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Susan Bach • Jennifer French • Ricardo Scebba

Jan|Feb 2014

How much money

do they earn?

Aside from the major By Julie Cosgrave league hockey players and mysterious ake a Sunday drive through one of the developments Hollywood stars who carved into the hillsides of pretty much any Valley community may or may not own and you will wonder. Even if you live in one of those suburbs where lakeshore palaces Tuscan style mini-mansions are popping up like Okanagan daisies hereabouts, what on a warm spring day—still you may wonder. What does everybody do? does everybody in You wave to the new neighbours as you walk Bowser to the the Okanagan do? mailbox or maybe glance out the window and see another moving You know, to make truck. “What does everybody do?” Kelowna, for example, is a city money? A living? that on first glance seems to have



Jan/Feb 2014 Okanagan Life Magazine

$62,400 Facilities Ops/Maintenance Mgr

$40,950 Public Works/Maintenance Labourer

$89,057 Senior Mgrs and Officials

$136,691 Fire Chief (Kelowna)

$68,250 Fire Fighter


$31,310 City Councillor (Kelowna)


$193,532 Premier (BC)


$89,458 Mayor (Kelowna)


$101,859 MLA (BC)

Data is gleaned from job postings and public documents. Figures presented are median salaries not including allowances, bonuses, incentives, employer-paid benefits or pension contributions; in some cases these are substantial. Hourly rates are annualized (37.5 hrs/wk). Limited data is available for a few occupations such as dentist; these figures represent net income (after write-offs) from census data. Figures are specific to the Thompson-Okanagan unless otherwise noted. — Dawn Renaud Find more at

no—well, very little—visible means of support. There are no IBMs or Xeroxes. No bank towers; no giant head offices filled with executive suites. There isn’t an enormous resource facility—nary a mine or giant pulp mill. No smoke-belching factory. And our old and venerable sources of modest work and income seem to have drifted away in recent decades. Packinghouses appear more decorative than real. Mom and pop motels have mostly disappeared. And while the peaches and beaches that supported them are still here, the economy of fruit and tourism has changed. Now we have condos instead of auto courts,

Government Jobs

$160,200 MP (Canada)

Salary Survey

$254,544 City Mgr (Kelowna)



do ?

$36,426 Library Assistant

$58,500 Librarian

Institutions and Arts

$44,811 Curator (BC)

$63,518 Veterinarian (BC)

$87,534 Pharmacist

$200,001 +

$86,018 Optometrist

$100,001 – $200,000

$50,001 – $75,000

$46,891 Chiropractor (BC)

$25,001 – $50,000

$81,900 Dental Hygienist

$75,001 – $100,000

$46,800 Dental Assistant

$0 – $25,000

$77,927 Dentist (BC)

$46,878 Paramedic

$41,009 Medical Secretary

$100,260 GP/Family Physician

$148,098 Specialist Physician

$42,900 Lab Technician

$46,098 Lic’d Practical Nurse

$74,295 Registered Nurse


$329,184 Interior Health CEO

more vineyards than orchards. But surely everybody isn’t a winemaker or a retired Alberta oil executive. We look around and see apparent wealth—upscale homes, new construction and comfortable suburbs, luxury car, boat and RV dealers. So, what does everybody do? Curiously, while it can feel as though the Okanagan is anomalous, somehow different from other places—an outlier from other regional economies—it isn’t really. At least, not completely. Jan/Feb 2014



Photo courtesy Accelerate Okanagan.


Jan/Feb 2014 Okanagan Life Magazine

$39,956 Payroll Clerk

$29,250 Receptionist

$40,950 Admin Assistant

General Clerical

$30,225 Early Chidhood Educator

$77,805 University Professor

$66,749 College Instructor

$64,350 Teacher K–12

$57,818 Probation Officer

$70,200 Police Officer


$39,975 Legal Secretary


$80,248 Lawyer


$46,118 Paralegal



$40,073 Court Recorder


$231,000 Judge (Prov. Crt.)

Accelerate Okanagan’s monthly social and networking get together.

$30,225 Data Entry

The Conference Board of Canada says that across the country employment growth in the professional, scientific and technical services category outpaced all other sectors except

shows that we’re having what you might call a computer-generated moment. A moment that began in a snow-covered place, with penguins. When local software designers Lance Priebe, Lane Merrifield and Dave Krysko sold Club Penguin to Disney for some $350 million, Disney chose to keep production here. So now we have hundreds of animators and digital game developers working in just that one company. That nexus of tech creativity has produced a remarkable knock-on effect about which Andrew Greer, the enthusiastic business development manager of Accelerate Okanagan, knows a great deal. When we sit down to chat late on a Friday afternoon, Andrew is almost ready to call it a day and head out to a monthly free beer event, a social and networking gathering hosted on rotation by local tech companies. But he takes time to explain that Accelerate is a non-profit organization created to advance the digital industry locally. Its St. Paul Street office is action central. That day Accelerate’s job board lists some 60 positions available in the industry. Some will be telecommuting positions, but about 90 per cent will be based in Kelowna. “We can’t find enough people,” says Andrew. “Animation people. Coders.”

