“I am somewhat different. I come from the bureaucracy.”
Bob Schewe decided to run for mayor primarily because of the homeless and safety issues downtown. He knows a thing or two about the problem, as he was a bylaw officer for 12 years with the City of Kelowna.
WATCH BELOW: An interview with Kelowna mayoral candidate Bob Schewe.
He says the downtown situation is out of control. His solution is to move the downtown shelters, including the Gospel Mission, and make it clear to area criminals that they are not welcome in Kelowna.
“We have to get the others — we have to get them away from our community and basically clarify that they’re not welcome,” said Schewe.
Another big part of Schewe’s platform are taxes. He says they have to come down through cutbacks.
“I’d like to see a near-freeze on property taxes,” said Schewe. “I would like to see a slowdown of the mega projects. “
Candidate No. 2 vying for the mayor’s chair is Kelowna businessman Bobby Kennedy. He first appeared on the political scene last summer when the marijuana dispensary he was running out of his skateboard shop was shut down by the city.
“As far as I’m concerned, the city is completely blowing it on doing these types of things,” Kennedy previously told Global News. “Not just by shutting me down, it’s by shutting down just the access to the people.”
Kennedy is proposing a city cannabis sales tax, night markets, renting out city-owned parks and taxing dog owners who use city parks as ways of generating revenue for the city.
WATCH BELOW: An interview with Kelowna mayoral candidate Tom Dyas.
Challenger No. 3 is Tom Dyas, who became the voice for the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce shortly after a controversial wet facility for the homeless, known as Cornerstone, opened its doors a couple of years ago.
“We see the chaos it’s creating,” Dyas previously told Global News.
Dyas says the situation with the homeless in the downtown has gone downhill and has become a safety issue.
“I believe — I know through the last four years, the concern and the risk of individuals and the safety of individuals within the downtown core has compounded. It is only gotten worse,” he said.
Dyas blames his former friend, incumbent Colin Basran, for downtown safety concerns. He also blames Basran and council for the rise in city taxes during his term.
“I believe it’s come out to about 16 per cent over the last four years,” said Dyas. “And it’s not manageable and when you take into account the assessment increase with properties; it’s probably more than that.”
WATCH BELOW: An interview with incumbent Kelowna mayor Colin Basran.
But Basran, Kelowna’s incumbent mayor, defends the city’s tax hikes, saying the city is pinching every penny.
“When you look at, or compare us, to the 17 largest municipalities across British Columbia,” he said, “City of Kelowna taxpayers pay well below the average when you compare us to other communities.”
And regarding his critics pointing the finger at him for the homelessness situation downtown, Basran says council has met the safety concerns with force.
“This current council has hired 18 RCMP officers, seven bylaw officers, a number of private security companies to patrol different areas of our community,” said Basran. “So we are doing the things we need to in order to get people off our streets and will continue to do that — to take the people off our streets who are preying on our most vulnerable and making our residents feel unsafe.”
If he wins, it will be Basran’s second term as mayor.