Council Connect

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Your monthly update from Mayor Dyas on Council decisions, City business and more

Hear directly from Mayor Tom Dyas, as he provides updates from elected council on issues that affect you. Each month the mayor will focus on a different priority area and overview the progress that is being made to address it as Council works to guide the growth, development and operation of the City.

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Advocating for action - May 6, 2024

By Mayor Tom Dyas

In late March Council received a progress report on our Council Priorities and I am happy to share that we have completed or made significant progress on many of the 22 action item measures. In fact, Council convened a strategic planning session on April 27, 2024 to review and refine our priorities as we approach the mid-point of our term. Although this is commendable news, we know that there is still more that can and will be done.

As a city we need to come to terms with the fact that, for some of our priorities, we simply cannot tackle them alone. As a municipality we have limits on our jurisdiction and we do not have the mandate nor the level of authority to fully address many of the challenges cities face such as Homelessness, Transportation, Mental Health and Addiction, and Housing.

By working with our provincial and federal governments we can ensure that our community receives the support and resources it needs and deserves. In my role as Mayor, advocacy is not simply a duty; it is a crucial tool for municipal leaders to effect positive change and address the pressing issues facing our growing community.

In early April, I took those advocacy needs and asks to Victoria, and while at the Legislature I met with Ministers responsible in four critical areas, to advocate for increased support for: mental health and addiction, transportation and infrastructure, and affordable housing. Each of these issues and needs is intertwined with the well-being of our community and addressing them in a respectful, meaningful, and more impactful way requires proactive engagement and collaboration with senior levels of government. During my visit I was also able to connect with our local MLAs, Renee Merrifield, Norm Letnick and Ben Stewart, and thank them for always being open to connecting with us on all our visits to Victoria.

First and foremost, mental health and addiction are challenges that touch the lives of countless individuals and families in our city. During my visit to the legislature, I met with Minister Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, where I emphasized our community’s urgent need for expanded services and resources to address these complex issues that surround homelessness. We discussed increased funding for treatment and prevention programs including Complex Care and I also brought forward the concerns with impacts faced by our community, first responders, businesses, and community safety due to the government’s drug decriminalization pilot. The Minister agreed that the importance of us working together, alongside our agency partners Interior Health and BC Housing, to ensure that those in our community who need the help, can access the supports they need to get well.

Moreover, there is no one-size-fits all solution to addressing the complex mental health and addictions challenges, but rather a well-rounded approach that encompasses not only treatment but also prevention, education, supportive housing, and community support services such as for career skills and planning to help people get back on their feet.

Transportation and infrastructure are essential components of a thriving and connected city.  As Kelowna continues to grow, we must invest in sustainable, efficient, and multi-modal transportation systems that connect residents to jobs, education, and essential services. We need more investment to help build connection by providing safer routes to visit friends and family, access services, amenities, employment, and recreation opportunities, and explore new neighbourhoods. During my meeting with Minister Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, and Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit, Dan Coulter, I spoke on the need for transportation infrastructure improvements to improve the connectivity and access from Kelowna International Airport, to UBCO to downtown – alleviating congestion on Highway 97 and the planning and advocacy work on the Highway 33/Clement Avenue extension project. I also encouraged more dialogue and awareness on how we can work together to expand public transit in the Kelowna Regional Transit System, particularly advocating for a new Transit Operations Centre and the desire to initiate and see the electrification of our bus fleet to align with climate and environmental goals. Our community and region has outgrown the current facility at Hardy Street and we must ensure that planning and commitments today will meet the future needs of our community as we grow. Our conversation also touched on the intent for the potential of future high-speed connectivity and transportation options along the Rail Trail.

Housing continues to be a leading issue and concern for many of our residents. We are witnessing more and more people and families in our city face difficulties finding housing that is accessible and affordable and that offers them a secure, safe, place to live. Minister Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing, has been an engaged and collaborative partner with Kelowna and we have achieved significant progress by securing provincial investments in affordable housing projects. These include support programs that address homelessness and housing instability, such as the work done with BC Housing through the Province’s HEART & HEARTH program to develop STEP Place and Trailside Transitional Housing, and the investment through the Community Housing Fund Kelowna received that will create 68 new homes for families, seniors and people with disabilities on Cross Road, and also through the BC Builds program to foster collaborative partnership to create attainable homes for middle-income residents. During our discussions in Victoria, we continued on the course of collaboration to see more homes built. And while we discussed the Minister’s plan to include Kelowna among the next group of Housing Supply Act target communities, the Minister recognized Kelowna’s leadership in housing development. I also brought up the impacts and residents’ feedback I have received from the recent Short Term Rental legislation especially given the importance of tourism to Kelowna.

Making strides on Complex Care

One notable success story in our advocacy journey is the recent commitment for a new purpose-built complex care and supportive housing facility dedicated to mental health and addiction treatment, which the Province announced here in Kelowna on April 15, 2024. Through collaboration with community partners, engaging in dialogue with the Ministers and our local MLAs, and persistent advocacy efforts, we were able to demonstrate the urgent need for such a facility and garner support from the provincial government. The new facility will include 20 newly constructed complex-care housing units and at least 20 supportive housing units - it will soon be going to design phase and engagement with the neighbourhood will commence. This project serves as a testament to the importance of developing relationships between levels of government, and the power of advocacy to drive meaningful change and improve the lives of our residents.

