ECONOMIC AND GROWTH FACTORS
THE OKANAGAN VALLEY, B.C., CANADA
Following are the major factors and economic developments that
are contributing to the long-term growth in the Kelowna and Vernon area:
CLIMATE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Good weather, arguably the finest in all of Canada, combined
with natural beauty, continues to be the main drawing card for this region.
We offer the most colorful inland waters in North America, plenty of sunshine,
clean air, and a variety of vegetation and wildlife. Fresh fruits and
vegetables are grown locally offering farm prices at your doorstep.
Year-round recreational activities are plentiful. Literally
dozens of "mini vacations" are within one hour of your home
and hundreds more can be experienced on day trips. The Okanagan Valley
is truly an unparalleled, outdoor playground offering the resident or
visitor virtually any recreation activity that exists.
Golf courses have experienced a construction boom. There
are now over 40 courses in this small region that cater to all classes
of golfers, including world-class destination players. The public fees
and membership dues rank among the lowest in the world, and the variety
World-class ski resorts at Vernon and Kelowna have received
several multi-million dollar injections in recent years. Further major
expansions are underway to create an all-encompassing four-seasons playground,
including golf courses at both resorts. Silver Star has been rated the
#1 ski area in Canada for families, for ideal weather conditions, and
for ski-to-your-door convenience. Ski Canada rated Vernon's resort among
the best in the world for value. Other sources have cited it as the best
in B.C. for hosting provincial and international competitions, and one
of the best in the world - all considered.
The Okanagan pace of life is less hectic, less stressful,
people are friendly, and public safety surpasses that of the bigger cities.
This community, being heavily supported by tourism and the retirement
sector, does not tolerate the criminal element of our society.
Arts and Culture are strongly represented as this area
of the world attracts musicians, actors, artisans, and also those who
appreciate the same. Prospera Place in Kelowna hosts the best entertainers
in the world and Vernon's new Performing Arts Centre is one of the finest
facilities in B.C. Just west of Vernon is B.C.'s largest oval speedway
and one of Canada's fastest.
THE REGION HAS A DIVERSE AND STABLE ECONOMIC BASE
AND STRONGLY PROMOTES ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY, NON-POLLUTING INDUSTRIES.
- Forestry is the largest dollar generator and there
are indications of stability for years to come.
- Tourism continues year round, is the largest job
creator, and offers the greatest growth potential and employment opportunities.
This is a very desirable, clean-air industry.
- Manufacturing, processing and assembly facilities
have grown and matured dramatically over the past decade. Relocation
to the Okanagan for better "quality of life" and reduced overhead
is a realistic consideration for many firms. Employing over 17% of the
work force, local manufacturers produce a wide variety of products including
glass containers, bicycles, water slides, boats, clothing, wood products,
recreational vehicles and much more. Kal Tire, head officed in Vernon,
has become the largest independent tire dealer in Canada.
- Agriculture is a key contributor to tourism and plays
a significant role in the economy. The Okanagan is the largest fruit-growing
district in Canada, exporting over 80% of its produce outside of BC.
Ginseng fields, ostrich ranches, organic farms, herb growers and agri-tourism
operations are new ventures that have grown considerably in recent years.
Virtually every type of farming can be found thriving in the Okanagan.
Over 40 wineries are now established and that number is expected to
increase substantially. The amount of land planted in grapes continues
to rise as the Okanagan wines receive more and more world-class recognition.
- The Service Sector employs over 40% of the workforce.
Kelowna and Vernon are regional centres for much of the B.C. Interior.
The medical facilities are comprehensive and the hospital system now
encompasses a new cardiac unit and a full-service cancer clinic. The
region has matured to offer the most dynamic and sophisticated financial
services found in any major city. Shopping centres have expanded considerably
and include Orchard Park Mall, now the largest retailer between Vancouver
and Edmonton. Most of the major franchises have now set up shop in the
Valley (i.e. Costco, London Drugs, Rona, Superstore, Staples, Home Depot,
Wal-Mart, etc.) and others are in the planning stages. The Okanagan
University College is now a division of UBC with plans to extend over
243 acres for the enrolment of 12,000 students, 6,000 parking stalls
and the offering of a Masters program. With the exception of high-profile
professional sports, the Okanagan offers an abundance of everything
in the arts, entertainment and cultural events.
- The "Retirement Industry", considered by
some to be the backbone of the economy, is projected to grow at a steady
pace for years to come. The Okanagan is Canada's #1 retirement destination.
Consider the explosion of 'Baby Boomers' nearing retirement age; consider
the currently higher-priced homes in Vancouver and Toronto; consider
the many big city dwellers who want to relocate to smaller areas when
they are financially free; consider the warm weather luring folks from
the cold prairies and northern regions; all this and you have a formula
for a growing retirement sector that supports our visions for a clean-air
ALL MODES OF TRANSPORATION HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED
THE OKANAGAN SOME DEFINITE GEOGRAPHICAL ADVANTAGES:
The Okanagan Connector (Phase III of the Coquihalla
Highway) now opens the doors of the
Central Okanagan to over 2 million people from the Vancouver market in
just a 3 1/2 hour drive. This is one of the greatest economic events in
Okanagan history. Traffic on the new connector is estimated to be 4,000
vehicles per day during peak summer months.
The Kelowna/Vernon airport now has the capacity to handle
wide-body jets and full charter flights to and from the Valley. Potential
economic benefits are staggering. Golfing, skiing and other tour packages
are now possible for travellers from other parts of Canada, the USA, Japan
and Europe. As well, direct flights can now be arranged for Okanagan residents
travelling abroad. Direct container cargo service will provide our agriculture
industry with a competitive edge and also be available for the manufacturing
and service sectors.
MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS UNDER WAY ON WESTSIDE ROAD
Running between Vernon and Kelowna on the west side of Okanagan
Lake is 65 km of the most beautiful scenic driving in B.C. Westside Road
is evolving into a long, spacious, recreational strip dotted with a handful
of pleasant rural subdivisions.
Westshore Estates, Killiney, and Parker Cove, are the
three largest communities totalling 1,500 residential lots.
On the south end of Westside Road lies Bear Creek Provincial Park.
Heading north, Lake Okanagan Resort is one of Westside Road's senior
The new Rockchild Landing, featuring the development of 75 high-end homes with a small commercial village and a large public park area.
Fintry Provincial Park, encompassing 900 acres of prime lakefront land, scenic forested hillside, spectacular waterfalls, and hiking trails, may be one of the nicest public reserves in Western Canada.
La Casa Resort, just south of Fintry Provincial Park, is a cottage community containing 450 recreational sites on 100 acres of prime lakeview property. The $200 million dollar development contains a marina, and many other five-star amenities.
SUMMARY: International organizations continue to declare
Canada as the number one country in the world to live, while closer
to home, popular opinion concludes the Okanagan Valley to be the
best place in all of Canada.
When one considers the restrictions imposed by the agricultural
land reserve, native claims, geographical limitations (steep hills/rocky
formations, etc.), and environmental concerns (sewage disposal,
etc.) a conclusion can be drawn that land supply in the Okanagan
Valley is indeed very limited
Because so many people want to relocate here, it concurs
that the demand for Okanagan real estate may far outweigh the supply,
and that the market prices will continue to escalate at a faster
pace than most other Canadian areas. Many believe that typical middle
class people will not be able to afford a home here in the foreseeable