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 2: List 3 specific steps (and their desired results) that you would take to encourage growth and investment in Summerland.
Candidates for Council
We need to aggressively promote and advertise our Bentley Road Industrial area as it’s great to have the industrial land available but the rest of British Columbia and the world needs to know.
To encourage growth we need to have the appropriate land zoning in place to offer multiple housing options including market entry homes for young families.
To encourage investment I will continue to take every opportunity to meet with any and all potential investors new or currently in Summerland as I have done numerous times in the past.
- I would support the Summerland Chamber with its ongoing initiatives to promote Summerland as a tourism destination and a place for investment. I would offer to be a liaison between council, businesses and the chamber.
- I would continue to move forward with infrastructure upgrades and projects. I would also help identify future projects, and start planning how we’re going to pay for them.
Summerland needs good infrastructure in order to facilitate growth and investment. For example, we need to upgrade our water treatment systems to better manage resources for current and future agricultural businesses.
Roads, sewer systems and recreational facilities cost millions of dollars, but are vital for a prosperous and healthy community.
- Finally, a small but free initiative: I would help organize a community-wide clean-up. This brings people together and keeps Summerland looking attractive. (I have organized four clean-ups in Trout Creek with excellent results!)
Agri-tourism provides a large number of jobs to Summerland. We have wineries and other agricultural producers. We need to build upon this base and support new and existing businesses. We need to identify target markets and sell ‘Summerland’ as a brand. A catchy logo would be the umbrella that local businesses can rally under, for instance. By promoting our brand, we market every business.
I would like to see the costs associated with improved bus service to and from Penticton. By improving transportation we now draw shoppers from Penticton. In addition, many seniors and young families can choose to live here while still having the ability to reach Penticton easily.
Finally, we need to provide better access and more opportunities to live an active lifestyle. I have talked to families and seniors who leave town to visit other communities in the Okanagan to bird watch, hike and bicycle.
Its easy to say more housing, fill our empty store fronts, bring in Industry. However the reality of it is we need to unite and rejuvenate. Utilize whats already here to create an economically sound community.
Invite our wineries , our produce growers and our arts community downtown to celebrate Summerland and watch it grow and prosper with our support.
Its not a three step program , we need to focus our resourses and I can not stress this enough , unite and rejuvenate our community.
My mom used to say , dont invite company over unless your house is clean.
Response not available at publication time.
Encourage growth growth through business and light industry. Then there will be more jobs in the community, and more money to be spent locally. And a desired result would be to see more traffic downtown after 18:00.
- Experienced/concerned with down-loading costs of government regulations and Acts coming out of senior government. Summerland needs a council questioning the cost/benefits of new regulations. The Multi Material Recycling Program is a good example. Ensure costs/benefits remain sustainable or consider alternate model.
- Establishing businesses: Put out a welcoming mat for newcomers. Ensure staff communicates clear ground rules regarding permits, taxation and zoning, establish/implement time lines. Longterm growth: Explore opportunities for creative zoning in the ALR land excluded years ago (Summerland Hills Golf Resort and area). Consider zoning for Agri-Industrial Park. Enable added value type ventures which would encourage innovation, sustainability, economic growth and financial resilience for the municipality and Penticton Indian Band (if supportive). Phased development approach, building on success, as economic trends permit.
- Existing businesses: fill gaps of service, streamlining and perhaps sharing senior municipal staff positions with Penticton/RDOS staff which could result in reduced taxes for businesses.
- Ensure the infrastructure is in place to encourage investment and growth – upgrade roads, utilities, recreational and cultural assets, etc. Companies are attracted to and benefit from efficient public works and services, good schools, healthcare, parks, leisure facilities, cultural activities, public safety, housing, and overall quality of life.
- Develop a Cultural Strategy to help create a more vibrant and prosperous community. Cultural activity turns communities into places of interest, and that social impact leads to an economic impact. The connection is well documented – investment in culture is essentially an economic development strategy.
