Moving to Summerland three years ago via Calgary from Hamilton, Ont., was a leap of faith into a new culture.
Most people think of culture shock when we hear stories of people moving from small towns to big cities with populations of millions of people, dealing with rush hours, eight-lane mega highways, lineups for everything and often the cold shoulders of fellow residents.
When I talk to friends and family in Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary I brag about the ease of daily life. I let them know that I can walk to work in 12 minutes and drive to work in two minutes. I only have to go through one four-way stop sign on my route, and people often wave each other on to let them go first. I explain that in a three-block radius from my office, I can work out, grocery shop, go to my bank, to the post office, drug store, get a nice treat at a coffee shop and hit a cool boutique for someone’s birthday present. When we drive to a friend’s house in town, it’s not going to be more than a five-minute drive any way you cut it. We have a clean lake and at least four local beaches to enjoy right in town.
Big town dwellers listen with interest to all these scenarios and often sigh at the thought of some of our small town simplicities which I see as luxuries.
There is always a balance between good and not so good in any location.
As newcomers, we had to get used to the possibility of forest fires when we bought our first fire insurance for our home and had to face my fear of bears understanding that bears do live around town.
Although our job market does not match bigger cities, I find a sense of happiness much higher than people’s relative income here.
One of the things we don’t have to sacrifice in our town is the quality and availability of sporting activities.
With summer being over, families now switch over to sports and activities to take us through the fall, winter and spring months.
Thankfully, our small town has much to offer.
The ORCA swim team just completed our registrations for the Fall season start-up.
We are at capacity for our development groups. As my oldest son is now 5 his world of sports has started to open up.
We don’t want to have him involved in too many sports and activities, but are excited to let him explore his interests. He played soccer in the spring, he wants to play hockey and has joined the ORCA swim team. The great thing about Summerland is that we have all the opportunities for the arts and sports in town. Simply check out a recreation guide or local websites.
Upon moving here, I was worried that opportunities for sports would be limited, but I have been so happy with our quality programs available in our community. Carting your kids off to activities and school can be a challenge in and of itself, and I appreciate the things in our town that are simple. I really appreciate the friendly environment in Summerland with very experienced professionals and coaches leading our sports teams. Sports and arts are not something we have to give up in order to live in a smaller town! I predict there will be an ongoing trend of families moving here from big cities both to the west and east of us looking to enjoy the conveniences of smaller town life along with affordability, safety, recreation and quality of life.
Joanne Malar is a three-time Olympic Swimmer, Summerland Parks and Recreation Programmer and Orca Co-Head Coach. This will be her last article for this year before she goes on maternity leave with her third baby.