Photo: Colin Dacre
UPDATE 2:55 pm
Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas has confirmed the city will be lifting its COVID-19 vaccination policy.
As of Wednesday, Feb. 1, vaccines will no longer be a condition of employment in the City of Kelowna.
“The COVID-19 vaccination policy was reviewed by staff as planned and deemed it had served its purpose and was no longer required,” Dyas said in a brief statement.
Federal pandemic-related restrictions are also no longer in effect at Kelowna International Airport.
“It should be noted the city currently has no employees off work due to the policy, due to earlier exemptions or accommodations.”
Anyone not vaccinated for COVID-19 will soon again be able to work at the City of Kelowna.
The city is looking at removing restrictions which prevented unvaccinated people holding down a city job as early as next week, said Mayor Tom Dyas on Wednesday.
The City of Kelowna implemented a policy Dec. 13, 2021 requiring all employees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to remain on the job.
Corporate and protective services manager Stu Leatherdale told Castanet on the anniversary of the policy’s implementation that a “small handful” of employees chose to seek other employment.
Applicants with a certified medical condition, religious or other protected human rights ground may be provided an exemption from the policy, the city said at the time.
While the policy meant some people were unable to continue working at the city, it also prevented unvaccinated individuals from applying for openings at city hall.
One of those is a longtime resident of Kelowna who says he was frustrated that he can’t apply for his dream job due to his vaccination status.
Gary Oliver says he has been eyeing an electrical instrumentation position at the water treatment facility in Kelowna for years, but has gone out because he never received COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I lost the job with them at the end of 2021 because they said you can’t come for an interview unless you show proof that you are vaxxed, I said well no I am not, it is my choice not to be. They said while you have to be vaccinated.”
Oliver says he now lives and works in Prince Rupert under the federal government, which lifted its mandate in June 2022.
West Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon still require proof of vaccination to work for the municipality. Prince George lifted its mandate earlier this month.
“It is a job I have been after for many, many years and I have the experience,” Oliver said.
Oliver reached out to Castanet this week, exasperated with the situation, and when asked for comment the city disclosed it is in the process of lifting the mandate.
Oliver says he moved to Kelowna in 2001 and spent over 10 years in the city.
“I have been eyeing the Kelowna municipality ever since then. It was a big let down last year when I had to say no to the interview. It would be something I would be very proud of to work in the city. It gives you a great sense of worth in providing for the city and to be part of the team.”