A consistent message resulting in reform.

There is also much advocacy work being done around drug use and decriminalization. The Province’s recent announcement was encouraging news. The City of Kelowna has been a leading advocate, and I have personally taken a strong position, to have parks, playgrounds, splash pads, business entrances, and public transit exempt as part of the Province’s illicit drug decriminalization pilot project. As the Province’s Drug Use Ban announcement continues to develop, we look forward to understanding the context in which it will benefit our community. I am happy to see that our efforts to push the Province for further empowering RCMP and giving them the tools and authority necessary to ensure public safety has paid off, as this has continuously been requested by our residents and businesses.

With this success in mind, we are still advocating on behalf of residents’ concerns when it comes to the recent legislative changes on Short Term Rentals. Council collectively continues to advocate to the provincial government to consider exemptions for short-term rentals in properties originally zoned for this specific purpose.

Advocacy is not just a responsibility.

It's an essential tool for municipal leaders to uphold their communities' interests. By working with all levels of government, as well as agency partners, and pushing for solutions to important issues including mental health and addiction, transportation and infrastructure, and housing, we can make positive change and build stronger, more resilient communities for the future. I would be remised if I did not thank and commend the City’s Inter-governmental relations team, who played an integral role in ensuring these connections were made, relationships built, and advocacy commitments kept.

As your Mayor, I promise to keep advocating, collaborating, and working to get results for a better future for everyone.

Avenues of access – Connecting with your City - April 2, 2024

By Mayor Tom Dyas

The past few months have seen immense change affecting countless municipalities due to the new sweeping legislative changes happening at the provincial level. As council, we’ve witnessed and heard from residents that have become increasingly concerned about how the City will navigate these changes, all of which have significant impacts on our community. One specific concern, which centres on communicating with the City, is the prohibition of public hearings for rezonings if the development proposal is in alignment with the City’s Official Community Plan.  

This is a valid and understandable concern. For Council, transparency and accountability are cornerstones for how we make decisions, and it is important that Kelowna’s residents are not only informed, but also have a multitude of channels to have their voices heard. It is necessary that every resident have access to information and have the opportunity, through a variety of channels, to share their opinions, ideas and feedback.

Although public hearings will no longer include routine rezoning applications, this form of engagement only represents a small fraction of the ways citizens engage with us and City staff. We welcome ideas, concerns, and feedback as it helps shape the decisions that impact our city's future.

Get all the information you need in real-time.

The City's website,, is a central hub of information, resources, news, events, and more. From accessing important documents like the Official Community Plan to learning about upcoming events and initiatives, the website is a constantly updated wealth of information for residents, businesses, and visitors to the area. In 2023 the site garnered over 8.7 million page views, a number that continues to grow year over year.

To enhance citizens’ experience on our website, we are harnessing the power of technology and AI to make it easier for you to find the information you need. Whether you have questions about city services, event schedules, or municipal regulations, our virtual assistants are available 24/7 to provide prompt and helpful responses in real time.

Let us know about an issue, ask a question, or report a concern.

The City has an online service request portal to make it easier for citizens to request city services when it’s most convenient for you. You can find it on the homepage right below the main image banner. This makes creating service request a convenient and quick solution and allows appropriate staff and teams to address the issue or concern directly. Whether it's reporting a pothole, requesting a recycling bin, requesting bylaw, or submitting a noise complaint, our dedicated city staff work diligently to address these requests promptly, ensuring that our city remains clean, safe, and well-maintained.

Give the City your feedback on current and upcoming projects and initiatives.

Engaged communities are strong communities. We know that all our decisions are improved through open and transparent processes, and through the input of citizens and stakeholders. The City’s current, upcoming, and past engagement opportunities can all be found online at  This central website serves as a virtual town square where residents can participate in discussions, share ideas, and provide feedback on various city projects and initiatives. From community planning initiatives to transportation projects, your input matters, and we encourage you to join the conversation.

The Citizen Survey is another avenue for engagement that the City uses. It is a statistically valid survey conducted every two years and is a tool for Council to understand our citizen’s priorities and understand satisfaction levels with municipal programs and services. The insights gained by this research help us make important decisions regarding planning, budgeting and service improvements.

Stay up to date on news, events, and programs that the City is leading or involved with.

The City of Kelowna's social media channels provide real-time updates on city news, events, and initiatives. Whether you are on Facebook, X, Instagram, Youtube or LinkedIn, you can stay informed and engaged with our city's programs, initiatives and activities while connecting with fellow residents and City departments directly.

You can also receive City updates and news directly to your inbox via the City’s e-newsletters, which provide a quick and convenient way to stay informed about city news releases, events, development applications and opportunities for engagement. By subscribing, you'll never miss out on important updates from City Hall, ensuring that you're always in the loop about what's happening in our city. I encourage residents to join the City Views subscriber list for a monthly update on upcoming news and events.

Connect with Council.

There are also many avenues and channels available to residents to connect with Council directly. My colleagues on Council and I are here to serve as your elected representatives and advocates, and we value your input and encourage you to reach out to us. You can do so through a variety of ways:

  • You can attend a Council meeting, whether that be in person or virtually via the live broadcast available at
  • Email Councillors individually through their direct email addresses.
  • Email with your concern, idea, or request. This email is accessible to all of Council and I can respond to questions directly as a representative of Council.
  • Requesting to present to Council as a delegation by contacting Clerks at
  • Reading this monthly Column, Council Connect, which offers an inside look into Council decisions and more.
  • We have also been invited to be present at future Neighbourhood Association meetings, where I have invited all of Council to attend. This will be a new setting where residents can have face time with Councillors, meet them in person, express their concerns, and offer their ideas.

