Kelowna facts for kids
|City of Kelowna|
Downtown Kelowna and Cultural District from West Kelowna
|Nickname(s): Orchard City, K-Town|
|Motto: "Fruitful in Unity"|
|Regional District||Central Okanagan|
|Incorporated||5 May 1905|
|• City||211.82 km2 (81.78 sq mi)|
|• Metro||2,904.86 km2 (1,121.57 sq mi)|
|Elevation||344 m (1,129 ft)|
|• Density||553.8/km2 (1,434/sq mi)|
|• Metro density||67.08826/km2 (173.7578/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)|
|• Summer (DST)||Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)|
|Postal code span||V1P, V1V – V1Z|
|Area code(s)||(250), (778)|
|Highways||Hwy 97 & Hwy 33|
Kelowna (i//) is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. It serves as the head office of the Regional District of Central Okanagan. Its name derives from an Okanagan language term for "grizzly bear". Kelowna is the third largest metropolitan area in the province and ranks as the 22nd largest in Canada, with a population of 194,882 in 2016. Nearby communities include the City of West Kelowna (also referred to as Westbank, Westside) to the west across Okanagan Lake, Lake Country and Vernon to the north, as well as Peachland to the southwest and, further to the south, Summerland and Penticton.
- Sectors and neighbourhoods
- Venues and attractions
- Culture and sport
- Sister cities
So far exact dates of first settlement are unknown, but a northern migration led to the peopling of this area some 9000 years ago. The Indigenous Syilx people were the first inhabitants of the region, and continue to live in the region.
Father Charles M. Pandosy, a French Roman Catholic Oblate missionary, arriving in 1859 was the first European to settle at Kelowna, a place named "L'anse au sable" (Bay of Sand) in reference to the sandy shoreline. Kelowna was officially incorporated on 4 May 1905.
In May 2005, Kelowna celebrated its Centennial. In the same year, new five lane William R. Bennett Bridge began construction to replace the three lane Okanagan Lake Bridge. It was part of a plan to alleviate traffic problems experienced during the summer tourist season, when the influx of tourists adds to the commuters between West Kelowna and Kelowna. The new bridge was completed in 2008. The bridge has done little to alleviate traffic problems.
Events of significance
- On July 3, 1877, George Mercer Dawson was the first geologist to visit Kelowna.
- On 6 August 1969 a sonic boom from a nearby air show produced an expensive broken glass bill of a quarter million dollars while at least 6 people were injured. The incident was caused by a member of America's Blue Angels during a practice routine for the Kelowna Regatta festival: He accidentally went through the sound barrier while flying too low.
- Winter 1986 was the last time that the Lake completely froze over. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police helicopter successfully rescued an SUV that had tried to drive across the Lake and fell through the ice.
- 2000s, Kelowna builds the tallest building in between the Lower Mainland and Calgary: Skye at Waterscapes, which is a 26-floor residential tower.
Area seasonal wildfires
- On 7 May 1992, a forest fire consumed 60 hectares of forest on Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna across Lake Okanagan from Kelowna proper: no homes were damaged, however.
- In August 2003, a nearby wildfire destroyed 239 homes and forced the temporary evacuation of approx. 30,000 residents. During the 2003 fire, many trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway were destroyed. All the trestles have been rebuilt to look like the originals but using smaller dimension beams.
- In late August 2005, a 30 hectare fire caused multiple evacuations in the Rose Valley subdivision across the lake in West Kelowna.
- In July 2009 wildfires destroyed hundreds of hectares of forest and a number of buildings in West Kelowna; 17,000 residents were evacuated.
- In July 2009, a 100 hectare fire near Rose Valley resulted in the evacuation of 7,000 people. No structures were lost.
- In July 2009, a 9,200 hectare fire behind Fintry resulted in the evacuation of 2,500 people. No structures were lost.
- On 12 July 2010, a 30 hectare fire in West Kelowna destroyed one home and caused multiple evacuations.
- September 2011, a 40 hectare fire in West Kelowna's Bear Creek Park caused the evacuation of over 500 people.
- In July 2012, a 30 hectare fire caused the evacuation of the small community of Wilson's Landing just North of West Kelowna.
- In September 2012, a late season, 200 hectare fire destroyed 7 buildings and resulted in the evacuation of 1,500 people in the community of Peachland.
- In July 2014, a 340 hectare fire behind the West Kelowna subdivision of Smith Creek caused the evacuation of 3,000 people.
- In August 2014, a 40 hectare fire above Peachland resulted in the evacuation of one home.
