Wealthiest live on the Westside
Census numbers for Central Okanagan communities show median household income highest in West Kelowna — and lowest in Kelowna
Residents of West Kelowna are the richest in the Central Okanagan, followed closely by people living in Lake Country, new income information from the 2016 census suggests.
The median household income in the Westside city was almost $84,000 in 2015, up 17 per cent from a decade earlier.
By comparison, the median household income in Kelowna was $68,627, or $2,000 below the national average.
“We have a steady stream of retired people coming from all over Canada to West Kelowna, bringing with them pretty decent incomes,” West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said Wednesday.
Among the Central Okanagan’s working-age population, Findlater said the Westside is an appealing place to live because housing tends to be somewhat less expensive than in Kelowna.
“There’s long been a bit of a discount attached to Westside housing, if you’re willing to put up with bridge traffic,” Findlater said.
The second-highest median income locally was in Lake Country, at $83,243, up nearly 25 per cent from 2005.
“I think a lot of that increase has to do with the fact we have more young professionals living here now than a decade ago,” Lake Country Mayor James Baker said.
UBC Okanagan opened in 2005, Baker notes, and many of the university’s 1,200 faculty and support staff live in Lake Country.
“Plus, we have a lot of people who live here but work in Alberta’s oilpatch,” Baker said. “They’ve generally made big bucks, but less so of course the last few years.”
Having relatively high median household incomes suggests Lake Country is a “vibrant and sustainable community,” Baker says.
Across Canada, the median household income was $70,336 in 2015, up 10.8 per cent from $63,457 a decade earlier.
The median household income across B.C. in 2015 was $69,995, up from $62,372 a decade earlier.
Kelowna had not only the lowest median household income of any Central Okanagan municipality, but also the highest local percentage of people with low income.
In Kelowna, 13.4 per cent of people had low incomes as defined by Statistics Canada, compared to the national average of 14.2 per cent and the provincial average of 15.5 per cent.
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran suggested the city’s overall median income was below that of other Central Okanagan municipalities at least partly because of the city’s homeless population
and other disadvantaged social groups.
“I have no doubt that we have more people living on the street, couch surfing or living in housing situations that aren’t stable than other municipalities in our area,” Basran said.
“That’s why we’re continuing to work on addressing these social problems, with our Journey Home housing strategy and other initiatives,” Basran said.
But Basran also noted the Statistics Canada data shows Kelowna’s median income had risen almost 19 per cent between 2005 and 2015, a faster clip than was seen nationally or provincially.
“So we are trending in the right direction,” Basran said, adding that the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses last year ranked Kelowna as the top city in the country in which to be an entrepreneur starting or growing a business.
Other Kelowna area items of interest from the latest census information:
— In the Kelowna area, 41.8 per cent of households earned less than $60,000, 26 per cent earned between $60,000 and $100,000, 10.8 per cent earned between $100,000 and $125,000, 7.3 per cent earned between $125,000 and $150,000, and 14.1 per cent earned more than $150,000.
— In 2015, 64.1 per cent of all Kelowna area households contributed to a registered retirement savings plan, registered pension plan or tax-free savings account, compared to 64.2 per cent of all Canadian households who did so.
Homes overlook vineyards near Quails’ Gate Winery in West Kelowna. Residents of West Kelowna are the richest in the Central Okanagan, based on median household income.