Demographic structure has economic benefits

Summerland is a magnet to those who have completed their full-time career and are now enjoying the freedom to live wherever they want to.

Dear Editor,

Understand the economic benefits of our demographics.

Call us empty-nesters, early retirees, post-career folks or simply lucky.

Summerland is a magnet to those who have completed their full-time career and are now enjoying the freedom to live wherever they want to. Many of us remain involved by volunteering or running a little business on the side. We contribute to our economy and help ensure that Summerland keeps its charming character that makes it such a nice place to live.

What would Summerland be without its cosy B&Bs, its beautiful wineries and small lifestyle shops? Many of these are marginal businesses that would not exist if a family depended on their income. What would our weekends look like without the many festivals, car shows and sporting events? These are all run by volunteers who provide a generous free service to their community. Many of the precious events that make Summerland such a great place would not exist without these volunteers and hobby businesses.

So here is my challenge to our council candidates: recognize the unique demographics of Summerland. Realize that there is no harm in working for a somewhat older population. Do not hasten into forcing growth by turning farmland into low-cost neighbourhoods and luring low-skill jobs into new industrial parks. There is a vibrant group of mature citizens that support their community in ways that well exceeds their contribution to the residential tax roll and the creation of well-paying medical jobs. Make sure to get the most out of us. Make sure to attract more.

Here are a couple of simple ideas:

Form a Task Force drawing from volunteers, small business owners, district staff and tourism experts. Have them define 2-3 annual district-wide events and tourist venues that are unique to the valley and put our name on the map.

Establish a sister-city in Europe that helps channel tourists and successful immigrants to Summerland. The Okanagan has so many qualities that appeal to Europeans. There typically are only two ways for them to move here: be independently wealthy or set up a company that provides employment. Either way they’ll help our economy.

Henry Sielmann

Summerland