$31,200 Customer Service Rep

health care and construction. Sounds like a snapshot of Central Okanagan business, industry and employment. Tech, which barely existed here not so very long ago, is big—and growing—up more than 95 per cent in the five-year period 2008 to 2012. An anecdotal first glance

Tech talk

The plan—Accelerate Okanagan’s blue sky projection—is to have 20,000 tech jobs here in the Valley within 10 years. Central Okanagan economic development director Robert Fine, whose job it is to see the economic future and help steer us toward it, is talking tech too. “It will become more important,” he says. “It’s exponential too. These businesses tend to aggregate and congregate. Some have repatriated recently or moved businesses here. And some are on the verge of explosive growth.”

It’s exponential too. These businesses tend to aggregate and congregate. Some have repatriated recently or moved businesses here. And some are on the verge of explosive growth.” — Robert Fine Central Okanagan economic development director

Robert Fine.

$51,675 Land Surveyor

$60,450 Forestry

$31,688 Landscaping

$25,350 Nursery/Greenhouse

$28,275 Farmer/Farm Mgr

$23,400 Farm Worker

Agricultural and Forestry

$45,006 Web Designer (BC)

$65,618 Systems Analyst (BC)

$84,377 IS Manager

$74,081 Electrical Eng (BC)

$56,531 Industrial Eng (BC)

$66,300 Civil Engineer

$50,700 Aircraft Mech/Insp

Scientific and Technical

Photo by Bruce Kemp. Jan/Feb 2014


But those commuters might not surprise you as much as the commuters to the UK or South Africa. “It’s huge,” says Jenelle about this briefcase-toting, globe-trotting segment of the local population. “They live here for the lifestyle and might do six weeks away and then several weeks home. The family is here, the kids are in school …” Robert says the city and region are actively courting the commuter component of the population—particularly those in the oil patch. “We have lifestyle refugees,” he says. “From Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton.”

On a jet plane Jenelle Hynes, marketing and communications manager for Kelowna International Airport, says people in the tech and gaming sector regularly travel to and from Los Angeles on the now daily non-stop flights. “You would be surprised by the number of commuters,” she says. “People commute to high tech jobs in Southern California and vice versa. And we have a huge commuting community to the oil fields up north.”

People commute to high tech jobs in Southern California and vice versa. And we have a huge commuting community to the oil fields up north.” — Jenelle Hynes Marketing and communications manager for Kelowna International Airport

Jenelle Hynes.

Hospitality and Personal Care

Okanagan College is another major employer in the education sector.

It’s academic A surprising number of your neighbours work in education. UBC’s Okanagan campus alone employs 400 faculty plus a full- and part-time support and administration staff of nearly 500. Robert thinks the importance of the university is probably not recognized by most Kelowna residents as they go about their daily lives. “Really, I think people will be surprised at the importance of the university and how it impacts the region, now and into the future” he says. “Even though they maybe cannot see the university day-to-day, it is having an impact; the engineering programs, medicine—all of it. Huge impact.” Surprisingly, statistics show that 60 per cent of UBCO grads are remaining in the Central Okanagan.

Labour and Trades

$40,950 Glazier

$35,100 Painter/Decorator

$52,650 Welder

$42,900 Plasterer/Drywaller

$50,700 Auto Mechanic

$48,750 Carpenter

$55,549 Electrician

$45,825 Gas Fitter

$46,800 Plumber

$32,273 Janitor/Building Super

$29,250 Esthetician

$23,400 Hair Stylist/Barber

$35,529 Event Planner

$25,136 Housekeeping

$25,350 Hotel Front Desk

$21,450 Bartender

$19,988 Server

$29,250 Chef


$22,425 Cook


$19,988 Kitchen Help


$35,100 Construction Labourer



Photos contributed.


