Kelowna city council was back doing what it does every Monday afternoon today—publicly conducting city business in council chambers.
Council met for the first time for public meeting since the Oct. 20 civic election and, along with returning Mayor Colin Basran and all seven incumbents who ran for re-election and were returned, there was a new face, rookie Coun. Loyal Wooldridge.
Wooldrige was publicly welcomed into the fold by the mayor and his council colleagues, with Coun. Gail Given paying tribute to the work Wooldridge did in preparing for his successful run for a council seat.
She praised him for attending council meetings prior to the election to get to know “what we do,” and said his effort should serve as an example for others planning to run for a council seat in future.
Wooldridge replaced former Coun. Tracy Gray who did not seek a second term, instead opting to run for the federal Conservative nomination in Kelowna-Lake Country.
Wooldridge thanked his council colleagues for the warm welcome he received following his election and to city staff for helping to prepare him his upcoming term.
Basran said with the election over, it is time to get back to work for council, echoing Given comments that the upcoming term will be spent,in part, putting in place what the last council set in motion.
But, he warned, council should also be prepared for the unexpected.
“In some cases, we have no idea what will be coming our way,” he said. “But we will adapt to any new circumstances and opportunities that will come up before for us.”
Council will also conduct its public meetings with a little more security than it has had in the past.
The area in front of where the mayor and councillors sit in council chambers is no longer open to the gallery, there’s a short wooden gate closing off the entrance to councillors seats on one side and the podium where city staff speak during presentation is also now partially enclosed.
City manager Doug Gilchrist said the changes, made in the last few weeks at city hall, were put in place as safety precautions.
He said there were a few incidents in the recent months that prompted the changes.
One was when a homeless man sitting in the front row of the gallery during a public council meeting tipped the contents of his backpack out onto the floor earlier this year to show city council containers of a substance he said he found in a local alley. He said he believed it to be the drug crystal meth.
The move prompted council to leave the chamber briefly while city staff talked to the man and a city security official escorted him out of the council chambers.
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