News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Canyon part of economic strategy update

Marion County is updating its Economic Development Strategy for the fiscal years of 2025-2029, potentially impacting projects throughout the Santiam Canyon.

The updated plan could affect ongoing downtown revitalization efforts in Gates and Detroit, the planned dredging of Detroit Lake and wildfire recovery at area parks and trails.

A first draft of the update is expected to go before the Board of County Commissioners in early December, followed by a period of public review. A final draft will come up for a vote by early January.

The draft strategy will incorporate feedback from a survey conducted between September and November that sought input from both the general public and city officials. The survey asked which specific city or community respondents were from, and what they saw as existing economic needs and opportunities.The results of this survey are expected to be made public when the first draft of the update is presented.

County Economic Development Program Manager Kelli Weese said, while there is no way to guarantee what the final strategy will look like, she expects local projects will remain in the plan. 

“Marion County is committed to assisting the Santiam Canyon in recovery,” Weese told The Canyon Weekly.

Efforts to update the Economic Development Strategy began in earnest over the summer of 2023 including an analysis of the current plan.

The program currently serves three main goals: to distribute Oregon Lottery funds for economic growth, to attract workers and businesses that enhance the county, and more infrastructure investments.

In the Santiam Canyon, this has included working with city officials in Gates and Detroit to develop their downtown areas into lively business districts. Consultants have been working with the cities to help determine what update can be made to zoning laws and related ordinances to attract and keep businesses that are suited for the area.

These goals also support the potential dredging of Detroit Lake under the marinas, so they can still be in operation during dry summers, thus extending tourist season for the area. The plan is to remove 160,000 cubic yards of sediment and use it to build a 2,400-foot long peninsula into the lake from Osprey Point.

Additional projects include improvements to trails and other facilities in the Opal Creek wilderness area, as well as housing throughout the region. 

The existing strategy also provides support for the North Santiam Sewer Authority amid efforts to create a regional sewer plant between MillCity and Idanha.

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