The news on the economic front in Kimberley is good. It’s not just building permit activity, as reported in the Bulletin yesterday.
Kimberley is having a very good summer, says Economic Development Director Kevin Wilson.
“With the past six months of national and global economic news you’d have been forgiven looking into the future with apprehension,” Wilson said. “But things are playing out differently this summer in Kimberley.”
Tourism in busy; the accommodators are seeing weekend and week night sell outs, new businesses are popping up.
“Sell outs for the accommodators in the summer is unusual and it’s good to see. Kimberley accommodators report 10 per cent year over year growth in occupancy. Overall, everybody’s tourism summer seems to be going well,” Wilson said.
It’s partially the low dollar. That helps two ways, he says.
“One, it’s cheap for Americans to come to us; and two, it’s more expensive for Canadians to go there, so we are seeing an increase in our neighbours coming to Kimberley.”
“There were fears at the beginning of the year that the price of oil and the situation in Alberta would mean a lean year, but the opposite has happened,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “As Albertans choose to stay closer to home we are a destination of choice. And the fact is we no longer rely on Alberta as much. Thanks to the low dollar, we are seeing US license plates in the area for the first time in a while.
“I am sure that there are other reasons, but the bottom line is that the high energy and enthusiasm we are seeing from the community, combined with the great experience visitors have while they are here is a driving force behind our good fortune. It is a great vibe.”
Wilson says that Kimberley has more product to offer tourists than ever before, including much more trail development, which is a very common inquiry at the Visitors’ Centre.
“I’m sure the publicity and buzz from the Sun Mine opening helps as well.”
The City conducted Sun Mine tours from July 31 to August 5 and 372 people took advantage. It wasn’t just locals, Wilson said. 17 per cent were from somewhere else in B.C. and 15 per cent were from Alberta.
Having an event almost every weekend is key, Wilson said.
“We’ve had First Saturdays, the Medieval Fest, the concerts last week, Kaleidoscope, JulyFest. That kind of animation creates the perception that whenever you come here, there will be entertainment.”
There are also several big conferences coming up. Community Futures of BC will be holding their provincial meeting here at the end of September, and in October 250 people from the Church of God will be here for 10 days.
“The folks from the Church of God have only one meal scheduled at the Conference Centre,” Wilson said. “The rest will be at Kimberley restaurants.
“This type of activity is reflected in investor confidence. You can see it visibly in the retail sector with new storefronts in Marysville and downtown. People don’t take these kinds of risks without being confident in the consumer base.”
“We are having a great 2015,” McCormick said. “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.”
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.
“As the community enjoys the summer, we are at work with Cranbrook to build a business corridor between the two cities that targets industry and the long term prosperity that well paying job provide.”