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: Bal Grewal
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
Critical Thinking - As a lawyer, I am able to conduct deep and thorough analysis when presented with facts, ideas, and different point of views. To be able to assess a matter on more than face value is important to making the right decision.
Financial Acumen - As a local business man, financial acumen is critical in making key business decisions. Making any decision as a city councillor, it is important to understand and weigh the financial short and long term implications for our city.
Approachable - It is important that residents can approach and feel comfortable discussing their ideas, concerns, and goals with their elected official(s). It is also important to be able to reach your councillor.
A Team Player - in order to get anything done, it is important to be a team player, especially when it comes to city council. We are all in this together!
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?
Affordability, with inflation causing household expenses to rise and recession knocking on the door, it is becoming more difficult for families to put a roof over their heads and food on the plate. Homelessness is on the rise along with crime. We need to collectively look towards finding an answer as we have long acknowledged its a problem. We need to approve and provide low income housing for the most vulnerable in our city, including veterans, disabled and single-parent households.
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?
Re-designating roadways to one way during certain hours to help move traffic.
Encourage public transportation and carpooling
More express busses
Tram/train system that goes across the bridge and runs down Harvey.
Working with our neighbours Ie. across the lake - Syilx people
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
I have always believed if 'you fail to plan then you plan to fail'. Previous councils over the last 10-15 years may not have appropriately considered infrastructure growth and city development and therefore the planning was short-sighted. We now find ourselves in a situation where Kelowna feels as if it is growing too fast due to the congestion, traffic, and population growth. The result was somewhat inevitable due to the imbalance as we promote and market Kelowna as a tourist destination with world class universities and a great place to call home but without the infrastructure in place to accommodate the vision for the future.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
Each citizen probably has their own answer to this and rightly so, but on the development side, I would have an ordinance allowing the conversion of single-family homes to duplexes or four-plexes throughout the city. This has the potential to make a significant impact on affordability, as home conversions and low-rise developments are a key part of "missing middle" housing i.e., units that can be created inexpensively and can serve people who can't afford to live in a high-rise development.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
In an ideal world, I would spend $1 million dollars on a homeless / mental health centre. The structure itself (assuming the land was donated and/or building was repurposed). The most vulnerable need services to help deal with mental health issues and addictions, that once resolved will ideally help them get back on their feet. The centre would provide resources and support to individuals/residents and assist them to integrate back into society.