Top B.C. economist likes what he sees in Kelowna’s economy

Central One Credit Union chief economist predicts Kelowna's economy will pick up and do well over the next few years.

Central One Credit Union chief economist Helmut Pastrick spoke in Kelowna Tuesday.

The chief economist of the Central One Credit Union is bullish on the Kelowna economy.

Helmut Pastrick told a Kelowna Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday all indications are good about the local economy in the coming years with improving growth prospects.

But the good news was tempered with a warning.

As the economy picks up and housing continues to rise in price here, some people may be squeezed out of the housing market. Pastrick warned.

And that, in turn, could also affect the rental market, where the current lack of rental accommodation coupled with rising rents may squeeze even more people out of that market too.

Still, Pastrick said he feels this is a great time for anyone planning to invest in rental developments here, as the need is clearly there.

Recently, a local developer that builds mainly in Alberta announced plans for its first two Okanagan developments, two large rental housing complexes, one in Kelowna and one in West Kelonwa. The Kelowna one would include 288 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites and the West Kelowna complex would include 240 one- and two-bedroom suites. Both would be fully powered by solar energy.

High Street Ventures says it will wants to built the developments here because it’s clear, with a local rental vacancy rate of just 0.6 per cent, the market ripe for more rental accomodation.

Pastrick said because Kelowna is not a resource-based community like so many in the province, it has bee able to weather the ups and downs of recent economic turmoil better than most.

He expects to see the biggest growth in the information, communication and tech sectors overt the next few years, as well as a rise in in the amount of residential construction because while prices are going up here, inventory of homes on the market for sale is falling sharply.

He said while it may not go back to the rip-roaring market that was seen here in the early 2000s, he does expect it to keep improving.

That, he added, should be aided by little upward movement on interest rates by the Bank of Canada over the next two years.

Central One Credit Union is a company that provides services to all B.C. credit unions and many credit unions in Ontario.