Kelowna mourns dedicated community builder

Al Horning, earlier this year, at a street dedication announcement in Kelowna. Courtesy: City of Kelowna

A Kelowna, B.C., man who is credited with helping transform the city he spent most of his life building is being mourned.

Al Horning, known by many as Champion of Rutland, died on Monday, March 20. He was 83.

Horning was known for his plain-speaking advocacy for a number of causes throughout a career that spilled into all levels of local government.

He represented the riding of Okanagan Centre as an MP from 1988 to 1993 as a Progressive Conservative, served on Kelowna city council, and was also elected as a Liberal MLA, representing Kelowna-Lake Country.

His greatest accomplishment, according to a 2019 Kelowna Daily Courier article, was the expansion of the airport runway, which allowed bigger planes to come into Kelowna, and later fighting for the Western Star military truck contract.

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He didn’t always set his sights on such sizable goals, also working to build the ball diamonds of Rutland.

In a recent interview, Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas called Horning “the epitome of a community builder.”

All of Kelowna city council expressed its sadness over the loss to the community through a statement released on Tuesday.

“It goes without saying that our community is a better place because of Al Horning. His many years of public service in three levels of government and at the grassroots level produced benefits for generations of Kelowna residents and businesses,” reads the statement.

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Council said that Horning motivated improvements in Kelowna, helping the city grow from humble agricultural beginnings to an increasingly sophisticated economy and diverse society.

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“Al Horning was someone who got things done — whether it was fighting to what we needed to get bigger planes into Kelowna, or getting federal contracts for Kelowna companies like Western Star, or getting ball diamonds built, he always brought dogged determination to his work.

To honour Horning’s service, the city’s flags will be at half-mast on the day of his service.

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