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City of Kelowna
Downtown Kelowna and Cultural District from West Kelowna
Downtown Kelowna and Cultural District from West Kelowna
Flag of Kelowna
Coat of arms of Kelowna
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Orchard City,[1] K-Town, The Four Seasons Playground[2]
Motto: "Fruitful in Unity"
Kelowna is located in British Columbia
Location of Kelowna in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°53′01″N 119°29′36″W / 49.88361°N 119.49333°W / 49.88361; -119.49333
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional DistrictCentral Okanagan
IncorporatedMay 5, 1905
 • TypeElected city council
 • BodyKelowna City Council
 • MayorColin Basran
 • MPRon Cannan (Conservatives)
 • MLAsSteve Thomson (BC Liberals)
Norm Letnick (BC Liberals)
Christy Clark (BC Liberals)
 • City211.82 km2 (81.78 sq mi)
 • Metro2,904.86 km2 (1,121.57 sq mi)
Elevation344 m (1,129 ft)
Population (2011)
 • City117,312
 • Density553.8/km2 (1,434/sq mi)
 • Urban141,767
 • Metro179,839
 • Metro density62/km2 (160/sq mi)
Time zonePacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST)Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Postal code spanV1P, V1V – V1Z
Area code(s)(250), (778)
WebsiteOfficial website
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City of Kelowna
Downtown Kelowna and Cultural District from West Kelowna
Downtown Kelowna and Cultural District from West Kelowna
Flag of Kelowna
Coat of arms of Kelowna
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Orchard City,[1] K-Town, The Four Seasons Playground[2]
Motto: "Fruitful in Unity"
Kelowna is located in British Columbia
Location of Kelowna in British Columbia
Coordinates: 49°53′01″N 119°29′36″W / 49.88361°N 119.49333°W / 49.88361; -119.49333
Country Canada
Province British Columbia
Regional DistrictCentral Okanagan
IncorporatedMay 5, 1905
 • TypeElected city council
 • BodyKelowna City Council
 • MayorColin Basran
 • MPRon Cannan (Conservatives)
 • MLAsSteve Thomson (BC Liberals)
Norm Letnick (BC Liberals)
Christy Clark (BC Liberals)
 • City211.82 km2 (81.78 sq mi)
 • Metro2,904.86 km2 (1,121.57 sq mi)
Elevation344 m (1,129 ft)
Population (2011)
 • City117,312
 • Density553.8/km2 (1,434/sq mi)
 • Urban141,767
 • Metro179,839
 • Metro density62/km2 (160/sq mi)
Time zonePacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST)Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Postal code spanV1P, V1V – V1Z
Area code(s)(250), (778)
WebsiteOfficial website

Kelowna (/kɛlnə/) is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. It serves as the head office of the Regional District of Central Okanagan. Its name derives from an Okanagan language term for "grizzly bear".[3] Kelowna is the third largest metropolitan area in the province and ranks as the 22nd largest in Canada, with a population of 179,839 in 2011. It is the largest city in BC that is not located on the coast.

Nearby communities include the district municipality of West Kelowna (also referred to as Westbank, Westside) to the west across Okanagan Lake, Lake Country and Vernon to the north, as well as Peachland to the southwest and, further to the south, Summerland and Penticton.


Father Charles M. Pandosy, a French Roman Catholic Oblate missionary, arriving in 1859 was the first European to settle at Kelowna, a place named "L'anse au sable" (Bay of Sand) in reference to the sandy shoreline. Kelowna was officially incorporated in May 4, 1905.[4]

In May 2005, Kelowna celebrated its Centennial. In the same year, new five lane William R. Bennett Bridge began construction to replace the three lane Okanagan Lake Bridge. It was part of a plan to alleviate traffic problems experienced during the summer tourist season, when the influx of tourists adds to the commuters between West Kelowna and Kelowna. The new bridge was completed in 2008.

