Dear Editor:

After all these years in Columbia Valley I find it time I put pen to paper. I have been very engaged by all the opinions about renaming or branding the place I call home. I see some positives and negatives but in the end I think everyone wants the same thing: a recipe for success or at the very least, a reason for others to seek out what the valley has to offer.

Nike has Just do it! Coke has The Real Thing, Disney has The Happiest Place on Earth, etc. I suppose going forward, the valley needs to try to set itself above other places. Most would want to become more of a destination vacation spot. This would just be good economics.

I do have some reservations about historical references as most folks do not care what happened five years ago, let alone 100 years ago.

In general, people dont seek out a destination for its name. They do seek out a destination for its reputation and attributes. People never remember the person behind the desk of any business unless they went out of their way to make them feel special. People remember the guy who stopped and helped them find that great little secret hideout that only locals know. People remember outstanding service. People remember how other people made them feel. People are motivated by their senses and emotions.

I would ask: why did you first come to the valley and why did you stay or continue to visit? Was it someone you met? A place where you stayed? Was it a job opportunity? Was it that feeling of home that people get when they come here?

One writer stated that it should not matter what locals have called the valley. It is sad that a taxpaying contributing local should not have a voice in what someone would call where they live.

Without the locals, the Columbia Valley would not be the jewel that it is. Without locals providing the flavour, the Columbia Valley would be just another place on a map.

I think there should be less focus on a name change and more focus on capturing the attention of future visitors.

I know my experience could be summed up on a T-shirt or billboard: Come as a visitor leave as a friend. Or: Welcome home, we cant wait to meet you!

Progress is a dialogue. Maybe it might even be as simple as getting to know your neighbour and business owner. Introduce yourself and find out what makes them special. If you tell two friends, and so on, and so on

Be proud of the Columbia Valley and dont be scared to brag about it wherever you go. We are our own best advertisers, marketers, and promoters. And word of mouth is free. Mind you, this is just one locals opinion

T. Hansen