The private sector in Kelowna provides the greatest number of jobs and the majority of the tax revenue for the City of Kelowna. Manufacturing, retail trade and construction lead the categories and although education and health care are the largest employer, they are considered revenue neutral, they provide jobs and services that are primarily funded by the tax payer. Taking a closer look, the construction industry provides more tax dollars and employment to the community than any other sector especially when considering the proceeds from building permits, manufacturing, and the retail trade (suppliers) are factored into the equation.
Building permits in Kelowna over the three-year period of 2019, 2020 and 2021 totalled more than $2.5 Billion for construction costs alone and does not include roads and services that would have generated additional revenue for the city. In the same three-year period taxes increased by almost 17%. This begs the question, why is there not a surplus in the city’s operating budget? perhaps a new mayor and council will investigate.
The July 2022 summary of statistics from the Association of Interior Realtors’ Central Okanagan shows home sales down by -47.2%, town-home sales, down –46.9% and condo sales are down –51.7% These numbers will continue on a downward trend with rising inflation and it would appear Kelowna’s housing boom is coming to an end. One of the city’s largest tax revenue sources is becoming unsustainable and this will also cause a negative impact for unsuspecting homeowners who stand to lose the most. A mayor and council connected to the people of the community they serve, should be warning the people of the potential hazards that may lay ahead.
Being a leader is about offering a vision, placing the right people in the right place, and executing that vision for the citizens they serve.