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Summerland chamber office to relocate downtown

At present, visitor centre is located on Highway 97
The Summerland Chamber of Commerce building, which also houses the visitor centre, will be sold and the chamber will relocate to a site in downtown Summerland. (Summerland Review file photo)

The Summerland Chamber of Commerce and the municipality of Summerland will relocate the chamber from its present location on Highway 97 to a new downtown location.

The new facility will provide visitor services in Summerland’s downtown, to draw visitors into the community and expose them to businesses as well as the arts, culture and history of the area. The chamber is branding its new approach as Destination Summerland, which will accompany future marketing and communications.

The present building, at the intersection of Highway 97 and Thompson Road, is owned by the chamber, on land owned by the municipality.

The chamber will use its portion of the sale to relocate to a new downtown location and the municipality will earmark its proceeds for tourism-related ventures.

“We are excited to work with the Summerland Chamber of Commerce as we step into this bright future together,” said Summerland mayor Doug Holmes. “We all know Summerland has much to offer and we will continue to grow our local tourism market to profile the community as a destination of choice for the travelling public.”

The chamber says the move comes as technology continues to change for travellers.

In the 1990s, when the original arrangement between the chamber and the municipality was made, travellers used roadside wayfinding services to plan and guide their services. Since that time, smartphones, travel apps, user reviews and social media have grown in popularity.

Sally Pierce, executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, said the funding model for the chamber has changed in recent years. In late December, 2020, the chamber revised its model to give Summerland businesses the choice whether to join the chamber. Earlier, for around two decades, businesses were automatically enrolled in the chamber when they purchased their business licenses.

The chamber once had a staff of five full-time people working from the office. Today, the staff is the equivalent of two full-time employees.

“The existing model was no longer sustainable,” Pierce said, but added that the changes will be positive. “That change has forced a new direction. It’s an exciting direction,” she said.

Remax Orchard Country in Summerland will manage the sale of the highway land and building, which will be advertised according to regulatory requirements. Until the sale is completed, the chamber’s services will be delivered from the existing location.

At present, a new location for the chamber has not been found, but Pierce said it is important to have the chamber’s presence in downtown Summerland.

“On behalf of the team at Destination Summerland, I am delighted with the direction the Summerland Chamber of Commerce is taking with this relocation to our downtown core. I wish to thank District of Summerland mayor, council and staff for their ongoing support as we adapt to the future needs of our businesses, residents, and visitors,” said Mike Hildebrand, president of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.

“Congratulations to the District of Summerland, the Summerland Chamber, and the newly announced Destination Summerland on these exciting and progressive changes,” said Ellen Walker-Matthews of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. “We look forward to continuing to work with Summerland on building the visitor economy, supporting both residents and guests in connecting with tourism businesses and experiences.”

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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