Events of significance[edit]

Area seasonal wildfires[edit]



The climate of Kelowna is humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb),[8] with dry, sunny summers, cold, cloudy winters and four seasons.[9][10] The official climate station for Kelowna is at the Kelowna International Airport, which is at a higher altitude than the city core with slightly higher precipitation and cooler nighttime temperatures. The moderating effects of Okanagan Lake combined with mountains separating most of BC from the prairies moderates the winter climate, but Arctic air masses do occasionally penetrate the valley during winter, usually for very short periods. The coldest recorded temperature in the city was −36.1 °C (−33.0 °F) recorded on December 30, 1968.

Weather conditions during December and January are the cloudiest in Canada outside of Newfoundland thanks to persistent valley cloud, but summers are hot and sunny, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 32 °C (90 °F). The hottest recorded temperature at the airport was 39.5 °C (103.1 °F) on July 24, 1994, and the highest temperature ever recorded in the city was 41.0 °C (105.8 °F) in August 1998 near but not at the airport.[11] During summer clear, dry air allows night-time temperatures to fall rapidly. The city averages about 380 millimetres (15 in) of precipitation per year, with about 1/5 of the precipitation falling as snow, the bulk in December and January; however, June is the wettest month of the year.

While some smaller communities such as Blue River and Golden get less wind, Kelowna has the greatest percentage of "calm" wind observations for any major city in Canada (39% of the time).[12][13] The four-year average wind measured at the airport has been less than 5 knots on average 10/12 months of the year between 2008 and 2011.[14] As shown in the climate chart below, Kelowna has an average high temperature that is above freezing every month of the year - an exceptionally rare phenomenon for a Canadian city that is located inland.

Weather Facts:

Climate data for Kelowna International Airport
Record high Humidex13.014.521.
Record high °C (°F)14.8
Average high °C (°F)0.8
Daily mean °C (°F)−2.5
Average low °C (°F)−5.8
Record low °C (°F)−31.7
Wind chill−39.7−33.0−20.4−9.8−5.4−−7.3−18.2−36.3−37.6−39.7
Precipitation mm (inches)31.0
Rainfall mm (inches)8.9
Snowfall cm (inches)26.9
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)13.910.310.510.912.912.
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)
 % humidity76.465.248.839.840.039.335.636.242.255.670.675.752.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours39.480.9148.5191.0238.2244.9297.8281.6216.2124.550.935.11,948.9
Percent possible sunshine14.828.540.446.349.950.260.562.856.937.218.613.940.0
Source: [15]

Sectors and neighbourhoods[edit]

Kelowna consists of ten sectors with multiple neighbourhoods within the sector boundaries[16]

Central City[edit]

Central City is the sector near the Harvey Avenue from the Okanagan Lake to Highway 33, comprising the city's major business and commercial centres, such as Downtown, Capri, Landmark and Midtown.


Downtown is located by the Okanagan Lake. Multiple beaches, parks, restaurants and stores are located near the waterfront and Bernard Avenue. The cultural district within downtown is home to art galleries, museums, sports arenas and several government offices including the law courts and city hall.


The Midtown area bordered by Enterprise Way on the north, and Springfield and Baron Road at the south is the popular shopping destination for the locals. The largest shopping centre in the interior, Orchard Park, is also located in this area.

Since most of Midtown area consists of car-oriented big-box stores, Midtown is often criticized for its plainness, urban sprawl and the decline of pedestrian-oriented Downtown.


The service industry employs the most people in Kelowna, the largest city in the tourist-oriented Okanagan Valley. In summer, boating, golf, hiking and biking are popular, and in winter, both Alpine skiing and Nordic skiing are favourite activities at the nearby Big White and Silver Star ski resorts.

Kelowna produces wines that have received international recognition.[17][18] Vineyards are common around and south of the city where the climate is ideal for the many wineries. At least two major wineries were damaged or destroyed (now rebuilt) in 2003 due to the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire. Kelowna is also the home of Sun-Rype, a popular manufacturer of fruit bars and juices.

