Located midway between Vancouver and Alberta in south central British Columbia, is the 180 kilometre long Okanagan Valley. Known throughout Canada for its thriving wine and fruit industries.
The series of lakes that join the local towns, and a reputation for being one of the country’s sunniest areas, make it a popular summertime destination for Canadians looking to getaway from it all. Sandwiched between two mountain ranges, the snowy winters attract skiers and snowboarders to the nearby Big White alpine resort.
More recently the region, and its largest city Kelowna, have been growing in popularity with expatriates. Many of whom are looking to settle outside of traditional metropolitan favourites like Vancouver and Toronto. Other popular spots include Sicamous, known as the houseboat capital of Canada; Penticton with its its sandy beaches; and Osoyoos near the US border.
The majority of the Okanagan Valley’s population of around 300,000 residents live in the regions unofficial capital Kelowna.
The majority of the Okanagan Valley’s population of around 300,000 residents live in the regions unofficial capital Kelowna – “grizzly bear” in the Okanagan language – or neighbouring West Kelowna (aka the Westbank). Situated on the shores of Lake Okanagan, Kelowna is a small city around four hours drive inland from Vancouver. While average temperatures in winter dip to around -2°C, in summer the city comes alive as temperatures soar above 30°C.
Agriculture and tourism have traditionally been the main industries in Kelowna. However, a burgeoning tech sector has been the driving force behind the city’s recent rise in popularity. Consequently, opportunities in software development and digital media are attracting people to the city’s shores. As a result the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently ranked the city as the most entrepreneurial in all of Canada.
In order to keep up with this influx, there are more new homes being built here than any other city in British Columbia, with the exception of Vancouver. Nowhere is this more evident than the ever-growing urban sprawl along Highway 97. Property buyers looking for something more authentic tend to head to lakeside Pandosy Village several kilometres outside the centre. Kelowna also boasts an international airport and a major university, which is home to some 9,000 students.
A burgeoning tech sector has been the driving force behind the city’s recent rise in popularity.
This once glaciated valley and its fertile soil provides perfect conditions for orchards of peaches and apricots and vineyards. To Canadians the Okanagan Valley is synonymous with the 170-plus wineries that are spread across terraced hills, producing many award winning drops. The region’s many vineyards are mostly located around Lake Okanagan.
Touring these wineries is one of the region’s most popular tourist activities, along with sailing, fishing and hiking. Therefore, the Okanagan Summer Wine Festival proves a major draw for wine lovers each year. The increasingly sophisticated local food and wine scene was even given the royal seal of approval, when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Taste of British Columbia festival at Mission Hill Winery and sampled Okanagan produce.