Honourable William Richards Bennett, P.C.
Born in Kelowna in 1932, Bill Bennett contributed to the city in business and commerce, politics and community service.
Bill was first elected as a South Okanagan MLA (Social Credit) in September 1973. He led the Social Credit to three consecutive majority governments after taking over the party leadership from his father, W.A.C. Bennett, in 1973. He went on to win the 1975 election, becoming Premier in December. Bill served as Premier of B.C. from 1975 to 1986.
Shortly after his re-election in May, 1979, B.C. was sucked into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. With schemes reminiscent of his father’s great projects, Bill pulled the province out of the recession with a series of massive public works projects that included highways and dams.
The Coquihalla Highway was his legacy to people of the Okanagan. While the Okanagan Connector wasn’t completed until 1990, five years after he left office, it changed the face of transportation in the Valley and was a significant economic boost to the region.
Bill's crowning glory was Expo 86, the Vancouver World’s Fair, launching the province onto the world stage. During the six months of Expo, B.C. evolved from a relative unknown to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But shortly after the fair opened and its success was assured, Bill shocked his supporters by announcing he was leaving public life. He resigned in 1986 and returned to private business.
He passed away December 3, 2015 in Kelowna.