Last week, the City of Kelowna planning department presented their Community Trends Report to Council. The report looks back at changes in the community between 2001 and 2021 and provides insight into the direction that Kelowna is heading from a number of different perspectives. After reading the report, I have three key takeaways that I believe are worth sharing. Click here for the full report
Firstly, Kelowna's population is not simply growing, it's also shifting significantly. In 2021, for the first time in more than 25 years, Kelowna's median age was lower than the provincial median age. The map provided on the left in the report shows the age breakdown within Kelowna, highlighting how the younger population is primarily located in the downtown area. This shift in population distribution may have implications for the city's infrastructure and public services, as the needs of a younger demographic may differ from those of an older demographic. But also the city has to balance the needs for the older demographic which includes the need of more housing for the aging population.
Secondly, the report shows that Kelowna is firmly rooted as a city where people come to work, not just play. 55.3% of Kelowna's population was in the labour force, making it the highest labour force Centre in BC in comparison to population and higher than the Canadian average. The report also highlights the significant growth in the number of jobs in the city over the past 20 years. This suggests that Kelowna has a strong and growing economy that attracts people from outside the city to work. However, this growth in jobs is not equally distributed across all sectors of the economy, and income inequality remains an issue in the city and the inequality is continuing to grow.
Thirdly, the report indicates that the types of jobs that Kelowna residents are working are changing, and incomes are going up – but not equally. The report highlights a gap in wages between different sectors of the economy. Despite Kelowna's strong labour force, the city's median income remains lower than BC's median income. This income inequality may have implications for the city's ability to withstand the increase in costs.
As a bonus, I felt that we need to look at the immigration factor to Kelowna, I wasn’t going to talk about it as it has been a highlight of multiple other weekly emails. However this chart of the immigration to Kelowna shows how fast Kelowna has grown in terms of immigration compared to the rest of BC and Canada. Immigration has accounted for nearly 70% of Kelowna’s population growth since 2001. Immigration is increasing in Kelowna at a much faster rate, than other areas in the province and Canada, which historically the number of immigrants in Kelowna is proportionally lower than provincial and national levels.
I hope everyone has a great week and reach out if you ever have any questions! Enjoy the SUNSHINE!
-Mark and Maddie