Kelowna’s vital signs register mixed results

Study commissioned by Central Okanagan Foundation sees signs of gap between rich and poor in the city is widening.

When it got to the business of assessing this city’s well being, the Central Okanagan Foundation found Kelowna residents believe they get a  pretty average deal—so long as they’re not poor.

The Vital Sign report card was released this week and using opinions sussed out from a wide range of community members, the foundation graded everything from education to safety.

The city only scored as high as a B-minus, there were a sprinkling of Cs, but one grade in particular stood out.

In the category for Gap Between Rich and Poor, Kelowna got a failing D, which is even less impressive than the D-plus grade the city got in the 2009 report .

Meaningful employment, the availability of secure work as well as a living wage are becoming a struggle for some, the report explained, and that’s  increasing the gap between the rich and poor.

“That’s a really challenging area to attack,” said Leanne Hammond Komori, the foundation’s executive director, explaining that the report acts as a guide when they’re dealing with grant proposals.

Now non-profit groups aiming to chip away at that issue will likely get higher priority as they vie for a portion of the foundation’s $750,000 annual kitty.

That said, empirical evidence on wealth and poverty in Kelowna show that the city is doing better than provincial and federal averages.

The pre-tax child poverty rate in Census Metropolitan Area was 22.2 per cent in 2009, which is 11.5 per cent lower than the provincial average of 25.1 per cent. It’s 4.3 per cent lower than the national average of 23.2 per cent.

The 2009 pre-tax elderly poverty rate in our CMA was 6.3 per cent, which is roughly half the provincial and national rates of 12.2 per cent and 12.9 per cent  respectively.

Around 17.9 per cent of the overall population were living in poverty in 2009, compared to the provincial poverty rate of 22.5 per cent and the national poverty rate of 21.5 per cent.

Comparisons of that sort, however, said Hammond Komori, aren’t really relevant, but the figures are still “alarming” and the failing grade residents gave the city show they have no tolerance for the divide. Overall, the Vital Signs report card shows that the picture is far from bleak. “I think it shows our community has great potential,” she said.

“It gives us our priority list of where we need focus attention and it also helps us recognize where we’ve done a good job as a community.”

To read the report go to www.centralokanaganfoundation.org.

Report card grades

Learning B-

Getting Started C

Environment B-

Health & Wellness B-

Housing C-

Arts & Culture B-

Safety B-

Getting Around C

Belonging & Leadership C+

Work C

 

Kelowna Capital News