Kelowna Mountain brings temporary work not sustainable jobs

Columnist Jennifer Smith says the work Kelowna Mountain proponents so loudly applaud comes at a cost that's just not worth it.

If it weren’t for the dearth of jobs and utter stagnation Kelowna has experienced in recent years, Monday evening’s circus at City Hall might have seemed quite comical.

A bullish developer shows up with a bunch of hired hands passing out disposable buttons and T-shirts to push a scheme with plenty of potential to destroy the natural environment, drain precious water resources and add to the noise and light pollution on the South Slopes. How fitting.

Sadly, underneath those goofy T-shirts with their big red “Stop the OCP” signs and antithetical green “Create 2800 Jobs” slogans, was a group of construction workers who need to make money.

This is the real failure in Kelowna.

Very few who have any ambition in life can earn a decent enough living to stay and contribute to our community in a way that creates more sustainable job options.

Aside from the government, and an admittedly growing cultural scene, we are still otherwise devoid of industries capable of attracting and retaining a workforce that might supersede the development-retiree yoyo.

Our technology sector is small. Wineries don’t offer many well-paid positions. Tourism is seasonal. And the traditional forest sector is no longer much of a factor at all.

And so we are left with a small handful of government workers and other intellectual, creative-types, fending off out-of-town multi-millionaires bent on raping the land for ski slopes and alcohol and using the remaining few working stiffs scraping a living in this town to do so.

Once the Eastern retirees and overseas landowners who will buy places at Kelowna Mountain settle in, there will be jobs for the odd teenager and housewife in the winery, hotel and ski operation. The construction crews will once again be out of work and the engineers and planners will be looking elsewhere for contracts.

Is this valuable, community-sustaining employment? No. Is the price-tag on Kelowna Mountain exorbitantly high for 2800 jobs? Well, go take a look at the lake/reservoir that has already been constructed—without permits or government oversight—and decide for yourself.

Kelowna Mountain makes no sense. If you look at the snow line mid-winter you can tell it’s going to need the snow-making equipment of dreams to keep the mountain operation afloat (off our streams, rivers and groundwater).

With global warming, the issue will only get worse for long-term projections don’t seem to indicate any more “champagne powder” is on the way.

We need government bodies that can respond to this sort of threat faster, intellectuals willing to stick their neck out and say something about it in public and politicians who take a stand and stick with it—whether they’re elected to do so or not.

Does Kelowna Mountain create jobs? Yes. Are those few jobs worth blowing the resources every person in the valley needs? Of course not. Should every citizen of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan Regional District be out at the next hearing to show we’re not being duped? One would hope so.

The trump card in this equation shouldn’t lie with the New York investors bent on bullying their way into our mountains.