As elected officials, we are here to listen to your needs and concerns. We know that technologies will continue to evolve and change, and that new channels will arise. Our promise is to continue to adapt to ensure transparency and accountability through all the work we do.

Navigating Water Management - March 4, 2024

By Mayor Tom Dyas

As we enter the spring season, many of us are looking forward to warmer weather, blooming flowers and outdoor activities. However, it is also a time when we start thinking about our snowpack, lake levels and the annual freshet season which typically occurs from April to July. With severe drought in the valley last year, followed by a relatively dry winter, as of February 1, 2024 snowpack in the Okanagan Snow Basin was 86 per cent of normal.

We have experienced similar snowpack levels in the valley in recent years including 2017 and 2021 and continually monitor the impact on our lake levels and water supply.  While it is true that snowpack plays a significant role, the amount of precipitation during the months of March and April can also be a major factor. But whether spring roars in like a lion, or more gently like a lamb, we have made big advancements in hydrological modelling, real-time weather data, and remote sensing technologies to better predict, monitor and, together, take the necessary steps to mitigate any potential impacts of both floods and droughts in the Okanagan Valley.

Many of the valley’s municipalities, including City of Kelowna, source their drinking water supply from Okanagan Lake. Lake levels are managed by the Province of British Columbia by controlling releases from Okanagan Lake Dam in Penticton, which is part of the Okanagan Lake Regulation System.  The Province has reduced lake outflows to keep lake levels close to normal at 341.60 meters as of the end of February.    

In managing the lake levels, the province’s considerations include flood control, water supply, fisheries, aquatic, riparian and environmental values, recreation and tourism.    Doing its part, the City is responsible for managing any consequences of reduced lake levels and drought through water conservation measures, as well as effective management of McCulloch Lake, the one lake that we have some control of.

Lake levels can vary seasonally by about 1.2 metres. The City water utility’s two largest drinking water sources, located near Poplar Point and Cedar Creek Park, each have very deep intakes and pumping systems that are not operationally impacted by these seasonal fluctuations. During a major drought, however, other factors can play a role in how much water the province allows us to use.

On the non-potable water front, as of February 27, the McCulloch Lake reservoir system that supplies our irrigation and agriculture system is at half capacity. As mentioned, spring precipitation typically contributes significantly to water levels. We remain hopeful that the reservoir will reach full pool, with enough water to supply normal agricultural and environmental needs for this year. However, regardless, we are used to an arid environment and need to be ready to manage all levels of drought conditions accordingly.

While it is too early to tell what spring runoff and precipitation will bring, and whether there will be a need to introduce any measures beyond our normal summer watering restrictions, it is always a good time to be thinking about water conservation. Water is a precious and finite resource that we all depend on. If we use more than nature can replenish through rain and snow, we will run a deficit.

The Okanagan continues to have one of the highest rates of water use per person in Canada, and landscape irrigation accounts for 55 per cent of this. This means that, during the summer, we’re using around 72 million litres of water on average just for our lawns and gardens.

One of the biggest ways we can protect our water supply is by making positive water choices in both indoor and outdoor settings. You can make a difference by:

  • Checking your faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks and fixing them as soon as possible.
  • Installing low-flow showerheads, faucets and toilets, or use aerators and displacement devices.
  • Taking shorter showers and turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Washing only full loads of dishes and laundry and use the shortest cycle possible.
  • Adjusting your automated sprinkler controller when necessary.
  • Following the year-round assigned day watering, watering your lawn and garden only when needed, and avoiding watering during the heat of the day or when it is windy.
  • Chose climate appropriate plant material and consider xeriscape landscaping.
  • Using a rain barrel to collect rainwater for watering your plants.
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway, sidewalk or patio.

By working together, we can respond to drought conditions that are stubbornly continuing into 2024 and ensure that we have enough water for our current and future needs, while also preserving the natural beauty and ecological diversity of our region.

For more WaterSmart tips,


A year of progress and promise - January 2, 2024

By Mayor Tom Dyas

Happy New Year, Kelowna! As we usher in 2024, I would like to reflect on my exciting first year as your mayor and the journey we have undertaken together. While the path toward progress is ongoing and the work is continual, I am filled with optimism and enthusiasm for the new year and future of our beautiful city.

We have taken some significant steps forward as a community. And thanks to the contributions, support, and hard work of my council colleagues, residents, staff, community partners, other levels of government, and the local business community, we can collectively take pride in our accomplishments which have laid the foundation for a bright year ahead.

As we wrap up the year, I want to share with you some 2023 projects that especially stand out to me that I believe will have some of the most significant impacts for our community.

The introduction of the one per cent community safety levy, which has been instrumental in our ability to fund 31 new RCMP and 11 bylaw officers and other safety related positions for 2023 and 2024; I also want to thank Kelowna RCMP for their incredible work over the past year. Their latest report (January 1 to August 31) noted a 43.9 per cent decline in business break and enter, 40.8 per cent decrease in auto theft, 38.7 per cent decrease in bike theft, 30.6 per cent reduction in theft from a motor vehicle, and 10.7 per cent decrease in residential break and enter.

