Councillor defends colleagues who voted for visitors’ centre

Coun. Charlie Hodge, the lone vote against rezoning land for the centre says comments on the net about his colleagues are 'vile.'

Kelowna Coun. Charlie Hodge

The fallout from Kelowna council’s decision to approve a rezoning on the downtown waterfront to allow for a new visitors’ centre has moved from council chambers to social media. And the comments, by some who remain opposed to the decision, are getting ugly.

So the one councillor who voted against the rezoning is publicly defending his seven council colleagues who did, in light of a Facebook poster who has taken it on himself to publicly call out and insult each council member who supported the rezoning.

In response to Greg Krasichynsky,  who posted the same message to each member of council who voted in favour, Coun. Charlie Hodge has replied with his own Facebook post chastising Krasichynsky for what he calls a “mean-spirited and over-the-top” attack that, in his words, is “harshly inaccurate.”

In his original public postings to each council member,  Krasichynsky, tells them he is ashamed them, accuses each of realizing a “payday,” says its clear who they serve—inferring it is business interests not the public— and says the decision goes directly against the interests of the city and Kelowna’s children. And for good measure he calls a planned new, 24-storey hotel slated for land kitty-corner to the site of the planned one-storey visitor’s centre a “monstrosity.”

But Hodge is having none of it.

The veteran councillor says despite his own opposition to the rezoning, the criticism has been “particularly ugly and abusive” and is unfair.

“I sit at the table regularly with them and can sincerely tell you, each of them loves this city and the people and (they) try to make the right decision in the big picture.”

He said he believes his colleagues only agenda is to do what they feel is right for the city and, while some times he disagrees with them, that does not make their decisions wrong or bad.

“When we ask municipal politicians to make choices for us, we are asking for them to take a lot of heat,” writes Hodge. “But that should not mean a burning (them) at the stake.”

Calling the attacks “particularly vile, personal and ugly,” Hodge said all they will do is hinder other, good, caring people from wanting to run for political office in future.

“Say what you think folks, but put down the flame throwers,” writes Hodge.

Many others on Facebook have also chimed in and many have come to the defence of the councillors who voted for the rezoning of the Queensway Jetty, even some who say they oppose the decision.

One woman wrote that she feels the downtown lakeshore is not the right place to put the Tourism Kelowna visitors’ centre, but Krasichynsky lost her with the personal attacks.

Legally, because the issue is between the public hearing and final reading of the bylaw to approve the rezoning, members of council cannot receive any new information about the issue that they are to vote on one last time at fourth reading of the bylaw.