Summerland… it’s different here.

What’s different here?  A lot is different here.  For example, Main St is not Highway 97.  That’s different. And Summerland’s “tourist season” does not involve huge numbers of tourists.  That’s different.  How could “tourist season” involve large numbers when there is only one hotel in town?  And only 3 campgrounds (smallish size at that, and one is closing, to boot!).

It’s “different” here in that the Summerland “Chamber of Economic Development” and Tourism…has had NOTHING to do with “economic development” in their mandate for probably 7 years…and has just left those words “economic development” in their official name anyway…for probably 7 years!  Even though the friendly staff there are more than happy to explain to investors, visitors and business people that they have nothing to do with economic development, its just part of the name…that’s different, right?

And, it’s different here because there is one sign at that Chamber (on the highway) which advertises one business and one business only to the thousands of cars driving right past our front door, 24/7 and NO OTHER BUSINESS IS ALLOWED TO PUT A MESSAGE THERE!  Different, no?

Summerland is larger than Penticton and has what, only about 1/3 the population.  Most of the land is used for agriculture: orchards & vines dominate the landscape rather than condos and housing developments.  There is essentially no industrial activity here, no “big employers” to speak of.  In fact, if you come to Summerland with a business, and you employ more people than the local Nestors grocery market, well, you would become maybe the 3rd largest private enterprise employer in Summerland!

Summerland is different also in who lives here.  Most who live here could live elsewhere.  They are not here because their job dictates them living here, for example.  And there is a long history of wealthy owners beginning with the titans of the nation building railway men right thru to today: hockey players, Mayor of other towns *ahem, former Mayors from major metropolises, sports business people, rock stars & models, internet business people, retired fire chiefs, police chiefs, major industrial entreprenuers, and so on.

Another big thing that makes Summerland different is regarding the age demographic.  First off, there are no jobs and no housing for people aged say 18 to 25.  There is no college or university here, and nothing for that age group “to do”.  So, as soon as High School is over, that age group pretty much disappears…fast!  Can’t blame them either, its a great big old world out there to go explore!

The dominant current trend of people looking to come to Summerland would be the shock and surprise of most who just “drove right past Summerland for years and had no idea such a wonderful small town was here all along”…( I refer you back to the highway sign at the chamber that only one business is allowed to use)  And these people who newly discover this small town and fall in love with it can be categorized as being one of the following: go-go, slow-go or no-go!  The dominant group that Summerland appeals to is definitely go-go!  And that makes this town different from say Osooyos or a Qualicum Beach that really appeals more to the “slow-go & no-go” demographic.

And, finally, in terms of being very different, I leave you with a question:  What other town do you know of that has increased the storage capacity of its water system, built the finest and newest water treatment plant in BC, and still has “questions” about its water?  Most ironic of all, and, perhaps the ultimate example of why I say its “different” here:  The former Mayor who was in charge of building that very water treatment plant has written probably in excess of a dozen letters to various newspapers in the valley, criticizing the very plant HE WAS IN CHARGE OF PUTTING IN PLACE!  Now, that is “different”, no?

Patrick Murphy 250 486 2529

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