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Neighbours pitch in for jobs plan

Borders are being ignored when it comes to creating jobs.

The Regional District of North Okanagan board has unanimously endorsed an employment lands action plan.

“Our community is not just Vernon and this is part of the co-operative effort we have,” said Rob Sawatzky, a Vernon director.

“It’s a commitment of funds from our regional district neighbours and that’s an important measure to consider.”

The plan is a joint project of RDNO and the City of Vernon, which are contributing $20,000 each.

The goal is to develop realistic and achievable actions that can be implemented within five years that will expand the available employment land supply.

“Lumby has a large area of industrial land and if this plan can help move it forward and more marketable, then we’re in favour of this,” said Kevin Acton, a village, director, adding that a significant issue for his community is extending sewer and other services to industrial land.

But even with challenges, Acton insists that more must be done to create jobs for existing residents as well as attracting new people here.

“We need to create more economic diversity,” he said.

Acton believes all co-operation is critical because while a resident may work in one community they may live or shop in another area.

“Armstrong is local, Vernon is local, Lumby is local,” he said.

The North Okanagan has a total vacant industrial land supply of about 1,011 acres.

However, an RDNO report says the availability of market-ready serviced industrial land is very limited, especially for sites larger than five acres.

All vacant industrial lands more than 10 acres, which represent 76 per cent of the total area of vacant employment lands, are currently unserviced or can only be developed in the mid to long-term.

 

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