Community Foundation North Okanagan executive director Leanne Hammond discusses the organization’s 2017 Vital Signs report, which focuses on a number of key issues in the North Okanagan. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

North Okanagan vital signs showing steady

Community Foundation North Okanagan releases 2017 statistical report of region

The North Okanagan’s vital signs are being monitored.

The Community Foundation of the North Okanagan released its 2017 Vital Signs report on the region Tuesday morning at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

“Together with other community foundations across Canada and around the world, we’re using local knowledge and data to measure the vitality of our community and take action to improve the quality of life in the North Okanagan,” said CFNO executive director Leanne Hammond.

Vital Signs is a 24-page report that provides a snapshot of the North Okanagan in 10 issue areas.

“The report offers a unique and accessible way for community members, businesses and organizations to learn more about the place we call home,” said Janice Mori, CFNO board chairperson.

“This Vital Signs report is a starting point to engage us in meaningful conversation, inform our giving and granting decisions and guide us as we work towards making our communities even better places to live, work and play.”

Vital Signs is a national program led by community foundations. It leverages community knowledge to measure the vitality of communities and support action towards improving the quality of life.

The 10 issue areas identified in the North Okanagan Vital Signs report are: Arts and culture; Belonging and leadership; Environment; Getting around; Health; Housing; Income gap; Learning; Work and economy; and Safety.

It also gives a snapshot of the region at a glance, with the reporting showing a total population of 84,354, including seniors, children and indigenous people demographics. The median age is 45.9 and the median family income is $76,130.

The top-10 employment by industry figures are also included. Topping the list is sales and service (25 per cent) with art, culture, recreation and sport in at No. 10 (two per cent).

“The report shines a light on our successes as well as identifies the areas in which we have far to go,” said Hammond. “Our hope is that people find the report both a source of information as well as a call to action.”

The report shows the North Okanagan having air quality that is worse than the threshold goal; higher than average prevalence of depression, mood and anxiety disorders; gaps in the local housing market; too many children, families and individuals living in poverty; lower averages in wages and employment than the provincial number and higher unemployment.

“I think the area around housing is a very accurate snapshot of why we have homelessness in our community,” said Kelly Fehr with the John Howard Society. “It’s provincewide. It’s the same issue across the Okanagan. It’s minimum wage and the rapid, rising cost of housing and food. It’s not sustainable at the rate we’re going. It’s a concern for everybody.”

Much of the data in the report was collected by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and, where possible, verified by local subject matter experts in each issue area.

 

Annette Sharkey (second from right) with the Social Planning Council of North Okanagan discusses findings in the 2017 Community Foundation North Okanagan report, Vital Signs, with (from left) Kelly Fehr of the John Howard Society, Dauna Kennedy Grant of the Vernon Public Art Gallery and Micki Materi of the Vernon Women’s Transition Society Tuesday morning at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

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