Editorial: Farewell to the face of our visitor centre

When you visit a place four times in a year, you kind of get the clue that it’s where you want to be.

For Joey Byatt, Peachland has always been a special place. But it was still a jump, moving to a new town, when one is used to living in corporate Calgary.

“When I’m out here, I’m always relaxed and happy,” she says, sitting down for a chat in the View office.

“And when some friends suggested I apply for a position that was available here in town, because they thought I’d be good at it, it went from there.”

That position, of course, was manager of tourism services for Peachland’s Visitor Information Centre, AKA the yellow schoolhouse everyone knows about on Beach Ave. Since the spring of 2015, she’s been the smiling face of the centre, welcoming visitors, of course, but also becoming a big part of Peachland in the process. She’s been involved in everything from BEEPS to the wellness centre, the annual rubber ducky race, to the scarecrow festival. She’s the brains behind our indoor artisan markets and the biggest winter craft events our town has seen. 

There’s lots of good memories, but now it’s time to move on. The Chamber of Commerce is unable to renew her contract, and so on Feb. 6, she left the visitor information centre for the last time.

“I’ve made so many great friends and I’ve made so many wonderful relationships that I appreciate my time there,” she says.

“I’m sad that it’s ended this quickly, and I’m sad that it ended this way. It’s a little disappointing and a little disheartening.”

It wasn’t an easy decision, says Darlene Hartford. She’s the chamber’s secretary, but also the president of BEEPS, and worked closely with Joey everything from special events and grant writing, to volunteering.

“Joey brought our Visitor Centre from bare bones to an elegant gift shop, a highly informative tourist venue and a historic interactive model that sets a precedence in the Okanagan,” she says.

“I have the highest regard for her professionalism, creativity and enthusiasm to keep on learning.”

Mayor Cindy Fortin agrees. Joey was the shining star of the visitor centre, she says, and her enthusiasm will be missed.

“She’s a cheerful, energetic and hard-working person who became the much-loved face of the visitor information centre,” she says, adding she called Joey as soon as she heard the news.

Deborah Livingstone, president of the Peachland Community Arts Council, is also sad to see her go. Joey brought a breath of fresh air to Peachland and the visitor centre, she says.

“Joey’s a very creative, funny and joyful person and we were hopeful we’d be working together for a long time to come. We will miss her terribly.  We wish her every success in future endeavours and want to thank her for being such a good neighbour and friend.”

Good friends and good neighbours are a big part of what makes Peachland great, and although she’s no longer the face of the visitor centre, the relationships remain. Joey credits her co-worker, Jenn Oleniak being a big contributor to the success the centre has seen in recent years. Oleniak is also moving on, but will stay for the next few weeks to tie up any loose ends. 

“We were a really good team, and I think that’s what allowed the centre to do so well, and really, it was a big part of what made me enjoy my job,” Joey says.

The pair hopes to see as many of you as possible this Friday the 15th. They’re hosting a goodbye gathering at Beach Ave Café, starting at 4 p.m. Everyone’s invited, and anyone who wants to email well-wishes (or career opportunities!), can reach her at missjoeybyatt@outlook.com.

“There can only be something bigger, brighter and grander out there,” she says.

“So I’m open to opportunities. And I’m open to what the universe has in store because you never know what the next big adventure is going to be. And that’s what I really think is cool about this whole situation.”

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