Gray: Anti Kelowna story 'lazy reporting'

A feature article in Sunday's edition of The Province ripping Kelowna as a drunken, violent city overrun by gangs and out-of-control sprawl obviously didn't sit too well at City Hall.

Mayor Walter Gray characterized the three page spread as a piece of 'lazy reporting' that was 'void of statistics' and lacked proof of the comments it made.

"I think the story was driven by the double murder in Westbank (last Monday) and they compiled that with the murder at the Grand Hotel and said 'My God,' Kelowna is the new crime capital of Canada and they started to develop a story out of it with a lot of lazy reporting," stated Gray following Monday's sitting of City Council.

"It's disappointing and it hurts our community pride, although I haven't had one citizen call me and say you're right or they're right or you shouldn't be slagged like that.  I guess it's one of those stories that will come and go and fills a lot of space in a newspaper from Vancouver that appeals to younger males who want to buy electronics."

He says the story was very damaging.

"Not that we should be blessed with positive press all the time, but at least give some detail and be specific with what you are saying about our city and give us credit where credit is due. And, don't malign things that we have no control over."

The story intimated the Aug. 14, 2011 murder of gangster Jonathon Bacon in front of the Grand Hotel was a 'wake-up call' for the city and cited that murder, along with other drug/gang related murders in the city, high crime statistics and sprawl is causing Kelowna's ripe reputation to disappear.

"That's not a wake-up call, that's a slam between the eyes," says Gray noting a change within the RCMP since the Bacon murder and a change in how City Council views its responsibility in terms of being champions for public safety.

Gray says the story also did not acknowledge a new 'style of policing' now going on in the city.

"We've moved from a reactive style to a proactive and targeted style. That's why the statistics came out on drunk driving. The Kelowna RCMP are really out there not allowing anybody to get away with anything," says Gray.

"When the statistics came out on drinking and driving I said that's good news. What that tells the world is if you are going to drink and drive don't come to Kelowna and do it because we are going to catch you."

The mayor says the city will respond to the article and agrees that, while not planned, inviting the reporter or other editorial staff from The Province to Kelowna may not be a bad idea.

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