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Kelowna
City of Kelowna
Kelowna city view 2017.jpg
Winter lookout over the peaks of Central Okanagan.png Mission Hill.jpg
William R. Bennett Bridge.jpg Kelowna - Lake Okanagan - panoramio.jpg
From top left: Downtown Kelowna from Knox Mountain Park, the peaks of Central Okanagan, Mission Hill Winery and Bell Tower, the William R. Bennett Bridge on Okanagan Lake, Okanagan Lake near Rotary Beach Park
Flag of Kelowna
Flag
Coat of arms of Kelowna
Coat of arms
Official logo of Kelowna
Logo
Nickname(s): 
Orchard City, K-Town, Sun City
Motto(s): 
"Fruitful in Unity"
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional district Central Okanagan
Settled 1879
Incorporated May 5, 1905
Government
 • Type Elected city council
 • Body Kelowna City Council
Area
 • City 211.85 km2 (81.80 sq mi)
 • Metro
2,904.86 km2 (1,121.57 sq mi)
Elevation
344 m (1,129 ft)
Population
 (2020)
 • City 142,146
 • Density 601.3/km2 (1,557/sq mi)
 • Metro
217,214
 • Metro density 74.77606/km2 (193.6691/sq mi)
  BC Stats Jan 2020
Time zone UTC−08:00 (PST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−07:00 (PDT)
Forward sortation area
V1P, V1V – V1Z, V4T
Area code(s) 250, 778, 236, 672
Highways Hwy 97 & Hwy 33
GNBC Code JAFUV
GDP (Kelowna CMA) CA$9.1 billion (2016)
GDP per capita (Kelowna CMA) CA$46,828 (2016)

Kelowna ( kə-LOH-nə) 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. The name Kelowna derives from the Okanagan word kiʔláwnaʔ, referring to a male grizzly bear.

Kelowna is the province's third-largest metropolitan area (after Vancouver and Victoria), its seventh-largest city overall, and the largest in the Interior. It is the 20th-largest metropolitan area in Canada. The city proper encompasses 211.85 km2 (81.80 sq mi), and the census metropolitan area 2,904.86 km2 (1,121.57 sq mi). Kelowna's estimated population in 2020 is 222,748 in the metropolitan area and 142,146 in the city proper. After many years of suburban expansion into the surrounding mountain slopes, the city council adopted a long-term plan intended to increase density instead - particularly in the downtown core. This has resulted in the construction of taller buildings, including One Water Street - a 36-storey building that will be among the tallest in Kelowna once completed in 2021. Other highrise developments have already broken ground or been approved since then, including a 42-storey tower on Leon Avenue which will be the tallest building in the city, and among the tallest in B.C.

Nearby communities include the City of West Kelowna (also referred to as Westbank and Westside) to the west, across Okanagan Lake; Lake Country and Vernon to the north; Peachland to the southwest; and Summerland and Penticton to the south.

History

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.

Geography

Landmarks

  • 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

Climate

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.

Weather facts:

