Since long before incorporation in 1995, Lake Country has been an attractive place for investors. The four ward neighbourhoods of Lake Country have attracted people who now call this community their home. As the community has grown, it has built up its services, from community infrastructure such as roads, sewer, water, and parks, to its social infrastructure such as community groups and resources. With growth comes demand for amenities, including commercial development, places to work, and greater access to recreation opportunities, for example.
When it comes to growth, Lake Country is becoming known as a leader in BC. Between the 2006 and 2011 Canadian Census periods, the District grew by 21.9% (the Province of BC grew by 7% over the same period). Since 2011, Lake Country’s population increases have shown no signs of slowing. In fact, in both 2014 and 2015 the community led all other municipalities in BC, growing by 5.7% and 7.6% in each year respectively. To put this into context, Lake Country’s population was 9,606 in 2006; a decade later, the population is estimated at 14,035. One note that is important to make here, is that while the community grows, the District strives to enhance agriculture and the character of the community that draws so many people to live here.
Photo: Wood Lake, early 2016 – Jamie McEwan
What is driving the growth within the community? There are a number of assumptions that we can make in understanding why people of diverse backgrounds and interests are choosing to invest in Lake Country: the vast natural amenities on your doorstep; the lakes and wildlife; the fresh food from local farmers; the parks and trails; the proximity to well-established, growing cities like Vernon and Kelowna; the nearby international airport linking residents to business and travel opportunities; the world class university and high-calibre college within a short drive; as well as a thriving creative community. On top of this, residents ranked their quality of life in 2015 with 97% stating they were satisfied or very satisfied. So, another assumption we could make about the reason for our growth is that our residents are happy ambassadors for the Okanagan lifestyle. The reasons that people fall in love with Lake Country seem endless, and are impossible to list here.
It is little wonder why Lake Country was highlighted as one of the top places to invest in Canada in 2015 by Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine. As a result of population growth and demand for new development, Lake Country experienced its busiest year of building activity in 2015. By the end of 2015, Lake Country had issued 339 building permits at a value of nearly $69 million. In 2014, the total was 270 at a value of approximately $51 million. Year-to-date 2016 building statistics suggest Lake Country could see another record year for development. The total number of building permits over the first quarter of 2016 reached 94 at a value of nearly $16 million, while the same period in 2015 saw 54 permits valued at $11.5 million.
Most recent development has taken the form of the single family home. This progress is important to the community in the long-term, as residential growth is most often the first wave of investment that is followed by economic diversification in commercial and industrial development.
Photo: Main Street In Progress – Jamie McEwan
With respect to attracting and retaining businesses in commercial retail space, commercial developers and their tenants look at a community in a ratio of population to built commercial square feet (not to mention their competition). In simple and generalized terms, as the population of Lake Country increases, the business case for more commercial development also increases. What we are experiencing now in Lake Country is firm interest from commercial developers who are seeing that Lake Country is a strong, sustainable market. This means that in due course, we will see enhanced services and commercial amenities for residents. Alongside this, we will see the diversification of our local economy. Diversity in many respects fosters a sustainable, vibrant community.
I am often asked if I am optimistic about Lake Country’s economic future. The answer is that I’m not just optimistic about the economic future, I’m positive that Lake Country will see enhanced and expanded services that will make this community more enjoyable and diverse. This optimism is buoyed by the positivity of the residents, of the business owners, and of the developers who are coming to the District and sharing their positive experiences with us. This optimism is backed by third-party statistics and reports showing that Lake Country is one of the most appealing places to invest. As many residents will attest, when you invest here, you invest not only in the community, but in your own future.
Do you want to discuss a business or investment opportunity in Lake Country? Call or email me any time.
Jamie McEwan, BA, MA
Community Development Manager
District of Lake Country
250-766-5650 ext. 227