Small is Beautiful, a book by E. Schumacher, is recommended reading for those who want Summerland to grow.
Fifty years ago, 1967, Summerland’s population was around 4,000 persons, with approximately 1,000 families. Today we have 11,615 persons (latest stats) with about 4,000 families. We have nearly 3,000 persons over 65, about one-third of our total population; 100 new persons coming in a year with about two new families in the mix.
Doesn’t seem like significant growth.
However, there have been a lot of dramatic changes over 50 years: two new schools, two malls, a new arena, a new curling facility, several new businesses, many operating out of their homes (which was not the case 50 years ago,) an expanded 18-hole golf course, two expanding forest-tree growing operations, a four-lane paved highway to Penticton and the list goes on.
There are many good things about remaining a small town, and old-timers will remember when:
• There was way less crime — we were No. 2 then, not No. 10.
• We didn’t have to lock our doors — home or car
• No burglar alarms needed
• Peaceful atmosphere, less frowning faces, far fewer strangers
• More green patches, with orchards almost bordering on town centre
• A lot more home entertainment
• Fewer liquor outlets
• Less traffic, very few parking problems
We seem to want to encourage older people to come to Summerland to spend their last years away from their families in Saskatchewan or Alberta. Away from the communities that supported them where they worked. Away from the province and towns where they paid their taxes and coming here for medical care that our province mostly pays for and has to provide. Coming to a place that has to provide them with a place to live out their last days.
Families that have lived here for the last 50 years have spent most of their money helping build up Summerland businesses.
The way I look at it, the only businesses that incoming retired folk benefit are developers and the mortuary.