Leisure Economy or Value Added Economy?

In the Okanagan, the economy is largely built around real estate development, which is built around people playing on water. Well, sort of:

The Leisure Economy in November

A summer culture waiting for summer to come again.

And the boats? Ah, here they are:

Tucked all in and Waiting for the Snow

(And nicely shaded by weeds.)

This is the consequence of a leisure economy. It doesn’t really work in the cold months. Every Sunday in the summer in Okanagan Falls, for example, a flea market is set up on a dust flat in the centre of town, but when the snow comes, the fleas go. Here it is on November 20:

Leisure at Leisure

All summer long, thousands of people visit these stalls to pick up treasure for a bargain and a song. Now it’s sleeping the winter away.

But, wait, what is that across the road? Ah, look:

Winter Leisure in the Okanagan

Read the Fine Print: Today’s Double Feature: Money and Money. That’s nice. Oh, but underneath it? What does that say? 

Let’s get closer and have a look, shall we:

A Clear Case of Red Bull

Okanagan Falls is beautiful because it is the only working class town in the central Okanagan Valley. If you want to know how the leisure economy is doing, it’s always a good idea to check in with Okanagan Falls. Right now, it suggests some weakness in the ability of the leisure economy to support the people who work in it. The government has a plan, though. Government is all about planning. It has redefined the future as a value-added economy. The first plank (their word) of the Community Futures of the Central Okanagan’s plan for agricultural development, for example, is hinged on “A move away from traditional commodity products within the Central Okanagan and into highly differentiated, highly value-added artisan agricultural and food products.” I’m not sure what that means.  I think it might just look like this, though:

Value Added Agriculture in the Making

The Rise Development in Okanagan Landing was built around a private golf course, for owners only, and a vineyard. The value-added here was less the niche marketing of high quality grapes, than the marketing of expensive houses to investors. When the economy went into the tank two years ago, the development went bust and the vineyard tanks were put on hold. Ouch.

And it looks like this, too:

Waiting for the Snow

Old Fruit Land Pressed into Service to Grow Corn on the Cob for a Value-Added Agricultural Tourism Operation in Vernon.

Shouldn’t “Value-Added” mean to make the most of one’s resources? We’ve figured out how to have summer festivals, and summer corn-on-the-cob for summer barbecues on the beach with our summer boats, and in the other months? Well, the Kelowna Food Bank, for one,  has 30,000 clients a year. And we’re moving away from commodity production of food to artisan agricultural products? Hello? Folks, we’re not even using our land. A retirement lifestyle is great for people with the financial means to retire here. For everyone else? Well, it means you retire from eating, or something like that. As Roderick Haig-Brown said, to learn the success of a resource policy, look to the health of your people. There you’ll see.

And that’s why we’re talking here.

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