Mayoral candidates (from left to right) Colin Basran, Tom Dyas, Bob Schewe and Bobby Kennedy discuss issues during Tuesday night’s mayoral candidate form hosted by Black Press and Third Space Coffee. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Mayoral candidates (from left to right) Colin Basran, Tom Dyas, Bob Schewe and Bobby Kennedy discuss issues during Tuesday night’s mayoral candidate form hosted by Black Press and Third Space Coffee. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna mayoral candidates square off over downtown safety

Issue has become a key one in the race to be the city’s next mayor

It’s become one of the main issues in the Kelowna mayoral election campaign—dealing with a growing sense that safety downtown is deteriorating.

The four men running for mayor tackled the issue head-on Tuesday night in the first debate of the campaign that saw them address each other directly on the issue.

And, as expected, incumbent Mayor Colin Basran and his three challengers, Tom Dyas, Bob Schewe and Bobby Kennedy had different takes on the current state of downtown and what is being done to address the problem.

“I am a business owner in the downtown core and over the last four years I’ve been seeing this get worse and worse,” said Kennedy, Kennedy runs a skateboard shop on Pandosy Street and said: “It’s absolutely imperative we start doing something.”

He said the attack of a woman in the area last Friday night is just the latest example of problems in the area.

Basran said a key is making sure there are resources available for the police and bylaw officers, noting the city has added 18 more RCMP officers and seven more bylaw officers in the last four years, as well as hiring private security to patrols areas of the downtown.

“It’s a balance between enforcement and making sure people have a sense of safety,” he said.

And he said the city’s Journey Home strategy to not only address homelessness but try and get more support services for those on the street will also help.

But Dyas accused the current city administration of not addressing the situation downtown properly over the last four years, claiming the business community offered its help but was shut out.

“We wanted to talk, we wanted to help but the door was shut on us,” said Dyas, a former president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

He said he believes what’s needed is a return of RCMP auxiliary officers to the area, more involvement by the faith community in the city and neighbourhood associations, as well as the city advocating for a return of community courts.

“If we do not address the problem what is going to happen is that the business that are down in that area are going to leave,” said Dyas.

Basran countered, saying the removal of auxiliary offers was a provincial decision not a city one, as the situation has become more complex with addiction and mental health issues church groups have found themselves not trained to deal with problems and that why the city is employing a strategy of enforcement and help.

He said a key is getting people off the streets and into treatment programs, and that’s where the Journey Home strategy will help.

“It’s about making meaningful change,” said Basran.

Kennedy challenged the incumbent mayor on the issue, saying over the last four years it appears the city’s answer has been to simply to add more enforcement.

He characterized city bylaw officers as “super expensive alarm clocks” because he feels all they do is roust the homeless first thing in the morning if they have been sleeping in city parks.

“We’ve put more and more money to police. Maybe we should put more money to prevention,” he said.

Basran said the reason the city is implementing the Journey Home strategy is so it will not have to keep hiring more police and bylaw officers.

And, in response to Dyas’s criticisms, he noted the Chamber of Commerce, under Dyas’s leadership, supported the Journey Home strategy and signed off on it.

Dyas said while he thinks the strategy is excellent, it does nothing in the immediate term.

Schewe, a retired city bylaw officer, has made public safety one of this main election campaign themes.

He said he believes there are two type of people living on the streets in Kelowna—those who want to work and get into programs that will help them and those who prey on other more vulnerable individuals. He characterized the latter as drug dealers, pimps and thieves.

He said they must be shown they are not welcome in the city.

You can watch the entire debate, which was streamed live on the Capital News website, at kelownacapnews.com.

The civic election is October 20.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Seats were filled during the Black Press mayoral candidates forum Tuesday night at Third Space Coffee. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Seats were filled during the Black Press mayoral candidates forum Tuesday night at Third Space Coffee. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Mayoral candidates Colin Basran and Tom Dyas weigh in on topics during the Black Press mayoral candidate forum Tuesday night at Third Space Coffee. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Mayoral candidates Colin Basran and Tom Dyas weigh in on topics during the Black Press mayoral candidate forum Tuesday night at Third Space Coffee. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Just Posted

Comedian Tim Nutt will put on a pair of outdoor drive-in-style comedy shows at Lake Country’s Swalwell Park on Saturday, March 27. (file photo)
Lake Country hosting first-ever outdoor comedy drive-in

Comedian Tim Nutt to perform two shows at Swalwell Park in a drive-in-style feature March 27

Okanagan College, Vernon campus. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Student housing coming to Vernon, Salmon Arm

Province announces $66M for new student beds for Okanagan College campuses

RCMP are searching for missing Kelowna woman, Carrie Bauer. (RCMP)
UPDATE: Missing Kelowna woman found

Police announced Carrie Bauer has been found safe

After 54 years as an educator and community leader in Kelowna, Rolli Cacchioni has died of a stroke. (Contributed/SD23)
Long-time Kelowna educator, community figure dies

SD23 Trustee Rolli Cacchioni died of a stroke March 23, after 54 years with the school district

(FILE)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at Central Okanagan schools

Schools in Lake Country, Kelowna, West Kelowna confirm exposures of the virus

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Mike Barrett plans to start cycling on March 10 to raise funds for the Unicorn Project school in India. He aims to cycle 13,000 kilometres, with the last stretch traveling from Dehli to Bodhgaya. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton retiree to cycle 13,000 km to raise funds for school in India

Mike Barrett hopes to raise at least $5,000 for the school

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

The Nanaimo bar display at the Nanaimo Museum. (City of Nanaimo Instagram)
City of Nanaimo points to correct recipe after New York Times botches batch of bars

City addresses ‘controversy’ around dessert square’s layers

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

An air quality advisory continues in Vernon March 4 due to high levels of dust in the air from winter traction material. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Dust still hasn’t settled in Vernon, starting to rise in Kelowna

Air quality advisory will last until the next rainfall or until enough street sweeping work is done

Pharmacists will distribute NARCAN nasal sprays at 470 Belleville St. May 1 from 7 a.m. until 6 pm. or until handouts are gone. (Black Press File).
Man brought back to life by North Okanagan RCMP

Victim was not breathing following overdose, until life-saving efforts of police

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read