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Okanagan Paradise?

Confessions of a Canadian climate refugee

Today Feb 22/24 in the National Observer, Gary Symons wrote about how he had to leave West Kelowna, a place he had lived and loved for years. The fires, drought, heat and loss of agriculture and beauty were just too much. He became a climate refugee in his own country. It's a compelling read. As people flee the high cost of living in the Lower Mainland, how long will it be safe to stay by the lake we love.

"When people hear the term "climate refugee," most think of huddled masses from impoverished countries driven from their homes by drought and famine. But there are also climate refugees in wealthy countries like Canada. I know because I’m one of them.

I also learned the productivity of wine grapes in the region had been declining steadily for 10 straight years BEFORE the 2022 disaster and the same thing was happening in California, France, Australia, Chile and Argentina, a result of extreme temperatures and wildfires.

The evidence had become overwhelming that the Okanagan Valley is facing a growing environmental catastrophe that threatens the core of its economy, which is based on agriculture, tourism and forestry. Many people, including me, suffered from annual bouts of asthma.

With our kids out of the house and living in Vancouver, we didn’t have any compelling reason to stay in West Kelowna anymore, so we made the hard decision to leave our friends, our beautiful neighbourhood and my wife’s job and flee to the relatively cool climate of the Gulf Islands."

READ MORE on National Observer

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