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Kelowna mayor rails against populist politics

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
June 12, 2021 - 2:30 PM

While public input is important, Kelowna’s Mayor Colin Basran spoke out strongly earlier this week against always bowing to it.

He made his comments during a Regional District of the Central Okanagan board meeting where directors were unanimous in their opposition to a gravel pit application in the Joe Rich neighbourhood that had sparked massive public opposition.

READ MORE: Proposed gravel pit near Kelowna gets unanimous thumbs down from regional district directors

“I think a lot of the input that we’ve received is, in fact, credible and correct, but I would say that listening to the public for every decision we make is called populism and that’s not good leadership,” was one of Basran’s few comments on the application.

“Speaking to it from a City of Kelowna perspective, if we listened to the public all the time, it would mean that hundreds of people in our community would still be on the streets because housing them is not a popular thing to do,” he continued. “Yet, in the face of that, we decided to go against that and get people housed.”

He was referring to massive public opposition over the past few years to supportive housing projects in Kelowna, including a 13,000-name petition against one on McCurdy Road in 2019.

READ MORE: Kelowna mayor shrugs off McCurdy Road supportive housing petition

“It depends on the circumstance but, certainly, I get that public input is an important part but it shouldn’t always dictate the decision we make,” he said at the June 10 meeting.

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