Merritt residents still support the city’s identity as the “Country Music Capital of Canada” according to the results of a local public opinion poll conducted in July.

In fact, a press release distributed by the city last week says Merritt’s citizens supported the Country Music Capital of Canada brand by two to one during the poll conducted on a Friday in front of Extra Foods and Coopers.

“Council wanted to gauge the general feelings of community members because we were hearing some opposition from a loud minority group,” said Mayor Susan Roline. “I’m not surprised with the results – I knew there was a lot of support and some people have even told us we need to do more with our brand.”

Based on the public opinion poll 261 people out of the 392 surveyed (or 66.6 per cent of the population) support the continuation and maintenance of the brand, “Country Music Capital of Canada.” The other 131 people disagreed with the brand.

According to polling company Ipsos Reid, polls of at least 300 citizens have a margin of error of nearly six per cent, which means the city’s poll was large enough to be analyzed.

Roline said that based on the results, she felt that council’s continued direction to maintain the Country Music Capital brand represents the spirit and intent of the majority of the community. She also believes that the brand can only benefit the city.

“Brands are worth a lot of money, and ours makes us unique from other cities,” Roline said. “The more recognition your brand has, the more it is worth.”

In 2006, the City of Merritt paid $500 to register the official mark. In Roline’s opinion, this was a small price to pay for a brand that fits so well and one that will give Merritt international recognition.

“We can attach to this branding very easily,” said Roline. “We’ve got Mountainfest, we’ve got ranches – we’ve always been cowboy.”

“It’s one of the best brands we could have.”

Roline also said that including Canada in the brand will give Merritt a lot of mileage when it comes to being recognized.

“Canada is recognized the world over, where the Nicola Valley, or even British Columbia is not,” she said. “By having the word Canada in our official mark it shows that we are the only one in Canada.”

Now that council is sure of the citizens’ support, Roline said they will be able to move ahead and continue using the brand to promote tourism in Merritt.

“The Hall of Fame, the music, the murals – everything ties together nicely,” she said. “We have the opportunity to develop a whole experience to offer people.”