Civic election: Loyal Wooldridge running for Kelowna city council

Meet Loyal Wooldridge

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: Loyal Wooldridge

Why would you make an effective city councillor?

Over my past four years on city council, staying connected to all facets of our community has been one of my top priorities. It has helped me understand and support the needs of people, businesses, and organizations throughout the community.

I believe listening, understanding and adapting perspectives is key to decision making specifically with the current challenges of mental health, safety and homelessness facing Kelowna. This has made me an effective City Councillor.

I actively seek out new information to make informed decisions and purposeful advocacy to higher levels of government that best represent the community as a whole, today and into the future.

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?

Safety security are the top issues facing Kelowna. The increase in crime is directly linked to decades of inadequate funding for health, social and housing support. To deal with crime, I believe we must holding prolific criminals accountable through the justice system and policing.

While city council does not manage the justice system, we can advocate for improvements to the Criminal Code of Canada relating to bail requirements and support towards the socioeconomic factors that create crime in the first place.

We should be focusing on up-stream solutions that support youth, single parent families and people aging out of foster care with recreational programs, social supports and tailored housing before they reach a crisis state.

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?

We know 95% of bridge traffic is destined for Kelowna. In other words, the majority of traffic a second bridge would carry is destined for the same place – Kelowna. Another bridge could make the brief crossing faster, but the traffic congestion faced on Highway 97 is not due to transient vehicles from out-of-town.

This means we need to make the highway specifically, more efficient to handle our local commuter traffic – especially at its surge periods of the day. We need to work with the Ministry of Transportation to:

  1. Manage flows of traffic on and off of Highway 97 to minimize stop and start waves.
  2. Address efficiencies of key intersections and lights near the bridge to limit blockages.
  3. Significantly improve rapid transit to offer reliable, fast, frequent transit options through the region.

Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?

I am concerned at how quickly Kelowna is growing. How we grow needs to be done responsibly, considering the overlapping needs of current and future residents. The challenge is that we’re planning a city for people who probably aren’t born yet.

We need to plan for sufficient housing by building diverse housing options that supports the missing middle, low rise, and single unit dwelling. This needs to be planned in our five urban centres and existing cluster communities that already exist.

I believe we can leverage the benefits of growth by seizing the opportunity to deliver new recreation facilities, better transportation modes and climate resilient infrastructure that prepares our city to scale into the future.

Growth is likely inevitable so we should embrace the opportunity to use new development to reduce the overall tax demand to current residents while simultaneously building new and enhanced public amenities that focus on the future.

How would you make Kelowna more affordable?

When life becomes more unaffordable (with much outside municipal control) people lean into public programs and facilities, to benefit quality of life. We need to renew recreation facilities, sports fields, sports courts and of course, outside open space with expanded parks.

We must also focus on cultural and arts spaces because culture is truly the fabric that empowers people to find belonging, connection and overall supports building a mentally healthy community. Libraries also play a key role in offering free spaces, programs and resources that benefit education, social connection and cultural knowledge.

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

$1 million does not go far in a municipal budget but if these were injected into the city, I’d look to new investments to address key priorities.

  1. Food Security to develop a social enterprise to grow food using vertical farming technology on non-viable ALR lands that don’t currently produce food.
  2. Housing safety net fund to develop a no interest rent or down payment loan program to support the working poor struggling to pay rent or to purchase a new home
  3. Intergenerational social programs to connect vulnerable seniors and youth with the goal of connection and learning.

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