The eyes of the world are on Invermere these days — come this spring, the eyes of everyone who watches Daily Planet, anyway. Between the ongoing Whiteway expansion plans and a host of winter events running at Panorama Mountain Village, Radium Hot Springs and Invermere, it’s been a bustling, busy winter looking at the calendar.
National press has been the goal of at least one of these projects, and so far it’s succeeded (one could make a similar, if touchier, argument about the deer cull). The question is, what comes next?
Theoretically, this is the year our politicians are getting serious about economic development. A strategy for the Columbia Valley is on the to do list at the Regional District of East Kootenay. In Invermere, council put an economic development forum of its own, to be held in June, on its list of priorities for the year.
What economic development looks like here is still pretty hazy. Ideas so far have run the gamut from bringing in a convention centre to hiring a development officer to doing more whole valley marketing. It could mean finding new ways to bolster old industries — like starting community forests, a plan already in the works.
But whatever shape the final plan takes, it’s got to be about more than simply getting people here. Visitors are a vital part of this area’s economy, but in an era of financial nervousness getting people to show up to one site doesn’t always mean getting them to circulate.
While it’s been a busy winter, there are also some reports it’s been a tough one for many valley businesses. How we get visitors to fan out in our communities, to interact with our businesses should be a major part of the conversation, when it finally begins.
The possibility of new plans and new attractions is exciting, but preserving what we’ve got is equally — if not more — vital.
—The Valley Echo