Michaels: Feeling apprehensive about what’s ahead

Those questions aren’t nearly as important as learning how not to lose our shirt when the crap hits the fan, as it continually does.

What would Thomas Budd and Charles Fipke do?

That’s a question I think Kelowna’s planners need to be asking themselves.

Not, how do we balance taxes and services? Not, how do we tell the world we’re a vacation hotspot? Not even, how do we densify downtown cores or improve transit?

Those questions aren’t nearly as important as learning how not to lose our shirt when the crap hits the fan, as it continually does.

For those who aren’t knee deep in newsprint on a day-to-day basis, Budd and Fipke seem to be the benefactors to just about every Kelowna charity.

I’ve never met or spoken with either of them, but during the last recession they seemed to be the only ones who had any money to share with institutions of giving that were desperately in need.

So they clearly know a thing or two about how to navigate a financial disaster, which may come in handy sometime soon.

I may just have a case of post-recession stress disorder, but news that retailers are high tailing it out of the country, while Albertan economists are bandying about the ‘R word’ have me feeling apprehensive.

“It’s not a matter of if, rather when,” said one economist on that latter point, this morning.

The question for me is then, if Alberta goes into a recession, what does it mean for this geographical sweet spot?

A recent Re/Max real estate report said that Kelowna was doing well, seeing surging sales and home prices, based on a few factors—not the least of which being the Albertan economy.

The Canadian Mortgage Housing and Housing Corporation pointed out that as house prices went up and inventory dried up, the rental rate shriveled in tandem. That meant landlords were able to jack up their prices again.

That left more people in a vulnerable position, still feeling vulnerable.

Bet you that some of those people who are paying high rents, not feeling totally great about their prospects, could have worked at Target.

Bet you a few others in that situation are working in Alberta, sending money home to their families in the Okanagan.

It all feels a bit like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day.

I remember having these exact conversations nearly eight years ago. At that time the powers that be talked about the boom and bust nature of the local economy.

They also rattled on about how optimism is a key factor to keeping the economy afloat.

So, here’s me being optimistic, thinking positive thoughts for all those who learned they’d be losing their jobs today.

Here I am hoping someone is out there asking, WWTBACFD (What Would Thomas Budd and Charles Fipke Do)?


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