Mayoralty candidate wants to fund seniors services with pot revenue | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Mayoralty candidate wants to fund seniors services with pot revenue

Kelowna City Hall will undergo renovations next year to increase staff space.
September 30, 2018 - 10:00 AM

KELOWNA - Bobby Kennedy, who is running for Kelowna mayor, told a group of seniors Saturday that the city could expand services for the elderly with revenue from pot sales.

“I think one of the best ways to make this city age-friendly is to actually just super-increase the accessibility of the city," he told a crowd of about 75 at the all candidates forum hosted by the Society for Learning in Retirement Kelowna, Sept. 29. “We have a great plan to capitalize on the emerging Cannabis industry.”

That plan, outlined on his web site, calls for a municipal sales tax on all legal recreational cannabis sales of between three and eight per cent, on top of PST and GST.

This from the owner of BKRY boarder shop that was forced to stop selling pot this past summer by a City of Kelowna court order.

At a July court hearing, Kennedy admited to selling medical marijuana, after the city shut down other medicinal marijuana dispensaries. The case was adjourned to give him time to get a lawyer.

Kennedy ran for city council in 2014, finishing 18th of 31 candidates with 3,151 votes. Those elected to council all got more than 9,500 votes.

Kennedy was the first of 20 mayoralty and council candidates to speak at the forum.

Each was allowed a one minute opening speech and each was given an individual question with one minute to answer.
It was a format that didn’t allow for much detail about background or platforms but did give a flavour of each candidate and dealt specifically with seniors’ issues.

It was stressed that 19 per cent of Kelowna residents are seniors and, traditionally, seniors vote at a much higher rate than younger voters.

The highlight of the session came from incumbent councillor Charlie Hodge, who got the biggest laughs when referring to his health problems.

“Let’s get to the elephant in the room,” he said. “Clearly I’m still alive. And I want another four years.”

As expected, Tom Dyas, who is also running for mayor, took a shot at Kelowna City Hall.

“I was extremely close to all of the decisions that were made at a city level when I was president of the chamber of commerce,” he said. “There were a number of issues that I wanted to deal with directly and the doors were shut down for me. (I was not able to get) access and to be able to get the communication and to move forward with the plans that would have helped the city.”

And, also as expected, Mayor Colin Basran, who followed Dyas at the podium, continued with his positive message of things the city has accomplished under his leadership.

"I’m really proud to see how our city has progressed both economically, socially, culturally,” he said. “There are so many great things happening in our community right now.”

As for the council candidates, most talked about how they loved the city and wanted to make it better. Only one, perennial candidate Mo Rajabally, went on the attack.

“I’m fed up,” he said. “I am very, very disappointed. I was looking at the 2017 budget. It was disastrous. The mayor mentioned this city has developed financially, socially and all that. It is a disaster.”

He didn’t have the time to explain why he’s come to that conclusion.

Kevin Bond also took a bit of a shot at the existing council, accusing it of being “stagnant.”

The only concrete suggestion to come out of the forum was from Lindsay Bell who, in her opening comments, said the city needs to create a senior’s committee with a councillor participating.

Since the forum focused on senior’s issues, all the speakers were supportive. Here are some of their comments:

Loyal Wooldridge promoted co-housing where seniors and younger people can live in the same building and share kitchens.

Incumbent Mohini Singh praised the city’s “gauge” for measuring the walkability of proposed developments. Those close to shops and services get a higher walkability score and have a greater chance of success.

Fellow incumbent Brad Sieben stressed the importance of working with developers – especially with the Urban Development Institute, to build structures more suitable to seniors.

Holding forums with seniors groups was one way Dustin Sargent saw for getting them more involved in the city’s decision-making process.

Luke Stack, the city’s longest serving councillor, later noted that the city does consult with seniors, who were very involved in the design of the relatively new Parkinson Senior’s Activity Centre.

Jeff Piattelli, who is an events promoter (and sounded like an MC with his “Hello everybody. How you doing?” opening line) was fully supportive of the suggestion that seniors be provided with shuttle buses to community events.

Asked how he would help homeless seniors, Amarjit Singh Lalli said there needs to be more done to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place.

Part of Graeme James’ response to his question on elder abuse was to note there is hard-to-access services for seniors.

Incumbent Gail Given pointed to the city’s ability to bring people together to develop collaborative strategies as well as lobbying higher levels of government.

When asked how to make parks and trails safer for seniors, incumbent Ryan Donn commented that, no matter what question is asked, the city has a plan in place to deal with it.

He was followed by Craig Hostland, who talked about the need to solve problems through “very thorough analysis, probing, surveying.”

Mark Boyer billed himself as “the new guy” since he moved to Kelowna only three years ago. He spoke about “front line” city workers needing to be more accessible to citizens, even if that means they have go out into the community more.

And incumbent Maxine DeHart agreed that it is difficult to find affordable spaces for seniors’ activities and events.

Mayoralty candidate Bob Schewe and councillor candidates Stef Van Meeteren, Gordon Lovegrove, Greg Dahms and Wayne Carson did not attend.

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