  • 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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Humidex 13.0 14.5 21.1 28.0 37.0 42.3 46.4 45.6 34.9 26.7 20.6 13.9 46.4
Record high °C (°F) 14.8
(58.6)
17.2
(63)
20.8
(69.4)
28.1
(82.6)
34.4
(93.9)
39.5
(103.1)
39.5
(103.1)
39.3
(102.7)
35.0
(95)
26.8
(80.2)
20.6
(69.1)
14.5
(58.1)
39.5
(103.1)
Average high °C (°F) 0.8
(33.4)
3.6
(38.5)
10.1
(50.2)
15.5
(59.9)
20.2
(68.4)
24.2
(75.6)
27.9
(82.2)
27.6
(81.7)
21.7
(71.1)
13.4
(56.1)
5.6
(42.1)
0.7
(33.3)
14.3
(57.7)
Daily mean °C (°F) -2.5
(27.5)
-0.9
(30.4)
4.1
(39.4)
8.4
(47.1)
12.8
(55)
16.6
(61.9)
19.5
(67.1)
19.1
(66.4)
13.9
(57)
7.3
(45.1)
1.6
(34.9)
-2.6
(27.3)
8.1
(46.6)
Average low °C (°F) -5.8
(21.6)
-5.3
(22.5)
-2.0
(28.4)
1.3
(34.3)
5.4
(41.7)
9.1
(48.4)
11.1
(52)
10.6
(51.1)
5.9
(42.6)
1.3
(34.3)
-2.4
(27.7)
-5.9
(21.4)
1.9
(35.4)
Record low °C (°F) -31.7
(-25.1)
-28.3
(-18.9)
-22.2
(-8)
-9.4
(15.1)
-4.2
(24.4)
-1.1
(30)
2.6
(36.7)
0.6
(33.1)
-6.1
(21)
-15.7
(3.7)
-28.4
(-19.1)
-36.1
(-33)
-36.1
(-33)
Wind chill -39.7 -33.0 -20.4 -9.8 -5.4 -0.6 0.0 0.0 -7.3 -18.2 -36.3 -37.6 -39.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 31.0
(1.22)
19.0
(0.748)
21.6
(0.85)
29.1
(1.146)
40.2
(1.583)
45.9
(1.807)
37.2
(1.465)
32.1
(1.264)
32.4
(1.276)
29.2
(1.15)
36.7
(1.445)
32.6
(1.283)
386.9
(15.232)
Rainfall mm (inches) 8.9
(0.35)
10.0
(0.394)
16.9
(0.665)
28.3
(1.114)
39.2
(1.543)
45.9
(1.807)
37.2
(1.465)
32.1
(1.264)
31.7
(1.248)
29.1
(1.146)
24.4
(0.961)
7.6
(0.299)
311.3
(12.256)
Snowfall cm (inches) 26.9
(10.59)
10.8
(4.25)
4.8
(1.89)
0.8
(0.31)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.1
(0.04)
13.6
(5.35)
32.0
(12.6)
89.0
(35.04)
Humidity 76.4 65.2 48.8 39.8 40.0 39.3 35.6 36.2 42.2 55.6 70.6 75.7 52.1
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
Sunshine hours 39.4 80.9 148.5 191.0 238.2 244.9 297.8 281.6 216.2 124.5 50.9 35.1 1,948.9
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).

Kelowna panorama
View of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake from Knox Mountain

Neighbourhoods of Kelowna

  • Belgo
  • Benvoulin
  • Black Mountain
  • Braeloch
  • Central City
  • Clifton
  • Crawford
  • Dilworth
  • Downtown
  • East Kelowna
  • Glenmore
  • Kettle Valley
  • KLO
  • McKinley Landing
  • Midtown
  • Mission
  • Pandosy
  • Rutland
  • Southeast Kelowna
  • Southridge
  • Quail Ridge

Central City

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

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

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

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.

Midtown

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.

Mission

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

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.

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1901 261 —    
1911 1,661 +536.4%
1921 2,520 +51.7%
1931 4,655 +84.7%
1941 5,118 +9.9%
1951 8,517 +66.4%
1956 9,181 +7.8%
1961 13,188 +43.6%
1966 17,006 +29.0%
1971 19,412 +14.1%
1976 51,955 +167.6%
1981 59,196 +13.9%
1986 61,213 +3.4%
1991 75,950 +24.1%
1996 89,442 +17.8%
2001 96,288 +7.7%
2006 106,707 +10.8%
2011 117,312 +9.9%
2016 127,380 +8.6%

As Kelowna has one of the most rapidly growing populations in Canada, its previous population statistics generally have become quickly out of date. 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. The predominant language spoken in Kelowna is English. More recent population estimates (as of 2014) give the Greater Kelowna Area a population of just under 200,000.

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. 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 601.3 people per square kilometre, compared with Vancouver at 5,335 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, Statistics Canada released their latest census, stating that Kelowna's population had grown by 8.4% from 2011 to 2016. The population of the city proper 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 areas 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 10 February 2016, Statistics Canada declared the 3.1% Kelowna census metropolitan area growth rate as being the highest in Canada.

