I wish to again respond to yet another letter from Don Hudgeon (Jan. 22) regarding the growth strategy and Summerland’s anemic growth.
Hudgeon has been on council’s Official Community Plan committees (twice) and the advisory planning commission.
His letter mentioned a previous council (mine) where we lost a local business: Kettle Valley Dried Fruit. When this issue first emerged, it was carefully studied.
Several factors (private and otherwise) impacted the decision to move.
The following is one factor.
In 2007-2008 many dried fruit companies consolidated their operations.
According to ConAgra Foods, “to enhance productivity and competitiveness.”
A primary reason was in response to a rapidly emerging new dried fruit industry in China.
In 2008, consolidation and closure of Canadian companies included Cangro (Aylmer, Del Monte and Ideal) and SunOpta subsidiary facilities.
SunOpta’s two local facilities were in Summerland and Omak, Washington.
To entice SunOpta to expand operations at the Omak facility, SunOpta was offered large matching grants from both the U.S. federal and state governments.
These grants included financial assistance from Impact Washington, Department of Ecology, Washington State University Extension Energy Program and the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, this private-public partnership still exists today.
There were no provincial grants and there were no federal grants available for the Summerland facility.
In fact, SunOpta never even considered talking to adjacent property owners with respect to expanding their existing Summerland facility.
David E. Gregory