Another year has come to an end.
(Twelve months ago) the eight billion people on our planet looked to 2022 with hope for better things to come. COVID and its mandates began to diminish, taking us in to the spring hoping for a return to normalcy.
Russia announced its intentions for war on Ukraine, creating ripples across the world. Elon Musk bought Twitter, the crypto currency market crashed and mother earth reminded us she is still the ultimate power, unleashing tsunami’s, hurricanes and record-breaking temperatures.
We watched as legends were created when (Argentina soccer play Lionel) Messi won the World Cup, but we mourned when some were taken from us, such as Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away ending her 70-year reign.
Much was the same for us here in Kelowna, wondering what lay ahead.
Our tiny piece of paradise saw change in many ways across all parts of our city.
As we hoped to put the pandemic behind us, we fought to bring our lives back to pre-pandemic levels, whether it was venturing back into the public without a mask or inviting people back into our homes.
As we braved these challenges, we faced new obstacles, an unaffordable rental and purchasing market with single unit rentals reaching as high as 1,600 per month to a single-family home benchmark reaching over $1 million.
Housing and affordability were not the only challenges facing our city, with homelessness and mental health challenges reaching an all-time high and business’s struggling to return to normalcy with operational costs higher than ever and a work force not ready to return.
Through all these challenges, our city did not give up on those in need, including the KGH Heart of Gold Foundation raising $1.6 million in one night, the Gary Bennet Family Fund providing baby formula to the Food Bank and a new women’s shelter providing 28 new townhomes were just a few of the charities and programs that stepped up to help those less fortunate.
One of the Okanagan’s largest employers, KF Aerospace opened the doors to its new Centre for Excellence and UBCO continued to grow, bringing a new facility to our downtown core, which was considered controversial at times.
We continued to grow to the tune 1,758 new building permits totalling more than $900 million in fees and continued to focus on improving our city’s amenities, including the upcoming Dehart Community Park.
Our Okanagan Sun wrapped up the season as national champions, the Snowbirds put on a traffic-stopping show and events like the Cirque du Soleil show, Denim on the Diamond and Rock the Lake were all hits. No wonder Kelowna was ranked No. 2 in Canada for best small cities to live in.
Wineries, golf courses, ski hills, and the Okanagan lifestyle are just part of why we live here. It is our neighbours we help, the business’s we visit and the family we keep close that makes this city what it is.
This is a time for compassion, bringing hope to those in need. We must be resilient, understanding that things will not be as they were before and finally, we must be mindful, willing to listen to others and understanding who they are and where they come from.
I love my city and things might not always be as they were.
Indy Dhial, Kelowna