Rails with Trails Phase II officially opened on June 7, 2014. Hon. Steve Thomson, Mayor Walter Gray, Senator Nancy Greene Raine, and Rhona Martin (UBCM) did the honors of cutting the ribbon. A good crowd was on hand to walk and ride the new section of trail. Phase II connects Spall Road to Dilworth Road. The budget was $4.5 million dollars. This cost was shared equally by the Federal Government, the Provincial Government (Gas tax,) and the City of Kelowna. Kelowna is clearly making headway in becoming more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. There is now 19.2 Kilometers of off-road bike trails in the City of Kelowna. Progress!
A record 180 walkers participated in the the 6th annual Glenmore Elementary's Footprint days on May 6th. The brainchild of Nicole Kleemaier - she conceived the idea of teaching children safe ways to walk to school. These organized walks build community spirit for families that attend the School. Mayor Gray and I participated in this first walk of the week. Personally, I loved walking to school as a boy in Calgary. Walking to school is great excercise and helps children socialize. Thanks to Vice-Principle Tamalee Middleton for her leadership and support of this unique event.
"The Hub of the Okanagan" Continues to Grow Above the National Average Rate
To residents of Kelowna, it is no secret how much the city has grown and changed over the years. From 2006 to 2011, Kelowna (and area) grew by 10.8%. This placed it 4th in Canada for population growth in metropolitan areas after Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon.
According to the City of Kelowna's Official Community Plan, Kelowna is projected to grow an average of 1.51% annually over the course of the 20 years that the plan encompasses. While this would make the estimated population for 2013 to be 120,890, an official at the city said that with yearly fluctuations a closer estimate is 119,445. This represents growth above the national average of 1.2%.
When asked about Kelowna's tremendous growth City Councillor Luke Stack called Kelowna the “Hub of the Okanagan”, saying that those who get a taste of the city are often the ones who end up moving here.
“Kelowna continues to experience above average growth because it is a destination city in Canada. Canadians typically discover Kelowna on a summer vacation. Once they see the natural beauty of the Okanagan Lake and valley; the vineyards and orchards they short list the City as a place they would love to live one day. Further investigation finds an expanding international airport, a well established University (UBC), the Kelowna General hospital which is the hub of regional healthcare in the Interior of BC.
“Finally, The City provides a full complement of modern shops and services, theatres and restaurants. The economic sector is growing, particularly in the high-tech sector. There is a very vibrant small business entrepreneurial spirit in the region.”
Stack added that those reasons influenced his decision to move here with his family in 1981 and it was “an excellent decision”.
Many dignitaries and volunteers were on hand to celebrate the launch of Okanagan's Car share Co-op. This new Co-op allows drivers to only use an automobile when they need it. Pay as you OGO. Special thanks to the OGO Directors and volunteers who have worked so hard in getting this started. Well done! Thanks also to M.P Ron Cannan, Mayor Gray and the City of Kelowna, The Interior Savings Credit Union and Urban Systems for playing an important supportive role. Individual and Corporate memberships are available. The more of us that join, the better the program will be. Go Okanagnan.
The City of Kelowna has a 31 year Sister City relationship with Kasugai Japan. Each year many people travel back and forth to learn of each other's cultures. Pictured here are a group of International students from the Univeristy of Fukui, Japan. They are learning english as a second language at Okanagan College. These students will study and live in Kelowna for three months. I had the great pleasure of providing a tour of City Hall to our international guests, and of course, taking pictures is part of the fun!