Housing construction falling far short of population growth in Thompson-Okanagan


Home construction is failing to keep up with the demand for housing the Thompson-Okanagan and it could put economic growth at risk, according to a report by the Chartered Professional Accountant of British Columbia.

The report, BC Check-Up: Live, analyzes demographic and affordability trends across the province. It found the population of the Thompson-Okanagan grew to 619,894 in 2021, up 9,837 residents from 2020.

While the pandemic slowed growth over the past two years, this region fared better than other parts of the province.

“In fact, over the last five years, the Thompson-Okanagan’s population grew at the fastest rate in B.C., with new residents drawn here by lifestyle and recreational opportunities and lower housing prices, and more recently, the ability to work remotely,” said Karen Christiansen, FCPA, FCA, partner at MNP LLP in Kelowna.

Inter-provincial migration nearly doubled last year, and many of the people who represent a net gain of 6,791 new residents were 39-years-old or younger.

Despite the influx of new arrivals, the average age in the Thompson-Okanagan continues to rise, going from 43.6 in 2011, to 45.4 in 2021. People 65 and over make up nearly one-quarter of the population.

Last year, 3,697 new housing units were completed in the region. While that’s well above the average of 3,100 over the past decade, it’s not keeping up with demand.

Housing completes have declined since the record set in 2019, with attached units down the most,” noted Christiansen. “Inadequate housing supply in the region has put pressure on housing and rental prices, posing a serious challenge to both current and potential residents.”

Between 2017 to 2021, the number of residents in the Thompson-Okanagan increased by 50,982 while only 20,524 residential housing units were completed.

Prices have soared as a result. The CPABC report shows that the average price of a home sold in the Okanagan increased by nearly 10 per cent, selling for $785,660 in May 2022, compared to $716,659 in May 2021. Rental prices also increased, most significantly for larger units.

In Kelowna, a three-plus bedroom unit was rented on average for $1,709 in 2021, up 7.1 per cent from 2020, while the price for a one-bedroom unit increased by 4.0 per cent to $1,191. The vacancy rate for all unit types was below 1.0 per cent.

Christiansen points out that attracting new residents, in particular younger people, is essential.

“Our region needs to continue attracting residents, particularly those of working age who generate the goods and services that underpin our local economy. Looking ahead, it will be critical to generate greater housing development to improve accessibility and affordability,” she concludes.

You can read the full BC Check-Up: Live here.

Dine Around Thompson-Okanagan is back and bigger than ever

Dine Around the city

Do you love delicious food at a discounted price? Who doesn’t?

It’s that time of year again! Dine Around Thompson-Okanagan is back, and this year the event is bigger and better than ever.

Over 60 restaurants from Kamloops all the way down to Osoyoos are participating. The program runs for a full month from Feb. 5 – March 7. To accommodate the COVID-19 rules set in place by the government, the majority of the restaurants are also offering takeaway.

“It’s a great time for you to go out and enjoy eating at restaurants that you might have not tried before, or go to those favourites that you don’t typically go,” says Christina Ferreira, co-ordinator for Dine Around Thompson-Okanagan.

Local restaurants say Dine Around is an important event for them, especially during the pandemic.

“It’s crucial for us, especially being local, too,” says Spencer Fraipoint, general manager at Skinny Dukes.

“I do feel that right now people are really going to those local spots and they acknowledge that we need the help if we want to stick around, so that’s been really awesome to see,” he adds.

There are dishes for food lovers, picky eaters, and diners on a dime.

“There’s lots of gluten free options, lots of vegetarian options, as Skinny Dukes mentions, they are one of the vegetarian options,” adds Ferreira. “So really, we’ve got something for everybody.”

If you want to see the menus in advance or find out which restaurants are offering takeaway, click here.

Up to a foot of fresh powder at ski resorts across the Thompson-Okanagan

Fresh pow blankets ski hills

Monday’s winter storm that caused havoc on highways brought an early Christmas present to Thompson-Okanagan ski hills.

Resorts received up a foot of fresh snow across the region.

Vernon’s Silver Star Mountain Resort saw 24 centimetres fall. As of midday Tuesday, conditions were mild, with the thermometer at -8 C and an alpine base of 136 cm.

“Looks like Santa is planning on giving us all an early Christmas present,” the resort posted as the snow began falling yesterday.

Big White Ski Resort east of Kelowna saw the most snow in the region, with 33 cm over the past 24 hours.

The alpine base is currently 148 cm, with a temperature of -10 C.

At Apex Resort near Penticton, it’s -6 C.

The resort received 23 cm of fresh snow during the storm, bringing its alpine base to 91 cm.

As of midday, its Quickdraw Quad lift was on standby due to high winds.

At Sun Peaks, near Kamloops, not quite so much snow came down, but the mountain still received 9 cm of fresh powder.

Its alpine base is 122 cm, and it was -11 as of midday.

“Powder Alert! … 33 cm over the last seven days means there are plenty of fresh turns to be found out there,” the resort posted on its Facebook page.