- In July 2015, a 55 hectare fire in the Joe Rich area caused the evacuation of over 100 properties.
- In July 2015, a 560 hectare fire near Shelter Cove caused the evacuation of 70 properties.
- In August 2015, a 130 hectare fire burned near Little White mountain just south of Kelowna.
- Mission Creek
- Bellevue Canyon
- Layer Cake Hill
- Pinnacle Rock
- Gallagher's Canyon
- Crawford Falls
- Knox Mountain
- Myra Canyon
- Mission Creek Falls
- Black Knight Mountain
- Maude-Roxby Wetlands
- Lake Okanagan
Kelowna experiences a borderline Oceanic/Humid continental climate (Köppen Cfb/Dfb) due to its coldest month having an average temperature slightly above −3.0 °C (26.6 °F), with dry, hot and sunny summers, cold, cloudy winters and four seasons. The official climate station for Kelowna is at the Kelowna International Airport, which is at a higher altitude than the city core with slightly higher precipitation and cooler nighttime temperatures. The moderating effects of Okanagan Lake combined with mountains separating most of BC from the prairies moderates the winter climate, but Arctic air masses do occasionally penetrate the valley during winter, usually for very short periods. The coldest recorded temperature in the city was −36.1 °C (−33.0 °F) recorded on 30 December 1968.
Weather conditions during December and January are the cloudiest in Canada outside of Newfoundland thanks to persistent valley cloud. As Okanagan Lake hardly ever freezes, warmer air rising from the lake climbs above colder atmospheric air, creating a temperature inversion which can cause the valley to be socked in by cloud for weeks on end with no respite. This valley cloud has a low ceiling however, and often bright sunshine can be experienced by driving only 20 minutes or so up into the nearby mountains, above the cloud. Summers in Kelowna are hot (sometimes extremely hot) and sunny, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 32 °C (90 °F). The hottest recorded temperature at the airport was 39.5 °C (103.1 °F) on 24 July 1994, and the highest temperature ever recorded in the city was 41.0 °C (105.8 °F) in August 1998 near but not at the airport. It is not at all unusual for heat waves to occur in July, August and even June and September on occasion, where temperatures above 30 °C persist for weeks. During summer clear, dry air allows night-time temperatures to fall rapidly. The city averages about 380 millimetres (15 in) of precipitation per year, with about 1/5 of the precipitation falling as snow, the bulk in December and January; however, June is the wettest month of the year.
While some smaller communities such as Blue River and Golden get less wind, Kelowna has the greatest percentage of "calm" wind observations for any major city in Canada (39% of the time). The four-year average wind measured at the airport has been less than 5 knots on average 10/12 months of the year between 2008 and 2011. As shown in the climate chart below, Kelowna has an average high temperature that is above freezing every month of the year - an exceptionally rare phenomenon for a Canadian city that is located inland. In fact, average high temperatures in January surpass those of St. John's, Newfoundland, which experiences heavy moderation from the warm Atlantic current. Kelowna's average year-round high temperature of about 14.6 degrees is also one of the highest in Canada - largely thanks to the rare combination of high summer temperatures typical of continental climates, along with relatively mild winters - a very rare feature of a continental climate.
- Driest Year (1952) = 186 mm (7 in)
- Wettest Year (1996) = 541 mm (21 in)
- Warmest Year (1998) = 11.4 °C (53 °F); 9.2 °C (49 °F) at the Airport
- Coldest Year (1955) = 5.6 °C (42 °F)
- Highest Extreme Temperature (August 1998) = 41.0 °C (106 °F)
- Lowest Extreme Temperature (December 1968) = −36.1 °C (−33 °F)
|Climate data for Kelowna International Airport, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1899–present|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.8
|Average high °C (°F)||0.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||-2.5
|Average low °C (°F)||-5.8
|Record low °C (°F)||-31.7
|Precipitation mm (inches)||31.0
|Rainfall mm (inches)||8.9
|Snowfall cm (inches)||26.9
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||13.9||10.3||10.5||10.9||12.9||12.0||9.2||8.5||8.7||11.3||14.4||14.1||136.6|
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||5.6||6.2||8.8||10.7||12.2||12.0||9.2||8.5||8.3||11.3||11.0||4.2||107.8|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||10.0||5.6||2.4||0.6||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.2||4.7||11.0||34.5|
|Source: Environment Canada|
Sectors and neighbourhoods
Kelowna consists of ten sectors with multiple neighbourhoods within the sector boundaries. Despite its moderate population of around 130,000 people living within city limits, Kelowna has significant problems with urban sprawl. This is thought to be due largely to a combination of decades-long building height and zoning restrictions, and an enormous population boom that began in the 1980s. The latter has cemented the Okanagan Valley as the most heavily populated region of the British Columbia mainland outside the greater Vancouver area. Non-intuitively, the greater Kelowna area (2,904.86 square kilometres) is even larger than the greater Vancouver area (2,878.52 square kilometres), despite having only about one tenth its population. Similarly, the area within Kelowna city limits (211.82 square kilometres) is larger than the area of Vancouver, within city limits, as well (114.97 square kilometres). This highlights the difficulties Kelowna is currently facing regarding urban sprawl, severe traffic congestion, general lack of infrastructure, and less-than-optimal city planning.
