Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund (left) speaks with Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce members Pamela Owen and Marc Cormier at the chamber’s breakfast meeting Wednesday at the Village Green Hotel.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund (left) speaks with Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce members Pamela Owen and Marc Cormier at the chamber’s breakfast meeting Wednesday at the Village Green Hotel.

Civic officials send a message

Vernon, Coldstream and RDNO reps speak to the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce

Greater Vernon’s business leaders are being told that local governments are working together.

Co-operation was the theme as the mayors of Coldstream and Vernon and the chairperson of the Regional District of North Okanagan spoke to the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce Wednesday.

“We will continue to work with our partners for the betterment of the region and its citizens and businesses,” said Rick Fairbairn, RDNO chairperson, at the event at the Village Green Hotel.

Among the goals of the City of Vernon are to collaborate with other jurisdictions on the proposed twinning of Kal Tire Place, constructing a new museum and art gallery and looking at ways to help the Okanagan Indian Band service land for development.

RDNO has teamed up with the City of Vernon and other communities on the regional growth strategy and specifically identifying areas for industrial development.

“We’re looking at how to increase the supply of employment lands,” said Fairbairn.

All three jurisdictions are part of the consortium that has purchased the abandoned rail line from Kelowna to Coldstream.

“This acquisition is important for the North Okanagan and its economy,” said Fairbairn.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund insists that bolstering the economy is important to the city.

“We want to reduce the downtown vacancy rate to less than 10 per cent,” he said, adding that building permit values are up 43 per cent since 2014.

“We’re heading back up. We’re seeing recovery in residential construction.”

In Coldstream, council has focused on promoting industrial land on Ricardo Road and commercial development by the municipal office.

Agricultural is also on the upswing with a major investment by one grower in cherries.

“They sell for about $32 a pound in stores around the world,” said Mayor Jim Garlick.

All three jurisdictions told chamber members that they are also looking at cutting red tape.

“We want to ensure we have a competitive development review process,” said Mund.

One issue that didn’t arise is amalgamation and local government structuring which the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has called for.

“That’s not the only thing we’re dealing with,” said Dan Rogers, chamber manager, when asked why the elected officials weren’t challenged about amalgamation. “We heard about how important collaboration is.”