An agreement, under the Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF), will provide $31.5 million in federal funding to eliminate barriers to building the housing we need faster. The memorandum of understanding with the Province of B.C. formalizes our commitment to work together to better support people who are unhoused.  Work is underway to open 120 new units on both Crowley Ave and Highway 97.  In addition, the City is in the process of identifying a possible future third site that could accommodate another potential 60 units. 

Council is pleased the City will take a more active role working with local social-serving sector organizations and other partners to address current and emerging complex social issues in 2024.  The Social Development team, approved by Council in the 2024 budget, will increase the focus on long-term upstream prevention of the flow into homelessness, and will support initiatives that address broader housing needs, advance social wellness advocacy, and expand partnership opportunities.

Establishing the 13-member Mayor’s Task Force on Crime Reduction was also very important to me. As chair, I’d like to thank the community stakeholders who have committed their time and expertise to help develop community-driven initiatives to reduce crime in Kelowna.

I’m also happy to see the many important infrastructure and community projects advanced in 2023, including the YLW terminal expansion; waterfront park in the Pandosy town centre as well as the Strathcona, DeHart, Truswell land acquisition, Ballou and Glenmore parks projects; indoor recreation facility strategy; North End Plan; and bike valet program.

With funding approval in place, 2023 also brought the commencement of the Building a Stronger Kelowna legacy project that will see the construction of two new activity centres for all-ages in Mission and Glenmore, enhanced sports fields in Rutland, the redevelopment of Parkinson Recreation Centre, and further development of community partnership opportunities with key partners such as Okanagan College and UBCO.

A major highlight of the year for me were the results of our advocacy work. The City has been a leading advocate, in collaboration with other B.C. Municipalities, responding to the Province’s illicit drug decriminalization pilot project. Local governments are requesting that  playgrounds, spray and wading pools, and skate parks be added to the province’s list of areas where possession of illicit drugs is banned (including within six metres of all building entrances and bus stops and within all parks, beaches and sports fields).  With the legislation related to exemptions are now on hold due to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling last week, we will continue our advocacy efforts.

The City also continues to advocate to Interior Health to deliver more and better access to substance use treatments, supports and complex care housing in conjunction with decriminalization, and appropriate levels of consequence for repeat property and violent offenders. Kelowna has been a leading voice for bail reforms to address repeat offending including through our Community Confidence in Justice Advocacy Paper.

Our grant and advocacy work also resulted in significant investment in 2023 from senior levels of government, including over $26 million, through the BC Growing Communities Fund, for infrastructure to support our fast-growing community; $28.5 million in funding to support the addition of 359 much needed childcare spaces in our community; and investments and recognition for ecological restoration and fuel management in the face of this summer’s unprecedented Grouse Complex wildfire.

In addition to funding for the Island Stage rejuvenation, Kelowna also received significant funding to improve, grow and start electrifying regional transit service through upgrades to the current transit facility, transit exchanges and prep for a new transit operations centre. The total project costs are $29.3 million, with senior levels of government contributing the majority of the funding to BC Transit through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to advance the work.

Other 2023 highlights include helping to facilitate a permanent home for the Kelowna Famers’ and Crafters’ Market; completing Kelowna’s housing needs assessment; advancing 2200 new rental and for-purchase housing units in the community; and record-breaking building permit construction value, which was up approximately 46 per cent from $1.2 billion in 2022 to $1.76 billion in 2023. We also welcomed some exciting events including the Pan Continental Curling Championships, the BreakOut West music festival, and were named host of Curling Canada’s 2025 Brier.

While there is much to celebrate from last year, we also recognize have a lot of work to do. Holding us accountable for the strategic shifts, improvements and changes you want to see is an important part of local government and why we have introduced things like a lobbyist registry and code of conduct for Council; six-month Council priority progress reporting; and a financial health dashboard to show how the city is performing financially year-to-year and how prepared it is to meet future obligations.

Transparency and listening to residents on matters that are important to them, such as Kelowna Springs Golf and Country Club, the creation of the Community Task Force for Performing Arts, and the implementation of value-added audits are an essential part of the democratic process. Your engagement, feedback, and enthusiasm through channels, such as and Council correspondence, help Council make the decisions that support a high quality of life. I encourage you to visit to view the latest public progress report, including details on the 80 Council priority actions undertaken in the last year.

As we reflect on the past year, as our strength and resiliency has been tested, it is crucial to recognize that this progress would not have been possible without the active participation and support of our residents.

On the cusp of a new year, I am excited to see what we can achieve together in the next 12 months. I invite you to join me and all of council in making our city the best it can be. Together, we can make our city a place where everyone thrives and belongs.

Embracing the Spirit of the Season - December 4, 2023

By Mayor Tom Dyas

As the holiday season approaches, I am filled with immense gratitude for the community we call home. While I’ve always known how fortunate I am to live in Kelowna, this past year as mayor has further opened my eyes to the many aspects, in particular the people, community organizations and businesses, that make this community truly extraordinary.  

As we come upon the close of 2023, what stands out to me most is the collective spirit, contributions and commitment from residents, staff and our many partners as we’ve worked together to address our community priorities and explore opportunities to achieve our shared vision of a welcoming, prosperous, and sustainable future for our community.  

