As West Kelowna looks to bolster its economic presence in concert with the region, housing issues and the suitability of the community for the young are both coming under discussion.
Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission chair Robert Fine brought the regional strategy to West Kelowna council on Feb. 8.
The commission’s aims for 2011 range from creating more value in the agriculture sector to bolstering foreign direct investment.
Several measures attempt to draw skilled workers to the Okanagan, and attract young professionals and families.
Coun. David Knowles said he was concerned about the ‘demographic winter’ being faced by the area. He said there is a high proportion of over-55-year-olds in West Kelowna, with a lack of young people coming along.
He added that high housing costs in the area are also a concern.
Knowles pointed out council’s secondary suite policy allows younger families to buy a home with a secondary suite.
Suites provide supplementary income and often is what makes the home purchase possible for young families.
“I can’t find anything else that we can really do as a council.”
Fine said part of the solution involves greater choice in selection of housing being built, with a move away from strictly single-family housing.
He recognized that having secondary suites in homes is positive, but the commission has been focusing on young professionals and discovered housing is not the greatest issue for the demographic when looking at the area.
“It’s lack of connection, and lack of feeling that they’re welcome.”
Fine noted housing is clearly a big issue, but activities for newcomers are also part of what would make the area more attractive to young professionals.