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Quality of life eroding


As a long-time resident of Kelowna, I have always taken pride in our city’s unique blend of natural beauty, vibrant community, and opportunities for growth.


Which is why I found the recent survey results indicating that the majority of Kelowna residents perceive a decline in their quality of life over the past three years deeply troubling, but not surprising.


At every gathering I have attended lately, I ask if people if they can think of one part of their lives that has gotten better over the last several years. I haven’t had anyone come up with a positive answer. Which is why the findings of the survey weren’t surprising.


But I am still alarmed. One of the most significant concerns highlighted in those conversations is the escalating cost of living, which has been exacerbated by the government’s ineffective housing policies. Housing prices have soared under their watch, making it increasingly difficult for families and young professionals to afford to live here.


The rental market is equally challenging, with high demand driving up prices and reducing availability. This housing crisis not only impacts individuals and families but also the broader community, as people are forced to move away in search of more affordable options, leading to a loss of talent and vibrancy in our city.


And this is going to continue with the news that building permits are down significantly in the first quarter, resulting in fewer housing starts with a continued increase in population growth.


Another pressing issue is the rise in crime and concerns about public safety, which have been poorly addressed by the government. While Kelowna was once considered a relatively safe haven, we are now witnessing increased incidents of theft, vandalism, and drug-related crimes.


This surge not only affects our sense of security but also tarnishes the reputation of our city. The government has failed to ensure that our law enforcement agencies are adequately resourced and supported to tackle these issues effectively.


Growing homelessness is a visible and distressing symptom of deeper social issues that the BC government has neglected. Many of those on our streets are struggling with mental health issues and addiction, and the current support systems are woefully inadequate.


Rather than give those struggling hope through significant investments in treatment and recovery options, the failed decriminalization experiment exacerbated the situation and created untenable situations with open drug use in our streets, our public spaces, and even being required to be tolerated in our hospitals.



We need a comprehensive approach that includes mental health services, addiction treatment, and affordable housing solutions to address the root causes of homelessness.


Kelowna’s rapid growth has also outpaced the development of our infrastructure and transportation systems, another area where the provincial government has fallen short. Traffic congestion is becoming a daily headache for residents, and our public transit system is struggling to keep up with demand. Investing in infrastructure is not just about convenience; it’s about ensuring that our city remains livable and accessible for all.


So how do we make the quality of life better for Kelowna?


By addressing these issues with solutions that will have positive results and a multifaceted approach with commitment from all levels of government, community organizations, and residents.


Priorities need to be affordable housing, enhancing public safety measures, tangible investments in mental health and addiction services, and ensuring our infrastructure keeps pace with growth.


Kelowna is at a crossroads. We can either continue down a path of declining quality of life, or we can take decisive action to restore and enhance the vibrancy of our city.  It’s not too late to turn things around. Let us come together and work towards a future where everyone in Kelowna can thrive.


My question to you this week is this:


How do you feel about your quality of life, and what is the largest factor in your experience?


I love hearing from you and read every email. Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call the office at 250-712-3620.


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