As you gather with your friends and family over the holiday season, I invite you to celebrate all the things that Kelowna has to offer. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, entertainment or just the quiet beauty of our surroundings, I encourage you to get out in the community and enjoy the season. 

While it has many special qualities, one of the great aspects of our city is the diverse collection of local businesses that add character and vitality to our streets. Last month I had the privilege of attending the Kelowna Chamber Business Excellence Awards to celebrate the outstanding efforts of the people and organizations that are leading the way in our local business community. 

The Central Okanagan is home to nearly 10,000 small businesses with over 70 percent of these small businesses having less than five employees. These small businesses are the drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth in our city and I’m grateful for all that they bring to our community. This holiday season, let us make a conscious effort to shop local and support the many businesses that contribute to the overall vibrancy of our community. 

There is no shortage of local activities and events happening throughout December and into the holidays, so I also encourage you to make some extra time for fun as we wind down the year. Take in a hockey game or a live performance at one of our theatres. Engage in free activities such as taking the family out for a hike or snowshoe in nature or a skate at Stuart Park. Visit to explore other free activities like the family holiday skate at Rutland Arena on December 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and the Valley First New York New Years event on December 31 in Stuart Park from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can also check out the event page at and be a tourist in your own town, or simply take some time to visit one of our many parks or beaches to appreciate the yearlong beauty of our natural environment.  

It’s important to recognize that for some the holidays can be a challenging time. Let's also take a moment to extend a helping hand to those in need of our support. Whether it's volunteering at a local charity, donating a gift for a child, or checking in on a neighbour, every act of kindness, no matter how small, contributes to the well-being of our community.   

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other tradition, I hope that above all you experience in some way the warmth that defines the holidays, and the values that unite us as a community, such as kindness, generosity, and gratitude. 

As we get ready to usher in a New Year, I want to thank you all for making Kelowna a great place to live. It is an honour and a privilege to serve as your mayor, and to work with you to make our city better every day. I am proud of what we have accomplished together over the past year, and I am optimistic about what we can achieve in the future.  

Happy holidays, Kelowna.  

Multiple climate change actions add up to big steps forward - November 6, 2023

By Mayor Tom Dyas

I want to take a moment to reflect on the summer we experienced and the incredible teamwork and dedication we saw throughout our region during the wildfires.

The collaboration between municipal fire departments, BC Wildfire Service, local governments and thousands of volunteers was inspiring and I am very thankful for everyone’s service to our region.

It is going to take a similar spirit of prolonged teamwork and collaboration to combat the root cause of the wildfires and floods our region has experienced over the past several years.

Local and regional governments influence approximately 50 per cent of the nation’s overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, so we are intent on trying to influence our community’s shift toward a low-carbon lifestyle and respond effectively to climate impacts.

The City of Kelowna’s actions have always focused on doing what we can to mitigate factors contributing to climate change along with making adaptations to limit the effects of climate change.

As the City’s current five-year Community Climate Action Plan reaches the end of its life, staff are in the process of developing the next phase of a Climate Resilient Kelowna Strategy that will map out plans to reduce our carbon footprint and continue the process of rebuilding our city in a more sustainable way. That strategy is expected to be completed early in 2024.  

We know that we must continue to provide options to help Kelowna residents reduce GHG emissions.

Along with promoting healthy lifestyles, the City has invested heavily in Active Transportation Corridors and encouraged other modes of travelling around our city in ways that reduce GHG emissions – walking, cycling, scooters, electric bikes, transit and supporting the use of ride sharing opportunities.

At the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver, I met with Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming to discuss progress on a new transit operation centre, which we need to expand and improve local transit service. The City of Kelowna will benefit from $9 million in senior government funding that will see upgrades at our current transit facility for service expansion and initial electric battery procurement for buses. In addition, funding will help advance the design of the new transit operations centre that will allow expanded transit service and the electrification of the entire fleet over time.

Decarbonizing new and existing buildings has also been a major component in meeting the City’s GHG emissions reduction targets. The 50-year-old Parkinson Recreation Centre, for example, is one of the largest emitters of GHG among all City of Kelowna properties, and we expect the new facility to be a net-zero carbon building. We are also developing an energy concierge pilot program to support homeowners through what can be a complicated home energy retrofit journey.

In 2018, YLW became carbon accredited through Airports Council International (ACI) and its Carbon Accreditation program. As part of the ongoing program, in June 2022, YLW received Level 2 Carbon Accreditation from ACI, gaining recognition of our efforts to measure and reduce our GHG emissions. We are currently working on a plan to further reduce energy consumption and to meet our commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

The City has a Strategic Energy Management Plan that is targeting a GHG emissions reduction of 40 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030 for all corporate facilities and will implement equipment upgrades accordingly.

Current actions to reduce GHG emissions include:

  • Focusing growth in the five urban centres and along major transit corridors with a goal of putting more people and more jobs within easy walking distance of reliable, direct transit service.
  • Developing an energy concierge pilot program to support homeowners with energy retrofits.
  • Top-up rebates for heat pump space heating, heat pump water heaters, electrical service upgrades, and EV (Electric Vehicle) chargers in multi-unit residential buildings.
  • Amendments to the zoning bylaw to include EV ready requirements for new residential developments.
  • A new Climate Action and Environmental Stewardship Department to apply a climate lens to policy development and decisions.
  • 22 EV chargers on City properties with plans to install more.
  • Completed a deconstruction pilot project on city-owned homes to assess waste reduction options and reduce lifecycle GHG emissions.
  • Continued the Neighbourwoods Program to encourage citizens to help grow and preserve Kelowna’s urban forestEnvironmental protection and climate change adaptation are also essential for the City of Kelowna as we take measures to protect our beautiful landscape.

