For something that everyone seems to agree is dead, the issue of the CD-21 zone sure has generated plenty of talk in this year’s civic election campaign in Kelowna.
Held up by opponents of the existing council as an example how the council is broken and needs to be fixed, and by proponents who say it was an example of democracy in action, CD-21 has become a lightening rod for challengers’ attacks on incumbents over the last few weeks.
The controversial rezoning attempt, which council defeated at final reading after nearly three years of delays and the expenditure of $1.2 million—mostly from the developer who was looking to gain big time from its approval—would have given development in a four-block area at the foot of Bernard Avenue a green light, development that could have included highrise buildings.
The issue split the community, with pro-CD-21 folks saying a majority were in favour of it but council ignored their wishes and anti-CD-21 folks saying council listened to the will of the people.
What needs to be remembered was that between council approving third reading of the zoning bylaw and rejecting it at fourth reading, an election was held. And during that election, CD-21 was front and centre. Candidates were asked about it and those elected made no secret of where they stood.
Granted, a minute number of voters turned out to cast ballots in that election but everyone had their chance to have their say at the ballot box. Many, roughly 80 per cent, chose not to bother.
In this election, mayoral challenger Walter Gray is right. CD-21 is dead. It’s time to move on. Incumbent mayor Sharon Shepherd is also right when she says the city has moved on.
When it comes to downtown, Kelowna’s $14 million Bernard Avenue revitalization plan is slated to start next fall—complete with the usual controversy about timing that normally accompanies any road replacement project in a commercial area—and it has gone public (several times) with a new, long-term downtown plan to set a vision for the entire area.
So when voters head to the polls Saturday, they should look forward, not back when picking who to vote for. Find out where candidates stand on issues important to you and make your decisions.
While some candidates will run on their records—which is a way of looking back—that should be considered a guide to how they will deal with issues in the future.
The city, and the political times we live in, are different now than they were just a few years ago. There is no going back.
Kelowna’s future starts Saturday so don’t waste your opportunity to have your say. Get out and vote.
Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.