Okanagan College and University of British Columbia are the predominant centres for post-secondary education. Over 5000 full-time students attend Okanagan College. In addition to vocational training and adult basic education, the college offers a highly regarded university transfer program. University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus has a student population of over 8000 full-time students, enrolled in diverse undergraduate and graduate programs.[19]

Kelowna is the seat of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan, the third-largest metropolitan area in British Columbia after Vancouver and Victoria, and the largest in the British Columbia Interior. With scenic lake vistas and a dry, mild climate, Kelowna has become one of the fastest growing cities in North America. The appropriate management of such rapid development (and its attendant consequences) is a source of significant debate within the community. Kelowna is the fourth least affordable housing market in Canada, currently maintaining the classification of "Severely Unaffordable".[20] Because of the Okanagan's climate and vineyard-filled scenery, it is often compared to Napa Valley, California.[21]


View of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake from Knox Mountain
Kelowna's welcome sign

In both 1986 and 1988, alcohol-fueled riots erupted during summer Regatta festivities.

In July 2007 general rowdiness during the annual "Wakefest" wakeboarding competition and music festival led to the decision by Kelowna City Council to ban the event for the following year. Expected to return for the summer 2009 tour after organizers/promoters agreed to changes in the festival (including renaming it, introducing restricted beer garden hours and moving the date to later in the summer), conflicting dates with the national tour forced the festival to be withheld for another year.[22]

In February 2009 an RCMP gang task unit was approved to help deal with gang violence.[23]

In January 2011, Kelowna hosted the 2011 International Children's Winter Games and in July 2011 Kelowna's City Park was home to the largest Sport and Music Festival in Western Canada, Center of Gravity. The event drew in 25,000+ attendees and brought an approximate 4-5 million dollars in tourism revenue.[24]

Kelowna's use as a film locale[edit]

Kelowna's use as a market trial location[edit]

Due to its moderate population, Kelowna is often used as a market trial area where national businesses and organizations can test a new product. Examples include:


Historical population

According to the Statistics Canada 2001 census,[30] the population estimates there were 96,288 people residing in Kelowna and 147,739 people residing in the Greater Kelowna Area. 48.4% of residents were male and 51.6% were female. Children under five accounted for approximately 4.8% of the resident population of Kelowna. This compares with 5.2% in British Columbia, and 5.6% for Canada overall.

In mid-2001, 18.4% of the resident population in Kelowna were of retirement age (65 and over for males and females) compared with 13.2% in Canada; the average age is 41.1 years of age, compared to an average age of 37.6 years in Canada.

In the five years between 1996 and 2001, the population of Kelowna grew by 7.7%, compared with an increase of 4.9% for British Columbia as a whole. Population density of Kelowna averaged 50.9 people per square kilometre, compared with Vancouver at 5335 people per square kilometre, and with all of British Columbia with an average of 4.2 people/km².

Visible minorities make up about 6.2% of the population of Kelowna. The largest group of visible minorities are, in order of size, South Asian, Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian , Filipino and other Asian, Black, Latin American, multiple/other, and Arab.[31]

Kelowna's population growth has been driven primarily by the movement of Canadians from BC and other provinces into this region, not by international immigration.[31] Only 15.1% of the population is foreign born.[31]

As of 2012, Kelowna has the highest crime rate of any metropolitan area in Canada, mainly because of its property crime. The property rate has increased by over 7 percent since the last recording.[32]

Religious groups[edit]

Population % of Total
Christian Orthodox7950.8
Christian, n.i.e.5,7356.1
Eastern religions1100.1
No religious affiliation29,43531.1
Source: Statistics Canada 2001 Census[30]
Canada 2006 CensusPopulation % of Total Population
Visible minority group
South Asian1,8751.8%
Latin American4200.4%
Southeast Asian6200.6%
West Asian1000.1%
Other visible minority700.1%
Mixed visible minority1900.2%
Total visible minority population6,5206.2%
Aboriginal group
First Nations3,6003.4%
Total Aboriginal population3,6003.4%
Total population105,170100%

Ethnic Chinese[edit]