Environmental protection and climate change adaptation are also essential for the City of Kelowna as we take measures to protect our beautiful landscape.

The City of Kelowna was recently awarded the Climate & Energy Action Award at UBCM for our FireSmart Community Chipping Program, which has collected well over 100 metric tonnes of vegetation to reduce wildfire risk.

Other environmental protection and climate adaptation initiatives that have been in place include:

  • Continued work on Mill Creek Flood Protection Project (year four of an eight-year project) to improve flood passage and public safety on Mill Creek.
  • Initiated development of a Water Security Plan.
  • Amended the Development Application Procedures Bylaw to require pre-development tree inventory to identify trees that may require root zone protection and help ensure trees proposed for the development are retained and protected.
  • Finalizing a Sustainable Urban Forestry Strategy to expand Kelowna’s urban tree canopy (this year more than 1000 trees were planted).
  • Continued implementation of the Community Wildfire Resilience Plan.

Along with Council’s other priorities of acting on crime and safety, affordable housing, homelessness, transportation, and agriculture, we have a lot of important work to do. An Oct. 16 report to Council at the six-month point since priorities were developed provided encouraging evidence that we are making progress on all priorities.

Ultimately, for Kelowna to become resilient to climate change, it will require collaboration with all levels of government, businesses and organizations, and the broader community. At the time of writing this article, conversations are happening between the federal and provincial government regarding the federal carbon tax. It will be interesting to see how the policy evolves in the coming weeks, months and years. Nonetheless, as a local government, we are uniquely positioned to influence this shift and how our community will grow, how we commute, interact and protect natural assets to maintain the quality of life we cherish in Kelowna.

We will all breathe easier if we work together to protect our environment and lessen the impacts on our warming climate. This is something the City has done in the past and I can assure you that Council will continue to use a climate lens when reviewing City policies, infrastructure, and programs.

Housing opportunities always top Council agenda for action - October 16, 2023

By Mayor Tom Dyas

Kelowna continues to attract new residents from across the country and around the world. Encouraging the development of more housing to accommodate everyone who wants to call Kelowna home is a challenge Council has embraced and has propelled Kelowna into a leadership role among municipalities in Canada.

Meanwhile, the number of people experiencing homelessness in our city has more than doubled in the past year.

City Council is focused on finding solutions to both these challenges and we work every day to encourage actions that move us forward and make Kelowna a model for other communities to emulate.

Statistics Canada data found the Kelowna Census Metropolitan Area’s population grew by 14 per cent from 2016 to 2021 – the fastest rate of growth in Canada – and indications are that pace will continue. Our city’s population is projected to increase by 40,000 in the next 17 or 18 years.

Our well-diversified local economy, an international airport, large university and college campuses, our beautiful natural environment, Okanagan Lake, the spectacular parks, beaches and recreation facilities we’ve developed, ski resorts, golf courses and more than 200 wineries in the region all combine to explain why so many people want to live here.

With Kelowna’s pace of population growth, the City’s challenge is to accommodate new residents with diverse housing options, while maintaining attainable housing for families who already live here, for our senior citizens, and those with low- to moderate incomes.

According to data published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Kelowna recorded 1,853 housing starts as of July, almost 85 per cent of which were townhouses or condominiums.

That housing construction pace puts Kelowna ahead of the entire province of New Brunswick (1,685) and is behind only Canada’s largest cities.

The City has topped the $1 billion mark for the third consecutive year in terms of the value of construction projects underway in 2023.

Market housing is strong. But when we talk about housing at the municipal level, we most often focus on what the City can do to encourage more affordable housing, more purpose-built rentals, more supportive housing, managing short-term rentals, advocating to the Province for more complex care housing, and more shelter space and other forms of housing outside the regular real estate market.

Since Council was sworn in 11 months ago, we have prioritized the development of a variety of housing types, including affordable housing and finding solutions for the critical need to better support our homeless population. We are doing this in a number of ways:

  • Allocating $1.5 million of surplus to City’s Housing Opportunities Reserve Fund to purchase lands to meet the most urgent housing needs of our community
  • Providing City-owned land to build affordable housing, as we did with the 75 homes at Pleasantvale 2, with housing for seniors, low-income families and people with disabilities, along with the 68 new homes at Hadgraf-Wilson Place on City-owned land on Bertram Avenue.
  • These housing developments support another Council objective to increase number of rental units with below-market rents.
  • We continue to advocate for additional Complex Care Centre, including a model similar to the Red Fish Healing Centre.
  • Staff continue to work with partners to identify a site that is suitably located and zoned for Kelowna’s first purpose-built shelter.
  • I have met numerous times with Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, most recently at the Union of BC Municipalities convention, to advocate for increased BC Housing investments and supports for shelter, supportive and affordable housing spaces in our community.
  • Work progresses on solutions to provide transitional housing, with details of this year’s approach to be shared with residents shortly.
  • Applying for funding through the federal Housing Accelerator Fund to accelerate housing in Kelowna through adjusting regulations, investing in land and infrastructure, and updating systems.

