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: Davis Kyle
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
Running for council is about ideas and experience, not age. I have been to every public hearing since late 2021, I met with multiple current and former councillors to learn about the role, and I have published the most detailed policy platform of any candidate running. From leading the discussion on a ward-voting system and a child care revitalization tax credit, to being the first candidate to endorse removing barriers for cross-subsidized non-profit housing, to being the only candidate promising to advocate for safer neighbourhood streets with a Vision Zero traffic calming policy, I have the energy to push the council to do more for our community.
I have lived experience of struggling to find affordable housing and of being renovicted. I am a team-player who will look to find consensus, common sense, and common ground around the council table, while holding town halls to always stay connected with the community that elected me. Ultimately, I am capable of advocating for fiscally responsible changes that will improve the quality of life of our residents.
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?
Housing and Homelessness. In a 2020 study, researchers in the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that a $100 increase in median rent was associated with a nine per cent increase in the estimated homelessness rate of a community. More homelessness leads to stressed emergency response services and therefore pressure to raise taxes to fund those services. Council must continue to advocate for complex care, community court, and other provincial changes, but we have a role to play.
Kelowna can reduce toxic forms of demand like vacant housing and short-term rentals while boosting supply through ending exclusionary zoning and streamlining the permitting process. We can shift planning to favour traditional “mixed use," walkable, and family-focused two- and three-bedroom townhomes and wood-frame low-rises by ending exclusionary zoning. Young professionals and families, people like me, want to stay in the city they grew up in, and businesses need to find workers. Finally, we can support non-profit builders by bringing in policies to support cross-subsidized social housing for low-income seniors, single parents, and people with disabilities at risk of being forced out of our community.
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?
With a half-billion dollar infrastructure deficit inherited from generations of councils that underinvested in our community, and surging construction costs driven by inflation and the worker shortage, it will be difficult. I work in infrastructure procurement and contracting for Public Services and Procurement Canada on roadwork projects, so I understand exactly how easily costs can add up without strong fiscal discipline.
Council should work to return Kelowna’s bus system to local ownership, so that we can make the infrastructure improvements and frequency changes the system needs for bus rapid transit without increasing taxpayer handouts to a Swedish private investment firm. Council must work with the provincial government on cheap wins like signal timing of traffic lights and shifting curb cuts on Highway 97 to side streets. We must also invest in the turning lanes, roundabouts, and multi-model infrastructure under a Vision Zero policy to keep people moving efficiently and safely in our community.
It is important to improve the efficiency of our arterial roads and safety of our neighbourhood streets simultaneously, which is why Kelowna council should direct staff to redesign the Transportation Master Plan while taking into account “Strong Towns” urban design policies and the law of induced demand.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
I am concerned with making Kelowna an affordable, sustainable, and inclusive community. If we pull up the drawbridge on our youth graduating from high school or the leaders graduating from university and college, we will be worse off as a community. We will have a shortage of essential workers, doctors, nurses, child care workers, and other professionals that make Kelowna work. However, we need better urban planning - and that means refusing to pave over any more ALR or carve up any more hillsides.
We can protect our greenspaces and natural areas by stopping suburban sprawl and endorsing a 3-30-300 urban park plan to create 30% urban tree canopy coverage and an interconnected grid of neighbourhood parks where parents can raise their kids.
We can focus on livable, walkable, connected, and sustainable communities with mixed-use zoning, net-zero building codes, and a greater focus on family-oriented two and three bedroom townhomes and low-rise apartments. Focusing on traditional and more affordable forms of development through regulatory changes of our zoning code can allow Kelowna’s best days to be in front of us, not behind us.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
I was proud to announce support for Kelowna following Kamloops in creating a commercial daycare facility revitalization tax exemption bylaw, which will allow more families to have dual incomes or save money by encouraging the creation of more 10-dollar-a-day childcare spaces.
On my website, I have the most comprehensive plan of any candidate to support both general housing affordability and affordable housing. We can end exclusionary zoning to promote more affordable housing options in our community. We can cut the regulatory burdens for non-profit builders, and end the effective subsidies that punish more affordable types of market-rate construction.
We need to work to ensure that Kelowna residents don’t pay more than 30% of their gross income towards rent, and I support both demand and supply side measures to make that happen. I also support the infrastructure and transit improvements that will make transit better - the middle class will only take transit when it is as fast, safe, and reliable as driving, so we need to work hard to make that a reality. By planning transit-oriented development now for long-term provincially and federally-funded LRT, we can focus on managing growth with infrastructure investment.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
$300,000 to renovate and protect the Okanagan Mission Activity Center — council must direct staff to stop their plan to tear it down.
$300,000 towards additional protected bike storage lockers and other anti-theft infrastructure.
$50,000 to increase boat storage at the Central Okanagan Sailing Association by allocating and paving a neighbouring redundant footpath, increasing street parking spots, and waiving on-site section 8 minimums to allow increased boat storage on-site.
$350,000 to pilot “Park and Ride” free and extended bus service at the CNC and Parkinson Rec Centers on Canada Day and other major events next year to relieve congestion and parking shortages in the downtown core.