Council beefs up strategic priorities

Kelowna council has added four new items to its report card of priorities.

On Monday, Mayor Colin Basran presented an update to his colleagues, officially adding the four priorities of housing diversity, homelessness, public safety and the preservation of agricultural lands.

Basran says the housing file has been a busy one.

"In the last two years, there's been a number of accomplishments including applying tax and development incentives to spur multiple rental housing projects, which totalled 850 rental housing units over the past two years," he said.

"For example, we increased the rental housing grants by $100,000 for a total of $420,000 in the 2016/17 budgets."

He also says a recent update on a storage program for the homeless was a good one.

"We worked with BC Housing and the Gospel Mission to establish and evaluate the transitional storage program. And as a result of that program, seven people were moved into housing within the first three months of the program being operated," he said.

"And another 17 people who had otherwise not been involved in the emergency shelter network, became involved as a result of participation in this great program."

Basran also spoke about public safety, and specifically Kelowna's crime rate.

He says in 2015, there were about 98 crimes per 1000 people.

"However, in looking at the trend over the last four years, there has been very little overall change with some years above and some years below the baseline (taken from 2011 data)," he said.

"In other areas of BC and Canada, the general trend has been declining crime rates. Some of the increase in the crime rates in Kelowna is associated with the additional staffing in downtown Kelowna."

He also says the expanded enforcement has allowed bylaw and police to identify 12 repeat offenders, and restrict their ability to move around the city and re-offend.

Council's priority list already had six items on it, which include clean drinking water, being a catalyst for business, and having strong financial management.

A top priority was for clean drinking water, and the city says significant progress has been made in amalgmating the city's five water utilities.

Out of 44 tasks spread over the 10 categories, over 60% have been marked as completed, or at least having seen significant progress.