Economy draws regional approach

Communities gathered together for a workshop hosted by the Regional District of North Okanagan

Lumby representatives discuss the possibility of a regional focus on economic development.

Lumby representatives discuss the possibility of a regional focus on economic development.

The North Okanagan could be moving even closer to promoting the economy together.

Communities gathered together for a workshop hosted by the Regional District of North Okanagan Tuesday.

“We were looking at whether there’s a need to collectively work together on economic development,” said Rick Fairbairn, RDNO chairperson.

Six municipalities, five electoral areas and the Okanagan Indian Band were at the table.

“There’s an agreement to take it to the next step and go to the respective councils for consideration,” said Fairbairn.

Vernon has its own economic development service already.

“We want to find a way to work with Vernon because it’s taken a lead when people are looking to locate to the region,” said Fairbairn.

If the process proceeds further, it’s not likely RDNO would establish its own economic development function. It would probably contract activities to an outside agency, such as Community Futures.

Kevin Acton, Lumby mayor, says the village is interested in working with other communities to create jobs.

“It’s imperative. Twenty minutes down the road is not a different town, it’s still part of your community,” he said.

As an example, Acton points to manufacturing at the former glass plant in Coldstream.

“These people have to live somewhere and we (Lumby) have reasonably priced housing,” he said.

Enderby is also looking at the regional model.

“We’ve been trying to work on it (economic development) on our own but staff are trying to do a million other things,” said Mayor Greg McCune.

“What’s the value if we free up our staff to do other things?”