Religious groups

Population  % of total
Catholic 27,610 15.5
Protestant Christian 51,530 29.2
Christian Orthodox 1,355 0.8
Christian, n.i.e. 14,680 8.3
Muslim 555 0.3
Jewish 430 0.2
Buddhist 695 0.4
Hindu 500 0.3
Sikh 1,875 1.1
Other religions 1,705 1.0
No religious affiliation 75,495 42.8
Total 176,435 100
Source: Statistics Canada 2011 Census

Ethnic groups

Canada 2016 Census Population  % of total population
Visible minority group
Source:
South Asian 3,220 2.6%
Chinese 1,810 1.5%
Black 1,005 0.8%
Filipino 1,440 1.2%
Latin American 765 0.6%
Arab 255 0.2%
Southeast Asian 535 0.4%
West Asian 345 0.3%
Korean 560 0.5%
Japanese 1,200 1%
Other visible minority 235 0.2%
Mixed visible minority 380 0.3%
Total visible minority population 11,745 9.5%
Aboriginal group
Source:
First Nations 4,485 3.6%
Métis 3,525 2.8%
Inuit 120 0.1%
Total Aboriginal Population 7,830 6.3%
White 104,560 84.2%
Total population 124,135 100%

Chinese population

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.

Homelessness

Women make up nearly half of Kelowna's homeless. In other Canadian cities, the overwhelming majority of homeless are males.

On 12 May 2003, the Kelowna Homelessness Networking Group conducted a limited census, and enumerated 198 people: 54 individuals from the street and 144 individuals in shelters.

On 24 February 2016, as part of the Government of Canada's Homelessness Partnering Strategy, the Central Okanagan Foundation conducted a coordinated Point-in-Time (PiT) Count of Kelowna's homeless population. The survey found at least 233 people were homeless, and another 273 were living in temporary housing.

Transportation

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.

Public transport

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.

Air travel

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

Kelowna's welcome sign
Kelowna's welcome sign

Culture and sport

Kelowna Lake Oka
Kelowna Marina
  • Westbank First Nation
  • Kelowna RocketsWestern 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

Accolade

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."

Sister cities

Kelowna has "sister city" agreements with the following cities:

Economy

See also: Okanagan Valley (wine)

The service industry employs the most people in Kelowna, the largest city in the tourist-oriented Okanagan Valley. In summer, boating, golf, hiking and biking are popular, and in winter, both skiing and snowboarding are favourite activities at the nearby Big White and Silver Star ski resorts. Tourism in the Greater Kelowna Area has now become a $1 billion a year industry, as of 2016.

Kelowna produces wines that have received international recognition. Vineyards are common around and south of the city where the climate is ideal for the many wineries. At least two major wineries were damaged or destroyed (now rebuilt) in 2003 due to the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire. Kelowna is also the home of Sun-Rype, a popular manufacturer of fruit bars and juices.

Okanagan College and University of British Columbia are the predominant centres for post-secondary education. Over 8,745 students attend Okanagan College and 8,718 students attend the University of British Columbia. In addition to vocational training and adult basic education, the college offers a highly regarded university transfer program. University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus has a student population of over 8,000 full-time students enrolled in diverse undergraduate and graduate programs.

Kelowna is the seat of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, the third-largest metropolitan area in British Columbia after Vancouver and Victoria and the largest in the British Columbia Interior. With scenic lake vistas and a dry, mild climate, Kelowna has become one of the fastest-growing cities in North America. The appropriate management of such rapid development (and its attendant consequences) is a source of significant debate within the community. Kelowna is the fourth least affordable housing market in Canada, currently maintaining the classification of "Severely Unaffordable". Because of the Okanagan's climate and vineyard-filled scenery, it is often compared to Napa Valley, California.

Kelowna's use as a film locale

The first state of the art soundstage and film studio in Kelowna was announced by Burnaby-owned Eagle Creek productions, with construction sometime in 2017.

  • Fido, a comedy/horror/thriller movie about zombies, was filmed in Kelowna and debuted on 7 September 2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Part of the movie Mee Shee: The Water Giant was filmed in Kelowna.
  • The movies Shred and Shred 2 were partially filmed at Big White, a ski hill near Kelowna.
  • Flicka: Country Pride, released in 2012, was filmed in Kelowna at several locations, such as Mission Creek Ranch, Kelowna Secondary School, and Gemstone Equestrian Centre.

