It’s the most intriguing mayoralty race in the Okanagan, and maybe in all of British Columbia: Colin Basran versus Tom Dyas in Kelowna.
Once friends, the two now seem distant after Dyas announced last month that he was throwing his hat into the election ring, with a goal of unseating Basran as Kelowna’s mayor. In fact, when Dyas made his announcement on September 12th, he took a shot at Basran by stating “I feel we can do better.”
At his announcement, Dyas was asked about his friendship with Basran.
“He was a little taken back, I would suspect,” Dyas said of Basran learning that he was running for mayor.
“Well, it was a surprise, given our close friendship,” offered Basran. “But at the end of the day, I welcome anybody to the race who’s going to bring forward good ideas that will help improve our community.”
WATCH BELOW: An interview with incumbent Kelowna mayor Colin Basran.
There are several issues in Kelowna, but the top topic is homelessness in the downtown core and how that’s impacting area businesses.
Dyas said he plans on running Kelowna like a business, and is taking aim at the speculation tax and downtown homelessness, while Basran is campaigning on making the city an inclusive, accepting community and Kelowna’s thriving economy.
WATCH BELOW: An interview with Kelowna mayoral candidate Tom Dyas.
“A big part of our community and dealing with homelessness is getting people housing, and housing them in places where they can get 24-7 support,” Basran said. “That is absolutely crucial if we’re going to make a positive impact on getting people off of our streets.”
Regarding his fiscal policy, Basran stated “what you’ll continue to get from me as your mayor when it comes to taxes is making sure that every dollar we spend is done so in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Basran added that “most recently, an independent body, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said that Kelowna was one of the most fiscally responsible communities in the province.”
Earlier this week, Dyas took another shot at Basran. At a recent political forum, according to a Dyas press release, Basran was asked by a moderator “about his lack of leadership and stated that some of his previous supporters have abandoned him and have lost confidence in him, so why should other voters still believe in Colin as a leader?”
Again, according to the Dyas press release, Basran replied “I am not aware of any previous supporters who have abandoned me.”
Dyas scoffed at that, stating his current campaign manager, Garry Benson, “was formally Colin Basran’s campaign manager for city council in 2011, has abandoned Colin’s camp.”
“I do not support Colin for mayor because I do not believe Colin has the necessary leadership ability to effectively engage the community, which is critical in order to be a good Mayor,” Benson was quoted as saying in the Dyas press release. “I feel he has not fulfilled the commitments he has made. Working with and knowing Tom Dyas for several years, I am convinced Tom is the right person to lead our city, right now. There is a clear choice of electing Tom Dyas as mayor, a man with integrity, over the ‘status quo style’ of Colin Basran.”
Basran, meanwhile, questioned Dyas’ thoughts of building a new city hall and fire hall, adding his opponent had “Trump-style politicking.”
Also this month, the mayor battle wound up involving local businessman and former city councillor Andre Blanleil after he publicly supported Basran’s re-election bid. Shortly after that, Kelowna resident Cindy Cannan wrote a letter to the editor that attacked Blanleil’s decision and praised Dyas. Cannan is the wife of former MP Ron Cannan.
Blanleil then fired back in a lengthy letter, noting among many things that “Tom concealed his intentions to run for mayor from his close friend of many years, Colin Basran.”
Dyas hopes Basran considers his decision to just be business, albeit a choice with consequences.
“I hope to always consider him a friend. That is the idea,” said Dyas. “Does this change how that relationship works? For certain. That’s not rocket science to kind of understand that.”