Kelowna mayoral candidate Bob Schewe. —Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Kelowna mayoral challenger critical of city’s handling of downtown issues

Former city bylaw officer Bob Schewe accuses current council of taking city down “unacceptable” path

Bob Schewe wants to be Kelowna’s next mayor because, in his opinion, the current city council has taken Kelowna “down an unacceptable path.”

That path, he says, is the current “offensive and unsafe” condition of the downtown, as well as other areas of the city.

“Our parks, including many neighbourhood children’s playgrounds, have turned into an uncivilized arena with associated transient presence and their activities,” said the retired former city bylaw officer.

He, like others seeking seeking seats on city council in the upcoming Oct. 20 civic election, has homed in on the downtown issue as a central plank for his platform.

“We must pursue workable solutions for Kelowna’s complex issues of affordability, livability and safety for all residents,” said Schewe, who wants to see a tougher stance by the city when it comes to dealing with transients and drug users downtown.

“These are especially serious concerns for our vulnerable retired senior population.”

Schewe worked as a city bylaw officer for 12 years and said he has hands-on experience dealing with some of the issues and serious problems in the Kelowna and claims to know what does and does not work.

But, while the downtown issue may have prompted Schewe to run for mayor, it is not the only area where he said he wants to see changes at city hall.

He said Kelowna needs to slow down what he sees as a rush to become a big city “at any cost.”

“Moderate growth and careful development has to be good for all our existing businesses and residents,” said Schewe, adding they must also bring prosperity for all.

Schewe describes himself as a fiscal conservative and “somewhat of a Libertarian,” and says he is concerned about how the city is spending money.

“When it comes to spending money—taxpayers money—we must be prudent and scrutinize carefully all projects and services,” he said.

Currently, all development proposals are vetted by city planning staff before they are presented to council and council goes through all new spending line by line during its annual budget process. Prior to that requests for new spending are been reviewed by individual departments and senior city staff. Reviews of current and on-going programs are also reviewed.

In addition to his career as a bylaw officer, Schewe has worked as a renovation contractor, has been a landlord with several rental properties, worked for the regional district’s dog control department and was a firefighter in Westbank in the mid-1990s.

He joins a mayoral race with three other confirmed candidates, including incumbent Colin Basran and challengers Bobby Kennedy and Joshua Hoggan. Former Kelowna Chamber of Commerce president Tom Dyas is expected to join the race Wednesday.

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