November 23, 2015 - 6:30 PM
KELOWNA - It’s been just over a year now since Colin Basran grabbed the mayor’s chair in a convincing election win.
While Basran had already completed a term as city councillor, he says it barely prepared him for the complexities of working as a full-time civic leader.
“The sheer volume of invitations to events is amazing. It truly never stops,” says Basran of his new position which pays him just a few bucks shy of $90,000 a year, but can see him start his day with a breakfast meeting at 7 a.m. and end at 9 p.m. after an evening event.
His relative youth — he’s 38 years old — gets him through the long days, but Basran says nothing got him ready for always having to be on.
“The days of not shaving for a couple of days and then throwing on a hat and a pair of jeans and going out with the kids are over,” he says, after doing just that early in his term and running into a constituent at the mall.
“You have to be on duty all the time. This may have been the one and only time that a resident may have any interaction with me and I just don’t want to leave a bad impression.”
While Basran and his council started off the new term slowly, the last few months have seen the release of strategic priorities, topped by a push to improve drinking water and a drive to address Kelowna’s homelessness problem.
“We are a very socially-conscious and focused council (which) is wanting to take a more proactive role and come up with solutions. But I wanted time for them to get on their feet. Your wants and needs change once you are elected.”
Basran and his councillors have become more feisty as the year progressed.
Their top priority — clean and safe drinking water — has put Basran at odds with the local irrigation districts, which supply almost half of Kelowna’s drinking water but disagree on long-term goals and strategy.
And the drive to take the lead on homelessness by hiring a coordinator and pushing for a low-barrier housing-first approach, is putting Basran into the middle of a social issue that has proven intractable in Kelowna over the years.
This is the first council with a four-year term as opposed to the previous three-year terms and the mayor hopes the longer term will allow them the time needed to address the issue.
“Realistically, we may never end homelessness but we are willing to see this through to the end,” Basran says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015