The district was incorporated on December 6, 2007 as Westside District Municipality, so-named because it was the name of the regional district rural electoral area at the time. On January 30, 2009 the district was renamed West Kelowna. Its nickname is also "Westbank".
Westside District Municipality came into existence on December 6, 2007, following a June 16, 2007 referendum in which Westside residents voted to incorporate by a margin of 5,924 votes to 5,582. The other choice was amalgamation with the City of Kelowna, with a previous question on the ballot offering the option of remaining unincorporated within the regional district's Westside electoral area. The vote was split along highly geographical lines with voters from Westbank, Glenrosa and other areas farther away from the City of Kelowna more often voting to incorporate and voters living closer to Kelowna typically choosing amalgamation.
On November 15, 2008, Doug Findlater was elected the new mayor of West Kelowna, succeeding the municipality's first mayor Rosalind Neis, who had served an initial one-year term. Neis opted not to run for a second term as mayor, choosing instead to run for a seat as a councillor. Neis is currently one of six councilors serving with Findlater.
During the November 2008 civic election, Westside residents were also asked in a "Community Opinion Vote" to select a permanent name for the fledgling municipality. The new name of West Kelowna, with 3,841 votes, was selected by a narrow margin over the closest contender, Westbank, with 3,675 votes. The West Kelowna name was subsequently confirmed by the district council on December 9, 2008. The controversial new name became official on January 30, 2009 after the Government of British Columbia approved the change.
West Kelowna has shared in the rapid growth experienced in the Okanagan area in the last decade. Between 2001 and 2006 alone, the population of the census area encompassing the municipality grew by 11.4%.
Traditional shopping areas in West Kelowna are downtown Westbank, Lakeview Heights Shopping Centre and the Highway 97 Industrial Area. However, in the 1990s, Canadian federal grant money enabled the Westbank First Nation to bring in water from Okanagan Lake, allowing the band to open its reserves to major development. This has created competition for West Kelowna's commercial sector. Starting with a shopping centre near downtown Westbank, the Westbank First Nation began building large commercial developments along Highway 97. In the fall of 2006, a second big-box shopping centre was opened on Westbank First Nation land. The shopping mall was called the "Hub Centre" in honour of the former occupant of the site, a hubcap shop. Nearby developments include the Two Eagles Golf Course and attendant housing, other major on-reserve housing developments and another major shopping centre on the west side of the highway.
West Kelowna is located within School District 23 Central Okanagan. Mount Boucherie Senior Secondary School serves Grades 10 through 12, and is the only high school in the municipality. As well, West Kelowna has two middle schools, serving Grades 7 through 9: Constable Neil Bruce Middle School and Glenrosa Middle School. There are eight elementary schools in the municipality: Hudson Road Elementary School Rose Valley Elementary School Chief Tomat Elementary School Shannon Lake Elementary School, George Pringle Elementary School, Glenrosa Elementary School, Helen Gorman Elementary School, and Sensisyusten House of Learning. Post-secondary educational opportunities are available in the nearby City of Kelowna including two major public institutions: UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College.
The Mount Boucherie Community Centre offers Royal LePage Place arena, home to the BCHL team the West Kelowna Warriors, and Jim Lind Arena for ice sport clubs such as hockey, figure skating and ringette. Many residents enjoy a lakefront walking trail alongside Gellatly Road and several swimming areas along Okanagan Lake, including Willow Beach. Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre, in downtown Westbank, offers public swimming and recreational programs. Several community and regional parks are scattered throughout the municipality, offering soccer pitches, ball fields, children's play areas and hiking trails. The award winning Constable Neil Bruce Soccer Fields are also a popular recreational destination. The municipality also funds youth and seniors centres in downtown Westbank. A community garden, pergola and two off-leash dog parks are located in the Westbank Town Centre Park off Hebert Road. Crystal Ski Resort is located west of the municipality and is about a 15 minute drive from the downtown core. Telemark Cross Country Ski Club is located next to the ski resort. There are two golf courses in the municipality - Shannon Lake Golf Course and Two Eagles Golf Course. Culturally, the area offers has no theatre or major art gallery, though a few smaller galleries sell works by local artists and potters.
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