Last Thursday, B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon, joined me in Kelowna to announce a partnership that will see the addition of 120 units of transitional emergency shelter over multiple sites in the coming months. This marks a significant step forward in our collective commitment to tackling homelessness. The City will provide land and the Province will provide capital and operating investments and supports for this and other solutions into the future.

Kelowna will be the first location in the Interior to use a tiny-home solution, which features small single-room units that are quick and easy to install. The first 60 units will be a Pallet village, which is just one example of the City’s ongoing efforts to explore all options for people experiencing homelessness. I traveled to Everett, Wash., with staff earlier this year to visit the Pallet warehouse and village. We saw first-hand how these transitional, modular, single- and double-occupancy housing units are constructed and operated for people who would otherwise have no roof over their heads. Each shelter can be assembled in under an hour.

I can assure you we are all working hard to get these units ready to welcome people as soon as possible. Continuing on the path of partnership, BC Housing and the City will be providing more detailed information in the coming weeks as plans are finalized.

I also thank the Province for providing Homeless Encampment Action Response Teams (HEART) support for our community. HEART is a new multi-disciplinary regional program designed to rapidly respond to encampments and better support people sheltering outdoors to move inside.

Getting back to affordable housing side of things, our latest Housing Needs Assessment found that affordability challenges, smaller household sizes and shifting preferences have led to increased demand for smaller units in multiple-dwelling buildings. There is a need for a significant increase in the delivery of subsidized rental housing, which will require unprecedented collaboration and partnership. Staff is currently working on a Housing Strategy to ensure Kelowna has the breadth of housing required to meet the varied needs of our citizens.

That is a big reason why we are moving into the next phase of our infill housing for urban centres. Efficiently using City infrastructure by adding new housing to central neighbourhoods is vital to the long-term health of our community.

The City is working to ensure that infill housing is high-quality and designed to complement surrounding neighbourhoods. This form of housing is more financially attainable, and it is far more financially and environmentally sustainable compared to suburban development.

The City of Kelowna has demonstrated we can approve housing quickly enough to meet demand, but it is the pace of housing construction that needs to increase.

Based on permitting trends and our engagement with the development community, we know the sector is experiencing challenges in terms of sourcing labour, along with supply chain issues, rising costs and interest rates.

Finally, I want to say that the City of Kelowna is having a very close look at short-term rentals. After a preliminary report to Council this summer, Council has directed staff to return to Council with an approach that is more restrictive moving forward. Short-term rentals have had a negative impact on our long-term house stock and in part has contributed to the raising costs of both home ownership and rentals.

Housing and shelter needs are not unique to Kelowna. We certainly feel the pressure more because of our rapid population growth, but I know from speaking to mayors all across our province that this housing crunch is a provincial and national crisis.

I want to assure you that the City of Kelowna is exploring every opportunity to alleviate the housing pressures our community is experiencing, and I hope this information contributes to the conversation about how we can move forward together.

We understand that more people are going to move to Kelowna for the same reasons many of us live here – for the quality of life we enjoy. Council is committed to balancing growth and the related future infrastructure needs to ensure we are a healthy community with quality-of-life investments in parks, recreation, transportation and opportunities to enhance our housing stock.

Wildfire risk reduction is top of mind - September 18, 2023

By Mayor Tom Dyas

On Aug. 15, twenty years — almost to the day — after the start of the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park fire, flames from the McDougall Creek wildfire ignited our city’s skyline and quickly reminded us of the power of both wildfire and our regional emergency program.

More than 500 firefighters and 100 RCMP officers from more than 50 cities and towns joined forces with the Kelowna Fire Department, West Kelowna Fire Rescue, Lake Country Fire Department, North Westside Fire Rescue, Wilson's Landing Fire Department, BC Wildfire Service, Kelowna RCMP and Bylaw Services to execute an unprecedented, coordinated response.

While there will always be lessons to be learned in any emergency response, I am truly humbled by what was, and still is being, accomplished by the incredible work of our first responders and emergency operations centre. While a strong emergency response program is key, in the wake of a crisis that threatened lives and destroyed people’s homes, we all want to know what we can do to minimize the risk of wildfire in our community in the future.

First and foremost, we must recognize that the intensity and sheer number of wildfires we’ve seen across Canada and beyond are what many are now calling a climate change wake-up call, and one of the many reasons why climate/environment is one of six Council priorities. From the way we travel, to the electricity we use, and the food we eat, we all have a role to play in helping to limit climate change. Because, as temperatures rise, so too will the size, frequency and severity of wildfires.

Wildfire risk reduction is also top of mind in the community. Fuel mitigation treatments reduce the amount of available fire fuels in our natural areas, which plays a significant role in our ability to manage wildfire as safely and as quickly as possible. Over the past five years, the City has actioned over 100 hectares of fuel mitigation treatments on city-owned land, including reducing the amount of woody debris on the forest floor, thinning trees where necessary, and removing the lower limbs of trees to help keep fire from climbing into the canopy.

The success of fuel mitigation, including work done in Wilden during this fire and earlier in the season on Knox Mountain, speaks to the importance of proactive treatment and the need to look at all the different ways it can be accomplished—including securing ongoing, long-term funding and the way we explore new solutions, such as prescribed burns or the use of animals for grazing in key areas.