The city is 211.82 km2 (81.78 mi2), and the metro is 2904.86 km2 (1121.57 mi2).
For comparison, the city of Vancouver is 114.97 km2 (44.39 mi2), and the metro area is 2878.52 km2 (1111.40 mi2).
Neighbourhoods of Kelowna
- Black Mountain
- Central City
- East Kelowna
- Kettle Valley
- McKinley Landing
- Southeast Kelowna
- Quail Ridge
Central City is the sector near Harvey Avenue from the Okanagan Lake to Highway 33, comprising the city's major business and commercial centres. These include the Capri Center mall & hotel, the Landmark building, and the Center for Arts and Technology Okanagan (CATO). There are also dozens more businesses, restaurants, hotels and supermarkets in this area of town - particularly concentrated along or very near highway 97 (Harvey). While downtown Kelowna lies adjacent to this area along the Okanagan Lake, it is considered to be a separate part of town and contains most buildings intended for tourists, nightlife and greater pedestrian traffic (such as Prospera Place, Delta Hotel, Lake City Casino, Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna Museum, etc.). Most of these buildings compose what is often referred to as the "Cultural Center" - a subset of downtown Kelowna.
Dilworth Mountain is a relatively low and isolated mountain which is located near the geographic center of the city. It lies across from Knox Mountain to the West, and forms part of the eastern heights between which Glenmore Valley lies. While technically a mountain, it rises about one thousand feet or so above the rest of the Okanagan Valley (just over 2000 feet elevation). It has been very extensively developed in recent years; decades of blasting and construction work have resulted in a scenic collection of neighborhoods with suburban character, but located only minutes from Central City. Like many other Kelowna residential districts, Dilworth has gone from relative isolation and wilderness, to hosting many residential roads with hundreds of homes - many of which are considered to be fairly expensive and high-end.
Downtown Kelowna is the heart of the city as well as the hub of the tourist district. It is located alongside Okanagan Lake, and its area is officially defined as all land north of highway 97, south of Clement Avenue, east of Okanagan Lake, and west of Richter Street. There are two main routes through the downtown core along which various attractions and commerce are concentrated. These include several parks and beaches along the lake, boardwalks and other walking trails, Kelowna Marina and Yacht Club, Delta Grand hotel and casino, and Prospera Place arena. The other main route through downtown is Bernard Avenue from Richter street to the lake. It has more shops and restaurants designed both for locals and tourists alike. Although Bernard ave. continues east well past the downtown area, it is not part of downtown and is zoned residentially. The commercial segment lies within its downtown section between Richter & Abbott streets, the latter of which is lake-adjacent.
There is currently a movement (as of 2016) to re-develop downtown with taller commercial, government, and apartment buildings including several skyscrapers. Some of these are being developed, while more are in planning stages. A 24 storey boutique hotel owned by Westcorp Canada has been approved, and is scheduled to begin construction in late 2017. As well as a 22 storey residential tower on sunset drive, currently under construction by Chilliwack developer Kerkhoff Construction.
Glenmore is a relatively affluent suburb that lies mostly within Glenmore Valley - a subsection of the Okanagan Valley in the Kelowna area. It has experienced extremely rapid housing development within the past two decades - changing from a small suburb with a relatively rural character to extensive suburban neighborhoods, including several elementary schools and a rapidly growing commercial hub. While most of the homes in this part of town lie on the relatively flat valley bottom, there are several large and more recent neighborhoods being built into the adjacent mountains; the community of Wilden is an example of this.
The Midtown area bordered by Enterprise Way on the north, and Springfield and Baron Road at the south, is a popular shopping destination for the locals; the largest shopping mall in the interior, Orchard Park, is located in this area. Since most of the Midtown area consists of large, car-oriented big-box stores, Midtown is often criticized for its plainness, urban sprawl and the decline of pedestrian-oriented Downtown. There is also a lack of green space; particularly since the whole area used to be a linear park and golf course.
