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. Election day is Oct. 15.
Kelowna candidate: Luke Stack (incumbent)
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
I have served as a volunteer or an elected councillor with the City of Kelowna for the last 21 years. I chaired the Affordable Housing Committee in the 1990’s and was on the Advisory Planning Commission for three years. I have been elected four times to city council, serving 14 years. Throughout these years, I have gained skills in becoming an effective councillor. I take this role seriously. I invest the time to listen to the public, city staff, fellow council members and those promoting new initiatives. I look to balance competing priorities always keeping the best interests of the city, as a whole, in mind.
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?
Community safety is my primary concern. Kelowna has been challenged with petty crime, bicycle theft, break-and-entries, and homelessness. The city can be most effective when it aligns the RCMP, bylaw officers, Downtown Kelowna Association, BC Housing, Interior Health and the province so they can effectively work together. The provincial government provides the greatest resources to help with these issues. An effective city council works to ensure the city is able to attract its share of resources from the province to manage these problems.
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?
The 2040 official community plan, which I supported, has redefined how the city of Kelowna will grow. Goodbye sprawl — hello town centres. The emphasis is on growing the “core of the city,” increasing density making it possible to use transit, bicycles, e-bikes and walk more frequently. Kelowna cannot reduce traffic congestion by building more roads and a second bridge. We need to reduce the length of our automobile trips and alter our commuting lifestyle. Secondly, We must do this to address the climate change challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
The city cannot maintain is superb quality of life growing at this pace. We are in need of sports fields, a new pool, ice rinks, baseball diamonds, parks, beaches, pickleball courts and tennis courts. The city is having a hard time keeping up with growth.
I am well aware that we live in a free country where each person can choose to live where they want. Most everyone reading this likely moved to Kelowna from somewhere. Kelowna is VERY attractive to Canadians. Our neighbours want what we have: beautiful landscapes, lakes, beaches, parks, recreational trails, bike paths, a university, quality health care, and an international airport. Council needs to focus on how we are going to retain the quality of life we have all come to love-the reason most of us moved here. Our focus going forward must be how to protect and expand our valuable natural assets for the next generations.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
Council has a few tools:
1. Speedy approval of good development in the right locations.
2. Tax incentives to build rental housing.
3. Grants and land contributions to encourage subsidized affordable housing.
What council cannot do is control the free-market price of housing. The last few years have taught us the law of demand and supply is always present and often undermines our goal of affordability.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
Sadly $1 million dollars does not go far when you are considering city capital budgets. I would put this funding toward the redevelopment of the Parkinson Recreation Centre and Community Campus. Now, if I had $1 billion dollars...