Rutland has come a long way in the past seven years.
A lot of that community improvement comes from work done by the Uptown Rutland Business Association (URBA), specifically its executive director Laurel D’Andrea.
D’Andrea, for the better part of eight years, has worked continually to improve Rutland for both the business and residential communities. This week, she announced she would be leaving that position in February 2020.
“It’s time for change for the organization and it’s time for change for me,” she said.
“It’s the most stressful job I’ve ever loved. It’s got so many different facets to it.”
In her time with URBA, D’Andrea said the progress that has been made is incredible.
“I look at Rutland with a positive spin,” she said.
“I think Rutland is very loyal; a very passionate community.”
Among several projects she’s proud of, D’Andrea specifically mentioned URBA’s participation in resurfacing and adding bus bump-outs to Highway 33, helping with the development of Rutland Centennial Park and the Uptown Mural Project.
“The relationship that URBA has with so many of our stakeholders and with public officials has grown exponentially in the past seven years because of our board and our staff,” she said.
While looking forward to her new career as the executive director for the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce, D’Andrea said she can’t wait to keep up with how Rutland will continue to progress in her absence.
“I can’t wait to go online and see where Rutland is headed next,” she said.
“I think it’s headed for bigger and better things because there are lots of really strong business people in this community and they’re just going to keep moving Rutland forward.”
After a council meeting on Monday, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran described D’Andrea as a huge part of Rutland’s revitalization.
“There are a lot of events and planning and policy underway that have been implemented as a result of (D’Andrea’s) hard work,” he said.
“I want to thank her for her commitment to the area and that organization, as well as many other charitable causes in our community.”
Coun. Maxine DeHart expressed in her weekly column Straight from DeHart how much she will miss her long-time friend.
“As a friend of Laurel’s for many years, I for one will miss her greatly, as will her many business associates and friends. A loss for Kelowna and a gain for Kitimat.”
D’Andrea said URBA will begin looking for her replacement early in the new year.