WHO WE ARE
The Similkameen Country Development Association (SCDA) is a non-profit Society in British Columbia’s stunning Similkameen Valley, run by an enthusiastic volunteer board of directors and a small, dedicated staff.
Together with local, regional, and provincial partners and stakeholders, our overall purpose is to create, build, and celebrate the vitality of our region by increasing awareness of the Similkameen, highlighting tourism assets and business opportunities, maintaining Chamber of Commerce services, and providing tourism and information services to South Similkameen residents and visitors alike. We embrace the rugged nature of our surroundings and our citizens, and endeavour to elevate the stories of our vibrant agricultural industry, while continuing to learn and respect the history of the Indigenous peoples upon whose traditional lands we work, live, and play.
meet our team:
A seasoned entrepreneur with an extensive background in building businesses, literally and figuratively, Mac has worked in trucking, heavy equipment, and landscaping, and he is now a consummate handyman. Growing up on Vancouver Island, his first job was delivering newspapers until one day he hopped on his Harley in search of new adventures. Whenever he ‘got bored’ at one job or business, he knew it was time to change things up! His wife first discovered Keremeos, and upon moving here he discovered many hidden gems, and that he had ‘failed miserably’ at retirement. Mac was president of the Elks Rodeo before joining the SCDA in 2019, recognizing the potential in this area.
As the Branch Manager of the local Valley First, a Division of First West Credit Union, Heather has been working in Keremeos for the last three years. After her transfer to the Similkameen became permanent, she left her Penticton board and was looking for an opportunity here in Keremeos with the goal to get to know the community better.
She thinks, the people in the Similkameen are amazing and so passionate about the region, which is infectious and hard to ignore. Feeling welcomed when she arrived, Heather can’t wait to put the ideas of the Board into action.
Would you like to find out more about Heather’s work at Valley First? Click here.
Honoured to live, work, play and raise two children in the Similkameen Valley since 1998, Sarah is inspired by our rural community with its strong interconnectedness, beautiful natural surroundings, abundance of local food and recreational opportunities. As the Executive Director of the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society (LSCSS), she is aware of the importance of attracting and retaining working families to the area, to support a healthy community, and to provide services to our high demographic of retirees and seniors. Promoting sustainable and intentional growth in our community in partnership with the indigenous peoples and local government, encouraging social and economic diversity in the Valley, and fostering a vital downtown are important to the ongoing wellness of the communities in the Lower Similkameen.
Curious about LSCSS? Click here.
Rachael was raised here in the Similkameen and after adventuring out into the world, mostly Vancouver Island, she has returned to be with family and support her community. Rachael has over 25 years of experience as a support worker and educator, with a focus on children and youth. Rachael is also a professional musician, artist and events manager. After spending four years working at Ntamtqen, Lower Similkameen Indian Band school, she has recently transitioned to a role as Business Manager for Lasser Produce. Rachael enjoys bringing people together and is dedicated to community wellness!
Visit her website here to learn more about Rachael’s work as an artist.
As local small business owners, Joe and his wife Kaitlyn have watched the community develop and provide them with an incredible environment to raise their family. Hopeful to be able to contribute to the region in a meaningful way and help to create a prosperous, safe, and happy community, Joe joined the SCDA Board of Directors.
Currently, he is also the president of the Similkameen Trails Society and has been working with their members and stakeholders to help develop local trail infrastructure. Also being a part of the Similkameen Recreation Commission, he hopes to continue to use his many years of experience working in this sector to support the commission and help foster recreational opportunities in our community. He is an electrician by trade but an aspiring farmer with a passion for healthy recreation in practice.
Find out more about Joe’s business and the Similkameen Trail Society here.
The person you’ll most likely meet when you visit our office at the Keremeos Info Centre is the only year-round employee of the organisation.
Vanessa grew up in Germany, but after completing her diploma in event and office administration around seven years ago, she decided to travel through Canada and ended up as a live-in nanny in Cawston. Not only did she fall in love with the two most amazing girls she got to spend time with every day, but also the Similkameen and her now-husband Andrew (hence the confusingly long last name!). Now she is settled down in Keremeos with her husband, where they share an agricultural property with the rest of his family, but she is just as passionate about our beautiful region as she was on day one!
While Allison is well known in the Okanagan for her work to support wine tourism in the province and for her digital marketing services through her consultancy, All She Wrote, she is also a seasoned grant writer. She has worked in many sectors, public and private, for-profit and non-profit, and she is currently helping the SCDA with multiple grant applications. If you or your business needs help with the grant process, get in touch! Allison is here to help bring investments and economic value to our community, and if you have an idea or think you can partner with us on a project, let’s work together. Allison’s focus is on creating connections and partnerships, and she works with businesses and non-profits of any size. Grants have been a quiet part of her portfolio for more than two decades, and she has successfully applied for amounts from $500 to $1.1 million for her clients.
Learn more about Allison here.
You have questions or concerns that you want to direct to our Board of Directors? No problem, just email [email protected]. This email gets reviewed on a monthly basis. If you have urgent questions regarding our organisation, feel free to reach out to our staff instead.