Strong economy, caring city, highlights of speech
Mayor Colin Basran described a number of ways the City of Kelowna is preparing for continued population growth and the related challenges that come with a rapidly growing city.
The mayor presented his annual “state of the city” address to a sold-out Chamber of Commerce crowd in the ballroom of the Coast Capri Hotel Friday, highlighting the importance of developing strategies to keep the local economy strong as it welcomes an anticipated 30,000 new residents during the next 12 years.
“Council understands and is reflective of our entrepreneurial city,” said Mayor Basran. “Even with all the growth we’ve experienced in recent years, we remain a diverse, small-business economy that is adept at changing with the times.”
He cited the city’s ranking last autumn at the top of BMO’s annual list of the best job markets in Canada as an example of how the local economy is performing. He also noted Kelowna’s inclusion in the Smart21 Cities of the world as further evidence of a city that looks for technological and cultural innovation to improve citizens’ quality of life.
There are challenges ahead, he noted, as the city plans to manage traffic flow, housing needs, social issues and severe climate activity that kept the Emergency Operation Centre activated for half of 2017 to deal with floods and fires.
One of the key areas of focus continues to be on social issues, he said, as the city works with partners to address homelessness and develop the Journey Home strategy to develop more housing options in Kelowna.
“As a municipality, there’s only so much we can accomplish alone. But working together as a community, with involvement from the business community, the arts community, the law enforcement community and everyday citizens, we are going to create a plan and a system that ensures anyone who is homeless and looking for help will easily find it,” the mayor said.
A big part of the solutions will come from the Imagine Kelowna program that included more than 4,000 interactions with residents in 2017 about their long-term vision for Kelowna. That process will inform the Official Community Plan update coming in 2018, along with the Transportation Master Plan for the decades ahead.
A complete version of the mayor’s speech is available on kelowna.ca.