Census reveals a grey area for Okanagan

Penticton has nearly double the provincial average of residents over the age of 65

Seniors made up 26 per cent of the city’s population in 2011

Seniors made up 26 per cent of the city’s population in 2011

Penticton’s population is getting greyer even as the proportion of seniors holds steady, according to fresh census data.

Census 2011 found 26 per cent of the city’s population belonged to the 65-plus set, almost double the B.C. average, but unchanged from the last count in 2006.

Over that same span, Penticton’s total population rose by 968 people to 32,877, and its median age jumped from 47 to 49.

None of that comes as a surprise to 80-year-old Tyra Wells, who has lived here for the better part of six decades. She said family, amenities and good weather keep her, and other local seniors, firmly rooted.

“Why do you get up and move any other place?” she said Wednesday, while having coffee at the Seniors’ Drop-In Centre, one of three places she volunteers.

“It’s not the same place as it was in 1970 anyway. It’s a new place, new stores coming up and all of that stuff.”

What does concern her, however, is the dearth of young folks. Just 16 per cent of the city’s 2011 population was composed of people between the ages of 15 and 29, the same as in 2006.

“You want the young people here running the businesses,” Wells said. “I’m someone who would like to buy all my clothes and my food in town here.”

She said while Penticton is a good place to grow old, it could use more assisted-care facilities for people with minimal needs:  “Assisted to a point; a lot of them can more or less take care of themselves.”

Interior Health agrees, and that’s why it’s opening 66 new beds this year at Haven Hill Retirement Centre, said Donna Lommer, the health authority’s chief financial officer.

Her agency relies heavily on census data to predict and meet future demand. The focus right now is on the coming wave of baby boomers, who will soon begin enjoying their seniors’ discounts.

Boomers, generally considered to be between the ages of 45 and 64, made up 30 per cent of Penticton’s population in 2011.

As a result, “The whole shift over the last five to seven years has been to de-emphasize the use of acute-care facilities and try to provide care closer to home, and really concentrate on that shift to move resources into the community,” Lommer said.

“It’s going to be a challenge. We know that. Especially in today’s economic times as our funding is on the downhill slide… so we do need to get innovative in how we deliver services to manage the demand coming at us.”

Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton, himself a 57-year-old boomer, said the city needs more of his ilk, because it’s middle-aged people who buy homes, spend disposable income and fill schools with kids.

”That’s a group that we want to attract,” Ashton said.

The lure, he continued, is “jobs, jobs, jobs,” which council has tried to spur with “a stable tax regime” and business enterprise zones.

Outside Penticton city limits, the population is even more heavily skewed towards seniors.

Within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, 28 per cent of its 80,742 residents were 65-plus in 2011, and the median age was 52. Meanwhile, seniors accounted for 38 per cent of the 1,667 residents on the Penticton Indian Reserve, where the median age hit 56.



Percentage of population by age group


Penticton (pop. 32,877)

15-29: 16%

45-64: 30%

65-plus 26%


Kelowna (117,312)

15-29: 20%

45-64: 28%

65-plus: 19%


Oliver (4,824)

15-29: 13%

45-64: 30%

65-plus: 34%


Osoyoos (4,845)

15-29: 10%

45-64: 32%

65-plus: 39%


Summerland (11,280)

15-29: 13%

45-64: 33%

65-plus: 28%


Vernon (38,150)

15-29: 17%

45-64: 29%

65-plus: 23%


Source: Statistics Canada Census 2011



Just Posted

Geordie Fife exits the dunk tank during 2017’s Discovery House Father’s Day festivities at Skaha Lake Park. The fundraiser helps raise awareness of the work done at the house and break down the stigma associated with addiction. (Western News File)
Discovery House Father’s Day fundraiser goes digital

The addiction recovery program will be rolling out videos ahead of the fundraiser

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street

It will be the second time the proposal will head to council

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from St. Eugene’s residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Naramata community in shock as condolences pour in for homicide victim Kathy Richardson

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

Most Read