Lake Country's newest hire has a working history with the community and deep roots in the district as he moves to an important chair within the District of Lake Country.
Former district councillor Jamie McEwan has joined the municipality to help push economic development in Lake Country as the district's new community development manager, replacing Ryan Roycroft, who has moved onto the City of Kelowna.
"This is a dream career and I intend to be here for a long time, dedicating myself to the community I love," said McEwan, 29, who was raised in Lake Country, graduated from George Elliot and whose father had a long career in Lake Country's engineering services department before retiring. "It's an honour to continue to work with the community. My dad is very passionate about this area and has a ton of knowledge. We grew up talking about Lake Country issues around the dinner table and now to be able to work for the community in a different way than my dad is a privilege and I'm very happy to have the chance to do it."
As a one-term councillor, McEwan was elected to Lake Country council in 2011 and sat for one term before opting against running again. At the time he said it was to focus on career and while that was true, McEwan and his wife were also expecting their first child and that factored into his decision.
"One of the reasons I didn't run for council, and I wasn't able to talk about it at the time, was my wife and I are expecting our first child in May," he said. "I wanted to make sure my evenings and weekends were free for spending time with with my family and the child that we have on the way."
While McEwan replaces Roycroft, his job title has changed, although economic development will remain a key focus of the position. Reporting to Mark Koch, the director of community services, McEwan will work with council on its strategic priorities, on tourism, business retention, attraction and expansion to Lake Country.
" I think there is massive potential for Lake Country locally, regionally and beyond," he said. "We are a 10 minute drive from a top 50 university in the world and to the Kelowna International airport. Through regional collaboration I think we can get a lot of unique and interesting businesses that will benefit the residents of Lake Country and also help local businesses thrive."
While hiring a former councillor isn't unprecedented in B.C., it is a unique situation. The district's hiring process saw almost 100 applicants put their name forward for the position. The final short-listed candidates were tested by an external human resources provider as the last part of the process. McEwan, who has a degree in urban geography and experience as a local government planner prior to his stint as a Lake Country councillor, earned the position, according to Koch.
“Throughout the recruitment process interview and testing phase, Jamie McEwan really shone as the best candidate,” said Koch. “It is great to hire someone that is local, qualified and has demonstrated a keen interest in the community.”
McEwan grew up in Lake Country and graduated from George Elliot Secondary in 2003. His wife is also from Lake Country and the couple even met in high school before getting married and now expecting their first child.
"I have worked very hard to stay in the Okanagan," he said. "I had no idea this position would become available when I decided not to run for council. I think this is going to be a pretty unique experience. This job is in a place I really believe in and with a team of people that I am really excited to work with. I'm committed to staying here with my family."