City of Kelowna
Kelowna and Okanagan Lake


Coat of arms
Nickname(s): K-Town
Motto: "Fruitful in Unity"
City of Kelowna is located in British Columbia
City of Kelowna
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 District Central Okanagan
Settled 1879
Incorporated 1905
 – Body Kelowna City Council
 – MP Ron Cannan
 – MLAs Steve Thomson
Norm Letnick
Ben Stewart
 – City 211.69 km2 (81.7 sq mi)
Elevation 344 m (1,129 ft)
Population (2006)
 – City 106,707
 – Density 504.1/km2 (1,305.6/sq mi)
 – Metro 162,276
Time zone Pacific Time Zone (UTC-8)
 – Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Postal code span V1P, V1V – V1Z
Area code(s) (250), (778)
Website City of Kelowna

Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. Its name derives from a Okanagan language term for "grizzly bear". Kelowna ranks as the 22nd largest metropolitan area in Canada.

Nearby communities include the district of West Kelowna (a separate political entity from Kelowna) 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 1905.

Events of significance

  • On August 6, 1969 a sonic boom from a nearby air show produced an expensive broken glass bill of a quarter million dollars while at least 6 people were injured. The incident was caused by a member of America's Blue Angels during a practice routine for the Kelowna Regatta festival: He accidentally went through the sound barrier while flying too low.[1]
  • Winter 1986 was the last time that the Lake completely froze over. (A Royal Canadian Mounted Police helicopter successfully rescued an SUV that had tried to drive across the Lake and cracked through the ice).
  • 2000s, Kelowna builds the tallest building in between the lower mainland and Calgary: Skye at Waterscapes, which is a 26-floor residential tower.

Tourism and consequences

Some claim to believe that a lake monster named Ogopogo lives in Lake Okanagan. In the past, naysayers have pointed out the similarities between the so-called monster and a beaver, a log and other less monstrous lake denizens. Nevertheless, local tourism makes use of the Ogopogo legend, and a children's park features an imaginative statue of the fictional creature.

In both 1986 and 1988, alcohol-fueled riots erupted during summer Regatta festivities. In May 2005, Kelowna celebrated its Centennial. That year a new bridge to replace the Okanagan Lake Bridge began construction as part of a plan to alleviate traffic problems experienced during the summer months when tourists from the Coast, Alberta and east, and the U.S. flock to the area to enjoy the summer heat, Okanagan Lake beaches, mountain bike riding and other outdoor activities. This influx of tourist traffic adds to the commuters between West Kelowna/Westbank and Kelowna.

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.[2]

In February 2009 an RCMP gang task unit was approved to help deal with gang violence.[3] In January 2011, Kelowna hosted the 2011 International Children's Winter Games.

Area seasonal wildfires

On May 7, 1992, a forest fire consumed 60 hectares of forest on Mount Boucherie in West Kelowna across Lake Okanagan from Kelowna proper; no homes were damaged, however. In August 2003, a nearby wildfire destroyed over 200 homes and forced the temporary evacuation of approx. 30,000 residents.[4] During the 2003 fire, many trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway were destroyed. All the trestles have been rebuilt to look like the originals but using smaller dimension beams.

In July 2009 wildfires destroyed hundreds of hectares of forest and a number of buildings in West Kelowna; 17,000 residents were evacuated.[5]

Geography and climate

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: The Weather Network

Kelowna's climate is a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk), with four seasons. The official climate station for Kelowna is located at the Kelowna International Airport, which is at a higher altitude than the city core with slightly higher precipitation and cooler temperatures. Okanagan Lake as well as the blocking barriers of the Cascade Mountains to the west, and the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Mountains to the east tend to moderate the winter climate, but Arctic air masses do occasionally penetrate the valley during winter, usually for very short periods (coldest recorded temperature of −36.1 °C (−33.0 °F), on December 30, 1968).

Summers are hot and sunny, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 35 °C (95.0 °F), the hottest recorded temperature at the Airport was 39.5 °C (103.1 °F), on July 24, 1994. During summer clear, dry air allows nighttime temperatures to fall rapidly. The city averages about 300 millimetres (12 in) of precipitation per year, with about 1/3 of the precipitation falling as snow, the bulk in December and January; however, June is the month of greatest rainfall. The inherent dryness of Kelowna's climate is a factor in the forest fire risk as, for example, during the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire of 2003, a large residential evacuation (over 30,000 residents) was ordered.

