Letter: Argument for having a ward system in Kelowna

A ward system in municipal election would remove the anonymity of responsibility available under the current system.

To the editor:

A council elected “at large,” as in Kelowna, can insulate itself from the public. Councillors may claim they represent all of Kelowna, but if they cannot sometimes represent even one resident, or a residents’ association, they do not represent anyone in Kelowna.

The poor voter turn-out three years ago is, in my opinion, the direct result of the “at large” system.

Proponents of “at large” claim it is best for all of Kelowna. In practice the main beneficiaries are councillors. They can easily avoid an exchange of communication when a concern is addressed to the council “at large”—having solicited votes as individuals from across Kelowna.

A ward system in municipal election would remove the anonymity of responsibility available under the current system.

Friday’s story Balancing the Needs of Neighbourhoods (Nov. 7 Capital News) reveals that reciprocal communication between a voter and councillor is unlikely, as that is deemed to be inferior to decisions councillors reach with city staff while reviewing complaints or suggestions received.

I disagree. When a councillor equates the public value of a waterfront park with the value of a neighbourhood park, he [and she] needs to answer one question: Are people from across Kelowna more likely to flock to a waterfront park?

When other councillors do not challenge such a pontification, how can they, elected “at large,” balance the needs of Kelowna?

Helen Schiele,

Kelowna