Lake Country updates official community plan

Lake Country updates official community plan
Officials in Lake Country are looking ahead to the future and updating their official community plan. Jules Knox reports.

Since incorporating 24 years ago, Lake Country has nearly tripled in size.

But with growth comes new challenges, so the district of approximately 15,000 people is looking to update its official community plan.

“Certainly it’s a rapidly growing community,” said Mark Koch, Lake Country’s community development director.

Nestled between Kelowna and Vernon, Lake Country has sometimes historically been overlooked, Koch said.

“We’ve seen our location be a draw and also a challenge,” he said. “We had not seen as much commercial activity as we were hoping for, to try to build a vibrant town centre and amenities that people in the community were looking for. We’ve started to see that turn, which is quite exciting.”

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“We prefer mom and pop operations,” Mayor James Baker said. “Our town centre doesn’t intend to have big box stores.”

According to statistics from the official community plan, nearly a third of people who own property in Lake Country don’t actually live there.

Over the last 24 years, the district said the number of new residences has outpaced the growth of its population. While the population of Lake Country has grown an average of 1.6 per cent a year since 1995, the number of residences has grown at a rate of 2.7 per cent.

“Most of our vacant homes are owned by people whose family uses them during the summer,” Baker said, adding that many couples intend to retire at their Lake Country properties eventually.

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“Anecdotally, we often see that people from outside the community, even outside the province, would be buying that home for retirement in a few years,” Koch agreed.

According to the district, approximately 33 per cent of Lake country residents work in Kelowna. Only 22 per cent work locally.

“The plan does call for an increase in employment opportunities in Lake Country, as well as commercial amenities so that people can buy the things they need to buy within Lake Country,” Koch said.

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The official community plan still needs to pass through two more readings, but officials are hoping it will come into effect in the next couple of months.