To the editor:
In high-school I could not wait to graduate in order to leave Kelowna for a younger, more progressive and forward thinking community.
I was born and raised in Kelowna and the only councils I knew were dominated by right-wing, conservative, elitist, money-making males. As a young, independent female who believed in the importance of altruism, respect, honesty and integrity, I found it very difficult residing in a community consistently electing such officials.
The nail in the coffin was having Walter Gray, at the time, suggest gay people should not be proud of who they are.
Considering the struggle a few of my friends were going through, including bullying, feeling ostracized and even serious consideration of suicide, I found it incredible this man, supposedly ‘representing’ the entire community, could possibly make these statements.
The day I graduated, I left Kelowna.
After travelling a number of places in the world and living in two of the largest cities in Canada, I returned to Kelowna two years ago, now with my young family. When I had originally left more than a decade ago, I never saw myself returning here. However, for the first time in my lifetime, there was a progressive and forward-thinking dominated council and mayor in Kelowna. For the first time, words like sustainability and environmental concerns/impact were considered. The majority of the people holding the seats were making decisions with consideration of the impact 20, 30, 50 years down the line. Social issues were finally brought to the forefront—accessibility, social housing, the importance of collaboration between community organizations, residents and levels of government. Future development plans and areas in need of revitalization were carefully planned and reviewed with consistent public consultation. Kelowna had finally become a community I could be proud to reside in.
I now sit in shock from the election results. Walter Gray, along with his group, FourChange (fourgreed?) negatively, and inaccurately made statements to the electorate about “inaction” and a “lack of leadership” of the current council while reciting the motto Move Kelowna Forward. (This was purely in a development sense. During a global recession not any other aspect of community life were these groups offering to move Kelowna forward).
I moved back to Kelowna with my young family because of the current council and mayor and because of the recognition community is not built on highrises on the waterfront that no one can afford, benefiting only an elite, power-hungry few.
My generation recognizes this and every person I know within our age group did not vote for Walter Gray or his FourChange groupies.
So who did? I can only assume a number of possibly well-intentioned, but undoubtedly misinformed seniors who are not going to be affected by the decisions made by this group in 30+ years as we are, along with other hopeful, but again misinformed, people who were willing to believe any of the lies spouted by these groups.
I was taught, and plan to teach, my children how important qualities such as honesty, integrity, hard-work, kindness and respect for others are. None of these qualities were demonstrated during this election by Walter Gray (or during his past tenure) or FourChange.
With them at the helm, two years after moving back to Kelowna, my house has gone up for sale and, like when I was in high school, I cannot wait to leave Kelowna for a younger, more progressive and forward thinking community.
You had come a long way Kelowna, you had moved forward; and now you’ve just turned around and taken a giant leap into the past.