I appreciate your summary report. My home is Merritt, B.C. and my husband and I have worked in ranching for 40 years. I am the wife of a rancher. We work together with our friends and partners in Princeton and we manage a business that services both communities.
You recommendations acknowledge Merritt as a rural community in the Fraser-Nicola riding. And rightly so. Thank you. However, your report also divorces Merritt from Princeton. This concerns and surprising us as I believe we are not all that different in identity. Our social and economic relationships are strong.
I understand from my husband Jim who traveled up to present in Kamloops, that the Commission is concerned with population numbers specific to the Boundary-Similkameen. I have always identified the Boundary and Similkameen as wine and tree fruit – a strong tourism-based economy for sure. I’m also aware the population in Osoyoos almost doubles in the Summer months and becomes a popular, new haven for baby-boomers. Some spend some 4-5 months in this unique desert.
If you are considering the population numbers, as my husband says you are, I hope the increase of these baby boomers has been effectively weighed. If not, I think your estimates could deviate quite largely and the Fraser-Nicola, in particular Princeton, could be the victim in all this.
As a ranching wife, I can appreciate the need to balance numbers and interests. Trust me, I’ve had to make a few hard decisions in my day. Yet I’ve also found new, creative solutions to make sure my family and my business are positioned strongly – as strong as they can be for the years ahead.
I feel your recommendations do not position Princeton strongly – or as strongly as it could be positioned. And by this decision you also hurt Merritt. You are placing a mining and ranching town on the outskirts of a tourism-based, wine-based riding. That’s a fact you should weigh extremely carefully when looking at Boundary as a unique population, economy, geography and circumstance.
Creative solutions in my experience usually arrive at the end of a process, once you have heard from all the family members and interests involved.
I hope as a Commission you arrive at a creative solution to ensure Princeton is positioned as strong as it can be. It should not have to lose it’s identity, culture or economic advantage with Merritt and transportation terminal, shipping links in Ashcroft as well.
You can find a solution that is based on more than just number estimates. Estimates will no doubt deviate in the near future as a retiring demographic and new growth takes hold.
In my estimation, the Fraser-Nicola and Boundary-Similkameen are both special cases and should be considered as such for very different reasons. And truly there is nothing wrong with that.
Linda Gardner, Rancher, Merritt B.C.