Letter: Election 2018: Change from the bottom up

The Kelowna group’s stated goal is to help residents make informed choices

To the editor:

The most exciting news so far in relation to Kelowna’s civic election has to do with the emergence of the Future of Kelowna Consortium.

This is a growing group of community organizations including the K.L.O Residents Association, Kelowna South-Central Association of Neighbourhoods, PLAN Kelowna, B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition, Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition, Fresh Outlook Foundation, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna People’s Alliance, Global Empowerment Coalition of the Central Okanagan, Renters United Kelowna, and the Central Okanagan Food Policy Council.

The group’s stated goal is to help residents make informed choices about voting based on the results of a survey that will be distributed to all candidates seeking answers to a set of twenty-five questions. The answers will be published through the organizations’ networks and will also be sent to media outlets for broader publication.

Until now, crime and safety were being promoted by candidates and some media outlets as a key election issue. While Kelowna does, of course, have crime, the rate of serious crime is dropping and 90 per cent of respondents to the 2017 Citizen Survey said they feel safe in our community.

The issue of ‘crime’ simply doesn’t conform to an actual need for it to take centre stage.

Ludicrously, the relocation of Costco was also being promoted as an election issue – one on the scale of a potential cross-border international incident.

The questions asked by the Future of Kelowna Consortium will instead relate to several of the plans, pathways, strategies and roadmaps that have been created by the city in connection with issues such as community goals, growth and development, transportation, homelessness, climate action, and available and affordable housing.

As I see it, that adds up to a second dimension of the importance of this initiative. The grassroots are focused on what matters most, and they’re wresting a degree of control back from the candidates who, at best, have been too willing to jump on the populist bandwagon of scary crime and exacting punishment, and, at worst, have been scraping the bottom of the political barrel for something to try to sell.

There’s nothing ludicrous about proclaiming, “power to the people!” To move our agenda forward, we’ll need to familiarize ourselves with the survey results when they’re released. Next, we’ll have to get out there to the all-candidates meetings to insist that candidates amplify the answers they’ve provided. Finally, we’ll have to educate our friends and show up with them on Election Day to support the candidates who appear credible on the points our grassroots organizations have brought forward.

This is how to make Election 2018 count.

Dianne Varga,

Kelowna, BC

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