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: Greg Dahms
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
As a parent and long time resident in the Okanagan, I have witnessed many of the problems we are facing like higher cost of living, homelessness and urban sprawl. Having run a local business with two locations in Kelowna I created new jobs, protected our environment through recycling and up-cycling as well as worked closely with our local SPCA shelter to raise funds and awareness for the safety of animals.
Over the past few years, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many of our local residents and asking about their concerns and possible solutions to the problems facing Kelowna today. I believe my willingness to listen, learn and take action, as well as my business and community background, make me a strong choice for city council.
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?
There are many issues facing Kelowna today from crime and homelessness to the lack of reliable public transit, safety and traffic congestion. However, after speaking with many local residents, affordability and safety are fast becoming the most important issues. We need to look for a results-based approach to these problems and work with other communities across British Columbia to demand that the provincial and federal governments change their policies regarding crime, homelessness, and affordable housing.
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?
Some of the suggestions that residents shared with me are to work with city engineers to find a way to eliminate the light at the entry to the bridge on Abbott Street to help streamline the flow of traffic on and off the bridge. To focus on our transit system and create more routes and make it more reliable. In addition we could work with developers to create amenities in hillside communities so residents would be less reliant on driving. The possibility of better timing for our traffic lights might also help to reduce traffic congestion.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
No and Yes. We are growing based on the fact that Kelowna is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada and we are now on a world stage thanks to our climate, tourism and social media. But the way we grow will be more important than how quickly our population increases. At present, our utilities are in good order, however if we do not plan today for tomorrow’s growth our present systems will not be able to keep up with demand and the costs will skyrocket. We need strong infrastructure in place today in order to keep up with Kelowna’s forecasted pace of growth. We require solid, sustainable planning for our road system, transit, beaches and parks (for both pets and people), playing fields, arts and entertainment, commercial space, industrial space, community gathering facilities, housing, etc.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
From the city level we can start by spending our tax base wisely because how we utilize our tax dollars today will impact affordability in the future.
Applying for grants and creating tax incentives to build more rental and affordable housing.
Create recreation centres with affordable fees and inexpensive programs for youth, seniors and residents of Kelowna.
Look at ways to attract businesses that offer higher wages, create new jobs, in order to retain our local workforce.
Work with Tourism Kelowna to promote shop local to help local business create a strong local economy.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
I would look at ways to invest the money back into our community. $1 million is not considered a lot today but it certainly can go a long way to help some of our community programs, like Strong Neighbourhoods and the Block Connector program or our Downtown On-Call and Clean Team which do a lot to help keep our downtown safer and cleaner.