Jan/Feb 2014 Okanagan Life Magazine

Think small And what do they do? Perhaps these grads are poised to join the entrepreneurial class; start their own small businesses. Because that, it turns out, is what tons of people are doing. The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission’s strategic plan notes that 95 per cent of businesses in the region have fewer than 20 employees—54 per cent have none. “Kelowna and area is a hotbed for small business,” says Robert. We

have about 16,000 of them. Many are home-based, one-person businesses (the 54 per cent with no employees), which curiously circles back to the tech sector in some ways. Maybe even to the free beer. “Entrepreneurs can be lonely,” says Andrew. But not everyone is sitting home alone, hunched over a computer. Statistics from 2012 indicate that we’re also a region of shopkeepers. The largest percentage of employment by industry (15.9 per

cent) was in retail trade. So, lots of people minding the store. But wait. Those suburbs on the hillsides aren’t building themselves. According to BC Stats, there are more than 3,000 firms involved in construction in the Central Okanagan. Those firms vary widely in size and scope (about 20 per cent have no employees), but employ 11.3 per cent of the local workforce. And all those houses and condos and commercial spaces don’t sell or rent themselves either: real estate



Pension and Assistance

$45,708 Loan Officer

$55,010 Insurance Adjuster

$53,001 Auditors/Accountants

$50,700 Manager

$20,085 Cashier


$22,913 Sales Person


$42,900 Coach


$36,075 Program Leader/Instructor


$15,577 Pension (single no other income)


$12,792 Pension Income Assistance (1 parent/2 children)

Small business is king in the Okanagan with retail topping the charts.


Espresso photo contributed; retail photo by Laurie Carter.


Jan/Feb 2014 Okanagan Life Magazine

agents and all the other people in the business of property sales, rental and leasing form a substantial part of the business community as well—11.7 per cent of all Central Okanagan firms. But that percentage is weirdly skewed by the fact that most of those “firms” have no employees. Which is to say that they are mostly made up of self-employed individuals.

Healthy numbers On the other hand, they might be among the 4,000 or so who work for Interior Health in Kelowna and area. Erin Toews, a communications officer with Interior Health reports that about 2,000 of these people are employed at Kelowna General Hospital alone. About 1,400 of them are nurses. “Then there are an additional 300 or so unit clerks and care aides as well,” says Toews. “It’s a busy place.” In 2012 (the most recent stats available) the health care and social assistance category showed the second largest percentage of employment by industry. A nice little convergence of our healthcare and digital industry profiles is QHR. This homegrown high tech company creates and sells cutting edge hospital management software that is used in both Canadian and American medical facilities. Headquartered in Kelowna, QHR employs about 100 people locally.

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250.861.5399 • Photo contributed. Jan/Feb 2014


Peaches and beaches One thing that not everybody does (contrary to what our sense of the place tells us) is work in tourismrelated businesses. The sector-by-sector analysis shows that while employment in the accommodation and food services industry grew by almost 11 per cent in the period 2008 through 2012,

the number of firms involved is only around 4 per cent of total businesses. Even if we add in cultural industries (less than one per cent, but growing) and entertainment and recreation industries (less than one per cent) tourism/hospitality related businesses seem surprisingly few in number — about 575 of them according to economic development commission numbers.




Public Admin




Other Services


Culture/ Recreation




Accommodation/ Food Services


Employment 12.7%

Health Care


Seen graphically, the breakdown of employment by sector may produce some surprises.

15.93% Retail

5.92% Education







Business Support Services

Real Estate/Finance

Growth industries

Employment trends


Total Employment Goods Producing Sector


87.2 65

87.5 67.2

And agriculture: the peaches, apples, cherries and grapes? Strangely, agriculture is in the same bin as fishing, forestry and hunting. (Hunting?) And it’s not a large bin — a total of 574 firms. While wine making has given us a more attractive and sophisticated profile of late, and it has created a whole new group of professionals and workers, we are definitely not staying down on the farm any more. Be that as it may, when those lifestyle refugees arrive at the Kelowna airport (around 2,000 people work there, by the way, when you include Flightcraft, a venerable local success story with a nearly 1,000-member workforce) they too will swoon and fall in love with the beaches, the peaches and those elegant vineyards that seem to stretch out their lovely arms and wave to you from every hillside. And whatever their line of work, they’ll probably find something to do.

Professional Scientific Technical

Service Sector


Agriculture employs relatively few in the Okanagan.








Culture/ Recreation

a Kelowna writer


Real Estate Finance













Julie Cosgrave is


Accommodation/ Food Services

whose work has appeared in magazines and newspapers and on radio. She recently published a novel,

Objects of Affection.

Photo by Laurie Carter.


Jan/Feb 2014 Okanagan Life Magazine

Okanagan Salary Survey  

Aside from NHL hockey players and Hollywood stars, what does everybody in the Okanagan do? You know, to make money? A living? See th...