BX-Swan Lake is one of the rural areas considering the need for an economic development service.

BX-Swan Lake is one of the rural areas considering the need for an economic development service.

Rural communities debate the need for economic development

The five electoral areas have been asked if they are interested in joining an economic development function

Rural communities are deciding if they will join regional economic development efforts.

The five electoral areas have been asked if they are interested in joining an economic development function that would potentially serve all jurisdictions outside of Vernon.

“I’m in,” said Herman Halvorson, rural Enderby director.

“It will be good for business to have someone help them locate to the area.”

The concept is being suggested by the Regional District of North Okanagan and if it proceeds, the function would be operated by Community Futures under contract.

Community Futures would hire an economic development co-ordinator, and it’s looking at a $100,000 budget over three years, 25 per cent of which it would contribute, plus office space and equipment.

Director Hank Cameron isn’t sure if Cherryville will join the function.

“We’re at the exploratory stages,” he said, adding that he needs to look at the scope of the service.

One of Cameron’s concerns is RDNO appears to be focused only on economic development in urban areas.

“Many businesses can be operated without community sewer and water,” he said of farm-based activities and home-based enterprises.

BX-Swan Lake will participate, partly because of plans for sewer along the Swan Lake corridor.

“It could open up land for appropriate development,” said director Bob Fleming.

The other two electoral areas are rural Lumby and BX-Silver Star, while the municipalities being approached for the function are Enderby, Armstrong, Spallumcheen, Coldstream and Lumby.

“It has to be everyone involved. It limits the opportunities if you take communities out,” said Fleming.