Allegations of misinformation and trying to mislead voters reared its head at the Kelowna Chamber mayoral forum on Oct. 4.
The clash started between Colin Basran and Tom Dyas over the city’s crime rate.
Dyas mentioned several times that according to Statistics Canada data, Kelowna was the crime capital of the country in 2021. The data is based on a Central Metropolitan Area (CMA), per 100,000 population, covering Lake Country to Peachland.
Basran disagreed, pointing out that if West Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country, and WFN lands were taken from census data, Kelowna is 14th in the province and 54th in the country when it comes to crime.
“Is leadership really about tarnishing our city’s brand in order to make yourself look good?” asked Basran. “Or is it about looking to find solutions?”
Dyas shot back that Basran was comparing apples to oranges.
“He’s trying to mislead voters, and discredit people’s experiences,” said Dyas. “This is our town, our community, we need to take the steps to make it better and not wait for other levels of government to do it for us.”
Basran and Dyas clashed again after forum moderator, Chris Walker with CBC Kelowna, noted that the Electoral Boundaries Commission of BC has suggested a fourth provincial riding for Kelowna. He asked Basran if he would commit to serving a four-year term if he wins the municipal election.
“Ooh, great question, scandal,” Basran said, smiling. “I get this question every time I run for office. That is something that I would look to do moving forward if elected.”
Basran also spoke about his relationships with the provincial and federal governments and added that he was the only candidate at the table who has those.
Dyas called that absurd and said Kelowna has a voice, but it hasn’t been used effectively, and that’s why the community is experiencing some challenges.
“You can’t have one foot in and one foot out,” he said. “You need to have two feet into this job and not be afraid to communicate to those levels to move the dial on things that are important to this community.”
Basran drew boos from the crowd when he claimed that Dyas only lobbied a federal finance minister one time, five years ago to protect his own business interests.
“I’m not sure what the two-feet-in reference is in regards to,” said Basran. “I co-chaired the Urban Mayor’s Caucus…selected by my peers as a result of the relationships that I have with ministers at the provincial and federal level.”
The rest of the forum was uneventful, with all candidates answering questions on housing affordability, social issues, and why they should be mayor.
Silverado Socrates said she doesn’t believe she was invited to another mayor candidate forum on affordable housing being put on next week by the Canadian Homebuilders Association.
“I think they wouldn’t like me there because I think they should be taxed,” said Socrates. “If they have enough money to build homes, it should be going to the people living here that are struggling.”
Regarding social issues, David Habib talked about the drug crisis in Kelowna.
“There’s a ton of people on the street with mental health issues that rely on those drugs for survival,” said Habib. “We need to get a permanent roof over their heads and start the recovery process for them, not put them back on the street and expect them to stay healthy.”
During closing comments, Glendon Charles Smedley explained to the audience why he would make a good mayor.
“I would want your input, always,” he said. “Kelowna needs a mayor who cares about you. Choose someone who wants the city to become an enjoyable place to live.”