New Kelowna council gets down to work

Rookies meet in public for the first time; learn about other responsibilities.

Showing only a few signs of rust as he grappled with electronics that were not in place the last time he chaired a Kelowna council meeting, Walter Gray seemed right at home during his first foray back to the council side of Kelowna city council chambers Monday.

Gray, who narrowly defeated two-term incumbent Sharon Shepherd in the Nov. 19 civic election, served as mayor from 1996 to 2005.

“So, here we are, back after a six-year vacation,” he quipped as he called Monday afternoon’s meeting to order.

Gray was not the only new face behind the council desks.

Newly elected Councillors Gerry Zimmermann, Gail Given and Maxine DeHart now sit on one side of the u-shaped council console with returnee Luke Stack, while newcomers Mohini SIngh and Colin Basran sit on the other side with council veterans Robert Hobson and Andre Blanleil.

During their first public council meeting, all five rookie councillors appeared comfortable with their new roles and all spoke up at some point during the meeting.

However, most of the talking, as expected, was done by the veterans, Hobson, Blanleil and Stack and Gray.

The council met for its first official meeting a few hours earlier in a committee room on the third floor in City Hall to discuss, among other things, the role of the regional district in light of the changes brought about by the incorporation of West Kelowna four years ago.

The council members were briefed about CORD’s operations by Coun. Robert Hobson, who has chaired the regional board as a Kelowna representative since 1994.

Monday night, the new CORD board met for the first time in public and Hobson was acclaimed chairman once again. As was rthe case during the last term, Lake Country Mayor James Baker was acclaimed vice-chairman.

Six members of the Kelowna council, Hobson, Gray, Basran, Stack, Blanleil and Given sit on the CORD board as Kelowna representatives.

During his briefing, Hobson said with about 100 former CORD employees going to West Kelowna as a result of incorporation, a substantial downsizing of operations took place. As a result, the 60,000-square-foot regional district administration building on KLO Road is not being fully used by CORD.

While parts of it have been rented out the Sterile Insect Release Program and the Okanagan Basin Water Board, Hobson said the regional district is considering selling the building and moving its operations into rented quarters.

He also said current administrator Harold Reay is set to retire in the spring and a new administrator will have to be found. Before that happens, however, CORD will complete a strategic plan to give the regional district a road map for future operations.



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