Struggling to attract families

Of the nearly 8,000 people the City of Penticton is expected to add over the next 30 years, more than half of them will be seniors.

That population forecast is a part of an extensive study into Penticton’s housing market presented to council Tuesday afternoon. The percentage of residents over the age of 65 will climb from 29 per cent today to 33 per cent in 2046, according to the report, which urges appropriate housing for an aging city.

But that wave of grey expected to wash over Penticton has consequences reaching beyond housing policy, according to one city councillor.

“I understand that there is strong desire for the retirement population to be looking at Penticton, but what does that do for our economy?” Max Picton said. “Is that sustainable in the long haul?”

Picton added that retirees require care and resources once they reach a certain age, suggesting the city may need to rethink its resident recruitment plan.

Chief Administrative Officer Peter Weeber said that resident recruitment strategies are “challenging at best” for most communities, exacerbated in Penticton by high cost of living and lack of major industry jobs.

Weeber said over the next year the city will be trying to spur younger population growth by focusing on supporting the growth of existing business. Simple geography and a lack of land prevents Penticton from pursuing larger new employers, he said.

The city manager also offered a preview of the economic development department moving forward. Weeber had stayed mum on his plans for the department since declining to renew the contract of economic development officer Colleen Pennington in March.

He told council in 2018 he plans on folding the entire economic development department into Development Services under the watch of Anthony Haddad, allowing for greater collaboration between the city’s economic development staff and other departments.


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