Mayor and Council officially sworn in

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and City council gave their oaths at the inaugural Council meeting at the Rotary Centre for the Arts Monday night.

After the Mayor, the seven incumbent councilors, and new councilor Loyal Wooldridge were sworn in by Kelowna Judge Lisa Wyatt, Basran revealed his plan for Kelowna over the next four years.

At the top of his list: the Journey Home strategy.

"Statistics show that housing with supports not only leads to better outcomes for our community's most vulnerable residents - it is far more cost-effective than the status quo," said Basran. "We must also use this opportunity to eliminate the stigma and negative perceptions attached to those living on our streets."

For those worried about safety, he said that council would soon be receiving a report on how to improve public safety while also taking care of the homeless population. 

Basran also noted that the City would be increasing its efforts to bring more rental housing units to the City, in hopes of raising the vacancy rate to two percent next year.

Another key item in his plan involved climate change, namely the effects that floods, fires, and smoke have had on the City.

To help remedy this, he stressed the need to reduce Kelowna's carbon footprint by promoting active transportation, and keeping the City's growth in check.

"It's more imporant than ever that we continue to make sure our community grows in a sustainable way, guided by progressive planning principles," said Basran. "From an environmental standpoint: directing growth to our town centres reduces the amount of natural open space and sensitive wildlife habitat from being lost to further sprawl development."

Part of that growth will also include upgrades to the City's roads, specifically the Sutherland Avenue active transportation corridor, and extensions to Highway 33 and South Perimeter Road.

Following his speech, Basran recognized former councilor Tracy Gray for her contributions during her single term on council. Gray, who is running for the Kelowna - Lake Country riding of the Federal Conservative Party, was the only councilor who chose not to seek re-election in last month's election.

She told AM 1150 that she believes the city is in good hands.

"We have a lot of work to do here in the city, but we've got a lot of good momentum as well," said Gray. "A lot of the plans that we put together during our term on council - we'll be able to start moving forward on a lot of them."

She said that building relationships with people from all walks of life and industries was the highlight of her time as councilor.

Replacing her on council will be Loyal Wooldridge.

"It's finally official: I can remove 'elect' from the title now and actually be a councilor, so I'm really excited to get to work," says Wooldridge. "I've been attending council meetings for the last year, so it'll be nice to be on the other side of the desk and actually get to vote."

He says his priorities include the implementation of the Journey Home strategy, and ensuring that Kelowna is an inclusive place for all.

The first official council meeting of the current term takes place Monday, November 19th.