Kelowna’s economic outlook appears to be headed in the right direction thanks to steady population growth over the next few decades.
That’s according to chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union, Helmut Pastrick, who was in Kelowna on Wednesday for a luncheon to update the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce about the region’s economic landscape.
Pastrick predicted the city’s population will grow to 250,000 people within the next 20 to 30 years as Kelowna remains a hot spot for quality of living thanks to the growth of the BC economy.
“It’s all immigration coming from other countries, from other provinces and other regions,” said Pastrick.
“Kelowna is an attractive area with the climate, housing costs relative to other regions and some job growth.”
Even with the forestry sector in a downturn with Tolko ceasing operations next year, Pastrick believes it won’t have too big of an impact on Kelowna’s economy in the long term.
“(Kelowna’s) forestry component has been shrinking for a long time. You have to go back into the 50s and 60s where forestry played a much more material role in the economy. Kelowna was one of those areas where it really transitioned away from forestry sooner than say Kamloops or Prince George.”
Backing up his claims, he said since 2014 the number of business incorporations in Kelowna has risen from 1,300 to roughly 1,900.
“I think it has to do with the fact that many of these businesses reflect the ongoing need to service an expanding population base,” said Pastrick. “Another factor is technological change. Businesses are formed to implement new technological measures.”
While Kelowna was recently named the best city for real estate investment in Western Canada, Pastrick said it will be important to address housing affordability in order to remain competitive.
“Addressing the housing affordability issue is a big one and you want to be able to attract and keep residents. You want to be able to provide enough infrastructure to make it a desirable place as well. That’s transportation, health and education and the like. All that comes into play in making an area desirable.”