In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 15 municipal election, the Summerland Review is asking questions of the candidates.
This week’s question: What would you do to promote, attract and retain businesses in Summerland?
To promote, attract and retain businesses you must have stability. Stability comes when you have more than an award winning police station — it must be used 24 hours.
Presently, Summerland has a vacant time slot open for crime. Criminals know it.
When I canvassed downtown businesses, asking them their opinion, there was one that stood out. Summerland Gold and Silver Exchange had been robbed twice in the last month. Can they afford to stay given the circumstances?
Options include auxiliary police or even fiscally more prudent, another Bylaws/Peace officer who patrols during that time? Unity as outlined in question #1 is mandatory.
A Summerland Community Component Working Group proposed make-up consists of leaders from police, business, arts, tourism, agriculture, developers, environment, youth and seniors. They should be meeting monthly and brainstorming Summerland issues with a specific focus on growth and investment.
I know this can work as I founded and chaired a similar successful Chilliwack group.
My plan would be to actively promote Summerland’s heritage, beauty and unbelievable quality of life.
If elected,I will make myself available whenever,and wherever, possible assist in making Summerland the #1 community in the minds of residents, entrepreneurs and corporations throughout Canada.
Summerland is an unknown entity in most of Western Canada, Alberta included, even though the Okanagan is well known as a tourist destination.
I believe we truly can become a community that is not to be missed as visitors make their way through the Valley.
This can be achieved by initiating and supporting increased numbers of sporting events, music festivals, street markets and support for arts and drama initiatives are just a start to promoting Summerland.
As mayor, I would create a self funded (no cost to the District of Summerland) event planner/organizer that will work with the arts and business communities as well as non profit organizations to promote Summerland.
There is a fantastic opportunity for Summerland to develop a destination waterfront encompassing lands located between the Summerland Waterfront Resort and the Rotary Beach. If we, as a community, can join forces with the private sector, it is my opinion that a world class waterfront can be achieved.
At the personal level, I believe promoting our community is a task of the mayor. Making our community interesting and unique promotes, attracts and retains business: and improves community spirit.
I have written and co-authored several books and many articles about Summerland, created two Friendship Cities, assisted with the Hockeyville project, hosted walking tours, made presentations at Okanagan Park Campground, assisted the Remembrance Street Banner program and helped with interpretive signage to raise awareness and pride in our community
At the council level, making our town attractive is important.
Making the downtown convenient for parking increases business opportunities.
Tourists want parks and walking trails.
During my term as Mayor more parks and trails were established than any other Council.
Taxes and fees are needed to pay for the costs of servicing. One needs to identify which municipal service costs are increasing at a greater rate and attempt to control costs.
We presently have a new industrial site off Bentley Road, which is shovel ready for development.
This site took several years to bring to fruition.
This will provide clean industrial growth to our community just off the main highway.
Council, district staff and the Summerland Chamber of Commerce work together to provide information about the unique benefits, that Summerland can offer to new ventures.
We also work with TOTA, the Thompson Okanagan Tourist Association, who provide material that promotes Summerland.
Several of the business people I have spoken to, are competing well in the field they are in, some are struggling.
Common concern is not enough growth to provide them with customers.
I will continue to ensure that taxation is kept to an affordable valley standard, so as to retain local businesses.
A changing business model is emerging.
Big box stores are changing retail and consumer buying habits. It isn’t likely a furniture store can survive in Summerland with stores like the Brick nearby.
Niche stores are emerging and a new work ethic is arising.
Many business owners and professionals are choosing lifestyle over the stress of big city life.
The aesthetics of our beautiful rural urban mix is extremely enticing. With high speed internet, a new multi-lane highway, and close airports with improved schedules and destinations allows tremendous opportunities. In addition we have 175,000 people to the north and about 60,000 to the south.
I would encourage appropriate clean industry, but I see individuals buying property here placing their children in our schools, enjoying our climate, personal safety, buying what they can here but working anywhere their profession takes them.
I would sell Summerland to the world using these incredible attributes.
It is Summerland’s quality of life that attracts people and this is the aspect of Summerland that we need to enhance in order to attract business.
This means, among other things, we should maintain the elements that make the town distinct from other communities such as our Old English theme and no neon signs.
We can be a proactively green community by progressive measures such as outlawing election campaign signs and banning plastic grocery bags.
