B.C.’s provincial election is a mere four days away, and in the riding of Kelowna West, five candidates are vying for votes.
The Kelowna West riding covers all of West Kelowna and includes a portion of downtown Kelowna.
Incumbent Liberal Party candidate Ben Stewart is looking to be re-elected in Kelowna West.
The longstanding Liberal stronghold has attracted four other candidates who want to unseat the popular politician.
Stewart said this election has been magnified by the pandemic and he wants to help small businesses recover.
“Many of the businesses have been closed for many, many months, and other ones are on a thin line. That’s really what I stand for, being able to make balanced decisions that help make some people have confidence we’re going to make through (the pandemic) together,” said Stewart.
Stewart said he’s also campaigning for addiction and mental health support.
“We are going to step in and increase mental health and addiction care,” Stewart told Global News.
NDP candidate Spring Hawes echoed Stewart on Kelowna West’s housing issue and said one of her focuses is continuing the NDP’s work on housing and social supports.
“The BC NDP has been doing a lot of work building homes and we have many more planned,” said Hawes.
“In terms of mental health and substance use, we do need to do a lot more there.”
Former transportation engineer and Green Party candidate Peter Truch agreed with Hawes that housing is one of the most important issues the Kelowna West area faces.
“We’ve seen on both sides of the bridge that there is quite an issue with homelessness right now, and that leads to a whole raft of other issues,” said Truch.
Coming from his transportation engineering background, Truch said he will also work to solve traffic issues in the area.
“I’ve got a several point plan, it’s estimated at $50 million,” said Truch.
“I’ve got selected issues that look at key intersections, coming up with creative designs to improve traffic flow, looking at smart signals to get traffic flowing better, looking at implementing and expanding transit active modes as well as lane reversals on the bridge.”
Kelowna West candidate Matt Badura from the BC Libertarian Party also believes housing is the most important issue for the Kelowna West riding, and says he wants voters to know he will give them a voice.
“As an MLA, I would work towards increasing housing affordability,” said Badura
“Reducing the cost of this primary need is an important step in working towards eliminating our dependence on social services.”
Badura continued, “I will focus on policies to reduce taxes, make housing more affordable and improve our general quality of life.”
Magee Mitchell is the only independent candidate in the Kelowna West riding — it’s his first crack at local politics.
He has a bachelor’s degree in political science and is a resident in downtown Kelowna.
“I think as a Canadian, we need more independent representation. We need a minority government because that will force our government to have policies that work for everybody,” said Mitchell.
“I have core values like most of us do. I want fairness, equality, and justice.”
B.C.’s provincial election is on Saturday, Oct. 24.