The Okanagan: lipstick on a pig

The Thompson-Okanagan in British Columbia is one of the most overrated places in the country. Due to its warm summer weather and wineries it has branded itself as “Canada’s California” but is far from it.

We start with Kelowna.

Kelowna is a small city with a population just over 120,000. It’s very white: only 4.5% of the population is Aboriginal, and the visible minority group has risen to 7.6%.


During my time there, overhearing racial slurs was a nearly daily reality. Bumper stickers containing 88 or SS bolts (white supremacist symbols) were abundant and I saw them in traffic every day.


The small number of Aboriginal people appeared non-existent as most of them lived on a reserve outside of town. I don’t recall ever seeing or meeting a single Black Canadian there, although this seems to have marginally improved if the town’s homemade “rap videos” are any indication. The only time I heard of them (visiting) was when they were being threatened, called epithets, left notes to “go home” or muttered about behind their backs.


Crazy Christians


A large segment of the population is religious and old-fashioned. These conservative Christians frown upon being gay, being non-religious, being non-Christian, sex before marriage, and basically any ideas or values formed after the 1950s. According to statistics, over 58% of residents claim a religious affiliation – virtually all Christian. Nearly three-quarters of couples are married.


K-Town summed up


Kelowna can be divided into the following groups: hardcore Christians, the wealthy retired, the elderly, rich youth, Hell’s Angels and other criminal elements; the poor and addicted.


Retired & Old


It’s a popular retirement location: nearly 20% of residents are over 65. Catering to the retired and elderly fills a large portion of the city’s employment and funding as they are now the top demographic.


Crime


When I lived there it was well known that the Hell’s Angels “ran the town”. At the time other gangs were trying to muscle in. Nearby my quiet home next to a vineyard, an Asian gang member was arrested with an ear inside his pocket he’d kept as a souvenir. Such was life in “peaceful” Kelowna. Matters remain the same today in the city’s underbelly: whether it’s HA members beating a man to death, ongoing legal issues over clubhouses, cocaine smuggling operations, or more, the status quo continues. (In the early 2010s, Kelowna was among the most dangerous cities listed in Canada, but this appears to have improved in recent years.)


Poor


One comment said it best when describing Kelowna as “ostentatious luxury next to stark poverty“. It has become a town for the well-to-do. People with money retire there and live comfortably; their children and grandchildren grow up wealthy, not needing to work and treat others with disdain and contempt.


The Okanagan Living Wage report stated: “To make ends meet, a nuclear family in the Okanagan needs to bring in an annual income of just under $70,000.” The living wage is calculated to be $21.00/hour.


As absurd as it seems, anyone earning under that amount can essentially expect to live in poverty or at least uncomfortably as they struggle to make ends meet and survive. While Kelowna may look fun from afar or on vacation, it’s hell for those who aren’t wealthy. They can expect low-paying jobs, no advancement opportunities, serving the rich, and NOT partaking in any of the fun activities on display – which they can’t afford.


For example, despite the living wage, over 49% of residents had an income lower than $27,000. Nearly half that number had an income of less than $12,000. Only 44% worked a full-time job all year.


Drugs


The city continues to have terrible drug problems: addicts and the homeless congregating downtown, sleeping in beaches and parks, and committing crimes. It’s regularly the number one drug capital in Canada for heroin and cocaine, and among the top of the list for other drugs. In 2017 it was fourth in all of British Columbia for illicit drug deaths.


Conclusion: Overblown


For all the raving about Kelowna, here is what you get: a small city in the interior with limited employment, absurd living costs, plenty of drugs and crime, a warm summer and a LAKE.


Yes, that’s it. All this hype for two things: a lake and warm summers. The lake is enjoyable, but most people can’t afford to buy or rent a boat to enjoy it. Summer days are hot (which can be terrible in the backlogged, horrendous traffic jams) and the nights are mild, warm, and comfortable – which is great. But that’s it. Its winters are fairly mild, but they still have snow and cold – hardly “California”.


So if you live any place with a relatively mild winter, beside a large lake, you are living the equivalent of K-Town life for a quarter of the cost and hassle. Almost all of Kelowna’s “activities” revolve around the lake, downtown bars and the drug scene (all of which you can find anywhere else). I can say personally that I loathed my time there, and consider its residents among the worst people I’ve ever met, rivaled only by Ottawa.


See: Kelowna Rants (enjoy the videos at the end).


Moving on we come to Vernon, which is about an hour’s drive north from Kelowna.

