Waters: Kelowna city council responding to residents concerns

Council now dealing with perception and reality when it comes to social issues

As they say on the TV game show Family Feud, “survey says…”

Kelowna’s annual Citizen’s Survey is in and the numbers show the majority of respondents feel quality of life in the city is good, they like how the city is run, they like the services they get, they feel they get value for money for the taxes they pay and Kelowna is, overall, a safe place.

But there are concerns—poverty, homelessness, housing affordability, traffic congestion and drugs are all issues of worry for some respondents. And while the happiness levels appear to be generally high in most areas, the drops this year are more telling than the final figures for some.

It’s often said perception is reality and in Kelowna these days, the growing perceptions are crime is on the rise (especially downtown), drug use is rampant and traffic has ground to a standstill.

While that may not be correct, Kelowna’s mayor recognizes the perceptions need to be addressed just as much as the actual problems.

After the survey results were presented to his council Monday, Colin Basran said they weren’t a surprise to him—both the good and the bad. He said he heard the same comments on the campaign trail during last fall’s civic election.

The survey of just under 600 people was conducted by phone in November and considered accurate plus or minus 5.7 per cent 19 times out of 20. It showed 94 per cent of those who responded feel quality of life in the city is either good or very good. But 36 per cent say it’s worse than it was three years ago. And traffic congestion, increased poverty and homelessness, safety and the rising cost of living are the four top reasons for the drop.

The city has embarked on a number of efforts to tackle problems identified in the latest survey—the Journey Home initiative to address homelessness, the McKinnon report to improve safety, teaming up with other groups like B.C. Housing and non-profits to provide more social and supportive housing and approving more purpose-built rental housing projects.

But none of those alone is the silver bullet for what ails Kelowna. As the city grows, so too will the problems it will face. Dealing with social issues has become, and will continue to be, the new norm for city hall.

The annual Citizen’s Survey lets city officials know what the public thinks about the job they are doing, but it also provides ongoing tracking of improvements being made—or not—as the case may be.

This year the survey results came out just as council is hunkering down to set its priorities for the upcoming four-year term. So you can be sure some of those priorities will reflect council heard from the public in the survey.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.

Just Posted

West Kelowna fire under control

A fire broke out just above Bear Creek Provincial Park Monday

Kelowna Boat Show highlights abandoned boat program

The 24th annual Kelowna Boat Show hits shores April 27 and 28.

Kelowna’s Korczak, Canada en route to U18 quarter-finals

Kaedan Korczak and Team Canada play Latvia Thursday

‘Cut throat’ sport of wine tasting happening now in the Okanagan

BC Tasting Games are underway with competitions in three Okanagan communities.

Kelowna pimp faces 4 year sentence

In court the details of how Simon Rypiak lured 4 women into prostitution revealed

VIDEO: Okanagan fire victim Amy Hansen speaks out on the loss of her four pets

A gofundme page has been started for Hansen, with $1,140 raised of a $5000 goal to help her rebuild

Okanagan Rail Trail a popular place

Thousands pack North Okanagan section over long weekend

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

Organ donation push on as Okanagan officer fights for life

Those interested in becoming an donor should visit taketwominutes.ca to sign up

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Most Read