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: Susan Ames
Why would you make an effective city councillor?
I have over 30 years experience as an environmental consultant more recently in the mining industry developing and costing mine closure and reclamation plans. I have carried out numerous impact analyses, wrote technical reports, and developed long range plans. My PhD focus was on Climate Change.
I have volunteered in the community. I have been the President of the Kelowna South Central Association of Neighbourhoods (KSAN) since 2020. I have reviewed city zoning, the 2040 Official Community Plan, various projects in Kelowna, and have presented at numerous public hearings.
My knowledge, technical awareness, energy, and in depth understanding of environmental sustainability, community, and social issues will make me an effective councillor.
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?
Public safety/property crime is a major issue in Kelowna. I would support the use of “beat cops” who have a regular beat. This this will discourage street and property crime. The officer would operate as single person and build up a relationship with the people in the community/businesses on their beat.
Kelowna is the only major community in the Central Okanagan without a citizens’ patrol. We used to have a citizens’ patrol in Kelowna. We need to bring this back. We also need to deal with the drug issue as property crime provides money to purchase street level drugs.
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 need more buses. Instead of very large buses that are often travelling around almost empty and burning fossil fuels, we need smaller buses that run more frequently. The buses are currently owned by the city.
Eventually, they should be changed to electric. If the buses run frequently, we will get people out of their cars and therefore, reduce congestion. People will recognize that bus use will reduce the wear and tear on their vehicles and vehicle gas and insurance costs.
We could also use more roundabouts at strategic locations to increase the flow of traffic. Eventually, we could change to street rail transportation.
Do you think Kelowna is growing too fast?
Yes. The traffic congestion is an indicator how growth has increased substantially the past several years. Our roads, traffic patterns, and bridge were not designed for this much traffic. KGH is overwhelmed now.
Meantime, we have several residential towers under construction or on the drawing board which will bring even more people to the city in the next three or four years. Is our infrastructure up to the task? What about water and sewage treatment? I believe we need to take a breath and evaluate this.
How would you make Kelowna more affordable?
Developers are building high end towers with expensive interior finishings. I would encourage lower height wood-constructed buildings which are less expensive to construct than concrete and use lower cost interior finishings to make housing more affordable. The units have to be a sufficient size to be livable.
New zones, such as RU7 (four-plexes on a single lot), have driven up the price of housing, squeezing out families who can’t compete with developers. The city has recognized that the resulting units are not affordable. As a councillor, I would encourage a re-evaluation of this zoning and other zoning. I would require builders to allocate 30% of their buildings as affordable with the remaining 70% as market housing.
If you had $1 million to spend on anything in the city, how would you spend it?
I would put it towards the city purchasing the Kelowna Springs Golf Course as a municipal course. Not only could it offer residents and tourists alike a more affordable, walkable full length golf course, it would also preserve the environmental benefits of the area including wetlands, wildlife habitat, water storage and infiltration, and trees and other vegetation important to countering the cause of climate change.
We need to think long term and preserve our green spaces. Once lost, they will not come back.