Known colloquially as "The Mission" or "Okanagan Mission" in order to differentiate itself from Mission, BC, a city in the Lower Mainland near Abbotsford, the Mission used to be a separate jurisdiction before being amalgamated with the City of Kelowna in the mid to late 20th century. This has caused a fairly vibrant secondary commercial centre to emerge which is entirely separate from Downtown, with low to moderate density residential areas in between. It is often differentiated as the "Lower Mission" and "Upper Mission", the former of which contains most of the aforementioned commercial areas such as shopping malls, grocery stores, coffee shops and boutiques. The Upper Mission begins to extend into the foothills and higher terrain, and many parts of this area boast magnificent views of the city, mountains and Okanagan Lake. As a result, this part of town is widely regarded as luxurious and is indeed one of the most expensive neighborhoods of Kelowna. It is not unusual to see homes worth one million dollars or more; the most expensive of which can reach 5 million or even slightly above.
Rutland is Kelowna's largest neighborhood by far. Although the majority of the area sits on the valley bottom and is therefore relatively flat, the fringes continue up into the hills and are therefore built at higher elevations and possess more expansive views than the rest of the neighborhood; these homes are correspondingly more expensive. This is the exception, however, as the majority of Rutland is among the most affordable of Kelowna housing. There are also several low-rise apartment buildings which increase the population density relative to most other parts of town. Rutland was a town until it amalgamated with Kelowna in 1973., this has resulted in Rutland having a distinct commercial center with many shops and restaurants. An improvement and gentrification effort has been ongoing for the past decade, with new parks, widened sidewalks, bike lanes, a renovated YMCA, a rebuilt high school, and many new shops and condo buildings being added.
According to the Statistics Canada 2011 census, the population estimates there were 117,312 people residing in Kelowna proper, and 147,739 people residing in the Greater Kelowna Area. 48.4% of residents were male and 51.6% were female. Children under five accounted for approximately 4.8% of the resident population of Kelowna. This compares with 5.2% in British Columbia, and 5.6% for Canada overall. As Kelowna has one of the most rapidly growing populations in Canada, its population statistics generally become out-of-date quite rapidly. More recent population estimates (as of 2014) give the Greater Kelowna Area a population of just under 200,000. The most recent (2014) estimate of the population of Kelowna proper is 122,000 - slightly behind expectations.
In mid-2001, 18.4% of the resident population in Kelowna were of retirement age (65 and over for males and females) compared with 13.2% in Canada; the average age is 41.1 years of age, compared to an average age of 37.6 years in Canada.
In the five years between 1996 and 2001, the population of Kelowna grew by 7.7%, compared with an increase of 4.9% for British Columbia as a whole. Population density of Kelowna averaged 50.9 people per square kilometre, compared with Vancouver at 5335 people per square kilometre, and with all of British Columbia with an average of 4.2 people/km2.
Visible minorities make up about 6.2% of the population of Kelowna. The largest group of visible minorities are, in order of size, South Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian, Filipino and other Asian, Black, Latin American, multiple/other, and Arab.
In February 2016, stats Canada released their latest census, stating that Kelowna's population had grown by 8.4% from 2011 to 2016. Kelowna city proper's new population had risen to 127,380 while greater Kelowna had a 2016 population of 151,957. The Kelowna metropolitan area population in 2016 is now at 194,882 making it one of the fastest growing metropolitan area's in Canada.
Kelowna's population growth has been driven primarily by the movement of Canadians from BC and other provinces into this region, not by international immigration. Only 15.1% of the population is foreign born. On February 10, 2016, Statistics Canada declared the 3.1% Kelowna census metropolitan area growth rate as being the highest in Canada.
In 2012, Kelowna had the highest crime rate of any metropolitan area in Canada, mainly because of its property crime. This increase has, however, been attributed mainly to the actions of a relative few known, prolific offenders. As of 2016, the crime rate has declined to second highest.
|Population||% of Total|
|No religious affiliation||29,435||31.1|
- Source: Statistics Canada 2001 Census
|Canada 2006 Census||Population||% of Total Population|
|Visible minority group
|Other visible minority||70||0.1%|
|Mixed visible minority||190||0.2%|
|Total visible minority population||6,520||6.2%|
|Total Aboriginal population||3,600||3.4%|
Kelowna had a historic Chinatown in the area between Harvey Avenue and Leon Avenue, east of Abbott and west of Highway 97/Harvey Avenue. Historically most residents of this Chinatown were males. In 1909 15% of Kelowna's population was ethnic Chinese. In 1911 the percentage was the same. That year Sun Yat-sen visited Kelowna for fundraising purposes. In 1978 the final remaining traditional Chinese business ceased operations. By 2010 less than 1% of Kelowna's population was ethnic Chinese. A section of the façade of the rebuilt "Chinese Store" that was in Chinatown is now housed at the Kelowna Museum.