The future lies in attracting knowledge based industries.
It is the attractiveness to the community which will aid Summerland in joining the rest of the world in the transition from a manufacturing to a knowledge based economy.
Another innovative measure our community can take is to encourage and facilitate the establishment of “community investment corporations” where local people invest money in local projects and the investment is eligible for an RRSP tax deduction.
I will advocate the hiring of an economic development officer — one who demonstrates proven experience and who, perhaps more importantly, recognizes our abundant resources.
Our homegrown resources have the potential to provide many innovative business opportunities — performing and visual arts, arts and cultural-related festivals and events, and value-added agricultural.
Summerland wineries, Summerland Sweets, Vinegar Works, Heritage Cider Company, just to name a few, are excellent examples of taking agricultural products beyond harvest.
Pair our homegrown resources, innovative ideas, and entrepreneurial skills with staff, a plan, and policy that supports these endeavours and we can revitalize and re-energize our business sector including, though not limited to, our downtown core.
It will soon be possible to use the new library as a focal point for revitalization. Libraries are cultural meeting places and storehouses of local knowledge and sharing.
We should work with absentee building owners to ensure their buildings are up to code, desirable and rentals are affordable.
Work with stakeholders, like Accelerate Okanagan, to support, empower and increase the number of locals working in Summerland.
Agriculture is also a business and creating a fresh food haven is a bold yet very possible idea.
Imagine Summerland as a destination for arts, nature, food and drink.
Encourage eye-catching exhibits on downtown streets to encourage people to stop and look around.
Converting ideas into reality is not a simple task, however good ideas can become reality if we a) create space to listen to the ideas that are out there, and b) work hard to make them possible.
I support the idea of a Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Growth. Nobody has the magic wand to boost business in Summerland.
By leveraging our strengths, tourism, agriculture, arts, culture and a wonderful lifestyle we can boost our economy.
I would reinstate the position of an economic development officer on either a volunteer or a performance based contract, eventually to become a full-time paid position again.
Summerland needs budget to send representatives to events and trade shows in Alberta and the Lower Mainland to entice entrepreneurs to bring their jobs here and fill up the Bentley Road Industrial Area.
Summerland sits in the middle of a market of nearly 350,000 people in the Okanagan Valley.
Calgary and Vancouver are a mere hour away by plane.
What a great place to set up shop if they only knew it. We need to partner with the Thompson-Okanagan Tourist Association to promote a valley wide tourist destination.
Response unavailable by press time.
Council must seek to encourage the prosperity of all our residents, businesses, and farmers.
The roles of our mayor and councillors are rarely glamourous and they are afforded no magic wand.
The priorities of our local government are to improve the quality of our lives and maintain, if not enhance, our standard of living.
Most of this revolves around managing our eight-figure annual budget and seeing that our town’s services are managed prudently. There are other entities whose sole focus is to do these tasks, such as our own Summerland Chamber of Commerce.
The role our local government plays is to facilitate the integration of new business into town.
I would support investing in experts to achieve the desired economic stimulus, rather than having council attempt to tackle this themselves. This would be a more effective use of our time and resources and offer a more viable, long-term solution.
This question is near and dear to me, as I have lived the effects of it every day as a business operator for over 10 years in the town core.
The conversation about business growth and success is really a conversation about people.
Increasing the population of residents living near the town core increases the customer base for our local merchants.
Increasing the customer base improves the capability of our business owners to expand their selection of goods, expand their operating hours and hire more local employees.
The greater the selection of goods and services available here in Summerland, the less residents will see value in leaving the community to do their shopping.
Successful businesses invest more in their community and more in their advertising. It is amazing what excitement can be generated simply by success, and how that excitement becomes the best advertising a community can have!
Encourage redevelopment and new development in the downtown and lakeside areas, making for a more sustainable community.
Good example being the construction of the new library, on Main Street.
Continue with the promotion of the Wharton Street project in one form or another.
Putting forth municipal land in the Lakeside area for development into a tourist oriented project, to help compliment what is already there.
Encourage new industrial development in our newly zoned industrial park on Bentley Road, 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 businesses to set up and do business in Summerland.
Work closely with the Chamber of Commerce in the promotion of Summerland as a whole.
1. Ensure the infrastructure is in place to encourage investment and growth. Companies are attracted to and benefit from efficient public works and services, public safety, housing options, good schools, leisure facilities, and overall quality of life.
