Penticton and South Okanagan
Candidates tackle issues
Aug 27, 2013 / 11:17 pm
Penticton city council candidates introduced themselves and tackled issues including the deer cull, job creation, council transparency and tourism, Tuesday night.
The five council candidates and three mayoral candidates were on hand for a forum held at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, hosted by James Miller, managing editor at the Penticton Herald.
Each was given the opportunity to provide opening remarks and answer questions, prior to the upcoming byelection in the city.
Council candidates spoke first, followed by those running for mayor.
Katie Robinson, a former councillor, told the good-sized crowd she was interested in fiscal responsibility for their tax dollars and a long term vision for Penticton, while Lynnn Kelsey stressed she was the people's advocate running on truth, trust and transparency.
Andre Martin said he was a proponent of economic development, neighbourhood associations and youth engagement.
Patrick Buchanan told those gathered he was a family man and community volunteer, who wants to see the city progress into the future as a place to live forever.
Kevin Andrews shared that he doesn't have a platform or an agenda, but believes he can make a difference on council.
When asked about the current council being open and transparent, Robinson said she was a strong proponent for going back to the committee as a whole, while Andrews said it is a lot easier for us to sit on this side of the table than on that side of the table.
Buchanan said he believes all councils have to be honest with the people who put them there.
Kelsey said she has seen some improvement, but would like to see more openness. Whereas Martin said, we have to trust them.
When asked about economic development and job creation, Buchanan said when he graduated from high school, it was all light industry in the city, but he was not sure how to answer the question. Kelsey said economic development is critical to keep young people here and she would like to see a living wage come into the city.
Martin said opportunities with the high tech sector should be looked at, saying it's clear that industry brings in young people who can work from anywhere, so why not here.
Robinson addressed business opportunities related to the seniors in the community, while Andrews said this is a tourism and senior based community, so there needs to be a focus on the idea of a four season playground to bring people in.
On the matter of tourism dollars, Kelsey said it was important to invite tourists here year round. Martin stressed the biggest thing he hears from people in Calgary is they need a direct flight to Penticton.
Robinson liked the idea of really concentrating on the city's convention centre, which is the second biggest in BC after Vancouver, she said.
Andrews believes linking up with other communities will draw people here, and Buchanan stressed promoting the South Okanagan Events Centre as a world class events center and bringing in more softball events and ecotourism.
Mayoral candidates Garry Litke, Vic Powell and Brian Henningson were given the same opportunities to give opening remarks and answer questions.
Litke talked about fresh starts, in terms of the recently held Challenge Penticton, the contract with the SOEC and the city's new pool.
All of these starts were achieved with fiscal management, but there is one that remains unfinished, the hospital, he said.
That project needs to get done and done right, he said.
Henningson described himself as not being a traditional politician, but a guy who doesn't want to waste millions of dollars on things that are not needed in the city.
He said he will not be led around by the nose, but will be a leader Penticton needs.
Powell stated his military background gives him the experience it takes to be a leader.
His promise to taxpayers was to meet the needs of the commuity, by focusing on infrastructure, rather than spending millions on other projects.
On controversial issues such as the deer cull, Henningson said he doesn't see there being a deer problem in Penticton, and he enjoys them. Litke talked about the problems other communities, like Invermere, have encountered dealing with urban deer.
He further talked about experiments being done with border collies to se if they can herd deer, much in the way that sheep are herded.
Powell took much the same stand as Henningson saying he does not see the deer as a problem.
In response to a question asking what can be done to make Penticton a more desirable tourist destination, Litke said Apex is sadly utilized and has the potential to bring in huge numbers. There are activities in the shoulder seasons, but much more needs to be done, he explained.
Powell suggested combining the two tourist operations in the city and going after more international tourists.
Henningson agreed combining the two entities would be better for tourism.
In response to perhaps the toughest question of the night, regarding the failed hockey dormitory, Powell said as far as he was concerned the decision on the Eckhardt property was a backroom deal and the city let taxpayers down, leaving them on the hook for $3 million.
Henningson said ditto to what Powell said.
Whereas Litke admitted it was not the best of times, and the deal certainly went sideways.
He said, however, he didn't know where the $3 million, Powell quoted, came from, saying legal costs will get up there, but the $3 million was ludicrous.
A lot of interest has been expressed in the property, he added.
The forum did not draw a full house, but a decent sized crowd was on hand to hear the candidates speak.
The byelection will be held on Sept. 7 in the city.
Read more Penticton / S. Okanagan News
City of Penticton
Penticton Discussion Forum
Penticton & Wine Country Chamber
Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen
District of Summerland
Summerland Chamber & Tourism
Town of Oliver
Town of Osoyoos
Town of Keremeos
School District 67 - Okanagan Skaha
School District 53 - Okanagan Similkameen
Okanagan Regional Library
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