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Posted: August 12, 2015

Positive trends in Kimberley

A sunny outlook has little to do with the SunMine and everything to do with market confidence, says City of Kimberley Economic Development Officer Kevin Wilson.

With the past six months of national and global economic news you’d have been forgiven looking into the future with apprehension. But things are playing out differently this summer in Kimberley.

Tourism is bustling.

Kimberley CAO Scott Sommerville, left,  and Economic Development Officer Kevin Wilson greet dignitaries as they arrive for the opening of SunMine last month.
Kimberley CAO Scott Sommerville, left, and Economic Development Officer Kevin Wilson greet dignitaries as they arrive for the opening of SunMine last month.

“With the exchange rate at its lowest levels in 13 years, our region is enjoying the duel benefit of more visits from Americans as well as increased visitation from neighbours in Alberta who are staying closer to home,” said Wilson.

The publicity from the opening of SunMine, B.C.’s largest solar facility, has created additional buzz about Kimberley.

Kimberley accommodators report 10% year over year growth in occupancy with sold out weekends since the beginning of June and weeknight sellouts since JulyFest.

A sell out equates to about 500 accommodation units with an average of 2.5 guests spending an average of $125 per day on food, entertainment, shopping, and accommodation or about $150,000 per day, the city’s Economic Development Office related.

In retail, as well, you can see visible signs of a positive investment climate. Two new storefronts in Marysville and two new coffee shops in the permitting process, as well as seven new businesses downtown illustrate the positive outlook of many entrepreneurs, Wilson noted.

Construction activity continues at a pace not seen since 2010. Up to the end of July 2015 there were 16 new single-family building starts, compared to seven at the same point last year.

June 2015 construction starts in the East Kootenay. Click to enlarge
June 2015 construction starts in the East Kootenay. Click to enlarge

With $4.8 million in building permits up to the end of June, the brisk pace in Kimberley is outstripping all other communities in the East Kootenay. The next closest is Fernie at $4.5 million.

“We are having a great 2015. Construction is up and our events scene has seen a resurgence this year, with the continued success of events like Round the Mountain, and new events like Symphony on the Mountain, the Kimberley Medieval Festival, and the Diamond Rio concert,” said Mayor Don McCormick.

According the mayor there is much more to come.

“Get ready for the Black Spur Ultramarathon August 22-23 when 300 highly motivated competitors will descend on our community. These folks tend to be high-achieving professionals and their presence will be noticed,” he said.

Looking forward into the fall, the Kimberley Conference Centre will host 300 delegates and spouses as part of the B.C. Community Futures Conference from September 23-25, and 250 delegates from the Church of God September 27 – October 5.

Lead image: A scene from this year’s JulyFest Parade. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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