2. Come up with a community identity for Summerland — establish what sets us apart, what’s our unique selling proposition. Then target market that identity through psychographic segmentation rather than waste money on expensive blanket marketing campaigns.
3. Create incentives for Summerlanders to buy locally. Some municipalities have community loyalty cards that residents use for discounts on municipal services as well as on purchases from participating local businesses and community groups. That could work here. The point is to be creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial. And look at what works elsewhere and adapt them to local conditions.
Support funding Chamber of Commerce initiatives in developing a comprehensive strategy plan that identify priorities, resulting in clear comprehensive business plan defining strengths and weaknesses that are flexible to emerging trends/businesses; identify niche, truly authentic unique pillars of strength, business infrastructures and location.
Establishing businesses: Put out a welcoming mat for newcomers that includes clear ground rules regarding permits, taxation and zoning, establish/implement time lines — initiatives that attempt to minimize risks and moving targets.
Existing businesses: fill service gaps, streamlining and increasing efficiency, reducing costs at municipal level which may be used to reduce taxes for businesses.
Downloading costs of government regulations and Acts coming out of senior government are potentials for costing district and businesses money. Support UBCM in questioning the cost/benefits of new regulations.
The Multi Material Recycling Program is a good example. Ensure costs/benefits remain sustainable or consider a modified plan.
Downtown rejuvenation plans are needed when the store fronts become vacant.
Create pedestrian-oriented and new building designs in the downtown core.
The industrial sector of Summerland is weak and lacks the infrastructure for industrial growth.
With the construction of industrial buildings and promoting them will bring growth in industry.
There is a need to market our community more aggressively.
We should research and seek out other businesses and invite them to locate or expand their businesses here in Summerland.
An economic development committee which makes use of many of the experienced and skilled individuals who live here could help with this.
Networking within this group, with the businesses and outreach globally could net us some very favourable development investments.
The advent of a WestJet daily direct flights to Calgary in Penticton provides us the opportunity to directly market our selves to the oil patch workers and sell them on the quality of life, climate and amenities here in Summerland.
More young families locating here would enrich our community socially, culturally and economically.
A shortage of space does not allow me to expand on this.
Improving our information, communication and technology infrastructure serves as a building block for technology centred businesses and participation in the global economy. They improve our competitiveness.
Entrepreneurs seek out this connectedness along with lifestyle considerations and amenities’ when considering where to locate.
Investments in infrastructure provides direct economic benefits through job creation, improves liveability for local residents and is a key enabler for business retention, attraction and industry development.
To promote, attract and retain business in Summerland I would work with the chamber to create initiatives to assist existing businesses and new businesses.
Important factors in maintaining a successful business are: advertising; accessibility; and community support.
The creation of a business advisory commission would be a great asset to address these issues.
There isn’t a single solution to the challenges faced by our business community.
Businesses need to look at other towns, of similar size and demographics to see what successful businesses are doing there.
By providing attractions and activities, we draw people from the surrounding area to our town.
The district can work with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to improve Summerland.
We need to continue to work to get existing land developed and increase density and population in the downtown core.
The cost of maintaining our existing infrastructure of roads, water and other services is divided over a larger population, reducing everybody’s tax burden.
Lower taxes attracts people and new businesses.
As a Summerland resident and small business owner, I already promote local businesses whenever possible.
I do this by using their services regularly and by encouraging my friends and family to support them.
I frequently post their events and sales on my social media networks.
As a councillor, I would help attract new businesses by supporting initiatives that make it easier to set up in Summerland. I would advocate for infrastructure upgrades around the district and improvements to our downtown core.
I would investigate ways to encourage landlords to enhance their properties. I would introduce myself to all new businesses, and offer my support where possible.
To retain current businesses, I would offer to act as a liaison between the business community and council.
I would continue to have a strong presence in Summerland which allows me to connect with business owners regularly.
I would bring any concerns to the council table.
Martin Van Alphen
When new businesses look to invest in our community we need to promote our local contractors and services.
Although the Chamber of Commerce does an excellent job of promoting current and new businesses through their website and Business After Hours events we each need to individually do our part by shopping locally.
It is also great to have our Bentley Road Industrial area available but the rest of British Columbia and the world needs to know about it.