A few years ago developers in the City of Kelowna were in a building frenzy, particularly condominiums and townhouses. Buyers were in their own frenzy – buying, flipping, and cashing in.
The economic collapse smashed a lot of dreams of riches, leaving people with units they could not sell and too small a pool of renters to fill them. That’s when buildings like the highrise I live in hit on a solution: university students. Instead of lowering the rent to levels painful to those carrying the mortgages, landlords could allow two to four students to share the rent.
Our building took on the atmosphere of a dormitory. Swimming pools and gym were taken over by students. The small and large meeting rooms became study halls. Mountains of beer, wine and snack food rolled in on Fridays and Saturdays. Trash bins overflowed on Mondays.
Thanks to some blessedly hard-nosed property managers and a diligent cleaning crew, we came through relatively unscathed. Early fall parties became subdued when cash-strapped students, or the parents who had to sign for them, were forced to cough up $200 fines for noise infractions. Repeat offenders risked eviction.
We’ve been sharing our home turf with students for several years now, with very few problems. They are pursuing a lot of different courses of study. They are young and vibrant. Most are willing to exchange pleasantries with those of us who live here full time.
So we are sailing through this academic year with equanimity. When I returned from my walk today, I spotted a box under the lobby Christmas tree. It is a sweet thanks to the staff who work hard to keep things working for everyone and a wry acknowledgement of the balancing act we all do.
As to the student or students who thought to leave the chocolates and note beneath the tree, your gesture makes us permanent residents smile. Thank you.