The Importance of Supporting Community Spaces in the Shuswap

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about”

– Margaret J. Wheatley

A major aspect of the Shuswap Economic Development Society’s (SEDS) Strategic Plan involves the enhancement of community spaces. Having functioning community spaces can be incredibly valuable and when properly put together, can provide some of the most essential hubs and greatly improve a community’s quality of life.

A lack of community spaces in the Shuswap has created a number of challenges including longer commutes to schools, unaffordable childcare options, crowded parks with insufficient accessibility and a need for more recreation facilities that can host activities for the younger generation. That’s why the SEDS project team hopes to help create updated and efficient spaces that have the power to bring vibrancy back to the Shuswap. These spaces include:

  • 1.) More Schools

Schools are considered vital community spaces because they facilitate cooperation, offer opportunity, strengthen connections, and teach new skills. Therefore, building more schools and supporting the expansion of education options is incredibly important for economic development because it means closing the gaps between different sectors of communities, fostering unity, and promoting positive change.

In the Shuswap, in particular, there is a need for more spaces at the high school level. The SEDS project team aims to work with both the provincial and local school district to build a new high school for the Shuswap region.

  • 2.) More Childcare Spaces

Having an adequate number of childcare spaces in essential in all communities. Along with countless other benefits, adequate and affordable childcare is above all an enabler of economic growth, workforce participation, and economic equality within communities. The SEDS project team hopes to make a positive impact by playing a productive role in advocating for expanded childcare in the Shuswap region. Our SEDS project team also hopes to identify major employers within the region and reach out to discuss possible childcare options and enable partnerships, for example, by encouraging multiple employers to pool resources and offer shared childcare. Ultimately, improving access to childcare will help encourage more working professional families to find homes in the area, which is a continued benefit to the Shuswap economy.

  • 3.) More Recreation Facilities

While the Shuswap area has ample natural outdoor recreation amenities, there is a desire in the area for more indoor recreational facilities, that are more equally spread across the region. Modern recreational facilities are exceptional mediums for economic development as they can increase the appeal of communities, increase property values, attract business investors, and provide spaces for health and social opportunities. In planning for the development of such spaces within our project area, the SEDS team took extra care in considering the changing demographics of the region, ensuring there are adequate spaces that would appeal to youth specifically as more young families move to the Shuswap. A fundamental key to building successful recreation centers is ensuring that it reflects the community’s identity and best use cases. For example, many ideas that were suggested as best fits for our project region included: a skating rink, skateboard park, disc golf course, pickleball court expansion, and a large recreation center in Blind Bay.

  • 4.) Improved Beach/Lake Access and Green Spaces

When it comes to public beaches, parks, lakes, and other green spaces, there’s no doubt that the Shuswap region has plenty to offer. Providing outdoor spaces for locals to explore allows both youth and community members to feel less isolated. While there is no shortage of natural beauty in the Shuswap, there is a shortage of access to it. This is the major challenge which the SEDS team hopes to help the communities within the Shuswap project area to overcome. Starting with improving the beach and lake access, the SEDS team will help support the creation of more beach parking/bike parking, more areas to launch non-motorized watercrafts, and greater access to trails. Along with these local advancements the SEDS project team will aid in advocating for improved and ecologically friendly local park designs, specifically within the Sorrento area. Finally, a further step towards improving the green spaces within these communities will involve advocating for the planting of indigenous species, and prioritizing efforts to keep the lake and watershed ecology healthy.

If you would like to see about how you can get involved in supporting our community spaces, contact our SEDS project team today!