Civic election: Gord Lovegrove running for Kelowna city council

Meet Gord Lovegrove

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: Gord Lovegrove

Why would you make an effective city councillor?

Experience and expertise: 20 years as a UBCO engineering professor, mentoring over 3,000 of our brightest minds in SMARTer Growth (sustainable development), capping a 40 year engineering career in which I’ve advised provincial and federal governments on climate action, transport, rail, sustainable development, housing, affordability, infrastructure, homelessness, and safety. I conduct leading global research in all these areas and can bring it to help council in addressing our issues. I’ve lived in Rutland (3 years), Glenmore (3 years), downtown (2 years), and now the Mission (12 years) – all neighbourhoods have distinctive value, unique needs, and issues to address.

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?

Lack of affordable connections. Unsustainable, car-dependent, sprawl that hampers our climate action to reduce GHG emissions; anyone else stuck in traffic like me? I have never seen such congestion and road rage in Kelowna. The 10,000 folks I’ve talked to this summer across our city are fed up with it; we need to address the Hwy 97 parking lot now – at the same time they want affordable, sustainable solutions. Young, old, rich and poor alike are ‘onboard’ with my proposed passenger tram-train running along Hwy 97 between Osoyoos and Kamloops, connecting our city, our valley communities, boosting our transit services.

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?

Plan for cars, get more cars stuck in traffic (see above); plan for people, get liveability. Let’s use world-class solutions for our world-class city. Immediately offer more quality transit and biking choices – more routes, more frequency, community shuttles, & U-Pass for residents (ComPASS) – ComPASS research in 2012 showed a 75% uptake – increased ridership, revenue; reduced congestion. And let’s start planning for a valley-wide tram-train at half the cost of highways. Check out the Karlsruhe model – been running in low density rural German valleys since the 80’s. One more person on a bus/bike is one less car in front of you!

Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?

Kelowna is growing because of its natural beauty, great business acumen, and fun-loving residents, none of which is going to change anytime soon. So the question really is how to sustain our high quality of life in the midst of this growth. World class cities demand world class vision and affordable solutions. Your council has approved 50,000 more residents; but where is the infrastructure to affordably support that growth? It is not a half billion dollar second crossing folks. There is only one taxpayer; tram-trains are cheaper, greener, share existing bridge and HOV lanes, and, remove 30 per cent of traffic.

How would you make Kelowna more affordable?

It’s a complex problem that demands a system-based solution. Build more non-market/market rental, co-op, and new homes is the answer most give, but it goes deeper. Think 70’s CMHC land banks and non-market rentals – this is the norm across the EU. More affordable also means reducing other costs, such as improved affordable transport choices. Congestion, crashes, and lack of connection costs Kelowna $1 billion a year. Getting folks out of cars makes life more affordable for all of us. Immediately: ComPASS and more service hours; expand bus routes; partner to plan and implement bus rapid transit and valley-wide tram-train to affordable housing in neighbour cities.

If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?

The million dollar question! Lovegrovekelowna.ca has my downloadable 14 page PDF platform based on what I have heard from 10,000 voters.

Here’s how I would divvy it up:

$50,000 to seed partnerships to consult/plan/design our Valley passenger tram-train;

$50,000 to cover Admin and launch ComPASS;

$300,000 to build 20 tiny/container subsidized homes on City land;

$10,000 to Strong Neighborhoods to revitalize all Neighborhood Associations;

$50,000 to bring back the FatCat Children’s Festival;

$40,000 seed grant for a new BlackBox Theatre;

$50,000 community patrols and policing;

$450,000 to increase transit hours, routes, and buses; and, to bring back a local transit contractor.

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