Vernon City Council Candidate.
1) Why should voters cast a ballot for you October 20?
It’s my belief that a position on council is one of service to the community.
I have always had a passion for our city and for municipal politics. I have made positive contributions to our community, I’ve volunteered with youth, been a member on boards, and gone out as an individual to create change when I see a need; whether it be cleaning up abandoned homeless camps or advocating and presenting to council to change outdated bylaws such as our beekeeping bylaw.
I have regularly been attending council meetings for the last two years and have a good rapport with many of our local nonprofits and local business owners.
I believe community matters and feel that I can work with mayor and council to create further positive change for all Vernon residents.
2) What would you consider the City of Vernon’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, and why?
Vernon’s greatest strength is our residents. Whether it’s someone who is in need of help after a fire or going to sandbag to save homes from flooding our residents answer the call.
Another strength I see in our community is in our children and youth. We have a responsibility to aid children and youth in following their passions and giving them places they can safely go.
This includes access to existing facilities and looking at ways to create new ones such as a new pool.
Our location with all of the clean water, air and beautiful landscapes are not just a strength but makes our city stand out from many other places in the world.
There’s a reason why we have continued to have strong tourism and have drawn families from many other places to live in our city.
An area I’d like to see improved on is involving and engaging the public when it comes to council activities.
I believe this has begun with the taping of council meetings and having them online but I’d love to see more opportunities for residents to be heard.
As a city, we can look at putting on regular town halls or even including periodic times in regular meetings to hear residents concerns.
Another area I’d love to see our city improve is accessibility for seniors and disabled persons in our city.
Parking, for example, is at a premium and as a city, we need to balance the implementation of bike lanes and other improvements with having a downtown that’s accessible in all seasons.
We also need to seriously look at how infrastructure projects are implemented in our city and look to ways to minimize impact to businesses and those wishing to patronize those businesses.
3) What is the biggest issue facing the City of Vernon; as a member of the Vernon City Council, how would you work to address this issue?
The main concern I’ve heard facing Vernon from residents is made up of a couple of components.
We have an affordable housing crisis coupled with homelessness and an addiction crisis.
We are not alone in this concern.
I believe the city has made some good foundational steps in working in conjunction with our Social Service agencies. My desire is to continue to build bridges with our nonprofits to address not only housing but to lobby to other levels of government.
I believe we need to work with IHA to address concerns with their harm reduction strategies and to advocate for more access for our residents to mental health services and rehab/detox beds.
I believe the city can work on addressing businesses and residents concerns by working with them to support mitigation programs and in creating a more safe and welcoming climate to our core with such acts as an increase in visible enforcement.
We as a city need to support businesses and development in investing in our city and especially our core, I would love to see a more vibrant and inviting core.
I want to engage the public and stakeholder groups in finding solutions together.
I want to look at where we can encourage industry to come here to provide higher paying jobs and look at encouraging developers to develop housing such as micro-apartments.
It’s time for progressive solutions whether that’s getting boarded up houses and buildings demolished instead of being left or in offering exchanges of variances for a per cent of affordable units in new rental developments.
As we aren’t the only community dealing with this we need to learn and network with other municipalities to see what is working and what is isn’t, not only will this help our city budget but it will allow us to coordinate strategies with other areas.
I also believe an open and honest dialogue is important with our frontline workers such as our RCMP, Bylaw, Street Nurses, etc.
In the end, by working together to solve these concerns I believe we will all experience positive results toward these challenges.
4) How do you see the future of the cannabis industry in the City of Vernon after legalization?
The legalization of cannabis is coming whether we desire it or not. I believe that the cannabis industry, in general, is a large opportunity for employment in our area, however, we must have common sense regulations around it such as where cannabis can be sold.
This needs to be implemented to avoid instances where we might see stores selling cannabis by schools; the absence of such regulations for alcohol has allowed liquor outlets near schools in our community.
There’s great potential for this industry the key is balance with the needs of the citizenry.
Legalization is almost here and we have to make it work with common sense regulations.
5) Where do you stand on the Greater Vernon Cultural Centre; Should up to $25 million be borrowed for a new cultural centre in Vernon’s downtown core, and why?
*The exact wording of the referendum question has not yet been released.
The Greater Vernon Cultural Centre is going to referendum for the citizens to determine if the city should spend $25 million to build.
That being said I do believe as a city we are due for a new museum and art gallery. The museum needs space to display our local history and to properly store donated items, which is important to all of us. The art gallery’s current location is not adequate due to the flooding issues etc.
If the referendum passes or fails on the ballot what I do promise is that I will abide by the community’s decision.
I won’t support taking the same proposal to pass an alternative process after the referendum to get it built as was done with projects in the past.
6) Where do you stand on electoral reform; should the province change from its current first past electoral system to a proportional representation, and why?
On the issue of proportional representation, I strongly believe in democracy and would like to see the provincial government more responsive to the public and municipalities.
7) Is there a current candidate for council or mayor you would like to see elected Oct. 20, and why?
I look forward to working as a team with anyone the community chooses.
I believe that working towards positive change requires the ability to compromise and hear all sides of an issue or proposal; in the end, we are working to serve Vernon residents.
Our community is diverse; it’s not about what I want but what the community does. Community matters to me.