EDITORIAL: Economy creates some challenges

There were a lot of big smiles Monday as the latest economic details were presented to Vernon city council.

“We’re firing on all cylinders,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

Between 2014 and 2016, building permits were up 35 per cent, new residential units climbed 72 per cent and the population grew by five per cent. In terms of downtown Vernon, $25 million in building permits were issued by the city between 2014 and 2016, while 100 new businesses opened in the downtown core.

Obviously, these statistics are extremely good news because new businesses and construction leads to more employment and bolstered taxes for critical infrastructure and services.

However, Vernon politicians and administrators need to understand that while the economy is soaring, some residents continue to struggle.

Agencies like the Upper Room Mission are experiencing record numbers, with many of the clients actually employed but minimum-wage jobs make it challenging to pay the bills. Many seniors are trying to survive off limited pensions.

But it’s not just low-income residents experiencing problems.

With the average price of a home going from $421,000 to $463,000 in a year, many families with stable incomes are finding it difficult to purchase a residence.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much the city can do to address housing costs or salaries as those are market driven forces, and hopefully more employment, even if it is minimum wage, will allow some residents to move ahead.

But what our elected officials can do is ensure they are compassionate and aware of the conditions facing all residents.