While many communities in British Columbia saw population increases last year, Summerland’s population shrank.
The drop of 251 people is greater than in any other community in B.C. and in terms of percentage, Summerland is in the top five communities with declining populations.
This decline should sound loud alarm bells for the community.
Summerland has lost more than 200 jobs during the same period as the population dropped.
Those jobs, at a tree nursery, a fruit packing house and a fruit drying operation, have not been replaced.
Without a solid job base, it will be difficult to attract people to the community.
At the same time, the high cost of housing in Summerland can be seen as a deterrent for businesses looking to set up here.
Buying or renting is expensive and out of reach of some who could become part of the local work force.
Until some lower cost housing is available here, businesses will continue to have a hard time finding or keeping workers.
At present, Summerland has a reputation as a great place for retirees and there are services and amenities geared for seniors.
However, if the labour force continues to dwindle, there will be fewer people available to staff the care centres and other businesses which cater to our retirees.
It is in everyone’s best interests to have a population which can at the very least remain stable and preferably show some signs of growth.
Summerland is not alone. Throughout the Thompson, Okanagan, Kootenay and Boundary regions, drops of almost one per cent were observed.
Our population decline must be reversed quickly if Summerland is to thrive.