Meet the candidates running to be Kelowna’s mayor

Colin Basran has been the mayor of Kelowna for the past eight years. He’s hoping to keep the job for another four.

“I still have the passion for the city. I love it,” Basran told Global News.

First elected to city council in 2011 as a councillor, Basran became Kelowna’s youngest mayor at the age of 37 in 2014.

Now, Basran, born and raised in Kelowna, is seeking his third term as mayor.

“I want it to continue to be a great place — a great place that it was when I grew up,” Basran said.

“I want my children to have that same experience. I want them to be able to find a place to live that’s affordable. I want them to be able to find a great job here and we know that some of those things are challenging right now.”

Basran said current challenges that the city is facing centre around crime, safety, social issues and affordability.

“I can tell you there’s great work that’s happening right now on those fronts,” he said.

“And that’s part of the reason why I’d like to continue as mayor, is because I want to see that work through because there are no silver bullet solutions.”

Basran said he’s well aware of concerns regarding how quickly the city is growing, but added that growth is needed to sustain the community.

“We need more people here to help look after us in our hospitals, to provide personal services, to serve us in restaurants, to fill all the jobs that we need in our community,” he stated.

With several highrises having been built or currently under construction, many residents have become increasingly concerned about infrastructure, namely roads to deal with increased traffic.

Basran said there is a transportation master plan in place that includes significant investment in key road connections, including the recently announced extension of Clement Avenue to Highway 33 and beyond to the university.

“That’s one key piece of the road network that our community definitely, definitely needs. And I’m happy to see that advanced,” Basran said.

“We’re also going to see significant investment in transit, as well as our active transportation corridors.”

Basran also said he wants to continue working on dealing with repeat offenders, and pushing the province to make changes so that those who repeatedly commit crimes face proper consequences, or get needed help for mental health issues and addictions.

Businessman Tom Dyas is challenging Basran for the mayor’s seat.

“Our small, little town is growing up into a larger city, and we have seen a number of cracks over the last eight years,” Dyas said.

Dyas ran four years ago and hopes this time people are ready for a leadership change to tackle Kelowna’s growing pains.

“We have a crime rate which is No. 1 in Canada. We have the most traffic we’ve ever seen. We have the most homelessness we’ve ever seen. We have a lack of affordable housing,” he said.

The father of three and longtime Kelowna resident has served on many community boards, including the Chamber of Commerce.


While he said there are no magic solutions to the problems Kelowna is facing, Dyas believes a lot more could be done to tackle some of the major issues.

“I totally understand that I do not have all the answers. But I am very, very comfortable putting smarter people than myself in a room and starting to whiteboard those ideas and come up with those ideas,” Dyas said. “That isn’t happening right now.”

He points to crime as one of those areas where more action can be taken.

“There are a number of steps and simple little steps,” he said. “Something like a citizens patrol. A citizens patrol is used in our neighbouring communities, West Kelowna Lake Country, but it’s not something that is used within our community.”

He also vowed to meet regularly with the RCMP superintendent to stay on top of all things crime-related.

“We can’t forget about the 150,000, 140,000 that live here right at this point in time,” he said. “It’s important that we establish affordable housing so not only they can stay here, but their families.”

He also said there could be more initiatives taken to improve traffic flow.

“Is there the possibility of maybe putting a turning lane down the center of Lakeshore Road, so that we have traffic on either side, but we have a turning lane?” Dyas asked.

“Making sure that there are little things that can be done, so that we don’t have to rely on or blame other levels of government in order to get it completed.”

While Dyas said that planning for future growth is important, he believes it’s equally as vital to ensure the city is meeting all of the needs of people who live here now.

The third contender for the mayor’s seat is David Habib.

“What I see as a member of this community is that people who are getting involved in politics are coming in and staying in, and they’re not going anywhere — which is not allowing any change,” Habib said.

“We need new, younger blood. I’m only thinking of this as a four-year stop to come in, make a change and get out.”

Habib said he’s got what it takes to get the job done and is not afraid to fight higher levels of government to get things accomplished.

“I’m not running as a politician. I’m running as a businessman who sees and understands the desire and need for change,” he said.

Habib, who is a boxing coach and manager of the Liquid Zoo nightclub, says many of Kelowna’s problems aren’t new and should have been dealt with long ago.

“These are things that should have been in the plan 10 years ago, and should have been there today … not planning now for 10 years from now,” he said.

Habib promised a more hands-on approach to issues like crime.

“What we’re going to do is minimize it because we’re going to get the tools to the RCMP that they need,” he said

“We’re going to get the tools to the red shirts, the DKA (Downtown Kelowna Association) that they need. We’re going to give the community the tools that they need. That’s not happening right now.”

Habib also vowed to tackle infrastructure so it keeps up with city growth.

“I haven’t seen any infrastructure. I haven’t seen any lane changes. I haven’t seen any additions to lanes, ” Habib said.

“I’ve looked. I’ve seen maintenance and repairs, but I haven’t seen any change.”

He also said if elected, he would make immediate changes to downtown parking.

“So it’s free parking after 6 (p.m.),” he said.

Also in the running is Glendon Smedley.

“I think I can make a difference because I bring a practical, common sense aspect to it,” Smedley said when asked why he’s running to become mayor.

The journeyman carpenter, who has no political experience and has worked in the oil sands in northern Alberta, said housing models used there could be applied here to deal with the lack of affordable housing.

“You’d have a room with a bed, a desk, a sink, bathtub, bathroom and a shower, all in one little area,” he said. ” And each person had that and then you would go down for meals in the evening.”

Smedley is running on a platform to improve traffic infrastructure. mental health services, and offer more support to those who are homeless.

“We need more shelters, washroom facilities and free food supply services to help those who are struggling to get out of survival mode, so they can then focus on dealing with the issues that led them to the streets in the first place,” Smedley said.

Rounding out the slate of candidates running for mayor is Silverado Socrates.

The horse trail ride owner-operator would like to tackle city problems with more peace.

“I think we should develop that song story history, that kind of like Barkerville meets Anne of Green Gables … bring a  sense of community, a sense of belonging to people. I think we’d have a lot less homelessness and addictions and more fun.”

She also said elected officials need to have better communication and engagement with residents.

“I have seen so many meetings where locals are passionate about something; their words are being ignored,” she said.

She also believes Kelowna is growing too fast.

“We’ve got to harness that in a bit,” she said. “We’re putting the cart before the horse and not helping our own people. We’re bringing in strangers and maybe wining and dining them instead of taking care of our own.”

Municipal elections take place on Saturday, Oct. 15.

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