West­side: Wealthy res­i­dents

The Daily Courier - - WESTSIDE WEEKLY - By RON SEY­MOUR

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 traf c,” 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 de ned 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 sur ng 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 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.

GARY NY­LAN­DER/ West­side Weekly

Homes over­look Okana­gan Lake off Og­den Road in West Kelowna.West Kelowna res­i­dents are the rich­est in the Cen­tral Okana­gan; the me­dian house­hold in­come in the West­side city was al­most $84,000 in 2015.

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