The residents of Holiday Park Resort, off Commonwealth Road, may look like a happy bunch, but they’re tired of politicians that don’t listen.
They do not have adequate bus service to their leasehold community off Highway 97—the spot where the giant boat sits en route to Lake Country—and they have been trying to get a city councillor or the mayor’s attention to the matter for upwards of five years.
“You need to walk 1.9 kilometres to the bus stop on the highway if you want to catch the bus,” explained Sue MacIntyre.
“We are seniors and we’re going to be walking on slippery unplowed roads again soon.”
After years of petitioning, letter writing, knocking on doors and so forth, Tuesday evening they rented their own bus and had it deliver them to Rutland Centennial Hall to meet the municipal election candidates, who are supposed to be knocking on their doors this season.
“We’re kind of done telling people what we want to see done,” MacIntyre said. “So, we’re hoping by all of us being here tonight, we’ll actually see some action.”
Finding their scrupulous champion in the sea of hopeful faces would prove an equally hard task, however.
Most people the Capital News spoke with indicated the trade fair-style approach used for the event, allowing candidates to simply set up a booth and talk to voters, offered the best hope for campaigning so far.
Yet everyone agreed the number of candidates this year is seriously overwhelming individual messages, making it hard to establish one person’s views from another.
“It’s just the sheer numbers,” said Rutland resident Barb Jones, shaking her head. “Can’t they change the criteria to run?”
Altogether, there are 40 council candidates, five mayoral candidates and 14 people running for school trustee.
In a word, it’s “overwhelming,” the Holiday Park crew said.
And for the candidates, it can be frustrating.
With media outlets struggling to handle the sheer volume of the council race, trustee hopefuls like Larry Gray, nephew of mayoral candidate Walter Gray, have found a serious chasm in coverage.
“There isn’t any interest in it. It’s sad really. It’s a really important job,” he said.
The lack of attention from traditional media has forced him to think outside the box, meet with as many parent advisory councils as possible and groups like the Central Okanagan Parent Advisory Council just to get his name out there.
Chatter about the room Tuesday evening suggested many residents believe there are more candidates this time due to economic woes.
Several bystanders noted the candidates were being quite upfront about their employment status, saying they needed the work and the pay cheque, and others speculated the retired candidates might be feeling the pinch of investments soured in the global economic turmoil.
On the other end of the spectrum, city council candidate David Boyko said he believes a few fellow candidates were actually being impolite by running.
“There are people here with multiple jobs,” he said. “They don’t need this. I’m retired. I have the time to do it. If you phone me, I’ll phone you back.”
Boyko also echoed sentiments from many other candidates that an all candidates meeting held earlier in the day was a total waste of time.
With nary a student in sight, he said the candidates who came out to campaign found they were talking to themselves.
“Apathy in Canada is horrendous,” he said.
He’s encouraging his 18-year-old daughter to bring her friends to the polling stations come election day, saying they need to learn that they can make a difference.
“If you vote, people will see that you came out,” Boyko said he told his daughter.
Hilary Pada was one of the younger people out Tuesday evening trying to learn about the candidates.
She worries the next council will hear the campaigns for change and make snap decisions based on securing popular opinion.
“I love all the bike lanes. Love that the city’s been moving to a more public involvement in the process for big decisions and I hope the next council has caution with those big decisions,” she said.
“They need to be thinking about what Kelowna will look like 100 years from now.”