Residents can also make a critical difference by visiting to learn how to FireSmart their homes and take advantage of the City’s free community chipping program. Frontline fire fighters 2 said the homes and areas that were FireSmart made an integral difference in their ability to fight the recent fire safely and save properties.

New subdivisions in Kelowna are subject to review against Wildfire Hazard Development Permit guidelines which are reviewed by professional foresters. Developers are required to perform fuel modification and new single family lots created in fire hazard areas have maintenance obligations registered on their land title related to building construction and property maintenance in accordance with Fire Smart guidelines.

The Provincial Community Resiliency Investment (CRI) Program and 2022–2026 Community Wildfire Resiliency Plan, which contains over 40 recommendations from standardizing fuel management to how we build our communities, have been integral to completing wildfire prevention activities that have and will continue to reduce risk for our community especially as we face extreme fire and weather conditions.

The CRI program is a provincial funding program administered through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to provide funds for communities to plan and implement actions to reduce wildfire risk. Through the program over the last five years, we have been awarded $730,000, which has supported a variety of important FireSmart and mitigation initiatives throughout the community.

This year we were also successful in receiving a federal grant of $132,000 for ecological restoration and fuel management. As we return to normal, post wildfire, the City will be assessing impact to City property, as well as whether any intervention required to support a healthy regeneration of the area. In addition, the regional emergency program will be looking at lessons learned to apply to future events in our region. I am pleased to see conversations occurring at both the federal and provincial levels regarding resiliency and response and welcome Premier Eby’s emergency response task force announced just last week.

We will also reflect on the depth of our city’s spirit and unity through this event. It got us through a crisis and will undoubtedly be the key to achieving our collective community goals and vision for an inclusive, welcoming, prosperous and sustainable future.

Community safety is job one - August 14, 2023

By Mayor Tom Dyas

Following through on my pledge to provide transparent, clear communication to Kelowna’s residents, this is my first article in a monthly column dedicated to providing you with background and insights into Council decisions and City business.  

One Council priority that receives a lot of attention and demands a lot of staff and Council effort is community safety. While I see firsthand the efforts being made throughout the community to address one of our city’s most pressing issues, the most recent Crime Severity Index illustrates there is still much work to be done.  

I cannot imagine where we would be without the incredible dedication and support we receive from community partners and organizations, businesses and citizens who work every day to keep our community safe.

I want you to know that I see and hear the frustration and anger when it comes to safety. I read the letters you send to Council, I see your comments on social media, and I hear you when you tell me in person that you are concerned. I want you to know that as your mayor and neighbour, I wholeheartedly share these concerns.  That is why I recently appointed 13 community members to a Mayor’s Task Force on Crime Reduction, which I personally chair. The inaugural meeting was held mid-July and I can tell you that each of the task force members has a sincere interest in making a difference in our City and they are laser-focused on immediate actions to improve our sense of safety and quality of life in Kelowna.  

In addition to the new task force, Council has directed a number of initiatives to make an impact on the issues under local control. We are working closely with the RCMP and other partners on meaningful short-term and long-term actions that reduce crime. In the City’s 2023 Financial Plan, spending on Community Safety represents 43 per cent of our overall $176.6 million total taxation demand – the largest investment we make among all departments. For 2023, Council has approved an ongoing one-per-cent community levy that will hire 13 new community safety staff, including six RCMP officers and four Bylaw Services staff.

Addressing this complex issue—including the root causes of crime—will take time. I know people are tired of waiting, but we are finally seeing some results. Kelowna’s year-to-date statistics from the RCMP show a promising drop in non-violent, property crime:

Break and Enter (down 39%)

Theft from Motor Vehicle (down 34%)

Theft Other (down 18%)

While progress is being made, I know that a lot of work remains to be done to address local crime and safety concerns. That is why it is important to implement new creative ideas to mitigate crime. For example, bike theft is a significant contributor to Kelowna’s high crime rate. That’s why we implemented the City’s new Bike Valet pilot program, and the recent introduction of the Community Safety and Business Safety toolkits, providing meaningful, effective, and practical solutions to help address community safety and reduce crime in our city.  

The challenges we face are not unique to Kelowna and, sadly, we are seeing an increase in homelessness, open drug use, mental health issues and social disorder throughout our community.   

Since being elected last November, I have met with Mayors across British Columbia and Canada, and I can tell you every community is facing the same challenges. There are many contributing factors, and we all want to find solutions.    

As the level of government most accessible to residents, Council understands and appreciates hearing from residents about local concerns so that we can advocate for solutions from other levels of government with the jurisdiction, resources and responsibility for these issues. You can help our advocacy efforts by directly sharing your experiences with your federal Member of Parliament, provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly and Interior Health.

Our local MPs are Tracy Gray and Dan Albas Our local MLAs are Renee Merrifield, Ben Stewart, and Norm Letnick

You may also want to include Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon at, the Minister of Public Safety, Solicitor General and Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth at, and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside at You can also include Interior Health at to help us advocate for the necessary complex care required to meet the needs of our community.

I want you to know that while we are working to make improvements and seeing some results, I know it is not enough-that’s why I promise to work tirelessly to address crime and community safety here in Kelowna.

In the meantime, please be assured that Council will work hard over the next four years on this priority, and we are open to your suggestions and opinions on local solutions to address our community’s priorities. We will make Kelowna a safer city by listening to our residents and working together. 

You can reach us at