When I was hired by the District of Lake Country, I announced my new exciting opportunity and move to my good employer, friends and relatives. Although a small percentage of those I talked to knew about Lake Country, the vast majority of them reacted like this: "Wow! Congratulations! Where is Lake Country?" Then I had to explain.
People refer more easily to Winfield or Oyama and are not clear about the incorporation of the 4 wards into a district municipality, 15 years ago now.
For some people, Lake Country is the best kept secret and maybe it should be like that. But I believe, and Council agrees with me on this, that we need to put Lake Country on the map. We are not Kelowna North or Vernon South, we are a beautiful community with a great Okanagan spirit.
For this reason, Council has endeavored to take some initiatives to improve the image of the community and to provide the foundational work to enhance the uniqueness of Lake Country.
It all began with the goal to attract development in the Town Centre. The question was: 'How can we best support and attract developers to purchase land on Main Street and build viable commercial and residential units there?' The answers were to get to First Base first and begin from the basics.
First of all, we had to meet with the landowners and understand the market and the difficulty they were having to selling their land to good developers.
The second step came from meeting with the landowners and it materialized in the creation and implementation of an Economic Planning and Development Committee of business savvy individuals from Lake Country to assist in cutting bureaucracy and recommending community development policies to Council to streamline processes and improve strategic analysis of business and development proposals.
Finally, the third step was to create a 'Community Brand' that would distinguish Lake Country and point to it like a GPS would do on a map. Yes, putting Lake Country on the map.
The Economic Planning and Development Committee has already met twice to discuss mainly the Town Centre and ways to assist the landowners and potential developers. The group has great dynamics and forward thinking individuals that are going to benefit Lake Country.
The EPDC was also given the task to proceed with the branding exercise. Funding was secured through the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and we received 22 incredible proposals. The process will take us to the end of March 2011, but we will have a unique brand that will identify the community and this area and provide our local businesses with a great opportunity to direct local, regional, and worldwide customers to our beautiful municipality.
These are exciting times for all of us.