First step to becoming new Kelowna city councillor, meeting your one and only employee - InfoNews

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First step to becoming new Kelowna city councillor, meeting your one and only employee

Rookie Kelowna city councillor Loyal Wooldridge is pictured in the undated, submitted photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Loyal Wooldridge
October 29, 2018 - 3:00 PM

KELOWNA - If you want to know anything at all about being an elected Kelowna city councillor, just ask Loyal Wooldridge.

“Everything I need to know as a city councillor was taught to me in six hours,” Wooldridge joked after sitting through his first orientation session as a freshly elected Kelowna city councillor.

Wooldridge was the only newcomer elected to Kelowna council in the Oct. 20 municipal election. While he worked for a year to get up to speed on city issues and community concerns before getting elected, he knows he still has a lot more to learn.

Last week’s first session was with consultant George Cuff who will be educating more than a dozen councils in the next couple of weeks, including West Kelowna today, Oct. 29.

“It was all about governance and the function of council and the touch point between (the City) manager and council,” Wooldridge explained. “It’s the one employee model. The council and mayor have one employee and that’s the city manager, who will filter requests through to the appropriate staff.”

There are two key reasons for operating under the model.

One is a matter of time efficiency – with time costing money if it means taking up too much staff time. If individual councillors go to a staff member with a question that may trigger hours of research for what might, in the end, be just a simple question.

The other key reason is the underlying philosophy that information available to one councillor should be available to all.

Another important issue discussed was the need for councillors to take a look at the bigger picture of what the citizens want, not just their own narrow focus. For Wooldridge, that’s a principle he embraced even before making his run for council.

“I have a nine-page platform that was based on community input,” he said.

He started with city documents like the annual citizen survey and the Imagine Kelowna process but also attended more than 100 community meetings while drafting his vision of not just what he wanted, but what he believes the community wants.

Wooldridge also pointed out that he is only one of nine votes on council so he needs to build a good working relationship with his fellow councillors in order to convince at least four of them to vote his way.

He began that process early by meeting with them all individually for coffee or lunch over the past year and is happy with the support and encouragement they’re giving him now. All seven incumbent councillors sat through the orientation session with him.

But, this is just the start of the learning process.

This week, Wooldridge will have a series of meetings with city clerk Stephen Fleming to learn about the operational side of the city.

Plus, city manager Doug Gilchrist has asked all councillors to come up with three to five ideas they think important for setting the new council’s objectives for the coming term. Those will be decided through a series of meetings in January and February.

While Wooldridge has work to do on his preferences, he’s already decided park development is a key objective, based on the community input he’s received. That’s not an issue that was talked about much during the campaign but something he believes is important to residents who want to see tangible benefits from growth.

While development cost charges paid by developers, help pay the cost of buying land, they can’t be used to actually build the park.

And, at some point, the mayor will make appointments to various committees.

As the rookie on council, Wooldridge doesn’t expect to get many appointments, but has made it clear he wants to be the council liaison with the Journey Home committee on homelessness. He noted that it’s still not determined if the liaison will be a city staff person or a councillor, but he’s not shy about making his feelings on that subject known.

“That’s an issue I’m passionate about,” he said.


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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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2018
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