Kelowna had a historic Chinatown in the area between Harvey Avenue and Leon Avenue, east of Abbott and west of Highway 97/Harvey Avenue.[35] Historically most residents of this Chinatown were males.[36] In 1909 15% of Kelowna's population was ethnic Chinese.[35] In 1911 the percentage was the same. That year Sun Yat-sen visited Kelowna for fundraising purposes.[37] In 1978 the final remaining traditional Chinese business ceased operations.[35] By 2010 less than 1% of Kelowna's population was ethnic Chinese.[37] A section of the façade of the rebuilt "Chinese Store" that was in Chinatown is now housed at the Kelowna Museum.[38]


Kelowna faces severe suburbanization and urban sprawl promoted by the popularity of low-density car-oriented developments. As of 2007, Kelowna has the highest car dependency rate in Canada and has the second highest per-capita road transportation carbon footprint in British Columbia.[39] Road transportation accounts for more than 65% of total greenhouse gas emission in the city.[40]

Roads and highways[edit]

For years, only one major highway passed through the city of Kelowna: Highway 97. The road itself is good, but its connections to all points east and west in the province were only managed by using the slow, curving Trans Canada Highway and the Crowsnest Highway.

In 1986, in time for the opening of Expo 86, a new freeway was built into the BC interior, eliminating over two hours of travel time between the Coast and the interior. This freeway, starting in Hope, is known as the Coquihalla Highway (Hwy 5), and terminates in Kamloops. At Merritt another newer (1989) highway, the Okanagan Connector, BC Highway 97C, heads eastward to Highway 97, which it joins at the West Kelowna-Peachland boundary. This new freeway system allows one to drive the 395 kilometres from Vancouver to Kelowna in less than four hours.

Kelowna is connected to West Kelowna by the new five lane William R. Bennett Bridge which officially opened May 25, 2008. This new bridge links Highway 97 to the southern Okanagan and to the Coquihalla Highway via Hwy 97C. The old floating bridge has been dismantled as it has outlived its usefulness and was incapable of supporting the current traffic levels. A small park area on the Kelowna side of the bridge has a dedication to the old bridge, and artwork made of pieces of it.

Highway 33, which connects with Highway 97 in Rutland, provides an alternate way to enter and exit the city, towards the southeast; it also is the route to the Big White Ski area.

Kelowna's road network has sometimes been a source of criticism by local residents especially regarding Highway 97 and its high traffic volumes. Highway 97 runs right through the centre of the city along Harvey Avenue, which has 6 lanes and is the busiest road in the BC interior. There are many big box stores and shopping centers along Harvey, including Orchard Park Shopping Centre. Plans have been in place for several decades for a limited access bypass to run through the North End and across Okanagan Lake via a second bridge. So far, only a 3 kilometer section of this future roadway has been constructed alongside the rail line, known as part of Clement Avenue today.

Public transport[edit]

Kelowna Regional Transit System is operated by FirstGroup, providing public bus transportation services in Kelowna and its vicinity. Funding for the transit system is shared between the City of Kelowna, Central Okanagan Regional District, District of Lake Country and BC Transit.[41]

Air travel[edit]

Kelowna International Airport (IATA: YLW), north of the city core, is one of the busiest airports in Canada. There are regular flights to and from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Cranbrook, Whitehorse, Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as seasonal service to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Mexico.

Local services[edit]

Emergency services are provided by the Kelowna General Hospital, the British Columbia Ambulance Service, Kelowna Fire Department, Central Okanagan Search and Rescue and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Venues and attractions[edit]

Culture and sport[edit]

Kelowna Marina


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

Public schools in the Kelowna area are part of School District 23 Central Okanagan

The Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique operates one Francophone school: école de l'Anse-au-sable primary and secondary school.[49]

Private schools


Public libraries[edit]

Notable people[edit]





Sister cities[edit]

