Homeless strategy, living wage topics of final Kelowna candidate forum

The all candidates forum was held Wednesday night at the Rutland Centennial Hall

In an election forum that focused on early childhood development and this city’s poverty, the current council’s efforts were mostly supported by all but one of 16 candidates in attendance, who levied a harsh criticism.

Kevin Bond said he was “disgusted” by Kelowna’s Journey Home Housing Strategy, during the Wednesday night all candidates forum in Rutland. He didn’t offer reasons why.

The other 15 council candidates who participated in the forum Wednesday night at the Centennial Hall, showed support for the strategy that aims to tackle homelessness, although they too had some thoughts on how to improve the situation.

The timeframe, the costs, and the reach were some of the issues to arise.

Mayoral candidate Tom Dyas said it works in the long term, but a short-term initiative is needed to close the “gap” in dealing with homelessness.

Councillor candidate Gord Lovegrove said the strategy needs to be refined, but it’s a start.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s strategy to address homelessness making headway says city

“I’m concerned about its costs, some aspects of it can be streamlined, bringing in volunteers and social services people that we have in the community… and yes, let’s start yesterday,” said councillor candidate Craig Hostland.

Incumbent Mohini Singh said the homelessness situation is “not a Kelowna problem, it’s a Canadian problem.”

Kelowna resident and early childhood educator Valene Johnson attended the forum, hoping to see candidates address the need for educators in the community.

“Working directly with children and families is a big topic these days, so I was hoping the councillor candidates and mayoral candidates would take it seriously. There’s been a lot of talk in the community with big issues such as homelessness because it’s a visible topic, which is an important topic, but childcare is also an important topic, the lack of spaces out there and affordable spaces is a very wide problem,” she said.

Johnson was happy to hear councillor candidate Loyal Wooldridge discuss a living wage for educators because of the employee shortage.

“Early childhood education has not been regarded as a typical money making career and we know that going into it, and we don’t have a union to fight on our behalf, so to have a municipal government talk about that is really important and I think Loyal touched on it when he said people need to be paid a living wage,” she said.

RELATED: Lake Country mom fails to find infant childcare after 2 years of searching

Johnson said the living wage could be a good start.

Wooldridge said he would support $10 a day child daycare plan, daycare operators need to be paid more, and placing daycares in neighbourhoods around the community would allow parents to have easier access to them.

When asked if candidates would consider adopting a living wage policy for municipal staff and contract employees, incumbent Mayor Colin Basran said most of city staff is already making a living wage so that policy is not needed at this time.

Candidates also answered a question about reducing the rising vulnerability of children in the city.

Council candidate Dustin Sargent said to educate parents to create positive role models for children, while Lovegrove wants to push co-housing, rental housing and a community transportation U-Pass which will allow parents to have more disposal income.

Basran mentioned the city’s Healthy Housing Strategy and well as providing developers with tax break incentives to build rental housing.

The full list of participating candidates include: Sergent, Lovegrove, Bond, Basran, councillor candidate Lindsay Bell, councillor candidate Jeff Piattelli, mayoral candidate Bob Schewe, incumbent councilor Brad Sieban, Woodgrove, Dyas, councillor candidate Mark Boyer, incumbent councillor Luke Stack, Hostland, incumbent councilor Ryan Donn, Singh and mayoral candidate Bobby Kennedy.

The event was hosted by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and Central Okanagan Early Years Partnership the focus on the forum was on poverty and early childhood development.

The forum is the last one before the election Saturday, Oct. 20.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@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

Just Posted

Okanagan rinks have mixed results as BC Seniors Curling finals begin

A total of 15 rinks are competing in Vernon for right to go to nationals in Manitoba

‘The NDP of the ’90s is back’: Kelowna-Lake Country MLA voices concerns over 2020 budget

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said the new budget is “classic NDP tax-and-spend”

Canadian Air Force joins Okanagan rescue of missing Kelowna snowmobiler

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

City of Kelowna signs UNHCR statement of solidarity with refugees

The #WithRefugees campaign invites cities working to promote inclusion and support refugees

Aquilini Group addresses heating complaints at SOPA Square in Kelowna

Some store owners have been without heat at development for up to a month

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Town of Osoyoos voices support for proposed casino

Osoyoos council voted to submit a letter of support for a proposed casino on OIB land

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read