Kudos must be given to the city first for recognizing the fact that there is a lack of good-paying jobs in this town, which in turn is forcing young, skilled workers out of town (most headed to northern B.C. and Alberta).
But actions speak louder than words, so Vernon must also be applauded for making a special section in its OCP to improve the economy and keep skilled workers in town.
A lack of industrial lands is one area the city is examining, noting the lands around the airport or sewage treatment plant as potential options.
Perhaps the city should also be working with its neighbours to identify lands, since areas such as Coldstream not only have the land, but the infrastructure to accommodate industrial use – case in point: the former Lavington glass plant, which has sat abandoned for years since O-I moved out of the region.
But keeping workers in town is about more than helping to create jobs. Even if more high-paying jobs are brought in, challenges still exist for the rest.
The fact is, a lot of people can’t afford the Okanagan lifestyle. The cost of living often adds up to more than many take home.
Food, gas (although there appears to be a break at the pumps recently), utilities and housing all add up to more than many can handle, which is exactly why people are forced to head north for work.
These factors are largely out of municipal control, therefore our provincial and federal leaders are needed to also make a difference.
That includes lobbying from local politicians, but also from individuals letting the powers that be know the local economy should be a priority for everyone.