Mayor Janice Perrino said Summerland will need growth if it is to remain a vibrant and healthy community.
Speaking at a Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism luncheon earlier this month, Perrino said it is important for the community to see population growth and new jobs and industries.
“A healthy community requires a growth rate of two per cent a year,” she said. “We have not even had one per cent growth over 10 years.”
While the population has remained stagnant, Perrino said there are some positive signs for Summerland.
She said Ripley Stainless, a Summerland manufacturer, has managed to keep growing despite the ongoing economic slowdown.
Beaver Home Improvements has acquired a building in the James Lake Industrial Area and will soon relocate to Summerland from Penticton.
A Calgary company is now looking at a development on Wharton Street.
The plan this time is for a three- to five-storey building instead of the original seven-storey structure.
Perrino said the building, which will house the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library and the Summerland Museum, is needed.
“If we get the Wharton Street project to go forward, we have an opportunity for the library,” she said.
The present library building, which opened in 1981, is half the recommended size for a library building in a community with Summerland’s population.
Other projects are in the discussion stages, she said.
There is some interest in bringing a new fruit packing business into the packing house on Jubilee Road East. The packing house was closed last year.
An earlier plan to bring a campus to Summerland for viticulture study is still under consideration and Perrino said she expects news on the project soon.
Although growth has been at a standstill for several years, Perrino said Summerland has been in a better position than some of the neighbouring communities.
“This community can pay its bills,” she said. “That’s amazing when you consider how Penticton has struggled.”
She said the municipality is working efficiently despite challenges.
“We are 1,000 per cent better than we were three years ago,” she said.
She said the challenge now is to keep taxes low while increasing growth in the business sector.
If business and industry grew at a rate of five per cent a year, she said the community would enjoy benefits from that level of growth.
She added that she would like to see the Wharton Street project finished within three years and a new library facility completed in that time frame.
Bringing in the growth and changes will mean marketing Summerland, she said.
“We don’t do enough promotion of our community,” she said. “Let’s work together to do more.”