Central Okanagan was B.C.’s fastest growing region last year

Building permit values in the Central Okanagan are up 251 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
Building permit values in the Central Okanagan are up 251 per cent in the first quarter of the year.
Image Credit: Contributed

With a two per cent growth in population in 2020, the Central Okanagan was the province’s fastest growing regional district in B.C. and the fourth fastest growing in Canada.

That’s according to a report released today, May 10, by the Central Okanagan Development Commission.

“The Okanagan region is expected to add more people in the coming two decades than it has in the past two,” demographer Andrew Ramlo said in a commission news release. “Growth will be driven by a growing and diversifying economy set within one of the most amenity rich settings in the province.”

The region’s population grew to 222,748 in 2020 from 217,229 in 2019. This follows a 1.9 per cent increase from the year before.

Economic drivers show the economy is back on track in the first quarter of 2021 in most sectors after a year of COVID.

The total number of people employed is up this year to 109,433 from 108,300 last year and the unemployment rate, at 5.37 per cent, is lower than last year’s 5.77 per cent.

Job postings were up 14.6 per cent with the biggest gain in sales and service occupations, which were up 25.7 per cent to 1,374 postings.

Housing starts were up 5.75 per cent in the first quarter of the year to 589 in the region and building permit values are up 251 per cent to $629 million from $179 million last year. Building permit values last year were down 22.7 per cent from 2019.

Business licences are up 4.7 per cent to 14,534.

Median new home prices were up 6.21 per cent to $912,500.

On the down side, the number of people flying in an out of Kelowna International Airport is down 80.4 per cent to 88,648 and job postings in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors were down 91 per cent.

Although not stated in the report, some of these statistics may be tempered by the fact that the COVID-19 lockdown started hitting with some force in mid-March 2020 when ski resorts and other businesses started shutting down. A state of emergency was declared in B.C. on March 18.

READ MORE: COVID-19: A timeline of the pandemic and how it changed our lives over the past year

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