Mayor Tom Days: Embracing the Spirit of the Season
As the holiday season approaches, I am filled with immense gratitude for the community we call home. While I’ve always known how fortunate I am to live in Kelowna, this past year as mayor has further opened my eyes to the many aspects, in particular the people, community organizations and businesses, that make this community truly extraordinary.
As we come upon the close of 2023, what stands out to me most is the collective spirit, contributions and commitment from residents, staff and our many partners as we’ve worked together to address our community priorities and explore opportunities to achieve our shared vision of a welcoming, prosperous, and sustainable future for our community.
As you gather with your friends and family over the holiday season, I invite you to celebrate all the things that Kelowna has to offer. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, entertainment or just the quiet beauty of our surroundings, I encourage you to get out in the community and enjoy the season.
While it has many special qualities, one of the great aspects of our city is the diverse collection of local businesses that add character and vitality to our streets. Last month I had the privilege of attending the Kelowna Chamber Business Excellence Awards to celebrate the outstanding efforts of the people and organizations that are leading the way in our local business community.
The Central Okanagan is home to nearly 10,000 small businesses with over 70 percent of these small businesses having less than five employees. These small businesses are the drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth in our city and I’m grateful for all that they bring to our community. This holiday season, let us make a conscious effort to shop local and support the many businesses that contribute to the overall vibrancy of our community.
There is no shortage of local activities and events happening throughout December and into the holidays, so I also encourage you to make some extra time for fun as we wind down the year. Take in a hockey game or a live performance at one of our theatres. Engage in free activities such as taking the family out for a hike or snowshoe in nature or a skate at Stuart Park. Visit kelowna.ca to explore other free activities like the family holiday skate at Rutland Arena on December 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and the Valley First New York New Years event on December 31 in Stuart Park from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can also check out the event page at tourismkelowna.com and be a tourist in your own town, or simply take some time to visit one of our many parks or beaches to appreciate the yearlong beauty of our natural environment.
It’s important to recognize that for some the holidays can be a challenging time. Let's also take a moment to extend a helping hand to those in need of our support. Whether it's volunteering at a local charity, donating a gift for a child, or checking in on a neighbour, every act of kindness, no matter how small, contributes to the well-being of our community.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other tradition, I hope that above all you experience in some way the warmth that defines the holidays, and the values that unite us as a community, such as kindness, generosity, and gratitude.
As we get ready to usher in a New Year, I want to thank you all for making Kelowna a great place to live. It is an honour and a privilege to serve as your mayor, and to work with you to make our city better every day. I am proud of what we have accomplished together over the past year, and I am optimistic about what we can achieve in the future.