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: Amarit Brar
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
I am a young woman, therefore I will bring a different approach to solving solutions for our city. Having served on the national and provincial board of both women and the youth commission of a major political party, I understand the power of collaboration and working with members in our community, neighbourhood associations, local stakeholders and federal and provincial counterparts to find solutions to make our city a better place for all.
I am committed to listening to the residents of Kelowna and hearing what they say so we can find a solution that benefits all of Kelowna.
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?
The number one issue of our city right now is high crime rates. If elected, I will immediately work with the council to implement the community safety plan to ensure it is up and running as fast as possible. This includes ensuring there is proper funding for this plan. We need to allocate local budgets, as well as federal and provincial grants, to reduce our crime rates and make people feel safe again.
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?
To deal with the transportation bottleneck, I would:
(i) Work to get people out of their cars. I have a number of strategies, so residents’ first choice is to bike, walk and take public transit, instead of using their cars. This includes advocating to the province to create an Active Transportation Tax Credit where people can claim their purchases such as bikes, scooters, skateboards.
(ii) In the short term, traffic flow can be improved with some low cost, low tech solutions, such as having traffic lights timed better, and possibly removing the traffic lights at Abbott Street & Highway 97 intersection. We must work with our provincial Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, who control Highway 97.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
People are moving to Kelowna for obvious reasons, and it is growing rapidly. We cannot stop people moving here. We can prepare for the influx. We need to ensure that there is proper infrastructure in place to deal with the rapid growth, including proper traffic infrastructure, eco- friendly transportation, affordable housing, and a greener, cleaner environment.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
To make Kelowna more affordable, we need to make it a place where people want to walk and bike, so that transportation costs such as gas and car maintenance for families are decreased. We need to ensure that public transportation is cheaper for low-income families.
I would work closely with local stakeholders, advocacy groups and with the provincial and federal government to ensure Kelowna is getting grants and accessing all available housing programs to build affordable housing. We need to work towards re-purposing underused buildings into affordable residential housing. Bylaw changes may be required to accomplish this.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
With $1 million, I would ensure that the 3-30-300 rule where every person should be able to see three decent size trees from their home, there is 30% tree canopy cover in every neighbourhood and every person’s home is within 300 metres from the nearest greenspace is implemented in every development project that is put forward. Not only will this help with Kelowna resident’s mental and physical wellbeing, this will also help reduce the island heat effect while we are fighting climate change. From a city perspective, $1M is not a lot of money, but it will purchase a lot of trees for planting.