Kelowna council: A year in review

Kelowna council is on a holiday hiatus until the new year.

AM 1150's Evan Cooke sent each member an email survey to reflect on the year, and look ahead to 2018.

Patricipating this year was Mayor Colin Basran, along with Councillors Maxine DeHart, Tracy Gray, Ryan Donn, Mohini Singh, and Gail Given.

1) What was your highlight moment you had on council in 2017?

Maxine DeHart: How Downtown Kelowna and all the town centres are transforming our city in a positive way. Very proud of the exceptional developments in all those areas. This is forming our city in a good way! 

Tracy Gray: Inside Council Chambers was to finalize our very in depth Agriculture Plan, which involved a lot of public consultation and document revisions. Outside, would have to be through the Okanagan Basin Water Board, as appointed by the Central Okanagan Regional District, to meet with provincial and federal ministers advocating for protecting our region from invasive mussels. 

Ryan Donn: This budget we approved the Social Development Coordinator position with ongoing with funding (vs a term position) to put our "Journey Home" strategy into action. This item was 100% driven by a consensus at council that we needed to play a role in the social issues hammering our city and citizens on a daily basis. We won't see the full impact of this decision for a few years but it's something I'll be proud of for decades to come. 

Mohini Singh: When we established the journey home project. Just knowing we are moving forward on helping people who are marginalized and less fortunate made me feel glad to be part of the solution to a very serious social issue.

Gail Given: While there were may significant moments this year, I would have to say that the one that will have the greatest impact well into the future was the adoption of the $63.7 million 2017 Integrated Water Supply plan and the receipt of a corresponding $43.9 million grant from the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund.

Colin Basran: The highlight for me from 2017 was how we, as residents, rallied around one another during the flood season.  It was incredible to see the outpouring of support for the members of our community who needed help.  Kelowna residents once again, did whatever needed to be done, to make sure everyone was looked after.  It makes me proud to see Kelownians looking after one another and banding together in times of crisis.

2) What was the toughest decision you had to make on council in 2017?

MD: Freedom's Door project on Rutland Road in Rutland. 

TG: It is always tough, in general, when people come to a public hearing and are visibly emotionally upset by the topic being discussed. 

RD: Approving Freedoms Door was easy. The tension, concern, and stress around that decision still lingers with me. Almost every month we have had an announcement from B.C. Housing and our non-profit partners  that will improve the quality of life for our most vulnerable population. Whether it is 80 emergency shelter spaces added in the downtown just last month, 42 units at the former Good Night Inn site, or Freedoms Door being approved to support those struggling with addiction; the highlight for me this year was seeing consistent progress on this file in Kelowna. 

MS: Voting against the Freedoms door project on Rutland Road. I wasn't against the project just the size of it in that location that bothered me. I was concerned about the impact it would have on the neighbourhood and the peace of mind for those living nearby. 

GG: All aspects of dealing with Emergency Operations are challenging, particularly when you know a large number of citizens will be negatively impacted (spring floods).  The real difficulty is in balancing the emphasis that should be placed on public warnings with the potential of negative economic impacts especially if the outcomes are uncertain.  At the end of the day it has to be safety first. 

CB: The toughest decision I had to make on Council in 2017 was the OCP amendment and rezoning application for the Freedom’s Door transitional housing project.

3) What is your New Year's resolution for the end of the term in 2018?

MD: I do not make New Years Resolutions! 

TG: To keep the pace up and don't let the "election silly season" impede the work that has to be done. There are many policy and strategy updates that are in the works, one of which is to allocate more funds away from park acquisition into park development, and the pace of investment in our community does not appear to be slowing down. 

RD: I am resolved to make decisions and take actions that I will be proud of regardless of its potential consequences at the election in October. Being on City Council in Kelowna is easily the biggest honour of my life. I vow to use every moment I have to aim to make this city one where our businesses, people and the environment thrive. Let's continually raise our quality of life in Kelowna with vibrant urban centres that burst with arts, culture, public art and free concerts. 

MS: My hope is achieve our goal to set the ground work for a healthy inclusive community.

GG: I resolve to continue to make my decisions in a very pragmatic way.  My goal is to always be prepared and make choices that will serve the greater public as a whole based on the evidence and information available. 

CB: Keep working to make Kelowna a diverse, accepting and inclusive community.  Some of the top issues in the community are homelessness and addiction, housing availability and affordability and transportation and mobility.