Civic election: Petra Veintimilla hoping to retain spot on council

Meet Petra Veintimilla

Why would you make an effective councillor?

I bring a curiosity and a desire to understand that is often lacking in politics today. I am an open and engaged listener, and I understand that most solutions aren’t ready made.

In addition to serving two terms on town council, I have the added experience of serving two years on the RDOS as well as two years as chair of the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District.

These combined experiences have helped me to forge meaningful contacts and relationships that have proven and will continue to prove useful in effectively executing the role of councillor in the community. As a result of these experiences and opportunities I possess a unique and holistic perspective on the fundamental needs of the town’s residents, businesses, industries and institutions.

I believe the best results come from working as a team, and I believe that building relationships is the foundation of building a resilient and prosperous community.

Perhaps most importantly, I love our community and see potential everywhere I look; I am passionate about building our community in a sustainable, family-friendly, healthy, and inclusive way, and I take this position seriously.

In your view, what is the number one issue facing Oliver today, and how would you deal with it, knowing Town Hall only has so much power?

Given the complexity of the issues we face it can be difficult to prioritize just one. Like many other small rural communities in British Columbia we are dealing with issues of aging infrastructure, affordability, repeat offenders/crime, and timely access to primary care.

Many of the challenges we face are interrelated, and it is true that Town Hall often lacks the broad authority and resources to tackle these issues on its own.

All that being said, the top issue that comes up over and over in my conversations with local residents is the healthcare issue, and lack of timely access to a family physician and primary care. Timely access to primary care is so important to the health of our citizens, and a fully functioning hospital and ER is so important to the health of our community and our region.

I will continue to advocate as I have at a regional and provincial level for healthcare in our community, and while I recognize that healthcare is a provincial mandate I would like to explore the idea of municipal involvement in a community primary care clinic, that would not only help to attract but also to retain the family physicians we so desperately need.

What is absolutely certain is that team work and cooperation with other levels of government and organizations are required to develop viable solutions for our community.

How would you make Oliver more affordable?

Affordability is one of the issues we face as a population that has so many external factors determining the outcome that it can leave one wondering where to start.

As a council affordability is an issue that is constantly top of mind. We have approved more in-fill multi-family developments in this community over the past year than what feels like in the previous four years combined. We have attempted to find a balance with the needs of community members and tourism by keeping as much housing as possible in the local rental market and ensuring that vacation rentals exist in a home that is occupied full time, in one of the most innovative vacation rental policies in the region.

Going forward, we should look at incentivizing rapid builds of multi-family projects once they have been approved. We must continue to encourage (and perhaps incentivize) increased density where appropriate by way of secondary suites, carriage houses, and possibly tiny homes. And of course, we must continually balance keeping taxes and fees in check while considering the current and future needs of the community.

What is one example of a time you agreed with Oliver council over the past term, and one where you disagreed?

In my opinion, the sign of a well-balanced Council that represents the views of a wide range of citizens is rigorous debate, and yes, disagreement at times.

Only with fulsome respectful conversation, varied points of view, and an ability and willingness to see things from all angles will a Council be successful in making decisions that are in the best interest of the community as a whole.

I haven’t always agreed with a final council decision, however I walk away from council meetings knowing that I have had a chance to express my point of view just like all of my colleagues have, and I can accept the decision of council as the final decision and move forward to continue advocating for the wellbeing of our community.

If you had $1 million to spend on anything for Oliver, how would you spend it?

Assuming that this million dollars just sort of fell out of the sky and into my lap, I would spend it on ‘extras’ that I think would enhance our community overall, and while they may be in a long term plan somewhere, they keep getting bumped for more urgent needs.

I would begin by handing the bulk of the money over to Parks and Rec to complete the renovation of Lion’s Park: we have a shiny new small wheels park as a beautiful start, and to that we can add a large family friendly and completely accessible play area, long term solutions for the annual water issues, agility and fun for the dog park... and more!

A complete overhaul that would make the park more of an attraction for local families and would help with the revitalization of Station Street. Could we do that for less than 1 million dollars? If so then I would take the rest and spend it on public art to enhance one of our many beautiful walking parks and downtown - done by local artists of course!

Picture Oliver 20 years from now. What are the key aspects that are making it thrive?

Great question! 20 years from now Oliver will be a bustling inclusive multi-cultural community, the true envy of the Okanagan!

We will have dynamic public spaces that are enjoyed by the community all four seasons of the year to help support the cultural, economic, and social well-being of our diverse community; Mixed use buildings will dominate the current empty lots in our downtown core on Main Street and on Station Street, and as a result these areas will be well lived in and busy with commerce and lots and lots of foot traffic; agriculture continues to be vital to the economic health of our region, and in addition generates enhanced well-being for families and the community; Our infrastructure is top-notch and we are using locally created renewable energy as a steady source in our homes, businesses, and industries.

To sum it up, in 20 years Oliver will be a place that my then 29 and 31 year old ‘kids’ will want to raise their future families in - and they’ll be able to, as the economy will be booming and the still quaint community will be welcoming, safe, and… fun!

More Penticton News