Vernon economic update shows city on track for a good year

'Bullish on the Okanagan'

The economy may slow down over the next 12-18 months, but Vernon will be well insulated, city council heard on Monday.

The comments were made in response to a quarterly economic report from John Perrott, the city’s economic development and tourism manager.

The numbers in various sectors indicate Vernon is “on track” and having a “stable year,” Perrott told council.

“Vernon is still a place where people want to make investments,” he said. “The general read is we’re pretty well insulated here within the Okanagan. People are very bullish on the Okanagan.”

Construction has boomed in 2022, said Perrott, with building permit totals exceeding the previous two years. The latest quarter is experiencing a bit of a slowdown with rising interest rates, however, he said.

On the tourism front, hotel room tax collection shows “it’s been a real bumper year … well above the five-year rolling overage for us, Perrott said.

Taxes collected should top $1 million, putting 2022 ahead of even the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019.

Downtown Vernon is booming too: “We’ve seen a lot of new businesses … adding into the vibrancy of our downtown.

“Stores don’t stay vacant for very long, Perrott said, adding 2023 looks like it will be another good year for downtown.

Coun. Kari Gares showed the most interest in the report.

“Given the economic climate and the prediction of a potential recession, I know we’re a little bit isolated in the Interior,” she said.

“I think a lot of people have parked themselves on the sidelines just kind of waiting to see how things are going to flow through. I think the demand is still there. So I’m not anticipating major decreases in property values, but I do think we’re going to start to see some levelling off.”

Perrott said large investors, who aren’t as affected by short-term economic ups and downs, are taking notice of upcoming city projects like the Active Living Centre and a new cultural centre.

This “sparks their interest as a place to do more business in,” he added.

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