Kelowna's use as a market trial location

Due to its moderate population, Kelowna is often used as a market trial area where national businesses and organizations can test a new product. Examples include:

  • The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority piloted new whole body imaging technology for passenger screening at the Kelowna International Airport from 2008 to 2009.
  • Telus Mobility re-launched its Clearnet discount mobile phone brand in Kelowna and Red Deer, Alberta, in 2011.
  • Kelowna was the first city in Canada to have a permanent flow-rider, located at the H2O facility.
  • Peachwave opened its first Canadian store in Kelowna in 2013.
  • Overwaitea Food Group opened its first Urban Fare location outside of downtown Vancouver in Kelowna.

Education

Post-secondary

  • University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
  • Okanagan College
  • Focus College
  • Justice Institute of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus)
  • Sprott Shaw College (privately owned)
  • The Centre for Arts and Technology (privately owned)
  • VanWest College (privately owned)

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools in the Kelowna area are part of School District 23 Central Okanagan. (For a list of primary and middle schools, see the School District 23 Central Okanagan article)

  • Secondary (grades 10–12 or 8–12):
    • Kelowna Secondary School (offers French immersion)
    • Rutland Senior Secondary School
    • Mount Boucherie Senior Secondary School
    • Okanagan Mission Secondary School
    • George Elliot Secondary School
    • Central School − Central Programs & Services: Alternative High School

The Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique operates one Francophone school: école de l'Anse-au-sable primary and secondary school.

Private schools

  • Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School Preparatory School (pre-school, K−12)
  • Kelowna Christian School (Pre-12)
  • Heritage Christian School (K−12)
  • Studio 9 School of The Arts (preschool−11)
  • Okanagan Adventist Academy (pre−12)
  • Immaculata Regional High School (8–12)
  • St. Joseph Elementary (K−7)
  • Kelowna Waldorf School (pre−8)
  • Okanagan Montessori School (preschool and kindergarten)
  • Okanagan Montessori, preschool − grade 6, after school care
  • Willowstone Academy (pre-school, K-9)

Public libraries

  • The Okanagan Regional Library has three branches in Kelowna
    • Kelowna Branch (Downtown)
    • Rutland Branch
    • Mission Branch

Notable people

Politicians

  • W. A. C. Bennett, late Premier of British Columbia
  • William R. Bennett, served as Premier of the province

Military

  • Charles Thomas, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

Athletes

  • Steve Bozek, professional ice hockey player
  • Aleisha Cline, cross skier, Winter X Games medalist
  • Jason Crumb, professional football player
  • Mike Crumb, professional football player
  • Byron Dafoe, professional ice hockey player
  • Scott Frandsen, Olympic rower
  • Rob Friend, professional footballer
  • Josh Gorges, professional ice hockey player
  • Darren Jensen, professional ice hockey player
  • Conrad Leinemann, Olympic beach volleyball player
  • Rory MacDonald, professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter
  • Heather Mandoli, Olympic rower
  • Axel Merckx, professional road cyclist
  • Kees Nierop, professional Racecar driver
  • Taylor Ruck, Olympic swimmer
  • Justin Schultz, professional ice hockey player
  • Kelsey Serwa, professional freestyle skier, Olympian
  • Tyler Shelast, professional ice hockey player
  • Kierra Smith, Olympic swimmer
  • Paul Spoljaric, professional baseball player
  • Christie Van Hees, professional racquetball player, former US Open & World Champion
  • Danny Watkins, professional football player
  • Jerod Zaleski, professional football player
  • Jeff Zimmerman, professional baseball player
  • Jordan Zimmerman, professional baseball player
  • Twistzz, professional Counter Strike: Global Offensive player for Team Liquid

Entertainers

  • Chad Brownlee, country music artist
  • Conro, DJ and producer
  • Datsik, DJ and producer
  • Ryan Ellsworth, actor
  • Excision, DJ and producer
  • Jillian Harris, television personality
  • Taylor Hickson, actress, singer-songwriter
  • Janyse Jaud, actress/singer
  • Paul Johansson, actor
  • Taylor Kitsch, actor
  • Evangeline Lilly, actress/model
  • Julie Masi, vocalist, songwriter and musician (The Parachute Club)
  • Lauren Glazier, actress
  • Alexander Gumuchian, musician Bbno$

Authors

  • Melonie Dodaro
  • Alix Hawley
  • Naben Ruthnum
  • Jack Whyte

Images for kids

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