The Similkameen Valley Planning Society (SVPS) met in Princeton on Nov. 27 at the Library Conference Room. The Society formed to develop a long term sustainability plan for the Similkameen Valley and includes; the mayor and elected officials from Princeton, Keremeos, the Upper and Lower Similkameen Indian Bands, and all the Similkameen Valley Regional Directors.
The first presentation on the agenda was an update on the Similkameen Valley tourism project via Simone Carlysle-Smith, Community Development Specialist from TOTA. (Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association)
This project is a pilot project done in partnership with SVPS and TOTA to market the Similkameen Valley. In April of 2013, the new brand, “Similkameen Valley – Rugged. Rustic. Real.—was revealed during the celebration of the destination brand and website www.similkameenvalley.com.
“This case study is a great demonstration of what can be done with limited resources,” said Carlysle-Smith.
Further tools and partnerships were introduced by Carlysle-Smith. Available sites for locals to promote their businesses and events including the Similkameen Valley site are; www.hellobc.com, Similkameen Valley on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A first draft of the ‘brand book’’ for the valley was presented, receiving very positive feedback from those present.
A partnership has been developed with Black Press to produce the Similkameen Valley 2014 Official Travel Experiences Guide. The contact to place your advertising in this guide is with Sandi at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 250-295-3535.
The travel experiences guide will be out in March of 2014. In the meantime, stakeholders can either update or add their information on the Similkameen Valley website and begin promotion of the valley now.
Manfred Bauer, mayor of Keremeos and chair of SVPS thanked Carlysle-Smith for her presentation adding, “Thanks for making us the pilot project.”
Similkameen Watershed Study
An update on the Similkameen Watershed Study was presented to the the members of SVPS by Doug French, P.Eng – Public Works Manager for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.
In September of 2013 Fortis Generation Inc. began the next phase of feasibility studies for the Similkameen River Water Storage and Hydroelectric Generating Facility located approximately 15 km south of Princeton.
First Nations engagement and working with the Province of British Columbia to obtain investigative permits to access land to conduct technical and environmental studies needed are in progress now.
With the expectation of Fortis having to do environmental assessments, it may be possible to “piggy back on that information.”
Concerns relating to the study include; a risk of inadequate water supply , review of storage options, water quality monitoring and ground water – a review of the aquifer mapping.
The water quality and nutrients in tributaries and lakes are listed as moderate in the analysis as well as riparian areas. French noted that locals are “championing” the riparian areas.
“The Watershed is in good shape,” he said. The next step recommended is the calculation of natural flow for future water usage.
A new Water Sustainability Act by the provincial government is in progress and is scheduled to be introduced into the spring 2014 legislative session.
In light of the possibility of an environmental study by Fortis and the new provincial act, projects ready for Stage 2 in the Watershed Study will be put on hold. More information will be available in the spring.