A municipal task force to examine economic development in Summerland is continuing its work.
The Mayor’s Economic Task Force was introduced in late October last year and began its six-month work near the beginning of this year.
The task force’s role was to consult with stakeholders and develop recommendations on how the municipality can best support economic development.
The recommendations were to have been presented in June.
Now, close to three months after the report was to be completed, Mayor Peter Waterman says additional time is needed.
“Our economic task force is ongoing and requires more depth to achieve results,” he said in his mayor’s report on Aug. 22. “We have applied for a provincial rural dividend grant to assist us in increasing its scope.”
Waterman said issues surrounding economic growth are complex and multi-faceted.
“It’s more difficult than you think,” he said. “It’s going to take quite a bit longer than I thought it might.”
Issues affecting the downtown retail sector include infrastructure, downtown building conditions and lease and rental rates.
While some downtown businesses have closed in recent weeks and months, and while there are vacant business buildings downtown, Waterman said there is still interest in the community.
He said some consultants who do their work online have chosen to set up in Summerland.
In addition, two environmental companies, both based in Summerland bring in business from across Canada.
Waterman said the community has managed to attract some niche businesses to the downtown. These businesses have drawn customers from around the valley.
Members of the task force are examining ways to make it easier for businesses to work with the municipality.
“How can city hall make things smoother for businesses?” Waterman asked.
The municipality has seen an increase in residential development this year. As a result, more people have been added to the development services department, to cope with the additional workload.
However, Waterman added that some of the bigger residential developments will take years, not weeks to complete.