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Which Kelowna mayoral candidate will you vote for?

Poll: Kelowna mayoral vote

The top two contenders in Kelowna's race for the mayor's chair went toe-to-toe Tuesday during a Chamber of Commerce sponsored debate.

Incumbent Colin Basran and top challenger, Tom Dyas, used the format to engage in some spirited back-and-forth on issues of crime and collaboration.

Basran drew the ire of the crowd at the Mary Irwin Theatre during one of those back-and-forth moments when he took a shot at Dyas during a discussion of leadership and collaboration with senior levels of government.

"Relationships take time to build, they don't happen overnight," said Basran.

"And, while I appreciate that Mr. Dyas lobbied one time five years ago to the federal minister of finance only to protect his own business interest as a result of potential tax changes."

The comment drew a loud chorus of boos from those in attendance.

It was precipitated from a statement Basran had initially made, stating there are a lot of challenges ahead requiring strong leadership, while suggesting he is the only one at the table who has the necessary collaborative relationships with provincial and federal governments.

"The idea that only one mayor has connections in provincial and federal government is absurd," responded Dyas.

"Those positions change continually at provincial levels and federal levels. I have had the great opportunity over the years working with the Chamber of Commerce to deal with individuals, MPs, MLAs, ministers and to be able to communicate with them. Kelowna is the largest city in the interior. It has a voice, but it ends up that voice has not be used properly.

"That is why we are experiencing some of the things we are experiencing in our community."

The two also sparred over crime figures.

Basran took exception to comments by Dyas, portraying Kelowna as the "crime capital of Canada," on more than one occasion.

"I'm frustrated we continue to use Kelowna as the crime capital of Canada when it is clearly not. Information that is readily available that anyone can find, when you take census data and remove West Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country and WFN lands from City of Kelowna stats, we are actually 14th on the list in the province and 54th in the country in terms of where we fall across Canada," said Basran.

He produced StatsCan figures that showed that, while the Census Metropolitan Area tha encompasses the entire Central Okanagan had the highest crime rate in the country when compared against other CMAs, the city itself is 14th, behind cities such as Penticton, Langley City, and Prince George.

However, Kelowna's crime rate is significantly higher (13,489 per 100,000 population) than the 11,112 per 100,000 for the overall CMA, meaning Kelowna is actually an upward force on the regional crime rate.

"You have to ask yourself, is leadership about tarnishing the city's brand in order to make you look good, or is it about actually find solutions like dealing with repeat offenders and recognizing yes we have a problem and implementing and advocating for change as opposed to utilizing misinformation to make yourself look good," Basran said.

Dyas responded saying you can't pull Kelowna out to suit your needs, adding one-in-four residents have told him they have been victims of crime.

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