Kelowna city councillor Ryan Donn put himself on the hot seat, welcoming Rutland residents to come to speak to him in Rutland Lions Park on Wednesday.
“We’re here to talk about whatever you need to. I mean, I know most of you are here to talk about a certain topic, but some people have other things,” said Donn as he initiated the afternoon’s conversation, garnering a chuckle out of the 22 people around him at the first of four scheduled Coffee with a Councillor events.
The crowd in attendance—and Donn himself—knew precisely what they were there to speak about — BC Housing’s McCurdy Road supportive housing project.
The open conversation lasted nearly two hours, with lots of constructive criticisms being thrown at Donn.
Two Rutland residents expressing their concerns to Coun. Ryan Donn on Wednesday afternoon. (Michael Rodriguez – Kelowna Capital News)
Donn’s main takeaway from the discussion was Rutland residents of Rutland want a public process on every supportive housing project—in particular for wet house projects where drug use is permitted.
Donn said the motivation for this outreach to the community was the lack of personality in council meetings and social media.
“Council meetings are so formal, it can feel so detached sometimes for people,” said Donn after his interaction with the concerned residents.
“What I wanted to offer was—there are no rules; there’s no Robert’s Rules of Order.
“What happens on social media is people say whatever they want with no thought to how that impacts people.
“I want to get to the place where we are working with the community who’s active. I think right now people think we’re so disconnected from them, so I wanted to create that connection.
“A lot of these things we actually agree on, so I want to get to the point where we’re actually agreeing on what we need to advocate for.”
Donn feels the meeting was constructive giving him the opportunity to share the concerns presented to him with other council members and City of Kelowna housing project partners.
“As a councillor, you’re there to represent the public. So you should walk out of that type of meeting with a few things that you know you need to do. I feel like I got more than a few next steps for my road,” said Donn of the productivity of the meeting.
“That’s essentially what my task is now. How do I turn what they said into the mechanics of government?”
Donn currently has three more Coffee with a Councillor events set in August, September and October. He said after these first four events, he will evaluate how they went to decide whether to continue with more.