COLUMN: Cultural development drives growth

Cultural development is a new area of focus for many municipalities due to a shift in the assumptions of what drives local economies.

Cultural development is a new area of focus for many Canadian municipalities due largely to a basic shift in the assumptions of what drives local economies.

The traditional growth model is for a municipality to try to attract industrial development with tax breaks or lax regulations.

Today, however, it’s acknowledged this approach leads to a race to the bottom and ultimately results in the deterioration of a community’s amenities and infrastructure.

Companies consider many factors when determining where to locate and usually they have to balance several criteria. Quality of life and quality of place — the unique characteristics that define a community and make it attractive — are often the deciding factor.

The correlation between economic growth and cultural development is well documented.

Recent retirees, young families, entrepreneurs, skilled knowledge workers, and creative people of all sorts want to live and work in a place that offers a full range of amenities and cultural assets.

They are attracted to a vibrant arts scene, a bustling downtown, public art, green space, and a respect for local heritage. This, in turn, is what attracts investment.

This is an important distinction: in a globalized, knowledge-based economy, it is business that follows people rather than people who follow business.

More new housing is currently being built in Summerland than at any time in the past five years. But all that new development will have little positive impact on the community if all those new homeowners choose to shop out of town, spend their leisure hours out of town, and send their kids to school out town.

A community thrives when its people are socially and physically active in the community, when they attend community events and volunteer their time for local causes, when they shop locally, and even start their own local businesses.

Summerland needs more community-minded residents and to get them we need to invest in local culture.

In April 2015, Council appointed a task force of a dozen community members and two council representatives to develop a Cultural Plan that understood the values and perspectives of the community.

Through an intensive year-long public consultation process that garnered more than 2,300 comments, people told us they valued Summerland’s quality of life, the community’s character, its agricultural base, local arts, and local history and heritage.

From these commonly held values, the task force developed a Cultural Plan with five strategic directions:

o Reflect Summerland’s cultural values in municipal decisions and projects

o Establish an administrative framework to support the arts, heritage and culture

o Enhance public spaces and cultural places

o Build on community strengths and assets

o Connect the community

Council adopted the Plan on Sept. 12. It will now be incorporated into the municipality’s Official Community Plan (OCP) to provide it the same status as other municipal plans used for informing policy and planning decisions.

Our first-ever official Cultural Plan will guide local cultural development well into the future, helping to make Summerland a more economically robust and vibrant community.

Doug Holmes is a Summerland councillor. The views expressed by the author are his alone and do not necessarily reflect council policy.


Just Posted

Former Summerland lifeguard will continue to receive pension benefits

Edward Casavant has pleaded guilty to several child sexual assault and pornography charges

Summerland grape growers issue fundraising challenge

Gerry and Kathy Ryan have donated $5,000 to the Tree of Dreams fundraising campaign

Toys for Tots to Teens at South Okanagan secondary school

For the second year Pen High is hosting the annual Toys for Tots to Teens

COLUMN: Considering Canada’s relationship with China

It is no secret that Canada’s relations with China have deteriorated considerably in recent years

Summerland planning asset management work

Improvements needed to infrastructure for utilities

Video: Magicians and Bubble Wonders highlight Penticton Shriners Variety Show

The annual fundraiser filled the Cleland Community Theatre on Sunday.

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

Vernon bylaw says Frosty has to go: store owner

Vernon Teach and Learn told to take down inflatable snowman

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP surprised by Conservative leader’s resignation

Arnold predicts Conservative party will remain united in its quest to become government

Vernon business evacuated after gas line hit

A natural gas line was struck, emergency responders unsure of size

Lug nuts loosened on several vehicles in Vernon

Mischief makers reportedly compromising cars; motorists reminded to check vehicles before operating

Most Read