Vernon is a little dump town with a population of just over 40,000 people. Anecdotally, I can tell you that Vernon actually scares me because not once have I met a normal, well-adjusted person from that place. If ever there was a creepy, little hillbilly town hidden away and filled with inbred rednecks, Vernon is it! Imagine all of the problems of Kelowna, without the one benefit: the lake downtown. The only thing it really has going for it is a nearby ski mountain resort.


Other fun facts according to the last census:


Over 20% of residents are 65 or older. Median age is 47. The last time information was compiled it showed: 4.6% visible minority population; 5.5% Aboriginals; and 90% white. Unsurprisingly, racism is an issue in Vernon too, with lots of proud confederate-flag waving racists. (I’m not sure what confederates in the southern U.S. have to do with a hick town in B.C., but who said it has to make sense?)


Like Kelowna, it is a car town with terrible transit (85% of residents drive); the last stated unemployment rate was nearly 10%; over 17% of families are low-income, and housing is unaffordable for most people (source). I can guarantee things are much worse than is publicly-known, but it’s difficult to get information since it’s a small shit town and it’s rarely compiled.


Drugs and crime continue to spiral. In 2017, small creepy Vernon was listed as one of the top ten most dangerous places in Canada, although this had dropped to 24th by 2018 – still staggering for a city of less than 40,000, compared to the entire country. There were over 300 drug overdoses in 2017 as well. 


At last we come to Penticton:

It’s about an hour’s drive south of Kelowna, and has a population of just over 40,000 people. Over a quarter of its residents are aged 64 or older. We have the same story as before: 9% unemployment rate; over 70% of couples are married; employment is crap: most jobs are low skill and pay minimum wage, farm workers make barely above that. Again: 80% of residents drive; almost 19% are “low-income”, the ‘visible minority’ and Aboriginal populations combined total 11.5%, and 90% of the population is white.


Penticton is a cute little town with some nice beaches by the lake. You can stand on a hill and basically see the entire town from start to finish. Its residents are marginally better than Kelowna and Vernon. However, crime has begun to increase and was the highest in the Okanagan Valley in 2017. It’s listed in the top 20 most dangerous places in Canada, again.


So this is the Okanagan in a nutshell. Sure, there are plenty of other little shit towns sprinkled around, but they’re so small they aren’t worth writing about, and nobody who requires employment or has a family is going to move there due to lack of resources. It’s simply the same people who were born and raised there who stay and will die there. End of.

Canada’s “California”? Hardly (unless you mean the drug trafficking and crime) !


The takeaway:


The Okanagan is white, expensive, and over-hyped. If you move there expect to be broke, struggling, hurting for work, and treated like human trash by the rich scumbags who have retired there. You can’t even enjoy the ‘benefits’ of small city living because the place is chalk full of bikers, various warring gangs, drug trafficking and more. God forbid you aren’t white – you will be a virtual pariah. The same goes for being non-religious (if your social group doesn’t include bikers and drug traffickers). You will basically have the worst of every world and have settled for it all because of a lake. Enjoy!


Canada’s capital city: Ottawa

It would be fair to assume that a good way to judge a nation is to look at its capital city. If not a complete representation, it should at least be an indication of the country at large.

Some personal words I would use to describe Ottawa, based on my time there: cesspool, dump, septic tank, sewer, gutter, prostituting, repugnant, loathsome, rotten, corrupt, racist, sexist, cold, arctic, incompetent, depressing, bleak, detestable, appalling, boring, cursed, contemptible, obnoxious, offensive, vile; unholy. 



O- town


Ottawa is the capital city of Canada, located in Ontario with a population just under a million people.


It started out as a dumpy little pioneer place called ‘Bytown’ in 1826, and was incorporated into the ‘City of Ottawa’ in 1855. Its major claims to fame are the Parliament building and the Rideau Canal – hand built by virtual slave laborers (poor Irish immigrants dying from malaria); a history the city does its best to downplay as much as possible.



Soviet aspect


Picturesque photos of Ottawa’s parliament hill nestled downtown nearby the river – sprinkled with statues and benches – makes for a nice first impression. Which is why it’s the only view of Ottawa that’s ever publicized. Outside a limited perimeter of downtown, the entire city is dismal. (The running joke is that it looks like it was ripped right out of the old Soviet Union.) It’s a bleak mixture of grey and brown buildings, ugly architecture and horrible urban planning. The ugliness is remarked upon by visitors, immigrants, and residents (who even write letters about it).


The only way to change the state of affairs would be to demolish most of the city and rebuild. Since that won’t happen, the unattractive soviet-like appearance will remain.



