Kelowna has been ranked the second-best small city in Canada by Resonance Consultancy, a multinational advisory company that specializes in real estate, tourism and economic development.
The Okanagan centre trails only the province’s capital, Victoria, which came in first.
For the purposes of the rankings, a small city was described as one that had a metropolitan population of less than 200,000.
The scoring was based on 32 factors which were placed into one of six core categories — place, product, programming, people, prosperity, and promotion.
“Place” evaluated the city’s physical characteristics including weather, traffic, and air quality; “product” looked at institutions and infrastructure such as bike paths and education systems; “programming” surveyed entertainment and dining across a variety of target markets; “people” accounted for the population and demographics taking note of factors such as diversity and educational attainment; “prosperity” considered household income levels and inequality, employment statistics, and poverty rates; lastly, “promotion” was based on how people engaged with the city on the internet.
The city was celebrated for its opportunities, shopping, and affordability.
“People are coming to a hometown knowing that they won’t just be able to buy anything they need, they’ll also have plenty of new finds to explore,” read Kelowna’s ranking.
Unlike Victoria, Kelowna did not finish first in any of the core categories (or any of the subcategories for that matter), however, its consistency across multiple subcategories is where Kelowna got its strength.
The city finished second in the core category of programming, second in the subcategories of self-employment and shopping, fourth in nightlife, and fifth in growth rate.
According to the city, there are nearly 4,000 residential units that are either currently under construction or due to be built soon in the downtown core.
Kelowna has also been attractive to tech companies which have “seeded an ecosystem for startups that has since produced successful job engines like FreshGrade and Hyper Hippo.”
The capital, meanwhile, was revered for its mild temperatures and diverse geography which allows its residents to “surf, mountain bike, and put in eight hours at the office all in one day.”
It was ranked first in the “programming” category and second in the “place” category, acknowledging its range of activities as well as its unique geography.
The COVID-19 pandemic lent itself to Victoria’s advantage, as many of the city’s strongest features became even more important to its residents when pandemic restrictions were put in place.
The rankings described Victoria as “seemingly engineered for the post-pandemic, seize-the-day, work-from-home lifestyle.”
For all of its strengths, Victoria was recognized as having a high cost of living and it was highlighted that the population skews older than other cities.