Why Ron Cannan was the lone vote against Kelowna's 2024 budget

Budget shy on resources?

Say this much for Kelowna city councillor Ron Cannan — he's consistent.

At least when it comes to city budgets.

Cannan, who sat through his second budget during his recent term on council Thursday, was the lone dissenting voice, just as he was a year ago.

Following Thursday's day-long deliberations in which council settled on a provisional budget of 4.75 per cent, Cannan said he was of two minds on where council end up, saying there were good aspects of the budget and areas that "really concerned me."

On the positive side, he pointed to the fact council agreed to hire 16 more RCMP officers, six firefighters and six bylaw officers.

"We'll have a foot patrol in Rutland and a downtown presence and I think that's very positive," said Cannan.

"One of my biggest concerns, and I indicated it all along with our director of finance and staff, was that I was looking for something more in line with the Consumer Price Index, 3.1 per cent.

"I thought we should be able to manage our city's growth at no higher a tax rate that the level of CPI. Our population growth is 2.1 per cent yet this budget supports growing our staff at 4.1 per cent."

That was his biggest issue — putting a premium on staff over services, especially for those most vulnerable in the city.

Downloading of social services onto cities by senior levels of government is a concern, Cannan told Castanet, but hiring five new staff members and creating a whole new department isn't the way to reduce the number of homeless on our streets or those with mental health issues.

"We treat our animals better than some of these people. I think there are ways the city could have provided funding to help," Cannan said, pointing to services such as Metro Community's hygiene centre which lost its provincial funding and work being done by Freedom's Door to secure long term housing.

"Instead of just hiring administrative staff, invest that money and put it to better use."

He used the analogy that if it's raining and you have a hole in the roof you fix the roof instead of buying more pails.

"I feel we are running around and getting more pails.

"We can better use city funds to help support program for the homeless."

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