Not all West Kelowna residents are on board with the alternative approval process for a new civic centre.
Ian Graham is leading the charge to fill out a enough forms to not only oppose the AAP, but defeat it and move to a referendum on the project. AAP’s are an alternative to referendum’s for borrowing money, which West Kelowna council is hoping to do by using the AAP process to get approval from the residents of West Kelowna for a $10.5 million loan for the new civic centre project, which includes a new city hall and offices.
For an AAP to be defeated, 10% of voting residents, which is roughly 2,600 people in West Kelowna’s case, need to fill out a form stating their opposition and hand it in to the municipal office by a certain date. For West Kelowna’s current AAP, that date is May 3rd. Graham is one of several West Kelowna residents volunteering their time to find those 2,600 people to sign forms, and he explained his opposition stems from a very simple reason.
“I can understand there being a civic centre project, I don’t understand why we can’t vote,” he said.
The loss of the ability to vote through a referendum is an affront to democracy in Graham’s eyes, as he believes no one should lose the right to vote. As such, Graham and his team of volunteers have been going door-to-door and setting up booths in locations like Superstore to get as many people signing forms as possible.
“We’re trying to let people know that there are citizens here who are concerned about the way things are going,” Graham said. “It’s not just a five man show (referring to the five councillors who voted in favour of the AAP), only five people went for the AAP.
“It’s an easy way out just to say we know best, we know the way to do this. But it’s not the right way. It meets the law, but it doesn’t meet the practicality of dealing with 28,000 people.”
So far, Graham noted they have found many people against the AAP. However, he added they were hampered by Easter weekend and many of the volunteers not being available. As such, he described they are in the hundreds of completed forms instead of the thousands. Despite the slow start, Graham isn’t aiming to get 2,600 forms completed; he’s shooting for 5,000 as he believes there are far more than the minimum number of necessary people opposed to the AAP.
Anyone looking to contact Graham for information about volunteering, forms or anything else can reach him at 250-707-3493. There will also be an open house and informational sessions about the civic centre AAP, which will be held April 6th from 5:00p.m. to 7:00p.m. at the Westbank Lions Hall.