Get to know civic election candidates in Kelowna, West Kelowna

First of several all-candidates meetings scheduled for next week in the two cities

Voters in Kelowna and West Kelowna will get their first opportunities to compare candidates running in the upcoming civic election next week.

For Kelowna voters, an all-candidates meeting, featuring a meet-and-greet format so members of the public to talk one-on-one with candidates, is set for Oct. 2 at the Rutland Centennial Hall. The event is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. The event is being staged by the Rutland Residents’ Association.

On Oct. 3, West Kelowna candidates will appear at an all-candidates forum being put on by the Greater Westside Board of Trade. The format questions and answers and the forum, to be held in the Westbank Lions Community Centre in Westbank, will start at 6 p.m. It will be moderated by Kelowna CBC morning show host Chris Walker.

Meanwhile, the following two responses to the last week’s question to candidates arrived on time but were missed in the paper. So, we are publishing them in today’s paper to be fair to the candidates and to let the public know their views on the issue of crime in their respective cities.

The civic election is Oct. 20.

Question: “Are you concerned about crime in your city? What would you do to create change if you were elected?”

Mohini Singh – Kelowna councillor candidate

Ensuring public safety is very important in every community. I am very concerned with the incidences reported in the downtown core over the past several months and have spoken to residents who have expressed other related concerns. To that end, during my terms on council, I have voted for additional support measures such as adding RCMP officers as requested from time to time and funding for local agencies to partner with (law) enforcement. I believe this has afforded our front-line officials the personnel and resources to proactively focus on prevention and deterrence, as well as response when required. However, we still have specific areas in the city where incidences are occurring far too frequently and this must be addressed. I believe crime in any city is a symptom of underlying socioeconomic issues such as poverty and homelessness in some instances, and willful conduct in others. I believe the distinction between these two categories is very important in addressing the issue and finding solutions that fit. If re-elected, I will continue to support funding for:

• Additional RCMP officers as requested and for community policing

• Partnerships between our local social support agencies and law enforcement to work on reducing the frequency/severity of incidences, and overall impact on our community

• Foot patrols and bylaw enforcement such as what currently occurs in the downtown core.

As we move forward, I think these measures, in tandem with other initiatives like the Journey Home strategy and harm reduction projects undertaken by local community agencies, will best allow us to decrease our crime rates in a sustainable manner.

Bryden Winsby – West Kelowna councillor candidate

While many residents of West Kelowna might believe the city has some serious crime problems, perception doesn’t always mesh with reality. In its August quarterly update to council, the city’s RCMP detachment reported declines in several major categories of criminal activity, the most significant being residential break-ins, (for the second three-month period in a row). Other large declines were reported for stolen vehicles and common assault. Is crime an important issue for me? Of course it is. The biggest concern is bad driving, plain and simple. Speeders plague just about every area of the city. Motor vehicle incidents involving death, injury and property damage have increased sharply. However, we don’t have the police resources to implement a full-time traffic division. In fact, proper utilization of those resources (which include a provincial component that polices Westbank First Nation and a large rural area stretching all the way to Big White) is a big concern for council. We have pressed repeatedly for the province’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to honour a policing agreement reached in 2009 that included a commitment to conduct a review of municipal and regional policing levels. Since signing the agreement, council has added seven officers to the city detachment—two of which have yet to arrive—and the detachment this year asked for eight more. Council approved two. We want proof positive that the residents of West Kelowna are getting what they pay for.

The candidates answers to this week’s question, about the impact of the controversial speculation tax, will appear in Friday’s Capital News.

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