Castanet News has distributed a questionnaire to city council candidates in both Kelowna and West Kelowna to help voters get to know those putting their names forward. Between the two cities, 45 people are running for city councillor.
All candidates have been given the same questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity when needed. Responses will be published daily in the weeks ahead. An interactive database of Okanagan candidates, including previous questionnaire stories, is here and is being updated daily.
Election day is Oct. 15.
Kelowna candidate: Amarjit Singh Lalli
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
I am a long-time resident of this beautiful city. This city has allowed me to excel personally and financially. I bring experience, knowledge, and empathy to this position. If elected your voice will be heard at the council table. A fresh set of eyes is needed to address the issues that have become chronic in our city. My commitment to this city is steadfast.
In your view, what is the number one issue facing the city today, and how would you deal with it knowing city hall only has so much power?
Crime is front and centre. There are many issues intertwined with this issue such as substance abuse, mental health, and affordability. If you address these factors the crime rate will drop. My wife and I have currently navigated the system and it get a failing grade. The resources are there but there is a lack of communication within the system and the service providers. More money for family counselling is needed. We need to do a better job identifying services and their providers. The system must become easier to navigate. When you are dealing with addiction you need time and patience.
This city has become so unaffordable that no one has the time because they are working longer hours or multiple jobs just to survive. We need to end the catch and release system. A minimum two-month sentence should be served. These individuals would take life counselling classes during this period along with living in a structured setting. A Riverview type of facility should be built in all cities with a population over 200K.
It could be decades before a second bridge is built across Okanagan Lake. How do you deal with Kelowna's transportation bottleneck in the meantime?
We need traffic to flow freely. To accomplish this, we need to do a better job of syncing the lights on all major arteries. We need to extend or add left- and right-hand turn lanes so vehicles do not block the through traffic. The bottleneck at Orchard Park could be resolved by making a one-way couplet of Dilworth and Cooper. Benvoulin (from Cooper) to 97 along Dilworth could have traffic flow north and Cooper at 97 to Benvoulin could flow south.
Orchard Park is a destination so there would be very little impact on the surrounding area. You could potentially fix six intersections with this concept. I would also advocate for realigning some of our transportation priorities. McCurdy to Dilworth is scheduled for 2036-2040 and Burtch to KLO is scheduled for 2026-2030, this is not acceptable. Glenmore and Rutland residents only have three options currently, Sexsmith, Dilworth and Glenmore (Spall). It is costing them $15 to $30 extra for every taxi trip.
Kelowna also needs another viable route to Penticton on this side of the lake. This would also ease traffic on 97. The other benefit would be to the tourism sector. The whole valley could be marketed as a destination of choice. Better access for Big White, YLW, golfing, biking, wine tasting, hiking, UBCO. In the future I can envision a rail line along this route connecting Osoyoos to YLW to Vernon.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
The question should be “did we fail to plan for this surge?" Four years ago we were told that we should expect another 50K people to move to Kelowna in the next twenty years. Low interest rates, people allowed to work from home and our natural beauty all factored into our rapid growth. We are five years behind where our supply should be. We are growing fast and we are not managing it effectively.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
We need to look at increasing our supply of purposed built projects. The permanent growth boundary needs to be looked at. We need to make sure our development cost charges are equitable. I am open to all suggestions that would alleviate some of the burden off our citizens.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
If I had a million dollars, I would spend it on building a world class skate park in the city. Any money left over would go to improving the lighting along Water St. (Queensway roundabout to Sunset Dr) Also disinfecting and pressure washing the BMO Parking lot to remove the stench of urine. It is not acceptable given its location.