MP Tracy Gray and Community Leaders Call for an Expansion of Passport Services in Kelowna
The Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) is the fastest growing in Canada, with a population of 220,000+ people. Despite this, our local passport office currently lacks the capacity to provide ‘urgent pick-up’ passport services to local residents who are in immediate need of receiving a passport.
“I’ve heard repeatedly from residents that having to drive eight hours roundtrip to the closest ‘urgent pick-up’ passport location in Surrey is completely unreasonable, especially in the winter when the highways connecting the Okanagan to the Lower Mainland face large sections of ice, elevation changes, and consistent closures,” said Gray. “I have written to the Hon. Karina Gould twice since May 2022 asking for her to implement urgent passport pick-up in Kelowna, and have yet to receive a response from the Minister. The Liberal government owes the residents of Kelowna—Lake Country an answer.”
The Kelowna passport office provides ‘standard’ and ‘express’ passport pick-up services, but is not able to provide ‘urgent’ (next day) pick-up as a result of being unable to print passports at this office. Passport offices with ‘urgent pick-up’ are available in municipalities with similar or lesser populations than the Kelowna CMA, including St. Catharines (136,803), Chicoutimi (144,723), Richmond (209,937) and Windsor (229,660).
“Providing urgent pick-up services at the existing Kelowna passport office would save residents of our community multiple hours of travel, expense, stress and geographically makes sense. The last two years have shown us how easily services between the BC Interior and the Lower Mainland can be cut off due to extreme weather,” said Gray. “I continue to urge the Minister to act and implement this common-sense solution for our residents, we are simply asking for the same level of services provided to other communities in Canada.”
Select quotes from stakeholders:
“With a regional population of more than 200,000, the Kelowna Chamber is extremely concerned the Kelowna passport office is not able to provide the same level of service as passport offices in other similarly sized regions across the country. The Kelowna Chamber played a contributing role in the initial establishment of the Passport office in Kelowna and we believe quick action to remedy this inequity is needed. We thank MP Gray for raising this important issue and believe such a move would not only better serve the citizens of BC’s interior but also help take a bit of pressure off passport offices in metro-Vancouver.”
— Dan Rogers, Executive Director, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce
“BC Southern Interior residents know all too well how stressful, costly and time consuming it can be to travel to Surrey, regardless of the season. With major delays on the Coquihalla Highway for road reconstruction, current highway wildfire closures and treacherous road conditions in winter, having an urgent pick-up passport service centre in Kelowna just makes sense.”
— Karla Kozakevich, President, Southern Interior Local Government Association
“Kelowna and the central Okanagan is a tourism capital of Canada. People have relocated here from all over Canada to enjoy the environment and adventure. The area is full of residents, travelers, snowbirds, and adventure seekers. They go abroad and time and time again they bring back friends and new acquaintances to enjoy our wineries are golf courses and our mountains. Our airport is the 10th busiest in Canada and this alone is the reason why we need a full-service passport office that can easily support the population. Our economy depends on it.”
— Michael J. Ballingall, Chair of the Board, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association