, dormant land with little demand for growth. Summerland was founded on agriculture and it remains a significant part of our identity and sustainability.
See? It is possible to be both pro-growth and pro-agriculture!
1. Tourism, Culture, Recreation: One of the strongest long-term economic growth trends, the leisure sector should be seen not only for its social benefits but also as a means for achieving economic growth. Communities that embrace creativity and active living will attract people, which in turn attracts business and investment.
2. Health and senior care: Canada has an aging population and our seniors need support. The trend is away from senior residences towards more independent living, home care, and multigenerational housing. Summerland is well positioned to take advantage of the burgeoning home health care and wellness industries.
3. Agriculture and agri-business: We’re already known for our high-quality agricultural products and there’ll be new export opportunities with the Canada-EU free trade agreement, which will remove most European tariffs. Innovative practices and technologies are leading to new agricultural products and processes, and there are exciting opportunities in value-added agriculture (eg. Summerland Sweets).
Summerland has a lot of small pieces to the jigsaw of sustainability, with no real dominate sector. You have our Downtown business’s, as well as our business’s in our 4 Industrial areas. Then there is tourism, beaches, our campgrounds, as well as the KVR Steam Railway, sports tourism, the ball tournaments, summer hockey schools, hiking and biking. Agri tourism, with a growing wine sector, is a good addition to Summerland’s sustainable puzzle. Our festivals are a large draw as well. Services such as our hospital, the many Seniors care homes add to the sustainability of Summerland. Last but not least, there is the talented people of our arts and culture community.
A healthy community has a broad range of sectors that complement each other. Investing heavily in one sector without enhancing other opportunities opens up our community to economic risk. Summerland has a broad range of assets that are and can be leveraged effectively.
With our strengths in wine production and tourism obvious, we still need to improve our retail and shopping experience during the summer to help our town core. We need housing options for professionals and their families to attract external investment in our industrial and commercial job creators. Finally, we need to improve our aging community facilities to attract and retain residents of all demographics.
I want to thank the Chamber for bringing these important issues and questions to the candidates, and letting us share our vision and ideas. To review all my responses and find out more about my values please visit my website. www.roberthacking.com
Key sectors are:
1. Small Business creates the most jobs and services
2. Tourism and Hospitality. People travel to Summerland to experience our scenic area and enjoy many of our attractions
3. Wineries: They create jobs, demand for agricultural products and have become a destination point, with entertainment/food/gifts and part of the tourism industry.
4. Agriculture- The sale of fruits locally and worldwide from Summerland is crucial to our economy. Both for the primary farmer and those employed in downstream jobs and products
5. Outdoor Recreation/ Lifestyle- Our beaches, trails walking and biking, racing competitions, water sports all create jobs and sales of attendant products
6.Niche marketing in our downtown core creates jobs and brings economic sustainability to the commercial sector.
Response not received by publication
Economic sustainability requires a municipal sector framework designed to keep costs of operating/maintaining infrastructure and services affordable and minimizing future burden, while at the same time targeting needs. The civic structure needs to support and develop innovative responses to economic development issues while complementing the commitment to social and environmental sustainability which will lead to business retention, growth and attraction. Key sectors of importance are:
- small business – the majority of job growth is created by the expansion of established companies
- recreation and culture
- research and development
- 50% of Summerland’s skilled labour work outside of town. Consistent service targeting that segment’s diverse values is needed.
- Residential development will fall into place as growth occurs which will spur construction/development, enabling Urban Growth Plan to proceed.
- The service-oriented economy; health/wellness, tourism, sports, arts and culture. Seniors have specific needs and wants.
Summerland is reliant on agriculture so we need to ensure that our farmers and agritourism based businesses are supported. Our Industrial land will start to draw investors since Penticton is largely at capacity. Citizens want to maintain an image of Summerland that attracted them here. We need to find compromise to bring all parties together on common issues of land use and lifestyle.
The new bus route to Summerland has proven to be very successful. Increased frequency of buses would attract people to Summerland who want access to a larger centre, and we need to ensure we work with the Chamber to promote Summerland to our neighbors to the south. This will work well with densification of the downtown core.
1. The key sectors important to the economic sustainability of our Summerland Community are:
- Tourism – important to have visitors from around the world spend their tourism dollar in Summerland
- Local small business – our local businesses pay taxes, or rent, and employ Summerland residents who in turn spend money in Summerland
- Industry – again, a tax revenue base, local jobs and subsequent local spending
2. I would like to see our community work closely with our nearest neighbours – Peachland and Penticton – in solving shared problems. This could be done by inviting members of their council and chamber to attend our respective meetings when common issues are being dealt with and vice versa. Open communication would benefit us all as we can all learn from each others successes.
The fruit and wine industries are key sectors to Summerland’s sustainability. Our fruit is sold to domestic and international retailers, and there’s more room to grow. In addition, with the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre located here, Summerland is in a great position to become a national leader in food science and technology.
Retail is also a key sector. Main Street has many boutique shops with quality products. If we can attract more unique stores to our downtown, we can create a “destination” shopping experience for people from all over.
In the future, Summerland can certainly become a health and wellness centre. We’ve already got health care professionals and services, a growing network of trails and biking routes, annual events (Granfondo and Test of Humanity) and gyms (including a new yoga studio!) Let’s build on this. The health and wellness sector is booming, and is something Summerland should embrace.
Martin (Marty) Van Alphen
The key sectors that are important to the Economic Sustainability of Summerland are;- Agri-tourism, Industry, Seniors Services and Housing. Agri-Tourism is a growing sector as it is about the Vineyards, Tours, Shops and Tasting rooms for grape wine, fruit wine and now Ciders. The potential growth in any of these areas is unlimited. This Council has expanded and enhanced the Bentley Road Industrial Area, this property is ready to go and needs to be aggressively marketed. We have long term Industries such as Range Rider, Arrow, Ripley’s Stainless, Summerland Redi-Mix, SunView Industries and Alder Street Auto Body that have all managed to sustain viable businesses. An often overlooked key area that is important to Summerland’s Economic sustainability is Senior’s Services. In 2012 our Senior population was 27.3% of the total and it is growing. The services required for Seniors are in areas of Health Care, Accomodation and Support Staff. Housing must be all-inclusive however we desperately need Market Entry housing for the younger people to work in Agri-Tourism, Industry and Seniors Services.