March 18, 2014 - 10:18 PM
KELOWNA — Mayor Walter Gray announced tonight he will not seek re-election, leaving the chair open for a new contender in this November's elections.
According to a release from the City of Kelowna, he made decision this week and told councillors 'as a courtesy' to any who may wish to seek the vacant chair.
“This last Council has been the perfect formula for Kelowna – such a motivated, disciplined and decisive group focused on efficiency and streamlining city processes,” said Mayor Gray. “We really have a collective vision that we’re going to move opportunities forward and make sure our citizens are engaged early in the decision making process.
So far, Coun. Luke Stack has said he won't run while councillors Gail Given and Colin Basran have hinted at their interest.
Gray was first elected as a councillor in 1986, serving in two terms before being elected mayor in 1996 and re-elected mayor in 1999, 2002 and 2011.
He cited transportation, preparing for a second crossing of Okanagan Lake, the Mission Greenway, Rails With Trails and the growing network of off-road paths as key priorities during his time in office.
“I entered public office knowing that YLW is the single biggest asset to Kelowna’s business opportunities and lifestyle. In those 18 years, it’s gone from the 17th busiest airport in Canada to the 10th busiest – passing places like Hamilton, Regina and Saskatoon.”
Gray said he’ll leave office “knowing the dye is cast on a number of important projects that will be completed during the next term of council."
Some of those projects include an Interior Health building downtown, two new downtown parkades, John Hindle Drive, Phase 2 of Stuart Park, City Park improvements and, pending public approval processes, construction of the new Kelowna Police Services building and a boutique hotel and convention centre on Queensway Avenue.
Other highlights noted in the release:
— Gray was an early proponent of the triple-P approach (Public-Private Partnerships) for large infrastructure projects such as Prospera Place. Kelowna was the first municipality in B.C. to employ the 3P strategy.
— Supporting a shift to increased public engagement through new technologies and an emphasis on early notification and consultation with citizens and stakeholders.
— Serving on the Premier’s Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions. Resulting in partnerships with BC Housing to build four apartments in Kelowna to shelter some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
— Fundraising chairman as a private citizen for the Central Okanagan Hospice House, raising $3.7 million. Campaign chair of Okanagan University College’s Bold Horizons $4 million campaign for a new gymnasium and campus improvements. That campus is now University of British Columbia Okanagan.
— Creating an Arts District downtown and advancing the arts as a viable business and cultural initiative for the city.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com, call (250) 718-0428.
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