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 is outstanding.

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.

  1. Forestry is the largest dollar generator and there are indications of stability for years to come.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 economy.

 

ALL MODES OF TRANSPORATION HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED TO GIVE
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 landmarks.

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 future.