Although Kelowna averages 300.5 hours of bright sunshine in July (61% of daylight hours), the winter months are mostly overcast due to the presence of low-level Pacific moisture clashing with Arctic air and getting trapped in the valley; thus, Kelowna averages only 40.3 hours of bright sunshine in January (for comparison, consider 120 hours at Winnipeg, Manitoba and Miramichi, New Brunswick).

Kelowna has the greatest percentage of "calm" wind observations in Canada (39% of the time).[6][7][8][9][10] The 4 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.[11]


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.[12][13] Vineyards are common around and south of the city where the climate is ideal for the many wineries. Notable vineyards in the area include the Mission Hill Winery (in West Kelowna), specifically for its unique architectural design. 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 Okanagan 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 Okanagan has a student population of over 7900 full-time students, enrolled in diverse undergraduate and graduate programs.[14]

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".[15] Because of the Okanagan's climate and vineyard-filled scenery, it is often compared to Napa Valley, California.[16]

Kelowna's use as a film locale

  • Fido, a comedy/horror/thriller movie about zombies, was filmed in Kelowna and debuted on September 7, 2006 at the Toronto Film Festival.
  • Part of the movie Mee Shee: The Water Giant was filmed in Kelowna.
  • The movies Shred, and Shred 2 were partially filmed at Big White, a ski hill near Kelowna.

Kelowna's use as a market trial location

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:


According to the Statistics Canada 2001 census,[20] 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 8.2%, 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.

Minorities make up 6.2% of the population of Kelowna. The largest group of visible minorities are South Asian (28.7%), Chinese (19.0%), Japanese (14.0%), Southeast Asian (9.0%), Filipino and other Asian (10.6%), Black (7.4%), multiple/other (4.1%), and Arab (0.8%)[21]

Population Growth

1905 600
1959 10,000
1971 19,089
1978 51,955
1981 59,196
1986 61,213
1991 75,950
1993 85,564
1996 89,442
2001 96,288
2006 106,707

Religious groups

Total 94,760 100%
Catholic 18,195 19.2%
Protestant 38,215 40.3%
Christian Orthodox 795 0.8%
Christian, n.i.e. 5,735 6.1%
Muslim 250 0.2%
Jewish 215 0.2%
Buddhist 505 0.5%
Hindu 140 0.1%
Sikh 855 0.9%
Eastern religions 110 0.1%
Latter-day Saint 305 0.3%
No religious affiliation 29,435 31.1%
Source: Statistics Canada 2001 Census[20]

Ethnic origin[not in citation given]

English 20,665 48.1%
Scottish 16,275 37.9%
German 13,170 30.7%
Canadian 12,410 28.9%
Irish 12,265 28.5%
French 7,455 17.4%
Ukrainian 4,485 10.4%
Dutch 2,915 6.8%
Polish 2,815 6.6%
Norwegian 2,765 6.4%
Swedish 2,380 5.5%
Russian 2,045 4.8%
Italian 1,865 4.3%
Aboriginal people 1,695 3.9%
Welsh 1,390 3.2%

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.[21] Only 15.1% of the population is foreign born.[21]


Roads and highways

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 four and a half 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. The new William R. Bennett bridge has helped to alleviate some traffic congestion but ongoing roadwork on interchanges, the restructuring of traffic lights and other improvements are underway on HWY 97 on both the Kelowna East and West Kelowna sides of the bridge. This stretch of Highway 97 continues to be one of the province's busiest traffic arteries and improvements will be necessary to keep up with the ever increasing population and the ever expanding tourist traffic to this area.[citation needed]

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.

Public Transport

Kelowna Regional Transit System is operated by Scotland based company 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.[22]

Air travel

Kelowna International Airport (IATA: YLW), north of the downtown core, is the 10th busiest airport in Canada. There are regular flights to and from Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, and Seattle, as well as seasonal service to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Mexico. Travelers arriving at the Kelowna International Airport can find Ground Transportation services available for travel throughout the Okanagan Valley and British Columbia.

