Terry Fries

COLUMN: Time to talk about Summerland’s future

Most evenings, summer or winter, Summerland streets and sidewalks are shockingly barren

Summerland, we need to talk.

The Banks Crescent development has come and gone and although I was in favour of it because of the much-needed boost to the district’s tax roll, I also believe in democracy.

And I believe democracy was served in this case when council voted down the development for a senior care home at the contentious Banks Crescent location.

But it leaves important questions unanswered. Number One: If not this project, then what?

The Banks Crescent project held great potential to bring in doctors, nurses and professional families to the area, not to mention much needed senior-care spaces.

It was relatively non-polluting and wasn’t likely to generate a lot of noise complaints once construction was complete. It’s not like the developer was proposing an aluminum smelter or a nightclub down in the space where a quiet little vineyard now sits.

But in the end, we couldn’t get past the potential problems.

So where do we go now?

I’ve heard many people mention that they envision a Summerland that possesses a quaint character and a quiet heart; one filled with boutique-style shops, specialty stores and unique restaurants.

Perfect.

But finding the right balance of quaint and quiet is tricky.

Last summer, a local woman visiting my business remarked how she was taking her out-of-town guests to Peachland for the evening. She felt guilty for doing it, but I couldn’t fault her.

She said Peachland was simply “more fun.” And she was right. Peachland in the evening is packed full of people, there to enjoy “the scene”, have dinner, a drink, maybe walk the beach and go shopping.

Most evenings, summer or winter, Summerland streets and sidewalks are shockingly barren.

So, we have to ask ourselves if we really want a vibrant community of eclectic shops and cool dining. If we do, how do we build it? How do we make it sustainable for the long term?

Part of the answer involves finding new ways to welcome new families, even though it might mean small compromises. A little increased traffic, for example, might be a small price to pay to attract new investors willing to renovate the aging buildings downtown and elsewhere.

It might require that we relax some bylaws, while getting tougher with others, until we find the right mix that sparks renewal.

We also need to find a way to generate more visitors through the critical core block of downtown.

The proposed new rental apartment unit planned for Wharton Street is a promising development.

There are also plans in the works to revive the Fall Festival and build on the fledgling Ryga Festival for arts and music. As well, some businesses in downtown have grabbed the bull by the horns and are planning events of their own for this summer and beyond.

All these initiatives are on the right track but we still have to overcome Summerland’s reputation for being a place where nothing ever happens.

It’s a reputation well-earned because, frankly, that’s a central reason why many of us choose to live here.

But we can’t have it both ways. We can’t say we want a town with a beating heart, if we are not willing to work for one.

We need new ideas to help Summerland become the destination of choice more often for those who shuttle up and down Highway 97.

Our community will always have agriculture as its backbone and its most important charm, but if we want the character of our community to be more than one of essential services, then we need to do better.

What do we do now Summerland? What do we truly want and how do we get there? Or if today’s Summerland is your idea of a perfect community, (and it is pretty good) then let’s get that out there too.

I’m listening.

Email me at tfries@shaw.ca

Terry Fries is a Summerland journalist specializing in business and agricultural issues. He has more than 20 years experience as an editor and writer.

Just Posted

LETTER: Refine it where you mine it

Why not refine oil sand resources where they are mined?

LETTER: Slow down to save fuel and money

Many motorists observed speeding along Highway 97

Oliver arena celebrates anniversary with Montreal Canadiens alumni game

Players have the chance to play with or against the Montreal Canadiens alumni

UPDATE: Sagmoen to stand trial

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

COLUMN: Finding the joy during the holiday season

For some, instead of joy and cheer there is sadness, loneliness, even depression at Christmas

More snow to kick off the week

The Okanagan and Shuswap will see a light dusting of snow Monday night

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

Most Read