B.C. Election 2020: Kelowna-Mission is one riding guaranteed to get a new MLA | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. Election 2020: Kelowna-Mission is one riding guaranteed to get a new MLA

Kelowna-Mission candidates, left to right: Krystal Smith – B.C. NDP, Amanda Poon – B.C. Green Party and Renee Merrifield – B.C. Liberal Party.
Image Credit: Submitted
October 23, 2020 - 6:30 PM

The Kelowna-Mission riding is the only one of the three Central Okanagan ridings that is guaranteed to not only have a new MLA but it will also be a woman.

The riding encompasses Kelowna and the Regional District of Central Okanagan south of Highways 97 and 33.

Historically it has always been a strong Liberal riding and Social Credit before that.

Sitting Liberal MLA Steve Thomson announced in December 2019 that he was not going to run for re-election. He represented the riding since 2009, succeeding Liberal Sindi Hawkins, who represented the riding from 1996 to 2009.

Has the NDP done enough in three years of governing to challenge for this seat? In 2017, Thomson won 58 per cent of the vote — quite a hill for anyone else to climb.

Demographics:

Since 2006 the Central Okanagan has seen population increases in most age categories, with youth and young adult population growth surpassing the provincial and national averages, according to Statistics Canada Census information from 2016.

That said, 21.4 per cent of the area's residents are over the age of 65. Provincially, the proportion is 18.3 per cent. Unsurprisingly, health care is one of the main economic drivers in the region, alongside education, construction, agriculture and tourism.

While the region remains popular with retirees, the Central Okanagan's Economic Development Commission said there's been above-average growth in 25-34 years age group "as young professionals and families are drawn to the region’s career opportunities and relative lifestyle affordability."

That may be even more the case today than it was when the report was penned, as in recent years the population has boomed and industries, like tech, have shown growing power.

Kelowna-Mission riding.
Kelowna-Mission riding.
Image Credit: /submitted/Elections B.C.

Today's issues:

Growth is a key component of life in Kelowna with another 50,000 people expected to move to the city by 2040.

The city plans to put most of that growth into five urban town centres, all of which are either in this riding or touch on it.

The riding also contains Kelowna General Hospital, the largest in the Interior Health Region and a key institution as the province battles COVID-19. It's also home to Okanagan College.

It contains shopping meccas Orchard Park mall and Costco but also the Landmark centre with its concentration of office space, much of it high tech with a new 23-storey office tower currently under construction.

“There is not enough housing in our communities that is affordable for the people who live and work in them,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has stated. “This situation is also causing economic fallout for businesses who are struggling to recruit and retain workers."

"We need all parties to commit to accelerating investments in housing, simplifying the funding application process, balancing renters’ needs with those of landlords, and ensuring a regulatory and fiscal climate that prioritizes the type of housing that we actually need.”

Basran is co-chair of a 13-city Urban Mayor’s Caucus that has called on the province to provide secure, long-term funding for municipalities to deal with social and infrastructure issues.

Do voters show up?

Kelowna Mission was bang on the provincial average for voter turnout, with both at 57.7 per cent.

Who to vote for in Kelowna West:

Renee Merrifield - B.C. Liberal Party

Merrifield ran for the federal Conservative nomination for the Kelowna-Lake County riding last year and lost to Tracy Gray. At that time she went by the name of Renee Wasylyk but has officially reverted to her maiden name of Merrifield.

She has been CEO of Troika Developments since 1999 and sits on a number of boards including as a member of Junior Achievement of B.C., First West Credit Union and as chair of Breakfast Clubs of Canadan.

According to the party web site, Merrifield is "an entrepreneurial and successful business owner, employing 50 amazing people in the local construction industry" and "a person of faith who treasures the freedom to say so without persecution, and I feel blessed to live in such a great country where all people are treated equally.

Amanda Poon - B.C. Green Party

Poon works for Interior Health as an analyst, is president of the Kelowna Downtown Knox Mountain Neighbourhood Association and volunteers for groups working with the homeless.

"Amanda understands that we are all in this together, and she believes in working together to build a sustainable society full of opportunities that lift everyone up," according to the Green Party website.

Krystal Smith - B.C. NDP

Her Linkedin profile says she’s senior ministerial assistant to the Minister of Citizen’s Services in Victoria.

"Recently, through her work with the BC government, Krystal has delivered results for people in communities all across the province and helped to build a strong, sustainable economy," states the NDP website.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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