- Come up with a community identity for Summerland by brainstorming with stakeholders and engaging the public. We need to establish what sets us apart, what’s our unique selling proposition. Then, working with the Chamber, target market that identity through psychographic segmentation rather than waste money on expensive blanket marketing campaigns.
Encourage redevelopment and new development in the downtown and lakeside areas, making for a more sustainable community.
Encourage new industrial development in our newly zoned industrial park on Bentley Rd. creating some new jobs and tax revenue in our community.
Continue to streamline the red tape at city hall in all departments, to make it easier for business’s to set up and do business in Summerland.
There are three significant areas of improvement we must address to enable success for all Summerland residents:
- Increase the availability of Market-entry housing options to provide much needed housing stock for young families and small business employees. Young families are consumers, but our production line workers and entrepreneurs need affordable housing options as well. This will improve the core population, the demographic mix, and the customer and tax base of Summerland.
- A healthy range of housing options will position us to encourage relocation and investment of commercial interests to Summerland. With a notable increase in population growth and residential development, key projects such as Wharton St. and Bentley Rd Industrial Park become much more appealing to external investors.
- Analyze our commercial tax structure for fairness. Our business community shoulders a disproportionate share of the tax burden, are we getting comparable value for our tax dollars?
According to Statistics Canada, between 1996 – 2011 (most recent census) we experienced a population growth rate of 6%. Over that same period, Peachland, Oliver, and Osoyoos experienced growth rates ranging from 13-21%. I believe growth to be integral to our collective future prosperity, and I’d like to see us target a 10% growth rate over the next four years.
- Ensure development land has been properly identified and allocated to achieve this goal.
- As I did with the corner of Kelly Ave and Jubilee Rd, other unsightly properties around town and our lake shore must be developed. This will serve to enhance our tourism industry, generate employment, and further beautify our community.
- Investigate an agritourism plan and initiate if non-existent, or add support if present. With our vineyards, orchards, Research Centre, etc. we have a great opportunity to be a fantastic agritourism destination.
Response not available by publication time.
- I would support a Mayor’s Task Force to pursue ideas for economic development and growth in Summerland. Nobody has a “magic wand”, and by engaging all segments of the community, an on-going task force will report multiple creative action plans to spur the local economy.
- During the financial downturn the position of an Economic Development Officer was eliminated. Signs indicate that businesses are gaining confidence and investing again especially in neighbouring provinces. I believe it is an opportune time to re-instate that position either on a volunteer or performance based contract basis.
- The best way to stimulate our economy is to attract new citizens that will bring their own jobs. They are best enticed here as tourists. Summerland should partner with the Thompson-Okanagan Tourist Association to draw “prospects” to the valley. We should also budget to send representatives to trade shows and other events in Alberta to promote our unique lifestyle.
In order to move forward we must recognize what we have and how we can build upon it. Tourism, our town core and agriculture are pillars of our economy.
1) We have awesome mountain biking, agri-tourism, botanical gardens, farmers market, beaches, unique shops, hikes, etc. Fresh ideas and advertising work, and we should keep forging ahead with the strong start we’ve got.
2) In town, let’s start with the Wharton St. property (in stages) to enable people to move and live downtown. Let’s talk about serious incentives for downtown building owners to rent out their space at an affordable rate. We should artfully enhance downtown so that people ‘stop and look around’.
3) I would encourage interested parties to put suitable land into production, while we retain our valuable flat land near town. It’s a great time to be a farmer, so let’s encourage and enable farming.
- Set aside funding for an economic development officer. We need an experienced and educated EDO on staff whose primary mandate is to lead a collaborative group in creating an Economic Development Plan. We need a Plan before we can implement one!
- Insist the Mayor delegate a Councillor as support person, sounding board, collaborator, advisor, etc. to the EDO. This person is the liaison between the EDO and Council-at-Large. We need to let Staff (and Committees) present well-researched, unbiased material upon which policy can be implemented and action taken!
- Make it easier for folks to do business in or invest in Summerland.
