Dear Editor:

The Columbia Valley is a great place to live. I believe what helps make our communities thrive is up to us, the residents full-time and part-time citizens. Invermere is very fortunate to have a wide selection of quality, locally-owned businesses.

My husband and I relocated to the Valley four years ago because we like what the area has to offer, such as year-round outdoor recreation, varied events, and quality amenities and services. We are permanent full-time residents, we built a house here, and we enjoy supporting and getting to know the local merchants. We appreciate the quality products and the friendly service. In fact, there are many businesses that provide consistently excellent service.

I enjoy part-time work downtown and I frequently hear from visitors and part-time residents how fortunate the Valley is to have varied and distinct locally-owned businesses.

I sometimes wonder if other residents appreciate what is here, particularly in Invermere. I fear that we may lose this special element. We sometimes dont realize the value of something until its gone, and in this case, replaced with vacant stores or worse, generic chain stores.

I encourage all residents to make an effort to regularly explore what our local businesses have to offer you may be pleasantly surprised.

Kathleen ONeill