Economy showing recovery signs

Vernon’s economy appears to be shaking off the recession

Vernon’s economy appears to be shaking off the recession.

The City of Vernon is reporting a sharp increase in construction activity so far during 2014.

“Building permit revenue is up so far,” said Kim Flick, planning and building manager.

For the first three months of the year, there have been 62 building permits issued worth $10 million, compared to 54 permits valued at $7.3 million in 2013.

Most of the activity is coming from single-family residential and commercial construction.

Mayor Rob Sawatzky welcomes the shift away from the recent economic downturn.

“The consensus has been that we scraped along the bottom for a couple of years and we’re moving our way up,” he said.

“We’re at the mercy of large forces and forestry is improving dramatically.”

The increased development comes at the same time the city is proceeding with a revision of the official community plan, which outlines land use.

Council has now supported the OCP’s guiding principles, although Coun. Catherine Lord isn’t pleased with the order in which they are listed.

“The community doesn’t exist unless there is some form of economy going on,” she said.

The first guiding principles referred to protecting the environment and ensuring a range of housing while economic development was several points below that.

Staff insists the order of the issues doesn’t reflect importance and all items are considered equal in status. However, Lord insists that residents will look at the list and believe the top items are the city’s priorities.

“Economic viability should be No. 1 because that’s what allows people to live in the community,” she said.