A look around Summerland will show what can happen if a community experiences little or no growth.
For years there have been requests to stop or at least limit growth in Summerland, in order to keep the community’s small-town charm.
Today, the effects of those efforts are clearly visible.
Summerland has seen little increase in its population, but the median age is much higher than it was even a few years ago.
The number of students at Summerland Secondary School is on the decline.
Downtown retail businesses are closing and there are too many vacant and under-utilized downtown buildings.
Housing prices in Summerland are significantly higher than in the rest of the South Okanagan and Similkameen region.
By themselves, any of these facts are cause for concern. Seen together, they should be seen as a serious problem for the entire community.
Instead of exuding small-town charm, Summerland is showing signs of stagnation.
If present business trends continue, the community can expect to see the continued decline of the downtown business sector.
If the population remains at its present level and continues to age, the number of students will decline to the point where questions must be asked about keeping Summerland’s schools open.
These losses alone could transform Summerland from a community on its own to a collection of high-priced homes.
The Urban Growth Plan under consideration is one attempt to address some of these problems. Other plans are also needed.
But one fact should remain clear: We need to take action now.
There is a critical need for some positive change within this community.