Signs of a vibrant economy in Kimberley

Visitor numbers, housing starts indicate a thriving community, Economic Development says

The City's economic development department says it's a good year in Kimberley.

Last month, Tourism Kimberley Executive Director Jesse Ferguson told the Bulletin that Kimberley was having a great year, tourism-wise, and now the numbers are in to prove it.

According to a City of Kimberley press release, visitation in 2016 is up nearly 16 per cent over this time in 2015 as measured by the additional hotel room tax.

According to Ferguson, events like the Single Track 6, the Black Spur Ultra marathon, the Gran Fondo, the Medieval Festival, Motor Mountain National Car Show, Kimberley Kaleidoscope, Julyfest, Provincial Mine Rescue & First Aid Competition, and First Saturdays have kept the community hopping nearly every weekend throughout the summer and into the autumn, supported by growth in the thousands of visitors coming to the community for events at the Conference Centre.

“Kimberley is getting noticed and its cool factor is growing,” said Ferguson. “There has not been a week this past summer that I have not hosted a travel writer or journalist who think we have a story worth telling.”

Cool factor aside, the additional visits produce tangible results as well.

According to municipal Economic Development Officer Kevin Wilson “The relationship between tourism and investment is well documented. Once people experience Kimberley as visitors they are far more likely to build a home, move or start a business. That’s why the City and the Chamber work closely with Tourism Kimberley to ensure continuity in our messaging and to make sure information is available to support decision-making.”

The Kimberley Visitor Centre has fielded 234 relocation inquiries in 2016 – that’s an increase of 90 per cent over all of 2015.  This impressive statistic illustrates how strength in tourism is driving investment, Wilson says.

The building permit reports continue to indicate real strength in that area as well.

Thus far in 2016 there has been $9.7 million in new construction permits issued in Kimberley, up 32 per cent over 2015 and more than double 2014, says the press release. With 23 new single family homes permitted up to August and several more in the approvals queue, new home construction is on pace for a 40 per cent increase over 2015.

“Commercial construction has seen healthy gains as well. With building and facade improvements going on in every direction the commercial vacancy rate is the lowest it has been since 2011.”

Wilson points out that Kimberley is not alone in its busy construction climate. “Cranbrook has seen an eruption of residential construction with 46 new dwellings permitted in 2016, up from a few dozen in 2015.

“This is an illustration of the strength in the Cranbrook-Kimberley corridor, where combined residential construction activity thus far in 2016 is worth over $25 million, and jumps to over $30 million when residential construction in the surrounding rural areas is included.”

This is good news as the two cities continue to push forward the Cranbrook Kimberley development Initiative as another way to attract industrial development. You can learn more about that initiative at http://www.ckdi.ca