Sewage River


For decades raw sewage has been seeping into the Ottawa River while politicians and inhabitants looked the other way. (Only now have they begun to look into the issue seriously.) In 2016, forty-five million liters of raw sewage flowed into it. In 2017, 600 million liters of diluted sewage poured in. 


What’s rather disturbing is that this seems to be “normal” to Ottawa residents. They happily swim, kayak or paddle board in the river. Even on days when the water isn’t too murky to see into, all you can glimpse are rocks, concrete blocks and garbage. Trash, discarded bottles and numerous homeless camp-outs are sprinkled alongside the canal downtown.


The most popular beaches are squalid patches of sand next to the polluted river. They’re often closed for swimming due to the sewage, fecal matter, and E Coli hitting dangerous levels. One of the most popular – Petrie Island – is built on an old garbage dump site. Toxic geese droppings also litter the beaches and make their way into the water.



Crumbling infrastructure


During winter the old frozen pipes often burst, leading to building evacuations, or businesses and residents going 3-6 days without water usage. In one bad year the city received over 300 calls about it.


Ottawa’s roads are notoriously bad: cracks, massive potholes, disrepair, cheap or nonexistent maintenance and even sinkholes plague the city and surrounding areas. The Canadian Infrastructure Report Card showed only 20 percent were deemed “good”. After being decimated by winter, cheap hurried “repairs” are made in spring and summer, backlogging traffic and infuriating residents.



Horrible Transit


‘OC Transpo’ provides bus services for the Ottawa region and is unapologetic about its terrible service. What would be a 20 minute trip by car can take up to two hours and 3 bus transfers via public transit. When buses aren’t being hit by trains, catching fire, hitting pedestrians, hitting bus stations, or not showing up in winter, they are increasing fares (the average monthly bus pass now costs over $100).



Rampant infidelity


When the cheating website ‘Ashley Madison’ was hacked, it showed that about 1 in 5 Ottawa residents were subscribers. When you factor in age, limited adult population, and other unexposed cheating websites – one can only guess at the actual levels of infidelity. And yes, plenty of the email addresses were traced back to the City and Parliament Hill. (The city tried to counter the bad publicity with a laughable defense.) Ottawa’s true colors are shown to the world!



Arctic weather


Ottawa has terrible weather: either humid and stifling summer heat, or cold, depressive, arctic winters. It’s not unusual for winter weather to be -20 to -30 C. It’s usually colder than Moscow, and don’t forget the wind chill and freezing rain!



Crime


The crime trend is on the upswing in Ottawa: gangs, guns, shootings, problem immigrants and more contributing to the issue. (So far in 2018 there have been 76 shootings. Last year there were 75 shootings. In 2016 there were 68 shootings and 24 homicides.) 


There was even a terrorist incident in 2014. With the influx of immigration, and judging by all the niqab and burka covered women in certain districts, it’s no surprise that terrorism-related convictions are now popping up regularly, due to ISIL supporters (locals or foreign born).


The city’s illicit drug problem has only continued to increase in the last few years, with local gangs battling over territory. A top doctor even claims Ottawa is “on the brink of a drug-injection crisis”. A ‘safe injection site’ akin to Vancouver’s was proposed by locals in Sandy Hill and opened in 2018.


In good news for the city, its ridiculous PR is paying off: a polling of cakers showed they believe Ottawa to be the safest city in Canada.

According to a statistical analysis that was done a few years ago, Ottawa was the ‘murder capital’ of the country only second to Winnipeg.

Some time has passed, but with all the new shootings and homicides there’s no reason to doubt this list has changed much, if at all.


Ottawans are about as safe as they are smart, they’re about as smart as they are attractive, they’re about as attractive as they are loyal … you get the point.



There is so much more I could write, but this is it in a nutshell. I used to write humorously about my hatred for Ottawa, but after time the humor was lost to total contempt. People would write in their thoughts and feelings to me, I’ve never witnessed such visceral hatred for a city – and I can assure you I share it.


I stopped sharing my musings after harassment from unhinged locals. It could be argued no one should submit to bullies – lest it embolden their behavior – but who has time to suffer their nuisances?


Ottawa is a cold, ugly little town filled with petty, miserable bureaucrats and hated by all. Take satisfaction in knowing its people will never go anywhere, see anything, or accomplish much in their shallow, rage-filled lives. Ottawa running the nation helps explain why Canada is what it is. It will only get worse from here … 


Just leave, leave and never return to that unholy place!


See: Rants about Ottawa