Last year, when Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran gave his annual state of the city speech to the local chamber of commerce, he dropped a bombshell.
After months of frustration, the mayor went public with the city’s desire to have a single, interconnected water distribution system for the entire city. It was, and remains, highly controversial, with the five irrigation systems that collectively provide water to about the half the city’s households and businesses opposed.
But 12 months later, with the prompting of the province, it appears that desire could finally be moving closer to reality.
Today, when Basran delivers the 2017 version of his speech, there likely won’t be a similar blockbuster. Instead, all indications point to a half-term report card showing success in a number of priority areas set by council for its current term.
On Monday, to kick off the weekly council meeting, Basran ran through a lengthy list of those successes, detailing whats been done, where its at and and what’s coming.
The priorities include the original six set two years ago—clean drinking water, building vibrant urban centres, ensuring a healthy, safe, active and inclusive community, delivering a balanced transportation network, being a catalyst for business and providing strong financial management—plus four more added in September—housing diversity, homelessness, public safety and preserving agricultural land.
And, according to the city, many components of each priority have already been completed. The list appears to point to a successful first two years on the job for this council.
But it has not come without ruffling a few feathers.Some in the community has been vocal about their opposition to some council moves, most notable the recent decision to rezone land for a new tourism centre on the downtown lakeshore.
But progress list also shows this to be a very different council from the ones that preceded it.
For many years, Kelowna city councils were viewed as overtly business focuses. leaving social issues to other. Then the pendulum swung, and critics accused subsequent councils of being to social-minded. The current council has tried to strike a balance, building on Basran’s inaugural pledge to open the city to opportunity—all opportunity.
This council has shown repeatedly it is as concerned with social issues as it is with economic ones the list of its successes is surprisingly broad.
The challenge will be to deliver a second half that’s just as strong.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.