Jeff Shemilt says his role as co-ordinator of community and corporate services with the Village of Keremeos has taught him valuable professional and life skills—including patience.
Interacting with the public day-to-day, especially in a small town, comes with its challenges but he is happy with his accomplishments since starting in 2015. Some of these included spearheading the village’s economic development initiatives by creating the Keremeos and Area Opportunities Guide, the interactive business map and its social media strategy to attract businesses and residents to the area.
On Aug. 9, the 34-year-old is leaving the position to pursue a Master of Arts in Public Administration at the University of Victoria.
“It has always been a dream of mine,” Shemilt said. “It’s always been what I thought of the natural next step in my career. To advance in my industry, you have to get your credentials in place.”
For him, the key to success in the role with the village was staying on top of the issues.
“Most of the time people come in about something and you have to communicate the specific talking point for that issue. Most of what I have honed as a skill set on the job outside of my actual work role is being able to speak to the corporation’s interest and how we’re trying to go about addressing issues in a certain way and with consideration to the legislative and charter implications as well.”
Generally, while he was in the position, he says, there has been more growth and development in the village in terms of people, especially retirees, moving to Keremeos. They are coming from bigger cities and areas such as Kelowna and the Lower Mainland because it is less expensive to live here.
Shemilt grew up in Keremeos and his family has lived in the Similkameen Valley since 1922. After graduating from Similkameen Elementary and Secondary School, Shemilt moved to Vancouver for an undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University. He then spent 10 years working for the federal government at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Justice Canada.
While working for the village, Shemilt says he has been active in the community. He was a volunteer firefighter from 2016 to 2017 and volunteered for the Similkameen Country at several events, including hosting the beer and wine garden at the Similkameen Pepper Festival in 2016, 2017 and 2018, among other initiatives.
“It was definitely an honour to work here, it is my lifelong community,” he said. “I am proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish such as getting processes and procedures lined up and help grow us into a more professional organization. I’m happy was I was able to make this kind of contribution to my community.
“This is where everyone I know is. This is where my heart is always going to be. I would love to come back to the area in a more sophisticated role.”
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