Kim Lyster led production of the latest Vital Signs report prepared by the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan-Similkameen. The report cited a lack of jobs in the region as a major source of community concern.

Kim Lyster led production of the latest Vital Signs report prepared by the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan-Similkameen. The report cited a lack of jobs in the region as a major source of community concern.

Jobs still key concern in Penticton area

Community foundation's latest survey confirms a lack of work still top of mind for most people in the region

Another survey has found a lack of jobs ranks among the top concerns of people in the Penticton area.

Work was one of two key issues for which the region received a D-plus rating in the latest Vital Signs report produced by the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan-Similkameen. The gap between rich and poor earned the other failing grade.

Top marks were awarded for public safety, which received an A, followed by learning, the environment, belonging and leadership, and arts and culture, all of which recorded an A-minus.

Vital Signs, released Friday, used feedback from 684 surveys to issue grades in 11 different issue areas thought to indicate a community’s well-being.

Kim Lyster, who led the project on behalf of the foundation, said it’s not meant to assign blame, but rather to start conversations.

“The solutions to issues in our community are not any one person’s responsibility,” she said.

“It isn’t just the city, it isn’t just non-profit agencies, it isn’t just the schools. It’s us as a collective having a community conversation about what matters to us and what we want to see happen.”

Results from the Vital Signs report match some of those from a citizens’ survey conducted in September by the City of Penticton. That poll revealed 47 per cent of residents feel a lack of jobs and a poor economy is the most important issue facing the city.

“I’ve got a whack of work in front of me,” said Colleen Pennington, the city’s economic development officer.

She attended the Vital Signs launch and said the results of both it and the city survey “reinforce to me that we have to continue to invest in things that make it better for business in Penticton and attract more entrepreneurs, because that is where the work is going to come from.”

Pennington added that good scores in Vital Signs are also of assistance to her because they can help sell prospective businesses on the area.

Andre Martin, president of the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, said the report makes a case for helping support existing businesses.

“One of the things the chamber can do working with our membership is provide programs that makes our membership more efficient and able to turn a dollar,” Martin said.

“And if they’re making money, they’ll reinvest into hiring people. And when we hire more people, it works on that D-plus grade.”

About half of the respondents to the Vital Signs survey were from Penticton. The rest were from outlying areas and municipalities within the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. The report is available online at www.cfso.net.