Local services

Venues and attractions

  • Prospera Place, a 6,800-seat arena
  • Apple Bowl, a 5,700 seat outdoor stadium
  • SOPA Gallery of Fine Arts[23]
  • Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art[24]
  • Rotary Centre for the Arts, a multidisciplinary visual and performing arts centre, with a 326-seat theatre (Mary Irwin Theatre), artists studios, the Alternator Gallery, dance and painting studios, atrium and Bistro[25]
  • Kelowna Art Gallery[26]
  • Kelowna Community Theatre, a 853-seat theatre, 236 person capacity lobby, complete backstage amenities and a 1200 square foot rehearsal hall (Black Box Theatre)[27]
  • Kelowna Museum[28]
  • Kelowna Marina on Okanagan Lake
  • Kelowna Hydrofest on Okanagan Lake
  • Capital News Centre
  • H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre, largest publicly owned water park in Canada, and features Canada's first FlowRider
  • Kelowna Farmers Market – April to October Outdoors
  • Kasugai Gardens, an outdoor Garden beside City Hall built to celebrate friendship with its sister city; Kasugai, Japan.[29]
  • Over 100 Wineries within a 90 minute drive
  • Kettle Valley Railway (Myra Canyon Trestles)
  • Knox Mountain Hillclimb – One of the world's longest uphill point-to-point car races still running. The event runs May long weekend of each year.
  • Waterfront Park
  • Mission Creek Greenway

Notable residents


  • W.A.C. Bennett, late Premier of British Columbia
  • William R. Bennett, served as Premier of the province




  • Early pioneer Hugh Dunlop settled in the Okanagan Mission. Donated a large parcel of land to the Boy Scouts near Cedar Creek. Now known as Camp Dunlop in his honor.


Kelowna Marina


Public schools[31]

Public schools in the Kelowna area are part of School District 23 Central Okanagan or School District 93 Conseil scolaire francophone:

Private schools[32]


Sister cities

Kelowna has "sister city" agreements with the following cities:[34]


See also


  1. ^ Sonic boom smashes Kelowna's windows, Archival news footage after the sonic boom, CBC Digital Archives, Broadcast Date: Aug. 7, 1969
  2. ^ Wakefest 2009 not happening, Kelowna News,
  3. ^ Special unit needed to fight Kelowna gang war: RCMP – British Columbia – CBC News. (2009-01-28). Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  4. ^ "Okanagan Mountain Park Fire 2003". 2004-04-01. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  5. ^ Canadian wildfires force thousands to flee homes | Canada | Reuters. (2009-07-19). Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  6. ^ Phillips, D. 1990. The Climate of Canada. Catalogue No. En56-1/1990E. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services of Canada
  7. ^ Atlas of Canada
  8. ^ Canada – A peoples' history,
  9. ^ US Green Building Council, Kelowna, British Columbia Competition Program Detailed Summary,
  10. ^ Weather. (1947-02-03). Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  11. ^ [1]. Retrieved on 2011-03-06.
  12. ^ "Example: Calona Vineyards – Awards – Artist Series Reserve VQA". 1990-01-06. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  13. ^ Calona Private Reserve. (1990-01-06). Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  14. ^ University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus (September 20, 2010). Record enrolment fuels UBC’s Okanagan campus growth. Retrieved on: 2011-10-06.
  15. ^ "6th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey: 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  16. ^ The Okanagan, a Napa of the North, New York Times, 6 October 2006
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^!/CarlsJrOKANAGAN/statuses/61511071701270528
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ a b c The Changing Face of Kelowna: Report on Ethnicity and Ethnic Relations. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-02-20.
  22. ^ Central Okanagan i-go, Transit</]
  23. ^ "SOPA Gallery of Fine Arts". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  24. ^ "Alternator Gallery for Contemporary Art". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  25. ^ "Rotary Centre for the Arts". Rotary Centre for the Arts. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  26. ^ Kelowna Art Gallery
  27. ^ "Kelowna Community Theatre". Kelowna Community Theatre. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  28. ^ "Kelowna Museum". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  29. ^ Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.. "Kasugai Gardens". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  30. ^ "Kelowna Rowing Club". Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  31. ^ Public Schools in Kelowna: Kelowna Senior Secondary, Rutland Senior Secondary, Mount Boucherie SecondaryOkanagan Mission Secondary, KLO Middle, Dr. Knox Middle, Constable Neil Bruce Middle, Rutland Middle, Springvalley Middle
  32. ^ Private Schools in Kelowna: Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School,Kelowna Christian School, Heritage Christian School, Vedanta Academy, Okanagan Adventist Academy, Immaculata Regional High School, St. Joseph Elementary, Kelowna Waldorf School, Okanagan Montessori School, Okanagan Montessori
  33. ^ Post-secondary Schools in Kelowna: UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College, Sprott-Shaw Community College[dead link]
  34. ^ "Sister Cities". City of Kelowna. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 

External links

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

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  • Kelowna — geographical name city Canada in S British Columbia population 96,288 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Kelowna — city, S British Columbia, Canada; pop. 51,955 …   Webster's Gazetteer

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