Kelowna Fact Sheet
You can get to Canada's Capital Region by many highways, the main ones being Highways 417, 16 and 31 (British Columbia) and Highway 148 (Quebec). As you approach the region, follow the red maple leaf signs or the "?" information signs through the downtown core. If you are approaching Kelowna from outside Canada, be sure you have the appropriate documents to enter the country. Check with your immigration officer or travel agent to find out what is required to enter Canada. The following is an overview of information you should know when visiting Canada.
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English is the predominant language of Kelowna, although both English and French are official languages; most government services are available in either language. But there are also large ethnic populations -- 350,000 Chinese, 400,000 Italians, 127,000 Greeks and many others -- so those languages are prominent in many neighbourhoods. Dual-language street signs can be found in areas such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Portugal, and other communities. Money
Commonly used small coins are the 1-cent ("penny"), 5-cent ("nickel"), 10-cent ("dime") and 25-cent ("quarter") pieces. The two main coins are the $1 gold-coloured coin, commonly called a "loonie" (the loon is the bird engraved on one side), and the $2 silver- and gold-toned coin (the "toonie"). Paper bills come in $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $1,000 denominations. The Canadian dollar is not equal in value to the U.S. dollar -- it has fluctuated in recent years between 65 and 75 cents to the U.S. dollar.
On most purchases, both the provincial sales tax of 8 per cent and the 7 per cent federal goods and services tax (GST) apply. There is no GST on most grocery items, but restaurant meals are taxed both GST and PST. PST is not charged on reading materials. If you are a visitor to British Columbia, you may be eligible for tax rebates; rebate forms are available at the airport. For more info, call (613) 991-3346 (for GST); or (800) 668-5810 (for PST). Service
Restaurant tipping is left to customer discretion, but the customary (and expected) amount is 15 per cent (the debate rages about whether this is calculated before or after tax). Many restaurants automatically add a gratuity (tip) to the bill for large groups (six to eight or more). It is also customary to tip bellhops, luggage handlers and taxi drivers, at your discretion.
Entering Canada, U.S. citizens, including children, need proof of U.S. citizenship: either a birth certificate together with photo identification or a passport. U.K. citizens and Australian citizens require a passport and proof of onward passage out of Canada. Visitors from other countries require a passport and may also require a visa. You may also be asked to provide proof of necessary funds for your visit. Illegal drugs and firearms are not allowed into Canada.
Go to Embassies and Consulates. Getting Around
The OCTranspo operates a world-class public transit system. The clean and easy-to-follow system includes many large transitway routes. Single adult fare is $3.00 Tickets and tokens may be bought in packets of five or more at a discount. Monthly/day passes are also available and can save frequent travelers money.
Note: Exact change or token/ticket is needed for boarding buses stations. Transfers between vehicles and lines are available for continuous trips. Ask your driver if unsure. Make sure to obtain a transfer when you pay your fare.
Safety: At night, bus drivers will let women disembark at requested en-route locations between stops.
Meters start at $2.50, and increase at $0.25 increments. A typical trip in downtown Kelowna will cost $7 to $10, depending on traffic, and up to $20 for longer trips in the city. Make sure that the meter rate is set at 1 (one) unless the driver has explained why it isn't, such as a large number of parcels or many passengers. Official rate and fee schedules (including baggage) should be displayed in the cab, along with a taxi driver's license bearing a photo of the driver.
Rush Hour As in most heavily populated urban cities, rush hour (6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.) traffic can be heavy in the downtown core and on the highways. The transit system is also more crowded, but OC Transpo operates more vehicles during these peak hours. During rush hour, expect bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Queensway (417). Time and dates
Most office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Most shops are open 10 a.m. to 5:30 or 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Many store hours are extended to 8 or 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, and most stores are open Sundays 12 noon to 5 p.m.
Eastern Time (ET) is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). During Daylight Savings Time (DST), March to October, clocks are turned ahead one hour.
Statutory Holidays (offices, banks, government offices and most stores closed; public transit runs reduced service)
St. Jean Baptiste Day (Quebec)
Canada Day: Saturday, July 1
Civic holiday: Monday, Aug.
Labor Day: Monday, Sept.
Thanksgiving: Monday, Oct
Christmas Day: Dec. 25
Boxing Day: Dec. 26
Other holidays (for banks and government offices such as Canada Post):
Kelowna has nine months of winter and three months of poor skating -- at least that's what it feels like. Although we do experience the four seasons, Kelowna has a long winter (about five months, mid-November-mid-April), short spring (mid-April-May) and fall (October-mid-November) and a four-month summer (June-September). Click here to see our Kelowna Weather Forecast. Telephone
The emergency number for all health, safety and crime emergencies is 911.
Dial 411 for an operator to aid with locating a number. Dialing 0 will also get you an operator for general assistance.
Pay phones cost 25 cents (a quarter, or a combination of dimes and nickels) per call. Phones do not give change, but will return coin(s) if call is not completed. Phone credit cards for multiple calls are also available in many convenience stores.
Kelowna is in the 613 area code, which need not be dialed before dialing the seven-digit phone number. Some calls to Hull are in the 819 area code and are local calls, but require dialing 819 and then the seven-digit number. When dialing long-distance numbers, start with a 1, then area code followed by seven-digit number.