Mike Reiley

Mike Reiley

Greater Vernon officials pitch the economy

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

Economic recovery is unfolding in the North Okanagan.

Members of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce were told by local government officials Wednesday that construction is strong.

“Every where you look, something new is being built,” said Akbal Mund, Vernon’s mayor, at the Vernon Atrium Hotel.

About $80.8 million in residential and commercial building permits were handed out by the city between January and May.

The projected construction value in the region’s five electoral areas is $35 million for 2016.

“We are seeing large single-family residences and there have been large buildings with the dairy and poultry industries,” said Rick Fairbairn, Regional District of North Okanagan chairperson.

Among the projects is a major expansion of Keefer Lake Lodge near Cherryville.

The sound of hammers and saws can also be heard throughout Coldstream.

“We are back to pre-slump numbers,” said Mike Reiley, the district’s director of development services, of building statistics.

A new 29-lot subdivision is currently underway on Middleton Mountain.

To keep up with the growth, Coldstream is tackling a number of issues, including extending sewer services and expanding the transportation network.

“We want to do all of this while retaining our motto, ‘Rural living at its best,'” said Reiley.

RDNO and other jurisdictions continue to work on the industrial land action plan.

“By working together, we’re able to support the expansion and retention of existing businesses and the attraction of new businesses,” said Fairbairn.

Initiatives are also underway to increase farming’s economic role.

“Agriculture is alive and well and it’s big business,” said Fairbairn, adding that the sector has an impact of about $126 million regionally.

For Mund, it’s important that the city is proceeding with an expansion of Kal Tire Place and focusing on parks and recreation amenities.

“This is what will entice business and employees to relocate to the community,” he said.

As part of a long-term strategy, future infrastructure is being considered such as a new RCMP detachment, swimming pool and cultural centre.

“Everything costs money and instead of raising taxes, we will look at grants and other ways to raise funds,” said Mund.