One of the two men credited with bringing the Westside together as one community, a move which eventually led to the creation of the District of West Kelowna as a municipality, has died.
Aaron Dinwoodie passed away Tuesday night in hospital in Vancouver after a short battle with cancer. He was 54.
Dinwoodie, a polarizing figure in regional politics in the Central Okanagan for some during his four terms as a Central Okanagan Regional District director—the first two representing Westbank and the second two as one of three directors representing the consolidated Westside electoral area—sat on the CORD board from 1996 to 2007.
In 2002, he and then Lakeview electoral area director Len Novakowski joined the two previously separate electoral areas into one and the combined area received a third director position, which was filled by David Knowles. Knowles is currently a West Kelowna councillor.
“I guess, I’m shocked,” said Novakowski Wednesday after hearing the news of Dinwoodie’s death.
“It’s been some years since we interacted but it’s so sad. He was a young man.”
Novakowski said it was Dinwoodie who was the one who really pushed for one Westside regional electoral area, a move Novakowski said has served the area well.
“I’ll remember him as having boundless energy and someone who thrived on politics,” said Novakowski, now retired from public office.
Dinwoodie resigned from the CORD board in 2007 to run in the first West Kelowna, or District of Westside as it was known then, mayoral election. He finished second to Rosalind Neis.
“I think (bringing the Westbank and Lakeview electoral areas together) was his crowning achievement and lasting legacy,” said current West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.
Findlater sat with Dinwoodie for four years on the committee that studied incorporation for the Westside and served as Dinwoodie’s alternate on the CORD board for a time.
He said Dinwoodie will also be remembered for his passionate support for Royal LePage Place, the main arena in West Kelowna and a facility that generated its own level of controversy because of cost overruns and the debt it carried when the fledgling municipality took it over from the regional district.
“But we’re over that now and everyone likes (the arena),” said Findlater.
Another local politician who worked closely with Dinwoodie for years was Kelowna city councillor and long-time CORD board chairman Robert Hobson.
Hobson remembered Dinwoodie Wednesday as a “very intelligent and resourceful guy who was passionate about the Westside.”
“He was very good at interacting with other politicians from other levels of government and he was very good at lobbying to get things,” said Hobson.
In addition to his work on the regional district board, Dinwoodie also served as president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities for a term, a position that helped him lobby not only for his own community but also for other B.C. municipalities when it came to dealing with the provincial and federal governments.
Hobson said Dinwoodie will be best remembered for his work on behalf of Westside residents.
“He was involved in quite a lot of projects and he knew how to get things done,” said Hobson.
Following his loss to Neis in the mayoral election in 2007, Dinwoodie was out of public life for a few years before attempting a comeback in 2011 with a run for Westside regional district director. He lost that race to Jim Edgson.
After that, he returned to private business, spending a lot of time in the Philippines, where he had a wife, young child and an export business. He is also survived by children from a previous marriage here in the Central Okanagan.
In recent years Dinwoodie worked with a group of developers who were unhappy with how they felt the District of West Kelowna dealt with development proposals and he split his time between Canada and the Philippines.