Kelowna council takes unusual step of advocating to province on behalf of local resident

Council goes beyond realm

Against its better judgement, Kelowna city council has decided to advocate to the provincial government on behalf of a local resident.

At the request of Coun. Loyal Wooldridge, council voted 6-3 to support the temporary COVID-19 supplemental increase given to individuals receiving provincial income or disability assistance, and ask the mayor to write various ministries on behalf of those people.

The motion also asked that the additional $300 a month top up be made permanent.

Woodridge made the motion at the request of a member of the city's diversibility community, at a time when the provincial government is preparing its next budget.

With so many people already on the streets and the pandemic putting more people on the brink of homelessness, Wooldridge asked his council colleagues to endorse the motion.

While five of his colleagues did, three believed a letter from the city was the wrong avenue.

"Myself and everyone else on this council, with the things that we've approved, and the fire we've walked through to help the people in our community, speaks to the fact we have a heart for people in our community," said Mayor Colin Basran.

"I'm struggling with signing a letter on behalf of council for a budgetary ask of the provincial government when I have no idea what the cost is. I really have no idea how I'm supposed to do that.

"To say, add this to your budget, but by the way, I have no idea what it costs. That to me is very concerning."

Coun. Brad Sieben suggested the proper route would have been to write their MLA or the ministers involved, while Coun. Gail Given suggested resolutions on the matter had already gone through the Union of BC Municipalities.

"Quite honestly, we could have a list of 30. Once we start, where do we stop, and which ones do we deem supportable," added Given.

Many who supported the motion agreed this may not be the proper channel, but suggested this was the right cause, and time is of the essence.

"The process isn't right, but once in a while we just have to put ourselves forward. I'm hoping it doesn't open a door and, if it does, we'll have to make a decision at that time," said Coun. Maxine DeHart.

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