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:
Dion has called the Okanagan-Similkameen his home for over three decades. His unwavering commitment to accessibility drives him to devote his time and expertise to numerous community organizations: As the visionary behind All-Accessible Disc Golf, Dion leads a company that specializes in creating and implementing disc golf courses designed with a strong emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility. Dion’s impact is evident in the three locally designed and installed courses, one of which is a wheelchair-accessible course at Pine Park. Since 2015, Dion has been a vital member of a local disc golf club, and he brings a wealth of experience and insight from this role to the board he serves on now.
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!
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.
Originally from England, Carole made her way to the Similkameen in 2006 with her family. Over the years, she has worked for a variety of community partners, including the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, OneSky, and South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services. Presently, she serves as the Program Coordinator for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, working with diverse groups to foster community development in innovative ways. Carole is enthusiastic about forging deeper partnerships, involving more people, and is passionately committed to contributing to the SCDA’s growth. She firmly believes in creating something extraordinary together, offering support, safe spaces, and opportunities to those in need.
To check out Carole’s work with the RDOS, visit their Facebook Page!
In June 2021, Jared and his family relocated from Southern Alberta to Penticton, where they joyfully welcomed their youngest family member a month later. Over the following years, they explored the Okanagan and Similkameen, while simultaneously nurturing the growth of their business. About a year ago, they decided to settle in Keremeos, as him and his family developed a deep affection for Keremeos and its surroundings. As the owner of a service-based business, Jared is enthusiastic about contributing to local business growth and development in the Similkameen Valley.
Jared owns and operates AC Motor Electric. To find out more, click here.
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.
One of the first things Nikki did when launching her company, Boards of Keremeos, was to join the SCDA. She truly believes that we live in an incredible part of the world, feeling fortunate every day to reside in the Similkameen Valley. It was an easy decision for her to stand as a Board Member as Nikki wants to give back to our community and use the skills gained in her work with various national tourism organizations. Her experience as an award-winning, internationally syndicated writer in this new chapter of her life in the Valley has prepared her for this role. Nikki is excited to pitch in and make things happen – and we’re incredibly grateful to have her on our team!
More info about Nikki and her business can be found 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!
Village liaisons attend our monthly Board Meetings and serve as a bridge between us and our municipal funders. Their role involves facilitating communication, ensuring that the needs and priorities of the village are effectively communicated to our non-profit, and vice versa. Find out more about them here:
Born and raised in White Rock, BC, Tracy Henderson has always been deeply connected to the concept of community. Tracy’s entrepreneurial journey evolved from various roles, including Party Rental and Event Planning to Terminal Operations at BC Ferries. In 2019, she made a pivotal move to Keremeos. As the current Branch Manager of Quantum 1 Cannabis, Tracy has played a crucial role in guiding the business through four successful years, showcasing her dedication and leadership. Tracy and the Quantum 1 Cannabis team have been proud members of the SCDA since 2022. Motivated by a desire for positive change, Tracy became a Councillor for the Village of Keremeos in November of 2022. Here Tracy wears multiple hats, besides being the liaison to the SCDA. Additionally, she serves as a Director for the Okanagan Regional Library Board and acts as the Liaison to the Local Immigration Partnership Committee.
Garry Elliott assumed his role as a member of Councilor in November of 2023. He’s spent the last decade here in the Similkameen, alongside his wife Janice. Recognizing the challenges posed by the current economic landscape, he envisions a village that not only survives but thrives. His goal is to foster an environment that attracts fresh businesses and residents alike, creating a dynamic space for growth and prosperity. Garry sees beyond the challenges, recognizing the inherent beauty of our community. He firmly believes that through collaborative efforts and a positive mindset, we can collectively propel our community forward.
You have questions or concerns that you want to direct to our Board of Directors? No problem, just email email@example.com. 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.