A leader in the creation of the City of West Kelowna has died suddenly following a health battle with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and diagnosed heart failure.
Len Novakowski died at his home, discovered by his wife Zoria.
Novakowski was elected as a Westside director on the Regional District of Central Okanagan board for 11 years, and served as regional director alternate four years prior to that, leading up to West Kelowna’s incorporation in 2007.
Novakowski was a member of the governance committee which studied the self-governance issue, which had previously failed in three previous attempts.
Doug Findlater, current West Kelowna city councillor and chair of that governance committee said Novakowski brought a thoughtful and reliable voice to the discussion, a supporter of self-governance who opted not to run for the inaugural council.
He said Novakowski was a proponent of incorporation because he believed in the growth of the community at that time coupled with expectations of what was to come.
“Back then, the regional district realignment that saw three representatives elected for the Westside, of which Len was one along with Aaron Dinwoodie and David Knowles, was actually the precursor to what would eventually become the first West Kelowna council,” Findlater recalled.
Another important issue that Novakowski steadfastly supported was to build Royal LePage Centre, a project that Findlater said was controversial at the time.
“He was a champion of that project despite the opposition. He helped get it done and that arena became the reason we now have a first-class junior A hockey team, the West Kelowna Warriors, in our community,” Findlater said.
“Long after he had stepped down from politics I would see Len and his wife often at the Warriors games because they sat in the same seat section we did.”
West Kelowna council acknowledged Novakowski’s contribution to the community at the council meeting earlier this week as did the Regional District of Central Okanagan board.
Beyond his civic political role, Novakowski was also dedicated to serving his country as a member of the Canadian Air Force for 37 years.
He is survived by Zoria and his sons, Kevin and Keith, daughter Kathryn; three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and two sisters, Eileen and Veronica.