Kelowna has "sister city" agreements with the following cities:[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hall, Neal (27 August 2005). "Fruit drove Kelowna's early economy". Vancouver Sun. 
  2. ^ "Kelowna – 2014 Provincial Participant". Retrieved 2014-07-31. 
  3. ^ Geographical Names of British Columbia
  4. ^ "City of Kelowna" (PDF). Government of British Columbia. 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Sonic boom smashes Kelowna's windows, Archival news footage after the sonic boom, CBC Digital Archives, Broadcast Date: Aug. 7, 1969
  6. ^ "Okanagan Mountain Park Fire 2003". 2004-04-01. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  7. ^ Canadian wildfires force thousands to flee homes | Canada | Reuters. (2009-07-19). Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  8. ^ "Canadian Climate Normals or Averages 1981-2010". Environment Canada. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  9. ^ Kottek, M.; J. Grieser; C. Beck; B. Rudolf; F. Rubel (2006). "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated". Meteorol. Z. 15 (3): 259–263. doi:10.1127/0941-2948/2006/0130. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Daily Data Report for August 1998". Environment Canada. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ 1981 to 2010 Canadian Climate Normals
  13. ^ Phillips, D. 1990. The Climate of Canada. Catalogue No. En56-1/1990E. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services of Canada
  14. ^ [1]. Retrieved on 2011-03-06.
  15. ^ "Calculation Information for 1981 to 2010 Canadian Normals Data". Environment Canada. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  16. ^ Sector Boundaries, Open Data Catalogue - City of Kelowna
  17. ^ "Example: Calona Vineyards – Awards – Artist Series Reserve VQA". 1990-01-06. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  18. ^ Calona Private Reserve. (1990-01-06). Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  19. ^ University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus (October 23, 2012). Facts and Figures. Retrieved on: 2013-02-07 UTC.
  20. ^ "6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  21. ^ The Okanagan, a Napa of the North, New York Times, 6 October 2006
  22. ^ Wakefest 2009 not happening, Kelowna News,
  23. ^ Special unit needed to fight Kelowna gang war: RCMP – British Columbia – CBC News. (2009-01-28). Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^!/CarlsJrOKANAGAN/statuses/61511071701270528
  29. ^ l
  30. ^ a b Kelowna Community Profile – Statistics Canada. 2002. 2001 Community Profiles. Released June 27, 2002. Last modified: 2005-11-30. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 93F0053XIE.
  31. ^ a b c The Changing Face of Kelowna: Report on Ethnicity and Ethnic Relations. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  32. ^ "Crime rate spikes in Kelowna". The Globe and Mail. July 25, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision". 2010-12-06. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
  34. ^ "Aboriginal Peoples - Data table". 2010-10-06. Retrieved 2013-04-13. 
  35. ^ a b c "UBC students partner with City of Kelowna to recognize heritage sites" (Archive). University of British Columbia. August 5, 2010. Retrieved on January 27, 2015.
  36. ^ Hayes, Robert M. "Lum Lock and Quon Ho" (Archive). Kelowna Daily Courier. Circa March 2014. Retrieved on January 27, 2015.
  37. ^ a b Macauley, Thomas. "Old Kelowna Chinatown recognized as historic" (Archive). The Phoenix News. October 18, 2010. Retrieved on January 26, 2015.
  38. ^ "Heritage Building 1435 Water St - Chinese Store (Kelowna Museum, 470 Queensway)." City of Kelowna. Retrieved on January 27, 2015.
  39. ^ Memo 2030 draft 20-year Servicing Plan and Financial Strategy Transportation Network - R. Cleveland & J. Behl, City of Kelowna
  40. ^ TAC Sustainable Urban Transportation Award Submission - Mahesh Tripathi
  41. ^ Central Okanagan i-go, Transit</]
  42. ^ "SOPA Gallery of Fine Arts". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  43. ^ "Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  44. ^ "Rotary Centre for the Arts". Rotary Centre for the Arts. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  45. ^ Kelowna Art Gallery
  46. ^ "Kelowna Community Theatre". Kelowna Community Theatre. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  47. ^ [2]
  48. ^ Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc. "Kasugai Gardens". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  49. ^ "Carte des écoles." Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britanique. Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  50. ^ Branches - Okanagan Regional Library
  51. ^ "Sister Cities". City of Kelowna. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°52′48″N 119°26′37″W / 49.8801°N 119.4436°W / 49.8801; -119.4436