This requires changes in policy – something Council is elected to put in place!
Response not available by publication time.
Candidates for Mayor
I would bring back a proposal submitted by T.O.T.A. to market Summerland to the rest of Canada and the world. This proposal received unanimous approval by Council in February of 2012. This was to be a pilot project with Summerland. This project would have put Summerland in the forefront of many tourist’s travel plans, with a boost in tourism dollars.
Our recovery and growth will come from our considerable local resources. I believe that we have tremendous capacity to work together with many good ideas. I am proposing a “Mayor’s Task Force” to bring all our business players together. I believe our business, retail, development, winery, B&B, and agri-business can come up with answers.
There are some aspects of the proposed OCP that I agree with. We need to examine what might be useful. But we need to have a plan that we can stick with. We must create certainty for our development community. They need to be confident that investments they make are not wasted. The result will be investment with confidence as the overall economy improves.
Present Council made a concerted effort to improve our industrial base. This resulted in the Bentley Road Industrial Park, which is open and ready for development. Marketing is happening through the property owners. The Chamber of Commerce and the District of Summerland are ready to assist in the development.
Recent changes to the zoning of the downtown core, which allows more density have been implemented. Now property owners with applicable lot sizes can make application to sub-divide their property or construct Carriage Houses on appropriate size lots. I would continue to encourage these measures to increase density in our core.
Since 1996 to the census of 2011, we increased our population by 696. Over 15 years, that is less than .5% growth per year. B.C.’s average growth is 4% per year. Healthy growth is 1.5 to 2.0%. We have to increase our growth area; this is why the change to our OCP is so critical. I will work with the entire community to promote Healthy Growth which will result in a Healthy Community.
- Downtown Densification as per the OCP: We need more people living downtown supporting businesses. Following my term as Mayor, there has not been one 4 storey building, not one 3 storey building……yet this Council had 3 publicly owned properties where they had total control over building size. Council chose one storey buildings. We lost eleven parking stalls on Main Street for our customers. We need a little common sense.
- Improve Community Profile: Summerland needs honest, transparent, professional leadership, which includes serious monitoring of costs and services: important drivers for growth and investment. Some servicing costs are increasing unsustainably. Needs to be addressed.
- Treating Developers Fairly: Current council is holding developers to higher standards than the District of Summerland itself follows. i.e. major connector road specifications & groundwater management. Treating developers fairly encourages them and others to do more business in our town.
- Health and wellness is the fastest growing industry in this country. Summerland has a dedicated group of health care providers as well as exceptional private and public facilities. Make Summerland a centre of excellence for research and treatment, i.e. dementia, diabetes by building on the foundations of our existing health care community.
- Agriculture is the backbone of Summerland and I will focus on an industry to support our farmers. Eco-agriculture tourism will promote land stewardship and strengthen the relationship between the community and the land. Such programs as Farm Stay and expanding our local farmers’ markets will attract locals and tourists alike.
- Become the community of festivals. I will hire on a contract basis an event coordinator to return past events and create new that will involve our colourful and diverse community. Partnering with the Chamber of Commerce would create a bridge between community, business and tourism.
As Mayor I would spearhead:
- A Summerland Community Component Working Group;
Leaders from: Police, Business, Arts, Tourism, Agriculture, Developers, Youth and Seniors, will meet monthly (minimum) and brainstorm Summerland issues with a specific focus on growth and investment. If we are united on our approach we as a community will flourish.
- Policing: 2 am – 7 am = no police coverage; three police officers = prohibitive cost. Option #1: Hire second Bylaws/Peace Officer) Option #2: Hire Auxiliary policeman.
Randomly patrol the industrial areas and business downtown. Businesses like the Gold and Silver Exchange so they aren’t forced to leave due to repeated theft.
- “Reach out to Summerland Businesses Initiative” City Council must take a stronger position of support of all our local businesses including our agricultural business community. This means aggressively shopping/buying local more than Summerland has in the past. Lead by example!