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Community and economy thrive with more and diverse housing

Attainable housing for professionals of all ages key to thriving businesses and healthcare systems

VERNON, BC—With a valley full of rolling green hills, hobby farms and vibrant family-friendly communities, there are plenty of reasons to call the North Okanagan home. However, settling in the region home has become more challenging for families and professionals thanks to sky-high housing costs and a lack of housing diversity.

With a shortage of long-term rentals and a market impacted by the B.C. housing crisis, there’s an urgent need for more and different types of housing in all corners of the North Okanagan.

“We’ve reached crisis level. Right now, so much of the housing is single-family,” says Kevin Action, chair of the Regional District of North Okanagan Board of Directors. “We need more variety in our housing stock, everything from three-story townhomes to apartment and condo buildings.”

According to the 2021 Census, single-detached homes make up 62 per cent of the North Okanagan housing market, despite having benchmark prices more than double that of a condo or apartment. The Association of Interior Realtors’ February 2023 statistics show the current benchmark price of a single-detached home in the North Okanagan sits at $708,600. A typical condo, meanwhile, sells for $310,900.

And it’s not just people looking to enter the real estate market who are impacted by the housing crisis.

The high cost of housing coupled with a lack of diversity and unhealthy vacancy rates are making it harder for the region to attract working professionals of all ages, and harder for businesses to retain employees.

“All industries and small businesses in our community are affected because even families with two adults with good jobs who can’t afford or find housing here,” says Leigha Horsfield, executive director of Community Futures North Okanagan. “Without more options, the community will have difficulty attracting professionals who support thriving businesses and healthy residents.”

Community Futures British Columbia’s Rural BC Economic Bulletin found a decrease of eight per cent in health care services across rural BC. With an aging population and not enough young people staying put after school, the rural North Okanagan relies on an influx of new residents to sustain its workforce.

The rural Okanagan, the bulletin says, also boasts the highest average home price outside of Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria.

The solution? Added density through attainable multi-family developments.

Not to be confused with affordable housing, Acton says, attainable housing targets average-income households and working professionals. These higher-density builds come in all shapes and sizes, including everything from townhomes and row housing to condos and apartments run by strata corporations.

“Housing diversity gives potential buyers a choice and leads to a more vibrant, inclusive and functional community,” says Acton. “By welcoming more people and business investment into our communities, building more and different types of housing helps ensure everyone has access to the resources they need for a healthy life.”

That, Acton says, is the key to making the North Okanagan a region we are all proud to call home, full of the hobby farms and connected communities we love.

“More and diverse housing helps our community and economy thrive by welcoming people who are essential to our workforce, contributing to everyday healthy living and the services we all enjoy.”

Want to learn more about the benefits of more housing and a diverse housing supply? Visit the Regional District of North Okanagan online at www.rdno.ca/housing.



Community Futures North Okanagan is a not-for-profit organization that supports economic development projects and helps our business community, jobseekers, and employers succeed. As a community-based organization with roots in Vernon dating back to 1984, Community Futures acts as a leader to create opportunities for growth and success across the North Okanagan. A team of nearly 45 staff provide workshops, programs and services for three departments: Business Services, Employment Services, and Economic Development. Visit www.futuresbc.com to learn more.  

For more information, please contact:  

Leigha Horsfield

250-545-2215 ext. 256 



The Regional District of North Okanagan was incorporated in 1965 to provide regional decision-making and collaboration on issues that transcend municipal boundaries and is comprised of five electoral areas and six municipalities. Today, the RDNO provides over 70 services throughout the region and serves a population of 91,610 (2021 census). 

For more information, please contact:

Ashley Gregerson, Communications Officer

250-550-3707 | Ashley.gregerson@rdno.ca