Anemic growth has hurt community

Over the last 18 years, our community population has grown by only 696 souls.

Dear Editor:

From statistics presented at the last council meeting (and confirmed by Statistics Canada) over  the last 18 years, our community population has grown by only 696 souls.

But also during this 18 year time frame we are now able to drink safe clear water all year long (with adequate storage for crops and fish,) our sewage no longer seeps onto the playing fields, we have quite a few more safe roads with sidewalks, modern fire apparatus with trained staff and the police station is no longer condemned.

Apparently along the way we also took advantage of Federal/Provincial Action Plan funding on about 75 million in infrastructure improvements.

We have come a long way but many years of deferments and making do have finally caught up and now we have to get serious.

I remember in the mid-1990s  being involved in an Official Community Plan  advisory group and a few folks were adamant that growth must stop. “We are here now; we don’t want or need any more people.”

Well, we have sure accomplished that objective in spades.

Not only has this anemic growth stifled our district’s ability to operate; what about our businesses, service clubs, sporting facilities, schools and recreation?

It is easy to blame the recession for all our woes but I believe this is too simplistic.

Don’t you think our lack of choice in new construction may have had something to do with it?

Our options in recent developments are either an apartment over a store, a bare land strata on a steep rocky hill side, a wildfire area overlooking an unkempt industrial park or purchase an orchard, lease it out and build a mansion.

Not only are the choices limited, they are usually quite expensive.

Is it any wonder new folks possibly bypass our community as a place to settle?

If I recall, our present councillors campaigned on a platform to fix the water, improve the roads, and update the OCP to reflect a walkable community.

Folks, I think that is why we elected them and that is what they are trying to do.

Remember the last time we allowed a few dogmatic folks to sway decisions and we lost a viable value added agri-business to Omak, Washington. We will never live that down.

Let’s take advantage of this slow growth period and put a community driven future urban plan in place so we are ready for the next cycle. It will happen whether we like it or not, lets prepare now for next 50 years.

This will be my last letter for a while. I am revisiting New Zealand, in a very similar community to ours. It went through this same planning exercise about 15 years ago.

Well-planned urban developments followed, lot prices came down and agricultural folks are pleased that sprawl has stopped. Everyone wins.

Let’s get on board.

Don Hudgeon

 

Summerland

 

 

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