Michaels: Draw of the Okanagan Valley will be long-lived

A yearly reminder that Kelowna’s masterminds are in need of a colourful way forward, lest we collectively evaporate into a cloud of white dust was delivered this week.

A yearly reminder that Kelowna’s masterminds are in need of a colourful way forward, lest we collectively evaporate into a cloud of white dust was delivered this week.

Specifically, a panel of UBC experts chose to trot out data from the 2006 census to explain we’re one of the oldest, slowest reproducing and whitest populations in North America.

That anemic looking combination, say those experts, will stem any possible influx of young professionals able to drive the economy forward when our friendly neighbourhood boomers give up the ghost and retire: The End.

As much as I like a good everything-will-be-destroyed-once-the-boomers-finally-go-away story, this one in particular is my favourite. It has a delightful sci-fi feel to it.

Can’t you just picture  men and women of 2031 as white and waxy as The Sails, silently wheeling around Bernard Avenue, which has become a service-free hub? Luckily, the sidewalks will have become extra-wide, from a revitalization project around 17 years earlier, so their movement will be conflict-free.

Vineyards and farms will have gone to seed, as any ethnic minorities who would have otherwise been lured to work the bountiful shores of Okanagan Lake will find more meaningful work in other “medium sized cities.”

Tourism Kelowna will no longer brand our fair valley with the slogan “Ripe With Surprises.” Visitors will be encouraged to stay because we’re “Fallow from what was expected.”

Fabulously fatalistic, right?

Sadly, while I could spend hours coming up with doomsday scenarios to tickle my morbid imagination, I honestly believe that they’re just that—doomsday scenarios.

Nobody’s more keen than I am to point out the quite obvious flaws of the Okanagan, but is the end nigh?

No way.

The Valley, for all of its irritating quirks, is a gorgeous place to plant a life. For many of us, it’s an economic challenge, but so is living in a metropolitan hub. Only we choose here so we can walk and bike to the lake, not drive two hours.

Going to concerts and shows isn’t as easily accessible as it is in city life, but the cultural sector is starting to flex its muscles and more is starting to happen here.

And, when it comes to wondering if there is a growing population of visible minorities, I have to recommend that those who live in their research take a step back and head to the city’s downtown for a day of people watching.

There are visible minorities in far greater numbers than ever before. They’re young, professional looking and walk around with purpose.

My guess is they’re at one of the educational facilities we have in the Valley, and even if they leave upon graduation, will they forget this place?

Doubtful, for the simple fact that there’s an intangible draw to the Okanagan that confounds reason, research and, clearly, outdated statistics.



Kathy Michaels is a reporter for the Capital News.





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