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: Darrin Fiddler
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
People want to be heard, and I want to listen. I've received many emails asking for my platform, on what my opinion is on various topics.
People should be putting forth their thoughts rather than what agenda the prospective politician brings to the table. My opinion shouldn't hold much weight against the community's, yet that’s how our democracy's designed.
I believe we ought to assist those needing it most, thereby improving the wellbeing of the entire community through lifting the neediest higher. When those doing the worst find relief, a reduction in mental health needs, addiction and related crime follows. This heals communities, not by redlining a sector of the population.
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?
Our over-reliance on our cars. We complain about traffic while sitting in them, so the problem lies in our habits. How does a city fix that?
As an outreach worker, my passion lies in finding solutions to homelessness. This requires providing more roofs over heads, and streamlining the process to rehabilitation and treatment, and prolonged access to mental health counselling. To make these improvements requires increased funding and co-operation from our BC and Federal governments.
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?
The way out is to improve our public transit system. As a frequent user I find it highly underwhelming. I would start by challenging each member of the council to solely use our public buses for at LEAST a week to see how inconvenient it is.
A truly sustainable society leaves their car at home, but we need a reliable public transit system to fall back on. We are not there yet.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
A recent CBC article shows the following: B.C. is also leading Canada in the number of renter households, with Kelowna showing an increase in renters of more than 54 per cent. So yes, we are growing too fast.
Growth is inevitable, and all we can do is adjust to the changes. I feel we have failed at this, as rental prices climb along with inflation but without corresponding wages. As much as we attempt to make the Okanagan an economic powerhouse, it still requires service workers to provide our needs and they need to make enough to live.
If anything, the pandemic has shown the necessity of these workers, but rental prices are making life in the valley prohibitive.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
Since property taxes drive up the cost of housing and assessments, we must work to keep these down. This tax is one of the main incomes of municipalities, while relying on GST and PST handouts from the prospective governments. It is not enough.
We need a larger chunk of our GST and PST revenue going towards city funds so the call for more property taxes eases off. As it stands, municipalities are not granted any powers under the Constitution and I'm in disbelief that our cities have not pursued this. Currently, we are at the whim of our provincial government to decide how much our cities get. We must work to change this.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
For all the reasons listed above, I would look to expanding a program put on by the Turning Points society on the Westside. They have 20-some rooms provided for a year by Super 8 Hotel to house our street-entrenched clients.
They are provided structure, meals, housing and programs to help them take that next step up. It has been a lifeline for many, changing lives. This $1 million would go far towards bettering our community.