Basran taking on online criticism

Mayor Colin Basran says he's seeing criticism that isn't fair or accurate, after making a statement against the province's proposed speculation tax a week ago.

He says over the last week, people have made comments on social media accusing him and council of only fighting for the interests of the wealthy.

Basran says the new Healthy Housing Strategy contradicts that.

"We are being protrayed as, perhaps, a council that only cares about developers and people who own properties outside of our community. And I think this report that's come forward is just one of the many things that, if you're paying attention, we as a council are doing because we believe everybody deserves to find a home in our community," he said.

"Anyone who's been paying attention knows that we are trying to do our best to make this a community for everybody. And it's going to take more than just action by this council - it's going to take the community as well as higher levels of government, to help make that happen."

He says if people still aren't buying in, he's got numbers to prove it.

"This council has approved more purpose-built rental housing than any council in our city's history. What we want is a balance for everything," he said.

"We want a strong economy where people visit our community, we want a community where people from elsewhere invest. But we also need to make sure that our low to moderate income earners don't continue to be squeezed out of here."

He also cited initiatives like the Journey Home homeless task force, and incentives for rental and affordable housing developers, as examples of council looking out for a variety of people.

Basran says he's got phone calls scheduled with Finance Ministry staffers, and hopes to speak to Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan about the situation in the near future.

With West Kelowna council hearing a report on the effects of the tax on Tuesday, he says he expects to see a similar one on Kelowna's agenda next week.