Kelowna faces severe suburbanization and urban sprawl promoted by the popularity of low-density car-oriented developments. As of 2007, Kelowna has the highest car dependency rate in Canada and has the second highest per-capita road transportation carbon footprint in British Columbia. Despite having a metro population of about 200,000, the greater Kelowna area is slightly bigger than that of Metro Vancouver. Road transportation accounts for more than 65% of total greenhouse gas emission in the city.
Roads and highways
For years, only one major highway passed through the city of Kelowna: Highway 97. The road itself is good, but its connections to all points east and west in the province were only managed by using the slow, curving Trans Canada Highway and the Crowsnest Highway.
In 1986, in time for the opening of Expo 86, a new freeway was built into the BC interior, eliminating over two hours of travel time between the Coast and the interior. This freeway, starting in Hope, is known as the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5), and terminates in Kamloops. At Merritt another newer (1989) highway, the Okanagan Connector, BC Highway 97C, heads eastward to Highway 97, which it joins at the West Kelowna-Peachland boundary. This new freeway system allows one to drive the 395 kilometres from Vancouver to Kelowna in less than four hours.
Kelowna is connected to West Kelowna by the new five lane William R. Bennett Bridge which officially opened 25 May 2008. This new bridge links Highway 97 to the southern Okanagan and to the Coquihalla Highway via Hwy 97C. The old floating bridge has been dismantled as it has outlived its usefulness and was incapable of supporting the current traffic levels. A small park area on the Kelowna side of the bridge has a dedication to the old bridge, and artwork made of pieces of it.
Highway 33, which connects with Highway 97 in Rutland, provides an alternate way to enter and exit the city, towards the southeast; it also is the route to the Big White Ski area.
Kelowna's road network has sometimes been a source of criticism by local residents especially regarding Highway 97 and its high traffic volumes. Highway 97 runs right through the centre of the city along Harvey Avenue, which has 6 lanes and is the busiest road in the BC interior. There are many big box stores and shopping centres along Harvey, including Orchard Park Shopping Centre. Plans have been in place for several decades for a limited access bypass to run through the North End and across Okanagan Lake via a second bridge. So far, only a 3 kilometre section of this future roadway has been constructed alongside the rail line, known as part of Clement Avenue today.
Kelowna Regional Transit System is operated by FirstGroup, providing public bus transportation services in Kelowna and its vicinity. Funding for the transit system is shared between the City of Kelowna, Central Okanagan Regional District, District of Lake Country and BC Transit.
Kelowna International Airport (IATA: YLW), north of the city core, is one of the busiest airports in Canada. There are regular flights to and from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Cranbrook, Whitehorse and Seattle, as well as seasonal service to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Mexico.
Venues and attractions
- Prospera Place, a 6,800-seat arena
- Apple Bowl, a 2,314 seat outdoor stadium
- Kelowna Art Gallery
- Kelowna Hydrofest on Okanagan Lake
- Center of Gravity Festival in City Park
- Summerhill Pyramid Winery
- Kettle Valley Railway (Myra Canyon Trestles)
- Big White Ski Resort
- Golf courses
Culture and sport
- Westbank First Nation
- Kelowna Rockets – Western Hockey League (Winners of the 2004 Memorial Cup)
- Okanagan Sun – Canadian Junior Football League (Winners of the 1988 and 2000 Canadian Bowl)
- Okanagan Challenge – Pacific Coast Soccer League
- Kelowna Falcons – West Coast Collegiate Baseball League
- Center of Gravity Festival
- Kelowna Hydrofest- American Boat Racing Association (Largest professional boat racing series in Canada)
- Okanagan All Stars Hockey Club
On November 4, 2015, The Canadian Institute of Planners announced winners of its fifth annual Great Places in Canada contest. A jury of seven professional planners named Stuart Park as the Great Public Space. "The jury was won over by the multiple strengths of the park — its everyday use, community focus, unique reflection of local character and natural environment, accessibility for multi-generational activities, and the significant role it already plays as a Great Space in Kelowna."
Kelowna has "sister city" agreements with the following cities:
Kelowna Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.